Interview With Martin Steene:
Vocalist for Iron Fire!!
Interviewed By EvilG
With only two albums, Denmark's Iron Fire have made a
name for themselves in the power metal realm. Their new CD is more
experimental and challenges the listener who expects the band to release
THUNDERSTORM part two. I begin the interview with a discussion of the
bands growing sound and the reasons for it. So lets get to it!
to the interview in MP3 format
(30mins long, 6meg download)
I wanted to start out by talking about your new CD
which is "On The Edge". I was surprised to find it was quite a
bit different actually than "Thunderstorm". [Yeah] Did you
intentionally try to make the album different and if so, why?
Well, yeah, you can say that because, well, I just
realized after the first album that we had to do something different.
And because, you know, weīve got a lot of true metal bands in Europe
and so I just thought that we had to do something a little different
maybe to survive in this business. [Right] So thatīs kind of why we
changed it a bit.
I know a lot of critics who reviewed
"Thunderstorm" gave it so/so reviews and referred to it as
generic compared to the HAMMERFALL. However, I actually loved your debut
CD. Was the reason for the change because you read reviews and people
were saying it was generic?
Well of course, yeah, of course a little bit. but it was
not the main reason why we changed it. We kind of just... we followed
the way we evolved in our music in the band and didnīt really think
that much that we had to change style.
Right. Will your new album "On The Edge"
be released in Japan? The reason I ask is because I had read that
"Thunderstorm" was not released in Japan because the labels
there where not too happy or something about it.
So the new album is out in Japan? I didnīt really know
Ok. Are they going to finally release
"Thunderstorm" over there? (laughs)
I donīt know anything about that. But hopefully, I
think that with the new album weīve got something, they said, on the
first album they said we didnīt have any new stuff for the Japanese
guys. So, I think with the new album weīve got some pretty new stuff
Yeah. The new album I think in some places is more
aggressive than the music on "Thunderstorm" and in other
places itīs a little more experimental sometimes not as melodic maybe
as some of the first album. Do you think this experimentation or change
will throw off listeners of the first album?
Yeah, maybe. Of course. All those hardcore true metal
fans would probably think that we have changed too much from the usual
metal stuff. What we try with this album is to maybe open their eyes a
bit. And yeah, have them check out, you know, some new stuff that true
metal can be played in different ways.
You still refer to IRON FIRE as a true metal type
You know, personally I hate the thing true metal [Right
(laughing)] because I also think that PANTERA is true metal. But anyway
everybodyīs calling IRON FIRE a true metal band so yeah...
So youīre ok with the term, it doesnīt anger you
when someone refers to you... (laughing)
No, not really, I would PREFER if people called it Power
In some respects I thought some of the songs off
"On The Edge" sounded like something from an eighties Metal
type hard rock band. Would you agree with that?
Yeah. Weīve got some more Rock & Roll stuff. Itīs
probably because Iīm a big Rock & Roll fan and the new guitarist we
got in, heīs also a big Rock & Roll, a big Slash fan actually. So
of course weīve got some more Rock & Roll stuff in it like
"Wanted Man" itīs
a Rock & Roll song almost.
Yes. I read somewhere awhile ago that you were
actually playing in another band called MAGIC, I believe, [Yes] which is
more of a Rock & Roll band I guess than IRON FIRE. [Yeah...] What is
the status of that band? Are you still playing with them?
Yeah, actually weīre looking for a record deal right
And what do you do in that band? Do you sing or
I sing and play a little guitar yeah.
Right and how much different would that be from
some of the more rock oriented songs on your new album?
Well it will be more straight Rock & Roll as you
know, from MÖTLEY CRÜE and the whole LA scene, eighties LA scene. SKID
ROW and stuff like that.
Cool. Not only has your sound slightly changed for
the new album but thereīs been a slight change in line up. Do you think
the new members coming into the band have helped shape the sound for the
Maybe a little but you know I wrote all the songs for
this album so... but you know the other guys have definitely brought
some new energy to the band, energy to me as a songwriter. You know,
when youīve got some new people in your band and everything is working
out great you get more inspired to write songs. So yeah, you could say
And another thing that I noticed is youīve
included more different instruments. For example, I guess the big one
that stands out is the organ, the Hammond style organ sound on
"???" and perhaps the harmonica in "Angel Of Light".
Things like that. Where do influences like that come from?
Well, of course the Hammond thing is from PURPLE and a
lot of Rock & Roll stuff. We just thought it was great to do because
thereīs not a lot of power metal bands that use that instrument. So, we
just use it.
So since I refer to influences Iīm sure people
would love to hear about some of the things that have influenced you.
Well, you know, thereīs a million other bands because
me and the guys in the band are listening to everything from Rock to
Black Metal. Different styles of music. I would definitely say more Rock
& Roll and more American metal stuff this time instead on
"Thunderstorm" it was the typical German Speed Metal bands
which inspired us. This time it was more American stuff like MEGADETH,
ICED EARTH... bands like that.
Right. Cool. So what are some of your favorite
songs from your new album?
Usually itīs the songs which are more different than
the usual stuff that we do. And this time it would be
"Miracle". [Yeah, that definitely stands out, right] Yeah,
because of course I love all the Heavy Metal stuff but if I had to
choose one I think that was a pretty funny song to record. Itīs
different and pretty hard for a Metal band to suddenly play Rock &
Roll or Rock, just usual Rock so that was kind of fun to do in the
studio and I think we do it pretty good.
One of my favorite songs from the new album is
"Forever Evil". Can you tell me what that songīs about?
Well, itīs just.. itīs pretty hard for me to explain
my lyrics in English. Well, itīs about the Devil kind of trying to get
you over to the other side... choosing the dark side. [Right] Thatīs
So when youīre saying "forever evil in
darkness we ride" are you referring to you are on the dark side?
I could be, itīs not really that way. Itīs not me whoīs
riding it is the Devil. (laughing)
Ok, So youīre writing from his perspective?
[Yeah, thatīs right] IRON FIRE being from Denmark is a country that is
not as well know for Power Metal compared to say Germany or something.
There are bands that have come from there obviously but itīs not
referred to as the hotbed for Heavy Metal, right? [Not at all] Where youīre
in that scene, I just wanted to ask you what the scene is like in
Denmark and are you well accepted in the local scene and do you play a
lot of gigs in your area?
Of course weīve got a metal scene in Denmark. Weīve
got a lot of death metal bands. I donīt know why. But, weīve got a lot
of Death Metal bands, not really many melodic bands. Thatīs the thing I
think sucks a bit. But I donīt think that IRON FIRE is pretty accepted
in the Danish metal scene, underground scene because you know weīre
young guys and we got this big record deal with Noise Records in Germany
and stuff like that and some people, you know, just think we didnīt,
what can I say, we didnīt work enough for our success.
Theyīre jealous maybe... (laughing)
Yeah, I think so. And thatīs... weīve got something in
Denmark called the Jenta Law which is you know, donīt think that you
You mean, donīt put yourself above the rest of the
people kind of thing? [Yeah] How do you spell that? The Jenta you called
it? [Yeah, Jenta] Is that with a "Y" or a "J"?
I think itīs with a "J". [Ok...
(laughing)] Itīs a pretty funny thing because itīs all over in
Denmark, you know. If someone getīs success in something all the other
guys get jealous and I donīt know why. Itīs the opposite of the USA I
think. [Yeah, like WASP says "I want to be somebody" right
(laughing)] But thatīs kind of why we donīt play in Denmark that much
because, you know, people donīt like us.
Wow, thatīs too bad. (Both laughing) Well, they
donīt know what theyīre missing I guess. Thatīs their problem. [Yeah,
I think so] So where do you get to play and get the most positive
reaction from audiences?
Well, we played a couple of shows in Germany last year.
We played in Sweden in festival and that was really great. Sweden was
Cool. A question now about the beginning of the
band. When IRON FIRE first got together you guys were pretty young and
all of a sudden youīre signed to Noise Records and youīre given the
opportunity to record with a renowned producer, engineer, whatever -
Tommy Hansen. This seemed to happen pretty quickly for, well from my
perspective. Bang, hereīs IRON FIRE, the guys are 19/20 years old
whatever and here they are on Noise Records recording with Tommy Hansen,
WOW! (laughing) [Yeah] So was that quite a whirlwind for you guys? Did
it happen really quickly?
Yeah, I guess so. Eh, well, yeah... what can I say to
that. (both laughing) Of course it was great, you know, when youīre 19
years old and youīre working with Tommy Hansen as a producer and youīve
got a big record deal at a record label which had all your favourite
bands in the eighties. Of course itīs a dream come true, you know.
What kind of relationship does the band have with Tommy
Hansen because in the credits heīs listed as contributing keys and
harmonica and even backing vocals. Does the band consider him
an unmentioned additional member of the band? Do you value his input
into your sound as much as other members?
No, no, not really. Heīs just a big part of it because you know, his
studio is pretty far from Copenhagen where we live. So when weīre
recording an album weīre living a long way from home. His house is next
to the studio. So of course when we do a recording session you know, you
get to know the producer pretty good. And of course Tommy has a lot of
ideas which of course we use. Yeah, thatīs great. Heīs a great backing
vocalist you can do something with his vocals. Great.
So since you guys are still fairly young where do you see
yourself musically when you are say thirty or even forty. Do you hope
that you will still be playing Heavy Metal regardless if you are with or
without a record deal? Whatīs your long term hopes for this band?
Of course weīre hoping to get big. We want to do so many things with
our music. So I donīt know what weīre playing when weīre forty and
stuff like that. [laughing] Because we kind of evolved pretty fast and
youīll also see on the next album we will do it will change a bit too,
you know, on the next album. Weīve got so many ideas and we donīt want
to play the same stuff all the time. So I donīt know what weīll be
playing in twenty years, I donīt know. Hopefully some metal stuff.
Yeah, hopefully (laughing). So is playing in IRON FIRE the only thing
you do right now or do you also hold down a job or go to school or
anything like that?
No, Iīm actually unemployed right now and in Denmark if you donīt have
a job in Denmark and you need some money you can get it from the State.
But you just have to do some fucked up work everyday. [How fucked up?
(laughing)] (laughing) Like picking shit up from the streets and stuff
like that. [Right] Itīs a shitty job but if you have to get some money
you can get it.
According to your bio at one time you guys or you yourself
played Doom styleed Death Metal but you lost interest in the style or at
least in playing the style. I was wondering why did you lose interest
and if you did, do you still at least listen to some of the death metal
bands that interested you at that time?
Well, you know, as I told you before in this band many things happen all
the time also with the style of music. So, I donīt think we really, you
know, lost intrest, intris... IntErest (struggles a bit with the
pronunciation of interest) Woah, thatīs a hard word ! (both laughing)
But you know we just wanted to play more melodic when we changed our
style of music back then. And yeah, Iīm still listening to death metal.
Actually funny enough for the new stuff for IRON FIRE I kind of gotten
more back to what we did way back then and listening to some old
rehearsal tapes and stuff like that to kind of combine our
new style with some old stuff.
Right.. So back then when you were doing that style of music I assume
you were singing in the typical growly death metal vocals?
Yeah, and the deep Peter Steele thing.
Oh yeah, cool. Would you ever consider incorporating that with your
higher melodic singing now?
Well, I love to play... to sing deep. Thatīs pretty cool but itīs
not... people donīt like it in Power Metal but I still like to do it.
I think it could make a cool mixture as long as it wasnīt "over
the top", right?! [Yeah, maybe] The power metal scene these days
seems to be getting more and more crowded. What do you think IRON FIRE
needs to do or is doing to stand out from the rest of the bands?
(Breathes out deeply... (silence))
Hard one, eh? (laughing)
(laughs) Well, you know, we just have to do I think what we are doing
right now. Just following our hearts and not trying to copy our idols
but just be ourselves which we did with this album, some like it and
some hate it. But, I guess thatīs the way to go if you want to kind of
get your own style. Thatīs kind of what we will do in the future too.
Right. So how has the reaction been so far to your new album? Has it
been mixed views or has a lot of it been positive?
Iīve been talking to a lot of journalists because Iīve been doing
about fifty or sixty interviews for this album. A lot of
them think itīs really great and think itīs great that we donīt use
the usual dragon lyrics and stuff like that. We also got some bad
reviews. We got 6 out of 10 on Rock Hard in Germany and that sucks a bit
I think because we got 8 out of 10 on the last album. So yeah,
some love it and some hate it.
I think it takes a few more listens to appreciate because where it is
such a varied album. Itīs not like... there are songs on there
that stand together like probably "The End Of It All" and
"Forever Evil" or something. Those kind of go together but
then you hear a song like "Miracle" or "Waste Of
Man" and itīs like "woah, this is a bit different". It
challenges the listener a little more.
Yeah, I guess so. I guess itīs our own fault because we kind of started
out with our first album which was typical Speed Metal and now weīve
changed some stuff and of course some people will go "Hey, what the
fuck are they doing?". (both laughing) So yeah...
So what other bands out there today do you listen to and do you still
like HAMMERFALL and their latest cd "Renegade"?
Oh! (laughs) Actually I donīt have the new HAMMERFALL cd, of course Iīve
heard it. I donīt think... itīs not as great as their first two
albums. I donīt think so but you know Iīm also into a lot of different
music right now so maybe thatīs why I think that. [Right.. (laughing)]
But I just think that HAMMERFALL should maybe do something a little
different than just make the same album over and over again. But, you
know, a lot of people love it and thatīs great.
Yeah. So what other kinds of bands in specific have interested you
lately be it metal or even rock or something?
Iīve been listening to a lot of MARYLIN MANSON, the new album.
[Really??] Yeah, which actually I think is pretty great. Iīve never
really been listening to MANSON before and then I heard his new one
which I think is pretty melodic, some of the songs. I think heīs got
something. And of course Iīm listening to the new ANNIHILATOR. [Oh
yeah! Excellent!] Thatīs pretty cool stuff.
How about the new HELLOWEEN? I can kind of see a similarity between the
darker sound theyīve taken and your album... (both laughing)
Yeah, thatīs right. Of course we were laughing about it when we saw the
way the new HELLOWEEN had changed in look and stuff like that because we
had also done that but that record came out first. But yeah, I think the
new HELLOWEEN is pretty great. Itīs a little different. [Yeah, it is] I
Yeah, cool. So can you tell me a bit about your tour plans and what
countries youīll be hoping to travel to this time for your tour?
Ahhh... thatīs a difficult question because I really donīt know what
the fuck is going on. [laughs] So far thereīs no tour plans because we
had a lot of problems with our record company because they didnīt think
that this album is as great as the first one. Weīve had a lot of
arguing and stuff like that. [Wow] I told them I thought this change of
style in music was what... people were going to like it and needed it.
They just wanted us to do the same typical Speed Metal stuff. [They
wanted you guys to be the next HELLOWEEN or something?] Yeah. So far I
havenīt been talking about touring and they have to finance the tour,
you know. We have to wait and see but hopefully some of the summer
festivals in Germany could be really great.
I read on your web page ironfire.com that your drummer has
injured his arm. Will this affect some of your tour plans? I heard you
were going to be doing an unplugged gig for your release party or
something coming up?
Yeah, it will definitely because, you know, we need a new drummer right
now. So, of course we had planned to do some shows in Denmark because we
didnīt play after the first album so we just thought that we needed
kind of to show the flag this time in Denmark but now we have to have
this drummer problem so I really donīt know what is... We just have to
find another drummer and that can take awhile. [Yeah, definitely] So
right now weīre just writing new material.
Oh, youīve already started?
Yeah. Weīve already got eight songs actually.
Wow! Thatīs an album! (laughing) [Almost] So what kind of style.. has
it changed from "On The Edge" already again?
It will be even more heavy and more aggressive. Some places
more technical. We have to.. it can change a hundred times. Itīs not
coming out, you know, before next year, its not coming out. So, we have
to wait and see.
Will that be out on Noise Records or is your deal with those guys kind
of year to year or album to album?
No, weīve got a contract on four albums. [Ok, good] So it will be on
Noise, I hope.
So is there any other news items or information that you
would like me to pass along to people who read this?
(laughs) Eehhh... No, not really.
(laughs) We covered it all didnīt we?
Iīd just want to say hi to the fans if weīve got some in Canada.
Oh, well, youīve got some thatīs for sure. (laughing)
Great! Hopefully Iīll see them on a tour someday.
Someday when European bands actually tour here, eh?
Yeah, that could be great, yeah.
ANGEL DUST are coming over next month I believe, so thereīs a few bands
that try to get over here and do something.
How is the Metal scene in Canada?
It seems from what I know that Québec and in Montreal in specific,
those guys have a bigger scene and thatīs where most of the
albums in Canada get sold in terms of Heavy Metal albums. I believe
thereīs a festival coming up in September taking place in Montreal and
NIGHTWISH and SONATA ARCTICA are going to come over and play at it.
[Great] Thatīs a pretty big deal considering they donīt tour in North
America period, right. So itīs.. maybe things will change and weīll
get some more melodic bands from over there coming over?!?!
So people are listening to melodic Metal in Canada.
Yeah.. itīs not all...
Itīs not all Slipknot and stuff like that?
I donīt like that at all! No.
No, that sucks!
Yeah, but that is what a lot of, I guess, fourteen and fifteen year old
kids think Heavy Metal is all about because the magazines here and
television, they wonīt report a band like HELLOWEEN theyīll say the
new metal album is K**n or some crap like that [Yeah]. But there are
people who still listen to that style of metal and itīs good to see.
Yeah, thatīs great.
It was nice talking to you.
Nice talking to you too. All the best of luck with the release of the
album now and hopefully it does really well for you guys because I think
you deserve it.
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