Encryption – Norbert Hartmann and Christian Klein

August 23rd, 2005
by EvilG

Encryption – Norbert Hartmann and Christian Klein
Interviewed in July 1999 by EvilG

 If you’re wondering who Encryption are then I suggest you read our Featured Artist spotlight on the band, then check out this very cool interview with Encryption’s vocalist and guitarist.


Metal Rules!!
You bio states that the band was formed in Dachsbach, Germany which is a little village with about 1000 inhabitants. What is it like being in a metal band in a small place like that?

Chris:
Well, as you can guess we are the only heavy metal band in Dachsbach, so we’re in a kind of exotic state… many people here know us, and whenever you meet some of these people, they ask questions like ” do you still play this terrible kind of noisy music?” – somehow it’s funny. But although most people (above all elder persons) don’t like our music, most are very tolerant. Normally, we rehearse two times a week in the cellar of my parent’s house, and until yet the neighbors haven’t complained about the noise. That’s really very fair. And I also have to admire my parent’s patience and tolerance, as they have to suffer week for week… but my mother even likes some songs, at least the melodic parts; all in all we are known here as the guys with long hair and noisy music – but after all it’s ok!

 

Metal Rules!!
Are you well known in Dachsbach and in underground metal circles in Germany?

Norbert:
Well, of course we are well known in Dachsbach, as nobody else is making such noise as we do in a little village like that! And also nobody is looking so ugly! Yes, we are the “stars of the village”! Concerning the German underground scene, most of the Zines or bands should know us, even if it is just by remembering our name. We keep contact to many Fanzines and bands and are featured on some Underground-Samplers.

Chris:
I agree with that, although there are not many metalheads in our village. Most people know that we have a band, but they don’t know what the band is about. There are some younger people at our age that listen to heavy metal, and they also attend the rehearsals from time to time. It’s not easy to evaluate how far we are known in German metal underground circles; we had a huge amount of partly unbelievable good reviews and also could sell more CDs than we’d expected (about 800/900). I think if somebody is really into the underground scene, he already came across the name Encryption. But most people are not very deep into the underground, the “normal” metalhead goes in the next record store and buys some CDs every month; those people probably never heard the name Encryption.

 

Metal Rules!!
Is the band still based out of Dachsbach?

Norbert:
We are all living in the surrounding area of Neustadt/Aisch, the next big city with about 10.000 inhabitants. We all live in different villages, which are all not far away from our rehearsal room in Dachsbach.

 

Metal Rules!!
Do you play much in Dachsbach, or do you mostly play in other parts of Germany and Europe?

Chris:
It’s a pity, but we don’t have very much gigs. We are already very satisfied if we can play one gig a month; and even this can’t be fulfilled every month. We have never played in Dachsbach so far, as we don’t have a location where concerts could be organized. So when we play, we play somewhere in our region, mainly in small youth clubs. Now and then we play in bigger cities, for example in Nuremberg; but we have never played outside Germany.

 

Metal Rules!!
Have you played at any of the big open air metal festivals that occur in Germany?

Norbert:
I think you mean the WACKEN OPEN AIR or WITH FULL FORCE near Leipzig…but no, unfortunately there is nearly no chance for a band without deal to play there. It would be a great experience for us to play there and if we will get the chance, we will take it, of course. But this will strongly depend on our label, if we’ll ever get some…

 

Metal Rules!!
How would you describe the state of metal in Dachsbach or in your region of Germany?

Chris:
Well, in Dachsbach there isn’t a state of metal at all! There are some people who listen to heavy metal, and there’s our band, but that’s all. The situation improves in the bigger cities around us, like in Nuremberg, Erlangen & F?rth in the one direction and W?rzb?rg & Kitzingen in the other direction. In these cities and its surroundings, there are more bands and also more people that listen to heavy metal. In Nuremberg, there’s even a radio station promoting and playing metal once a week! There are also many concerts of well-known acts in Nuremberg and W?rzburg, so all in all we must be pleased with the situation here – there are worse metal-regions in Germany, that’s for sure! But outside the big cities the situation is not very comforting. There are a lot of cover-bands that draw an unbelievable high amount of people to their really bad shows – sometimes about 1000 people!! In a way, these bands are destroying the scene for bands with self-composed music, as everybody attends the cover bands (because there you’ll meet a lot of friends and so drinking large amounts of alcohol is more fun) instead of going to a youth club to see some metal bands. So it’s very difficult to organize metal-gigs, as mostly there aren’t many headbangers that attend the shows, and the risk of loosing money is very high.

 

Metal Rules!!
Has the band done a proper tour yet? If not do you think it would be possible?

Chris:
No, we haven’t done a tour yet. And I don’t think we will – unless we had the support of a label. Because without a lot of promotion, you needn’t do a tour here, nobody will come to the shows. It’s even the same with well-known acts: if there is no promotion, only very few people attend the shows. Of course we would love to do a tour – but there are more problems: we all have to do something besides our music – going to school, study, work – and so it would be very difficult to find a period when everybody has the time to tour. But if we someday would get the chance to do a tour, we would give all for making this come true!

 

Metal Rules!!
Besides the show you did with Iron Savior and Edguy in April 1998 in Nuremberg has any other well known bands had you open for them?

Norbert:
On June 9th we did the support for MERCYFUL FATE at their concert in Nuremberg. I can say that we are satisfied with the peoples reactions, even if it always is a little bit difficult in front of a crowd, where quite nobody knows your songs. If we think of the music, the gig with IRON SAVIOUR and EDGUY fitted best, even if we’re a little bit “more extrem”… other well known bands we played with were DARKSEED and NIGHT IN GALES.

 

Metal Rules!!
Where has most of the positive reaction come from for your CD “Shrouded in Mystery”?

Chris:
It came just from everywhere all over the metal scene! It’s unbelievable, but we haven’t got any really bad reviews until now. Naturally, not all reviews were totally euphoric; some reviewers didn’t like the way Norbert sings, but everyone admitted that the music is on a high level, even if he or she didn’t like the style. Maybe the fanzines were a bit more cheerful than the bigger magazines, but we got very good reviews in big magazines as well.

 

Metal Rules!!
With regards to the artwork for “Shrouded in Mystery” – where was the inside and back cover scenic photographs taken?

Chris:
The photos are even older than everyone of the band is. They were taken by my father about 25 years ago; my parents then traveled through Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, and my father took some very cool pictures. The back cover photo is taken from the North Cape, the northernmost point of Scandinavia. The scenic picture inside was taken in Sweden.

 

Metal Rules!!
What is the cover artwork of? To me in kind of looks like tree trunks or mountains under water?!?!

Chris:
Well, actually it’s a cave with stalactites and stalagmites! Someday we had the idea of using the picture of a cave for our cover, and luckily we found a guy from a neighboring village who did cave-expeditions and had a lot of photos. Anyway, it looks somehow mysterious and so fits perfectly to the name of band and the album.

 

Metal Rules!!
Since “Shrouded in Mystery” was written/recorded in 1997, what has the band done musically in the past 2 years?

Norbert:
Well, we just didn’t fall asleep and wait for a deal or something, but did a lot of promotion, played some gigs and concentrated in creating new songs, which is really “hard work” at Encryption and takes quite a long time, but that is another story.. . . We rehearsed about 2 times a week regularly, just as we do right now. Myself, I’m doing some voice education for about one year.

 

Metal Rules!!
When will new material be recorded and released?

Norbert:
We have plans to enter the studio (the same as on “Shrouded…”) in October, but we still have recorded some new songs on 4 tracks for promotion and for ourselves to see what we still can do better and for some choir-ideas, which we won’t neglect on the new CD. The new CD will hopefully be released at the end of this year or in spring 2000.

 

Metal Rules!!
Has there been any major label interest in your music?

Chris:
No, unfortunately not. It’s a bit frustrating, because our reviews are better than those of some signed bands… but so what? It’s a sad fact, but without some business connections your chances are not very high. At the moment, an underground label shows interest in signing us. There’s nothing certain yet, but we would be interested too, and I’m quite confident that we will agree on cooperation. I think that maybe sometimes a smaller underground label is better than a major label, because it really cares about its bands and you aren’t one band among hundreds.

 

Metal Rules!!
Will you release your next CD independently, or will you only shop it to the labels in hopes of them distributing and releasing it?

Chris:
As I said we hope to cooperate with this underground label. But in case we didn’t find an agreement, we would first record our album and then try to shop it to some labels. If this fails, too, we will release the stuff independently, as we already did with our first CD. Our new songs will be definitely released, no matter if we find a label or not!!

 

Metal Rules!!
What is the deal with www.welcome.to/metal? It’s not just Encryption on there, is it a label or just a webzine that promotes German bands??

Chris:
Well, that’s no big deal. It’s the idea of Kai from the German underground fanzine “Eternity”; he provided the address and asked us if we want to participate. The idea was that everybody should use the URL welcome.to/metal on flyers etc. in order to do promotion for all the bands on this site. It goes like that: the surfer that comes for a certain band sees that there also other bands in there – and maybe he or she checks them out! The welcome to metal site is closely linked to the eternity-homepage (http://eternity.heavy.net), and Kai also provides free space for the band’s homepages. What is more, the link welcome.to/metal  can easily be beared in mind!

 

Metal Rules!!
Has the Internet been helpful in getting the word out about the band?

Norbert:
Yes, we received a lot of “interactive contact”, mainly through e-mail because of our homepage, or we got in touch with online-zines via e-mail ourselves (remember our first “touch”, haha…??). It’s a fast and easy way to communicate, you can get all the scene news you want and check out bands you’re interested in by loading down some sounds. Until now, many (online-) zines published reviews or interviews of us, so it was and is very helpful indeed. (Without the internet, how the hell had we had the chance of getting in touch, man, haha…? – You see…IT FUCKING RULES, DUDE !!)

 

Metal Rules!!
Besides the band, what do you guys do?

Norbert:
Unfortunately, we can’t afford living from our music, so we all have to go to work our to study. By now, we don’t even think of earning money from our music, although we won’t damn this thought from our heads… In our free-time we like Metal-Parties, concerts and beer. Myself, I prefer going fishing.

 

Metal Rules!!
Originally the band’s name was “Cryptic” but due to legal reasons you changed the name to something that is quite similar…”Encryption.” Does the band name play any part in an encrypted message that you are trying to convey to people? Or is it simply a band name?

Chris:
It’s simply a band name without an encrypted message. When we started, Oliver (bass guitar) came up with the name Cryptic, and we liked the sound of this word; so we decided to call the band Cryptic. After we received the message that we had to change the name, we wanted the new name to be somehow related to the old one, and so we took the noun encryption instead of the adjective cryptic. It’s maybe not very spectacular, but that’s it. There’s no encrypted message – let the music do the talking!

 

Metal Rules!!
What bands, old and new, do you look up to…and what bands have inspired you?

Norbert:
In our band there is everything heard, starting from pure Power-stuff like HAMMERFALL ’til Black Metal ? la EMPEROR. Everybody has its own favorite style, which makes it a little bit difficult always to find a compromise, when we’re creating a new song. But maybe this is the reason, why some say the music would remind of a mixture of German Power and Swedish Death Metal and if you like one of this styles, you’ll like it anyway. As you can see, we’re certainly inspired by many, many bands, but just to mention some, I can give you the following: ICED EARTH, BLIND GUARDIAN, IN FLAMES, DARK TRANQUILITY, IRON MAIDEN.

Chris:
Norbert is right; somehow you are influenced by all kinds of music you listen to. But I think that you are mainly influenced by bands that you listen to for a very long time, so to speak your all-time faves. Thus, new bands (for example the mentioned Hammerfall) only have marginal influence on our music.

 

Metal Rules!!
What style of metal would you classify yourself as? Power metal? Melodic death metal? Thrash metal? Or just heavy metal?

Chris:
That’s a difficult question. I think that you can’t judge your own music appropriate, because you’re confronted with it daily; the distance is too small. I prefer other people to evaluate our music, but if I had to decide for myself… well, we have elements of many metal styles in our songs: Thrash, Death, Power,… but all in all it’s just Heavy Metal. Yes, I would prefer Melodic Heavy Metal.

 

Metal Rules!!
This one is for Norbert…Since you write all the lyrics for the band…what topics inspire you? Perhaps you can give me an example or two about what exactly inspired some of the lyrics on “Shrouded in Mystery.”  Also, what does the title “Shrouded in Mystery” refer to?

Norbert:
“Shrouded…” is no concept album, if you mean that, every song has its own meaning. We just think the title fits perfectly to our cover artwork, to the mystical and secret mood the correspondent Intro is spreading and last but not least to our name. My lyrics are about things like apocalyptic things or science-fiction, like the song “Predator one”. I hope everybody can feel the power and strength of the “Predator”, when listening to the song, haha… 

On the contrary, song’s like “Oblivious Vapours” describe certain feelings or moods I’ve been in. Well, it has been really no very happy mood, as you can read…for me, this is a very personal song, it shows a little bit of my inner self, but also, when taking a look at the music, it’s one of my favorite songs we ever did, maybe it is a real “intensive” song, if you can say so…

“Lack of animosity” is a song against all those suckers, who follow simply every stupid trend, I really can’t stand this! So, I tried to do the vocals on the verse a little bit more aggressive. You can say, that it is also strongly depending on the riffing and melodies a new song has, if the vocals are getting more tough and aggressive or more clean and melodic, like in “Fog’s kiss”, which tells a kind of ancient love story.

 

Metal Rules!!
Oone more particular to Norbert…Since English is your second language, do you write lyrics in German first and later translate them into English?

Norbert:
No, when I’m writing down new lyrics, I’m completely thinking and writing in English. I’ve never tried it another way, but I think it is the best way for me to do it like that. To be sure that there are not too many mistakes, the new lyrics are always read by some American friends, but fortunately I don’t have too much problems with the English language.

 

Metal Rules!!
What other German bands are you guys into?

Chris:
There are so many German bands we like… if I had to mention all, you would need definitely more webspace, haha! So I’ll just mention a few: Blind Guardian, Running Wild, Rage, Sodom, Kreator, Gamma Ray, Iron Savior, Helloween, Night In Gales, Accu?er, Dark Millennium (R.I.P.), Atrocity, Depressive Age, Morgoth, Holy Moses (R.I.P.), Tankard, Darkseed… and at least another hundred bands! There are also a lot of very good underground acts in Germany, some of them are: Eternal Sadness, Behind The Scenery, Aardvarks, Blackend…

[I hope I got your question right ... if you meant whether we are involved in side projects, i can tell you we aren't. We want to concentrate on Encryption, and this takes a lot of time, so a side-project is hardly possible. I don't want to exclude the possibility that there are side-projects in the future, but it's not very likely (due to the lack of time).]

 

Metal Rules!!
Do you have any gigs lined up for the next few months?

Norbert:
In July we are playing two gigs, one of it is an Open Air event with certain metal bands from Germany. We like playing live and always try to do our very best, so we don’t care about if this events are not the biggest ones, maybe the big ones will show up in future…hopefully, haha… In autumn, of course, there will be another IRON IRONY festival!

 

Metal Rules!!
Do you guys organize the “IronIrony-Festival”?  Tell me a little about it, what the name means, what bands will play at it this year, how large the attendance is for the festival, where it’s held etc…

Chris:
Oh, the name sounds funny for every English or American ear, doesn’t it? Well, again a word without meaning or sense – or does the word “iron” make sense together with the word “irony”?!  In 1997 Path Of Debris (a death metal band from southern Germany) and we decided to organize a metal-festival, and the guys from Path Of Debris came up with this name. It sounded cool somehow, and so we took it. The idea behind the festival was to organize a gig that is bigger than normal gigs. I already said that we have the problem of small audiences, and so we thought if we did a lot of promotion and had 5 cool bands, maybe more metalheads will attend the festival. In 1997 there played Darkseed, Blackend, Path Of Debris, Destiny and our band. There were two festival days: On friday we played near Landshut (in Kelheim) and on Saturday we played in our region (in Unternesselbach). Friday was not very cool, as there were the normal small audience – but Saturday was really special! There were about 250 metalheads (that’s a very good number of people for an underground festival in our region!) and the festival developed into a real metal party. In the end, there were almost more people posing and diving on stage than before it; and there were people from different fanzines and bands that came from all over Germany (Kai and Katja from the “Eternity”-zine even came from Berlin, that are about 500km!). After the festival, about 25 people started an after show-party in our house, and we celebrated till the next day… a detailed “history” of this legendary first ironirony can be found on our homepage! After the fun and success of the first festival, we decided to make an ironirony in 1998, too. This time, only we organized the festival which took place again in Unternesselbach (this village is so small, they even haven’t street names!!!) with the following bands: Night In Gales, Eternal Sadness, Aardvarks, Euthanasie and Encryption. There were even more people (ca. 350) and this was a big surprise, as on the same day there were playing a lot of  cover bands in our region. All in all it was the same procedure as the year before: a lot of noise, a lot of fun and an extreme after show party (Somebody joked last year: “Hey, let’s do only the after show party…!”)!! Of course we have to organize the festival this year, too, as it has become a real meeting point for the underground scene. It will take place in late October, naturally in Unternesselbach; but until yet, there aren’t confirmed any bands.

 

Metal Rules!!
Well that’s all from me for now! If you have any words or other news to pass along to those who will be reading this interview now’s your chance!!

Chris:
First of all, we want to thank you very much. To be “featured artist of the month” is our greatest honor so far! We really appreciate your support. I’d like to encourage all readers to visit our homepage and listen to the soundfiles. Don’t hesitate to e-mail your opinion, whether it’s good or bad! We will answer all mails! Finally Geoff, good luck for the future and your webzine! Heavy Metal is the law!!

Norbert:
Stay open minded, ’cause Metal is not the right place for certain ignorance, fuck fashions and don’t hesitate to get in touch, even if we sometimes may bite.

 

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