Ruediger Tonn, the drummer in Clusterhead was available for an interview. I took the opportunity to learn and ask more about the band that has, in my opinion, released a brilliant debut album called TIMES OF NO TRUST. The band comes from Germany so for all you Clusterhead fans out there, read and enjoy.
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Oliver Häusler at Artistworkxx for setting up the interview
Thanks to Artistworkxx for the promo pictures of the band
Since this is my first interview with you I have to begin with some background info about the band, how does the story of Clusterhead begin in the first place?
Well, we all are from the region of Regensburg and know each other for many years and we played in different lineups with many bands around our hometown. Within our actual lineup it’s a real big friendship between us and we’re spending a lot of time together. Rene is the voice of the band. Frank plays the guitars. Andy is our bass-man and I am the drummer. At the moment we are thinking about adding a second guitar player to the band.
You are four guys in the band, did you all know each other before you formed the band?
Yes, more or less. We haven’t been close friends but as we come from the same region we knew each other for quite a while.
Have any of you been involved in any other well known acts prior to Clusterhead?
No, we have played in several regional bands but none of them had the status CLUSTERHEAD has now.
According to the bio the members heroes are bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Scorpions amongst others. Do you think that Clusterhead’s music is influenced by those acts?
Yes, because our roots are back in the 80s when those bands shaped hard and heavy music. But we are not trying to sound identical; we want to create a modern sounding style of metal which is able to survive nowadays and in the future.
You have previously released three demos with Clusterhead, what did the labels think of those when you sent out the demos to them?
To be honest, we didn’t send out many demos to labels as we were not convinced these days that we already have realized what we were aiming for. We sent them out to mags and webzines to get an impression about what the people and media are thinking about our music.
Are the demos available online or in any stores today?
No, we just printed a few copies for the media, not for sale. We are concentrating on selling “Times Of No Trust” now as this is a mature work both technically and sound wise.
You are from a town called Regensburg in Germany, what’s the status of the metal and hardrock scene in Regensburg and in Germany over all to day?
Regensburg is in the South-East of Germany and most of the hard music fans are into gothic, punk, rock n roll but not into the classic metal styles. It is different to the North and West of Germany where there are still lots of people listening to metal, hard rock, generally the more classic styles.
Where does the band name come from? Does it mean anything special to the members?
The name of the band was created by our bass man Andy: “I don’t think it was a great brainstorming. It just came out of me after a long alcoholic party-night when I decided to think about the world when I was kneeling before the toilet, Crazy, but true”. The main reason why we kept this name was just that it sounds really good and there’s no other band on the planet with the same name. So actually no big fuzz about it.
Have Clusterhead toured a lot since you started out? Have you mainly toured in Germany or have you been out in the rest of the world as well?
We have done a lot of regional touring but no gigs out of Germany so far. But at the moment our management is working on some gigs, especially support gigs for well-known bands. I can’t say anything yet but if everything will turn out the way we wish we will go on tour in November in Germany, Switzerland and Italy with 2 big names.
Where in the world are you the most popular? Do you get a lot of fan mail?
We received a lot of good media feedback from everywhere around the world but it seems that many classic metal lovers from the US are appreciating what we are doing. The feedback on myspace from the US is just great so we intend to comprehensively spread the word there, especially with the next record.
Your debut album called TIMES OF NO TRUST was released a while ago, have you featured any songs from the past demos on the album or is the material newly written?
Yes, there are several songs on the album that also have been on the demos but we rerecorded and remixed them to give them a more professional sound.
Did it take long to write the lyrics and the music? What are the lyrics about and do you consider Clusterhead to be a political and socially aware band?
It took us about 2 years to write all the lyrics and songs as they are now on the album. I don’t think we are concentrating on being a political band but we definitely don’t close our eyes when it comes to the daily news and so we are dealing with lots of social and environmental themes in our songs but not totally intentionally.
How long did it take to record the album, from when you first entered the studio until you left it?
I think we worked around 1 year to get the recordings and production done. But we had the advantage to take a lot of time because we have a well-equipped studio at our disposal where we can take our time without becoming impoverished because of renting studio time.
You have recorded the album in something called Clusterhead Studio, is it your own studio? Where is it located?
It´s a combination of a rehearsal room and studio near Regensburg and it is very well-equipped. It´s our own studio and we are happy about the fact that nowadays bands are able to record good quality albums without being under pressure of paying lots of money for rented studios
What’s the thought behind the title TIME OF NO TRUST?
When you watch the daily news you can recognize that there is almost nobody you can trust anymore. People don’t trust politicians. Politicians and people don´t trust the business. Even long-term friends sometimes can´t trust each other anymore. It’s a hint on a somehow deranged society.
Who has done the cover art-work and what do you think of it?
Our guitarist Frank has done the artwork. He used to work as a printer administrator and graphics man and we think he has done a great job. The clock shows 5 minutes to noon and that’s where our society is at the moment regarding pollution of our environment and regarding the fact that a few rich ones get even richer and many poor ones get even poorer. The time has come that something has to be done.
My bio compare you music with acts like Axel Rudi Pell, Pink Cream 69 and Bonfire, what do you think of that description?
Well, strangely some reviews of the demos mentioned that we sound like those bands. We think that we are a bit harder than PC69 and Bonfire but nevertheless as melodic as they are. We are fine with the fact to be compared with those great bands.
I think you play melodic metal of the more European school, but how would you like to describe your music?
That’s what we are thinking too. We are playing a melodic style of classic metal but wrapped in modern sound and production. We want to attract both old-school metal fans and younger metal lovers alike and that´s the reason why we dare to cover the span between classic metal and modern sound.
Are you happy with the debut album or do you think you should have done anything different on it now that you look back on it?
No, regarding the fact that we have done everything by ourselves we are very happy with the result and the good reviews from all over the world show that we must have done something right.
Have you read any reviews of the debut yet? What does the media and the fans think of the disc?
Yes, we read all of them, around 100 by now. Many appreciate our effort to create a modern sounding alternative of classic metal and some said that we have a very original style. Indeed there was no single really bad review among those we received so far.
Do you have any plans on releasing any CDS or video from the debut?
We have posted two self-made videos on YouTube and we are currently working on a video for our semi-ballad “Ghosts” which will be online in around 4 weeks. And we are already working on new material for the 2nd CD which is planned to be released around spring/summer 2009.
Was it hard to land a deal with a label do you think?
It is very hard to land a deal with a label that is willing to support you more than a 2 or 3 months. Many renowned labels are releasing 4, 5 or 6 albums at one time and the band that does best will get some further support, the others will be dropped immediately.
Were there many labels interested in Clusterhead from the beginning?
No, there were around 4 or 5 small indie labels that showed interest but we decided not to work with them and to wait for a reasonable offer instead. No bigger label was interested in fact.
Finally you inked a deal with Artist Service/Music Buy Mail, how come you chose them to represent you?
They are doing a great job regarding distribution and promotion and they are real music lovers, not just business men. They have the right contacts and a good distributional web.
Thus our CD is available in many physical shops worldwide and in around 130 download shops. Another fact is that they are located in Munich which is just 130 kilometers from Regensburg and this makes it much easier to keep up a good contact. It’s not an easy job for them to mainly deal with newcomer and unknown bands but what they are doing is very artist orientated and we really appreciate their efforts to spread the word for their bands.
I have not seen your album out in the Swedish stores yet. How does the label distribute the album in different parts of Europe?
Yes, you are right, Scandinavia is the only European territory where they don´t have comprehensive distributional representation yet but if you are searching for our CD online you will find several shops where you can by our CD in Scandinavia too. But they are constantly working on improving the distributional situation.
Do you have different labels that release your album in different territories outside Europe?
No, MBM is collaborating with many renowned distributors in Europe such as Frontiers or RSK and they are selling directly to shops and retailers outside Europe.
Are you happy with the deal and the effort the label have put into the album so far?
Yes, as I already mentioned we are very happy with their work so far, especially when you think about the declining CD sales the industry has to face.
What’s the benefit with being signed to a label that has its base in Germany?
First of all the communication is much easier. It´s a big advantage if you don´t need a translator for every contract or negotiation you do with a label. And we also think that a German label is suited best for releasing metal albums to one of the main territories of the world.
For how many albums did you sign on for?
That’s the big plus of the deal. They don’t want to sign bands for more than one album so you have the chance to step over to other promising offers and options you maybe will receive. They just want to have the distributional rights for 6 months, and then you are free to do whatever you want to. I think that´s a good solution as they don’t have to do another one if they don’t want to and the band is not under pressure to stick to them in case a promising offer comes in.
Is the album released world wide yet?
Yes, but not through different labels but through MBM’s distributional network.
You are working with the promotion/management label Artist Workxx, what do you think of them and their work?
Owner Oliver Haeusler takes care about our promotion personally. He is doing a great job. He organized many interviews for us, followed up the media partners regarding reviews. Actually we chose him to be our manager and booking agent from now on. We trust him and the fact that he is also involved in the Artist Service can only be measured positively.
You have been out on the road with Cage in Southern Germany, how was that? And how did the Cage fans treated you?
It was a great experience for us to support CAGE. They are great and nice guys and very professional. They supported us in every way and it was big fun to share the stage with them. The fans liked us although we are not the typical power metal band like CAGE. The feedback was good indeed.
How many show’s have you done this year?
Not so many, around ten I think. We had to concentrate on finishing the recordings and negotiating on record deals until May 2008. But now our management is working on many shows and maybe we will be able to visit Scandinavia in 2009. We really hope that.
When do you think Clusterhead is about to do a proper support tour over Europe?
For 2008 we are concentrating on some countries in Central Europe, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Austria. In 2009 we want to play a few festivals and we also want to visit Scandinavia in order to promote our second album which hopefully will be released then and “Times Of No Trust” too.
Are you gonna tour more on TIME OF NO TRUST?
Yes, in fall/winter/spring 2008/2009.
Give the readers three great reasons why they should buy TIME OF NO TRUST.
Because we are the best band in the world ha ha, No, I am just kidding!
– CLUSTERHEAD brings classic metal to the people without sounding stale
– Our work and previous success is not based on stardom or talent castings but on hard work
– “Times Of No Trust” is a great metal album that will prepare you for our next one which will be a KILLER!!!
What are the plans for Clusterhead in the near future?
Touring, recording, getting rich and getting all the beautiful girls ha ha
I have to congratulate you to a brilliant debut album, I really loved it. Good luck in the future and hopefully I’ll find a new Clusterhead album out soon. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.
Thanx a lot Anders for your support and for the possibility to talk to you and to let your readers know a bit more about CLUSTERHEAD. It was a pleasure to answer your questions!
Do you have any final words of wisdom for the readers and fans?
Be open-minded towards talented but so far unknown newcomer bands. Don’t only support the big ones. There are so many talented bands out there deserving your attention.
And make sure to get a copy of “Times Of No Trust”!!!
More info about the band