Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Toby at CMM gmbh for help for making the interview possible.
Promo pictures from the Hartmann website.
Oliver Hartmann is one of the most renowned singers in the melodic hardrock scene. He has recently released his third solo album simply titled 3. I thought that the album was brilliant and felt like it was time to check out what this genius singer was up to. Hartmann had the time to sit down and had a chat with me. Besides his own solo career we also talked about his performances on the Avantasia albums and his collaborations with Edguy singer Tobias Sammett.
Hi Oliver it’s metal-rules.com here. Are you ready to kick off the interview? Thanks a lot for taking the time to do this interview first of all.
Yeah, for sure I’m ready to kick-off – the football championship is coming, too Let’s go!
I thought we maybe could start with talking about your new solo album III. How long did it take you to write and record the album?
I started to write the first songs for “3” in spring 2008 right before the tour with AVANTASIA and finshed the songwriting in early autumn 2009 right before the mix of the album.
What are the lyrics about? Have you written all of the material on your own or have you co-written it with someone else?
All songs and lyrics are written by me but some songs’ arrangements have been overworked by Sascha Paeth and our bass player Armin Donderer. I wasn’t satisfied with some arrangements and song structures this time so it was really helpful here and there to get some new inspiration and fresh blood – that sound’s brutal heavy, he? ;-)) The lyrics I write for HARTMANN are normally all about everyday life and about all the things that happen to you or others: Love, hate, hope, dreams, relationships. I can be either a real story of your own life or what you see when looking at others from the outside. But it can also be something fictional – just an idea or thought - which you then try to put into a lyrical story to create a certain picture for the listener. Even then there’s always something personal in it, too, since I think you can’t write about something you are not able too feel – but that’s my personal opinion.
Where do you find inspiration to write music and lyrics?
I think when you open your ears and eyes there’s always something right before you that you can write about or that gives you musical inspiration. Combined with all our musical influences that’s maybe what comes out in the end as HARTMANN: Honest and modern rock music with different and versatile shades.
You last studio album HOME came 3 years ago. What have you been up to in between releases?
I have been doing lots of things. Besides some side projects as guest vocalist for VINDICTIV, choir productions for many bands and last but not least our amazing tour with AVANTASIA in 2008. I was also touring a lot live with HARTMANN as support for HOOTERS and HOUSE OF LORDS and as a member of the German Pink Floyd tribute ECHOES. Not to forget about the recording and release of our unplugged DVD/CD HANDMADE wit HARTMANN in autumn 2007. Really enough stuff to spend your time – everything else but boring
Do you think you have gone through any musical developments on this new album compared to your previous one?
Yes, for sure. Every musician is developing during his whole life and it never stops – otherwise most artists would stop after 2 records since they would think there’s nothing more or better to come. I had a certain idea how the new album should sound like and that’s what we were all working on. I think we achieved our goal – or at least we were pretty close cause you never really know a 100% what will come out in the end. And that’s good! Making music and doing a record is just keeping a certain moment or time frame on a disc or some other medium. Like a picture – but as an audio version.
Why did you name the album III? What’s the thought behind the name?
Regarding the name of the album there are different reasons. On one hand it was the third studio album – not counting the live DVD HANDMADE – which is well known and feared as normally being the most important one of a band’s career. So when you had 2 quite successful releases everybody is very concentrated on what’s to come next and this is mostly including very high expectations, the “make it or break it” thing. On the other hand we have a German saying called “All good things are 3” so founding our own new record label SONIC 11 for this album was one of a few right decisions for HARTMANN so I’m pretty sure that we’re gonna make it now ha ha
How would you like to describe what kind of music you have on III? Personally I think the music leans towards being melodic rock.
Somehow it’s what most people would call melodic rock, that’s right. On the other hand this is a name or description for bands that have a typical 80’s rock sound, concerning the riffs, keyboards, arrangements, production and everything else. In my opinion this never really fitted perfect on what we do with HARTMANN. For sure we all have our influences in that 70’s and 80’s music and that’s plain to see and hear – we all grew up with that. But I think there are so many other elements in our music which have nothing to do with that kind of style I’m talking about and also with a much more modern overall sound and approach. And that’s really important for me and everybody else in the band.
Were there many songs that wasn’t featured on the final edition of the disc? How many songs did you write to the album originally?
There are a few more tracks that haven’t been used yet for this release. I think 3 all in all…again 3
We are now looking forward to a South American release of “3” during the next 2 months so it could be possible that one of them will be used as a bonus track – besides other optional video and audio material. But since these songs are not so called “second ware” I’m still thinking about to overwork them for a next HARTMANN album. Let’s see what happens.
What can you tell us about the duet that you and Tobias Sammet sing on III?
We know each other for more than 10 years now since working on the first part of AVANTASIA. We’re not only business partners and you can really call it a long time friendship. When writing “Brothers” I was looking out for the right fitting vocal partner and I couldn’t have found a better one for the role of the “younger brother” than Tobi. He really did an outstanding job on this track…and he had to pay his dues for 10 years of AVANTASIA, ha ha ;-)!
Did you have a release party to launch the album? If so when and where did it take place?
We had a release party in late November last year in Aschaffenburg Germany. It was an amazing and sold out club show where luckily Tobias Sammet and Sascha Paeth were taking part as special guests on “Brothers” and on a HARTMANN-version of AVANTASIA’s duet “I don’t believe in your love”. We also recorded some video footage of that night that will be used as bonus material for the forthcoming release in South America.
Did you do perform any of the new songs on the party?
You mean unreleased material? No. But we played nearly all songs of the new album plus a lot of our and the fan’s favourite songs from our first 2 albums OUT IN THE COLD and “Home”. With 3 studio albums and our live DVD HANDMADE we now really have enough great material for a full 2 or 2 ½ hour HARTMANN show that really rocks!
Have you had any reactions from the fans on III? What do they think about?
All in all we really just had positive reactions on our new album.
For sure there are – as always – a few fans here and there who wished the album to be more melodic rock with the typical 80s arrangements but most people see that we moved one step ahead to 2010 and they absolutely love the combination. So everything is perfect for us and it gives us a certain kind of satisfaction since this was our main goal in the production process of “3”.
Do you think that the old fans are gonna recognize the music of Oliver Hartman in III?
Like I said most people understand the development of HARTMANN on “3” – old fans, too. Except maybe the ones who wished to get something like AT VANCE but that’s a different thing. The most important thing for us is too see that we kept our old fans and gained new fans with this album who are now asking for the previous releases too since they maybe didn’t know the band well yet or didn’t pay much attention so far.
Have you read any review in the magazines about the disc?
Yes, for sure I read them since I get them all form our promotion agency. But to be honest: I don’t pay too much attention on everybody’s opinion anymore. I’m happy when someone likes the album and gives it a good review. If someone doesn’t like it’s okay for me, too. We can’t be and don’t want to be everybody darling. Sometimes a critical point can be right – why not – nothing is perfect and everybody has his own point of view. I just don’t like it when I feel that one reviewer has written off his “personal” statements from another writer or if a review is everything else but objective. But music simply isn’t objective – that’s live
You have released two singles from the album as well. Which are these songs and are they released in stores or only as downloads?
We released special versions of “Suddenly” and the ballad “All I can say” as download singles on iTunes and other portals – both songs for a low special price. And besides the duet “Brothers” they are definitely the 2 songs of HARTMANN that are downloaded the most.
Are you gonna shoot a video to any of the singles?
No, I don’t think so. I mean you’ll never know but there’s nothing planned so far. We are still thinking about the release of another album song as special single version during the next 2 months but it’s still just an idea. Let’s see if we will do a video for this one.
Let’s take a look at the cover art-work of III. Who has done the cover and what do you think of it?
My girlfriend who is a graphic designer has done the whole artwork and photos. As being partners in a relationship it’s always more difficult to work together and to stay objective somehow than working with somebody else. But she did a cool job on this one and she also did all artwork for the other albums, too. So I can say that I’m really happy to have her at my side – and I’m not easy to work with – she can tell ya, ha ha
Are you happy with the outcome of III or do you feel that you should have done anything in a different kind of way?
All in all I’m really happy with it – definitely, yes.
There’s always something you will find afterwards where you wished to have the chance to change it. That’s what I was talking about and that’s why we will still do another new perfect record, ha ha
Additional arrangements on the album are made by Sascha Paeth, Miro Rodenberg and Armin Donderer to mention a few how involved have they been ?
Armin has worked over the arrangement of “Right here right now” and some small things on “Suddenly”. He also came along with some ideas here and there for other songs. He was involved into the production process much more this time and that was definitely a good thing for us. Sascha always comes along with some cool ideas and he’s an great person to work with. He was sometimes a bit pissed when he was working on a song’s arrangement and when I didn’t like his changes in the end. But the main true reason for being pissed was his broken and “20-times-crashing-a-day” computer that drove him nuts during this production
Miro is always a big help regarding the additional keys and strings.
Even if me and our keyboarder Juergen Wuest – who unfortunately now had to leave the band due to personal reasons – already recorded and arranged most of the keys I’m happy to have someone like Miro because he always adds or changes something – especially the strings – that makes a song more outstanding and more unique than before. He’s an A-choice for every production and he did a great job again on the new album, too.
Is there any differences in how you are treated by and written about in the German press compared to foreign press?
I never really thought about that – maybe I should take more care about that fact
But, no, I don’t think so. Since now we were treated well by the press no matter from which country. The only thing is that maybe the South American fans and the magazines are more ecstatic and open – but that’s a thing that every rock band will tell you – they simply have the better weather, haha
Do you care about what the media writes about you and by that I mean if you care about gossip and rumours about you?
What rumours? Did I miss something?
For sure I’m interested in the media’s and fans’ opinion but I don’t care about rumours or any other gossip shit. Interested in the truth to a new so called story? Ask me, don’t ask others!!
But sometimes it’s also funny for me to read or hear some news about myself that I didn’t know yet
Many artists thinks that their latest album is their best but what are you most satisfied with having achieved in your career so far?
Absolutely, yes. I’m definitely glad to have done 3 +1 live album with HARTMANN – I really think “3” as the best one so far - and being involved in many other successful and well known projects such as AVANTASIA, GENIUS and others. So I can just say that I’m really happy with what I was able to do so far. I’m still young enough to say that hopefully the best is yet to come!
Have you always had the same band members in your band?
Yes, from the first live show it was always the same line up and I’m really proud of that. Only Bodo Schopf, who was just available for the first studio production of OUT IN THE COLD was replaced by Dario Ciccioni. Great drummer and great Italian
What does the members do when they’re not playing with you? Are they involved in other projects or acts?
They all have their own projects or normal day jobs. Armin was also a long time member of Freedom Call and other projects and our keyboarder Juergen has his own band, too. Dario is doing many different things and projects…to many to count them all
Do the members have any saying when it comes to the songs you write?
For sure. Even if I’m the main songwriter everybody in the band is free to involve himself into the whole process with his own ideas. Before we do a new record we normally meet in our practice room, check out all the song’s arrangements and still do a lot of changes. If someone comes along with a great idea or song – perfect!
How come you named the band after yourself?
Because it’s my name and due to the fact that it all started as a solo project. Some people expect something different musical wise when hearing the band’s name for the first time– maybe something like RAMMSTEIN No, really I’m not joking! I just read a review in an important German metal magazine where it was written that I would have much more success when giving the band a real band name and stopping to sell it as a solo project since the world was full of that….????? I know many successful bands who have named their band after the singer or somebody else…I’m sure you will find at least 10 of them. If it was a solo project, why should I play with the same band members for years and why should they be involved in the artwork and photos? I will never understand stuff like that…or maybe I’m just too stupid ;-)
Is it the same members that play live that plays on the album?
Yes, the same band. Just additional things here and by Sascha Paeth or Miro.
You did record HOME in Gate Studio but where have you recorded III?
I arranged and recorded the main parts of all albums in my own small studio except the drums and some other things here and there. The final mix and mastering was always done by Sascha Paeth and Miro at Gate Studio .
Did you record all of the album in the same studio?
Yes, except the drums which were recorded in different studios during the last productions. During the first 2 albums we also rerecorded main parts of the rhythm guitars at Gate Studio.
I read that you and Paeth have co-produced the album how was it to work with Paeth and do you think that you’re gonna continue co-produce your albums along with him in the future?
We now did 3 studio albums together and he was also involved in the final mix of HANDMADE – I wouldn’t have done that if I wasn’t sure that this is a good team. I’m pretty sure that he will be taking part in the HARTMANN future, too.
What do you think is Sascha Paeths strongest feature as a producer ? And what’s your strongest feature as producer?
Sascha is very calm character and absolutely easy to work with. An he’s one of the most reliable and trustable persons I know in this business. Hard to find. And he’s more creative than most people would expect.
Looking at myself it’s not easy to answer:
I’m trying to be as creative as possible and I know what I want. That’s the good thing. The bad thing is that you sometimes lose the skill to see things from the outside since you’re involved in a production for months or years. It’s always good to have someone involved who is more objective than you and that you will listen to.
Have you produced any other artist beside yourself?
I’ve produced single songs for and with artists here and there over the past 15 years. I’m now thinking about another new project where I’m maybe just involved as producer. Let’s see.
When did you first start to sing? Did you want to become a singer when you were a kid?
I started to play guitar at the age of 10 and decided to also become a singer when I was around 17 being influenced by all these great singers like Coverdale, Hughes, Lynn-Turner, Gillan, Rodgers, Perry and many others….and I’m more than sad these days since Ronnie James Dio died of his cancer 3 days ago…I was hoping so much that he’ll be cured. He was one of my main influences and played a main role for my decision to become a singer – and I’m pretty sure for others, too. He definitely was a lifetime legend and he now left a gap in the whole scene that is impossible to close. I hope he will catch his personal rainbow now – unfortunately far away…but somehow still there…
Do you have any special role models or idols that have inspired you musically through the years?
All the ones that I named and countless more- from Blues and Soul over Pop to Metal. Too many to count – and I’m not starting to talk about guitarists
Can you play any instrument besides guitar?
I can play some drums – not too well, some mandolin, a little keys, bass…and I’m a really lousy harp player
What do you like the most? Sing or play the guitar?
I can’t tell…I really love to do both but for sure singing is the more important part for the song itself.
You have an amazing voice with a magnificent vocal range. How do you keep your voice in such a good shape?
I’m mostly self educated but also with the help of lots vocal and physical theory during the last 20 years. And I’m still working on it. Your vocal chords are an organ and part of your body that can be seriously or irreparable damaged by forcing it too much or singing the wrong way. During my first bands I had the luck to work with really good singers that helped me to develop my skills as a vocalist. To keep my own voice in shape I now just try to not overstress it too much cause hard rock and metal singing is the most physical challenge when looking at different styles. Everything is always at a level and pitch of 120% and it’s sometimes hard to keep that level while touring and playing long live shows. Especially when you sing the way I do by bending the chest voice up to it limits you have to take care to not exhaust yourself. But for god’s sake everything is still fine.
You are considered by many as one of the singers with the best voices in Europe. How does that feel?
Oh, thanks for the flowers
I’m really happy to be known as a good singer and I was always glad to be part of productions where was able to work with some of the guys that have been my own heroes. That’s a big gift of life and I’m thankful for that every single day.
What was the name of the first band you joined?
The first what you can really call “band” was MERLIN – a hard rock/metal band that had a demo with some great songs but unfortunately never made it. I was 17 and we had a great singer named Goetz Mohr – Since a few years I’m working again with him and now he’s is singing for the Belgian metal band Iron Mask. Since I produced his vocals and recorded the choirs for this project we often meet and it’s a real funny situation that he’s now somehow listening to my instructions
Do you write material for other artists than yourself?
First of all I write for myself. If something doesn’t fit to HARTMANN at all and if I think that it’s a good song it can happen that I also offer it to other artists. But that just happened a few times.
Where do you find inspiration to write new songs? Are you the kind of writer that can write songs on the road or do you have to sit down at home or in the studio in order to write?
Like I said: The inspiration is everywhere and you normally just have to open your eyes and ears. Even if you have times where it’s hard and nearly impossible to be creative – but you just can’t control that.
What do you like the most, recording your own albums, write songs, sing on other bands albums or play live?
Singing on other projects or playing live is the much easier part for me. Writing songs and producing a record maybe is like getting a baby: Very stressful, exhausting, exciting, personal and sometimes painful…but if the boy comes out healthy and good looking in the end I’m the most happy man, ha ha
You are signed to SAOL/H’ART now but before that were you signed to Frontiers Records. Why did you change label?
Were you without a record deal for a long time?
I changed due to many reasons and due to the foundation of my own record label. The in-between production HANDMADE was released by a label of a friend of mine.
How come you signed on for your current label and are you happy with the work the label have put into III?
Every time you do something it could be a bit better looking at it afterwards. But all in all I’m happy to have my on label now since I have more control about the music and promotion – but again more work!
Your label is co-operating with the promotion label CMM gmbh how is that?
We have a good personal contact and a solid basis to work on. They are taking care of the main part of the promotion and they are doing a good job – at least that’s what I hope;-)
Are you co-operating with any booking management at the moment?
We are working with different German booking agencies but non of them are exclusive. Everything else is done and organized by ourselves. In case someone will be interested in doing more for the band than giving us support slots we will also think about something exclusive – but not at the moment.
Who own the legal rights to your two first albums and do you know in how many copies those albums have sold so far?
Both albums OUT IN THE COLD and HOME were pretty good selling all over the world but both have not been distributed in Europe anymore since mid last year. Since I regained the rights a few months ago this was another reason to found my own label.
Are the two albums still available out in stores today?
OUT IN THE COLD is available again due to our re-release in October 2009 on our own label SONIC 11. It’s distributed by H’ART Music and a re-release of HOME is coming soon, too.
Now that we are speaking do I have to ask you about the awesome metal opera Avantasia and how you ended up singing on those albums?
It all started in 2000 when Tobias Sammet called me since he was looking for a fitting singer for the role of the pope. He was telling me that he liked my vocals on the first AT VANCE records, letting me know a bit about his plans and the other guest appearances. I started to like the idea so I agreed but none of us – not even Tobias himself- ever imagined how big this project would grow.
Are you close friend to Tobias Sammett that are the brains behind the opera?
Yes, we are. He’s not only the funny guy you can always have a laugh with. He’s a very nice, kind and clever person and we often talk on the phone when we have time left. Spending lots of time together on our tour in 2008 also helped to develop another relationship between us. But for sure to all other Avantasians, too.
What did you think the very first time you heard and was asked to participate on a metal opera?
To be honest: I thought “Yeah, why not – let’s try it out”. I just knew that Tobi was first trying to get Dio – God bless him – for that role but he wasn’t available for other projects during that time. As a big fan of Ronnie I felt some kind of honoured to be 2nd choice
After we met in the studio and as I heard all the songs it was clear to me right away that this will be something cool. And we really had a big laugh from the first moment on!
How was it to record the albums? Was it any differences in the way you worked on the albums?
No, regarding the work it’s no different with AVANTASIA than recording for other projects as a guest singer. But the feeling is for sure different. If you normally try to give a 100% this is a thing were you always turn it up to 130%. Being a part of a song besides Jorn, Russel and all the other great singers doesn’t allow just a 100%. And that’s the good thing that everybody will tell you who is a part of it. Be the best one you can be!
Many people were involved in Avantasia. Was everyone in the studio doing their thing at the same time or did you all record your parts in different studios?
We normally all record in different studios since time and organisation won’t allow to be in one studio for weeks or months at the same time. But it sometimes happens that – in case it’s not recorded at your own studio – you open the door of Gate Studio to say “Hi and bye” to some of the others
Could you ever imagine that the albums were gonna be so popular?
No, not at all. I knew right away that this will be something special but I never thought about a success like that.
After the first two albums did Sammet go out and say that there wasn’t gonna be anymore Avantasia. But now has the third album been released. Did you believe Sammet when he said it was over?
Yes, because he really believed that himself;-)
But we were all hoping for a continuation and finally we seemed to have convinced him! It’s the same when talking about a tour. It was never planned or in sight due to many reasons and due to the fact that it seemed unreal to get all these singers and musicians on a stage at the same time. But we finally did it
How was it to sing on albums that included so many well known and talented musicians and singers?
Like I said it’s always something special and I feel honoured everytime I’m asked to take part on a new album and especially with such great singers in the line up.
THE SCARECROW is the latest release from the Avantasia camp. How was it to sing on that album compared to the other two?
It was a bit different due to the awareness that the first 2 parts were so successful. For THE SCARECROW I was also involved to arrange the whole choirs with 20 people what turned out to be a great and spontaneous thing in the end and definitely sounded different to productions with just 2 or 3 background singers. For the new double album WICKED SYMPHONY and ANGEL OF BABYLON we decided to do smaller choirs to create a different sound this time.
When was it final that Sammet were gonna take Avantasia out on tour back in 2008? What did you felt when you heard that?
It was great and none of us believed it until we knew that all dates had been confirmed. In the end it was simply an amazing tour where we all had tons of fun! Even if we are all professional musicians for a long time and did our tours with many bands everybody including the crew was feeling like being on a big school trip, ha ha ;-) The whole situation was totally relaxed – even for Tobi who for sure felt that it was a big challenge to bring this project on stage for the first time. But I think he always felt safe by having this great and funny band at his side that he always could rely on. And we are all really looking forward to do it all again a.s.a.p.!
How was it to be on stage and on tour with the Avantasia material? Which one of the shows did you enjoy doing the most?
Simply great! We all enjoyed each single day and show no matter if it was an inside show with 2000 fans or a big festival with more than 100.000 people. But South America and especially Argentina was an amazing experience. From the first note we played the whole venue was jumping and singing the intro melody. These 3000 fans made noise for 10.000- unbelievable!
I did see the show at Wacken Open Air Festival in Germany and that was a really cool show you did there. How was it for you on stage to do the show?
It was the fore-last show and after Sweden Rock in the beginning of our trip- the biggest one we played on that tour. Being aware of the fact that there were more than 100.000 people really created a very special feeling. And it was the only show were we had the chance to bring all our partners, children and friends. We were a big big family on that day!
Recently the follow up to THE SCARECROW surfaced with the albums THE WICKED SYMPHONY and ANGEL OF BABYLON. How was it to work with Sammet again?
Just amazing, as always. I just felt that we all had a little more time pressure to get it all done in time. But it was an great thing to be guest singer on “Stargazer” besides Jorn, Russel, Michael and Tobi
And doing again most parts of the choirs.
This time you both sing and play the guitar how was that?
As being guitarist of the live line up, too, I was glad to be asked for this double album to also add some guitars and solos for the first time. I really felt honoured.
New names on are Tim Owens, Klaus Meine and Russell Allen to mention a few. On the THE WICKED SYMPHONY and ANGEL OF BABYLON. What do you think of their efforts on the album?
They all did an outstanding job. Since Rudolf Schenker played guitar on the Scarecrow duet “I don’t believe in your love” I was really happy that he gained Klaus for the new album, too because the Scorpions are the German rock heroes of all time and they are normally not available for other projects. I already knew Russel’s work from Symphony X and THE BATTLE and also Tim as part of Judas Priest and Yngwie. Both are great and unique singers.
Do you really think that the Avantasia era is over now with these final albums?
Nobody knows what’s next to come…but I believe in the saying that “The best is yet to come”.
Which one of the Avantasia albums do you like the most?
That’s a hard question since the musical style of AVANTASIA has changed a bit over the last 10 years. I liked THE SCARECROW a lot since I was involved into the production more than before. Now I’m listening to the new songs and I think it’s very versatile and again one step forward.
You also work as background singer how is that? How do you pick what artists your gonna work with?
In 90% of all cases I’m asked to join a production and normally I just do it when I really like the music. That’s a big fortune for every musician to be able to sort out what persons you work for or with.
HANDMADE is the name of the acoustical DVD/CD that you recorded in 2007 what can you tell us about that DVD/CD?
The idea was formed when being on tour with the Hooters where we were asked to do an unplugged set – to not blow away the headliner, ha ha Since fans really liked what we’ve done there and since we all felt very comfortable with the bands’ sound we decided to do a special concert and to record all songs in that old German theatre which had a very nice and intimate atmosphere.
Due to the fact that the first 2 HARTMANN albums were packed with big choirs we also decided to add 3 female background singers to the line up to concentrate more on the playing and to have a more unique sound. They did an outstanding job on this concert and turned the DVD into something very special.
How come you chose to record an acoustical DVD/CD? Were there songs from your entire career featured?
It wasn’t really planned a long time before and was a totally spontaneous decision. We recorded and played only HARTMANN songs with the exception of the cover version of John Miles’ “Music” which is one of my all time favourite songs and a track called “Nightblind” sung and written by our keyboard player Juergen.
You also formed the band At Vance but why did you leave the band? Have you kept up with what the band are up to now?
Well, it’s along story that has often been told by both sides because it’s still asked in every interview and still often by fans. The only thing I can say is that it’s really sad how things ended but due to many and mainly personal reasons I decided to leave the band. Although I was a founding member and singer of the band there was nearly no influence from my side on the songwriting and not even on the lyrics. Just 2 songs that I wrote for At Vance have been released on 4 records but they have been loved by the fans the same as others or were the ones released on samplers.
2 other tracks that I wrote for ONLY HUMAN have been used by AFM records for the limited edition of THE EVIL IN YOU – more songs on one album than ever before – funny somehow!
There are many bad stories I could tell you but let’s talk about now and not about the past.
Do you know where in the world you have got your biggest fanbase?
I’m not really sure. There are many people from all over the world who love our music but for sure Germany is my home-base and we have lots of fans here. I know that there’s another big fanbase in South America. So that’s why we actually try to release the album there, too. We will hopefully have a confirmation during the next 2 weeks.
Besides Avantasia have you also been involved in another metal opera could you tell us more about that?
I’ve been part of GENIUS, a progrock opera by Daniele Liverani, with many well known musicians and singers like Eric Martin, Jeff Martin, Steve Walsh, again Russel and Jorn and many many others.
Besides a solo track on the first part I arranged all choirs for part 2 and 3 and it was really relaxed to work with Daniele. He’s a real great musician. AINA is a metal opera mainly written by Robert Hunecke who is also playing bass in AVANTASIA. Cool production with again many great singers and musicians like Glenn Hughes, Michael Kiske and Tobi – just to mention a few - but I was just taking part as one of the choir singers.
Is that opera only a one album opera? If not did you also participate on the other parts?
When talking about AINA, yes. It was a production for a Dutch company that is not existing anymore. So unfortunately this was a one time thing.
What do you think of your efforts on the Genius opera albums today?
I’m really happy with what I’ve done on Genius. In case Frontiers Records or Daniele will decide to do a 4th part I’d be in again.
Empty Tremor is the name of another band that you have been involved in and that released its debut album in 2004. Are you gonna work with Empty Tremor in the future?
We were talking about that when they thought about the release of their new record. I would have been glad to take part as a guest singer or 1 or 2 tracks but for sure they were looking for real frontman and a real member of the band what doesn’t make sense for me as I’m a 100% involved in all the work for HARTMANN.
They have their new album out now and I already had the chance to listen to it. Our drummer Dario, who is also drumming on the new ET, gave to me some weeks ago. Really good and I wish them all the best for their future!
Why did you choose to call your band Hartmann?
Like I already said it chose it for the same reason as BON JOVI, DIO and others did, too. It started as a very personal solo project so it was clear for me that it will have my name on it even if it turned to a real band throughout the years. And I don’t think I would sell more records or be more popular if the band would be named “Book of shadows” or “Black Horizon”…or OLIVER HARDMAN’s RIDING HORSE, that’d be a good one, ha ha ;-)
How come there are so few live shows booked for Hartmann and most of the shows are in Germany why?
We are working hard on it now to get more live shows than in the past. We always relied on agencies and as a result nothing ever happened. Besides the German shows with Y&T we will also try to get a few more shows in other European countries during the next months.
Are there any plans on taking Hartmann out on the road in the rest of Europe and Scandinavia soon?
We are working on it but there’s nothing confirmed right now. Let’s see, it will show during the next months. Hopefully a s.a.p.
Are the shows headline shows or are you out as support act?
Some support shows as for Y&T or URIAH HEEP last month and also some single club shows or headliner shows. Also some festivals here and there.
I read that you’re gonna open for Uriah Heep in Germany on two show’s. Are you exited?
Yes, we opened up a few shows for HEEP which was great thing. It was somehow funny to hear all the song I had on tapes when I was 15 years old.
What have you been up to after the release of your previous album HOME?
Many different studio projects, touring and recording with HARTMANN and AVANTASIA and many other things. No time to rest!
What’s the most common question you get from fans?
Do you have any plans on try to conquer the North American market in the near future?
The most common one is the one for upcoming live shows cause the fans really miss to see the band live especially outside of Germany. But I hope this will change soon.
What do you think of MySpace, Facebook and Twitter? Do you think that the internet is a good way of making music available to fans? Are you active on the net? Do you run your MySpace site on your own or do you have a webmaster that runs it?
For sure we have our sites at MySpace and facebook besides our official homepage too. And they have much more hits than our official site. It’s a good thing to stay in direct contact with the fans, especially on facebook but you have to take care not to spend your whole day on blogging adding, answering. I like to keep the people informed about news and everything else but I’m not the one who’s adding a blog what I had for breakfast or the today’s colour of my underwear, if you know what I mean ;.)
For those who haven’t discovered Hartmann yet what do you have to say to them?
I’d say “If you like good melodic rock music with a modern vibe just visit our website to get details or listen to our music on iTunes or YouTube and I’m sure you’ll like us, too”
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy your new album III?
Good, timeless and honest rock music for real music lovers. That’s maybe what describes HARTMANN best.
When do you think we can find the next Hartmann album out in stores?
The new album”3” is just out since late November and hopefully we’d be able to make it available everywhere…what is still a problem in some countries at the moment but we’re on a good way to fix that soon. At the moment we have to put all our efforts on getting more live shows or better say a full tour to promote out latest album “3” so a new record is not planned yet.
Well, that was all I had for now. Thanks a lot for taking the time to making this interview. I wish you all the best in the future and I have to congratulate you to a great album. Do you have any final words of wisdom to share with the readers and fans?
Wow, this interview was the longest of all time, congrats
Thanks for our kind words and thanks for your offer but I’m still too young and much too unfinished to spread words of wisdom,-)
But I want to say “HI” to all fans in Sweden and to all readers of “Metal-Rules.com and we are looking forward to see ya soon!!!