Circle Of Silence
Guitarists Tobias Pfahl, Christian Sommerfeld
and bass player Bjorn Boehm
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Tom Hack at Massacre Records for setting up this interview .
Thanks to Massacre Records for the promo pictures of the band.
Additional promo pictures of the band are taken from the band’s homepage
Here comes an interview with the German act Circle Of Silence. The band’s third album was released earlier this year and the music ought to appeal to fans of Heavy/power metal music. The title THE BLACKENED HALO is worth remembering because it’s a really great album. Tobias Pfahl, Christian Sommerfeld and Bjorn Boehm were kind to take on the interview and you can read below what they had to say.
Hi, how are you today? It was kind of you to take the time to make this interview possible..
Tobi: Thanks to you for giving us the possibility to do this interview and to answer your questions.
Lets kick off with talking about the new album from Circle Of Silence called THE BLACKENED HALO. How long took it to write and record the album?
Tobi: We started shortly after finishing our previous record the SUPREMACY OF TIME to work on the new stuff. I can remember that we played “Left 2 Die” already in 2008 on a festival in Heilbronn. So the whole writing process took mainly part in 2009 and the beginning of 2010 before we finished the pre-production and went to the Maranis Studios in May 2010. The real recording in the studio took us about one month which was pretty much the whole May 2010. I think it was about in the middle of July 2010 as the mix and master of THE BLACKENED HALO ended and the album was finished like you can listen to it now.
Are you happy with the end result of the album now that you look back on it and on the recording process?
Tobi: Yes, of course. Just listen to it and you’ll hear why we are so happy. No, seriously I think Vagelis Maranis did a really great job and gave the record a powerful but not too overproduced sound. It has a lot of groove and drive. Vagelis brought out the best of us.
What are the lyrics about this time and who writes the material in the band?
Tobi: Björn, Chris and I (Tobi) are the main songwriters of the BLACKENED HALO songs. The lyrics are about different things from song to song, so it’s not a concept album. Some song lyrics are based on books, like “Until The Worlds Collide” on Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower”. Or the idea is based on a movie like the song “21 Grams” with references to the same called film.
The prior album from Circle Of Silence came 2008 what have you been up to in between the releases?
Tobi: Different things like:
Working on the new record. Performing the songs live to promote the CD… and of course drinking a lot of beer and making jokes.
Do you think the band has developed music-wise throughout the years? If so, in what way?
Tobi: It’s needless to say, that you get better with every concert you play and every rehearsal we have. Not only the individual skills on the instruments or the vocals – it’s more all together which became tighter and sounds improved. But I think it’s just usual after playing now in the same constellation together over 5 years, 3 records and over 50 live-concerts.
Who has done the cover art-work of the new album and what do you think of it?
Tobi: The cover art-work is made by Vitaly Alexius. We found him over the internet by searching for pictures that match the title THE BLACKENED HALO. Another art-work of a rising angle over a damaged city done by him was very interesting so we wrote an e-mail with the request to use this one. He told us, that it was already used for the package of a NVIDIA graphic card. After asking him to do a similar one for us with a little bit different specifications he agreed and so we got our own CD cover with which we are very happy. We gave a lot of feedback to Vitaly over the process of creation so it wasn’t that big surprise that the final version of the cover will fit our ideas very good.
How come you chose to call the album THE BLACKENED HALO?
Tobi: We had some different suggestions for the title of the new record. Finally only two remained to be the best one’s fitting the ideas for a cover and the whole impression of the songs. Well, there’s no more to say, because you all already know which one was the winner…
The song “Left To Die” was outed on you MySpace site what was the response from the fans on the song?
Tobi: According to the comments (mainly on the YouTube version) pretty good. If you’re interested in more details just feel free to check out the comments on your own and visit the following page:
Have you had any release party for the album? If so when and where was it and did you perform live?
Tobi: Yes, we had a release party one day before the official German release date of TBH in the end of April 2011. It took place in a venue near Heilbronn. You can say Heilbronn is our “home town” cause we all live next to it (more or less). We performed there the whole record live and had some “dude” bands invited to play together with us. I think it was a really great evening with a lot of fun for everybody.
Have you read any reviews of the album in the press yet? Do you and the band care about what the critics have to say about the band and the music?
Tobi: Sure, we read every review we know about and that we are able to read. Some are in different languages than German and English so it’s not easy to find someone to translate it. If it’s an online review we usually link it on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/circleofsilence
And of course we care about what the critics say. We’re not every time the same opinion but we talk about it and try to improve us by respecting the argumentation of the criticisms.
Is it any difference in how you’re treated by the native and the foreign press?
Tobi: So far not really. There are a lot of good reviews from the native and also the foreign press. Of course there are not only awesome one’s but there is no difference in from which country they are.
I have read some really various description of what your music sounds like, how would you like to describe what kind of music Circle Of Silence plays?
Tobi: Over the last 5 years we got nearly every possible metal-genre description for our sound: From black metal (yes!) and Teutonic melodic metal over death / thrash /power / whatever metal …
Well today the most matching description is maybe the following (taken from our band-info map) Riff oriented power metal with a touch of thrash and Heavy Metal. But I, personally, would call it for the sake of convenience just: Heavy Metal!
In the bio that was provided with your album it says that fans of Iced Earth, Savatage, Brainstorm and Sanctuary are going to appreciate your new album, do you agree?
Tobi: It’s difficult to find a band that exactly plays the same kind of music as we do. But just as a rough orientation our sound as mentioned in the question before I would agree with the listed bands – but just in single details. For example: We play also riff oriented Power Metal in a typical “US” way like Iced Earth do or have catchy melodies and powerful refrains like Brainstorm. But there are also a lot of differences so you can’t compare generally.
Are there any plans on shooting a video to any of the new songs?
Tobi: Well, pretty good question, cause we just finished our first video clip, which could be find on the YouTube Page of our record label or by clicking the following link:
In which studio was the album recorded?
Bjorn: We recorded the album in Maranis Studios in Backnang near Stuttgart.
Who has produced it?
Bjorn: Producer was Vagelis Maranis.
Have you recorded in Maranis studio before or have you worked with Maranis prior to this?
Bjorn: It was the first time we entered the Studio of Vagelis Maranis.
How come you chose to work with him and what do you think are his strongest features as producer?
Bjorn: Some friends of us in other bands have worked with him before and we liked his work a lot so we decided to work with him on the current album. His strongest feature is that he knows a lot about music in general and a lot about how to play metal and record a song that is sounds professional. The complete album production was very professional and he created a great sound.
How did you get in contact with him in the first place?
Bjorn: It so happened that we met him on one of our concerts. We talked a bit about the possibility to record the album in his studio. Later i wrote him trough his website.
Do you think that you’re going to work with Maranis in the future?
Bjorn: As i said before, working with him was very professional and we had a lot of fun with him so i think he is the first address when we’re going to record a new album.
Who’s done the mixing/mastering and where was the work done?
Bjorn: Mixing and mastering was done by Vagelis Maranis too in his studio.
Is is correct that you recorded the disc on your own and with no financial help or back-up from any record label? Why?
Bjorn: Yes that’s true. At the time we entered the studio we didn’t have any record label. We paid the complete album production by ourselves. Maybe in the future it will be a bit easier with the help of our record label Massacre Records.
Is it also correct that you released your first two albums on your own?
Bjorn: That is also correct. We released two demo albums on our own.
2006 – YOUR OWN STORY
2008 – THE SUPREMACY OF TIME
Are those albums available today?
Bjorn: The first album YOUR OWN STORY is completely sold out. There were only 200 copies available. The second album is still available through our webshop.
Wasn’t it expensive to record and release everything on your own…why didn’t co-operate with a record label back then?
Bjorn: Well it is not that easy to find good record label. You have to produce a high quality product and even than it is not guaranteed that you can co-operate with a record label. The first two album were almost complete self-produced at home so the costs were not that high.
How did you come about inking a deal with Massacre Records? Are you happy with the work they have put into the album and the band so far?
Bjorn: It was not that spectacular. We just sent a regular promo-package. We are very happy that we got the chance to release our album trough Massacre Records. They did a good job for the album promotion.
Are there any plans on re-release the two prior albums now that you have got a record deal?
Bjorn: No there are no plans to re-release those albums. Maybe one day we re-record some songs of those albums.
Are you currently working with any management or booking agency?
Bjorn: We have no booking or management partner at the time but we are preparing some promo-packages at the moment and then we look out for some booking agencies.
Is it the band that own the legal rights to the two prior albums?
Bjorn: Yes we own the complete rights of our prior albums.
Is THE BLACKENED HALO released worldwide?
Bjorn: Yes we signed a worldwide record deal with Massacre Records. There are also two bonus tracks on the Japan edition of THE BLACKENED HALO.
When and where was the band founded and how is the founder?
Chris: The band was started in the beginning of 2005 as a two-man project by Bjoern and Tobi. In march 2006, the current line-up was completed by Nick, Pit and me.
Was it given from the start that you were going to play this kind of music?
Chris: In the beginning we didn’t play real power metal. On our first album you also can here lots of Melodic Death Metal and other styles. Our current style is the consequent development of our last two records THE SUPREMACY OF TIME and THE BLACKENED HALO.
Who came up with the bandname?
Chris: There isn’t a real secret behind the band name. Bjoern has collected a few band names at school at Circle of Silence was one of it. He thought that this band would be cool and so he decided to take that name. But meanwhile it is very funny, because everybody asks why we call our band Circle Of Silence, because the music isn’t very silent
Does the members have any musical idol or common source of inspiration?
Chris: There aren’t many bands who everybody listens to. Everyone of us has its own musical influences and listens to different bands or styles. Pit, our drummer listens mostly to Hardcore or more modern metal bands while Nick, our vocalist listens to European Power Metal. Beside Power Metal, Bjoern and Tobi are also big fans of Melodic Death Metal while I am like Heavy, Thrash and US Power Metal.
Does everyone in the band come from the same town?
Chris: No, we all come from different towns in our region but the distance is not very large.
Have you done any touring outside Germany?
Chris: All of us have very time-consuming jobs at it will be very difficult to get holidays at the same time. If we get a lucrative offer to play as support of a well known band we see what we can do, but at the moment we don’t have any tour plans. We plan to play more weekend shows with other bands from Germany.
Would you claim Circle Of Silence to be a DIY kind of band?
Chris: Yes I would say we are a DIY kind of band. All songs are written by ourselves at till now we don’t have a management or something else. Now, for the first time we got help from Massacre to promote our new record and Vagelis Maranis, who has produced the record.
Are you big outside of Germany and where in the world do you have your biggest fanbase?
Chris: At the moment our biggest fan base is in Germany and we don’t know whether we are big outside Germany. We don’t have any sales figures where we can see where we sold the most records. We get them in a few months, so we can see it. Until now, we never played outside of Germany.
Are any of the members involved in any other acts or projects besides Circle Of Silence?
Chris: No, everybody sacrifices himself for Circle Of Silence
The band has got a really awesome and great looking website who runs it?
Chris:Thank you, we really appreciate that. We have three computer scientist in our band, so we run it by ourselves.
Are you active on Facebook as well as MySpace? Do you think it’s important to be a part of the various kinds of social networks that are available online?
Chris: Yes I think it is very important for a band to be a part of various kinds of social networks, especially Facebook is very great for that. You can promote your band worldwide very easily and everybody who likes your band can read your news messages. Even for promoters or concert agencies it’s really nice, because they can directly listens to the music of the band and see the most important infos. But Myspace is dead since they launched there new version. I only know a few bands who maintain their Myspace site.
Do you get a lot of mail from fans? What’s the most common question you get from them?
Bjorn: Yeah we got mails from fans all over the world. Mainly they ask if we can come on tour in their country. Many of the fans also just want so say that they like us and the way create our metal.
Are you planning to hit the roads in Europe now that the album is out?
Bjorn:Yes, this would be really nice. As I mentioned above we plan to play some weekend shows and I hope we can play some shows outside of Germany. But our plans are also to play in other regions of Germany, especially the south.
Did you make festival appearances this summer?
Chris: One of our biggest dreams is to play on a few of the big summer festivals like Wacken or Band Your Head, but this year we were to late so we hope that we can reach this in the next year.
How would you like to describe a typical show with Circle Of Silence to be like?
Chris: Powerful and sexy We always give the best we can whether we play in front of 10 or 1000 people.
What do you have to say to those unlucky ones who haven’t discovered the band yet?
Chris: Go ahead! Buy the new album and have a lucky metal day If you like powerful Power Metal with a more aggressive voice you would like Circle Of Silence.
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy THE BLACKENED HALO?
Chris: If you like powerful and aggressive Power Metal as well as nice artworks you should buy our new album.
Finally, do you have any words of wisdom to share with the readers and fans?
Thank you very much for the support! This wouldn’t be possible without you all!
That was all for me, once again thank you for taking the time to make this interview possible. I wish you and the band the best of luck in the future.
Thanks so much!
More info about the band