Guitar player Erwin Suetens – Fireforce
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Tom Hack at Massacre Records for making the interview possible.
Thanks to Masacere Records for the promo pictuers on the band
Fireforce is a an act from Belgium that recently launched their debut album MARCH ON to the world. I met up with Erwin Suetens, one of the guitar players, to have a chat about the band and the new album. The bands music can be categorized as power metal and MARCH ON is jammed with every element a great power metal album needs. Read the interview if you you’re curious on how the Belgian metal-scene is doing.
Hi, Erwin how are you today? It was really kind of you to take the time to make this interview possible, are you ready to kick off?
Yes I am…;-) Please excuse my English faults…
The new Fireforce album MARCH ON is out now. How long did it take to record the album, also where was it recorded?
It was recorded in Germany in the Prophecy & Music Factory studio under the supervision of producer RD Liapakis (singer of Mystic Prophecy) and technician Christian Schmid. It took us approximately 4 months (not completely but the time-span) to record, master and mix the stuff…
What are the lyrics about and who writes the material?
I wrote all music and lyrics (Erwin Suetens) and they are about a lot of different things. Mostly history/war related but also child abuse (The Only Way) and just metal! Whatever I write, it depends on what passes my mind…and what happens in my life… Except for a few minor changes during the rehearsal of the songs nothing is changed…
“Battle For Freedom”, “Moonlight Lady” and “Born To Play Metal” are a few songs on the album where comes does the inspiration to those songs come from?
Battle For Freedom is about the battle of the golden spurs in 1302 between the French and the Flemisch to keep Flanders free…we won but a few years later the French came back and kicked our asses a lot harder (hahaha) . Moonlight Lady is about a lady who lives the Wiccan way and Born To Play Metal…well…euh…R&B? Hahaha, metal!!!!!!!!
How did you come up with the title MARCH ON? Does the title mean anything special to the band?
It means: Go on…keep the faith…even if there are hard times, there’s always a way out!
Just keep on going, believe in what you do, never give in!
Who has done the cover art-work to MARCH ON and what do you think of it?
Eric Philippe did the cover artwork and I love it ;-). We worked already with Eric in our Double Diamond days and were very satisfied, so…
Do you think that you’re going to continue to work with Philippe in the future?
If he’s not raising his fees…hahaha…
You brought in a guest on guitar. Who is he and on what songs does he appear on?
During the recordings of the solo’s, our guitarist Steve got the message that his wife was very ill. She needed very urgent an operation and she was pregnant. The life of the baby and his wife were at stake so he drove home as soon as he heard the news. At that time we needed to record the solo’s very urgent so Lia suggested Costantine (guitarplayer Mystic Prophecy) as a replacement to complete the job. We asked him and he was very pleased to do so – we are very happy he did this. The operation was a success and Steve is now a proud father. Due to that fact he’s almost on every song…
“Born To Play Metal” and “Coastal Battery” was put out on your MySpace site how did the fans respond on the songs?
Very good! We have many good responses!
Do you think that there are any differences in how you’re treated by the native and foreign press?
Yes there are…in our own country one of the 2 big magazines didn’t do an interview with us…some people are completely uninterested unless you’ve got recognition in foreign countries…
How has the fans responded on MARCH ON?
Very, very good…we hope we can play live as much as possible to promote the stuff…
I have read a few different descriptions on what kind of metal you play. How would you like to describe what kind of music Fireforce play?
Hmmmm…that’s a difficult question…everyone has a different opinion…let’s say: melodic power metal…
Are there any plans on shooting a video to any of the songs?
Would be nice but no, not at this moment…
Are you happy with the outcome of the album now that you look back on the recordings and so on?
I’m still very happy with the outcome…we did the best we could…the next one will even be better
Who has produced the album?
RD Liapakis (Lia – singer of Mystic Prophecy)
How come you chose to work with Liapakis and are you familiar with his previous work with other artists?
I’ve met Lia in person during the Mystic Prophecy/Primal Fear tour in 2008. I was still in Double Diamond at that time. We talked a lot about bands and producing and I knew (after listening better to his former projects), whenever I did something new, Lia was the person to work with…he’s a great guy and a good friend by now…
You recorded the album in Germany how was that and what do you think of Germany?
Germany is nothing new to me…my mother was German so I’m half… But it really was great to work in a real well-equipped studio with people who are into metal and know what they’re talking about…a great difference with Belgium…
How was it to work with Liapakis and do you think that you’re going to work more with him on the next album?
If I have the choice: yes!
He really can push you to were you never have been It was great to work with him (and also with Christian Schmid – the engineer, who is always very cool and calm) there were lots of jokes but also “to the point” comment if he was thinking something could be done better!
I’m very grateful to him – he was like a 6th member and he evolved to a real friend!
Was it hard to land deal and were there many labels that showed interest in the band?
There were labels interested but Lia knew Axel from 7hard and played him our songs…He was interested from the first second. After a phone conversation that lasted one hour I knew he was a great guy too…end of story…
How big is 7Hard Records? Are there many acts that are signed to them at the moment?
Take a look at their internet page and take a look for yourself…Crystal Tears, Tangent Plane, Psych Choke, Empires Of Eden, Constantine and many many more!
7Hard works now closely together with Massacre Records how is that working for you?
We have to wait before we can tell…;-)
Are you happy with the work and the Pr 7Hard and the label have put into the band and the album?
Yes I am…RNG did a great promotional campaign and supported (and still does) us great!
The label is based in Germany do you see any problems in that when you’re situated in Belgium?
Nope…distance is no problem…
For how many albums are you signed for?
We will talk about this later…
Is the album released worldwide today? Is it released in North America?
Yes, it should be…we got a lot of good reviews over there…
If it’s not avaliable to purchase physically is it possible to download it?
Are you co-operating with any booking agency or management at the moment?
No, not at this moment but we hope to have some major changes about a lot of issues in 2012…
I have read that Fireforce rise from the ashes of another band. Can you tell us the background of the band?
Flype and I decided to started Fireforce after realizing that the other guys from our former band (Double Diamond – released 2 albums: “In Danger” and “Stand Up And Fight”) were not motivated enough anymore to go on so we both left DD and looked for new members. Soon after the formation of the band, we were able to play our first gigs in February 2009. It was great to share stages with eg. Jaguar, Cloven Hoof, Avenger and Vicious Rumors.
You recorded an EP back in 2009 what can you tell us about the EP? Did it land you a lot of live shows?
The EP was only recorded to do some label-shopping and was handed over to some concert organisers…it helped us to get some gigs…
Does all of the members come from Belgium? How’s the metal scene doing in Belgium?
Well, at this moment all members are from Belgium but it can change any moment now because Steve will leave band to focus on his time with Blaze Bayley because he adores Iron Maiden… We are negotiating with a German guitar player to join FF so maybe we become international soon…(again, Tom Heijnen who played on the album was Dutch, but he couldn’t combine playing in a band anymore with his political career and his job.
Is the current line-up the original one or have you gone through any member changes?
We did have some member changes. At this moment the band is:
Erwin Suetens: Guitars
Steve Deleu: Guitars
Geert Van Dyck: Bass
Kris De Bie: Drums
Has it been stressful to deal with all these member changes? Are you happy with the line-up of today?
To keep a band running is very stressful…really…every change is a setback and it needs time to be back on track…
Was it given from the start that you were going to play this kind of music?
Yep…it’s our life…
Have you done a lot of live shows and touring so far?
Yes we did, no, not enough…;-)
What can we expect from a live show with Fireforce?
An energetic metal experience…;-)
The best element in my opinion is that Fireforce is like a panzer…50tons of steel doing 100km/h and crushing everything that stands in its way…no ballads (for now – hahaha!)
Has the members got any idol or favourite artists in common that they look up to or are inspired by?
Just naming a few:
Erwin: Old Savatage, Metal Church, Pretty Maids, all NWOBHM band, German power metal, US power metal
Flype: Freddie Mercury, Rob Halford, RJ Dio
Kris: Arch Enemy, Kamelot, Manowar
Geert: Judas Priest
Steve: Iron Maiden
Where does the band name come from?
In 2008 I was in Amsterdam visiting a concert from Firewind and Kamelot. After the show, Eric (our chief roadie) and me went to a Thai restaurant with the guys from Firewind and we talked about their tour with Dragonforce and the fact that I had plans to leave DD and start something new. We were joking about bandname combinations such as Dragonwind (Suggested by Apollo), Firedragon and so on…I suggested Fireforce and suddenly there was a silence at the table…and everybody said hmmmm… Apollo said: “That’s a damn cool name” and I knew, when I started something new, the name would be Fireforce!!!
Where in the world do you have the biggest fanbase?
No idea to be honest, we get mail from over the whole world…
Did the fans from the old band stuck with Fireforce?
The most did…
Fireforce have got a really cool website, who runs it?
Myspace: Derzoth Design
Fireforce.be: no one anymore…
Fireforcemetal.com (our new site): Steve our guitarplayer
Fireforce @ facebook: Me
Do you think it’s important with social networks to stay active and interact with fans etc?
It’s very important. It’s a modern way of communication. You’ve got to keep up with the technology…
Does the band get a lot of mail from fans? What’s the most common question you get?
Yep…most common question is to get an autographed copy of the album and guitar-picks.
What are the main focus for the band at the moment?
Gigs, concerts, playing live…hahaha
What have you got to say to the once who haven’t discovered Fireforce yet?
You should really check us out…before you know it we may be history…hahaha….
Are there any current plans on tour through Europe and Scandinavia?
We are planning…as soon as there are dates the sites will be updated…
Have you done any festival shows this past summer?
Nope…but we will do some in October: Mario’s Metal meeting with Tokyo Blade and John Cyriis’s SETI, and Heavy Metal Maniacs festival with Pegazus and Girlschool…both in Holland…
Are you working on any new material at the moment?
Yes, we are…
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy MARCH ON?
1) A huge massive production
2) Outstanding pure metal songs
3) The best Belgium has to offer in powermetal
Well, thanks a lot for taking the time. I wish you and the band all the best and I really hope that you”re coming to a stage near me soon.
No problem, I hope that too!
Do you have any words of wisdom to the fans and readers?
Thanks to you for being interested in our Belgian band! Without you and the fans we would not exist – thanks to you all!!!
More info about the band