Bandleader Dave Jason – Schwarzer Engel
Interviewed by Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Tom Hack for setting up the interview
Thanks to Massacre Records for providing me with promo pics
From Germany comes the once piece goth metal act Schwarzer Engel which is led by Dave Jason. In May last year came an EP titled SCHWARZE SONNE which is a preview to the studio album IN BRENNENDEN HIMMELN, with all lyrics sung in German, that came in July. Below you can read about what Dave had to say about his band, the new album, the guest performances on it as well as what the future has in store for Schwarzer Engel.
Hi Dave, are you ready to kick off the interview?
Hi Anders, sure – the big eye never sleeps! (smiles)
Let’s begin to talk about your brand new album called IN BRENNENDEN HIMMELN that was released at the end of the summer 2013. How long did it take to write and record the album?
I began with the composing and writing the lyrics for IN BRENNENDEN HIMMELN right after the release of our second album TRÄUME EINER NACHT back in 2011. So it took approximately two years from the beginning of the compositions till the release of the album. For other bands that’s maybe a long time, but in my opinion creating an opus needs time!
What are the lyrics about and where do you find inspiration to write lyrics?
The lyrics on IN BRENNENDEN HIMMELN are about fire, death, destruction and the determination of the world. The main element is fire. This binding element you will find in the lyrics of nearly each song on the album. Normally I gain my inspiration for lyrics in nature, life experiences, movies, other music or my own fantasy. The lyrics of SCHWARZER ENGEL present an apocalyptic view on this world!
Your previous album TRÄUME EINER NACHT came 2011. What have you been up to in between the releases?
I have been writing and refining the compositions for IN BRENNENDEN HIMMELN. As I already mentioned before it is one of my life principles that it takes time to create something special. So I took my time for the new album. Maybe it doesn`t have to take two years for every album, but in the case of IN BRENNENDEN HIMMELN I knew, that the album would continuous improve if I give it time to evolve…
Do you think that the band has gone through any musical developments if you compare TRÄUME EINER NACHT to the new IN BRENNENDEN HIMMELN? If so in what way?
Definitely. On the previous album TRÄUME EINER NACHT (Dreams of a night), which was split in thirteen chapters, each song is telling one dark dream. Now on the new record the ultimate collapse of the world is taking place. This collapse also takes place in the music, which is more brutal than ever before. There’s a lot more double bass drumming, screaming vocals and crushing guitar riffs on the new record, than there was on TRÄUME EINER NACHT. The new album is shooting like a weapon.
The EP SCHWARZE SONNE came right before IN BRENNENDEN HIMMELN. What did the fans think of the EP?
I´m glad, that the feedback from the fans was mainly very positive. It should be seen an appetizer for the album, containing two new songs taken from the album (Schwarze Sonne and Der Fährmann), two different classical versions of “Schwarze Sonne” and as an bonus the video clip for the title track. Massacre Records and I decided to release the EP time before the release of the new album so that the fans had a shorter time to wait for new material.
The EP contains three different versions of the song “Schwarze Sonne”, as well as the song “Der Fährmann” why didn’t you feature any bonus material?
There was. As bonus material the videoclip for “Schwarze Sonne” was released through the EP. But you’re right if you mean that the EP could have contained one or two additional tracks as well. It was a release rather for the hardcore fans which wanted to get a glimpse on what they could expect on IN BRENNENDEN HIMMELN.
I know that you shot a video to “Schwarze Sonne” what can you tell us about the video? Where was it shot and did it take long to shoot it?
The videoclip was shot in the south of Germany in our home town Stuttgart. There was a lot of work to do and we shot about 5 nights long. Afterwards the post-production took us a lot of time. I hope you like the results!
There are a few guest appearances on IN BRENNENDEN HIMMELN like Johanna Von Orleans (E NOMINE), Stefan Dittrich (ex-Mystic Prophecy) and El Friede (OOMPH!) to mention a few. Was it hard to get them to appear?
No, I’m glad it wasn’t. I contacted the opera singer Johanna von Orleans (E NOMINE) after I heard her angel-like voice on an album of the german electro band E NOMINE. She instantly liked the style of SCHWARZER ENGEL and accepted my invitation to sing on the new album. She’s doing guest-vocals on the song “Schwarze Sonne” as well as backing vocals on some other album tracks like “In Brennenden Himmeln”, “Der Untergang” or “Grenzenlos”. Drummer Stefan Dittrich is a good friend of mine and had fun recording the drums for the whole album. And last but not least, El Friede, keyboarder of German Industrial Metal Pioneers OOMPH! Is my brother so there was no other choice for him than to join me on the album. (Laughing)
According to the biography you play dark/gothic metal and it states that the album ought to appeal to fans of bands like Rammstein, Amon Amarth, Dimmu Borgir and In Flames. How would you like to describe the music of Schwarzer Engel?
I describe our music as the soundtrack to the apocalypse and our music genre with “Modern Dark Metal”. Our sound is a mix of Melodic Death- & Black Metal, Dark Metal, Gothic Metal, Dark Wave and Industrial. As influences I would like to mention bands like RAMMSTEIN, DIMMU BORGIR, CRADLE OF FILTH and AMON AMARTH. For the new record I would also add the “old” IN FLAMES as influence, because there are a lot of melodic Lead Guitars in it.
The album is available in an ordinary version as well as in a limited digipack version. Does the digipack version contain any bonus features?
Yes, there’s an bonus song called “Verneinen” on the Limited Edition. Last week Massacre Records informed me that the Limited Digipak is sold out. That makes me happy because it shows me that people are still buying music and support their artists.
Many bands and artists consider their latest album being their best one, is that something you also think with IN BRENNENDEN HIMMELN?
I regret to be part of the crowd, but yes, I think so. (smiles)
Studio and production
Jan Vacik produced the album in his Dreamsound Studios in Munich. How come you wanted to work with him?
I already worked with him on the two previous records TRÄUME EINER NACHT and APOKALYPSE. Before I chose him as producer, I checked out the records he already had produced so far. The work was showing me, that he might be the right one for the productions of SCHWARZER ENGEL. He’s a great producer, producing bands like GRAVEWORM, SERENITY and other well-known acts in his Dreamsound Studios. Besides he’s a cool guy and we get along very well.
I know you have worked together before, what makes Vacik such a good producer do you think?
When I explain how I want to sound my new record like, he doesn’t need a long time to get it sounding exactly like I want it to. That makes him the right producer for me.
No one is listed playing the bass, who handles the bass on the album?
Everything that isn’t listed is done by my humble self… (smiles)
Did the guests come over to Munich do record their parts or did they use other studios to do that?
Johanna recorded her voice in an studio in Berlin where she’s living, Stefan Dittrich recorded the drums in his own studio and El Friede was playing in the keyboards in my studio at home.
Vacik also did the mixing and mastering. Were you a part of that process?
For sure, I’m always. It’s the same procedure every time when he’s mixing: I’m sitting on the couch in the back crabbing on him, till the sound is completely how I want it to be. (laughs)
When did you decide to form Schwarzer Engel?
I decided to found it as my solo-project in 2007. So this is the original origin date, but I normally see the release of the debut-album APOKALYPSE in April 2010 as the beginning of SCHWARZER ENGEL.
What does the band name mean? Does it have any special meaning to you?
The band name means “BLACK ANGEL” in English. Yes it has a special meaning to me. I founded the project after I dreamed of a big black angel flying over an abandoned battlefield accompanied by dark orchestral sounds. I know this might sound strange, but maybe I just watched to many horror, fantasy and action films at that time. The dream is the reason why I named the band SCHWARZER ENGEL.
Is it correct that you are the only solid member in the band?
Yes, it’s my solo project.
You’re listed on vocals, guitar, drums, songwriter and orchestral arrangement. I guess it’s safe to call you a multi-instrumentalist. Which instrument is your “main” one?
My main instruments are my voice and my electric guitar.
Have you been involved in any other acts before Schwarzer Engel?
Yes, but no nameable acts. They were more like a fun thing.
How come you chose to sing on German and not in English?
In my opinion, German is a language optimal sounding for music like metal. It’s the language of anger and hate. Besides it is always a pleasure for an artist to sing in its mother language. I won’t miss that!
Have you done a lot of shows and touring since the birth of the band?
No, not really. We were touring in 2010 through Germany with THE VISION BLEAK and AHAB. The tour start was also the first gig of SCHWARZER ENGEL ever. Then after some festival appearances in 2011,2012 and 2013, including some big festivals like the Mera Luna Festival or the Wave Gotik Treffen we were touring with our label mates EISREGEN and DEBAUCHERY through Germany in winter 2013.
I know you were out on The Vision Black tour in Europe during 2010 where did the tour take you and how was it to meet the fans?
It was really cool to meet the fans. The tour took us through Germany, Austria and the Netherlands.
You also did some festival shows during 2011/12 which festivals were that?
As I mentioned before, we were playing at the Mera Luna Festival in Hildesheim (with HIM, NIGHTWISH, THE 69 EYES and more) and the Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig. Besides we were playing other german gotic and metal festivals like the Rockharz Open Air (with SOULFLY, AVANTASIA and more), the Castle Rock Festival, the Darkstorm Festival or the Hexentanz-Festival.
Is Schwarzer Engel a band or a project?
At the beginning I saw it more as a project, but now I rather see it as a band.
When you perform live you have a bunch of musicians with you, why doesn’t they take part on the album?
The thing is: If you can play all instruments that you need and want, you don’t need any more studio musicians for the albums. This also brings some pros with it: With each note I can do exactly what I want and I don’t have to compromise with anyone… But besides I’m writing all music and lyrics on my own, as I already mentioned before, I enjoy working with guest-musicians from time to time.
Do you always have the same people with you when you play live or do you change the line-up?
Yes, it’s mainly the same line up. Sometimes there are some small changes. But mainly the same guys. They are all very talented musicians, so I don’t have to replace them…
Present and future
Why don’t you have a proper website and only one who direct the reader to Facebook?
In my opinion Websites are overrated. I´m a musician and no enterprise, so I focus rather on creating music than focusing on creating a website and spend endless time in the right design for it. I know that some other bands are doing this, but I won’t because on our facebook page you may find all information you need and it’s very simple to update it…
Do you think it’s important to be active on the various social forums today?
Yes, I’m totally thinking that. And it’s also a chance to get and stay in touch with the fans…
You were support act to ASP how was that?
It was a great and impressing show. There were about 1000 people at the show. Normally you find that much people just on festivals in front of the stage. It was pure fun!
Are there any plans on heading out on tour in Europe now that the new album is released?
No, there are no plans yet.
How’s the interest for the band in the rest of the world like Asia and North America?
I don’t know about Asia, but in North America we had a special record label for the first two albums (End of the Light Records) and the new album has also been released through Massacre Records in North America. I got some response from American fans. It seems that also some people there are in SCHWARZER ENGEL, what makes me proud.
What would you like to say to the ones who haven’t discovered the music of Schwarzer Engel yet?
I would like them to check us out – make sure to take a listen, especially if you like German bands like RAMMSTEIN!
What are the plans for the band during 2014?
At this time I’m working on new material for a new album. But I don’t know yet if it’s going to be released in 2014.
When do you think we can find the next album by Schwarzer Engel out in stores?
The future will show. (Smiles)
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy IN BRENNENDEN HIMMELN?
1.You’ll have a very special album in your CD shelter. A part of Germany!
2.If you like music, support your artists and buy it – You won’t regret it!
3.IN BRENNENDEN HIMMELN is an album you’ll never get pall of! And might listen to a hundred times. I swear!
Well that was all for me and for metal-rules.com for now. Thanks a lot for taking the time making the interview. Do you have any words of wisdom to share with the readers and fans?
Thanks to you Anders!
And for the metal heads: Make sure to take a listen to our new album IN BRENNENDEN HIMMELN and stay metal!
Thank you & Greetings from Germany! //Dave
Facebook Page www.facebook.com/schwarzerengelband
Myspace Page www.myspace.com/schwarzerengelband
Facebook Page www.facebook.com/massacrerecordseurope
Twitter Page www.twitter.com/massacrerec
Youtube Page www.youtube.com/massacrerecords
Myspace Page www.myspace.com/massacrerecordseurope
Myspace Page www.myspace.com/soundpollutionrecords
“Königin der Nacht” – Video
Link to the Prelistening-Video “In Brennenden Himmeln”
European Metal Channel presents SCHWARZER ENGEL – “In Brennenden Himmeln”