Rainer and Cindy Weichmann
March 21, 2007
Rainer and Cindy give Metal-Rules the exclusive 1st interview about their upcoming project NAIL. To some their name may not be be familiar yet but it will be. Back in the 80's they were the most famous Metal indie band in NL, Canada (KAOS). Since then they both played with Canadian Metal legends HELIX. Now they have a new project and a fresh outlook and sound that is slightly familiar to the KAOS fans.
First off let's get a few "Basics" out of the way for the general public.
Just who are "NAIL"?
The Current lineup Consists of Cindy Wiechmann, vocals/percussion/some guitar, Rainer Wiechmann, Guitars/vocals, Dale Penney, drums/backing vocals
There is an empty slot where the right Bassist will soon fit for the live shows….for now, the studio chores are being covered by Rainer as well.
Where are you from?
Officially, the band is from London Ontario, Canada.
Who have you played with before?
Most recently, Cindy and Rainer were members of Helix (for a little over 2 years), before that a number of different projects that got little recognition, and during the 80’s we were the core of the Nfld indie recording act “KAOS”. Currently aside from NAIL we are also still working with “Bat Out Of Hell”, Canada’s premier Meatloaf tribute act.
When do you anticipate the completion of the cd?
Hoping to have it in our hands sometime early summer…June 07
Where can we see you live?
No official dates planned as yet…but we are looking at starting some promo showcases etc right around the album release dates.
Do you have a website?
The website “nailband.com” is being developed at this time and should be sometime in April ‘07
Any ideas for unique swag to sell?
For now, the focus is still very much on the album itself…but rest assured the regular T-shirts, etc will be forthcoming, as well as some other items, we’ll keep you posted!
With the "Basics" taken care of let's dig deep into the minds of Rainer and Cindy!!!!!
Lets begin with the past and work our way up to present.
Back on the TOTAL KAOS LP the song "March of the Gremlins" , was it at all inspired by Anvil's "March of the Crabs"....they have similarities.
( R ) To my knowledge and recollection I had never heard the Anvil Track, and any similarities other than part of the title are purely coincidental. The “march of…” was a direct result of the way the progression of the song lends itself to a sort of marching band feel….and I had just seen the first “gremlins” movie around that time…so I even added some odd pitch-shifted Gremlins at the opening of the track just to go even more overboard with the whole title etc. I am not sure if Anvil had any crab noises on the track….I know Lips used to solo with a vibrator…maybe some leftover fan baggage might have inspired that track..
Any pressure from the old fans to add a new "Gremlins" instrumental?
( R ) Well, it seems that there are a few old fans that have been twisting my arm to do just that…We had not really considered that “Nail” should be the “new” KAOS…although the sound of Cindy’s vocals coupled with my guitar is unmistakably “our” sound, as it was a huge part of KAOS. It should thus be noted…..an instrumental is in the works.
My only reservation to the whole instrumental thing is that my intention was never to create a “guitar hero” track with blazing solos etc…god knows there are far too many of these already out there…and a lot of them are stylistically far and above what I could see myself doing comfortably. I look for melody and interesting statements as opposed to flamboyant technical virtuosities…so I think any instrumental offering will display these elements first and foremost.
Unofficially…the new instrumental has the working title of “Zombie Stomp”
Do you ever realize how memorable that was and the impact it had?
( R ) I never thought too much about it, really….although I noticed it did stoke up some reaction when I included a short burst of the intro during my guitar solo segment at the HELIX performance in St John’s for the ’04 Canada Day show. It seems that there were a few old KAOS fans in the audience…
Was it ever considered to use the KAOS name?
( R ) Too much red tape…with the current artists such as K-OS, as well as numerous other offerings from bands of the same name based in the US etc, it would get terribly confusing really quick. So…out with the old, in with the new. Besides, the intent was to start something fresh and not reflect on the old songs, or re-record/re-release any of the previous material.
Are you still in contact with the old KAOS members?
( R ) Yes, periodically. We try to touch base with Sandy Forbes whenever we get to NF, and recently we have been exchanging some emails with Glen Pardy who was actually our first Bassist…Gerry Finn was filling in on some Helix shows for me last year and we got together for a few visits at that time. Unfortunately, we’ve kind of lost track of some of the other members over time…although Darren Bruce (bassist) is now actually somehow related to us…Cindy’s brother is married to Darren’s step-sister so however that works….we get some updates from time to time.
Will you be playing any of the old material live?
( R ) Probably not… As I said, we want to start something new…the album will have close to 60 mins of music, which will be plenty to incorporate into the type of shows we will be focusing on at the outset.
Will this be just a studio band or a live band as well?
( R ) The intention is definitely to perform the songs live! At this point, out of convenience, I am recording all the guitar and bass parts myself. Actually, The bass on the old Kaos albums was mostly my playing…All but 2 or 3 songs over the 2 EP’s was me on bass as well as guitar. The live band always played the stuff very well, but recording schedules can be difficult to co-ordinate. I know that most people know me to be a guitarist, but then….did you know that David Gilmour played a lot of the bass tracks on several Floyd albums…and few people credit him as a bassist. We have a couple of capable bassists in consideration for the lineup once we get to the “live band” stage, but the album is the focus at the moment.
The songs are arranged to translate well live with a 1 guitar/bass/drum lineup, so there should be no problem performing the stuff live as close as possible to the recorded sound.
Will we hear "Guest" appearances from other famous musicians on the album?
( R ) Hopefully….schedules permitting. Brian (Doerner) (drums / SAGA) my former bandmate has expressed interest, and hopefully we can get him an at least one track. Some other things are in the works but it is too early to make any firm commitments public at the moment.
We discussed having a multitude of guests at one point, but in the interest of keeping the album sounding like the “band” NAIL, we wanted to keep outside involvement to a minimum. I don’t share in the philosophy of having a different band writing material, a different band recording the material and another bunch of players performing the stuff live. To me, the band is the band….unless it is just a studio project like say, a Steely Dan album, or Alan Parsons Project, or any solo industry stuff like Hilary Duff, etc.
I remember hearing Rod Stewart on that Glass Tiger single in the late 80’s and the song just never sounded the same live, because he has such a distinctly unique sound that totally makes the song! It’s really important to have a lineup that reflects the recorded work as best as possible in a live performance situation. It’s unlikely that a band like say, Metallica or Iron Maiden or Rush would use an assortment of other players to become the backbone of the album only to tour with other members in the live lineup.
What are some of your influences these days?
( R ) Hard to say…To be entirely truthful I don’t really have any current musical “influences”. As in “who do I like to listen to??” That is not to say that I don’t listen to current music, I am however “influenced” and ecncouraged by what is happening in the current marketplace..ie, New bands like Wolfmother (who do not necessarily sound “new” …since they have an older Zeppelin-meets-Sabbath-meets-T Rex sound)…but that’s totally great because it is in style, acceptable and most importantly, they are an example of what an “independent” recording artist can potentially achieve without major label backing. That is influential, because it presents me with an achievable goal as an indie artist. I also like to listen to a lot of unsigned or small label “indie” acts (mainly rock/metal) for the simple fact that their releases reflect more of an honest representation of what they are all about. They tend to be more raw and less polished, without a lot of big-budget studio BS to cover up some of the rough spots. Our own local London band “Bobnoxious” is a good example of an honest rough around the edges Rock band that translates what they do live totally honestly into their recordings.
I think that’s the most important thing for me these days… That’s why I believe Bands like AC/DC or the Rolling Stones will survive the test of time…they aren’t covering anything up. You get what you get…love it or hate it.
Musically…there’s just sooooo much out there that is absorbed in some way and either subconsciously or consciously becomes an influence in some way. If I had to make a choice…some of my favourite bands at the moment are Tool, Fused ( a somewhat obscure project album featuring Tony Iommi & Glen Hughes, released last year)and, interestingly enough, for some reason I have been listening to a lot of old Accept albums…?????
In listening to what the NAIL album is turning into, there are all kinds of influences evident. Old and new alike…it is a homogenized blend of everything we have absorbed over the years and somehow distilled into this “sound”. Likely the table of ingredients might read: some Sabbath/Black label Society, Tool, Rush, Heart, Zeppelin, and possibly some KAOS…
What prompted you to release this album?
Why so long to release a new project?
( R ) Ahhh…let me answer these two questions at once. We spent years just kind of disillusioned with what had happened to music in the 90’s. we had attempted to record & shop some new material just around the time that the Seattle scene came along and obliterated most of the rock/metal acts of the day. Then came “boy Bands” and new punk, hardcore, etc, and a whole lot of stuff that didn’t sound like what we sounded like, or wanted to/could sound like. Don’t misunderstand me here and think that I have anything against Seattle grunge etc, but at that time record companies just wouldn’t look at us at all, period. Also, to be realistic, none of us are in our twenties any more…we just had a lot of disappointments along the way and I for one found it really hard to try and sink myself to deeply into another potential “failed” project. In the days of KAOS it was struggle to live on the earnings of the band and now 20 years later it is inconceivable that we, or anyone, could make a go of it under the same circumstances. So why do we do it? Well, lack of money /potential income is hugely dissuading, the love of music does carry on, only not for anything resembling an original project…that is until recently.
A couple of things happened along the way. The industry changed HUGELY in the last 3 years or so, primarily due to internet and online marketing, sales, exposure, etc. as well as the quality of recording equipment available to the general public.
The need for a large label contract is becoming less and less of a factor in today’s marketplace, in fact many groups who once had major label contracts are opting to go back to being “indie” artists! So, While Kaos blazed a trail across NFLD as an Indie band hoping for major label recognition without actually achieving the “goal” as it were, we kind of pioneered our own destiny at this moment.
We are fortunate to have made some good contacts in the industry over the years and this album hopefully will interest some of these indie labels and gain some support for distribution etc.
Some strong contacts are overseas in the European market and we may actually be more successful in marketing the project there than in North America.
Our sound is not typical mainstream “Canadian”…ie Nickelback etc so we need to approach a different market to even gain some interest in the first place. Comments we had gotten from the local industry in the past is stuff like “oh you should try and sound more like so and so if you want to “make it”…and then they proceed to try and change what you have to offer. We were just never interested in following the trend of the day …we’d rather set it on our own terms. If that has an overtone of vanity to it, so be it, but I know that most artists/musicians would like to maintain their own identity in their art…that usually only changes when the survival instinct kicks in and the bills have to be paid…so it’s often better to get a “day job”..or play in a cover band to make some money.
We are more optimistic than ever that we have something strong and unique to offer…and with the support we are getting at the moment, it has definitely motivated us to put some serious effort into this project.
When this project takes off would you consider putting the old material out on cd down the road for us fans?
(C) I guess you are referring to KAOS.. we have talked talked about remixing the old tunes and releasing them in the past but for now it seems our focus is on the new and we are just very excited about this project. Things are coming together writing and performance wise so for now that’s our goal. Who knows what the future holds, if there are fans out there who would like to hear the old tunes I think we would be happy to release them again.
Do you feel the industry is ready once again to embrace guitar oriented metal?
(C) I’m not sure if guitar oriented metal ever went away. I think there have always been fans, I think main stream radio and video stations just haven’t supported it. The fans still go to the shows and buy the cds. Playing the Sweden rock festival in 2005 proved to me that these fans have always been and still are there, I think that was the beginning of our inspiration to do this cd. Europe has been a huge influence for us, just seeing the support over there and being part of one the world’s best rock festivals would inspire anyone. Just because the radio doesn’t play it doesn’t mean people don’t want to hear it. When we toured with Alice Cooper last May he sold out most venues and there is plenty of guitar to listen to in his music. Of course this is my opinion…
What do you feel sets you apart from other metal bands?
(C) Well first of all let me say that the sound and writing usually sets any band apart from others and I think we have both, certainly Rainers style of writing and playing makes us identifiable and certainly my vocal has a sound of it’s own. I’ve been told my voice sounds like Geddy Lee at times (LOL), all I can say is it worked for him. Seriously, I don’t really think I sound like anyone but than again we never hear ourselves the same as others do. Rainer also has the ability to write wonderful lyrics which even I sometimes have to read a few times to get, but when I do, WOW!!
Even though we have been considered a metal band I think the melodic feel we have may set us apart as well, I like to think of it as Tool meets Rush with female vocals but I like to leave that up to the fans and maybe that’s because I’m a huge fan of both.
How do you think you will be received having a female front person? It's very rare these days.....
( R ) In the grand scheme of things it’s not entirely that rare…In Canada and North America it is indeed rare, but in Europe it is all the rage! Although the trend is for a lot of the bands to couple hardcore metal with almost Celtic/Operatic female voices of a mideaval/gothic nature. Most of the bands sound like King Diamond meets Figgy Duff (for all you Newfies who know what I’m talking about) Nightwish, to name a few, are all typical of the Scandinavian metal with female vocal. The only thing close (commercially successful) that we are familiar with in North America is Evanessence. Vocally, we sound nothing at all like these types of groups, and typically, we don’t “try” to sound like anything in particular.
To me, Cindy has a totally unique vocal sound and an incredible range that to me is still unbelievable. She has the ability to hit notes that I have only ever heard come out of Mariah Carey or Minnie Ripperton…and never from a rock/metal frontperson.
In the song “Little White Lie” from the upcoming album there is a vocal section where at the end she hits a note that’s not a high C….but rather an entire octave above a high C# !!!! No,, this is not some sort of pitch-shifted effect….it is for real! If you try playing this on a guitar you run out of frets and you have to take a slide to the high E string and end up somewhere between the bridge and neck pickups…no shit.
There have been references to some older Rush, but I believe that to be somewhat due to my bass influences and choice of tone coupled with Cindy’s vocal style. Some of the arrangements might suggest a similar style of music, although less progressive/indulgent. Overall the sound is much heavier due to some dropped tunings and more upfront guitars. So hopefully with all that combined, we should win a couple of fans along the way….
What do you as a band hope to accomplish with this new project?
( R ) We think/hope that we have found an eventual avenue for us to actually try and make another stab at doing what we attempted to do in the 80’s only with a different focus as far as marketing. We believe that the Canadian/North American market may be a difficult start for the band so our intent is to target the European marketplace first and hopefully get a foothold in North America soon thereafter. Canada, as you well know has a ton of talented acts that just don’t get a whole lot of mainstream support. The fact is that we are a small number of people with a huge geography…that makes touring very difficult and not very cost-effective for bands starting out. Also, there are far fewer professionally arranged festivals in Canada that focus on metal….lots of “blues” festivals, “folk” festivals, classic rock etc etc etc but very little resembling what the European countries are doing. Over here metal bands get a lot of gigs in dingy bars with shitty sound and light systems and try and keep their spirits alive despite never getting a fair shot at performing on a decent stage in front of a concert crowd. It takes a looong time to get any decent exposure that way! With any luck this will eventually change, but we have a long way to go before we get there.
My ultimate dream is to be able to retire from my “day job” and focus entirely on what I love to do…Play loud heavy F—‘n rock, live and in the studio, and make a comfortable living…so, if this project gives me an opportunity to live that dream for even a short period of time…then mission accomplished!
After all the years playing in bands and all other projects considered, what does your family and close friends think?
(C) Well, I think if you ask them you would get the same answer, they have always been there for us and supported us through thick and thin. Our friends and family still come to our shows, I would like to think my mom is my biggest fan, even if she doesn’t understand the music or it’s too loud you will find her in the front row enjoying the show. Of course I have two brothers who work in the business behind the scenes as techs and another brother who plays guitar and sings as well so it’s safe to say it’s in our blood. Even though many years have passed anyone who is close to us couldn’t see us doing anything else, including Rainer and myself, after all this is who we are.
Anything you'd like to say to fan's and readers out there??
(C) Yes of course there are many heart felt thoughts running through my head to those who have been enjoying our music and who have supported us over the years. I don’t think we could express the thankfulness we feel in just one paragragh because there have many wonderful things that’s happened over the years. I think I would just want to let you all know that every kind word is felt, every kind action is noted, and thank you so much for letting our music leave a mark no matter how small. A song can be a special part of someone’s life and if we have somehow been a part of that, to me that’s the greatest accomplishment a musician could ever have.
( R ) well, I may be wrong, but I believe that many of your readers are also musicians at some level. This is something that is almost unique amongst lovers of metal/rock…certainly moreso than for any other genre. I somehow doubt that the ratio of musician/fan is the same for any other kind of music. It has been my experience that this genre of music evokes more depth of emotion and excitement than anything else and for this reason it becomes more ingrained and personal than ,say, jazz or pop. Once you get it in your blood it is a lifelong love affair…to those who haven’t yet seen it, rent “metal…a headbangers journey” at your local Blockbuster video…it is a bit of an eye opener. This music keeps you young beyond your years and the fans are there along for the ride. Although I am no longer in my 20’s, I am thrilled to have many fans in all age groups…And I myself remain a fan. In fact I will be going to see “Heaven and Hell” (Dio, Iommi,Butler,Appice) this coming weekend. These guys are pushing 60 (and beyond)….I could care less, they rock!!!!….I am totally thrilled to get to see some of the most influential musicians of my lifetime, and feel the youth that’s still in their hearts through their music. I was 11 years old when I first heard “IRON MAN” and, being a huge comic fan as well, I thought it was the most amazing music ever!!! It is what made me want to pick up guitar! If I had to dilute it down to a point in history, I would have to say that Toni Iommi, more than any other musician, is the reason I do what I do, and quite probably the reason for this magazine. The importance of Black Sabbath cannot be overstated, for they are unquestionably the seed of everything that is metal today…and as we all know…METAL RULES!!!!
Thanks for the taking the time in answering the questions. I hope to do a follow-up just as the album is about to hit the record shops.
To hear song samples of NAIL goto