The German/Norwegian act S.I.N. has recently released their third concept album THE 13TH APOSTLE. I had the pleasure to interview the drummer Alex Hlousek and here is what he – for the first time in Metal-Rules.com – had to say about the band, the album and the future. THE 13TH APOSTLE is worth checking out if you’re into the music of Avantasia or the Genius Trilogy.
Interviewed by Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Oliver Häusler at Artistworxx for setting up this interview
Thanks to Artistworxx for the promo pictures of the band
Hi Alex, hope you’re alright? If it’s OK with you let’s kick off the interview straight away?
Yeah, for sure, let’s get started.
S.I.N.´s brand new album THE 13TH APOSTLE has recently been released. Are you happy with the album and what has media said about the disc?
Well we are really happy with the result. It was much work to finish this output, but finally we are happy about the things we recorded. And the media… well we never had such a positive feedback on our records before.
THE 13TH APOSTLE is a theme album. When was the idea born to do a concept album?
Well, this kind of just happened. We never really wanted to do one because this is hard work. You have to write songs that tell a whole story not only with the lyrics, but also with the music. This has to fit to each other, there really must be a “red line” musical wise, and on the other hand it was very important for us that any song can stand for his own, also…
At first THE 13TH APOSTLE was just planned to be a song. But the story became bigger and bigger and finally we ended up with a conceptual album.
You have help from Ana Kugli on the CD. What has she done on the album?
She’s an old friend of Wolfgang, and she studied literature and the history of literature. She helped us a lot with the story, really investigated in the history, came up with ideas for names and studied the bible for the whole story of betrayal and so on. Without her we cold not have managed to make up the story that good. She was a big help.
Many other well known names appear on the album like Carsten “Lizard” Schulz, Renee Walker and Connie Andreszka. Did you ever think that the album was gonna be such a huge production?
This again just happened. Lizard is an old friend of us, and he lives kind of next door to Deddy. We wanted to record something together for ages now. So that was the chance. So we thought it might be cool to get some different singers for the main characters. Carsten brought Connie into the team, and the contact to Renee was made up by Deddy through Myspace.
How long did it take Andler/Frank to write this opus?
Oh, I can’t tell for sure. Writing songs is always strange with us in some ways. Normally Deddy comes up with the first ideas. Then he and Wolfgang make up some more parts and we finally arrange everything together in our rehearsal studio. But with SIN it is always possible that everything is changed on the day that we finally record… So the writing process is kind of a never ending period.
The songs are kept together with different chapters. Do you see the album being put up on a stage like Tobias Sammet’s Avantasia?
Well we really would love to do that, but I don’t see a good chance. This is quite expensive bringing together all the singers. I don’t know, but it would be a blast to perform the whole album live on stage.
Is it only Andler/Frank that’s written the music and lyrics or has the other members also contributed?
As I said, Deddy comes up with the most parts. He works on them with Wolfgang in a little dark chamber, and I don’t want to know what else they do in there, ha-ha…
Then we work on the songs together, change out parts and arrange the songs together. But the real writing process is Andler and Frank.
They have also produced the album, what’s it like to be produced by band members?
I can’t tell, ha-ha! I was in the studio recording my drum parts all on my own. They just heard the final tracks. This again is a money issue. We all have to work in real jobs. So it’s not always possible that everyone can take some days off for recordings. We are used to work and record that way, and when I look at all those reviews, this can’t be the worst way to record an album, at least for us…
Did all of the guests record their own part in the same studio as you? Or did they record their parts in other studios?
They all came to our studio and we recorded the stuff there. None of the is located to far away, so that was no problem. Only Connie did some bit’s in his studio as well as the guitar-solo he put on “Sealed With A Kiss”. But the main things where done in our room.
Who has done the cover art-work? What do you think of it?
The artwork was done by a Japanese fan of us. We got to know her through myspace. She really wanted to help us and make an artwork for us, and we are happy with the result. She did a good job.
What did your fans think of THE 13TH APOSTLE?
Oh, as with the press we got really cool feedback from the fans who bought the album. Everyone really seems to love what we’ve done!
Do you think you’re gonna continue doing concept albums or was this disc only a one time thing?
Never say never, but the next album is certainly going to be a “normal one”, ha-ha…
Has anyone compared THE 13TH APOSTLE to Avantasia or the GENIUS trilogy?
Well, some people tried to do so, but to be honest we don’t see much similarities on the musical side. Yes, Tobi worked with different singers and characters on his opuses, but I would tend to say that this is all that can be compared.
During 2005 some line-up changes took place in the band. Bass player Wolfgang Frank took over the guitar duties, why?
Well Wolfgang Frank was our original lead guitarist. But we always had big problems with the 4-string. So for the last record Wolfgang did most of the bass parts and the whole lead guitars. An also on the apostle there are again some songs that were played by Wolfgang.
How did Jan Ebert on bass end up in S.I.N.?
I knew Jan for several years. We come from the same area. So we kind of accidentally met him on a festival and he said that he quit from his former band… we made up some dates for rehearsing and finally ended up in the same band.
And during 2006 a new singer arrived, what happened with the old singer?
At first we hardly had contact to Jason as the way he left was not really the fine one. Now we email every now and then, and he’s fine as far as I know. He released two solo-albums in the meantime, and he know works with a new band with Ivan Gun of Pride, but to be honest, I forgot the name of the band.
Is Simonsen a solid member now in the line-up?
Yes he is.
Simonsen is from Norway and the rest of the band is from Germany, does that create any differences when you are going to rehearse?
No not at all. We are used to working that way as it was the same situation with Jason from England. Today you can send MP3 via email so everyone can prepare the songs on his own and contribute his ideas. So this is no problem at all.
Andler/Frank/Marks and you are the original line-up, have you been involved in any other acts besides S.I.N.?
No. It’s just S.I.N. We just want to put our whole power into this one thing!
Where does the band name come from?
At first this band was called Forever. But due to some stupid contracts, deals and business things we were forced to take a new name. We were standing kind of in the middle of nowhere, and had no idea where the road might lead us to “Somewhere Into Nowhere”.
Your stunning debut album came 2003, what do you think of it today?
It’s always nice to listen to it today, and I just put it in my player last week. But we are musicians. There are so many things we would do in a different way today. But we are proud of what we achieved with the debut.
That album received some great responses in Japan but what did the Europeans think of it?
The response in Japan was much bigger. We were on the 3rd place of BURRN!!’s import charts and got the highest ranking of that issue. But we can’t complain on the European response also. We sold quite a few copies and got great reviews.
It took you 2 years to follow up you debut disc with EQULIBRIUM. Why did it take so long?
The writing process took quite some time, several private family problems had to be solved and our bass player left and so on. We searched for a new player quite some time and found a girl who got the job. Then we had to rehearse the songs again… All this just took some time.
Have you done a lot of live gigs so far? And where do you have your biggest fanbase?
Unfortunately not. With a singer from another country it is not that easy to just jump in for a gig. I had a tour organized but then Jason decided to quit, so up to now there were hardly some live gigs with us.
Have you toured outside Germany?
Not yet, no.
Do you think S.I.N. has developed musically? If so in what way?
Yes for sure. As a musician you always walk on. You learn more with every record you make. On the technical side concerning recording and on the writing side too. For me one big thing is that with every album we made got more consistency. The red line throughout the record got bigger with every album we have done so far.
How would you describe what kind of music S.I.N. plays?
This is a tough question. We came from kind of AOR/Melodic Rock on our debut to melodic metal on THE 13TH APOSTLE.
Is the band a democracy? Have you as a drummer anything to say when it comes to the material?
No, unfortunately not. I tend to call Deddy Saddam when it comes to the songs, ha-ha… No, just kidding. As I said before we normally arrange the stuff together and everyone can contribute his ideas.
You released the debut album on MTM and then you signed on for Metal Heaven, why did you change label here in Europe?
Well, for us this seemed to be the natural step to move on forward. Sometimes a change might offer you better possibilities, so you should take the chance.
What’s the main difference between your old and your new label?
Well it’s hard to tell real differences as they all work quite similar.
Do you know how many copies the debut and the second album have sold in?
Yes we do, and I think we can be kind of proud of that figure. Yes.
Now, you are signed to Artist Service/Music Buy Mail how did you end up with them?
It just seemed to be the best way for us to release the album. We know Seba from his work for MTM, they made us a good offer and they have very good possibilities in distributing the album. So we are happy to work with theses guys right now.
Is THE 13TH APOSTLE released world wide?
The album is release in Asia via Marquee/Avalon. In Europe it is released via artist service, but from all over the world you can order the album from musicbuymail.eu.
Do you think you’re gonna go out on tour now that the new album is released?
We’d love to do so. But this is a tough thing concerning money. Everyone of us has to work in normal jobs, and therefore it is hard to go out on a real tour.
Are you big enough to go out on a tour as a headline act?
Oh no, not yet! But we work on it, ha-ha…
When do you think the next S.I.N. is out in stores?
Oh, we’ll see. Currently we are in writing process, and as always we don’t really know how long this might take. But we will do a new record quite soon.
Do you get a lot of fan-mail and what’s the most common question you’ll get from fans?
Yes we do get lots of email. But there are hardly questions in there. Most of the fans just want to share their thoughts about the record, and lots of people tell us that they really like what we’ve done. And this is so great. I mean, it is cool to read nice reviews, but when you get positive feedback from people who actually bought your record and then this is why we all started to make music.
S.I.N. has its own myspace site, who runs it? And are you active on myspace?
Yes we are active on there, or better said, Deddy is. He does almost 99,9% of our work on Myspace, and he is in contact with the fans on there. And Myspace is a really cool thing as you can catch up with people all over the world so easily.
Why do you think THE 13TH APOSTLE is a great album? Give three reasons why the readers should go out and buy it.
Oh, this is tough. Ok…
1 – We managed to write some cool songs that fit together for the whole concept thing, but these songs can also stand on their own.
2 – We have 4 real good singers on there. This gives the story a completely different vibe and the album much more diversity.
3 – Force, power, melodies, harmonies and cool riffs… on the 13TH APOSTLE you can get anything you want from a melodic metal album.
That was all I had for this time. Good luck in the future and I have to congratulate you to an incredible album; THE 13TH APOSTLE is a great album.
Thank you very much for the interview and good luck to you also.