EDGUY Interview With Guitarist Jens Ludwig

Interviewed by Arto Lehtinen and Luxi Lahtinen

Edguy - The German power metal pentad has increased the massive success during the last few years and especially got a new fan base all around the world. The band headed out for the Mandrake tour as the headliner for the first time with a couple of other acts supporting going throughout Europe. We were privileged to have an opportunity of inquiring a few questions from the Edguy guitarist Jens Ludwig when the band's tour reached Finland.

I just read the tour has gone so far very well and you have been forced to change gig places to bigger ones, right ?!?

I know we changed the one in Stockholm and we had to change it because it was sold out already weeks ago. So the promoter said we need to pick up a bigger place there is still more people coming to the show. Well that's nice when you hear that you sell out some places. Actually London was sold-out, a couple of places in Germany had been sold out, so we are very satisfied with how the whole tour is going. It is better than everybody expected.



This is your first time when touring on your own as you mainly opened for bigger names. But before the tour set off, did you feel any kind of pressure and excitement before heading out for the tour, thinking how the tour will go and what will happen, will there be any people watching us?!?

Yes, of course. There might have been a little bit pressure, but we didn't really realize the pressure because we had so many things to do the right before the tour. There was three and half week long promotion tour and the stuff like. We couldn't really think about that tour, but we are really happy that we can do the first headliner tour, especially what belongs to the stage because of we always had a lot of ideas in the head what we maybe could do on the stage like the decoration stuff like that which was never possible to do when you were a supporter and we don't have the chance to make any big set up on the stage. Maybe this is a little bit like children in a toy store - this time we want and can do this and that - you know. Of course we have been concerned if we can handle to be a headliner because for us it is more than playing just double long time than before. So we have like ideas to do, some stage buildings and the stuff. So until now we are quite happy so far.

The end part of this tour has been more relaxing at the moment, because all the heavier things like recording the live record in France and there was much more pressure in the band So let's say all the important things are done now and it is just making a good concert now.



You said you did a live recording in France?!

Yeah we recorded like three shows and we are gonna make a live album of them.



What about the DVD then?!?

No not yet. We had plans about that, but we had to cancel because of there was so many problems coming up what to do the recording, there was some huge expensive things that we had never heard about. When we decided to cancel it and maybe half an year or a couple of months we will maybe do a single show and have a lot of time to take care of these things. I think it is better to do this just because we want to have fast and it should be good anyway.



The mandrake tour goes cross Europe from South European countries through Central Europe and all the way up to the north. In which way does the response of the north European audience differ from the Central European one and Central European from South European ones - are they wilder in Southern European countries?!?

Yeah basically they are. Especially people in the southern European countries are very wild, but we can't complain about any country where the good audience almost everywhere, of course there are some places where people are getting tired by the time because of four bands which is really a lot. So far I can't make any difference between the audience. We like to play everywhere. Of course it is better to play for 1000 people than playing for 100 people but that doesn't depend on the country. We make a good experience everywhere. They have a little bit wilder audience in Spain, but on the other hand the organization around is not so good. It doesn't matter where you are. Of course Spain is warmer than Helsinki... Laughter....



Isn't Germany cold at this time?!?

Well actually I don't know about the temperature there, maybe plus/minus zero degree or something.



What do you think of your touring mates on the tour, Lullacry, Nostradamus and Heavenly?!

 Well I like all of them. Lullacry was picked because we liked the album that much, it is really great album. We have no problems with any bands there is a good atmosphere between the bands and that's the best thing what can happen on the tour. It is always bad when getting into troubles with some other. We don't cut them and they have all make on the use of the backline and use the same crew as we use and so I think it is fine for everybody.



Did you actually choose all these warm-up bands for the tour?!?

Yeah we just called different record companies and just said "Hey we are going to the tour and we want something who want to support us". The AFM record company came up with Nostradamus and it was ok for us and we don't have problems. Especially before some problems came up. Armored Saint was interested, but their singer was in the studio with his main band Anthrax. We were in contact with Blaze and there were some problems and it didn't work in the end. Finally we are glad to have support bands.



This is your first time when playing a gig here. I just read Sammett's interview that even though you had spent weeks and months when recording albums here, but without seeing an elk and then decided to boycott Finland?!?

Yeah that's right. We have never seen an elk so far. Toby brought a small one and the only elk we have seen in t-shirts, but never a real elk in the nature. Of course it is maybe difficult to see an elk in the center of Helsinki… Laughter...



You gotta get to the zoo or then wilderness there is a lot of them!!!!

Maybe we will see the one this night when staring out of the windows of the bus to look for elks. We don't get that much sleep tonight, cos we have to leave in the very early morning.



Oh where is your next gig anyway ?!?

I think... It is in Sundsvall, Sweden. Then we go to Stockholm and Lund and after these shows we go to France once again to make the one which was cancelled. And then we go home for a couple of days and then to Portugal for two days and then we will have a short break in March and then we go to South America.



Yeah it is getting warmer ....Laughter...

Yeah...laughter.. Then we will do some summer festivals and after this we are going to have a holiday I think..



Quite a long period for touring anyway??!

Yeah. It makes a lot of fun for playing live and that's the best thing doing music is to play live shows.



About the new album - Mandrake - where did you actually get the idea for the title?!?

It was actually Tobias' idea cos the basic idea was to call the album "Magic", but there is already so many on the market called Magic. So Toby found a book about this Mandrake, this plant which is mysterious and was used for magic purposes and the stuff like this. Toby thought this connection is pretty good to use a word Mandrake as a synonym for non material things in our lives.



It is like a supernatural thing actually. [That's right] Do you have some sort of interest toward obscure and mysterious things and the darker side?!?

Of course I find it fascinating what's going and what people are made out of whatever it is good or bad. Like what's going in some people's mind that's very interesting. Actually, Tobias is more into the historical stuff and evil centuries and reads a lot of books about those kinds of stuff and he is smarter where the ideas come from.



The album is long as hell, so you basically had a lot of ideas to write and compose on your mind, but have you had some kind of situation when writing the new material then afterwards you listen to some new track might and realize that this sounds in the same vein as some older track repeating the same everything all over again?!?

Of course you always have that problem when doing, let's say, your own style or the certain kind of music that you like to play. Of course there are parallels between song structure and some melody lines. When we realize that we have exactly something like this on the previous albums then we just kick it out and try to find something new. It's not very easy sometimes, because even on this album we have one part in a song called Phraos which a fan wrote to the guestbook that the song has exactly the same part as on the Iron Savior cd. But we haven't heard it. You can't create completely new melodies and we don't wanna be inventors, we just want to do what we like. Of course it is not like a new style of heavy metal or something else, but we have fun playing this music and that's the most important think after all.

I think the band will develop thru times and so on, we never concentrate on how the next album should sound, we just sit down and write songs. As long as you are critical to yourself we are very curious about learning things about every album and then there will be development and will be naturally you don't have to force yourself to do something new.



So it can be said you are writing the music with the feeling?!?

We know what we do what we think which is good because we are all metal fans ourselves and we to criticism and if you don't like a song then it won't be put on an album. We try to change songs until we like them. If you find some other people who like the song as well, that's ok. And if people don't like the song then they should buy another album. Laugher...



Which way did the making of Mandrake differ from the making of all your previous albums as far as its both content and the recording are concerned?!?

 Well the biggest difference was that this time we had much more time to do the songwriting, so we started collecting ideas after Toby had finished the songwriting for Avantasia that was in the end of '99. We had a lot of time to collect the ideas and about six months to prepare the album in the rehearsal room and, well that was quite relaxing this time cos Theatre Of Salvation was worked in two months to write and finish our songs. Basically the recording didn't change compared to the last album cos we recorded the album in our hometown and then mixed it at the Finnvox studios.



How many songs did you actually write for the new album?!?

Hmm..Eleven and..

And bonus tracks?!

This "Wings Of Dreams" and the French version and then the edited version of the single.

What about then these Japanese releases, cos they always get many bonus tracks?!?

We thought of doing the special Japanese version with the next album with one song less or something, because it is strange that record companies always want to have bonus tracks. I remember with Theatre Of Salvation, our record company asked for bonus tracks for the Japanese market. Then Toby, me went to the rehearsal room and picked up the acoustic guitar and it took half an hour to write a song and the next day it took three hours to record and mix the song and that was the bonus track. I think it is strange they always want something special and you can't change that.



How hard and difficult the song writing process of Mandrake was after all?!?

Well it wasn't so hard...

So it came by naturally?!?

Yeah it is like that every time. Of course Tobias does all the vocal lines and the melody stuff and then during the writing process we change them a lot, Tobias brings some tapes with the vocals to me and ask me to figure out some guitar riffs for it and I usually record the guitar riff at home and then give to other if something can be used. Then we have a meeting in our rehearsal room and arrange some songs. That's it. There is no big difference compared to the previous album except we had more time.


So everyone is composing the song..??!

Well Toby does the most important things, all the vocal lines and the melody stuff as he knows his voice the best and he knows what he can sing and what not. We, Toby and me, write songs together, but we arrange everything together in the rehearsal room and there are a lot of changes and everyone puts their own input.



Do you have any time to make compromises when you gather together and you have one and new song on the table and you start discussing it or is the situation always in a way that everyone basically agrees?!?

No of course there is a discussion about songs, but that's good because if you have five new songs which is better than if you have only one and think all right we are going to do this like this now because I want so. That's stupid. They have a very good mood in the band and Toby and I have been knowing each other more than 10 years and I think it is very important that you can discuss in the band about possible problems or if someone doesn't like some certain parts in a song. That should be discussed or otherwise there comes aggression up. We try to solve problems when they come up. But someone has a problem with a song of course he says, "Well what do you think of these ideas I have something on my mind that could be done in this way ". Of course there are compromises if someone says, "Well I don't like this way" and but other guys say "Well, we think it is very good", but there are compromises anyway like in any other band.



There is a track called "The Pharaoh" being the longest track on the album. Was it somehow purpose or did it just turn out in that way?!?

It was a little bit both.. A little bit everything. We wanted to have a song with some atmospheric parts. We didn't the song in the first place, but the more we played the track the more ideas we got. So why not to put it to the album, cos metal won't be played on the radio anyway. It didn't get boring at all. So who cares…



Since the Vain Glory Opera album you have processed every other album at the Finnvox here in Finland, so do you rely more on the know how of the Finnish producers than let some German producer work on your albums?!?

It actually started with the Vain Glory Opera album when Timo Tolkki mixed this album. We firstly met him in Germany and sorted him out tips and because we like the sound on the Stratovarius albums and then we asked if he could mix the album and he agreed and said he is going to do it at the Finnvox studio. In this way it started. And we have very been satisfied with that and why we should change that anyway...



Was one reason for why you decided to use Finnvox, cos Finnish power metal albums are so highly produced like Stratovarius, Nightwish?

Yeah we like the sound of Stratovarius and Nightwish didn't exist at that time, so the only band that I knew from Finland was Stratovarius, the only power metal band at this time. Well as I told you we asked Timo and he said we will do this in the Finnvox studios and that's way it started and we have been very satisfied. We will keep going on Finnvox, but probably not with the live recording, but with the next studio album. I am not sure, but of course it would be interesting to try something new out, but it is dangerous.



Have you had any chance to write any new stuff then?!?

No no. We have to collect some ideas, sitting at home and playing the guitar. But we are not working on new songs at the moment, cos we are concentrating on the tour. After doing and finishing the tour we maybe concentrate again on doing some songs.



Don't you think it is a little bit funny and weird cos German bands usually record and do their albums in either England, Sweden like Destruction and Kreator and elsewhere even though there are a lot of good studios in Germany, what's wrong?!?

Well actually I don't know. Of course there are good studios in Germany, but as far as I know, the price and what you get with the money so I think Finnvox Studios is better than studios in Germany, the engineering and things like that. I don't know what other bands do if they are going to different studios or something...



Well actually Helloween did their last album in...

...Teneriffa. That's why cos they are living there… Well nowadays it is not a problem.. When we are recording in a very very small studio to save the money in order to spend it to fly to Finland.



Do you think all these chart positions in one way or another is very important for a band like Edguy?!?

Well you can't buy yourself a chart position...heh.. But of course it is nice for yourself to see that "Wow number nineteen on the German chart and number seventeen in Sweden". Of course that makes you proud in a certain way, but it has no deeper meaning like running around yelling "hey I have been on the chart." Normally metal bands are on charts during one week and then they are gone. It is a big difference compared to let's say now a very big act like Bon Jovi who is for about ten months on charts or something.



But Japan is a little bit different actually, for example you can see real metal bands on the top of the charts there, if you have seen any copies of Burrrnn Magazine which is supposed to be the biggest metal magazine in the whole world, you can see many real metal albums I don't mean any Bon Jovi or whatsoever...

Times are changed in Japan. It is not going any well there for bands now, every power metal band has come down there because of the economic crisis.



But do you think it is a little bit funny that Tobias Sammett's Avantasia album went to the chart in some countries where Edguy's albums have never been for example Avantasia was on the Finnish top forty chart whereas Edguy's albums haven't?!?

Yeah it is funny. People took us seriously for the first time with Avantasia, who didn't take us serious before, because people used to treat us like young school boys and let them do that. Secondly when they really saw the experiences of musicians who worked together with Toby and then people were like "Maybe there is something behind". It was also good for Edguy, because we got a lot of more attention from people. Several people didn't know about Edguy before when seeing musicians on Avantasia they started paying attention to us too.



So because of high chart positions bigger labels must have pointed out their interest in Edguy, haven't they?! Or will you stick loyalty to AFM?!?

Well our deal is over with AMF now and we are free. There are some offers and we will check them out when the tour and the stuff are over, so at the moment we are focusing on doing the good tour and after this we will check out what offers have come. But so far we have been very satisfied with AFM, they have done a very very great job and there is the great atmosphere. We have the top priority on AFM, so that is very important point when considering signing another deal with a record company.



You said you have the priority on AFM even though they have a lot of old school metal bands like Tankard and Paradox and the stuff like.... Kinda funny…Laughter…

Hahaha...We are the best selling band...laughter... We are paying their cars… Laughter...



Do you feel yourselves as some kind of saviors and the new generation of the German traditional and power metal genre, I mean by that most of members of the German metal scene is quite middle aged, about over 30 and 40 years old ?!?

The press want people to think us as saviors of the new power metal generation, but we don't feel this, cos we do what we like. Of course bands having influenced us are much older than we are.



But I would say you are quite young compared other power metallers who are older for example Kai Hansen is almost forty, Kiske is over thirty and all in all they all are around forties and have been around for a long time whereas you are a little bit over twenty...

I think it is good some people keep on doing the music even though there are a lot of young bands coming up at the moment. Well I don't think they will make the music until they are sixty or seventy years old. Keeping the music alive is



However I think the power metal scene is on the healthy ground right now?!?

Yeah at the moment it kinda looks pretty good, but it can be overkill as there are too many bands now. But at least fans will decide which bands will go on making the music or not. It is not our haunt, it is just a continuation in making the music doing what we think is good and see what other people think about it.



Whenever you read articles about some new power metal they are always compared to one certain band from the 80's you know..

Yeah Helloween...heh



All the time and even you. Does this bother and make you pissed off?!?

It is good for people who don't know Edguy because people always need something to have a direction for example if someone says this band sounds a little bit like Helloween then they know it is fast melodic speed metal and something like this. And when they say a band sounds like Slayer, maybe the Helloween fans wouldn't listen to a band sounding like Slayer. I think personally we have never denied that, Helloween has been a big influence on us and that kind of music we want to do. Of course it is nice if people compare you to let's say now your idols. On the other band I think we have found our own style on Mandrake in a certain way and that will go on and of course people always compare. As long as they compare, but not saying this is a copy or a rip off, so I have no problem with that.



As said a little bit earlier there are a lot of new power metal bands coming up everywhere, but do you think there is however some kind of competition between bands who might get a better deal with a bigger label, who might get tour arrangements and who might get more audience to gigs, so have you faced that kind of competition?!?

Of course every band wants to get the best. But between the bands... Hmm.. For example the Gamma Ray, ourselves and Hammerfall we all have pretty good relationship so there is no competition between bands that everybody wants to do the best what they can. If you orient yourself like "what this band sells, oh we have to do it better", so of course it is a competition, but it is not like ..Well... I am happy if Gamma Ray is selling good, because they are good friends of ours and then they have succeeded. I am happy and I have no problem with that.



Do you feel that Edguy is becoming some sort of power metal icon in front of eyes of younger power metal bands especially in Germany?!?

No.. Just because you can see that bands get their influences from for example bands like Edguy. It is kinda funny when you read magazines and every time when you read an Edguy review there is mentioned this is something in-between between Helloween and Stratovarius and then you read different reviews from some new band there is then mentioned this is in-between Edguy and so on, but that's very nice. The band has existed ten years now as we started quite young and had a long way to go.



But you are actually speeding up I have to say so... You have been on charts and so on...

Well that's right indeed.



Tobias has this Avantasia metal opera, so how is he able to share the time between between Edguy and Avantasia, does it bother that Tobias is busy with Avantasia and you have nothing to do?!?

No it wasn't that yet, nothing to do, no. When Toby did the main recording for Avantasia, when the rest of the band was spening in the rehearsal room, arranging tunes and the material.

So that wasn't a problem at all. Before Toby started the project we discussed in the band in which way we are doing the time sharing and the stuff and finally we had ended up having a good solution. Besides the Avantasia project was very good for Edguy too as I told you before. Toby said this is a project, and after this project he finished the second part and there is still a few things to do, basically a lot of things are already done.



Do other guys of Edguy have any projects going on?!?

Yeah Eggi, our bass guitar player and Felix. It is Eggi's band called Taraxacum and they made a CD and Felix played the drums...


What kind of stuff ?!?

It is weird… It can't be explained.. Well rock stuff with influences from the 70's. It is very difficult to describe. But it is good anyway. As long as you like what you are doing, so it is not a problem to work a little bit more if you feel like so.



But I have noticed you don't have any video yet as I tried to track them down ?!?

We will probably record a song called "All the clowns", but I don't know if TV stations are going to show it.



But wouldn't the net be the best possible choice to put that video that people could download it?!?

Yeah that's true. We have been thinking of putting it on a certain cd with bonus tracks and the multimedia bonus stuff.



How do you view the metal scene in 2001, do you think we are heading to better times as far as the heavy metal evolution is concerned or is your heart in the 80's?!?

Well I don't think metal will get as big as it was in the 80's, but it is great that even metal bands can have a success and but as long as TV stations and radio stations ignore the metal, so the heavy metal will be in the underground. But I think people who are responsible for TV shows, we might be metal fans, but they don't have balls to show on TV because other TV guys would be like "WHAT.. You showed metal videos....Arrg!!!!"



What are your own fav metal bands, what kind of stuff do you listen to?!?

Well I listen to all kinds of music from Madonna to Slayer and so on. Well you work in the studio like ten days recording electric guitar parts and then when I am driving my car to home I can't listen to the electric guitar things anymore I want to hear something else, but it depends on the mood.



All right we thank you for the interview and wish you a good gig tonight!!

Yes, thank you and you are welcomed.

Official Edguy Website: www.edguy.nu


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Monday, February 04, 2002