Interview With Martin Steene:
Vocalist for Iron Fire!!

Interviewed By EvilG

With only two albums, Denmark's Iron Fire have made a name for themselves in the power metal realm. Their new CD is more experimental and challenges the listener who expects the band to release THUNDERSTORM part two. I begin the interview with a discussion of the bands growing sound and the reasons for it. So lets get to it!

  Listen to the interview in MP3 format 
(30mins long, 6meg download)

I wanted to start out by talking about your new CD which is "On The Edge". I was surprised to find it was quite a bit different actually than "Thunderstorm". [Yeah] Did you intentionally try to make the album different and if so, why?

Well, yeah, you can say that because, well, I just realized after the first album that we had to do something different. And because, you know, weīve got a lot of true metal bands in Europe and so I just thought that we had to do something a little different maybe to survive in this business. [Right] So thatīs kind of why we changed it a bit.


I know a lot of critics who reviewed "Thunderstorm" gave it so/so reviews and referred to it as generic compared to the HAMMERFALL. However, I actually loved your debut CD. Was the reason for the change because you read reviews and people were saying it was generic?

Well of course, yeah, of course a little bit. but it was not the main reason why we changed it. We kind of just... we followed the way we evolved in our music in the band and didnīt really think that much that we had to change style.


Right. Will your new album "On The Edge" be released in Japan? The reason I ask is because I had read that "Thunderstorm" was not released in Japan because the labels there where not too happy or something about it.

So the new album is out in Japan? I didnīt really know that myself.


Ok. Are they going to finally release "Thunderstorm" over there? (laughs)

I donīt know anything about that. But hopefully, I think that with the new album weīve got something, they said, on the first album they said we didnīt have any new stuff for the Japanese guys. So, I think with the new album weīve got some pretty new stuff here.


Yeah. The new album I think in some places is more aggressive than the music on "Thunderstorm"  and in other places itīs a little more experimental sometimes not as melodic maybe as some of the first album. Do you think this experimentation or change will throw off listeners of the first album?

Yeah, maybe. Of course. All those hardcore true metal fans would probably think that we have changed too much from the usual metal stuff. What we try with this album is to maybe open their eyes a bit. And yeah, have them check out, you know, some new stuff that true metal can be played in different ways.


You still refer to IRON FIRE as a true metal type of band?

You know, personally I hate the thing true metal [Right (laughing)] because I also think that PANTERA is true metal. But anyway everybodyīs calling IRON FIRE a true metal band so yeah...

So youīre ok with the term, it doesnīt anger you when someone refers to you... (laughing)

No, not really, I would PREFER if people called it Power Metal.


In some respects I thought some of the songs off "On The Edge" sounded like something from an eighties Metal type hard rock band. Would you agree with that?

Yeah. Weīve got some more Rock & Roll stuff. Itīs probably because Iīm a big Rock & Roll fan and the new guitarist we got in, heīs also a big Rock & Roll, a big Slash fan actually. So of course weīve got some more Rock & Roll stuff in it like "Wanted Man" itīs a Rock & Roll song almost.


Yes. I read somewhere awhile ago that you were actually playing in another band called MAGIC, I believe, [Yes] which is more of a Rock & Roll band I guess than IRON FIRE. [Yeah...] What is the status of that band? Are you still playing with them?

Yeah, actually weīre looking for a record deal right now.

And what do you do in that band? Do you sing or play guitar?

I sing and play a little guitar yeah.

Right and how much different would that be from some of the more rock oriented songs on your new album?

Well it will be more straight Rock & Roll as you know, from MÖTLEY CRÜE and the whole LA scene, eighties LA scene. SKID ROW and stuff like that.


Cool. Not only has your sound slightly changed for the new album but thereīs been a slight change in line up. Do you think the new members coming into the band have helped shape the sound for the new album?

Maybe a little but you know I wrote all the songs for this album so... but you know the other guys have definitely brought some new energy to the band, energy to me as a songwriter. You know, when youīve got some new people in your band and everything is working out great you get more inspired to write songs. So yeah, you could say that.


And another thing that I noticed is youīve included more different instruments. For example, I guess the big one that stands out is the organ, the Hammond style organ sound on "???" and perhaps the harmonica in "Angel Of Light". Things like that. Where do influences like that come from?

Well, of course the Hammond thing is from PURPLE and a lot of Rock & Roll stuff. We just thought it was great to do because thereīs not a lot of power metal bands that use that instrument. So, we just use it.


So since I refer to influences Iīm sure people would love to hear about some of the things that have influenced you.

Well, you know, thereīs a million other bands because me and the guys in the band are listening to everything from Rock to Black Metal. Different styles of music. I would definitely say more Rock & Roll and more American metal stuff this time instead on "Thunderstorm" it was the typical German Speed Metal bands which inspired us. This time it was more American stuff like MEGADETH, ICED EARTH... bands like that.


Right. Cool. So what are some of your favorite songs from your new album?

Usually itīs the songs which are more different than the usual stuff that we do. And this time it would be "Miracle". [Yeah, that definitely stands out, right] Yeah, because of course I love all the Heavy Metal stuff but if I had to choose one I think that was a pretty funny song to record. Itīs different and pretty hard for a Metal band to suddenly play Rock & Roll or Rock, just usual Rock so that was kind of fun to do in the studio and I think we do it pretty good.


One of my favorite songs from the new album is "Forever Evil". Can you tell me what that songīs about?

Well, itīs just.. itīs pretty hard for me to explain my lyrics in English. Well, itīs about the Devil kind of trying to get you over to the other side... choosing the dark side. [Right] Thatīs actually...

So when youīre saying "forever evil in darkness we ride" are you referring to you are on the dark side?

I could be, itīs not really that way. Itīs not me whoīs riding it is the Devil. (laughing)

Ok, So youīre writing from his perspective? [Yeah, thatīs right] IRON FIRE being from Denmark is a country that is not as well know for Power Metal compared to say Germany or something. There are bands that have come from there obviously but itīs not referred to as the hotbed for Heavy Metal, right? [Not at all] Where youīre in that scene, I just wanted to ask you what the scene is like in Denmark and are you well accepted in the local scene and do you play a lot of gigs in your area?

Of course weīve got a metal scene in Denmark. Weīve got a lot of death metal bands. I donīt know why. But, weīve got a lot of Death Metal bands, not really many melodic bands. Thatīs the thing I think sucks a bit. But I donīt think that IRON FIRE is pretty accepted in the Danish metal scene, underground scene because you know weīre young guys and we got this big record deal with Noise Records in Germany and stuff like that and some people, you know, just think we didnīt, what can I say, we didnīt work enough for our success.

Theyīre jealous maybe... (laughing)

Yeah, I think so. And thatīs... weīve got something in Denmark called the Jenta Law which is you know, donīt think that you are something...

You mean, donīt put yourself above the rest of the people kind of thing? [Yeah] How do you spell that? The Jenta you called it? [Yeah, Jenta] Is that with a "Y" or a "J"?

I think itīs with a "J". [Ok... (laughing)] Itīs a pretty funny thing because itīs all over in Denmark, you know. If someone getīs success in something all the other guys get jealous and I donīt know why. Itīs the opposite of the USA I think. [Yeah, like WASP says "I want to be somebody" right (laughing)] But thatīs kind of why we donīt play in Denmark that much because, you know, people donīt like us.

Wow, thatīs too bad. (Both laughing) Well, they donīt know what theyīre missing I guess. Thatīs their problem. [Yeah, I think so] So where do you get to play and get the most positive reaction from audiences?

Well, we played a couple of shows in Germany last year. We played in Sweden in festival and that was really great. Sweden was really great.


Cool. A question now about the beginning of the band. When IRON FIRE first got together you guys were pretty young and all of a sudden youīre signed to Noise Records and youīre given the opportunity to record with a renowned producer, engineer, whatever - Tommy Hansen. This seemed to happen pretty quickly for, well from my perspective. Bang, hereīs IRON FIRE, the guys are 19/20 years old whatever and here they are on Noise Records recording with Tommy Hansen, WOW! (laughing) [Yeah] So was that quite a whirlwind for you guys? Did it happen really quickly?

Yeah, I guess so. Eh, well, yeah... what can I say to that. (both laughing) Of course it was great, you know, when youīre 19 years old and youīre working with Tommy Hansen as a producer and youīve got a big record deal at a record label which had all your favourite bands in the eighties. Of course itīs a dream come true, you know.


What kind of relationship does the band have with Tommy Hansen because in the credits heīs listed as contributing keys and harmonica and even backing vocals. Does the band consider him an unmentioned additional member of the band? Do you value his input into your sound as much as other members?

No, no, not really. Heīs just a big part of it because you know, his studio is pretty far from Copenhagen where we live. So when weīre recording an album weīre living a long way from home. His house is next to the studio. So of course when we do a recording session you know, you get to know the producer pretty good. And of course Tommy has a lot of ideas which of course we use. Yeah, thatīs great. Heīs a great backing vocalist you can do something with his vocals. Great.


So since you guys are still fairly young where do you see yourself musically when you are say thirty or even forty. Do you hope that you will still be playing Heavy Metal regardless if you are with or without a record deal? Whatīs your long term hopes for this band?

Of course weīre hoping to get big. We want to do so many things with our music. So I donīt know what weīre playing when weīre forty and stuff like that. [laughing] Because we kind of evolved pretty fast and youīll also see on the next album we will do it will change a bit too, you know, on the next album. Weīve got so many ideas and we donīt want to play the same stuff all the time. So I donīt know what weīll be playing in twenty years, I donīt know. Hopefully some metal stuff.


Yeah, hopefully (laughing). So is playing in IRON FIRE the only thing you do right now or do you also hold down a job or go to school or anything like that?

No, Iīm actually unemployed right now and in Denmark if you donīt have a job in Denmark and you need some money you can get it from the State. But you just have to do some fucked up work everyday. [How fucked up? (laughing)] (laughing) Like picking shit up from the streets and stuff like that. [Right] Itīs a shitty job but if you have to get some money you can get it.


According to your bio at one time you guys or you yourself played Doom styleed Death Metal but you lost interest in the style or at least in playing the style. I was wondering why did you lose interest and if you did, do you still at least listen to some of the death metal bands that interested you at that time?

Well, you know, as I told you before in this band many things happen all the time also with the style of music. So, I donīt think we really, you know, lost intrest, intris... IntErest (struggles a bit with the pronunciation of interest) Woah, thatīs a hard word ! (both laughing) But you know we just wanted to play more melodic when we changed our style of music back then. And yeah, Iīm still listening to death metal. Actually funny enough for the new stuff for IRON FIRE I kind of gotten more back to what we did way back then and listening to some old rehearsal tapes and stuff like that to kind of combine our new style with some old stuff.


Right.. So back then when you were doing that style of music I assume you were singing in the typical growly death metal vocals?

Yeah, and the deep Peter Steele thing.

Oh yeah, cool. Would you ever consider incorporating that with your higher melodic singing now?

Well, I love to play... to sing deep. Thatīs pretty cool but itīs not... people donīt like it in Power Metal but I still like to do it.

I think it could make a cool mixture as long as it wasnīt "over the top", right?! [Yeah, maybe] The power metal scene these days seems to be getting more and more crowded. What do you think IRON FIRE needs to do or is doing to stand out from the rest of the bands?

(Breathes out deeply... (silence))

Hard one, eh? (laughing)

(laughs) Well, you know, we just have to do I think what we are doing right now. Just following our hearts and not trying to copy our idols but just be ourselves which we did with this album, some like it and some hate it. But, I guess thatīs the way to go if you want to kind of get your own style. Thatīs kind of what we will do in the future too.


Right. So how has the reaction been so far to your new album? Has it been mixed views or has a lot of it been positive?

Iīve been talking to a lot of journalists because Iīve been doing about fifty or sixty interviews for this album.  A lot of them think itīs really great and think itīs great that we donīt use the usual dragon lyrics and stuff like that.  We also got some bad reviews. We got 6 out of 10 on Rock Hard in Germany and that sucks a bit I think because we got 8 out of 10 on the last album. So yeah, some love it and some hate it.


I think it takes a few more listens to appreciate because where it is such a varied album. Itīs not like...  there are songs on there that stand together like probably "The End Of It All" and "Forever Evil" or something. Those kind of go together but then you hear a song like "Miracle" or "Waste Of Man" and itīs like "woah, this is a bit different". It challenges the listener a little more.

Yeah, I guess so. I guess itīs our own fault because we kind of started out with our first album which was typical Speed Metal and now weīve changed some stuff and of course some people will go "Hey, what the fuck are they doing?". (both laughing) So yeah...


So what other bands out there today do you listen to and do you still like HAMMERFALL and their latest cd "Renegade"?

Oh! (laughs) Actually I donīt have the new HAMMERFALL cd, of course Iīve heard it. I donīt think... itīs not as great as their first two albums. I donīt think so but you know Iīm also into a lot of different music right now so maybe thatīs why I think that. [Right.. (laughing)] But I just think that HAMMERFALL should maybe do something a little different than just make the same album over and over again. But, you know, a lot of people love it and thatīs great.


Yeah. So what other kinds of bands in specific have interested you lately be it metal or even rock or something?

Iīve been listening to a lot of MARYLIN MANSON, the new album. [Really??] Yeah, which actually I think is pretty great. Iīve never really been listening to MANSON before and then I heard his new one which I think is pretty melodic, some of the songs. I think heīs got something. And of course Iīm listening to the new ANNIHILATOR. [Oh yeah! Excellent!] Thatīs pretty cool stuff.


How about the new HELLOWEEN? I can kind of see a similarity between the darker sound theyīve taken and your album... (both laughing)

Yeah, thatīs right. Of course we were laughing about it when we saw the way the new HELLOWEEN had changed in look and stuff like that because we had also done that but that record came out first. But yeah, I think the new HELLOWEEN is pretty great. Itīs a little different. [Yeah, it is] I like it.


Yeah, cool. So can you tell me a bit about your tour plans and what countries youīll be hoping to travel to this time for your tour?

Ahhh... thatīs a difficult question because I really donīt know what the fuck is going on. [laughs] So far thereīs no tour plans because we had a lot of problems with our record company because they didnīt think that this album is as great as the first one. Weīve had a lot of arguing and stuff like that. [Wow] I told them I thought this change of style in music was what... people were going to like it and needed it. They just wanted us to do the same typical Speed Metal stuff. [They wanted you guys to be the next HELLOWEEN or something?] Yeah. So far I havenīt been talking about touring and they have to finance the tour, you know. We have to wait and see but hopefully some of the summer festivals in Germany could be really great.


I read on your web page that your drummer has injured his arm. Will this affect some of your tour plans? I heard you were going to be doing an unplugged gig for your release party or something coming up?

Yeah, it will definitely because, you know, we need a new drummer right now. So, of course we had planned to do some shows in Denmark because we didnīt play after the first album so we just thought that we needed kind of to show the flag this time in Denmark but now we have to have this drummer problem so I really donīt know what is... We just have to find another drummer and that can take awhile. [Yeah, definitely] So right now weīre just writing new material.

Oh, youīve already started?

Yeah. Weīve already got eight songs actually.

Wow! Thatīs an album! (laughing) [Almost] So what kind of style.. has it changed from "On The Edge" already again?

It will be even more heavy and more aggressive. Some places more technical. We have to.. it can change a hundred times. Itīs not coming out, you know, before next year, its not coming out. So, we have to wait and see.


Will that be out on Noise Records or is your deal with those guys kind of year to year or album to album?

No, weīve got a contract on four albums. [Ok, good] So it will be on Noise, I hope.


So is there any other news items or information that you would like me to pass along to people who read this?

(laughs) Eehhh... No, not really.

(laughs) We covered it all didnīt we?

Iīd just want to say hi to the fans if weīve got some in Canada.

Oh, well, youīve got some thatīs for sure. (laughing)

Great! Hopefully Iīll see them on a tour someday.

Someday when European bands actually tour here, eh?

Yeah, that could be great, yeah.

ANGEL DUST are coming over next month I believe, so thereīs a few bands that try to get over here and do something.


How is the Metal scene in Canada?

It seems from what I know that Québec and in Montreal in specific, those guys have a bigger scene and thatīs where most of the albums in Canada get sold in terms of Heavy Metal albums. I believe thereīs a festival coming up in September taking place in Montreal and NIGHTWISH and SONATA ARCTICA are going to come over and play at it. [Great] Thatīs a pretty big deal considering they donīt tour in North America period, right. So itīs.. maybe things will change and weīll get some more melodic bands from over there coming over?!?!

So people are listening to melodic Metal in Canada.

Yeah.. itīs not all...

Itīs not all Slipknot and stuff like that?

I donīt like that at all! No.

No, that sucks!

Yeah, but that is what a lot of, I guess, fourteen and fifteen year old kids think Heavy Metal is all about because the magazines here and television, they wonīt report a band like HELLOWEEN theyīll say the new metal album is K**n or some crap like that [Yeah]. But there are people who still listen to that style of metal and itīs good to see.

Yeah, thatīs great. 

It was nice talking to you.

Nice talking to you too. All the best of luck with the release of the album now and hopefully it does really well for you guys because I think you deserve it.

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