Heart of Steel: Interviews

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Interview With Kaminari

Interview By Waspman

Most critics will tell you that music goes in cycles. A style becomes popular and becomes the music of choice for a few years, and then dies off again, usually to return in a slightly different form down the road. So it was with 80s hard rock/metal, great while it lasted, but unceremoniously murdered by grunge. These days though, there are more and more bands revisiting this genre, one of them, Kaminari coming to my attention via their kickin’ self-titled debut mini-CD. From Germany, Kaminari’s style of hard rock borders pretty closely on full-on metal at times, perhaps a trait they’ve picked up simply by being in their metal-happy country. In any case, trust me when I say that Kaminari are a great, exciting new band on the scene, and I jumped at the chance to interview Bernd Wick (lead guitar) and Roland 'Bob' Seidel (lead vocals).

Hi guys, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. I guess we should start with some background on the band. How did Kaminari first get its start?

Bernd: Timo, Pascal, Roland and myself founded KAMINARI in June 2001. Our new bass player, Jens, joined the band in August. He is a great gain for the group in every respect: Jens has a college background in music, plays several instruments, and he is a talented songwriter. Furthermore, Jens has experience working as a producer.

Roland: On top of that he's a great guy! It's only too bad that we had to skip the warm up show of the Summer Breeze Festival because we had no bass player back then.



Kaminari is the Japanese word for thunderstorm. How did the band end up choosing this name?

kaminari-pic3.jpg (16184 bytes)Bernd: I am fascinated with Japan and the Japanese language. So when we contemplated possible names for the new project, I immediately thought of a number of Japanese words that seemed suitable as far as sound and meaning are pertained. KAMINARI ended up being my suggestion and the band's choice. We also use the Kanji character as our band logo.

Roland: We definitely wanted a name that is out of the ordinary - and out of this world, if possible - we wanted to avoid the usual metal clichés. 'KAMINARI' certainly more than meets that criteria - and I also think the name has a mysterious ring to it.



In your song "Fire and Dice", you quote a famous line from the classic band Alcatrazz. I take it they are a big influence for you?

Bernd: Every time I sit down to write the lyrics for a new song I try to come up with something new, a topic or a story that we haven't worked with in previous songs. “Fire and Dice” is about this "roller coaster ride" we call life and it is about the fascination that music exerts on people, especially on those who are dedicated to making music and who are involved in the music business in some way or another. I suppose you fall in love with music only once in your life, and then you're trapped, and after that there ain't "no parole from rock 'n' roll". Apart from that it was the title of Yngwie's first major release in the United States - and yes, I love that record - I still remember listening to it for the fist time - it got me 'yngwienized'!



Who are some of your other influences?

Bernd: My favorite musicians are Michael Schenker, Yngwie Malmsteen, and Adrian Vandenberg. My favorite bands are the Pretty Maids, Whitesnake, Manic Eden, and TNT. However, I find it hard to say how much of an influence they are as far as KAMINARI is concerned.

Roland: My main influences are Black Sabbath, Ronnie James Dio, and Tony Martin.



You mentioned to me that you've recently played shows in Germany with bands like Valley's Eve and Chinchilla. Your sound is much more hard rock than those bands whose style is more power metal. How was the crowd reaction in those shows?

Bernd: The spectrum of our sound ranges from hard rock to heavy metal. That enables us to play and perform with a wide range of bands, including power metal bands, like e.g. Chinchilla.

Roland: People took us for what we are and liked what we were doing up on stage. The reactions were absolutely positive. Apart from that both bands have been extremely nice!


Any plans for a full European tour?

Roland: No, not at this point, but we will do more shows in Germany with bigger acts like e.g. Chinchilla.


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If Kaminari were able to go out on tour with any three bands, which bands would you choose and why?

Bernd: No. 1: Whitesnake - because I want to get to know David Coverdale, the greatest singer in the history of rock 'n' roll! No. 2: Pretty Maids - because they have always been my favorite band! No. 3: Iron Maiden - because they are the biggest band on the planet!

Roland: No. 1: Black Sabbath - because they are one of my all time favorites. No. 2: Ronnie James Dio - because he's one of my favorite singers. No. 3: Iron Maiden - because they are the biggest band in the universe!



It would seem that there is a hard rock resurgence happening in Europe, and especially Germany, with bands like yourself and Toxic Virgin starting to make an impact. Do you see fans starting to come around and take notice of your sound?

kaminari-pic2.jpg (13975 bytes)Bernd: We're still kind of at the beginning, but the reactions we've had so far are very, very positive. There has always been and always will be an audience for good music. And then I think that rock will never die!

Roland: I think that classic hard rock and classic heavy metal are coming back big time. I think one of the reasons might be that rock fans start longing for a little more melody and feeling in the music they love.



How about labels and radio? Are they beginning to pay more attention?

Bernd: Unfortunately, rock music doesn't really get a lot of airplay in Germany in general. That's really too bad, because music like ours for example gets played a lot by North American radio stations. When I lived in Los Angeles I got so used to listening to rock stations that it is hard to believe that they don't exist over here.

Roland: The whole scene is seeing some kind of a comeback, no doubt about that. And I'm positive that we will attract more and more attention.



Turning to your new self-titled CD, can you tell us a bit about the Kaminari writing process?

Bernd: The iron rule for KAMINARI songwriting is that there is no rule: every band member is welcome to bring along new songs or new ideas, or just a part of a song or a riff or whatever. The great advantage is that we all write songs. Our drummer, Pascal, plays the piano and the guitar - which personally, I find quite exceptional - and that of course enables him to write songs, too. Jens plays several instruments anyhow, and Timo and I, we use the guitar to compose new songs. Roland usually comes along with a new melody and then we work around that. You will find all kinds of KAMINARI compositions: on the one hand, there are songs that are entirely written by one band member and on the other hand, there are songs that are the result of a process of experimenting with different ideas by different band members. Every one of us has a very different approach to composing music and that, I think, shows in the variation of the songs. We try not to repeat ourselves and we always try to come up with different songs and keys and beats and so on. As far as the lyrics are concerned, the story is much simpler: I usually write the lyrics for our songs, although there are a few exceptions, too.



Do you have a favorite song from the album? If so, can you tell us about it?

kaminari-pic5.jpg (20928 bytes)Bernd: My favorite song is GUARDIAN ANGEL. It's the fastest track on the CD and I love the lyrics: they are meant to express my belief in God the Almighty, my adoration of Mother Mary, and my gratitude to God for the gift of my life - and of course I wanted to say thanks to my Guardian Angel.

Roland: My favorite song is MY BLACK COLORS. It's the most laid back number on the CD and the song really has a very special feeling. Music-wise the song gives me a lot of space, I can really let the vocals come alive. The lyrics augment this special, even mysterious feeling of the song.



The sound on the CD is excellent, produced by yourselves and Achim Kohler. How did you guys manage to hook up with him? Do you think that you'll work with him again in the future?

Bernd: Achim is the man! He is definitely our first choice when it comes to producers. If we do have a choice in the future, we will work with him again. He has been incredibly nice and working with him proved to be a true experience.

Roland: Achim is a total pro in every respect - he is very knowledgeable about everything related to music, especially of course sound engineering and recording and producing. We felt very much at home and I think that the good vibrations in the studio are reflected in the sound of the CD.


The cover art for the album is very good, which is unusual for an unsigned band. Who did the artwork?

Roland: Music is the love of my life, but art and painting are my hobbies - I love to design things, especially on the PC, so creating our cover was big fun!!! I also design the KAMINARI homepage (www.kaminari-music.de) and I absolutely love to be creative this way.



Has the song writing process begun for a new CD yet?

Bernd: We are constantly working on new songs and whenever a couple of songs are finished we pre-produce them. This method has proved to be very helpful: there are many details that you can only elaborate on once you get a chance to listen to a song in a good sound quality. After the pre-production we change whatever seems necessary.



What has been your biggest career highlight up to this point?

Bernd: Getting to know and working with Achim Köhler.

Roland: Same here.



Do you have anything else you'd like to say to the Metal-Rules.com readers?

Bernd: We are very happy that we had the opportunity to do an interview with METAL-RULES and we are grateful to the readers for supporting this cool webzine. This has been our first interview with a Canadian webzine, so this is something very, very special.

Roland: We would love to play in Canada one day - now if we do, I hope that we will meet lots of METAL-RULES readers between Halifax and Vancouver. In the meantime, check out our homepage (www.kaminari-music.de).
(editors note: Canada AND North America itself for that matter, in terms of geography, begin in the east at St. John's, Newfoundland....not that any fucking bands play there though! Bummer.


Thanks for the interview guys! I'm looking forward to hearing from the band in the near future!

Band Website: www.kaminari-music.de