Serenity are back with Death & Legacy. The album is surely a highlight of symphonic metal and has good chances to enter the 2011 top ten in this genre. Time to learn a bit more about what's behind Death & Legacy! Thanks to guitarist Tom Buchberger for taking time to answer my questions!
When did you first thought about the concept of Death & Legacy?
As soon as we started listening to our very first pieces of new music (basically not more than a collection of riffs and melodies) we started thinking of the concept. We had the plan for a concept album right after the release of Fallen Sanctuary, but the historical stuff you now hear on our 3rd release was born later on.
How did you choose the characters? And how much time did it take to read up historic facts to have a basis for the lyrics?
We came up with a huge list of interesting figures from the 14th/15th century to the 18th century and then picked the ones we liked the best. So it was more a kind of a personal selection. We started doing all the research from the beginning with internet, Wikipedia and so on. After the figures were fixed we did deeper reading in historic books. Especially Mario (keyboardist) who did the lyrics in the end had to deal the most with those persons.
You had to face a line-up change, how much did it slow you down? Have you see it coming? Or was it a surprise for you that Simon Holzknecht wanted to leave?
Somehow we saw it coming as his interest in Serenity faded even more in 2009/2010. Simon was never the person who acted like a bandleader or whatever. He did his job in playing bass and that was something he was very good at. But when he told us he would leave the band we were not really surprised. As we did not want to wait for a replacement I did all the bass recordings immediately. That was some work to do, but nothing very special as I also do all the bass tracks on our pre-production. So no slow down and no big surprise here...
How did you choose the characters? Bartholomeu Dias isn't the first one you think of... What made you pick him?
Good question... As mentioned before we created a list with lots of interesting people. And not all of them were known as well as for instance Christopher Columbus. But that does not mean not equally interesting. The time period our characters lived in was full of explorers and Bartholomeu Dias was just too interesting for us. So he ended up in Death & Legacy. You know... most decisions we make come by heart and on purpose. Not all of them can be explained!
You have some guests on Death & Legacy, was it easy to choose the right song for the Amanda, Charlotte and Ailyn?
Yes sort of... As soon as we finished the basic structures of those songs and fixed the concept therefor we knew that we wanted to work with female voices. Or even had to, regarding the lyrical concept. Amanda is the queen of ballads Changing Fate was just perfect. Charlotte has a stunning voice also and sounds awesome in metal songs as well as acoustic parts Serenade Of Flames just fits. And Ailyn's voice works best for pop influenced metal and rock songs. That's why we wanted her to perform The Chevalier. And also because of the video she was eager for being part of. This would not have been possible with Amanda nor Charlotte due to different reasons.
Why no duet on Youngest Widow? Wouldn't a song about Maria Stuart be suitable for a duet?
Probably. But we did not feel this way...
You choose The Chevalier for the video clip, why this one?
Because we think that this is a song everyone can enjoy. Pop music listeners as well as metal fans. And it is a quite simple song with a sing along chorus. A suited single release don't you think?? But Serenade Of Flames was close to a video also. But this was not possible in the end. And let me tell you that you will encounter another Serenity music video some time in June!!
Please tell us a bit about the video shoot!
The Chevalier video shoot was a whole lot of work for especially Georg, but also Mario and me. We did all the organization, the preparations, looked for the right settings, the equipment,... We even did the story book with lots of art style pictures and so on. We wanted to be sure that nothing unexpected can happen. It was hard to bring our vision to Salvatore Perrone who did the video. In the end luckily it turned out great. However the shooting itself took us 2 full days and though it was work to do, we had a lot of fun doing so. Georg and I wanted to concentrate on the story between Giacomo Casanova and the woman neglecting him. So the band was able to do all the work at the set from carrying stuff to buying things we did not think of in the beginning,... So we were able to keep the number of people at the set at about 10-12 people. For Velatum for instance we have been over 20 people all the time. Also for our next video (already shot) we've been a lot of people at the set!
Do you consider doing another video? Wouldn't Changing Fate make a good video?
See above... Video is already shot, release some time in June after our tour. Changing Fate along most songs on Death & Legacy would be great. But we want to show another part of Serenity this time. So you will see and hear a 'real' metal song with lots of fire, flames, dark skies, destruction... ;-)
For the tour you got Lisa Middlehauve as a guest singer, why the former Xandria singer? Did you already know her?
Fabio (our new bass player) knew her personally and offered to ask her, if she would be interested into touring with us. We only knew her from the Xandria albums and not to forget Ravenheart ;-). Her voice should fit Georg - we thought - and the rest is quite simple... She is a Serenity fan, was eager to get on tour again, came over for a couple of rehearsals and that's it.
You already played some shows e.g. with Visions Of Atlantis and Epica. Next you'll do a few shows with Leaves' Eyes and Midnattsol... Please tell us a bit about the shows you already did? And will the live set differ on the tours?
All shows we do bear something special for us. No matter if it is in front of 1.500 or only 50 people. You never know what happens live. But of course our headlining shows we did this year were fabulous for us. These are the moments which give you the right mood to keep on going. So we cannot wait to get on tour by the end of this week. First with Midnattsol / Leaves' Eyes and then with our friends from Delain! We have about 2 hours of music that we rehearsed for all shows this year. It is possible that the sets will differ a little bit. Of course we have to play songs like Velatum or especially on the Delain tour Serenade Of Flames. Charlotte will join us for the later. We fix our sets about 5-10 minutes before we enter the stage (yes that's true - even Fabio could not believe this and was totally nervous because he normally needs the set a day ahead to get the right mood - strange... ;-) We will see what happens...
Do you plan to do a vlog on tour?
Normally Georg and I are the ones doing this kind of stuff. Disappointingly we have to stay close to our 'real' profession and have to work quite a lot during this tour. So I fear we won't have much time left for such things. But whenever possible we will post on our Facebook page!!!
What are your plans for the second half of 2011?
Probably another tour in autumn. But this will depend on offerings from other bands, interest that is shown for Serenity, the success of the album in general, booking agencies and our label,
Too many things actually. But we will try to and in case it is not possible we will start working on new songs for the next release! We have enough to do - no matter how it turns out in the end.
As I saw Serenity live before I can just recommend to see them on stage, so check out the tour dates and see where you can catch them! And if they won't hit the road later this year it will gets us nearer to another high quality album from the Austrians. ;)