Falk Maria Schlegel is without doubt the most lively interviewee it’s been my pleasure to talk to. Bursting with enthusiasm for his band and for music in general, SonicAbuse spent a funny, interesting ten minutes with the keyboardist for rising metal heroes Powerwolf.
As far as bands go, Powerwolf are a revelation. Fronted by the huge presence that is Attila Dorn, the band put on one of the essential shows of the Bloodstock weekend, combining huge riffs and a stage presence that it takes many bands years to achieve, if ever, working the crowd into a frenzy and demonstrating that belies Falk’s self-depreciating assertion during the interview that Powerwolf are not yet big enough to headline shows in England. Indeed it’s not just the band’s presence, but also their insanely catchy songs that (as you will see) are carefully crafted by the band for maximum impact and, despite the fact that Powerwolf employ riffs which could flatten buildings, there is a pop sensibility that lurks at the heart of these dark anthems which will have you whistling the things for months.
With the latest album (last year’s ‘bible of the beast’) garnering plenty of critical acclaim for this band of crazy, talented metal monsters and a live show that was easily second only to Twisted Sister in terms of the FUN factor, the simple truth is that Powerwolf cannot return to UK shores soon enough and SonicAbuse were more than a little proud to have a chance to speak to their crazily energetic keyboardist.
SA: First question – how does it feel to be playing Bloodstock festival?
As I mentioned it’s a great honour to be playing here – it’s our first festival in the UK but it’s also our first concert in the UK so when we can be the headliner on the Sophie Lancaster stage – that’s amazing. You know we did not expect that so…yeah.
SA: That was my next question – this is your first time in the UK – why the long wait to come over here?
Ask our manager!! [laughter] We get so many emails from the UK saying “please play the UK…” something like that and I think that there are crowds who like Powerwolf so when I talk to our booker “please arrange something in the UK” and then Bloodstock was confirmed and if we could play our own show – we would like to do that!
SA: So no plans for a headline tour of the UK yet?
Headlining? I don’t know…It would be better to play support for bigger bands so I don’t know if Powerwolf is such a big band that we could headline a show but we played our first headline show in Germany so I think we could come to the UK and play support or possibly headliner shows…I don’t know
SA: OK, so as a band you met your singer through a holiday in Romania is that correct?
Yeah – only our singer is Romanian. We met him five years ago and yeah it was quite a pleasure to meet him because his voice (and his body!) is very large. The other guys know each other already so he was the perfect singer to fit in. Also we didn’t want to have this typical German metal singer. I like many German metal singers, but we don’t need a singer like [imitates Rob Halford] like this – you know what I mean. We want more depth in the voice you know?
SA: So was that the problem finding a singer initially then? Trying to find the right person for Powerwolf?
It was destiny I think…Really it was destiny and he’s now in Germany – he’s living in Germany so yeah…
SA: Lyrically, focusing on Romanian Werewolf legends is quite unique I think…
Yeah, on it was on the first record “return in bloodred” because after he came to the band he wasn’t in touch with metal at all so it was quite unique for him to meet metal guys – guys like us and he said “oh I want some metal music but I want to have these Romanian anthems so it was on our first record but nowadays the concept is a little bit changed so…
SA: I was going to say, how have you developed the concept now?
It was a development that’s it. It was a development. Now we’re writing the fourth album so I don’t know what’s going to happen – I don’ even know it. We’ve finished three songs and we have seven or eight songs left to write and I don’t know [laughs]
SA: And how do you develop each album?
We wrote – the singer, the guitar player and me – we write the first lines – we write the sing-alongs and on average we write the sing-alongs for one week and then if we can remember it then we keep it, but if you don’t remember this sing-along stuff throw it away. So we wrote two or three hours of music for “bible of the beast”. That’s the way we are writing our songs and then normally we are flying to Sweden to record with Frederick Nordstrom (who produces in flames and so on)
SA: So what attracts you to Power metal as a genre?
What I like or the band? Well for me personally I like Iron Maiden, perhaps not the newest one. [laughs]. But I don’t know; I also like bands like Nevermore and the harder stuff and for me, especially, my favourite band is forbidden and it’s more harder stuff but it’s a certain atmosphere that I want to have so that’s like my favourite stuff, I don’t know – Ronnie James Dio and King Diamond was a big influence for us of course – ooh and I revealed it – a secret King Diamond influence yeah! [Laughs]
SA: So is that what’s kind of pushed you in a harder direction on the new album?
Music you mean? I don’t know. It was a surprise for us as well! We got down to the rehearsal room, we have no lights and then stuff happens – I don’t know. I think it’s pretty similar to Bible of the beast but it’s also similar to our first album too.
SA: So it’s a surprise for now?
Well we have the possibilities because our record company would never say you have to do this because it it’s better for selling us or whatever. We’re doing it our own way and perhaps it’s a little different, I don’t know.
SA: What about plans for the future – you’re working on your fourth album now so what are your ambitions?
To make a tour of the UK (huge smile) the hope is that we can play some more tours because I think you’re writing an album it’s a good time and you record this and you’re proud of it, but the most important thing for a band is to be on the road. When you have a good album you have the opportunities to do this so we want to do the best and then we want to go out on tour. We want to be on stage enjoying it as well.
SA: And what can we expect from a powerwolf live show?
[Laughs] Enthusiasm, a crazy keyboardist – the first front organ player you’ve ever seen…well besides Alestorm, but he’s also the singer so I am the first non-singer… [Laughter] normally we have some fire shows in Germany and some stuff on stage but it wasn’t possible to bring it to the UK with us…so I hope you will enjoy it – are you coming to the show tonight?
SA: Yeah – hell yeah!! Last one – what about the artistic presentation of the album? Do the band get involved with how you’re presented on the CDs or do you let the artist take over?
Oh you’ll have to ask our guitar player – he does all the artwork.
SA: So it’s all done by the band then?
Yeah, yeah – always. He does the art for the shirts and the CD covers, it’s all Powerwolf so when he comes along with the album artwork we say “great…” we have no choice!!
SA: Ok! That’s all we have, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.