Oliver Nikolas: “I wanted to combine all my influences and make the album I always wanted to hear. The best period – musically – in my life was when I discovered old Paradise Lost stuff, Anathema or My Dying Bride. The result is the blueprint of everything I like in music. Something like the perfect dark doom album, at least, perfect for me.”
Verbazing en verrukking wanneer we het nieuwe Lacrimas Profundere album ’Bleeding The Stars’ onlangs beluisterden en bespraken. De band heeft altijd kwaliteit afgeleverd, maar de laatste tijd werden de albums toch een beetje voorspelbare gotische rock. Nu gaat men echter terug naar de beginperiode met een stijl die men intense, doorleefde doom/gothic kan noemen. Melancholie staat voorop, grunts hebben terug een plaats gevonden bovenop het warme, donkere stemgeluid en het album etaleert diepe emoties. Componist Oliver Nikolas Schmid en zijn broer volgden hun hart om het beste materiaal ooit te schrijven, geïnspireerd door waar zij nog altijd het liefst naar luisteren. Dat ging niet zonder slag of stoot, maar zoals steeds is gitarist Oliver enthousiast om ons alle verhalen uit de doeken te doen.
Door: Vera Mattijssens Ι 24 juli 2019
Hello Oliver! Another three years have gone by since the release of previous album ‘Hope Is Here’ and I am really amazed of the musical direction on ‘Bleeding The Stars’! How are you doing?
Hey, so nice to meet you again, finally. I’m fine now. You know, last year was not easy for me, I had to say goodbye to all of my band members, had to find new ones, compose about 20 tracks for the album and yes… this cost me two years on and off of my life. In the end the result is cool, no, better, shit it´s my very own masterpiece, so it feels good that I don t waste my time and I think it has been worth all the tears, sweat, toil, headaches because of too much of everything. (laughs) You know, I´m around for quite a while, I miss the times our bodies were better in shape and my fingers doesn´t hurt with every riff that I play, cause I got the diagnosis of Arthorsis. There are good days and bad days. At the end this affected my songwriting. Cause earlier days I only took my guitar and play, mostly crap stuff (laughs) and sometimes cool stuff came over. Nowadays I was waiting and listening till the melody finds me. Good things come to those who wait and I have been very patient, but nowadays I changed diet and I feel better now. Perhaps a follower to ‚Bleeding The Stars‘ will never happen, cause I feel not this pain anymore (chuckles).
When, how and why did you feel the need to create a more doomy album again and connect more with the early sound of Lacrimas Profundere?
‘Hope Is Here’ was a concept album and I think that, if a musician, no matter what genre, dares to go to a concept album, it subconsciously gets kind of progressive. Do not get me wrong, I’m a big friend when bands leave their trodden paths, but nowadays I would do it different. There are some wonderful tracks and moments on the album, but also some things I would not do anymore. Commercially ‘Hope Is Here’ was a great success, especially in Germany with a Top 30 our highest Chart entry in our hometown so far. But soon after the release I had in my mind to compose a doom dark record again without concept story behind, only the questions: Why did I become a musician, which bands influenced me 25 years ago and why nobody told me that my mustache looks so stupid (laughs). The result is the blueprint of everything I like in music. Something like the perfect dark doom album. And do not get me wrong, when I say “perfect”, I mean, “perfect for me”. I wanted to combine the riffing of Primordial with the vibe of Anathema and the tunes of Paradise Lost, or Dark Tranquillity. I wanted to combine all my influences and make the album I always wanted to hear. When I sit down to write a song, I do the song for myself. I write a song for myself because I need to come out with that particular song. It’s for me, and then, after I’ve produced a record and put it out, if someone finds that song of mine important, it’s just an unbelievable gift. Last couple of years, I often thought about the best period of my life. The best period musically in my life was as I discovered old Paradise Lost stuff, Anathema, or My Dying Bride. When you get older, you look back at things. It’s quite refreshing to revisit those times. Over a 25-year span of the band, we’ve had periods where we haven’t done anything like this. We’ve changed styles quite a few times over the years. It’s always nice to come back to it. The main point is, if there is this intense, melancholic melody line in there, it doesn´t matter if it’s two tones or 17 tones, easy or complicated to play. The only thing that counts is: does it swallow my heart, touches my soul and stays in my head? This time I think I´ve created some of those.
The problem was that the ‘newer’ members of the band did not agree with that… quite drastically it seems…What happened?
Yes. You know if I count everything together, the result is: sitting in bus or plane: four years and 27 days playing time in this period: eight weeks (laughs). So, you like it or not and if some members feel like they are too old for this kind of rock-‘n-roll, then, they are. Being in a band with all these guys, everybody thinks it’s a piece of cake. It’s not easy. People change as they grow, and they want to go in different directions and do different things and suddenly in the beginning of 2018 I was the only member that was left who would still die for this band. OK, we’re not Manowar, so who would do anything for this band? I stood in front of a pile of shards that either could be left laying or wanted to be put together. After that, the broken porcelain vase was indeed an unsightly flower pot, but I love it very much, cause no one is owner of a flower pot like this and I hope everybody could see the beauty in this flower pot, like me now, as the flower pot called ‚Bleeding The Stars‘ will be released.
But the good thing is that it brought you closer to working together again more than ever with your brother Christopher for the writing process. Can you tell something more about those writing sessions without deadline and freedom of creation?
Yeah, I absolutely have to give Christopher a massive, massive „thank you“ for helping me more than any other record I’ve made. He is my musical soul mate and I don’t know what I would do without him. This album wouldn’t be what it is without his determination and many, many, MANY hours of work. After I sent him my ideas in the form of the first demos, he was “in” the next day. He was always the guy who said to me, let’s do another record that brings back the ROOTS of Lacrimas Profundere and now the time was right. Also Rob wasn´t able to do these screams and shouts, so we would have stayed in the goth rock genre. Now Julian can sing anything.
Which songs came out of your pen first? Do you want to shine a light on a track that invoke the early magic maybe, by being so dark?
I can remember the days I wrote the ‘Father Of Fate’ song and ‘A Sleeping Throne’, both melodies made me so nervous. I knew that I had something very special here. From that day on I can´t wait to enter the studio and bring the stuff out to the people. I looked in the mirror and thought to myself you have to do it just the way you want to do it. I don’t think I have any “image”. I think as long as my hair is clean and I have clean clothes on that should be enough, my complete attention was to put out the best that I have inside of me. I didn’t get in this game for somebody else to write my thoughts — I wanted to do it myself, because I feel like I can do a good job and it’s really liberating for me. Music’s the only thing that consistently made me happy in my life, and it is very cool to remember back those days.
Nevertheless you managed to find a fine balance between the old doom sound and familiar up-tempo gothic vibes I think. How did you find out that Dominik – the drummer on ‘Antiadore’ (2013) – was interested to join you again?
Yeah, I think so too. People get married and people get divorced, Some people — very few — but some people end up going back with their ex-wives, so Dominik is something like my ex (laughs). No, Domi was in the band many years ago and we had a great chemistry with him as band member — we always want to embrace that chemistry. He was always a very good friend of mine and he is an outstanding drummer, so as all my band mates decided to leave, he was my first phone call.
Next challenge: finding a new singer. How did you manage to do that? Can you tell a bit more about the person of Julian Larre?
OK it was not that easy like in the movies ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ or ‘The Dirt’ where the band only has to play a gig and a genius like Freddie Mercury went backstage and say „hey, here I am“. or like Tommy Lee who went to school with Vince Neill. To be honest, nobody in my school was a really good singer or performer. If someone of my former school mates read this, „sorry bro’s“ and no single day in my life a guy like Freddie walked into our backstage area… So, I had, again, make it on the hard way and watch about two weeks of material in Youtube. How I can describe it in a friendly way: not everybody who calls himself a singer, is really a singer. But it was worth it, cause Julian was outstanding and being in the band now, he can sing anything, so you don’t have to worry about throwing something in front of him and going, ‘Oh, man. I hope he can hit that note,’ or whatever — there’s not a worry about that. So you’re able to just sit there and go as far as you want to go. Everything started getting better and better. And he brought this excitement to the band that we haven’t had for quite some time. And now we just can’t wait to get out on stage every night. If we’re off for a couple of days, it is, like, ‘Ahhh… When do we get back out there? It’s so much fun.”
I think the creation of the album started with the theme of the universe and the title. This ‘larger than life’ thing must have been inspiring… I guess your interest in the universe must have been present since your youth maybe and some thoughts about it would be welcome?
Everybody has sometimes thoughts about it: is there a life after death, what will stay if we leave and I always come to that point that you only can leave the biggest footsteps you can walk. That’s it. Last year we read up on the big bang theory a bit. When something huge is created, there is always blood involved somewhere in the process. So we thought that as the universe was created the stars have to bleed also. And voilà: the album’s title was born!. Bleeding the Stars deals primarily with the theme of destiny, how it is fulfilled or how it is forced to fulfill it. For example, they say “it’s in your blood” or “it’s in the stars”, which in the end makes up the album title, which is composed of fate analogies. On the other hand I love this blood red color, because I’ll never forgot that my guitar endorser ESP guitars did a limited edition model for Gary Holt (Slayer, Exodus) and for the paintwork of his guitar he sent his own blood to mix in. Really like that idea, but my blood would not be enough for every item of the Digipaks and Vinyls, so I decided to not follow his way (laughs).
What about the lyrics? I noticed a slight connection between ‘Mother Of Doom’ and ‘Father Of Fate’, but you as creator are better placed to tell us a bit more about the things who inspired you to write lyrics now… I am looking forward to hear it…
Yeah, well… the first title we had in mind during the studio recordings was ‘Father Of Fate, Mother Of Doom’. Then Christopher bent around the corner with ‚Bleeding The Stars‘ and we were drunk and decided to,use this one. About ‚Mother Of Doom‘, We wanted the title to be quite the opposite to ‘Father Of Fate’.
Please tell us a bit more about the recordings and your cooperation (again) with Kristian ‘Kohle’?
„Kohle“ is well known for his „death“ and „power metal“ productions like Aborted or Powerwolf for example and now he can also pin “dark metal” to the wall. He was a really good choice cause he screamed at us a little bit more (laughs). He pushed us a little bit more and also shake us to life when we’re dead and tired. When I write stuff I still see a vinyl LP. I still think that it should be listened from beginning to end, not just a bunch of singles or whatever. That’s exactly how he thinks about creating music and also that the next step is back to our roots, back to the core of the sound —doom, killing leads, chunky riffs, slamming drums, and everybody will be there moshing to this monster haha…
The previous album ‘Hope Is Gone’ was traditionally followed by touring. What about your adventures on the road this time between 2016 and 2018?
Believe me it´s always an adventure at the minute one we leave our homes. Cause we never fly business class and we never have enough space booked for all our stuff and it´s always a discussion with instruments and merchandising. But we visited so impressing cities like Korea, Tokyo, Shang hai, Bejing, Dubai. My idea of playing Metal, doesn´t matter what kind of these ten thousound genres we have right now, is live music. You need to really enjoy this or you should stay at home. Having a really good friendship among the band members is also really helpful, or it will become too much of a job. Hey we played in 30 countries in 27 years so far and I love the risk. The risk is what throws it over the top. This many years into my career, my stomach still turns upside down cause I still feel like I’m taking that risk or I’m that close to that high again that I first achieved in 1993. I come from that school of ‘live is the purity.’. To stand on that stage and know that there’s a possibility of failure is why I continue to do it — because it feels great when you succeed and fuck, we’re almost there.
Playing in Dubai must have been something special! Please tell us how you felt and what you experienced…
It was the trip of my life. Thanks to Moutasem Kabbani, who opened so many doors for us to get the chance to this adventure. If you read this bro, YOU ROCK! We met people from Syria there and if they close their eyes and sing with us the words „HOPE IS HERE“, I can´t describe in words this very special moment. Unforgotten and hope to be back soon. Ah the first time in my life I went to swim with my band mates, hahaha! And the ralley through the desert. Ah so much stories, I need a beer. Cheers.
In addition to the video clips for ‘Father Of Fate’ and ‘Like Screams In Empty Halls’ I was really flabbergasted by the new clip for ‘The Kingdom Solicitude’, filmed in Iceland! (unbelievable, you were there when we were travelling for a month in Iceland in June!!!) So please tell me all about your experiences in the land of fire & ice and your affinity with it!
During the recording process I saw a video clip by Sólstafir and I was blown away by the landscapes in Iceland. We flew to Iceland outside the tourist season, cause it makes no sense to stop the recordings every single second cause a Chinese tourist with his photo camera is walking into your shot (laughs). So we woke up at 4 o’clock in the morning, drove to the first place „the black beach“ and finished everything till the first bus with tourists arrives about 9:00, then we went to the next location and during our way we stopped by at every place we liked to shoot and, believe me, there were many. Everything is so breathtaking and beautiful like you visit ten different countries in one, unforgotten and I wish you a nice time there. It was funny cause Julian has always to carry an urn and he forgot it 15 times of 17 shoots (laughs). That was the funny part, three days later I sent the invoice to the record company and got the answer, wtf, (laughs).
And the clip gains depth when someone’s ashes are blown in the wind over there. Might be a personal thing, but if you want to tell something about that, feel free to do it…
The idea behind the “storyline” was, that Julian and me, only both can fulfil his/her last wish. Julian found the urn and I found this message in a bottle and only together we can made it.
Can you tell a bit more about the beautiful artwork – space like and you feel so much closer to nature in Iceland by the way – how did Elton Fernandes came up with this? Was it a close cooperation even via internet?
It was the idea of my brother and mine to combine it with the Iceland landscapes and some futuristic stuff. Regarding Elton, I´ve found some of his works on Facebook. His art blew me away and he really likes and understands our music and this is the third album we work together. The new cover is a photo, but it´s far away from the original. We sent the picture to him including our ideas and surprisingly: it works. Like always (laughs)!
What are the plans for the near future? I am sure you might have some touring or gigs in the pipeline…
Yeah we play some festival shows and headliner shows here in Germany in Summer, in September we head over to Russia, in October again some shows in good old Germany and in November we join our longtime friends in The 69 Eyes and go on tour for the whole November, but we miss the Italian show and a day off, cause on those dates, we´ll play a show in Madrid and a festival in Barcelona. Sometimes I like my job…
If there is anything you would like to add, feel free to round off this next conversation of ours with your thoughts…
Thanks a lot and thank you for the interview. Would be cool if some of your readers like my words and I could share some interest in our new output. Listen to it, I promise you will not regret. Hopefully see you soon! All the best & cheers!
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