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Lord Of The Lost – interview met Pi Stoffers (guitars)

Pi Stoffers: “It is not wrong to call us gothic metal, it is just wrong to call us only gothic metal. That is really, really wrong, because we are also very glam, we can be very, very poppy if you will. We have our orchestral music as well.

Bezige baasjes, die mannen van het Duitse Lord Of The Lost! Met grote regelmaat brengen ze een nieuw album uit dat altijd toch verrassend is, overal zie je hun naam opduiken, zelfs tot op het Eurovisiesongfestival toe. En dan zeker zanger Chris Harms, want als gastzanger zien we hem ook regelmatig een song meezingen van andere bands. Om het drukke jaar 2023 af te ronden, brengen ze nu een album vol covers uit. ‘Weapons Of Mass Seduction’ is een bonte verzameling van divers pluimage, maar toch weet de band overal die herkenbare sound op te plakken. We hadden een goed gesprek met gitarist Pi Stoffers over het voorbije jaar en de plannen voor de toekomst.
Vera Matthijssens Ι 4 januari 2024

There is a lot to talk about. Let us start with the cover album. Did you focus yourself on favourites or was it just a kind of collection you wanted to do?
Both. I wouldn’t say that you would ever do a cover album of songs that you don’t like, that aren’t your favourites to cover. I mean, you don’t need to choose songs that are only your favourite songs, because if we would all choose our favourite songs, then it would not work. Apart from the songs fitting into a cover album, it would be different songs, but these songs are favourite songs that we wanted to cover. We wanted to do covers for a long time, so we collected them and finally had the time to do so. So these are our favourite songs to cover I should say. We did plenty of covers in the past, but now they are all collected on one album. We did a lot of covers in the past. We did a lot of covers on the ‘Heartbeat Of The Devil’ EP, we did the ‘Bad Romance’ (Lady Gaga) cover, we did ‘This Is The Life’ (Amy MacDonald – Vera) as live cover, mainly for our shows. We covered Backstreet Boys, ‘It’s A Sin’ from Pet Shop Boys and so on. We covered a lot of things. There have been so many covers that it is just weird that there hasn’t been any cover album until now.

What are your favourite covers on this album?
I don’t want to choose favourites, it is a weird thing to do, because obviously we all agreed on covering these songs and we love to do that, but in terms of how songs turned out and how different they became, even though it is the same song, I think the cover of ‘River’, by Bishop Briggs originally, is up there, I should say. Also because it is a song that I really, really love and ‘Somewhere Only We Know’ by Keane too. I never thought that this song would make it onto the cover album, because it is such a different song to what we would ever do; but still we did it. And I love the cover of ‘Shock To The System’ by Billy Idol. It is just a great song by a great artist from an album that is considered as one of his worst albums – which I don’t agree on – but I guess it comes down to taste, but it is such a hit song. Well… I thought it was a hit song, but compared to for example ‘White Wedding’, it had minor success. I don’t know why.

It is handy that I was listening to the radio in the eighties, because many songs sound familiar to me, but you succeeded in giving them a personal touch. It is a homogeneous entirety. They all sound like Lord Of The Lost in the end.
Well I guess, since you are saying that, we succeeded then in making our own covers of them.

Indeed, just listen to ‘Turbo Lover’ from Judas Priest… the lower voice if you compare it to Rob Halford…
All the songs are very different if you compare Chris as singer to the original singer. Sia for example, with ‘Unstoppable’, and he sounds totally different, but still…

I guess you are having a pretty busy time, because Lord Fest is coming up in a few days. So please tell me what’s going on in the catacombs let us say….
(chuckles) Well, you just said it. We are a day before Lord Fest will happen. Yesterday we had our very small – and it is very weird to say that it is a very small club for us now – one off show here in Hamburg in a small club with 400 people and tomorrow we will have 4000 people in an arena and so that’s going on. One more show yesterday, Lord Fest tomorrow. We will then proceed to Finland on Monday night. Then on the 29th of December, when ‘Weapons Of Mass Seduction’ is coming out, we are doing press as right now and then we are already preparing for next year obviously, because we have the 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise coming up at the end of January. We are going on a 15 years anniversary tour through Europe in March and April. We have a lot of festivals lined out, so it just keeps on rolling. With a little break in between of course for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

What are your memories on opening for Iron Maiden shows?
Memories? (chuckles) well… We toured with Iron Maiden for the second time this year, mainly in the UK. It is a completely different thing when one of the biggest metal bands on earth invites you to their tour, not only once but twice, for the second time in their home country. It made me very, very happy to see that going on this tour was a bit like a family reunion, because we became so good friends with their crew and the band last year. We had a great companionship. When we got on tour with them this year, it was just reigniting that and just continuing that as well. The shows have been great. People have been great and it was nice to see everybody again and we had our last show together – so far – in London at the O2. I don’t have to explain why this was a big deal. Playing in London at the O2 arena is quite impressive and it will never be not impressive – even though we have played stadiums with everything – but this was crazy and just in that night, we drove back and flew back to Germany to play a festival the next day. It was stressful as fuck, but we made it. Just a few days later, after having our presumable last show with them, we met again at Wacken Open Air. Everybody was there, because Iron Maiden was headlining that day and we played right after Maiden, as the so-called deathliner at night. It was amazing! For us, having this UK tour, and having spent a lot of time in the UK this year, also for Eurovision for example, we were very lucky to have our own UK tour, all headline tour in September and it was by far our biggest UK tour we played, at Shepherd’s Bush Empire building in London which is – we had one and a half thousand people in there – which is mental for us in London and in the UK almost everything was sold out. So in all terms this year was a big year for us. We have a lot from it and we want to enjoy the fruits of our labour for now and also now it is nice to have time off with Christmas and maybe next year a bit slower without Eurovision and without 80 shows. We can reflect on it a bit more and… I don’t know, if you ask me next year what my memories are of this year, there will probably come more to mind, because I actually had time to think about it. I didn’t had any time this year.

Oh yes I can understand, but you are going back in 2024 to a kind of Eurovision song festival in Malmö…
We are going back to the finale, that is correct. We were not invited, we just said let us do our own show and it is one day before the Eurovision finale. I guess it just makes sense. We are part of the Eurovision family now, if we want it or not and we really like the Eurovision family and everything which is going on with it and how much of an open-minded tolerant space it is. So we thought to save a part of the family of Eurovision. We wanted to do a show in Malmö one day before the finales, because there is nothing going on one day before the finales, at least not official Eurovision stuff, so we decided to have our little Eurovision party so to speak in Malmö. Our plan is to continue doing that the next years in every city where the Eurovision is taking place.

That is great news, because I was wondering what are your memories on that whole circus let us say? Wasn’t it pretty different from what you were used to?
Yeah of course it was different. I mean, we have never done anything like it. It is the second biggest TV show on earth and you don’t experience these things a lot of times in your life. We are coming from the touring business, so it is different, touring and Eurovision and playing live shows, because Eurovision is only semi live, only the voice is live and it is a TV production. You don’t perform for the 12.000 people in the arena, you perform for the one hundred and sixty million people in front of the camera. That is a different thing. Obviously we were well prepared with production things, like the schedules, there are time tables, there’s places you have to be at a certain point in time, you have to be at make-up… everything is very regimented. We are a bit used to that. We are used to schedules and a lot of work and we are used to performing. We know what we are doing on stage. In those terms it was the same in a way. I was not nervous performing, it was just a bit bigger. But overall the experience and the attention was a different thing. This amount of attention we have never had. Not in Germany, not internationally and obviously it gave us a huge boost forward. So that was new and quite an experience obviously being there, being among those – like I said – super open-minded and tolerate fans was something we really enjoyed, because there are a lot of parallels between Eurovision fans and our own fan base which is ever growing and there is different people mixing in now over the last years from the metal community, because we as a band opened up to so many genres, because we just like to, so we give a metalhead the opportunity to like us. We give the Eurovision fans the chance to enjoy our live music to get into us, because we sort of support the same message. United by music. We were never completely gone from the dark gothic scene, because we’re coming from there and we will continue that, but we have opened up to so many genres. This openmindedness that we have for our music and for what we want to do, there are a lot of parallels with the people who always supported us and are still supporting us and probably always will to the new Eurovision fans that we gained, because we are very like-minded, so this is one experience that I really, really like and really felt comfortable with.

I would describe Lord Of The Lost as mainly dark gothic metal…
We are not gothic metal, not entirely. There’s part of us that are, there’s some of us who are more like that, whatever that means. It is not wrong to call us gothic metal, it is just wrong to call us only gothic metal. That is really, really wrong, because we are also very glam, we can be very, very poppy if you will. We have our orchestral music as well. Don’t forget that, so only calling us gothic metal is a bit off. I understand why there is a need for certain stamps because every person is putting things in categories, you cannot do otherwise, but we just fit into a lot of categories, not only one.

That’s true because every album is quite different. When we compare ‘Judas’ to other albums, it was different…
That’s true.

Please tell me about those happenings with philharmonic orchestra as ‘gothic meets classic’ event?
That was quite amazing, because obviously performing with a symphonic orchestra including a choir, we’ve done it once in 2013, but that was a different thing because it was a different orchestra and us back then, I think, we were opening that day at ‘gothic meets classic’, this time we were headlining. The arrangements of our songs were way more intricate, way more thought out for the whole orchestra, so it was a completely different experience for everybody including us. It was amazing. I don’t know if we can ever do this again – I hope so – but it is something I will never forget and certainly a highlight, because it is different when a symphonic orchestra plays your songs and you hear it in the room. That was amazing!

Are there already plans for a new album with new compositions?
Yeah there are. Hmm, that is one of the reasons we are playing less next year. That’s why we cannot continue playing 80 shows every year. One of the reasons is also that we want to have more creative time to write an album and it will be again very different to the previous one ‘Blood & Glitter’. And it will be something that we haven’t done in a while. It is coming out some time in 2025.

Which direction should we think, since you say you are going back to previous times?
I won’t tell you that. (laughs)

I can try…
Yeah you can try, but I won’t tell you that.

You will be playing at Alcatraz festival in 2024…
We have never played Alcatraz before, so I don’t know what to expect and this is the main reason why we are not having any other Belgian date during our 15th anniversary tour in March/April. It is a pity but it is also in the contract when you do festivals. You cannot play in the vicinity of the festivals so and so many kilometres away from the festival in that period of time. Every festival has that, so if you think to play a festival in a country, it is most likely to have shows in that area a year after that. Not in the same period, because it will obviously take buying power from the ticket buyers when you have your own shows. So we will play Alcatraz festival because we were invited and then the year after you can probably expect some Belgian dates as well. Anyways, I had a good time at Ittre and I am pretty sure that I will have a good time at Alcatraz festival.