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Jacob, at first I would like to say thank you very much for this interview! Here we go:
Could you please introduce your band mates, describe each of them in two-three words, and tell our readers a bit about the history of the band?
Jonah Weingarten (keyboards): Our happy, optimistic and funny American. He’s the guy you wanna turn to when you’re sad. He’s almost always happy and there’s nothing stopping him, ever. Toke Skjønnemand (guitars): Toke is one of this guys who can’t sit still. He’s always in motion and laughing and talking (fast). Morten Gade Sørensen (drums): Here’s a guy who’ll be your best friend if you treat him right. He’s humble and quiet and nothing can stress this guy, it seems. Terje Harøy (vocals): Funny enough, the vocalist is the quiet type. He’s also a very happy person and it seems the little things in life puts a smile on his face. Like kids, coffee and a cheese sandwich. Jacob Hansen - myself (guitars): Hard to describe yourself, but I see myself as a bit of a control freak, in this band anyway, and the guys trying to grab all creative things flying around. I’m also trying to be the clown in the band sometimes, and other times, I have to be the grown-up. Guess I’m also the oldest one.
The band got together when earlier guitarist and main songwriter Michael Kammeyer gathered a bunch of musicians for his power metal project. He wrote a bunch of songs and approached me for producing an album with them. He had no singer, but after I heard the songs, I immediately contacted a management and asked them to help the band out. So they did and recruited Lance King as their singer. The rest is history.
Your CD Disciples Of The Sun <Review> was released on May 22nd, 2015, through Inner Wound Recordings. Congratulations - the songs are excellent and I like your creativity very much! How were the reactions? Are you contented with the feedback?
Thank you! The reactions were overwhelming. We didn’t know what to expect, as it took almost 7 years between Immortal and Disciples Of The Sun. We were afraid our fans had forgotten about us, but it seemed like Pyramaze was very much alive out there in peoples minds and fan forums. So when we put out the news that we were working on songs again, we really felt the love from all our fans again, and it felt great.
Actually, it was also very exciting to see how people would react to the kinda new style that we obviously presented, being now 3 new song writers, but that’s also a thing that we’ve received very positive acclaim from. In fact, some have been talking about this album as a very mature follow-up to Immortal, and a natural step, so we’re very happy with everything so far.
There are 12 great tracks and I have my special favorites – let's talk about two of them... My No. 1 is Unveil. I love the lyrics and the energy of this song. It really „sends shivers down my spine“. :-) Hope Springs Eternal is my No. 2– the hot rhythm fascinate me, bass and drums do a heck of a job. Could you please tell us a little bit more about both songs... who came up with the first ideas, who wrote the lyrics, and what are they about?
Unveil was maybe the first song that was ready, as far as I remember. This one is entirely written by me, and I had Terje demoing this one, when we were still talking about singers. When we heard what he did with this one, we were all confident that he was the guy! Yes, it has a dark, intense feeling, you’re right. I’m glad you like this one.
Hope Springs Eternal is a faster one, and this one we wrote in the studio, Toke, Morten and I. It had some odd time signatures, so when I had to work on the vocals, it didn’t really click, so I contacted my friend and ex-band mate Henrik Fevre of Anubis Gate, and he nailed it of course. He actually helped us a lot on this one with lyrics and vocal arrangements. When Terje and I didn’t have any ideas left, we’d call Henrik, haha.
There were changes in the line up of the band. Disciples Of The Sun is your first record as guitarist of Pyramaze, and you were also part of the songwriting team. Could you please tell us a bit about the writing process? Did your teamwork work very well straightaway from the beginning or did it take some time to become attuned to one another?
Well, we started writing some demos by ourselves, sending them around between the members, and there was just something that immediately worked even though we didn’t talk about a style or a direction. It just came out of nowhere, so to speak.
We decided to meet up in the studio, and then just bring all our ideas to the table and start playing as a band and working on the songs, so in a week we had all songs done, except Photograph, which came in later. All songs had drums, basic rhythm guitars and some bass + some keyboards within 1 week of writing. We were feeling so inspired and creative and had a very very good time in the studio. It just felt so right. Also, I’ve known the guys since way back, so I immediately felt welcome.
How would you describe the music resp. the sound from Pyramaze in 2015? What are – seen on a musical level – the greatest differences between Disciples Of The Sun and the CD Immortal, released in 2008?
I think it’s a different beast. We all still love the old records, and they all have special places in our hearts, but Disciples Of The Sun has a bit more diversity to offer, I believe. We’ve been trying to push the envelope within the Pyramaze sound, and I think we succeeded. It’s in some ways heavier, and then in other ways catchier than ever before, and I feel we’ve done a terrific job all of us. I also think that having 3 song writers instead of only 1 gives us the opportunity to test new grounds.
There's an interesting video for the song Disciples Of The Sun, with cool „special effects“ and a great light-atmosphere – it's very well done. Who had the idea for the clip, where did you film it, and who was the director?
I talked to Thomas Tjäder (Acromacy Media) whom I got to know when he worked with Pretty Maids, and I told him that we wanted to make this cool video in an old warehouse, and he went “noooo… When I hear the song, I see something much cooler”, and he told me his ideas with the lights and stuff, so we just went “yeah, let’s give it a shot”, and luckily, Toke had some friends at a school close to him where these kids are being taught how to set up stages, sound and light, and they had the perfect space + tons of gear, which they were happy to lend us and help us create a cool video, so that was also very lucky, and we’re just thankful to have all these talented friends all around. Finally Craig Gowans from 12 Inch Media cut the whole thing together and made it look insanely pro, haha.
Do we have a chance, that you rock the German stages sometime, too?
We surely hope so! We were hoping to play a number of shows this year, but so far, we’ve only played one festival. Let’s hope that’ll change.
What are the most important inspirations for you when you are writing songs? Do you have to be in a special mood or do you need special ambience to be creative?
I can only answer for myself, but I feel it very strongly when I am in a creative flow. Then I can write a bunch of ideas and whole songs… This seemed to happen when we were working on Disciples Of The Sun.
You have your own studio – the Hansen Studios in Ribe/Denmark – and in the last years I often wrote your name in my reviews, in the categories „Producer“, „Engineer“, „Mix and Mastering“. What bands have you worked for - except Pyramaze? Is it an other feeling to work in the studio for your own band and not for a client?
Oh, I have worked with many bands: Volbeat, Pretty Maids, Mercenary, Evergrey, Mustasch, Dizzy Mizz Lizzy, Amaranthe, Primal Fear, Aborted, Epica etc. etc.
I won’t say it makes much of a difference working with your own thing, but it also helped me that I could play some mixes for my assistance and he could tell me if I needed to work more on a part, haha.
In which age did the music „catch“ you, and which bands/musicians would you name as your greatest influences?
I think music has meant a lot to me since I was maybe 5 or 6 years old and discovered my dad’s old Beatles records. This made such an impact on my musical life that I many, many years later realise, that many of the bands/artists I like the most, seem to be heavily inspired by The Beatles. That was also the case when I went out and bought ELO’s Time when I was 11, and this album I still love. In fact, Jeff Lynne’s way of producing also inspired me tremendously. But of course when I started listening to metal, Slayer, Mercyful Fate/King Diamond, Dark Angel, and obviously many of the teutonic Thrash Metal bands of the 80’s inspired me a lot.
How many instruments do you own, what are your favorite ones?
I own many. I have 2 drum kits, 2 basses, maybe 10 guitars or more, 6-7 amps etc etc. I can’t get enough, haha! I ended up playing most of the guitar parts on the Pyramaze album on my Schecter C1 Baritone guitar. That one sounds smashing! The bass was done on my MusicMan Stingray.
The music biz is changing, the digital download is on the march, Vinyl is back. What do you prefer: the physical CD, digital download or Vinyl?
I haven’t bough a CD in quite some years. There’s no need to. Either I buy it on iTunes or I listen to Spotify. It makes great sense, although it makes me sad that the billion dollar businesses that it is selling music these days, obviously is not paying the artist.
A “funny” thing is that headphones are selling like crazy. You can thousands of brands, but there’s no money in music anymore… That can’t be right!
What technical enhancement was the most important for you as a musician?
Punching in without gaps ;) I was brought up with tape machines that made a small gap when you punched in on a track. These days are luckily over.
Is there anything you would like to add to this interview?
Thanks for taking interest in Pyramaze. It means a lot to us. We hope to be able to get out and meet some of our foreign fans on tour or at festivals. Hopefully in 2016!
Thanks for your time. We wish you and the band all the best and much success!
Photo No. 1 + 3: ©2015 by Vibeke Johansson
Photo No. 2 + Logo: ©2015 by Pyramaze