by Christophe Pauly
– Photojournalist —
After 20 years of band history, the original band members Thom Blunier (guitar), Thomas Muster (guitar), and Roger Tanner (drums), but also the band’s two young guns, Dominik Pfister (bass) and most particularly singer John Prakesh, have grown together over the years to build a unit that has just one overriding goal: to make good, honest, hand-made hard rock.
Releasing their 9th studio album, Powerplay, in January, guitarist Thomas Muster talks about the band’s new album as well as their history.
Hardrock Haven: Nice to discover your band and help you to promote your new release!
Thomas Muster: Nice to talk to you!
Hardrock Haven: My first question would be over the band’s evolution – Shakra began 20 years ago, what do you think about the band’s evolution when you look back?
Thomas Muster: When we started with the band in the 90’s we were influenced by bands like AC/DC, Saxon or Accept, just a lot of the 80’s stuff. Sure I still like these bands, but to be honest, I don’t listen to that much music nowadays, but if so, then it’s Rush or Dream Theater. So that doesn’t mean SHAKRA sounds like these two bands now, but surely you won’t find any AC/DC-like riffs anymore on our last two albums. I guess it’s all a natural evolution , musically and personally, and our newest release Powerplay shows the way we are and feel in 2013. And we feel damn good!
Hardrock Haven: Powerplay is your 9th studio album, and it’s will be released in January. Could you talk about it?
Thomas Muster: No, we don’t talk about it! It’s always better to listen to the music than to talk about it! OK, what can I say…? I guess Powerplay is the best SHAKRA album so far… did you expect I’d say something else?
Hardrock Haven: How did the recording process worked?
Thomas Muster: Same procedure as every year James! First we record pilot-tracks in our rehearsal room. Then in the studio, Roger records his drum along these pilot-tracks. And then we record all the other instruments step by step. Bass, guitars, keyboards if needed and finally all the vocals. We never record our albums in a live situation, we prefer that step by step working process. Because we can work in Thom’s own studio, we can take the time we need. And this time it took us about 3 months to record the hole album.
Hardrock Haven: As usual, this album is full of solid good riffs and solos!
Thomas Muster: Thank you!
Hardrock Haven: Where do you find you inspiration?
Thomas Muster: Well, to be honest… I don’t know… really… it happens or not… I just play guitar, all the time… while I’m watching TV, sometimes in bed, and suddenly I play a cool riff and sing a catchy melody over it. And a new song is born!
Hardrock Haven: How do you compose your songs? Do you work together? Or does anyone lead the writing?
Thomas Muster: I work at home, got a small home studio there. For me it’s much more comfortable to write alone. I work with drum-computers there and it’s really amazing because it sounds as Roger would play it! I don’t know why, maybe he plays like a machine or my computer has this human touch. Anyway, it sounds perfect when I record something at home, good enough to try some vocal lines with John later on. Well, and if we think this could be a great song John starts with the lyrics then. And Thom works on the lead parts. And that’s it. We worked that way for many years now.
Hardrock Haven: When I heard these songs and those from the last album Back on Track, it’s evident that you found a sound and a recognizable style. You also changed your singer and chose John Prakesh as the new one. What did he bring to the band?
Thomas Muster: Well, that’s simple. He brought his great voice and his lovely nature into the band. And that’s worth a lot! Of of course that was the reason why we chose him. I mean we had such big problems with our former singer and John is a complete different person. Thanks god we found him!
Hardrock Haven: Was it difficult to make such a good album after Back on Track? Did you felt more pressure during the recording sessions?
Thomas Muster: No absolutely not, for a simple reason : I started writing new songs right after „Back On Track“ was released and within a few months I had a whole bunch of new tunes together. That went all pretty easy and therefore I never felt some real pressure. And later when we worked on the vocal-lines everything turned out very cool, just the way I had it in my mind. Well, hopefully it just goes that easy again also for the next album… but you never know that…
Hardrock Haven: Did you tried some new songs live? And how was the audience’s reaction about it?
Thomas Muster: No, not so far. We’ll play the new songs live in march 2013 for the first time when we start touring. And I think we’ll play a lot of the new material.
Hardrock Haven: Do you plan many tour dates in 2013?
Thomas Muster: Well, as many as possible! First dates are now listed on www.shakra.ch.
Hardrock Haven: You played with some very famous bands like Guns ‘n’ Roses, what did those experiences brought to the band?
Thomas Muster: Hmm, not an easy question… Of course it’s cool to play in front of 13,000 people, but in a way it’s also a strange situation because you know all the people are actually there for the headliner, not because of SHAKRA. I still know the way it was when I was younger and went to AC/DC concerts… how many times did I think while the opening band was playing: “…please stop, I want to see Angus…” So I guess it’s better to play only headliner shows.
Hardrock Haven: Have you got a message to your fans for 2013?
Thomas Muster: Have fun with our new album Powerplay and hopefully we’ll see you all on tour in 2013!
Hardrock Haven: Thank you very much for your kindness.
Thomas Muster: Thank you!
Hardrock Haven: I hope to see you soon on tour! Kind regards…
Thomas Muster: Cheers and happy 2013!