by Alexandra Mrozowska
– Columnist —
Two years after the album Firebirth marked the start of a new chapter in Gotthard’s history after the tragic death of the band’s lead singer Steve Lee in 2010, the Swiss hard rock act is back with its follow-up, Bang. The album — preceded by a catchy single “Feel What I Feel” — and its release were mainly what Nic Maeder, Gotthard’s current lead singer, talked in his recent short interview for Hardrock Haven.
Hardrock Haven: Gotthard’s new and largely anticipated album Bang has just seen the light of day. Can you tell us what are your personal highlights of this record?
Nic Maeder: For us this is a very fresh-sounding album and one of the most varied Gotthard albums. Some of the highlights include “Thank You,” an 11-minute song with an orchestra, “Maybe,” which is a duo with a female singer, “C’est La Vie,” a ballad with an accordion, a great straight-up-in-your-face rock song “Get Up ‘N’Move On” … just to name a few.
Hardrock Haven: A mid-tempo rocker “Feel What I Feel” was chosen to be the first single from Bang. Are there any reasons for such a choice?
Nic Maeder: It was quite hard to decide which song should come out as first, as there isn’t really one song that defines the album. With “Feel What I Feel” we felt that it had a good mix of rock and ballad, and also the low vocals in the verse were something different that the band had never done before.
Hardrock Haven: Some reviewers are eager to compare Bang with Lipservice. How accurate do you think such comparisons are?
Nic Maeder: I’m not sure … maybe because of Ronald Prent’s involvement some reviewers feel this. Personally, I don’t really see it, but it’s not a bad comparison, since Lipservice was such a great album of the band.
Hardrock Haven: What were the songs on Bang inspired by lyric-and-music-wise?
Nic Maeder: Musically, it’s hard to say as there are three main songwriters (me, Leo and Freddy) and the three of us bring in our ideas and mix them up until we’re happy and then usually I will go and write the lyrics. This album is inspired by life, topics go from love to death.
Hardrock Haven: “I Won’t Look Down” bears a resemblance to Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” Is it deliberate or not?
Nic Maeder: Not at all! But it’s a funny, because a lot of people say that about that song because of the main riff … but in fact, if you listen to these two riffs side by side, they’re nothing alike.
Hardrock Haven: There is one male/female duo on the record, this with the American vocalist Melody Tibbits on “Maybe.” How did you hook up with Melody and can you tell us more about her?
Nic Maeder: A friend of the bands suggested we try her out for some backing vocals and harmonies etc. And when she was recording her parts in “Maybe,” she accidentally sang on a part she was not supposed to and it sounded great! And so we thought we should try a duo, as her voice was mixing so well with mine. After hearing the finished version we all agreed that we should keep it that way. It was just a happy accident really as we never planned to make this song into a duo in the first place.
Hardrock Haven: Bang was co-produced by Leo Leoni and Charlie Bauerfeind (who worked previously with Blind Guardian, Helloween, HammerFall and Saxon – to name a few) and mastered by Ronald Prent (Scorpions, Def Leppard, Within Temptation etc.) How do you think these outward influences affected the sound on the album?
Nic Maeder: I think they were all contributing factors. Leo is a bit more on the rock side and Charlie a bit more on the metal side, so the collaboration there really worked well. And then, mixing the album with Ronald really gave the album another dimension again. For us, the mix of all three people really had a great effect on this album. We’re really happy with the result.
Hardrock Haven: The previous album Firebirth was the first one to feature you on vocals, starting a whole new chapter in the band’s history. What was the fans’ initial reaction to the band’s decision to continue after Steve Lee’s tragic and premature death and what is their general approach to your new works now?
Nic Maeder: We are very close to our fans and spend quite a lot of time talking to them. Most of the fans wanted the band to continue and are really happy that the band was able to go on. The support was incredible and we are very lucky to have this “Gotthard” family behind us. Also the fans understood that nobody was ever trying to replace Steve, nobody ever could. This was a new chapter in the band… or sort of like a new book.
Hardrock Haven: What are Gotthard’s current plans?
Nic Maeder: Now we’ll be playing some festivals throughout the summer and start our big tour in mid-September through most of Europe, Japan and South America.
Hardrock Haven: Is there anything you’d like to add in the end?
Nic Maeder: Just that we’re looking forward to seeing everyone on tour this year!
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