by Derric Miller
– Managing Editor –
Edguy vocalist Tobias Sammet checked in with Hardrock Haven to discuss their new album, Space Police: Defenders of the Crown; exactly what their Baba Yaga song is all about; upcoming world tour plans that don’t include the U.S. … yet; why they made the daring decision to cover Falco’s “Rock Me Amadeus;” and a whole lot more.
HRH: Thanks for taking the time to talk with Hardrock Haven … and on to the new album, Space Police: Defenders of the Crown. How did the band possibly come up with such a happy album? Aren’t you guys aware that humanity is destroying the earth’s climate, that the gibbering idiot American War Machine is drooling over the possibility of being able to go to war with white people this time, that these are the “End Times” some people say? And you combat that with “Love t-t-t-tyger!” (And is that a William Blake reference, as in, “tyger tyger burning bright?”)
Tobias: It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, if you succeed or fail; the only thing that counts is whether you’ve got your sunglasses on. My world is going down with flying colors! And the other question is: How entertaining is it to go to a Metal show, have seven beers and listen to a nerd with a flannel shirt singing about Exxon Valdez? To each his own, but beware of the Love Tyger, he’s gonna get all of you! “Tyger Tyger burning bright”? No, I just thought tigers looked more Metal than I, with a “Y” as in Queensr-Y-che’s earl-Y albums, not as in Queensryche’s Tr-I-be. That’s it! Y is Metal! Just like Yron Mayden, MetallYca and The Yardbirds. Did you know that a lot of us musicians are illiterates? I am not as half as smart as some people may think, ha!
HRH: Why did the band choose to go with the tracks “Space Police” and “Defenders of the Crown” as the title tracks?
Tobias: We had the working title “Defenders Of The Crown” even before we had the song lyric of that particular song. I just thought of how we’ve always refused to listen to advice and do things the way the music world told us to in order to be marketed as a Metal Band. In fact, I believe that by refusing to fit in at any price, we made ourselves who we are. That’s the ultimate spirit of Rock’n’ Roll: Go your own way, take a risk at not fitting in and make it difficult to be tailored to a target audience. I thought being on top of our game—which is not giving a shit about our image and getting away with it—that’s the crown that we want to defend. The label liked the title and said it would be easy to sell in the Heavy Metal world, with swords and all that stuff, and … there it was again. So we thought, let’s choose another song title to become the album title: Space Police. That sounded like Zappa and Bowie and was quite brave for an all-the-way-through-and-through-Metal album. In the end, we loved both titles so much that we just glued them together. Doesn’t make sense, but sounds Metal, doesn’t it?
HRH: Sure as hell does. The album has an interesting flow … the first three songs seem to be, well, serious, and then “Love Tyger” hits. Suddenly, there’s not a dearth of songs about Baba Yaga, there’s an Amadeus shout out and then we get into caveman passion. What was that process like when you guys put together the track listing? I mean, was it like “Of course we follow up the cover of ‘Rock Me Amadeus’ with ‘Do Me Like a Caveman,’ duh.”
Tobias: It’s trial-and-error in iTunes until you think it’s got a good flow. It’s always a very intuitive thing to put the songs in the right order. “Sabre & Torch” was the opening track from the very beginning as it shows that we won’t take any prisoners with that album track and then you pretty much have to try to live up to not taking any prisoners. The ballad shouldn’t be the second spot, and the long track is always the last track in the “Great Book of Rules in Pseudo-Intellectual Art Rock.” It’s got to be the last track unless we decide differently which we haven’t done in this case obviously, ha ha. I know in the days of vinyl, bands tried to hide the crap songs on Side B, which doesn’t work for us. If—as in our case—you’ve got neither crap songs nor vinyl (except for a few collectors’ editions), you get an ulcer putting that set list together …
HRH: Let’s bounce right to the cover on the album, “Rock me Amadeus.” I think it’s somehow more flippant and silly than the original, if that’s possible, but it’s also awesome. Why did Edguy choose that song to cover and will the band ever play that song live?
Tobias: I hope we’re gonna do it live. I mean, it’s a great tune. It’s one of the best pop songs to have been written in the ’80s. The original is not only very well crafted and amazingly put together and arranged—it also fit the artist perfectly back then. I have always been a huge Falco fan, but especially if you speak German, you hesitate to cover one of his tracks. He’s got such a distinctive accent and a distinctive way to perform, pronounce, and play with words via his dialect, accent, and voice in general. The risk was too high to ruin your reputation by doing it. Now was the right time to dare. Until you’ve lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was, ha ha!
HRH: As one of those jaded and cynical cretins who is instinctually allergic to relationships, I do believe if a lovely lass said the words “Do Me Like a Caveman” to me, I might actually reconsider. So please tell me that this is based on a real experience someone in the band had and the song came to existence because of that experience. And if not … sigh … why did the band write this song?
Tobias: Actually, the song is about lying in your hotel room alone and trying to catch some shut-eye when you suddenly realize that in the room next to you, there’s someone—or actually at least two people—who don’t wanna sleep. You can’t imagine what situations I was forced to witness. Especially when we were younger. You could never really tell if it was one of our crew or even band members or just another hotel guest or maybe a polar bear. Who knows? Now we’ve become older and calmer. And my hearing is diminishing as well …
HRH: One of the coolest riffs and flat out best songs on the album is the aforementioned “The Realms of Baba Yaga.” Baba Yaga can either be maternal or a monster, depending on … well, folklore. I take it by the lyrics of “You want to turn but it’s too late,” followed by her maniacal scream, this is the version that will eat you? And again, thanks for writing a song about Baba Yaga, there’s just not enough of those out there …
Tobias: I really don’t know if Baba Yaga is good or evil. I think it depends on what kind of day she had and who’s approaching her. Like a female cobra prior to a copulative attempt of a male. The boy snake’s got a fifty-fifty chance here: get off or get eaten. Who knows?! That’s part of the excitement of being a cobra, I guess. In our song, at least the protagonist is taking being eaten into consideration, hence the line: “Will I have to dine with you tonight?” Seriously, I just tried to find a metaphor for something tempting, that we know won’t do us any good but we heed the call nevertheless. We give in because the thrill is stronger than reason. You can project that on all sorts of fields of our existence and behavior.
HRH: There seems to be an ‘80s pop vibe in places, and not just because of “Rock Me Amadeus.” By the time we get to “Alone in Myself,” that song reminds of something I could see being a part of movie from the ‘80s, like Sixteen Candles or Say Anything. Those “whoo-oooh-ooohs” about three minutes in and as the song fades out seal it for me; this was an ‘80s-inspired pop composition, correct?
Tobias: Not really. It rather reminds me of the Rolling Stones or especially Bruce Springsteen. I don’t know whether it’s got ‘80s roots or ‘70s roots, but “Alone In Myself” is a very cool ballad in the vein of “Streets Of Philadephia.” In the beginning, I was a bit concerned it could be a bit too far away from the rest of the album style-wise and even for EDGUY, it’s a pretty unusual song. But in the end, we like it and that’s why it’s on the album. It’s a great tune and there are no rules in Rock & Metal.
HRH: The album wraps up on an initially metal-bluesy, 8:50 long track “The Eternal Wayfarer,” a song that becomes this throbbing, majestic Power Metal composition. Vocally, this may be my favorite song because you are using so many facets of your voice, tone, range, etc. Plus before the solo there’s a very Led Zeppelin-ish riff, and it gets Whitesnake-y at times too. Is this the longest song Edguy has ever recorded, and who is this Eternal Wayfarer?
Tobias: We’ve done so many long songs. Sometimes you keep composing and arranging and playing around with one track that it takes you away. You don’t realize it’s that long until you notice time designation on the recording device and you go “Ooops.” We’ve had way longer tracks, but it’s the epic track on this new record. I love it. It’s so bombastic and still it’s got drive and power and is clearly a guitar driven song despite the bells and whistles. “The Eternal Wayfarer” is everyone who believes in the immortality of the soul. It’s a very spiritual track.
HRH: It’s getting to be that time of year again when the best Metal bands in the world tour Europe and not the U.S. Looking at your tour dates, you don’t have any shows in the U.S. yet. So, what can those going to the Space Police tour expect from the shows, and any shot of us getting Edguy over for some dates in the U.S. in 2014?
Tobias: We’re about to design the biggest stage set we’ve ever had. That doesn’t necessarily concern the fans in the U.S. ‘cause we’re only a club band on North American soil and it won’t fit in clubs. But playing an arena show is a matter of attitude. You can play an arena show even in a club; it’s a matter of heart and balls. I really hope we can come back to the States and I am optimistic it will happen in 2015. It’s about time and I have a feeling the U.S. music scene really needs a bit of EDGUY. Just a tiny little bit. I mean, yes, you’ve got Kiss and Mr. Big and Aerosmith. You’ve got some of the greatest acts in the world, but there’s lack of flamboyant Richard Wagner-meets-Bugs Bunny loud-mouth hot-shots from Germany. You know who I’m talking about here …
HRH: Always a pleasure, Tobias. Is there anything I left out that you’d like to leave with our Hardrock Haven faithful?
Tobias: Spread the word: The Germans are coming! Armed with bells, whistles, a vengeance and a keyboard …