DATE OF INTERVIEW:
5th February 2013
METAL DISCOVERY: Firstly, I would like to thank you for taking the time to talk to Metal Discovery. Your superb new album, ‘To The End’, has only been released a short while, after a couple of unfortunate delays, but it has already received some excellent reviews and feedback. Has this exceeded your expectations?
SEEB: Yes, we are absolutely overwhelmed by the awesome response from press and fans as well. It makes us really happy to know so many people like it. We worked a long time on that record and it's great to see that it was worth it.
(Sebastian "Seeb" Levermann on latest Orden Ogan album, 'To The End')
"...we threw every unnecessary thing and focussed even more on the songs themselves instead of arranging them... This time we didn't think about which (orchestral) instrument should play the melody! If it was written on lead guitar, then it stayed on lead guitar."
Interview by Rick Tilley
Official Orden Ogan Facebook:
ORDEN OGAN DISCOGRAPHY
Testimonium A.D. (2004)
In October 2012 Orden Ogan released their latest album, ‘To The End’, to very favourable press and is considered by many to be one of the strongest power, folk and progressive metal releases last year. Following the release with a lengthy stint around Europe as support act to Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody, Orden Ogan frontman Seeb reflects back on the album and tour in a series of questions posed by Metal Discovery’s Rick Tilley…
Orden Ogan - promo shot
Photograph copyright © 2012 Uncredited
SEBASTIAN "SEEB" LEVERMANN
Official Orden Ogan Website:
Thanks to Mike Exley for arranging the interview.
MD: How do you feel knowing the album has entered the charts in Germany?
SEEB: It's almost surreal. I mean, you have to imagine that this means your band was the No.41 best-selling-act-of-the-week in the whole of Germany at the time? We all stay pretty down-to-earth with things like that. We worked hard, as I mentioned before and, so, it's great to see how your "baby" grows!! We would also make the next record if nobody would have bought it, but it’s really good to know people appreciate your efforts. We love doing this kind of music and success is a nice compliment but it doesn't affect our ambition to make the music we want to do too much…..
MD: The production of the album is fantastic and, personally, I think it is one of the best I’ve heard all year. At any point, was an outside producer considered or were you always the first choice?
SEEB: Thanks a lot, man! I have my own studio here in Germany and produce other bands as well, so it’s natural to have me also produce and mix the record of my own band. This time, we focussed as much on the production and the sound of each instrument as we did on the songwriting. I really wanted to make the album sound "killer" and had a very clear picture in mind of how the overall production should sound like. As you can imagine, it is very exhausting to compose, play guitar, play keyboards, sing, record everything, edit everything, arrange choirs and mix the whole record. Of course, we’ve sometimes thought of bringing another mix-engineer to the table. But, for now, I am happy we didn’t. I am really satisfied with the sound of the record.
MD: There seems to be a less progressive, shorter, more anthemic style to the songs on this album. Was it a conscious decision to change your writing style?
SEEB: On ‘Easton Hope’, Nils (Keyboards) and Tobbi (Lead Guitar) did some songwriting work as well as me, but this time there was a very definite ‘something’ bringing more to the table. I’ve had a very crappy time in my private life in the last 2 years and I somehow needed to deal with that by doing the songwriting stuff myself. That’s why I think the record turned out the way it turned out. It was almost like a therapy. Like a collective "fuck you all……". That’s really why it is so heavy, hard, forward and straight in your face. I think on ‘To The End’, we finally found the real Orden Ogan sound, as it was meant to be from the beginning. On our previous records like ‘Easton Hope’, we arranged up to 160 tracks of orchestral arrangements, choirs and stuff. Any song could easily consist of 30 different parts. On ‘To The End’, however, we threw every unnecessary thing and focussed even more on the songs themselves instead of arranging them. We wanted to do a record that is really heavy, straight forward, "in your face" and direct. I think we achieved that. This time we didn't think about which (orchestral) instrument should play the melody! If it was written on lead guitar, then it stayed on lead guitar. There is still enough to discover on this record, but it is not as progressive and complex as the previous ones.
MD: ‘To The End’ also contains two older songs, ‘Mystic Symphony’ and ‘Angels War’, which have been recorded properly for the first time. Why were they chosen to be included at this time?
SEEB: They are both songs we’ve played live for years because they just work very well in the set… But, they’ve never been available on an official record until now; just one or two really old demos. Fans came complaining after the shows that they couldn’t buy them, and so we really felt forced to re-record those songs, haha.
MD: I also notice that the running order of the album seems very well thought out. It’s not something that worries many bands these days. How important is that aspect of recording to you?
SEEB: I love being on stage but I almost like producing the stuff in the studio even more because, and that’s what’s so different from being on stage, you can make it perfect every time and have as many tries as you need. Of course, there are shows that can be "magical" too, but if you do it right in the studio, you will have a song in the best shape possible on a record.
MD: Working with Andreas Marschall on original artwork for your album covers is another aspect that sets you apart from many bands. Why have you felt it important to do this and has the extra effort been worth it?
SEEB: Andreas is a good friend of mine really, outside of the business. I recently also composed and produced the film music to his latest horror film ‘Masks’. Yes, he is an extraordinary artist and his covers fit perfectly to our kind of music. I think the overall "product" is important; not only the songs, the production or the image or whatever. We put a lot of work and love into our records and so, we also want to have cover artwork that is really special. I hope he will be alive long enough to do all the following cover artwork to all the following Orden Ogan records, haha.
MD: Many bands, nowadays, release special editions of albums, indeed you have released a digipak of ‘To The End’ with a bonus DVD from Wacken 2010. But whose decision was it to also release the sumptuous Wooden Box Edition, which includes, amongst other things, an Orden Ogan snow globe?
SEEB: That was an idea from the label, but we really liked it. I think the box is awesome and due to the fact that it was completely sold out, months before the release of the record itself, it seems that our fans also liked it. I see it as a special gift for all the hardcore Orden Ogan fans.
MD: Two excellent and professional videos for ‘The Things We Believe In’ and ‘Land Of The Dead’ have also been made. How long did they take to shoot and did you enjoy making them?
SEEB: It's always fun to shoot videos but it's also very exhausting, especially when you are totally sick (like I was when we were shooting ‘Things We Believe In’!). We shot for 2 days to do each clip, and it took like a week in total for each clip to be post-produced.
MD: You obviously put a lot of care and attention into delivering a great package for your fans but also to give a very comprehensive internet presence. Is it a struggle to balance the two when a lot of people these days will just download the music and not appreciate the hard work, time and money you have spent on an album?
SEEB: I suppose there are advantages and disadvantages. The internet obviously helps in making bands more popular, but it also makes it a lot harder to sell records or earn money with your music. In our case, I never saw Orden Ogan as a commercial product and I hopefully never will. I don't want to come to the point where I have to do this and that with the band, to be able to pay my bills. I think the real fans still buy CDs or merchandise when they come to your shows, so let’s hope that continues.
MD: You recently took your touring show on a comprehensive European tour supporting Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody. How did this go and was it difficult trying to fit everything you want to play into a shorter set time?
SEEB: No, it was still great! I’m absolutely fine with 45 minutes on a tour, ‘cause you have to do that each night. Especially for a singer, it gets harder and harder to keep your voice going the longer the set and the tour is. The tour is over now and it was great fun. Great audiences, great crew, great people in the other bands. It couldn’t have been better.
MD: There was only one UK date on this tour (at the O2 Islington in London). I have read that you consider the UK to be one of your strongest markets, so are there plans to come back in 2013, to play a more comprehensive headline tour or to perhaps concentrate on playing UK festivals such as Bloodstock?
SEEB: We would love to play Bloodstock but haven't been booked for it so far. We are thinking of doing a headlining tour in 2013 still, but have to change plans again and again as the year progresses, due to other options, meaning other support-tours and stuff like that. I hope it’ll work out!
MD: What was your reaction recently to Dave Mustaine’s comments on Twitter that he was listening to your music and thought you were "Pretty Cool"?
SEEB: Haha... How would you react to that? It was awesome to read that, of course. I mean - it's Dave Mustaine...!!
MD: Before we finish are there any final comments you would like to make for the readers at Metal Discovery?
SEEB: The UK was always great for us, so without you guys going to concerts, still buying CDs and merch - in one word - supporting the bands you like - there won't be any successful band at all. The only thing I can say, and it comes from the heart, is: Thank You!
MD: I would like to thank you once again for taking the time to answer the questions Seeb, and wish you very good luck with the album and the rest of the year...
SEEB: Thank you very much!
Easton Hope (2010)
To The End (2012)