DATE OF INTERVIEW:
13th August 2010
METAL DISCOVERY: Are you enjoying the festival?
MATTHEW GREYWOLF: Absolutely. We just arrived a few hours ago but we’ve already had a lot of fun on the festival site and we really enjoy it. It seems to be a very relaxed festival. There’s a lot of passion in this festival and, also, on the part of the organisation so we’re absolutely enjoying our time here.
(Matthew Greywolf on on the band's affinity with wolves)
"...the wolf is the perfect symbol for heavy metal...it’s mystic, it’s wild, it’s dangerous...so I think it’s the perfect animal to symbolise what heavy metal is all about."
Matthew Greywolf in the press tent at Bloodstock Open Air, Catton Hall, 13th August 2010
Photograph copyright © 2010 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Official Powerwolf Website:
Official Powerwolf MySpace:
Return in Bloodred (2005)
Lupus Dei (2007)
Thanks to Andy Turner for offering and arranging the interview.
Bible of the Beast (2009)
Glancing at any promo photo of Powerwolf, with members made up in quasi-corpse paint, it would be easy to mistake the band for a black metal act. In actual fact, they are far from such. Rather, the German/Romanian quintet have chosen the sympho-power route to express their metal aesthetic, with melodically catchy, up tempo tunes similar in their drive to Sweden's Sabaton, but with the twist of recording an actual church organ to supplement the more traditional sympho elements. Since releasing second album 'Lupus Dei' in 2007, the follow up to debut offering 'Return in Bloodred' two years previously, Powerwolf have gone from strength to strength within the scene, gaining wide critical acclaim for both their recorded output and energetic live performances. Last year's 'Bible of the Beast', the band's third studio album, saw their success and fanbase grow to even greater proportions, with one of said release's tracks, 'Raise Your Fist, Evangelist' earning them a nomination for 'Metal Anthem 2010' in the prestigious Metal Hammer Awards. Still riding high on the success of 'Bible of the Beast', this year sees Powerwolf headline the second stage on the opening day of Bloodstock Open Air at what is their first live UK show. One of the band's founding members, Matthew Greywolf, chatted to Metal Discovery a couple of hours before they were due to hit the stage...
MD: Cool. And it’s your first time in the UK as Powerwolf?
MG: Yes it is.
MD: Have you been to the UK before yourself?
MG: Yeah, I’ve been here before but as a tourist, not a musician. Not exactly right here, of course.
MD: Have you, or will you, get time to check out any of the other bands playing?
MG: Yeah, I saw part of Cathedral’s show and it was really great. Everything else is going to be a bonus for me today!
MD: Cathedral only got announced three days ago because Behemoth pulled out after the singer became ill.
MG: Yeah, I did not expect it because I saw the schedule for the festival last week and a few hours ago somebody told me that Cathedral were going to play and…what the hell?!
MD: They were great. Best band I’ve seen so far today. Many critics have claimed last year’s ‘Bible of the Beast’ album is your best work to date and you made the German album charts – how happy are you with the final recordings yourself?
MG: Well, I’m absolutely happy still speaking today. The album got released one and a half years ago but, still today, I’m really happy with the result and would not change anything.
MD: Many of your lyrics deal with vampires and wolves but I’ve read that’s from an Eastern European, Romanian, context rather than representations that people are used to in standard horror films. What are vampires and wolves supposed to symbolise in those lyrics?
MG: Well, speaking for me, personally, you’re right and the guy who’s most into stuff like this is Attila. He reads a lot of stuff about vampires and werewolves and all this mythology. For me, personally, the wolf is the perfect symbol for heavy metal. You know, it’s mystic, it’s wild, it’s dangerous, and that’s what heavy metal is all about, so I think it’s the perfect animal to symbolise what heavy metal is all about. I enjoy it, lyrics like these. Powerwolf is not about trying to be a sophisticated band; we’re just a fucking heavy metal band and we write what heavy metal’s all about.
MD: So like the Swedish band Wolf then – very heavy metal!
MD: And you’re one step above that as you’re called Powerwolf!
MG: Yeah, we also discussed it with the guys from Wolf and, one day, we’ll do a tour together.
MD: You’ve used some organ sounds on some of your songs – is that an actual organ that can be heard in the music, and have you ever used an actual organ in a live show?
MG: Well, on the album we have used a real church organ and that was a lot of fun because a church organ sounds mightier than any guitar through a big PA. We had a lot of fun recording this. Obviously, for live shows, we can’t take a church organ with us so it’s gonna be a sampled church organ but, nevertheless, it’s the original sample from the church organ we recorded.
[Falk Maria Schlegel, Powerwolf’s keyboardist, suddenly appears behind Matthew]
MG: This is the guy who recorded the church organ.
MD: Hi, how you doing?
MD: Have you ever wanted to incorporate a live organ into your show?
MG: Well, maybe, but then this guy would have to carry it! Look at his arms! [laughs]
FMS: It’s not going to work!
MD: You’ve recorded choirs for your music in an ancient chapel, a 12th century chapel?
FS: Yes, but for the previous album, for ‘Lupus Dei’.
MD: There are some very atmospheric sounding choral parts – did the experience of recording in that chapel prove inspirational in any way at all?
FS: Absolutely, it was very special, but if I remember the recordings in the ancient chapel with the choir, all I remember is it was fucking freezing! We recorded it in early January and the chapel was non-heated. We came early in the morning with a heating system but it did not work at all so everybody was…some of the choir singers left because they were just turning into ice. So if I think back to this it was fucking freezing! It was great because it’s a great location to make a choir for a heavy metal album in a church. It was very special.
MD: Were band members part of the choir as well?
MG: No, it was all educated choir singers.
MD: In a lot of the press photos you seem to have the guise of a black metal image, kind of verging on corpse paint which you wear, although your music’s nothing to do with black metal. Whose idea was the makeup and what’s it supposed to represent?
MG: Well, it’s hard to say whose idea it was. For us, it was clear from the beginning that the visual aspect would be very important. We never planned that concept this way. We just tried things, we enjoyed it, and that’s what we do. A lot of people actually ask us if it’s meant to be black metal or whatever, and I always ask people – “would you ask KISS if they are black metal?”
MD: Or would people ask Immortal if they’re a KISS cover band because they look a bit like badgers like KISS!
MG: Yeah, right. So we’re probably the 524th band in heavy metal using makeup, so that’s not a big deal. We don’t do it to catch attention because we’re the 524th band using makeup. It’s just like, for us, it means a lot to use this because you get into the mood for a live show if you change the visual…
MD: It’s part of your costume, I guess.
MG: Yeah, and it’s about delivering a great show. I hate watching bands that just go on stage the way they would go to a supermarket. I enjoy bands who deliver a great show visually as well. Unfortunately, tonight’s only going to be half of it because we couldn’t take all of our stage production with us.
MD: That’s a shame. The second stage is pretty big here this year, so at least you’ve got a big stage to play on.
MG: I haven’t seen it yet.
MD: ‘Raise Your Fist, Evangelist’ was nominated for a ‘Metal Anthem 2010’ in this year’s Metal Hammer Awards – how does it feel to get such recognition for your music…and did you win?
MG: No, we did not win the award. Behemoth won the award, but I’m happy for the guys because I like Behemoth. It’s not about winning, it’s about being nominated. It’s great if a big magazine nominates one of your songs so it was a great honour for us.
MD: You paid tribute to Running Wild last year when you recorded ‘Ridding the Storm’ for a compilation album – is that a band who have ever inspired you musically at all, over the years?
MG: Well, I remember being a twelve year old kid jumping around to my Running Wild music but I would not say it’s in any way an influence for Powerwolf because, speaking for Powerwolf, my basic influences are Black Sabbath, Mercyful Fate, Iron Maiden. But I enjoyed Running Wild for a long time. I’m not that much into the last albums they did but, anyway, it’s a band that is really worth paying tribute to. It was a lot of fun recording ‘Riding the Storm’.
MD: Tom Diener became a permanent member of the band this year after Stéfane decided to leave. How’s he fit into the Powerwolf vibe because I gather he’s already been filling in for the past four months on drums? Does he bring anything new to the band?
MG: Well, he used to be a progressive drummer so we always have to beat him if he starts playing too complicated stuff! [laughs] He’s a very nice guy. We’ve known him for a lot of years so he never felt like being something really new because he was a good friend. He stepped in, we did touring together and, at a certain point, we asked him if he’d become a permanent member. It just was a development so he never was the new guy.
MD: If you ever decide to do a prog metal album in the future then you have the drummer there, ready and waiting!
MG: Yeah, but we will never! [laughs]
MD: You’re playing a few dates with The New Black at the end of October I noticed, in Germany and The Netherlands, which seems like a strange pairing of bands. How did those shows come about?
MG: I don’t really know but we have already played. In spring, we did a tour together. Actually, I don’t know how the idea came up but I enjoyed the lineup a lot because I like a touring lineup with different bands. If we had three or four different power metal bands lined up it just gets boring.
MD: Yeah, definitely.
MG: The New Black are great live and they’re great people so it was a lot of fun touring with them. That’s why we decided to play some additional shows together in the autumn as well. I think most of the audience also liked that combination because it’s an interesting lineup. We’ve got The New Black which are this really hard rocking thing, then we’ve got Powerwolf with this visual show and power metal. It matched perfectly.
MD: Of course, so you’re doing it again. Finally, what lies ahead for Powerwolf and have you started composing for a new album?
MG: Yeah, we have started two weeks ago. We had some rehearsals, collecting new ideas. Bloodstock’s going to be one of the last shows we’re going to play in support of the last album…obviously we’ve got the shows with The New Black in October coming up but, for the rest of the year, we’ll lock ourselves in the rehearsal room and write a new album which we’re going to record in spring next year.
MD: Do you have a concentrated period of writing then or do you compose as you go along, in between albums?
MG: No, it doesn’t work. We are a band who really has to have focus time of three months and we really focus on something new and it works perfectly.
MD: Okay, right, thanks very much for your time.
MG: Alright, thanks a lot.