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This band has been in business for 15 years, the Austrians supported e.g. Manowar, Overkill, Nevermore, Labyrinth, Iron Saviour, Edguy, Finntroll, Within Temptation, Týr, Hollenthon, Alestorm & Svartsot on Austrian stages, played at festivals also across home borders (e.g. Metalcamp). Still the guys from Styria have not found a label yet that could pave the way out of the underground. Why and what happened is what STALKER tries to find out in this Fresh Act interview with Alex (git) and Bernd (voc).
What´s up? Everything OK in the Alps? Bernd : Hi there! First many thanks for your interest, that cannot be taken for granted nowadays! Everything OK here in the Alps so far. What´s up? Everything OK in the Alps? Bernd : Hi there! First many thanks for your interest, that cannot be taken for granted nowadays! Everything OK here in the Alps so far. Alex : Thanks all is fine – all quiet on the Alpine front.
Could you please introduce the band and its memebers, e.g. musical influences and preferences, what you do outside the music scene. Alex : Well, we are 5 musicians, Alex (lead guit), Bernd (vocals), Stef (drums), Ohlsen (bass) & Gsputi (rythm.guit).
My musical preferences are, as you can guess, Metal and pretty much every genre of it, and of course I listen to other music, too, but nothing worth to mention. Bernd : The same here but I don´t like all genres equally. I listen a lot to Finnish stuff, Blackmetal & Swedish or Old School Death. And I like Frank Sinatra and stuff. I´d say that we are a band that does not just play but also listens to Metal … but not exclusively. Alex : Otherwise we are at work during the daytime, more or less, and have a regular life. Bernd : More or less sounds nice, haha… I´m also studying.
When you picture yourselves as „family“ - who would take over which role, eg. Mom, Dad, Teenie, baby, Grandpa, Grandma, pet (and please explain why)? Alex : I´d see Bernd and myself as the „parents“ because we are the administrators, leaders and arrangers. We have to take care of the little ones so they don´t get lost on their way in music life. Bernd : Well Alex is definitely Dad, he´s getting stuff done. I would be Mom then who clears and cleans up everything. Stef is the slightly grumpy Grandpa, no need to explain that. With Oli and Gsputi it´s a bit difficult if they are kids or pets. The fur would suggest pets, but I´d prefer kids. Good and nice kids who are pretty independent already.
In your long band history you had many line up changes (is that right, Alex is the only founding member that´s left?) - so how long has the current line up been together? Alex : That´s right, there have been plenty of changes,but now it´s 2 years of stable line-up, which is good.
How did your style develop (which is not quite typical for the Death/Grindcore-nation Austria)? How would you define your style? Alex : Well no connection with Grindcore, that´s something I cannot cope with. All other Metal genres leave their traces in our songs. Therefore a clear definition isn´t possible, unless you do it for every single song. Something between Death/Speed/Progressive/Core plus some melodic parts, I would say. Bernd : I would not rate Austria as Grind-nation, it´s rather the fans that are into that than the bands playing it here. And there are variations of Grindcore. For me it´s not Metal although it is usually seen as a part of it. If I had to give a geographic definition, I would locate us in Scandinavia. I have the impression that bands from that area are much more open to different influences. Like we are. This core mentioned by Alex I´d also like to exclude from our music, hehe.
What´s the story behind the band name? What does NWA mean? Alex : When we started we had the now often used name „Scarecrow“ – it sounded cool and so we took it. The add NWA was adopted right after Bernd came in as we changed our style a little bit. The songs became heavyer, catchier and more complex. One of those was called „New World Annihilation“ and who can put 1+1 together might be able to identify the meaning of the add. Bernd : Ha! Right after Bernd came in! I like that. The add NWA came in 2006, and I came to the band in 2001. So let´s say after Stef joined the band. Another reason for NWA was that there are other bands using the same name, and we wanted to be unique.
You went on a 15 year anniversary tour in 2010, how was it (and what happened in Vienna, and why was Klagenfurt weird?) Alex : For me the tour was just great, with great audience at every show. The only thing that put me off a bit was all that travelling, but it was worth it. Personally I didn´t notice anything bad in Vienna, the audiences always went nuts. Perhaps the opening acts did not quite fit as they were into Grind/Death and did not like our style. Which might have confused some people in the crowd. Why Klagenfurt was weird is something Bernd could explain …. Bernd: The feeling of the whole tour was just great. Audiences were great, we pulled it off quite nicely and we had enough to drink, what else to wish for... ecxept for those maybe who posted on our websites. Probably I better don´t do that, I´m always misunderstood. In Klagenfurt the feeling was weird, there were not so many people, but spirits were so high that we really enjoyed it. Usually you lose a bit of motivation when the crowd is so small, but that didn´t happen. It was really cool! In Vienna I did not enjoy the delay caused by the last support band. Otherwise it was great, just like every time at Escape.I had a personal low back then, so perhaps I could not quite translate the good feeling in the band. But we were back in Vienna and it felt great.
Your summary of 15 years – the highlights, the failures? Alex : For me the highlights were all those big festivals we played, Rock in Allhau (Manowar, Overkill, Nevermore etc.), Summer Nights, Metal Camp and support shows with e.g. Within Temptation in a sold out Orpheum, or 2-3 gigs with Ensiferum. Bernd: Not to forget the brilliant Kaltenbach Openair (3 x) Alex : There were no real failures. Naturally losing band members has never been comfortable, because it always takes some time to rehearse the material with new musicians until they are familiar with it, and that takes time... Bernd: I´m a too positive person to feel failures. No need for complaints, just keep going. More highlights were the first CD, the first merch, the first small label deal...
Apropos: after some self-produced releases you have a (distribution) label now – how does this cooperation work, what is PH Music doing for you? Alex: I cannot say more that the label exists... at least it helped us to get us into record stores and that the cd is available internationally. But that´s about it. Bernd : Exactly. I don´t think we will release the next album with PH.
Why is Moby Dick the topic of your last CD "Ishmael"?(here the Review) Who did the artwork?
Bernd : As short as possible: we were looking for a song title – which is now the title track – and out of various suggestions we picked „Ishmael“. Which is from the book Moby Dick, so I took that one to work on the lyrics, but rather an interpretation than a re-telling of the story. The artwork did fantasy painter Franz Miklis. The original hangs on Alex´wall …
How does a typical Scarecrow NWA rehearsal look like, what happens? Alex: Well we have a nice rehearsal room that caters to all needs. First we talk about this and that, we have some drinks and then we start playing. Quite stress-free and cheerful. What is on the to do list depends on our next project. Bernd : That means 5 guys meet after work for cookies and coffee... when there´s a concert to prepare for, we work through the set list, otherwise it´s about song writing. Everything else (Management, Promo etc.) is done by me and Alex at some other time.
Who is the main song writer, how are songs created, who writes the lyrics? Alex: As for the music, this is my main responsibility, and lyrics are Bernd´s, he´s the best in that. Bernd : Main songwriter is Alex, he is our music genius. He pops up with an idea and makes the best out of our suggestions. We others just play our parts, which results in a song. But naturally there is a part of everyone of us in our music.
Metal-Festivals have become part of the Austrian scene, and Bernd, as Metal journalist you came around a bit – what´s the status of Austrian festivals, compared with others in EU area? Bernd : Austrian festivals are definitely comparable with others, regarding organization and bands. But I noticed that fans in other countries are a bit more open-minded. Every band is welcome, no matter if they play the favorite style or not. In Austria audiences are perhaps too much focused on genres. But every nation has it´s special features, Germans might be too shy for moshpits but have much more stamina regarding areas and infrastructures.
You founded your own Underground Festival some years ago, Live Jam – why and what became of it?
Alex: Back then the basic issue was that something like that is missing in Graz. Back then it did not cost much to organizeit. Many people came and were not reluctant to spend 10EUR (back then ca. 120 ATS) on it. The participating bands enjoyed it and made the first Live Jams a big success. There was no intention to make it an annual event, only when we are in the mood to organize it and when there was need for a festival in Graz.
Does the Austrian scene / do Austrian bands live up to the scene/bands in EU? Alex: In our country there´s too much complaining for my taste, about a) not all bands meet personal tastes b) it happens during the week c) it costs more than EUR 4,90 d) it´s raining e) it´s too hot etc etc … Bernd : You cannot generalize that, but when you check the bigger Austrian internet platforms, you might get this impression. Alex: The bands live up to the rest of EU, musically and with their compositions. There are many other and much bigger bands who have a problem to succeed in Austria, too. Bernd : And this is not only the case in the Metal scene. The Austrian market is relatively small, and with „margin music“ it´s even more difficult. One example is the ado about the Austrian candidate for the Eurovision Song Contest. It´s not the best song that they are looking for, but „the artist“ who will do least harm in the view of the media makers. Such endeavours are bound to fail.
Austrians have a much harder stand in business, e.g. I can come up with much more Swiss acts with a good label and on international level than Austrian bands – what is your opinion? Alex: Exactly the same. Bernd : Well you would rather put your money into a Swiss bank than an Austrian bank.
The internet as a promotion tool (Myspace, Facebook) would offer the chance to cross national borders – did that work out for you? Alex: Naturally the internet is a good thing, but that´s also true for other countries, therefore the massive amount of bands, music and providers is just getting bigger and more confusing. A bliss and a curse at the same time. Bernd : It works quite nicely for us, but I have to admit that we are not so eagerly working with it, unlike other bands. We are simply too busy to bury other people under tons of our „hot news“. Moreover, we all live in the real world and for us Facebook, Twitter etc are nice tools but no central parts of life.
As Austrian „in exile“ I remember that back then you hardly found Metal-friendly live clubs or promoters, bands had to organize everything by themselves, at 100% personal risk – has the situation changed? And if yes, to the better or the worse? Alex: It hasn´t changed much. Via internet you can reach various institutions a bit easier, but that doesn´t mean that those also reply. You learn to be patient. Bernd : We don´t want to complain here. We don´t have such hard times, and if we can make it happen that following generations have some better life, it was all worth it. The prophet has always had problems to be heard in his own country.
As I recently watched this Anvil docu on Finnish TV – what is your dream that you´d cling on for 30 years, no matter what? Alex: Continuing to make music... Bernd : That´s it…
Future plans? Alex: Right now we are working on songs for our new album. There should be some gigs coming up this year, too, but the major project is the CD. Bernd : And then let´s see ;-) Another plan would be to play more shows abroad, therefore to all promoters out there: do not hesitate, we don´t ask for much... and to music fans, concert audiences – be courageous and think outside the box=genre limitations, it´s worth it! Thanks and stay metal…
Author: Klaudia Weber, photos: Anna Grivas Date: 2011-03-01