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For about 10 years those dark poets have been entertaining us with sinister sounds and are a fundamental part of the Gothic scene. Now the guys from Berlin present their sixth album “Aphelia”, doubtlessly the peak of their musical output and the best way to settle at the top of melancholic Dark Rock. STALKER talked with mastermind Hardy Fieting and guitarist Robert Klausch.
”Aphelia” refers to the symbolic distance from the sun in Greek mythology. How did you discover this theme?
Hardy: When we started with the new album soon after the “Saviourine” release, we expected to transform some of the songs that did not make it on this album into material for the next one. But soon it turned out that those new ideas were much more sophisticated and emotional than the previous material, so song ideas came up which we realized. And unconsciously every song got its own particular design of Pop and ballads and Rock and Progressive, and somehow it became a homogeneous album. When we had finished half of the work we knew we had to come up with a title.
Robert: Aphelia is like the predecessors “Elegy” and “Saviourine” a concept album and is the final part of this soul trilogy. “Elegy” dealt with the confrontation with your own past, “Saviourine” mainly with anxiety. The songs of Aphelia deal with restriction and loneliness of the soul. Writing the lyrics for the title track, we attempted to express the whole album concept from the ego perspective. At some point I could not get this term out of my mind – Aphelia – how the Greeks described the most distant point from the sun in a planet´s orbit, dark and cold and probably the most lonely spot you can imagine.
You symbolize this concept with a girl, a visualization of fragility and loneliness. Do you identify this inner chill as sort of “black soul” inside of every human being, including yourselves?
Robert: Aphelia was symbolized as a girl on purpose, a symbol for the fragility of a human soul. She wanders unreal worlds, seems not to be part of anything and finds her only home finally in the darkest and coldest of all places, deep inside herself.
Hardy:I think many people will recognize this emotion. What I write in my lyrics is often like a reflection of my own soul, or a spontaneous reaction to something I lived through.
When do you start to find a theme – is there a certain moment that inspires you to deal with a theme musically and to build a whole concept album on that?
Hardy: Those ideas just suddenly pop up. I sometimes realize that I ponder over certain themes for a while, similar to different phases in painter careers. And when the first songs are created, the direction becomes clear. And during the creative process the studio is filled with this mood, and the songs take a certain direction. When a new song is born we know even before the production process, which position on the album it will have. An album should have an outline, just like a good story.
What was important for you, in terms of “Aphelia” content, lyrics and instrumentation?
Hardy: This time it was important for the album theme to express a certain helplessness and hopelessness in lyrics and also in the music. So we worked with new and quite progressive drum lines, hard and rather unusual guitar sounds, E-bows etc. to add a certain depth to the title song. In terms of content there could not be, contrary to the other albums, any sign of hope. This album should leave the listener alone with his thoughts. This is the reason for the long finale that seems to evade you and leave you behind. That was important, right from the beginning this finale was the only solution. In terms of sound it was important to have high production quality and honesty and emotionality.
The new album is completely in English, is it easier to express emotions in another language? Basically you should expect the opposite...
Hardy: Yes, this question comes up very often, especially abroad where people appreciate the German language as a very lyrical one. And it is sometimes true that English does not provide you with the right terms to express your thoughts. But that has advantages, too, because you are not getting lost in metaphors and focus your thoughts much better. We tried several times to write in German, but it simply did not fit the band and our issues. I think we would rather write songs in Spanish. This rather harsh German language does not fit what we want to say, and in which manner. We rather feel attached to old English poetry, which is sometimes difficult to realize as it does not correspond with school English. Everybody who read Blake, Byron or Shakespeare in original language knows, what I mean.
After six studio CDs there might be also some pressure to be better, more sophisticated, more convincing than the predecessor. Is this true for you, and if yes, how do you handle this pressure?
Hardy:It is indeed difficult to leave the old stuff behind to avoid to much pressure during the work on a new album. I personally discharge the album at the moment when I hand the master tape over to the record press, because everything has been said already. Perhaps this is why we struggled so much with reworking songs that were left over. Expectations are rather created by the buyers, we do not create so much pressure ourselves. I would say that our demands for our own music have grown. Every song receives what is necessary to be placed on the new album.
With those new songs you reveal more and more of yourselves, is this sometimes a problem – to open up your soul?
Hardy: Even if our lyrics are metaphoric, every one of them has a very personal background. But I think that our style leaves room for the stories of the listeners and do not reveal too much of ourselves, but songs might reveal more of yourself than you want to reveal.
How do you percieve the development in the Dark Rock scene? Do you feel you have to prove and defend yourselves as a grown band in competition with Hype-Pop Goth acts?
Robert:When we founded Scream Silence end of 90s, the typical Gothic Rock was a rather dusty relic from the 80s. Back then rare innovative bands lead the style to a renaissance as Dark Rock and gathered more audience. We have always tried to add some new aspects to enrich this style. And I think that people inside and also outside the Goth scene can clearly distinguish innovative creative musicians and poster-wanna-be´s. Especially those people show us where we stand in the scene. It makes you proud sometimes that you are recognized as a musician for your body of work and not for the one-single-hit.
Do you have a credo, a motto for your band?
Robert:For us it has been and is still very important that we do not have to adapt to a certain form. For that reason we also rejected in 2003 the record contract offered by Columbia/Sony, therefore chose our artistic freedom over the big fame, founded instead our own label, so we are able to control every single creative process and to work without pressure. Nothing would have been more dangerous for this band than some poster image without any meaningful content.
Your big dream with Scream Silence?
Hardy: ...it was basically always to give something to the people, to share views and emotions. And we dream this for quite a while already. And still it is a quite overwhelming emotion, every time when you feel that your message you sent out “in a bottle” has indeed arrived.
Thank you for this nice interview!
Hardy: We thank you (laughs) Author: Jasmin Froghy, photos: Scream Silence, transl. K. Weber Date: 2007-06-02