Interview was prepared by Lior “Steinmetal” Stein (for Metal Temple)
Right after hitting the last chord, there are thoughts about what to do next, however, when life hits, and there is that major effect of being hit hard, at times, it is difficult to get back to business as if nothing happened. It is a process, digestion and understanding, comprehending the situation and trying to live with it. There are those that can and there are those that will decide that enough is enough, a time to move on. Germany’s long running Necronomicon, led by Freddy, have seen quite a lot throughout the long span career. Eventually, it was getting back out there with a new album, “The Last Chapter”, and who knows if it is the end or not. Steinmetal wanted to find out more by discussing it with Freddy.
Hello Freddy, it is a great honor to have you for this talk for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing sir in these challenging times?
Hi, and first of all thanks for the interest in the new album and in Necronomicon and it´s an honor for me, too, to do this interview. At the moment we are working very hard on the release of our new album, which will be released worldwide on march 26th. We are all looking forward to it enormously and are also a bit proud of this album, especially if you know the circumstances how this album was created. You can certainly say that this has become my most personal and also most emotional album ever.
With uncertainty hovering above on nearly a daily basis, the future as we know it, in particular in regards to coming back to a normal way of life, is currently under a curtain of Grey. How do you deal with this sort of disquiet, not knowing what is going to happen next? How have you been dealing throughout this period of the pandemic?
I had the most horrible year of my life. Within 2 days I lost my parents to Corona and I had to struggle with that too. That paralyzes you for the time being; also concerning the planned recordings of the new album. We had fortunately recorded the drums in December 2019 and so we could then, after I had digested the shock to some extent (although that will probably never really go away) in August then finally continue. Originally we wanted to have the album ready in April 2020; to the European tour start. But there it went to us like all the others. Nothing went forward anymore. I don’t think we’ve had a crisis like this in the world since the Spanish flu. Especially the music & event industry is totally down. We are fighting for survival. It’s really hard.
Your band Necronomicon has always been searching for opportunities and options to perform live, you even had a scheduled tour that got postponed. This situation led from being a busy bee on the road to another form of bee so to speak. Have you considered other options to promote the band further with the road option currently unavailable? How do you keep your spirit up and motivated?
It’s certainly not that simple. But that’s what happens to every musician in these dark times. The European tour was cancelled 3 days before the tour started last year…. but all the promoters assured our management that the concerts and the tour will take place as soon as it is possible again. On the contrary, many promoters still want to dock to the upcoming European tour. Now we are eagerly waiting for the vaccine and that this will happen quickly. And I want to tour in South-America again. Argentina, Brazil and Chile are in planning and if all things running well, we could go to Japan to promote the new album as well.
Right before the pandemic hit, Necronomicon underwent a substantial change in its personnel, and somewhat also in its image. For the first time ever actually, half of the band is now North American, introducing ex-Exciter Rik Charron to man the skins and the six string warrior, ex-Savior From Anger, Glenn Shannon. With the German Metal scene, along with its neighbours, harboring so many amazing musicians for example, why go for off-shore musicians?
When you’ve been making music for 35 years, you always have to deal with change. I met Rik in 2017 on our European tour. He supported us with his band “Dark Ministry” and somehow the spark between him and me jumped right away. After Chris had to confess to us on the last tour that he just can’t do it anymore (health problems) I asked Rik without further a due, who immediately agreed and also got Glen on board. Rik joining us is a win-win situation. He really wanted to make music again and we (me) are completely fascinated by his drumming style. In addition, he is a really sympathetic and honest person, who fits especially humanly to us. Glenn, too, by the way. Through the two guys we sound “more international” and also more powerful. Rik has a very individual drumming and we never had that with Necronomicon. And Glen has also contributed to this with his somewhat “snotty” way of playing the solos. In addition, Achim Köhler, who made the mix and mastering once again had a lot of time for the production, because of the Corona crisis, and you can hear that incredibly. The sound is much powerful and bombastic
How did you know that Charron and Shannon are the ones that are Necronomicon made material? Have you tried other musicians that are also off-shore? What were your prime criterions for accepting new members?
For me, the individual personality is of the highest priority. Only then comes the musical part. I’ve met so many different musicians in the course of my career, so you become very sensitive. As I mentioned, I met Rik on our European tour in 2017. That worked humanly right away. And I was sure if Rik put a person close to my heart, that person would also fit in with us. So it was no big deal with Glen. Both are quite great people who stand behind Necronomicon 100%. On our last big European tour, we had a substitute guitarist…. after the first concert he dropped out and we had to play the whole tour with three people. The guy was a complete human disaster and a real ass…., ( sorry for the expression ) as we were to learn painfully. Unfortunately, you can’t look inside a person. I am really happy to have Glen and Rik on board.
Armed and ready, you are set to release Necronomicon’s tenth album, “The Final Chapter”, once again via El Puerto Records. I have to tell you that you had me going there, I thought right from the start that this is going to be the final Necronomicon album, yet this title could be misleading, as it might be the end of a chapter but the beginning of a new one, rather said, a new era. Where was I right, help me out here please?
To be honest, last year I had the thought of quitting. One more album and then it’s over…. I just couldn’t motivate myself anymore. We’ll see what the new album will bring. I hope there also very strongly, on the support of our label and the cancelled European tour will be made up as soon as the situation out there improves, and then we’ll see. I can’t stop completely anyway, but I’m too much of a musician and I love this kind of music too much. The album title allows many speculations. This can also be a new beginning. A new chapter of the band with Rik and Glen. We will see what comes in 2021/22
Throughout the album I felt facing questions and a form of fascination towards the occult, perhaps trying to understand it better or rather provide personal insights. What would you say is the path that was paved within “The Final Chapter” on a philosophical level?
You’re right. If you start from the song titles, there is definitely a certain occult touch. Especially the song “Purgatory” with the intro suggests this. But I have largely processed the last year and the worldwide disasters and events. Whether that was the situation in the U.S. with Trump, the global climate change, the pollution of the oceans and environment and its consequences. Of course, there is also the theme “Corona” processed or rulers and other criminals who mercilessly exploit their power and the population leaves in a mess. All these topics and of course my own personal situation, which is still in my bones.
As you stated, I am sure that there are songs of the album that you find closer to you on a personal level, parts of you that you implemented in the songwriting. How does this album find you on that level? What kind of an own message were trying to provide through the lyrics?
They are more sombre than usual. Since I often use metaphors in the lyrics or work with metaphors, I have this time the theme of “death” very strongly focused. This is certainly also a certain processing of the events of last year. Especially regarding the lyrics, we are still very punk oriented. Often socially critical. With this album, you could almost say that the lyrics are a “horror fairy tale for adults”.
I remember the wickedness and crude kind of Thrash Metal of the band’s early days, yet in time, in particular in the last decade, you added layers of melodies, took the band’s genre into a diverse form while keeping the core intact. I believe that “The Final Chapter” is probably Necronomicon’s melodic album to date, and it crosses swords with different Metal subgenre under the title of Traditional Metal quite impressively. How do you feel that this record took you forward musically in comparison to your previous record?
Just let me explain, how we handled this. At first; the songwriting is 100% up to me. I create the framework of the individual songs, so to speak, everyone gets enough freedom and space within this construct, his ideas for his instrument can flow. That also worked out very well this time. And we had to be a little creative in recording the new album because of Corona and the sad situation. The rhythm guitars and the bass we recorded at Marco, my bass player at home. Luckily he has a small home studio and it wasn’t a problem, because we recorded the last records the same way, regarding guitar and bass. For the vocals we did an experiment: I have a pretty big closet, a wall cabinet, and that’s where we produced the vocals. Achim gave me the tip and it worked gigantically well :-))
Glenn also recorded the solo guitar at home. Achim then got all the files in September and then went to mix and master. And I got my ideas mainly from movies or series. Often a concise melody is enough, from which I then make a complete song. I’ve always done it that way to avoid being confronted with comparisons to other bands. But of course you can’t reinvent the wheel, and so one or the other will always find a parallel to related bands. In this case, Metal Hammer pointed out to me that some of the songs are very reminiscent of Iron Maiden; at least the guitar riffing. I think our fans honour this, because I often get the statement from the journalists, that NECRONOMCION are not only pure thrash metal. They can also offer rock songs or even ballads. Of course, this does not have to please everyone, but this is now my own and personal musical style. And that hasn’t changed on the new album.
Necronomicon is close to clicking four decades of activity, you have seen a lot and I have the feeling that you also heard quite a lot. With the current Metal market swamped with releases, on a weekly basis, thanks to modern technology, what do you think that Necronomicon brings fresh to the table with such a record as “The Final Chapter”?
It very quickly gives the impression of arrogance when you praise your album yourself. Although this is probably my best album (songwriting), my signature is unmistakable. And it should stay that way. I just hope that I hit on my way of music & songwriting with the fans a point that simply pleases. That’s why you make music with passion and dedication and of course your own conviction, without wanting to sound big headed. The music industry is already brutal and merciless. So it’s even nicer to get something back if people like it and it’s also honoured. And that’s what I hope to have achieved with the new album. Necronomicon is like my baby. I will always give EVERYTHING for this band. And I also think that there are no better and more loyal fans than in the metal scene, which gives you so much back.
Going back to your new guys in the group, how do you find the guys’ contribution to the songwriting process of the album and of course the general feel of the band’s musical image through it?
As already mentioned, we sound more international. German Thrash Metal, also known as Teutonic Thrash, has its own special style. Especially the drumming is and the interpretation is very peculiar. Through Rik we got a completely different sound characteristic. The drums, especially the bass drums, are very „round“ ( not the typical thrash metal rhythm) and just whip the songs forward. That suits my songwriting and also my voice very well. Glen has interpreted my songs in a completely different way than Andi did for all those years (brilliantly). I was very curious to see how it would fit together. And I was very positively surprised. Both guys have done a huge job.
What forms of challenges were in your way while making the record, whether through the songwriting and recording of the album? How did you tackle these challenges to go forward strong with completing the release?
The biggest problem was me. To motivate myself again and again and to suppress all the negative thoughts and experiences and then to be creative…. that was the real challenge. And Necronomicon bears my musical signature. I never will and never want to give it up, then it wouldn’t be Necronomicon anymore. Thanks to the support of the guys and my friends it was possible and I’m glad and grateful to be able to make these recordings that way.
“Purgatory”, as if feeling lost, in limbo, between Heaven and Hell, but for some reason it is quite enigmatic, this song created something no doubt. Its main riff and punishing tempo provided enough fuel to the fire, and it was hard for me to let it go. What can you tell about this song and its creation?
This is one of my absolute favourites. I remember that I wrote the song in one day. I had this distinctive melody in my head and had to immediately start writing and creating this song. Then I had the idea with the intro, which makes this song even more interesting, because it’s really a game between good and evil, where even the angels are afraid. There again, you can draw the current comparison, what is happening in the world or what challenge we just have to overcome. And that is not ONLY Corona
“Spilling Blood” has that dramatic flavor running around, it punctures but in a different kind of way, it lets you in rather smoothly, slowly building up its force, until the big boom arrives moments later. What is your appreciation of this track, which I also found to be rather emotional to a certain level?
This is one of the songs that can be compared with Iron Maiden; Marco, my bass player, is completely fascinated by the song, because here he also gets the opportunity to interpret the bass so beautifully “Maiden like“. I really wanted to create the song with a chord intro and then incorporate this theme in the intermediate piece in a slightly modified way; in addition, I had the idea with the choir. I’m already looking forward to playing this song live and the fans will accompany us with the choir. That already gives goose bumps.
Old vibes, old school prowess, speeding things up and keeping it brutal till the end is “Me Against You”. How do you find this old kind of crudeness, somewhat raw youth the spews off this number? Is this a sort of longing to the old days?
Completely correct and very well recognized. I wanted to write a short and really brutal number. A mix of old school punk and thrash metal. Like it used to be, with a current theme. Everybody against everybody. No one shows any consideration for the other; only the strongest survives. No matter whether that is in world politics or every day in life. Man is the most terrible virus that exists on this planet. Destroy everything and do not think about the consequences. That is the human being!!!
We talked about plans getting postponed due to the pandemic, do you intend to go forward with the same tour in 2021 or rather keep it safe for 2022?
All the promoters assured our management that the concerts and the tour will take place as soon as it is possible again. On the contrary, many promoters still want to dock to the upcoming European tour. Now we are eagerly waiting for the vaccine and that this will happen quickly. And like I said, I want to tour in South-America again.
Freddy, major thanks for your time and effort on this interview. I was glad to hear that you guys haven’t lost your touch on this new record. Well done job. Cheers sir.
I have to thank you, it was a pleasure and great honor for me. I would like to make it short and yet it is immensely important for me: Stay healthy out there and look after yourself! Beware the beast!