When I listened to the second full length of German based band Days in Grief I felt completely reminded of the Thrice album "The illusion of safety". As this record is one of my all time faves I decided to do an interview with Days in Grief...
Hey there, who is answering my questions? Please introduce yourself, what is your "role" in Days in Grief and what would you do at the moment if you wouldn't answer these questions?
Hi, I’m Sebastian, guitar player and background-vocalist. I should be learning for my next exams right now J. I’m studying Electronic Engineering for Telecommunications, and I got three exams to go, so i hope i’ll be finished early next year.
First off, let me tell you that I really like "Behind the curtain of a modern tomorrow" a lot. I wrote in my review for the record that it reminds me a lot to the second Thrice record "The illusion of safety" which is meant as a compliment because this album is one of my all time faves. What do you think about this comparison and about comparisons in general?
Thanks! We also like Thrice a lot, and i also think that "Illusion Of Safety" is a really great album, so of course I’m proud of this comparison. I know that many bands don’t like to be compared to others, but that's not a problem for me. We stick to our influences, and we know that we didn’t invent a whole new style of music on our album, but i guess that's the way how music changes step by step. Bands create their own style by getting influenced by bands they like, so why are they angry to be compared to those bands?
"Behind the curtain..." you worked together with Siggi Bemm at
Woodhouse Studios. Both are quite known in the scene, so how did this
collaboration come to being in the first place?
By the time we were looking for a studio to record the new album at, our label came up with Woodhouse Studio, which we only new from a Caliban record. Marc from Caliban had told us that Siggi did a pretty good job on their album, and so we drove to Hagen to visit him. He took the time to listen to our whole pre-production, and showed us some other recordings he did. He liked our stuff, and we liked his, so we decided to work together.
How was it working with him or a producer in general? I mean I always think that the songs are written before a band enters a studio, so all the producer does is turning the knobs to give the band a good sound, but then again, this could also be done by an engineer, so what exactly is the role of a producer when it comes to working with Days in Grief?
Actually it was the first time for us working with a producer, and it started off to be a bit strange, as we just weren’t used to it. Siggi and Jeff, our vocal producer, changed one thing on the arrangement of two songs, and a bit of the vocal arrangements. But most of the stuff we recorded the way we did it on the pre-production, as we came to the studio with completely finished songs. Generally they were the guys to decide not what to play, but how to play or sing it. We had an extra engineer, and Siggi only came in to listen to the finished tracks of each instrument, to tell us what parts we need to record again. Especially when recording the drums that's pretty important cause when you listen to the same drum track for about an hour this decision becomes really hard, and if there’s someone who listens to it the first time, he can tell better what’s good and what’s not. And Siggi has a good feeling for the right take.
I have the impression that after the success of bands like the abovementioned Thrice, Thursday or Poison the Well so many bands tried to play this kind of sound as well, but most of them are kinda boring. What do you think about that and how come that you don't sound like a rip off of these bands :-)
I guess that's just because we didn’t actually plan to play this kind of music. We started off playing sort of Skatepunk or Melodycore, and Jörg came up with some influences from Hardcore as he wanted to try some shouting and screaming on the vocals. Flo listened to Metal a lot before he was into Skatepunk, brought that to the guitar riffing, and we finally had our own mix-up. When we heard Thrice the first time, we were pretty surprised that they had the same influences like us, and put them together similarly. We didn’t expect that kind of music becoming that popular.
"Behind the curtain..." is officially released on June 20, 2005, but I saw that the tour started in early June, so how have the reactions from the fans been so far regarding the new songs? Which songs did you play live?
We already play “When Backhanded Thoughts Carry The Weight”, “Economic Tyranny”, and “Jihad” since last year in our live set, and many people reacted really positive on the songs. But songs like “All Inside” are better to make the people dance, as most of them already know it. That's why we will play half the songs from “Portrait Of Beauty” and half the songs from the new album on the tour.
Let's go back in time a bit. How did Day in Grief start out in the first place? What was the initial reason for you to make music, form a band and go on tour? Any band or record that made you think "Yeah, let's do the same"?
We started in summer 2001 without a drummer just to record some songs. We didn’t really plan to have a band at that time, but the songs turned out to be pretty cool. Flo and Joerg’s band had already split up and i wasn’t satisfied with my band anymore, so we decided to look for a drummer and started a new band together. It’s not that there was a certain album or a band, that made us found Days In Grief. At this point i can only talk for myself, i was a huge fan of Guns n’Roses when i was young, and i guess Slash made me pick up the guitar. (Hey, that's cool. Apart from three or four chords I can't play guitar, but I always wanted to have that Gibson SG guitar that Greg Hetson of my all time faves Bad Religion is playing, so I think I know what you mean... - Stefan
Your first record "Portrait of beauty" was released in 2004 if I am correct. What do you think about this record in retrospect? Anything that you would like to change now if you had the chance?
Sure, but where do i start J. No it’s not that bad... we don’t like the sound of the album very much. Guitars and bass drum just don’t sound the way we wanted it to, but at that time we were just proud to have a professional studio recording. None of us had been in a professional studio before. And i still like the songs. There are songs on it which we wrote in the first months we played together, and it reminds me of that time, every time i listen to them. It was also our first record being released on a label, and before we got the deal with Eat The Beat that seemed like a dream and far, far away. So we associate so much with this album, and it will always be very special for us.
In the past you played with many bands of various genres (e.g. Good Clean Fun, Himsa, Heaven Shall Burn, Poison the Well, The Offspring,...). How did people react towards your sound? I mean your music is totally different than that of let's say Good Clean Fun or Heaven Shall Burn, so I was wondering if people gave you their attention as well.
We played with Heaven Shall Burn on a festival where there was hardly one band not playing Metalcore. The reactions afterwards were diverse: Some said they were very pleased to have a different style of music between all those mosh-parts and screaming, some couldn’t understand the presenter to book a band like us. But most of the time that's not a problem. The show with Offspring i.e. was really great. A minute before we went on stage, the whole crowd was screaming :”We wanna see The Offspring”, and we stood backstage and shit our pants. But when we finally came on stage and started playing the crowd reacted so great, that we thought we were the main act. Before we started touring so much, we were a bit worried that this would be a problem on some shows, but it never really was. People are pretty open-minded here.
How about the aforementioned bands: How is it playing with a band like The Offspring, do you actually meet these guys or is it more like you play before them without getting to see/meet them? And what about a band like Heaven Shall Burn, do you like these guys and their music and did you have a chat before or after the show as you both are from Germany?
We didn’t see anyone from The Offspring in the backstage. Each of them had his own room (so that's four rooms for The Offspring?? Rockstars - Stefan), which they only left to play the show. But that was kind of an exception. When you play at festivals there mostly are one or two big backstage rooms, where all the bands hang out. Then you surely talk a bit, but it always depends on when you arrive, and how much time is left til the show. But we didn’t really get to know Heaven Shall Burn, not that they were locked in their backstage room, but we just didn’t add up to talk. We’re not that kind of people that walk up to everyone to do small-talk. But their music is definitely great.
If you had to convince someone who is usually no big fan of Hardcore with Metal influences (no MetalCore!) of Days in Grief, how would you argue?
I think you just can’t argue about music. The only thing i would say is that he/she should try to listen to the music unprejudiced, and take the time to listen to the album more than once. If he does so and still doesn’t like it, well, than it’s just no his cup of tea
What's your opinion on sXe? Anyone of you sXe?
No, none of us is Straight Edge. I don’t really care about people being straight edge or not. But they should not try to teach me that their lifestyle is so much better than mine. Everyone has to decide on his own what drugs to take, or what food to eat
Do you think that Hardcore has to be political? Sometimes I have the impression that escpecially German bands tend to be very political whereas bands from the US are often not that much into politics. And to be honest, I often don't like it when bands preach too much politics on stage, because I try to make up my own mind and don't like it when bands say something like "You're Hardcore, so you have to believe this or that". What do you think about that?
That's exactly what we don’t want to do. Joerg writes lyrics that often relate on politics, but he is always pretty careful not to preach his opinions. And writing about politics is also writing about life, about humanity and its destiny... I don’t think that Hardcore music needs to be political, but it’s a justifiable opinion to say that it has to be political, when you think of where this music has its origin.
Please give short comment on the following topics:
can’t afford one
"Chinese Democracy" by Guns N'Roses
the biggest joke in music history
band t-shirt you ever had
best: NOFX mons-tour
If I had to choose between opening up for Slayer and a date with Nicole Kidman, I would choose... because...
opening up for Slayer, because i don’t like Nicole Kidman J (ok, so maybe I should have chosen Paris Hilton, hehe... - Stefan)
Deep in our hearts our band is...
kölsch-rock band (hehe...you don’t know what that means, right?? J (Damn right I know what that means! Die Höhner are one of my faves, haha! - Stefan)
Ok, I think we're at the end of this interview. Did you like it and do you have any final words? Thanks for taking the time answering my questions!
Thank you, too. We’re all looking forward to see loads of people on tour, have good shows, and make new friends. Please pray for our van. He`s so old.