interview with: Martin Schirenc;
By: Elvira Visser
Hollenthon is touring with Ragnarök’s Aaskereia Festival Tour and Sunday 12th they were playing in Biebob, Belgium where I asked Martin Schirenc some questions.
Most people hate it when the sound of a venue or festival sounds wrong or even terrible. When something like that happens at one of your gigs, how do you deal with it? Do you get frustrated, or just bite your nails and try to make the best of it?
Martin: “We have our own sound man all the time, so the sound is usually not complete crap. If the stage sounds sucks it is not nice but you should be able to pull of a professional show. If the sound is not really good, and I have been playing so many years now, have so many expereince with really crappy stages so I cant be bothered any more. You just give a good show but if the sound is bad you just have to do your best. The most important thing is that the sound where the audience is standing is good enough because people pay their money to see you. So when the sound on stage is crap we trust the sound man, so that the people will hear a good show.”
Hollenthon started as a side project and after touring with session artist the band has a steady line up now. This year we have seen the release of Opus Magnum and a great festival season. Are there any plans for the future, or anything you would like to fulfil with the band?
Martin: “Well, we have been touring and played at some really good festivals this year and there are still a couple of bigger ones left that we hope to play on next year, years. We will see and I already start working on new material and that is probably what I am going to do till the end of the year. Then hopefully have another tour through Europe with this album. America would also be nice, but I do not think we will make it with this album, jet. And no, I do not really have any other plans actually and then after the touring a new album.”
If they would invite you for something like Night of the Proms, with a orchestra and a choir to perform some songs with them, would you like to do that?
Martin: “Yes. Of course, we would do that. I am sure I would do it, because it is very interesting. ” Martin is thinking and continues: “I am really not planning on working with a real orchestra and especially not on stage..but yeah. I have been working in the studio in Vienna and we recorded a lot of classical music there and …you do not want to hang out with classical musicians, because they are freaks.” We all laugh and he continues: “I mean there are so many people in a full blown orchestra. Consisting of fourth people or something like that and it is already really hard to keep four people under control sometimes, no way!” Laughs out loud. “That type of money and venues that were big enough to really have the possibilities to do something like that I rather spend that money on a real kick ass pyro show or stage show. I am also not so fond of working with real orchestras because it is a pain, it is really expensive or you might work with a shit orchestra and it is not very good. I mean It is not that every orchestra is good. The way I am working I think the technical possibilities of orchestra music or synthetic orchestras are really really good nowadays. Especially if you know what you are doing. You have so much more ways to change stuff later on, you know, because if you record a whole orchestra you would like a couple of microphones and you can not do this violin lower and this violin louder. It is just like you are stuck with what you have. This is a lot easier and you do not have to put up with other people.”
I wonder if any of you have a classical background, if not how do you come up with the classical arrangements?
Martin: “I had like a year of guitar lessons…but I am not doing this by myself. But I guess you can also learn without going to university I mean I did listen to other music and tried to figure out the scale of certain instruments and the certain techniques of how to play. That is where I spend a lot of time on, but I guess I kinda learned it but not like I am professional schooled or anything.”
What influences Hollenthon, as there are not many bands, or non that sound like Hollenthon. What is it that influences you when writing?
Martin: “I do not know, the metal side is basically with what I grew up and I think our music is pretty much influenced by 80s metal from classical to new wave and the extremer stuff like black or death metal and I get a lot of influences from older bans from 60s and 70s. Maybe not the melody or the sound itself but also like the progressive stuff, or however you want to call it is probably influenced by 60s and 70s bands like Jethro Tull for example.” Martin thinks for a moment and continues: “I do not follow the trends or follow the metal scene. I get some magazines and if there is a CD and put it on and listen to it. Mostly I am not very impressed by what I hear. Not that it sucks or that it is bad but I have heard it before. Not thinking wow this is the new thing, just like they did 20 years ago and 10 years ago as well. It was the new thing years ago as now stuff is repeating itself.”
“I think a lot of contemporary is a lot about fashion and ….you know a lot of surroundings but not really the music. Here on this tour you have like a bunch of Vikings and pirates. Sometimes I think we are the village people on tour…like having a soldier and a cowboy. I would say that we are the Indians, we have that one song on the first album that has the native American touch. So if they are the Vikings and the pirates we might as well be the Indians. But we do not have any theme that we strictly follow and neither musically nor lyrically. We do not want to do this, there are many bands that do it and I know that I will be bored after 3 albums and probably loosing my identity. And then people are asking: why are you guys changing completely? I never wanted to be in a kind of a category.”
“We are a little bit on the outsider side this tour but we do have a couple of song that fit in to this thing, but we do not play them. We have like two or three songs like that, with Irish folk stuff in it and medieval melodies. There are many bands doing it, like all night. So we said to ourselves, we are not doing it, we might as well avoid it. Having these folk bands with us on tour it is a bit of a different audience for us. Surprisingly it is not bad at all. I do not know what to expect, empty faces that say lets go outside and wait till Týr is playing.” Laughs. “It is not like that at all and we do have a good group of followers, so we have people that know us. But in other places I can really tell they have no idea who the fuck we really are, and they just stand there and we try to kick as much ass as possible and see if we can get the interest of some new people. But all went very well so far, and I really can not say which band would be perfect to tour with, for us. I would say maybe a band like Dimmu Borgir because they also have this orchestra stuff, but we are also not like them. So it is kind of like we can go with everybody or no body….well not with everybody, ” and we all laugh some more.
How did you come up with the idea to make a video with (ballet)dancers in it, because it is quite different than the typical metal video?
Martin: “I wanted to do a dance video for a long time. Maybe it was some matter of money and stuff and I do not wanted to have some bimbo’s dancing. I wanted real dancers and a choreographer, instead of chicks looking hot and sexy. And now the dance for the video, it is a little bit classic and also a bit contemporary. I like watching dancing but do not know much about it in theory. So we hired a choreographer. Him and the the dancers did not had much time on their hands because they were always training with the Vienna ensemble and in the evening for the video.”
“I wanted to have a video clip for the new album and I wanted to stick out a little and we did not have much money basically. And doing something like stories it is always, like epic fail!
If you do that, you need actors…do not just try acting. I hate this when I see bands, some have a talent but most of them don’t. Do not act! Please….let the people do the job, who know what they are doing. I mean do not try to be the knight and rent a cheap horse to ride. And make a fucking Viking movie. It looks shit! And the other option is the band standing in front of chains, flames and a pentagram. Us head banging for five minutes pretending you are playing the song. Really boring, they have done it before. And so we came up with something different. The dance is the main part. It is more of an art type of thing and later we came up with the surrounding things.”
I read that iTunes had sold your CD “Opus Magnum” with the voice overs on some tracks, how do you feel when like this happens and knowing it is something you did not do yourself, while the CD is your work?
Martin: “I do not know how that happened. The promotion CD has 3 songs that are completely without voice overs and some with. Like every 2 minutes they say something. I have a friend that said I just bought the CD on iTunes and it is the promo, with the voice overs and I was like…shit! Is that true? I was a little bit confused, how this could happen. But I do not know how they did it, if they gave a refund or anything, I was just hoping they could make it right, and fast. But luckily we noticed it quite fast, but it is quite embarrassing when something like that happens.”