Freedom Call : Interview With Chris Bay

Radio Metal : In this album, there appears to be a real sense of desired progression. Some songs are darker and more melancholy. There are also some riffs that are more in the hard rock style (such as “Kingdom Of Madness” for example), some are more punk rock (“A Perfect Day”) and there are also a few aggressive riffs. Is this the result of wanting to move away from the clichés that exist surrounding epic speed metal with over-played double pedal, and is this a way to reach a new audience?

Chris Bay : It’s not in the traditional music of FREEDOM CALL, but I think we always changed our colors a little bit. Making the same stuff year after year, album after album, is pretty boring. On every album, we have a couple of songs that are totally different from the usual music of FREEDOM CALL, with the fast drums and the high vocals. We can feel it when we’re practicing for a couple of live shows, there’s a big variety in the program. It’s much more exciting to go on stage if you don’t have to play in one direction only. We’ll start with 160 beats per minute, and finish with 180. It makes the whole thing much more colorful. For the new album, The Legend Of The Shadowking, we were inspired by the life of king Ludwig II. His life was not always on the happy side, it had tragic moments. Historians say his death was a suicide, but there are rumors saying he was killed by his own government. With a concept like this, you can’t write happy songs only. You have to put in a lot of melancholy, and the darker side of music as well. It was very interesting to work on this album, because we were totally free when it came to composing. We didn’t have to use all the clichés, the fast drums and the high vocals.

b]This evolution pushed you to develop your singing skills, like on the track “Under The Spell Of The Moon”, on which your vocal parts sound more like H.I.M., LACRIMAS PROFUNDERE… Was this a technical challenge for you? Is it hard on the ego to have to re-evaluate your vocals after so many years?[/b]

We noticed that my voice can do these variations. I’m not only making music with FREEDOM CALL, I also have another project that doesn’t feature high vocal parts. So the big question was: “why not use this on a FREEDOM CALL album?” On a song like “Under The Spell Of The Moon”, high vocals wouldn’t do. You need a dark, gloomy voice to bring the right emotions and expression. I had to sing it very early in the morning, that’s when I have a deep voice! I think the combination between the music and the deep vocals is a good combination.

The character, Ludwig II, described in the album, especially in the first song, is obsessed with the idea of leaving his mark on the world and to leave something of himself. This is what drives him to build many monuments in order to remain “immortal”. Is this an obsession that you share yourself?

I think so. The first song is just an overview of the album. King Ludwig was living in madness and had really strange ideas. He would gather his entire government around him and go out an travel in the snow in the middle of the night. He was a little bit crazy. We found we could draw a comparison between King Ludwig and some rock’n’rollers who seem to live in a different world. He wanted to build castles and palaces, but nobody else did, because the government didn’t have any money. But he clung to this idea, and that made him unpopular with his own government, which is probably why they killed him. I think you can find a comparison with some rock’n’rollers’ lives.

Chris Bay : « I don’t like to escape for any reason, it’s not worth it. I stand behind everything I did, I have to accept my failures and my mistakes. There’s no reason to escape, ever. When I want to leave reality behind, I listen to music, but to me, that’s not escaping. »
WAGNER’s music was what allowed Ludwig to escape, to feel freer and more inspired. It was part of an enchanted world which allowed him to escape the reality that he hated. Ludwig is described as someone who feels he does not have a place in this world. Is this something that you feel also? Do you feel the need to escape? What would be your WAGNER?

I don’t like to escape for any reason, it’s not worth it. I stand behind everything I did, I have to accept my failures and my mistakes. There’s no reason to escape, ever. When I want to leave reality behind, I listen to music, but to me, that’s not escaping. Concerning Richard Wagner, he was a very expressive composer. He worked close to my hometown for a decade. I love his bombastic, epic masterpieces. He’s the metal composer of the classical era! I think a lot of metal musicians found their way after listening to the music of Richard Wagner, or were inspired by him. King Ludwig was in a very close relationship with Wagner, so the theme was interesting for FREEDOM CALL.

For you, is art a way to help you dream or escape?

Art is the only reason to escape, reality gives me no reason to escape. Whether it is because of financial problems of personal problems, there’s no reason to escape. But music and art give a new dimension to my world. I’m leaving reality behind for my own inspiration. FREEDOM CALL generally has a very positive way of thinking, we love to live. Escaping is a dark, sad thing for me. I prefer to live, and it’s better to do it in the light than in the dark.

Do you think that music such as FREEDOM CALL is meant for people like Ludwig II, who are marginal and do not find their place in society?

It could be! I hope that a lot of metal fans know the story of Ludwig II, or maybe we can bring it a little closer to them. People who are depressed or who have problems in their own reality may find the life of King Ludwig was similar to their own. He didn’t have any friends: those who were close to him were interested in money and power. That was just the surface: deep inside, Ludwig was a very sad, poor guy.

In the song “Remember”, you wonder whether it is human nature that forces men to kill themselves and go against nature or whether we are the pawns in a gigantic experiment. What do you think about this? Do you believe that there is someone out there pulling the strings? If so, to what end?

I had a very interesting conversation with a friend of mine recently. We were wondering whether the world is an experiment, and he told me that some people believe the world is led by reptiles. Some persons really believe in that kind of things, in a higher power leading us. I don’t really believe in it, it was just something I wanted to write a song about. I’m all about reality and my usual life. It would scare me a little to think that we’re led by reptiles! I don’t hope so!

The song “A Perfect Day” describes a perfect day where nothing seems to want to stop. Have you experienced this type of day recently?

Yeah, of course! Every morning, when I wake up, I’m happy I have a goal. I do exactly what I’ve wanted to do my whole life: music. I never have to torture myself to do things I’m not interested in. You can say every day is a perfect day for me! Of course I have to pay my taxes, and my car break downs sometimes, but these are small things. Shortly before we leave this world, we will notice how short our time was, and you will remember the perfect days you had. Your whole life can be a perfect day, and you have to enjoy that. You can either see things in a positive or a negative way; I think it’s much easier to live a perfect day if you see things in a positive way.

Tell us about the tour with GAMMA RAY which is in preparation. FREEDOM CALL is mentioned as a “special guest”. What does this mean? Can we expect a few surprises such as some members of FREEDOM CALL getting on stage with GAMMA RAY to perform some covers or jamming sessions?

Nothing special is planned. Right now we’re very busy with preparations and rehearsals. For the first five or six shows, we will be very excites, each band will be lost in their own music. But I think we might do something together during this tour.

On the subject, jamming is not very common in speed metal music. We tend to imagine the musicians, especially speed metal drummers, like living metronomes. Do you think that speed metal is a genre that does not have a tendency to improvise and jam?

Yes, I think so. The beats we use are very fast, so there is not much space to jam or to use different arrangements or play around like you can do in jazz. The songs are tightly-arranged, and there is not much time to let the music lead the band. Arrangement are leading the band, not just emotions. You have to play the songs exactly like they’re written. It’s better to jam in blues or jazz or funk music – but not speed metal!

Here is the stupid question of the interview: in the song “Merlin”, you mention Merlin who was killed by the Lady of the Lake, despite his immense wisdom. Therefore, do you believe that women are men’s greatest danger?

Yes, of course! I know it from experience! It’s a fact that women are more intelligent. I’m a man, so it’s hard to say it, but anything more intelligent than you are can be very dangerous. Be careful when dealing with women!

Interview conducted by phone

Website FREEDOM CALL : www.myspace.com/callforfreedom

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