Still unknown less than a week ago, this young man from Lausanne has all eyes on him since the last week-end. The Sunday, 20th of November to be precise, Gotthard revealed to the public Nic Maeder’s identity as the new singer for the band, along with a new song and a new video, allowing the public to make a judgement based upon actual material.
Almost 400 singers, some of international fame, applied for the job. The process has been long because just as Freddy Scherer explained us, the band wanted to take the personal dimension, along to the musical one, into account. Thus the band spent time with the applicants outside rehearsals. It’s with Nic Maeder that things went the most naturally obviously, as shown in the new title’s (the first ever written during the audition process) video, “Remember It’s Me”, in which according to what the band wanted, we can see them working and exchanging as a new formation during these last weeks. Nic doesn’t seem to be one of these shy new ones that just try to get their bearings, but is really invested in both music and lyrics writing. Gotthard not only found a new bandmate; Gotthard found a brother.
Just like you, we wanted to know more about Nic. Very nice and enthusiastic, he accepted to answer our questions and talk about his life, his carreer, who he is, and most of all… about his cover of “Ça plane pour moi”!
Let us introduce you to Gotthard’s new singer.
« it’s really good having the guys here… It’s like family, everybody sticks together and everybody’s fighting the pressure, not just me. «
Radio Metal : How do you feel now that, since this week end, you’re officially to the eyes of the world the new Gotthard singer ?
Nic Maeder (vocals) : I’m lucky to be part of this. And it’s really incredible to wake up one morning and see your face all over the newspapers. It’s a pretty magic thing, yeah.
What were your impressions and feelings during your auditions with Gotthard?
It was sort of a pretty long process. I think I’ve spent three different auditions with the guys and we spent time together. It started at the beginning of the year, it was a very long process. Then you never know, you know? [he laughs] You just give it your best shot and hope for the best. We got along really well from day one. The chemistry was always great from the beginning. Even when at one point we spent two weaks writing songs together, it just worked fantastically, we wrote a lot of stuff and yeah, it’s just really good.
Were you confident about your application or did you have any doubt? There were like 400 singers that wanted the job!
[He laughs] Yeah, I think there was some moment when I felt so confident and some others when I didn’t. You just never know what they think. I just tried and did the best that I could, took every step at a time and then hoped for the best [he laughs].
« I compose as well, so I compose music and lyrics and everything along with the others guys. It’s really a shared work with everybody. »
Did you met some of the other singers that were trying to apply for the job? Did you know some of them?
No, I’ve never met anybody, and they never told me who the others were. They really kept everybody’s privacy, they didn’t want anybody to know, so no, I have absolutely no idea. There was some international names, but that’s all I knew.
Didn’t you feel any pressure replacing Steve Lee or maybe were afraid of the reaction of Steve Lee’s fans?
Yeah of course, that’s definitely a lot of pressure. I think again you need not to think about it too much [he laughs]. It really helped me with it. And it’s really good having the guys here… It’s like family, everybody sticks together and everybody’s fighting the pressure, not just me. It makes it a lot easier.
I guess it must be kind of embarrassing since you’re replacing someone who passed last year… Did you feel somehow ashamed of the feeling of being enthusiastic to be in the band?
No, not at all. The band really wanted to continue, that’s something that they’re really passionate about doing. I was really happy they asked me to do this and to be part of it. I think it’s fantastic.
To be honest, your voice is very similar to Steve Lee’s. Was he one of your vocal influences?
More or so… I grew up with AC/DC. But yeah, I was always a fan you know, I always thought he had a fantastic voice. But it’s funny because some people says it sounds very similar and some people don’t. It’s a hard one. Personnaly I don’t think that I sound very similar. There are similarities but I still see the differences.
How did you react to Steve Lee’s passing, when you learned about it?
I was actually living in Australia at the time and a friend of mine who knew the band quite well told me about it… I didn’t know the guys personnally but it was a big shock. I actually did a gig back in 84 with my band in Switzerland, we played on the same festival, and obviously I’ve seen the band a few times back in the years as well… It was a big shock for everyone.
Were you supprised of the impressive number of positive reaction about this new song and about you? Usually when a new member replaces an old member, especially a deceased one, the harcore fans of the band can be really aggressive, especially on the internet. We checked on Facebook and on YouTube and that’s not the case at all. How do you explain that? Are Gotthard fans or generally Swiss music fans more tolerant?
I don’t know! It’s absolutely amazing. Everybody’s been welcoming and so incredible… It’s sort of hard to tell… I don’t know why. In the music industry, you never know what’s gonna happen. You never know, you just do the best as you can and hope for the best and really, the reaction is amazing, I’m very lucky.
« We thought the video should be very natural and very what we’ve been doing since I’ve been here, which is just sitting down together writing songs. »
No prior announcement was made, the new song “Remember It’s Me” has been released by suprise this week-end. Did the band consider that it was important to reveal your identity with material for people to hear in order to avoid pointless judgement only based on your identity?
I think we all felt that we should come out with a video and really show everybody what it’s about. We really wanted to show what the whole band is about, to show a complete picture of everything.
And why this song in particular? Was it to say “from now on, remember it’s me the new singer” ?
Uh… [he laughs] Actually this song was the very first we wrote together. Part of the audition process for me was to spend two weeks together writing songs, and this was the first song that we wrote. It was the very first thing that we did, and everybody thought it was just natural that this song would be the first one.
About the new record: what can you tell us about its orientation? Are other songs already written?
Yeah actually, we’ve been writing a lot. I don’t know how many we’ve got but there’s enough for an album already. We’re still continuing to write more. The songwriting process really worked well together, we did it pretty fast, the chemistry’s really good so… We’re still just writing, we’re about to start the production for this album soon.
What is your level of contribution to the album actually?
Well I compose as well, so I compose music and lyrics and everything along with the others guys. It’s really a shared work with everybody.
You were talking at the moment of the very good chemistry that there is in the band… Was it the goal of the video you released, where we see you playing and composing, to show other people how great this chemistry is?
Yeah, possibly. We thought the video should be very natural and very what we’ve been doing since I’ve been here, which is just sitting down together writing songs. I think that was the idea behind it, yeah.
How did you guys had the time to write songs and film a video without your name going on the internet or somewhere?
Everything had to be done very fast, yeah [he laughs]. Luckily, we already had the song because we did this during the auditionning process. It was just a question of recording and finishing and doing some photos and videos and everything.
Freddy told us a few weeks ago that a song will be dedicated to Steve Lee. Who will write the lyrics ?
This is actually something that Leo [Leoni] wrote. I helped a little bit but it’s his.
What are your projects now? You’re gonna dedicate yourselves to the album?
We’re starting production at the end of the week, and we hope that the album will be out for spring next year. Then we’ll start touring.
Don’t you guys plan to do some small gigs here and there, maybe some showcases, things like that before?
No, not before, I don’t think so. We’re focusing on the album, we won’t tour before that.
Ok. Do you plan to do some festivals this summer? The Hellfest maybe?
There will be festivals, they’re starting to book them right now. I don’t know which one we’ll do, but we’ll definitely do some.
« Sometimes I could make a living from some bands for a little while but never very long. […]Last year I’ve been doing accoustic covers in pubs in Australia and stuff. Then I started the auditioning process for this and here I am! »
Since you were still a completely unknown musician five days ago, before the official announcement, could you tell us about your background, your musical projects, etc?
I’ve been playing music all my life. I started to play a bit piano of when I was 8 years-old. I didn’t like it that much and I quit. My piano teacher told my dad “oh don’t worry, one day he’ll pick up a guitar probably” and I did. I really started singing a bit after that and then had a lot of different bands and day jobs in between as well. Sometimes I could make a living from some bands for a little while but never very long. That’s how I’ve been doing this. Last year I’ve been doing accoustic covers in pubs in Australia and stuff. Then I started the auditioning process for this and here I am!
We actually came across a video of you singing a cover of “Ça Plane Pour Moi” by Plastic Bertrand. What’s the story behind this song?
[He laughs] Uh, that was just… actually, it was gonna be a B-side for a single for my old band [Maeder]. We had a song called “Business In Me” and we wanted a B-side for it, so we thought “why not doing that?” It’s just something to put on there and people ended up liking it, so we did a video clip. It happened that way, but actually it was never released.
Ok. And can we expect Gotthard to cover it too? In France at least?
No I don’t think so [he laughs]. But funnily enough Freddy [Scherer] used to play this song with an old band that he had before he played in Gotthard. This song keeps coming back all the time…
Interview conducted by phone on november 23th, 2011 by Spaceman & Metal’O Phil
Transcription : Chloé
Gotthard’s Website : www.gotthard.com