Sinbreed emerges from the shadow

Let it be said that Sinbreed are a band in their own right! Guitarist Marcus Siepen puts heavy emphasis on that fact in the following interview, although their second album is the first that was truly composed as a band. The previous record was mainly the work of Flo Laurin, the other guitarist. Not to mention that two members of the band, Marcus Siepen and drummer Frederik Ehmke, have to deal with the busy schedule of their main band, Blind Guardian. In short, reminding everyone of Sinbreed’s status, difference and motivation can’t hurt.

Siepen told us all about this new album, Shadows, and the importance Sinbreed has taken in his life. Obviously, he also put in a few words about Blind Guardian, who’s currently working on the successor to At The Edge Of Time and will embark on a European tour in early 2015.

« I think everybody should respect Sinbreed as an individual band. It’s definitely not a Blind Guardian’s clone or Blind Guardian members’ hobby, side project or anything. »

Radio Metal : The band was formed fourteen years ago, but the first album When Worlds Collide was released in 2010. Initially, it was meant to be a studio project, but then it evolved to a real performing band. Do you know what triggered this change?

Marcus Siepen (guitar) : I think the original idea back then was that… I have to say that I’m relying on things that people told me, because back then I was not part of the band, but what I was told is that Flo (Laurin) had those songs and he wanted to reunite them as an album. So he was talking to friends and met them to do the album together. That’s how the idea of Sinbreed was born. And well, they did this album, they played a couple of shows, then I got involved and suddenly we had a proper band. It definitely is not supposed to be a kind of studio project or anything like that. It is a real band who just did its second album and which will be touring and doing gigs in support of it. There will also be more albums and more gigs in the future. So it has definitely evolved into a proper band.

It looks like Sinbreed is increasing its working rhythm because nothing happened between 2000 and 2010. And now you have two albums. Can we expect a third album in two or three years?

Well, the working speeds for Sinbreed will be limited due to Blind Guardian, because obviously Sinbreed can only be active while Blind Guardian is inactive. [Laughs] We did the album now, we will play live this year but Frederik and I will be on tour with Blind Guardian the next year for sure… I’d say one year and a half, maybe two years, I don’t know yet exactly, but while we are touring with Blind Guardian obviously we cannot do much with Sinbreed. Sinbreed can only be active again once we are finished touring with Blind Guardian. That is the only… I won’t really call it a problem, but the time schedules of both bands have to be adjusted to each other. As a matter of fact, at the moment, Blind Guardian is working on the new album, so there is studio work but there are not many live shows. We’ve just confirmed two shows for this year and this leaves plenty of room for Sinbreed to play live and stuff. But, as I said, once we are touring with Blind Guardian we don’t have this chance. So we use this year as good as we can. We definitely want to play as many shows as possible. And who knows, we might be already starting working on new stuffs, it depends on if we already have new ideas. That is the only thing about playing in two bands, you have to match the time schedules. And since Frederik and I cannot both play in Blind Guardian and Sinbreed, we have to match the schedules for both bands.

Do the other members of the band have multiple projects like you have?

Herbie (Langhans), the singer, also works with a couple of different bands but it’s all on a small scale. So it’s not that much of a problem to adjust the time schedule. Frederik and I being in Blind Guardian, let’s call it the biggest problem for Sinbreed. [Laughs] I don’t like the word “problem”, but we definitely have the biggest involvement outside of Sinbreed, definitely. So, the others are not limited like this.

You guys received a very positive feedback for the first album. Considering that, did you feel any sort of pressure, while working on this second album?

Not really because I think I don’t really consider this to be a pressure that somebody outside of the band puts on us. We put pressure on ourselves because obviously we want to try to top the last album we did. We want to come up with something that we think is even better. And obviously this puts a bit of pressure on us. On the other hand, the whole approach for writing this new album was completely different compared to the debut, because back then Flo did everything. As I said before, Sinbreed was born by his idea and he wrote the songs for the debut. Everything was done by Flo. This time it was completely different because every band members wrote. Every band members did songwriting. Frederik did a song. I did three. Alex did two. Herbie did something. Flo did something. And like this, automatically, obviously different influences get into the song, but I think this was a very positive development because the music still sounds like Sinbreed. It’s not as if it’s sounding like whatever Blind Guardian or anything else. But still there are more components or ingredients, or whatever you want to call them, into the music. So the range of what we are doing was broadened a bit in my opinion. I can just say this for myself but while writing for this album, I didn’t really think about the debut. I didn’t really think about what kind of songs were on the debut or what kind of reviews it got back then. I tried to move on and just focus on kind of what was inside of me at that moment. I tried to just record whatever comes out of me and turn it into something good.

The album is called Shadows. Is this a reference to a more dark lyrical tone?

Most of the lyrics are kind of dark fantasy or mystical things and Shadows obviously it reflects one of the songs called “Shadows”. And we liked this as an album title, because that is something very simple that easily sticks to your mind. We just liked the idea of the album being called Shadows.

 » There are two types of music for me: the music that I like and music I don’t like. [Laughs]. »

This is a very traditional heavy metal album, musically, visually and lyrically. Can we say that Sinbreed is all about paying tribute to the codes of traditional heavy metal?

[Thinking] I won’t put it like this because that would mean that we are limiting ourselves to certain things or styles of metal or whatever. I don’t like to be limited. Somebody mentioned pretty much the same earlier in a different interview that I did today. When I started writing for this album, I definitely wanted my songs to be different compared to what I would normally do for Blind Guardian. And with Blind Guardian being very complex, with tons of guitar layers, orchestrations and choirs, and whatever, I try to step away from all of this for Sinbreed, because it doesn’t make sense in my opinion to join a second band and play the very same thing that you play with your main band. Then you can also stick to your main band and do it there. So I wanted things to be different. And like this, it became maybe more… Whether you want to call it traditional or this straightforward more basic kind of metal songs that we do seem to be doing compared to Blind Guardian. But I don’t think that we should limit ourselves to this. As an example for the next album, I will be completely opened to anything. The only goal for me is not to sound like Blind Guardian, because Sinbreed is a different band, so it should also sound different. And I don’t want to do the very same thing twice, so I want the next album to be a bit different. That’s the same attitude that I have when working with Blind Guardian. And I just don’t like to limit ourselves and say: “ok, we are, let’s call it 80’s traditional heavy metal band” or whatever label you want to put on it. I don’t like those labels. I can only do, in terms of songwriting or whatever, what’s inside of me at that moment. That might be traditional, straightforward, power metal. That might be something progressive. That might be a ballad or something much more thrashy. So Shadows is what it turned out to be, and the next album might be something completely different especially due to the fact that every band member is writing. All of this broadens up anyway, because everybody feels something different on the moment whenever you are writing. So different influences come together and our job is to turn all those things into a Sinbreed song or into a Sinbreed album. I just don’t want to be limited to 80’s metal or 90’s or whatever. I always want to be able to do whatever I feel like doing on the moment.

Do you have some musical influences that are not metal actually?

I listen to all kind of things, you know. My tastes in music are very simple. There are two types of music for me: the music that I like and music I don’t like. [Laughs] As long as I like something I don’t care if it’s metal, pop or rock or whatever. To give some examples proving that yes there is a lot of stuff outside of metal that I really like: I’m a big fan of Pink Floyd, I’m big fan of Dire Straits which is a band that came up with some classic music, I really like Joe Bonamassa who’s an amazing guitar player… There is tons of stuff. I have always been fan of Jethro Tull or Bad religion or stuff like that. I am just completely open and definitely those things can influence you. Pink Floyd can be an influence for me while I’m composing a metal song which obviously will not sound anything like Pink Floyd. Still, David Gilmour can be a huge inspiration for me because he is just a hell of guitar player. People like that will always inspire me. It’s the same about Joe Bonamassa or Mark Knopfler.

The album included guest appearances by Joost Van Den Broek (AFTER FOREVER) and Morten Sandager (MERCENARY) on keyboards, and Thomas Rettke (REDKEY, ex-HEAVEN’S GATE) on vocals. Can you tell us more about these appearances? Were the songs written for them, knowing that they would appear on them?

No. Nothing was written for them. They are people that we know since many years. They’re just friends. It’s this typical thing: I’m friend with a band, so we say “you play on my album and I’ll play on yours whenever there’s a chance”, and having a good time together. But nothing was written especially for them. Whatever we composed for that album was composed for actually the five members of Sinbreed. So if we are talking about the vocalist, everything was composed for Herbie. Guest appearances didn’t play any role in songwriting or anything like that. And that’s also something we didn’t really plan, so we didn’t start writing knowing that any of those guys would contribute with any guest performance. That only happened spontaneously later. They didn’t have any influence on writing.

There were also some guests on the first album. Is this something that you want to do systematically?

Well, with the first album obviously, I think it happened because Flo wanted to do the album and Sinbreed was not really a fixed band back then. There are guests now that might be guests on the next one as well. I never had a problem with guest appearances. I played myself on some friends’ album as well. I think it’s a nice thing to do but there is no fixed plan. It’s not that Sinbreed will be the band that will always have guest appearances. It might be that way again next time or it might not be, I don’t know. As I said, this is something that happens spontaneously. It’s not something that we plan in the beginning. We don’t make a big list of people that we want to have on the album as well. It might happen, it might not. I don’t know yet.

Did the fact that there are two Blind Guardian members in the band help you to get more attention over Sinbreed?

I think it automatically draws attention to Sinbreed, obviously, because Blind Guardian is not really an unknown band [laughs] and many people obviously ask about this. There are people that look for a kind of comparison and look for some Blind Guardian elements in Sinbreed’s songs. But, as I said, for me, the very important thing is that I don’t want Sinbreed to sound anything like Blind Guardian. It is the same for Frederik. It’s an individual band and we take this very seriously. Both bands obviously play metal and yet there are people that draw their attention to Sinbreed from the fact that two Blind Guardian members are in there. But I think everybody should respect Sinbreed as an individual band. It’s definitely not a Blind Guardian’s clone or Blind Guardian members’ hobby, side project or anything. It is a real band that we take very seriously. Of course, if the fact that Frederik and I come from Blind Guardian makes people aware of Sinbreed, that’s nothing negative, but people should just not expect it to be anything like Blind Guardian. It’s a band that stands for itself.

Interview conducted on February, 26th 2014 by Metal’O Phil
Transcription : Thibaut Saumade et Spaceman
Introduction : Spaceman

Sinbreed official website : Sinbreed.com

Album Shadows, out since March, 28th 2014 via AFM Records.

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