Germany's Freedom Call have been releasing solid power metal albums for over a decade now, and their latest concept piece Legend Of the Shadow King can easily be considered one of the highlights of their discography. Sea of Tranquility's Scott Jessup had a chance to catch up with Chris Bay (guitar, vocals, keyboards) to talk about the fine new album, the status of the current line-up, and his thoughts on the power metal genre.
SoT: Legend Of The Shadow King is a fun album, actually quite diverse and not just traditional power metal. As I commented in my review, people need to give this album the time it deserves, to really apprecite what you have created. Not all the songs grab you as quick as say previous Freedom Call material... what are your thoughts on this?
Chris: "Legend of the Shadowking" is our first concept album about a real person in history. That requires a detailed research of facts and history. Ludwig II's life included good and bad times which we transfered into our music. That is one reason, why Freedom Call got a "new face" on the new album. Also, the band developed in the last years, that makes the sound more mature and compact.
SoT: Why did you decide to take the concept direction with this album?
Chris: In the beginning of the songwriting process we realised that something special was about to be born, which was linked to us being more mature, not only concerning the music but also the content of words.This was probably the reason why we chose a concept about a real historical person to express the development of our proficiency.
SoT: What attracted you to the story of King Ludwig II ? When I was doing my research for the review I found his story very interesting.
Chris: The concept of the new album is about King Ludwig II., King of Bavaria. Freedom Call comes from Bavaria, a part in the south of Germany. So, its a part of our history!
I grew up with its history and early in school I learned a lot about King Ludwig`s life.
His favourite composer and personal friend was Richard Wagner. (...Richard Wagner's music and heavy metal are a good team!!) Ludwig's passion to extraordinary lifestyle makes this concept very interesting and filled me with inspiration. The famous castle "Neuschwanstein" and his tragical death makes his legend immortal.
SoT: In general how has the fan & media reaction been for the Legend Of The Shadow King so far?
Chris: The reaction of the fans has been awesome, they are really celebrating the new work. We already were twice on tour this year and played more than 40 shows.
Freedom Call is a band with a high "live quality" and also we had the opportunity to introduce the new songs on stage. Especially songs like "Out of the ruins", "Tears of Babylon" or "Thunder God" were the faves of the fans. The media were cool, much better than expected, but I prefer the reaction of the fans and listeners, that's the most honest opinion!
SoT: Are the songwriting duties shared between the members? Who are the main contributors?
Chris: All members of the band are included in the songwriting process, but most of the songs are written by Dan Zimmerman (drums, co-founder of the band) and myself. The direction of Freedom Call's music has to be received but we're open minded for new influences. The arrangements are made by the complete band.
SoT: So Daniel is still very much a member of Freedom Call and just not touring due to Gamma Ray commitments?
Chris: Dan will be too busy as the drummer of Gamma Ray in the future. Freedom Call's activities are increasing more and more, so we decided to keep Dan only for support,good advices and studio work. Dan, as a former of the band, will always be a part of Freedom Call in mind and soul...he is one my best friends and that's the most important thing!
SoT: Given Daniel's involvment with Gamma Ray, having him in the band must have been encouragement for many to check out Freedom Call's music. I know that's what got myself interested in Freedom Call in the first place, and then the songs had me hooked.
Chris: Of course, that was a good reason for all Gamma Ray fans to check Freedom Call's music. On one side that was a good chance for FC to find a lot of interest, but the other side was the result, that FC looked like a "project" of Gamma Ray's Drummer...
Freedom Call was a real band from the beginning on, and in the past ten years we could prove that it's not a project!!
Now we can make our schedule without taking care of Gamma Ray plannings, that gives us a chance to be more an active part of the global metal scene.
SoT: Is it possibility that Freedom Call will continue to try different things musically on future releases?
Chris: Definitely YES,...he who snoozes, loses! (laughs)
A strong part of Freedom Call's music is the flexibility. We always try to combine all facets of classic, rock or metal music in our music.
SoT: What's your favorite song to perform live?
Chris: At this time my favorite is "Thunder God" off the new album, but it changes from tour to tour...
SoT: What makes you want to play power metal? Do you think it will still be a popular form of music in years to come or will other styles come into the mix more?
Chris: I didn't "plan" to make melodic metal when I was young and started to play music.
I felt it like a turning point in life. I was 14 years old when hard'n heavy music became my passion. I don't care that metal music keeps part of a popular trend in the future.
No reason for me to change the business!
SoT: If you were to pick the top five metal bands who would they be?
- Iron Maiden
- Black Sabbath
- Deep Purple
SoT: Thanks for your time, I am certainly looking forward to the next CD from Freedom Call.
(Click here to read our reviews of Legend of the Shadow King