Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo was in attendance at BB King's Club in New York City on September 15th to witness the first date of a small North American tour for Germany's premier melodic power metal band Edguy, who also had along with them Sweden's hard-hitting Tad Morose. Pete had a chance to speak with Urban Breed (lead vocals) & Anders Modd (bass) of Tad Morose, as well as Jens Ludwig (guitar) & Tobias "Eggi" Exxel (bass) of Edguy just before each band took to the stage, to get some insight on each of their latest releases, as well as the tour, plus he has included a review of each bands set at the famed New York venue.
Sea of Tranquility: How did Tad Morose happen to hook up with the Edguy tour?
Anders Modd: It was basically the relationship between Nuclear Blast and Century Media here in America that put it all together.
Urban Breed: In Europe it's a different thing, they really are two separate labels there, whereas they have a really close type of relationship here in the US, so that's the reason we are here right now.
SoT: Now, you are only doing two shows with Edguy on this small tour, but are there any shows planned where it will be just Tad Morose?
Anders: No, just the two shows.
SoT: The new album is a little different from some of your earlier releases in that the songs seem a little faster, with a much heftier dose of "power metal" so to speak as opposed to your slower, prog-metal early sound. How do you feel the band has progressed over the years?
Anders: We got fed up doing that type of sound, that intricate doom style, and wanted to do music that was simpler, heavier, and more straightforward.
Urban: When I joined the band I was pretty much doing the same thing, you know, complicated stuff, doing things in a more circumspect kind of way, not really going down to the core of the song. Rather quickly we learned that that was not the way to do it (laughs!) and I think we all consider the early albums as mistakes and we really don't want to do them that way. At the time we thought it was good and what we wanted to do, but it's more important now to learn from the experience. We've learned that it's really important to keep the momentum going within a song, and don't do a lot of unnecessary stuff. If you have a great verse and a bridge, use them together and go to the chorus, and if you really do have something extra then put it in there, but don't do it in every song.
SoT: Well there are bands who are good at that, and do it very well, but you guys tend to stay away from all the extra technical flash of the prog-metal scene as well as the keyboard heavy double bass drum roar of much of the power metal scene. Tad Morose seems to stay away from much of that with your own sound and your own approach.
Urban: I think we do what we do now the best actually!
SoT: How has the sales been of the recent album Modus Vivendi?
Anders: I really don't know…
Urban: The only thing I know is that Century Media told us that we were one of the very few bands who has sold progressively more albums with each new release. So it's better than with the last album, but I haven't seen any sales figures. I do know I won't become a millionaire either with this album, so maybe that's why I haven't asked them as well! (laughs)
SoT: I guess that's hard to do these days playing this type of music.
Urban: I can't make a living off of it at this stage.
SoT: What do you do besides being in the band?
Urban: I work on the weekends, 24 hours a week.
SoT: What other parts of the world has Tad Morose toured in the past, and done well?
Anders: The only other part of the world that we have played so far is Europe. We have done a couple of tours of Europe in the past.
Urban: Europe is a very common market right now. Makes no difference whether we play in Germany or Belgium, it's the same thing to us.
SoT: You guys are playing the upcoming Prog Power festival in Georgia this weekend. Aren't there a lot of similar festivals in Europe, but a lot more often?
Urban: Yes, there are several. We've done a whole lot in the past.
Anders: We played at Wacken a couple of years ago, and Metal Daze, as well.
Urban: Sweden-Rock Festival is the biggest one in Sweden, and it's really one of the best ones to go to.
SoT: How many fans attend the Wacken festival? A few thousand at least…
Urban: If you have a look at one single stage, you could have five to fifteen thousand people standing in front of you, so you just don't know. We got lucky at Wacken really, because we were supposed to play at the same time as Annihilator, but they got stuck on the Autobahn, so we got to play to their fans as well which meant a rather huge crowd, somewhere in the neighborhood of five thousand fans.
SoT: That will be a big difference from Prog Power, where I think the attendance will be somewhere around 1,500 or so. The thing is, there are very few metal festivals here in the US these days. You see more progressive rock festivals than you do metal festivals.
Urban: I've never been to Prog Power before, but it is an indoor festival right?
Urban: That is kind of cool, because in Europe every single festival is outdoors, so you really have to have them in the summer. If you had one in Sweden right now it would be a disaster because everyone would be freezing to death! (laughs)
SoT: So it's pretty cold there right now, not like here in New York?
Urban: Not like here!
SoT: What are some of your early musical influences?
Anders: 70's and 80's stuff like Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Uriah Heep, Jethro Tull, Dio, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest…
Urban: I started off in the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, that's where I started, and then kind of back tracked from there. I don't go as far back as Anders does (laughs) –Anders is way deeper into bands like Uriah Heep, Jethro Tull, and some of the early 70's bands than I am. Any band with a really good lead singer I got stuck on, like Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio, anything with Dio, David Coverdale (great singer), Geoff Tate in Queensryche, Biff Byford of Saxon, and of course Bruce Dickenson.
SoT: So, are you guys looking forward to the show tonight? What do you have in store for the fans here?
Anders: We are going to play for 45 minutes tonight.
Urban: That's what we are looking to do anyway.
SoT: Mostly songs from the new album or a mix from all the past releases?
Urban: The whole set list is coming from the last three albums, Undead, Matters of the Dark, and Modus Vivendi, nothing earlier.
SoT: That might just be what the fans know best.
Urban: Let's hope so! So we don't have only old fans here that kind of throw anything they find at us? It would be fun to do a longer set so we could do more of the back catalog, like we were thinking of doing a medley of some older songs, but that would take like ten minutes off from the regular set so we decided against it.
SoT: What's next for the band in 2005?
Urban: Actually, Century Media has asked us for a new album, and they want it recorded by November, but that's not possible. I've got some songs written, but I guess I'm the only one (laughs), but that won't be enough. Even if I had ten songs written, some of them just won't fit the band and we won't be able to use them. If we can get at least three people to agree on a song then we do it, otherwise we don't.
SoT: How does the whole songwriting process work for the band? Does everyone contribute, or does one person write the lyrics and others the music?
Urban: Over the years we have been doing things differently. I know Anders doesn't like the way we do it these days, which is Daniel Olsson and I swapping files, and then we pretty much have a full song which we bring to rehearsals which we then check through with everybody present to see what we need to change. We still do some of the songs in the rehearsal studio…I know "Unwelcome Guest" was one that was done in the rehearsal room, and that might have been the only one from Modus Vivendi done like that, possibly one other song, but I can't remember. We still have a whole lot of input from the whole band in the rehearsal room-even if I have written a song, we still all work on it and change it together. Like Anders always changes all my bass parts, strips them down and says "No, you can't play that, just stick to this!" (all laugh)
Anders: I'm lazy! (laughs)
Urban: Sometimes I just say he is wise in retrospect!
SoT: As long as it all works out in the end!
Urban: So we are probably looking at mid-2005 at least for a new album.
SoT: What else do you have upcoming after the US shows?
Anders: We go back home to Sweden, and then the weekend after we have a gig on a large cruise boat that will travel between Sweden and Finland.
Urban: It's the same guys that arrange the Sweden Rock Festival. They arranged this weekend ferry thing called "34 Thousand Tons of Metal"-really clever! It's just metal bands all the way there and all the way back, a huge metal fest.
SoT: How many people do they have planned to be on the boat?
Anders: I'm not sure exactly, but I think around 2,000 or so.
SoT: What other bands are playing?
Anders: Hypocrisy, Skyclad, Tankard, Wolf, and quite a lot of others.
SoT: Sounds like fun! Well thanks guys, and have a great set tonight and enjoy the rest of the small tour here in the US.
Urban: Thanks Pete!
Needless to say the crowd of a few hundred were pumped and ready to go when Tad Morose hit the stage at 8:00 PM. Lead singer Urban Breed is an exciting and energetic front man to watch and listen to, as he portrays some of the best qualities of his heroes like Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford, and Ronnie James Dio, leading his bandmates through 45 minutes of melodic and powerful metal that had plenty of anthemic moments. Culling from the bands last three albums, , Undead, Matters of the Dark, and Modus Vivendi , Tad Morose played an energetic set that featured such songs as the catchy "Take on the World" , "Corporate Masters", "Anubis" and "No Mercy." Most in attendance were well familiar with the bands material, and eagerly sang along and pumped their firsts in the air with each raging power chord from guitarists Daniel Olsson and Christer "Krunt" Andersson. Missing from the band these days is a keyboard player, but if you are familiar with last few releases from Tad Morose, you can hear that the band has streamlined their sound into a more direct sonic attack, and their set at BB Kings was heavy yet refined, showing a band that is steadily becoming a force to be reckoned with.
SoT: How has reaction been to Hellfire Club so far?
Jens Ludwig: Really, really good so far. Oustanding. All over the world we have gotten good reviews, and good reactions from the fans, which is actually more important to us than the reviews. Looks like it worked out really well, and all the countries that we have toured have had more people coming to the shows than on previous tours, so it looks like we are doing something right.
SoT: What country's do you find you have the most success in?
Tobias "Eggi" Exxel: Germany is one of the biggest.
Jens: Spain we do pretty well, Scandinavia we've been reaching the Top 10, Sweden, France is pretty good.
Eggi: I think Europe in general, and we have also played some sold out shows in Japan as well. Australia, as well as the United States, are really picking up for us. This is the second time we are here in the States, and we are really looking forward to the Prog Power festival in Atlanta.
SoT: When was the last time you were here in the US?
Eggi: 2002 at the Prog Power festival.
SoT: So you only did that one show?
Jens: No, we did one other show in Orlando, FL with Rob Rock's Rage of Creation.
SoT: Edguy has been together close to ten years now correct?
Jens: Well, we released our first album in 1997, but we have been around since 1992.
SoT: You have put together a nice catalog of music in only 7 years!
Jens: I think we are pretty lucky in that aspect. There's only one other band in the power metal genre besides Edguy that has kept a constant line-up, and that's Blind Guardian. All the other bands have numerous changes of musicians, or split up, so I think that's ultimately what helps us out in the long run.
Eggi: We don't take too many breaks. Once we are done touring, we are pretty ambitious to write new songs and try out some new stuff, and then going back to the studio. I mean, right now we have already booked the studio for the next year, and so we are really ambitious to do the next album and tour again. So nobody seems to want or need a break in the band.
SoT: So the band is a full-time gig for all of you?
Jens: It's always pushing in some direction. When we get home from this huge tour, we have to get ready for the next album; we have to see where else we can go. As Eggi mentioned, we don't look for a break, there's no reason for it. Edguy is our life.
Eggi: of course some time it's good not to see each other for a week or two, but at the moment we will never say let's have a break of a year or something lengthy like that.
SoT: Maybe when you are in your late 30's or early 40's you will be looking for those extended breaks?
Jens: (laughs) Then we will need some longer breaks!
SoT: So the tour is taking you to New York, Canada, Atlanta, and Los Angeles. Is that it then for North America?
Jens: Yes, that's it.
SoT: So what then, do you go back to Europe?
Jens: No, we go to South America.
SoT: You guys do real well in South America right?
Jens: It's really been growing for us there since the last album especially. We were the first band from Nuclear Blast to enter the Brazilian charts for example, so I'm really excited about the shows there that we have lined up. There's a festival that holds around ten thousand people, a really big venue, and we've never played at such a place before, so we are really looking forward to it.
SoT: And that's in Brazil?
Jens: Yes, Brazil.
SoT: Where else in South America are you going to be playing?
Eggi: Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and a few other places. We then have a one day break before we go to Greece, and Russia, then one more shows in England, then back to Germany. We are also working on playing a show in Africa, and that's the last continent that we have yet to play on.
SoT: Then once you've done that you've conquered everybody! (laughs)
Eggi: (laughs) Right, yes, then we can have a break!
SoT: The latest CD has a lot more varied material to my ears than some of your earlier albums. A song like "The Piper Never Dies" for instance, is a pretty long epic piece, very symphonic, with lots of changes of mood and tempo. There are also some tunes that have a very strong 80's metal anthem feel to them, like "Lavatory Love Machine" and "Rise of the Morning Glory", which are a bit different from your normal speed/power metal songs. Is the band planning on doing more in these styles in the future?
Jens: Well, I think we decided that we have to do something different. What you can see in the last three or four years is that this very melodic power metal has become really popular, and more and more bands have been coming up. For us it's starting to get boring doing that" speedy double bass drum/l-a la- la- la" thing, because so many bands are doing it and every CD you hear is starting to sound the same. It's good to include new elements, which is what we have done on Hellfire Club, but we have kept what has made us what we are. I'm sure for many fans too it would be boring to buy the same album just with different song titles.
SoT: I mentioned "Lavatory Love Machine" before-you have released that as a single correct?
Jens: Yes, we have released that sort of as an extended single, and it also includes an acoustic version of "Lavatory Love Machine", a cover of Europe's "I'll Cry for You" done acoustic, and a new ballad called 'Reach Out", plus a video clip of "Lavatory Love Machine."
SoT: What are your expectations for the single? Are you releasing it anywhere else but Germany at this time?
Jens: Just Germany.
Eggi: It was a lot of fun to record the acoustic versions because we sat in the studio in a circle with a microphone, so it was very personal.
SoT: How many videos have you done so far?
Jens: Three so far.
SoT: Why don't you guys record one of your concerts, release it on a DVD with all your videos added as bonus features, and you'll have a nice package!
Eggi: (laughs) You're too late because we had this idea already, and we are shooting the concert video at this big venue coming up in October in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
SoT: Ah, damn, so much for my idea! (laughs) So we can expect this in 2005 some time?
Jens: We like to release things when they are finished, and we are not sure yet how much bonus material we are going to put on it to go along with the complete concert DVD, so when we are satisfied with the whole package and everything looks cool then we will release. So no timetable yet.
Eggi: Maybe we can also include some parts of an acoustic show we did in France last year…we shall see. It would be nice.
SoT: So, what can we expect to hear from your set tonight?
Jens: Where is the set list? (all laugh) Well, basically we are doing the same set list as the rest of the tour, except tonight we are doing two songs that we have not yet done on this tour.
SoT: Songs from the new album?
Eggi: One from the new album and one from one of our older albums.
Jens: We should be doing about 90 minutes tonight.
SoT: Does Tobias (Sammet-lead singer) play any of the keyboard parts live?
Jens: We use samples. Keyboards are not so important for us live-a keyboard player would take away space for us on stage that we need to run around!
Eggi: We just use keyboards here and there, not too much.
SoT: Well thanks guys-have a great show tonight!
By the time Edguy graced the stage at 9:15, BB Kings had filled up quite nicely, and the crowd was chanting "Edguy, Edguy, Edguy" as if the band were hometown heroes. Opening up with the anthem "Lavatory Love Machine" off their new CD Hellfire Club, the crowd sang along with lead vocalist Tobias Sammet, who, despite his small size is a whirlwind on stage, and had the fans eating out of his hand. With a voice that hints at Michael Kiske, Geoff Tate, and Bruce Dickinson, Sammet led the band through Edguy classics like "Tears of the Mandrake", "Vain Glory Opera", "Out of Control", "Wake the King" and "Headless Game." What was amazing to hear were how familiar the crowd was with newer songs like "King of Fools", "Under the Moon", the ballad "We Don't Need a Hero", and the epic "The Piper Never Dies", all of which were played to perfection, and it was obvious the band was having a blast. Guitarists Jens Ludwig and Dirk Sauer created a huge wall of sound that soared above the nimble grooves of Eggi Exxel's bass and Felix Bohnke's drums. Ludwig had plenty of chops on display as he handled most of the lead guitar work in impressive fashion. What was apparent just a few songs into the set was how good these guys sounded-the sound was perhaps the best of any metal band I have seen in quite a long time, and at a club where historically there are usually some bugs, especially with metal groups. Every note was pitch perfect, and the crowd roared their approval from start to finish, leaving Edguy with a very successful warm-up gig for their appearance at this year's Prog Power festival in Atlanta. Even local New Yorker Jens Johannson, keyboard player from Stratovarius, was in attendance and seemed to be having a great time cheering his power metal friends in Edguy along.
In summary, a great night of progressive power metal from two classy bands that are right now at the top of their game.
Photos courtesy of http://www.thatssometal.com/fromthestage.htm