The Gauntlet: You guys just finished a pretty big European tour, which was your first in support of Rocket Ride. What was it like to play some of the songs off of Rocket Ride for the first time live?
Jens: Actually pretty interesting. When you write songs for an album and then you record it and you hear from the press it's a kind of indirect reaction. When you perform the songs live it's the first time for us as a band that we get the direct reaction from the people in the audience and it seemed like everybody liked the new songs when we performed them live. It was a great feeling and the whole tour was pretty successful for us.
The Gauntlet: And then in a couple days you guys are leaving for Japan, right?
Jens: Yes, in two days.
The Gauntlet: How many shows are you doing over in Asia?
Jens: We're doing three shows in Japan - one in Osaka and two in Tokyo. Then for the first time we are going to play two shows in China and a show in Taiwan. I'm really looking forward to those shows.
The Gauntlet: Rocket Ride has some pretty interesting artwork. Can you explain what's going on with the cover?
Jens: Well, it shows a rocket ride, haha. No, but seriously, we were so satisfied with the Superheroes cover and that comic style that we asked the same guy who did that cover if he would have any idea for the Rocket Ride cover as well, and he came up with that. We immediately liked it and so we decided on having a comic cover. Many people in Germany at least were complaining, they said it's not a true metal cover at all. But it's just the cover artwork, and as long as the music is alright you shouldn't care too much about the cover.
The Gauntlet: You guys have always had a hard rock edge to your music but with Superheroes and now with Rocket Ride you've moved a bit further in that direction and a little more away from traditional metal. Where do you think this kind of shift comes from?
Jens: I think it just comes from inside somehow. On the one hand in the last years there were so many new power metal bands coming out and honestly we got a little bit bored of that "Helloween copies'" music, and also it was just that we felt right with the songs we were writing. We didn't think too much about the direction it would go because I think it's pretty uncool to set a direction for an album before you have written one single note, so we just sit down in the rehearsing room and try to create music. If everybody in the band likes it we make a record out of it and try not to think about it too much.
The Gauntlet: Is it true that a lot of this album was recorded all together at once instead of each instrument separately and then mixed together?
Jens: Yeah, that's true, at least for all the basic tracks which means drums, bass guitar, and the two rhythm guitars were recorded live. Actually, this happens coincidentally, it was not planned - it was just that we were hanging around the studio and we wanted to record demo versions for Sascha Paeth who produced the album. So we played the songs and he was recording some demo versions, and then he came in to the recording room and was totally amazed how it sounded and said it's got much more energy than what we did on previous albums because, well, it's very obvious. If you are standing in one room and you have eye contact and everybody's hitting his instrument harder - like for example the drummer will hit his instrument harder to create more noise or we the guitar players will hit the strings harder - it's just a really different sound that adds a little light atmosphere to the record. And for us it was not planned but it was not a big difference since we are a band that rehearses a lot in the rehearsing room so it was not a big difference if we are sitting in the rehearsing room playing the songs or standing in the studio playing the and songs. And that's how it came that the basic tracks were done in two days, and we had a lot more time to go into detail on the album.
The Gauntlet: At the end of "Catch of the Century" when Tobi starts rambling - was that planned or did he kind of just start talking and you went with it?
Jens: It was a 50-50. It was a little bit planned that he was to go out of himself at the end of the song because it really fits to the lyrics, but what came out of his mouth finally was not planned. It just shows that even in the studio that we are very energetic when recording.
The Gauntlet: And then who is the person talking to him?
Jens: It was Sascha the producer, haha.
The Gauntlet: On "Return to the Tribe" there are some weird sounds, almost like someone's laughing - are those strangely mixed vocals, or really clever guitar manipulation?
Jens: Well, we are a very innovative band and this is the first ever guitar solo sung by a vocalist. That was Tobi singing the guitar solo. He had a chat with Sascha and explained that he had some lead melodies in his head and he wanted to give me a direction, like how the solo should sound. And he's singing it to me and he told Sascha about it, and then he came up with the idea - "Hey, wait, why don't we just record something like that. It's something totally weird!" And then, well, we did it. Tobi took the microphone and put the signals through a guitar amplifier, and took it again with the microphone in front of a speaker. So it was recorded exactly the way you usually record a guitar. The only difference was that there was no guitar, it was Tobi singing!
The Gauntlet: On Rocket Ride there's a lot of piano and keyboard presence on a lot of the tracks, and Miro played that for you guys in the studio. In the past live you guys have just had it recorded, but is there any hope you'd tour with a guest keyboard player, or will you just stick to recordings?
Jens: We'll stick to the hard disks. Actually I don't think there's more keyboards than on the previous albums, but maybe there are more "little things" happening concerning keyboards like effects stuff. If you are performing the songs live those little tiny details don't matter at all. If we have a basic keyboard part, like for example the keyboard part in "Sacrifice," we put it on the hard disk recorder and in the past that's worked pretty well. You know, keyboard players just eat the catering, fuck the groupies, drink the drinks, and they cost money. So the hard disk recorder is much more effective.
The Gauntlet: With seven albums out now, how do you guys decide what goes into a live setlist?
Jens: That gets harder with every album you record. Before we go on tour we have a song pool, and we always rehearse more songs than we included in the last set. Since we have a lot of effects going on stage, and we have some fixed points in the setlist where some songs are set. But besides that we have some points in the set where we can exchange some songs. Generally we just try to make a good mixture out of new material and old stuff because many people come to the concerts and want listen to their favorite classic songs. You cannot satisfy everybody so we just try to make a good setlist. Usually the first three or four concerts of a tour we exchange a few songs and see how the audience reacts, and finally we have the final setlist for the remainder of the tour. But even then we exchange some songs, so you just have to try and get lucky.
The Gauntlet: What were some of the songs off of Rocket Ride you guys played on the last tour?
Jens: We played "Catch of the Century," which was the opening track of the set, followed by "Sacrifice." Then we played "Save Me," the ballad, which sounds totally different live than on the record, and that was pretty interesting to hear. Besides that of course we played "Superheroes" and sometimes we played "The Asylum." I think that was it - no - "Rocket" Ride" as well.
The Gauntlet: The limited edition of Rocket Ride came with a booklet which chronicled the band's history. Some of the older pictures were pretty funny. Where did you guys get the idea to do that?
Jens: The record companies always want to have limited editions and special editions and all that shit, and then it's up to us to make a good product. Usually some limited edition stuff almost sounds like a rip-off, so you really have to make up your mind that you want to give the fans some quality stuff. Actually we never had a history book or something like that so we decided it might be a good idea. The record company would be satisfied with having a limited edition and we would be satisfied as well if we don't rip off our fans and give them something that really wasn't there before.
The Gauntlet: Did Dirk (Sauer, guitar) really look that funny?
Jens: Yeah, that was ten years ago! No, even more, like twelve.
The Gauntlet: In a lot of ways you band's upbeat and humorous approach to music contrasts what is sometimes a negative and more serious attitude a lot of metal bands approach making music with - where do you think your more positive perspective comes from?
Jens: The band members, I guess. The problem was actually, when we started the band and started recording records everybody was telling us - you guys have to build up your image, you have to build up some image at least - and our problem was that we didn't have any image at all. Finally, nowadays, our image is that we don't have an image. So it's pretty good, because we just try to be as honest as possible. We really enjoy what we are doing - we enjoy going on tour and making records and writing music. We see no reason why we should hide that in our music, because it's part of our character. That's what influences the music as well, and that's why there are some funny moments. The problem is that there are some people who are looking at, for example, Rocket Ride - they see the cover artwork and they see songs like "Trinidad" or "Fucking with Fire" and they immediately think Edguy is a slapstick band. If they don't take a closer look that could be a problem. On the other hand, the music quality is right and we still have enough serious topics on the record as well, so it's just a mixture. The funny side is an aspect of the band so it has to be on the record as well, and Tobi he says some writing in a way is like writing a diary. No one is always serious or always funny, and that's definitely the attitude.
The Gauntlet: Do you know why it is Michael Kiske - he obviously collaborated with you guys on "Judas at the Opera" and also worked with Tobi in Avantasia - but he really doesn't seem to work with any other metal bands, What is it about you guys that makes him willing to work with you?
Jens: Avantasia was a different story - back then he wasn't that bad talking about metal as he is nowadays. Tobi has a pretty good relationship to Michael Kiske, and just asked him if he wanted to participate on this song. Finally what convinced Michael, besides the money we offered, was that he really liked the lyrics of the song because that represents the way he feels about the metal scene as well and that's why he had no problem singing on the song.
The Gauntlet: If you could record one cover song for your next album, what song would it be?
Jens: That's hard to say. I think I would choose something that is actually not a metal song at all and try to make it be a metal song. You just have to add some electric guitars and double bass and it's a metal track!
The Gauntlet: Are you guys planning maybe a return to the US anytime soon?
Jens: Yes, I really hope so. As you mentioned we first have a tour in Asia, but I'm pretty sure that maybe August, September, October we're coming to the states again - at least I hope so because the last tour with Hammerfall was pretty successful. It's time to make the next step in the United States so I really hope we can figure something out to tour the States.
The Gauntlet: Would you guys hook up with another major band like you did with Hammerfall last time, or would you headline a tour yourself?
Jens: I don't know, you have to listen to people who know about the US markets. At least our record company in the States thinks it might be better if we do just one more support show just to get more people interested in our music before we do our own headlining show. Doing support shows is always a challenge because it's a chance to play in front of many people who don't know about you, and you have 45 minutes to convince them you're a good band and to go out and buy your CDs. I think I would prefer another support tour in the states.
The Gauntlet: That's all for now, but do you have any parting words to leave us with?
Jens: Always wash your hands after you've been to the toilet, stay healthy, have fun in life, and thanks for the support so far!