heavy metal

XCLUSIVE: Interview with Al Shirazi of German Metal Outfit: VOLDT

Live Shot of VOLDT The Gauntlet is psyched to talk to Voldt's, Al Shirazi from Hamburg, Germany - singer, guitarist and songwriter.

GAUNTLET: First of all, gents, the debut is a triumph. How is it being received? In the press? In sales?

AL of VOLDT: Thanks, it’s great to hear that. Quite positive reviews up until now - we like the fact that many people from a big variety of metal-genres like it. Even prog haters and black metal fanatics. Regarding sales, we don’t have a big network built up in the webspace yet, but it’s slowly growing and the fans from hour 1 already purchased their EP and Shirt bundle, so for us it’s nice to get that support, even if we’re a small act yet.

GAUNTLET: Well I was privileged to be able to put my 2 cents in, and I think that you guys have a serious opportunity here.

AL of VOLDT: Yes, thank’s for the effort - we really appreciate it. At the moment we have less than zero budget, cause we put it all in the video and the production, and merchandise and the list goes on and on. We hope, we will get something back from the Wacken Foundation here. We asked for it, but they didn’t reply yet. If they only knew that we’re on oatmeal and tap water 24/7, they would.

GAUNTLET: After the interview I went back and looked at some other releases. What I learned was that the clock time was the same as many who released under the designation LP. What made you choose to call it an EP? Perhaps another Debut opportunity?

AL of VOLDT: Well, it was planned to be an album originally, but we kicked out 2, then 3 songs and decided it would be better to do an EP as a debut and put more effort on promo and publicity.
It’s our fortune that the songs are long enough to make people feel they made a good deal with a 33 minute EP.

GAUNTLET: I consider any human being that can create music from ideas or thoughts that has never been heard before has a special gift. That alone tells me you guys are serious, the question is how serious are you? What is the endgame? Do you have a long-term vision?

AL of VOLDT: Basically we just do what we like and do best. But we all take it serious, that’s for sure. We’re ready to conquer the VORLDT. Anytime.

GAUNTLET: Can you describe a moment in your youth that you remember being the definitive point at which you knew this was your lifelong pursuit? Perhaps you heard a piece of music or were moved, and you didn’t decide so to speak you knew you were going to do this.

AL of VOLDT: It was not a particular moment, but Rainbow, Deep Purple and Sabbath opened the gates early for me, I’ve been playing airguitars to that stuff when I was eight. Then a patron of my fathers restaurant back in the days gave me a compilation CD which had the song „Balls to the Wall“ by German heavy metal legends Accept on it. It was over.

GAUNTLET: Does anyone have a Voldt tattoo? Members, Fans, etc.

AL of VOLDT: Not that I would know of. Do it and get free beers at our next gig!

GAUNTLET: Have you had any spinal tap moments?
If you’d ask my band members they’d attest that I live the spinal tap cliche to the fullest. I really don’t have a clue of anything technical, plus I’m super clumsy, oblivious and I got a last minute technical problem before almost every gig.

AL of VOLDT: If you’d ask my band members they’d attest that I live the spinal tap cliche to the fullest. I really don’t have a clue of anything technical, plus I’m super clumsy, oblivious and I got a last minute technical problem before almost every gig. I seriously need help. Thank satan that our bass player Johannes is something like a technical genius. Otherwise this band would be obsolete.

GAUNTLET: As fans of music, what do you listen to in your off time? Other varieties of Prog? Porcupine Tree, Dream Theater, Symphony X, Queensryche (DeGarmo period or all periods) or a complete departure such as Baroque or Blues?

AL of VOLDT: Not a lot of prog actually. I think the reason many people consider our music "prog“ is just that I don’t hesitate to put any kind of influence in there that I like and find to be appropriate. I never sat down and thought "okay, now I’m going to write another prog song." It just comes out that way and our new stuff is even a bit less proggy in the manner that people would call it so. At the moment I listen to a lot of old stuff. The older I get, the older my music gets. But there still is a lot of interesting bands out there. Music that is in my playlist right now: Elder, Satan, Candlemass, Blue Öyster Cult, Hällas, Craft, Martyrdöd, Sumerlands, Taake, Uncle Acid, VR SEX, Wishbone Ash.

GAUNTLET: Besides music what is your favorite pastime or hobby?

AL of VOLDT: I do armwrestling as a sport. And I live for good food - the grilled kind is the best kind.

GAUNTLET: As the writers, composers, producers: What does it feel like to listen to your own tunes? Are you critical like some artists or brimming with pride? Can your own music move you?

AL of VOLDT: If a song isn’t moving me while I’m writing it, I stop writing it. Either a riff or melody line gives me goosebumps while playing or it goes straight into the trash can.

GAUNTLET: Now we will explore some deeper issues: Being familiar with the movie “The Matrix.” Would you take the red pill or the blue pill if thrust into the same situation?

AL of VOLDT: Take the red pill and it’s still an illusion. I don’t believe in realities, that’s why I’d take the blue one, everything else is human ego bullshit in my eyes. And I don’t like bullshit in my eyes.

GAUNTLET: If I have a handful of pills that when taken make the user immortal, would you take one?

AL of VOLDT: I would take all of them! Give them to me! Let’s find out what happens.

GAUNTLET: What happens behind the door of death? When you die so to speak?

AL of VOLDT: I go to heavy metal heaven, have a nice barbeque besides the horned lord with nice crispy angel wings and beer brewed with holy water and „Raining Blood“ played eternally in the playlist. Wouldn’t that be metal?

GAUNTLET: As an emerging band from Germany, what music industry advantage or phenomenon do you need more than anything; ergo: Big Label Support, Big tour, Wide distribution, Radio or other?

AL of VOLDT: A fitting label would be nice, cause they’ve got the outreach we need to grow our seeds. On Youtube and elsewhere. But at the moment we are looking for a good booking agency here in Germany. I think this would be a wise first step.

GAUNTLET: At the Gauntlet, we are on a crusade to help metal bands earn fair money. Artists and the music business have always been at odds, but with streaming the percentages are worse than ever. For example, worldwide the average pay for a band is roughly 10% of all revenues earned from its music. Recently in America several “all you can eat” streaming companies had a referendum among themselves to double the amount the artists earned. Spotify sued asserting they didn’t have to price according to the other streaming companies and the whole thing fell apart. This imbalance must change. What are your thoughts about this?

AL of VOLDT: It’s hard times but in the metal scene we thankfully still have a lot of support from fans who buy CDs, vinyl and merch and go to concerts. It’s a strong community and we rely on that. Other than that, it will work anyway. I don’t believe that streaming platforms will get in the way of up and coming bands. But a regulation of the money flows will sooner or later be necessary. We do use Spotify, by the way.

GAUNTLET: Do you have anything you want to tell your fans?

AL of VOLDT: Which fans? Just kidding. Buy our goddamn EP and obey the mighty VOLDT. We will come for you, sooner or later. I think.

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    May 24, 2019

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