Interview with Dragonsfire' Torsten Thassilo Herbert by EC

Germany's Dragonsfire has just released their second full length album called "Metal Service". The record has a deep tradition of German heavy metal via Accept and Grave Digger overtones with enough personality and unique songwriting to really push this into the new generation for metal fans. I was able to catch up with bassist and vocalist Torsten Thassilo Herbert to talk about the album and life on the road.

We try to deliver the songs we wanted to hear when we go to a metal concert. And that should be songs that never loose their power.
EC: So Thassilo, how has the summer been treating you thus far? What was the most recent show you played live and how was the crowd reaction?

Thassilo: The summer over here in Germany is really hot these days. So I'd say it's been treating us fine so far. We played at the "Sounds of Metal" festival in June with Zed Yago and Metalforce. At this gig we played four songs from the new album "Metal Service" and our fans really liked them. Even without knowing them in advance.

EC: It looks like the band has been really busy with festivals this year. What are some of your favorite performances thus far and how has the overall response been for Dragonsfire?

Thassilo: The response was always really great but if I had to mention something special I'd say the Saarbangers Festival was one of the best for this year so far. There was a real big crowd and a lot of people came to see us. But also the show with Blaze Bayley earlier this year was superb.

EC: Previously, what tours have you been on and in support of who?

Thassilo: We played as support for Cage on their tour through Europe and played some other shows with many different bands. Vicious Rumors, Rebellion, Mystic Prophecy...just to name a few...well and of course Blaze Bayley as I mentioned before.

EC: Well, the new album has finally arrived! Congratulations on "Metal Service"! I've had the opportunity to play this a few times via Pure Steel and I really enjoy it. Tell us the songwriting efforts that went into the album before hitting the studio. Did you write a lot on the road and have some basic ideas on the album's direction before hitting the studio?

Thassilo: Oh we don't have just basic ideas before we go to the studio. I'd say at least 90% of the whole songs is pretty clear before we start to record it. Well, at least when you start recording you think everything is clear. During the process of recording some things start to develop in some way. So you start recording with 90% of the song clear, then improve it by 20%. So in the end you have a song that is 110% perfect. Haha. Yeah and the biggest part of the songwriting happens at home and another huge part happens during our rehearsals. We meet once a week and play together. That is worth a lot and can't be replaced by anything else.

EC: Why did you choose "Metal Service" as the album title, is this symbolic in some way?

Thassilo: There are many different explanations why this title makes absolutely sense. The first one is that music is some kind of entertainment service. The second one is that we always try to make catchy songs that will work well on a live show. So we try to deliver the songs we wanted to hear when we go to a metal concert. And that should be songs that never loose their power. It is all about the energy of a live experience and when we deliver these songs we want to bring the audience as much power and energy as possible. Hmm... well and the third explanation is, that music is some kind of business. Money makes the world go round. But music is art and art should not be corrupted by the rational shit of payments and bills and stuff. So it is in some way also ironic to call the album "Metal Service". We don't want to bother with business. We wanna play metal.

EC: The band worked with famed producer Rolf Munkes at Empire Studios. What factors impacted the decision to use Munkes? Had you worked with him previously?

Thassilo: Yes we worked with Rolf already on our previous album "Visions Of Fire" and that was superb. I can say he is a great guy and became a real friend of us. So the thing was pretty clear to work with him again. He moved his studios and now has some pretty large rooms over in Bensheim which is - in addition - pretty close to our homes. That made our work a lot more easy. Rolf always comes up with good ideas, has a good sense of humor and works absolutely professional.

EC: When working with Munkes did he outline some different avenues for the band's sound or change any direction? Are you pleased with the production and sound?

Thassilo: Yes we are very pleased with the sound and production. We told Rolf what we think it should sound like and he made it possible. We wanted to have a more aggressive guitar sound than on "Visions Of Fire" because we thought it would fit to the new songs very well. So we spent some time adjusting the guitar sounds before the recording. The band and Rolf were pretty much the same opinion concerning sounds so we did not need to talk much about it. It was clear how it should be. Before the recording started Matthias made a sheet with some notes about the sound. After the recording we just saw that all points were fulfilled.

EC: You mention that this album is "faster, harder and sexier". How different is this record compared to "Visions Of Fire"?

Thassilo: Well, when you hear the intro it is clear, that it is much sexier than "Visions Of Fire". I'd say on one hand there is not much difference - both albums are Dragonsfire albums and you can hear that in every note that is played or sung. On the other hand I think we pulled the whole thing to a higher level. The "Metal Service" sounds more mature (...well, "maturity is overrated" as it says in the first
song haha). No, seriously, it has some faster songs like the song "To Hell And Back" and it is harder. "The Devil" is a really evil piece of music - compared to the rest of the Dragonsfire-universe. "Metal Service" has more extremes than "Visions Of Fire". But of course both albums are worth listening to. I think if you like ONE of them you will enjoy the other one as well.

EC: The album will be released next month on Pure Steel. How is the relationship with Pure Steel? Are you doing any marketing or promotion right now for the album? Any pre-release parties that I need to crash?

Thassilo: The relationship to PSR is pretty good. Everything works very uncomplicated and questions or own ideas are just a phone call away. But there is no special pre-release programm planned by PSR. The booking is done by ourselves so we play at the Monster Metal Festival in Gronau the next weekend and may have some little surprise there. And there is an album presentation at the "Unversch?mt"-Club in Karlsruhe. Directly after the release we are going to visit "Metal Only" which is a great
internet radio with a lot of fans and listeners. That's goinig to be fun, too. And we have just planned an additional show in Cologne on August 20th.

EC: Where will you tour next? Any chance of coming to the US or packaging with some bigger bands?

Thassilo: We really hope to come to the US! Since several months we try to plan and play a little tour there. So: "Dear US Metalhead, scream loud to make it possible". Most times we do not play tours. We play many gigs throughout the year. That has the advantage that you always play on weekends.

EC: Being from Germany I'm sure you are a big fan of Accept. Have you heard the new Accept songs and what do you think of an Accept album without Udo?

Thassilo: Of course, Accept is great. They would also be great if they were not from Germany. :-D But I have to admit that I haven't heard their latest releases.

EC: Any bands or albums kicking your ass this year?

Thasssilo: I like the new Godsmack album pretty much and Ozzy's "Scream". But there are promising things to come - besides "Metal Service" haha - a new Maiden album is always worth listening (although I did not like the single "El Dorado") and a new Blind Guardian album too. Yes and not to forget the latest Rage album "Strings To A Web". A real good one.

EC: Thassilo, good luck with the new album, again the record hits shelves next month via Pure Steel records. Go check it out!!

Thassilo: Thank you very much for your interest and the interview. I hope we'll meet in 2011 in the USA! We're really gonna try.

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