Interview with Adrian Hates about Ego:X, the new album by Diary Of Dreams.
Release date: 26th August 2011

MetalKings.com: In which way was the production of Ego:X different from the previous albums?

Adrian: In a way, all our album productions were different from each other. We were always keen to reinvent ourselves; we always wanted to make sure we would do the theme of any album justice. Sometimes, the concept in question required a more withdrawn and isolated method of operation, sometimes it was necessary to look for new musical collaborators to realize the musical vision. Ego:X needed a lot of exhausting detail work. Everyone paid his dues, and we had a number of guests who really enhanced the album with their performance. We never had so many people working on one of our albums, and we used more acoustic instruments than ever before. That's probably why Ego:X taught me more than any other album Е me and Diary of Dreams.

MetalKings.com: What's the reason for the delays and postponements of the album's release?

Adrian: Again and again I had to decide whether I wanted to keep the album the way it sounded at the particular time, or whether I wanted to realize the new visions that came into my head Е and a number of times, I decided to revise the whole album according to the new ideas. Sometimes, this meant that I had to start from scratch and record the vocals, guitars, drums and bass completely new. Of course that was very time-consuming, but to me - to us - it was what the album needed and what now accounts for its quality and character. The biggest ego of this project didn't belong to any human being, but definitely to the album itself! From a more pragmatic point of view, the fact that so many people were involved also demanded a higher amount of planning and production time, more than we expected.

MetalKings.com: Ego:X is a concept album - what's the story behind it?

Adrian: The album tells the story of X who starts out on a journey of change. He slowly says goodbye to his old life and changes into something new. He is wistfully looking back and has a lot of hope for the future; he is disappointed and hurt, helpless and disoriented. But most of all, he hates his current situation and is yearning for a feeling of power. The step he decides to take is obvious - but still it is a difficult, heavy step that has him stumbling through his own emotional depths full of memories and fears. A battle between two identities ensues, a strife for change, a last defiant struggle before surrender.

MetalKings.com: Is this a completely fictional story or are there autobiographical elements?

Adrian: In effect, our albums always blended reality and fiction, truth and fantasy. This way, I can conceal the autobiographical parts and give the reader/listener the chance to find himself in our words. Besides, I don't like one-dimensional literature. If this unusual approach creates some communication between the one who's writing and the one who's reading or listening, that's absolutely great. Life changes people, and people change life. This cycle is just one of the things that X wants to escape from. He wants to break from his orbit and create himself a new world. Not that this wouldn't be something a lot of people wish for but I guess only very few will actually dare to make that step. This is his journey which we accompanied. A tantalizing process of change, a journey through remorse, memory, fear, anger, happiness, confidence, hope and isolation.

MetalKings.com: How did the collaboration with Amelia Brightman come about? And what was it like to sing your first duet?

Adrian: A friend introduced me to Amelia a couple of years ago. Since then we've stayed in touch, we met occasionally when we played gigs in each other's hometowns, and then we talked a lot about music, about our musical dreams and visions. It didn't take long before we came up with the idea to share a song on the new album. For me, "Push me" seemed like the obvious choice, since the track as such is rather unusual and very atmospheric, leaving a lot of room for Amelia's voice to thrive. So finally, Amelia came over to see Gaun:A and me at the White Room, and we spend a few days planning her vocal parts and recording them. The collaboration was a great experience for us. Amelia is an incredibly talented and creative artist and singer, and an incredibly fascinating person.

MetalKings.com: How did the collaboration with Martin Kessler come about, the actor who does the German voice overdubs for stars like Vin Diesel or Nicolas Cage? Which part plays his voice on the album?

Adrian: Martin Kessler and I met through a very unusual coincidence. Unfortunately I cannot tell how it actually happened; otherwise others could try to do it the same way! Anyway, his voice has exactly the timbre, versatility and variety we had in mind for X. Martin agreed at once to lend us his voice, but with that, the real problems began: It was incredibly hard to find a date for the recordings to fit into his and our schedules. Months passed by until we almost thought we wouldn't manage to find a date at all and wouldn't be able to have his voice for X, but then suddenly it all fell into place. Martin finally read the Intro and Outro on the CD as well as seven interludes/elements (depending on which edition of the CD you're listening to). These texts provide a frame to the whole concept and serve to explain X' history, make it more understandable. For us it was an honor and a milestone to have his voice for X.

MetalKings.com: There are a lot more German lyrics on Ego:X, compared to previous albums. How did that develop?

Adrian: I think it was a purely artistic reflex. On the one hand, German is a lot more predominant anyway because of Martin Kessler's monologues, on the other hand, the sound of many of the songs simply suggested the use of German. In the end, language is just another instrument. With some productions, this instrument seems to be a lot more suitable while it just doesn't fit others quite as well.

MetalKings.com: How did the artwork come into being, who painted the pictures?

Adrian: The whole artwork of the new album is based on the paintings of Gaun:A. He created them over months, partly inspired by our lyrics, partly by the music of the new album. Another cycle - it was a kind of two-way inspiration between us. The paintings were done in some very different ways and different sizes. For us it was important to create a coherent and homogenous concept that would cover all aspects of our work, just like we did for Nigredo. Everything is relevant and full of meaning. There are cross references to older works and themes but of course a lot of completely new impulses and ideas. The paintings have an incredible depth and describe a journey that we were allowed to witness and document with our respective means.

MetalKings.com: Who was involved in the album, and what is the actual line-up of Diary of Dreams these days?

Adrian: Apart from Gaun:A, Flex and Dejan have been working with me on the album. The three of them are an integral part of Diary of Dreams, in the studio as well as on stage. And again, Daniel Myer has been taking part in shaping the sound. His work is very important to me; we go back a long way and have been working on many projects together. He just knows how I want to experience Diary of Dreams, and he adds these little fascinating elements to the music that sometimes just prove to be the last bits that were missing before we would be completely happy with a song. Guido Fricke proved to be a very valuable and loyal advisor in technical questions; he supervised the recordings of the drums and also of some of the vocals. And Rainer Assmann joined us again, as he has done since 1994, to shape the right sound for the final mix before Guido Fricke came in again for the pre-mastering polish.

MetalKings.com: Will you be playing more live gigs in the near future? Many fans from abroad are longing for your return Е

Adrian: We are looking forward to go on tour again as well - we cannot wait to present all the new songs live on stage! Our tour starts in a few weeks time and will go on well into 2012. Of course we would like to play as many gigs as possible, and we hope to return to some countries where we haven't been able to go to for some time.

MetalKings.com: Early last year, you played 18 gigs with Germany's new shooting star Unheilig. Were you happy with the reaction of the audience?

Adrian: We really enjoyed this tour - Unheilig and their crew gave us a great, warm welcome, and the whole tour went really smooth and provided lots of new experiences. The guys from Zeromancer were also on the bill, and we become close friends. Musically and personally, it was a really successful venture, and I particularly loved going out on stage every night, not knowing what was going to happen Е I think we managed to win the Unheilig audience over and convince people to consider coming to see some gigs of the upcoming Diary of Dreams tour!

MetalKings.com: Which is the most important song for you on this album?

Adrian: That's always hard to say but I think "Weh:Mut" is the one that touches me most. It is a rather difficult and unusual song in many ways but maybe that's just what fascinates me about it. Besides, it was the last song I wrote for this album, and therefore also something like the first step of letting go of Ego:X.

MetalKings.com: And which song was the most difficult to work out?

Adrian: "Push me", the duet with Amelia, meant a lot of work - we had to record two sets of vocals, we used real strings, some real drums and had to record all the bass and guitars. I had anticipated that, but I had no idea how complex and laborious it would be to mix this song - it really brought me to my limits. Only "Undividable" proved to be even more exhausting - I changed and reshaped no other song on the album as much as this one. But it's a good thing I can lean back now and enjoy the finished songs.

(August, 2011)

Big thanks to Sabrina Wolf for enormous help in organizing this interview

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