Each story has an end - a good or a bad one - it does not matter really. What does is the feeling that we get approaching the long-awaited frontier. This year we were destined to find out the ending of the Taragon trilogy brought to us by the German masters of power metal from Freedom Call. Chris Bay - the lead singer and guitarist of the band - called us to talk about the newly released 'Eternity' album.
MetalKings.com: Hi, Chris. It has not been too long since your recent visit to Moscow, and once again we have a chance to talk to you this time about such an important event as the release of your third album. To say that this album was much waited for would be a gross understatement, since its release means the end of the Taragon trilogy. So let's start with the very beginning - how did the idea of a musical trilogy came around in the first place?
Freedom Call/Chris: So when we began recording the first album 'Stairway to Fairy Land' we had the idea not only to write ten songs for an album, but to build up a pyramid with three main elements: we had the music, we had the lyrics, and as the third element we had the idea of the story of Taragon. So it was a very interesting thing for us all to write, in this kind of working 'cause every time you get new inspiration from element to element, when you're working on the music. Then that gives you a lot of inspiration for the lyrics and for the story, so you can build up a little bit more of an interesting thing than just 10 songs for an album. So with this idea of the story of Taragon we could find the continuation on the second album. So it was the same situation that we had much fun on writing on these three elements. And it was not planned from the beginning on that we will finish this story as a trilogy after the third album. But now we have the feeling that the time has come for making a finish for the story, Because you are repeating all the time and I think it's better to finish than to get bored in the future. So we said let's finish with this third album, so we have a trilogy, and that makes sense. And then for the next album we will look for new themes in this fantasy world.
MetalKings.com: Don't you think that by deciding to make this a trilogy you automatically put yourself under certain frames, forcing yourself to fit a total of three albums into these frames. I personally like this integrity, but there may be people around who'd say you just stamped three completely similar boring records. Was there ever a moment during the recording when you felt like departing from the initial concept ad making something entirely different?
Freedom Call/Chris: I don't really like the word concept, because a concept album sounds a little bit like as if the lyrics, or the story have much more importance than the music for itself. And for me the music definitely has the priority, and that's the most important thing on that album. The lyrics are very important but the story is just a special thing for them. That's not directly a concept album. But I think that definitely you have a concept when you're writing a new album because you have to prepare all this stuff, the lyrics have to work with the music, and all these elements. But this is just a little bit of special for our listeners who can read this and just escape in another world, in this fantasy world. But it's not a really serious concept that we try to build up.
MetalKings.com: Whose idea was it to use Latin in Metal Invasion and what does it say?
Freedom Call/Chris: I think it was in a plan from the beginning on that we will use Latin words, I think it sounds more authentic in this way for these Gregorian choirs and we wanted to have a choir that would sound very authentic, and very big and very important. The idea for these Latin words came from Dan, and I am not sure but I think he asked his old Latin teacher from school, what we can use. Because Dan and me when we were in school we had this subject Latin, but I can remember merely some words so it was better to ask his teacher. The intention was just to build up a very important sounding and a very authentic choir in the beginning of this album.
MetalKings.com: Where did the text come from?
Freedom Call/Chris: That's a good question, because generally Dan did most of the words and he is more involved in all of these lyrics and the story thing, and I am more involved in writing the music, and the harmonies and the arrangements. So I don't know exactly what these words mean but I think it's a big thing, it's about glorious and huge things. But there is no religious, or political, or historical intentions in there.
MetalKings.com: Who created your symbol a cross of letters F and C - and does it have any special meaning to it, aside from just being the first two letters of the band's name?
Freedom Call/Chris: It was a funny story, because when we were in the beginning of Freedom Call, Dan and me went to a bar this night, and we were sitting in this bar and drinking some cocktails, and I put my finger in the glass and started writing on this bar-table. And made the sign. And the we just built it up the next day so it was a very fast idea.
MetalKings.com: So this is how alcohol can be inspiring, right?
Freedom Call/Chris: (Laughs) Yes…
MetalKings.com: A silly question but still - on the cover artwork you put this symbol like right between the legs of this winged guy, where his 'tool' should be, don't you think some people might have some silly associations connected with this?
Freedom Call/Chris: Oh, ha-ha. No, I don't think so. When it is so, it's a wrong meaning. It's just that the sign is on the front cover, but there is no special sense behind the place where it stands. Inspiration and the fantasy for the artwork came from Paul Gregory from England.
MetalKings.com: I guess it's his English sense of humor…
Freedom Call/Chris: Yes, exactly, the humor of the British guys is a little bit strange sometimes.
MetalKings.com: he covers for Stairway to Fairyland and Crystal Empire were done in this red-blue gamma, why did you decide to switch to dark-green on the last album?
Freedom Call/Chris: I think it was not planned from the beginning that the colors blue and red would be used on the first two albums. It was Paul Gregory the English guy again. We can give him some ideas, and some inspiration of what we would like to see on the cover, but in the end he will decide, because he is an artist as well, and he needs a lot of space for his inspiration. And we liked these covers very much, but for the third album we wanted to have a totally different color, and we decided for green because green is the color of hope and although we have this album as the last one the trilogy, we have an open end on the Eternity album. I think green is a very nice color, should give some motivation and give hope and should show the positive side. And that's exactly this what we want to give to the listeners, and to the people who are interested in what the music is telling and what the lyrics are telling and these should be worked together as well as possible. So I think this green color was the best that we could find for the last album in the trilogy.
MetalKings.com: Okay this is an old question I am sure, but still is there a chance of seeing the Taragon mini-CD coming out in the rest of the world and not only in France?
Freedom Call/Chris: I think so. There are ideas to release this album worldwide. I cannot tell definitely the date, but there is an idea. But when things are not fixed I won't believe it. I only believe things when they happen. Maybe it will be next year in March or April. But with Freedom Call we decided never to do such thing again to release an EP or an album only in one country or another country. In the future we only will do things for the whole world. You see, it's not the fairest thing for the fans, when some fans would get this album, and some won't.
MetalKings.com: In 'Ages of Power' I have noticed this small screaming insert, sounding very close to Dani Filth - was it you, and who came up with that idea?
Freedom Call/Chris: No it's not my voice. It's the voice of a good friend of mine who is called Mitch Schmidt and he is playing in a metal cover band in my hometown area, and he can sing this very well. And the voice that you hear is not prepared or processed with some effects or pitch-shifters, that's his natural voice, that's really amazing. By the way we have such a part on the 'Crystal Empire' album as well in the song 'Pharao'. We decided to do it because it works very well together with the story and a very bad guy is working there. So it's not me, I can do it, but not very often, or I can quit my job as a singer (laughs).
MetalKings.com: Naturally, it's a tradition that a fairy tale trilogy has to end well, Ramses has found all of the four stones and the forces of good won over the forces of evil. However, have you ever had a crazy idea of turning everything upside down and make a non-standard ending, for instance with Ramses finding all the four stones and becoming a powerful and cruel tyrant?
Freedom Call/Chris: I think you have thousands of possibilities to find new passes or new directions for the story, I think you can have a never-ending story. You know there these fantasy fans who are actually doing these role-playing games, but we are not really into these. We are more interested in writing a new story, to have a brand-new theme and find new passes in the story. And when we look for this idea to write the story we try to find also a connection to the real life. I think that's not only just a fantasy story, I think you can find a connection to the real life every time with the person, and with the events, cause all things that happen in the story can happen in the real life as well. So that was one of the intentions as we wrote the story. But he [Ramses] was always planned to be the force for the good, for the nation, you know.
MetalKings.com: The name Ramses itself is Egyptian as far as I can make it - a strange choice for a fantasy story?
Freedom Call/Chris: Yes the name sounds Egyptian, but it was not planned to take any names from Egyptian history. I think the idea came from Dan to use this name, Dan is more involved in writing the story. So I don't know exactly why he used this name. Maybe it was because we had the song Pharao before we wrote the story of Crystal Empire. And it was very important that the lyrics are sounding very well in the chorus line, so maybe that was the reason why we used Ramses because it sounds very big, it sounds very huge and important.
MetalKings.com: There is a number of songs on the album that have a pretty big anthematic feeling to them, I am really fond of Bleeding Heart, I'd even go as far as saying that this is the best song on the record, but at the same time I don't think much of 'Land of Light', which by the way seriously reminded me of Europe's 'Final Countdown'. Anyways, what is your fave song on the record?
Freedom Call/Chris: It's a very difficult question for me because in every song there is a lot of love and a lot of inspiration, and a lot of working for me. But I can say Bleeding Heart is one of the favorites for me as well, and on the other hand I love to play the song 'Land of Light' live on stage, and I love this song 'Flame in the Night'… 'Turnback Time'… 'The Eyes of the World'… 'Metal Invasion'… Yeah, it's a very difficult question for me.
MetalKings.com: What happened to your official website, seems like there has been no updates since last year?
Freedom Call/Chris: Last week we changed our webmaster, and we had big problems with the provider, because we couldn't get connected, our password was not accepted all the time. So I contacted the provider and he couldn't help me, so we wanted to change the provider, but you need some papers from the old provider, so that was the problem. But yesterday I met the new webmaster, and I think this week we will go online with a brand-new site.
MetalKings.com: As far as I understand the story of Taragon is over, so what are you going to do in the future?
Freedom Call/Chris: I think at first we have to play some concerts, some festivals, and I think then after summer or in the late summer I will go back to the studio for writing new songs and I have to wait. I need some free time, to find a new source for inspiration and motivation to write the new songs. At this time we are a little bit powered out from the production we started in January and we were very busy all the time till April, then we had some troubles with the studio with mixing the songs. In the end it was going very well and when we finished the mixing we began the rehearsals for the Blind Guardian tour. And this week is the first week when I can be a little bit slower and relax a little bit. And you need a little bit more time to find new ideas for the new album. I think we don't have to hurry with writing new songs because we recorded a live album and this will be released next year, in march or April, and I don't see that the next album from Freedom Call will come out before late next year.
MetalKings.com: What impressions do you have from your trip to Russia this year?
Freedom Call/Chris: That was a very-very positive impression. I have never before been to Russia and I think from the history on I think it's a little bit mixed emotions when you go to this country, but it was not a bad feeling or anything like that. It was really exciting. We never expected anything like that from the Russian fans, because we have never heard anything about the metal market in Russia. We only knew that Scorpions played in Russia and that Yngwie Malmsteen did a live album in Leningrad, and that was it. So we had really no expectations. But then we began our concert, and the fans' reaction was fantastic.
MetalKings.com: What are your interests in life aside from music, have you any hobbies?
Freedom Call/Chris: My hobbies? It's much different. I like to do some sports, when I have enough time for doing this. I love mountain biking. So usually two times a year I am going to the mountain area of Germany and I am also jogging. Just for fitness. And then there is really not so much time for doing any special things, like collecting post-stamps, or something like that (laughs). Then I have a girl-fried, so that is it.
MetalKings.com: Okay, here is one of the girly questions: you have very beautiful long hair, do you spend a lot of time grooming it, and do you have any special secrets on taking care of it?
Freedom Call/Chris: No. Nothing special. When I was younger 18 or 19 years old, I took a lot of care about my hair. But in the last five years, I noticed that it doesn't matter if you do anything or not. I think it's from the nature, if it's growing then it's ok, and if it's not than you cannot stop that. I saw no difference between when I was taking care of it like hell, grooming it all day long, and avoiding salt water on the sea, and in the last five years, I don't take any care about it. I am washing it 10 times a month, and it doesn't matter what shampoo I am using.
MetalKings.com: What clothes do you wear in everyday life?
Freedom Call/Chris: Very easy clothes. At this time I am wearing shorts, and t-shirts mostly promo t-shirts, from some labels, or magazines, or radio stations. It's very easy looks - nothing special.
MetalKings.com: If I am not mistaken you are having your birthday next month. Usually while we are still kids we make a wish and want it to come true on our birthday, then we become older, but still secretly hope about some very special present. What is your dream-present this year?
Freedom Call/Chris: Oh… That's not easy to answer. I would wish that one of my biggest dreams would come true so that somebody would present me an original (Gibson) Les Paul guitar (laughs). I am playing a copy from Japan. I would like to have an original one. Maybe some angels would bring me that guitar.
MetalKings.com: I remember one time you were asked where'd you go if you had a time machine and you said you wanted to go to the Middle Age - orgies, lots of wine, and good looking girls. Now, imagine that you have a time machine but it breaks down and instead of going to the Middle Age, you go to the dawn of man. There are good-looking girls around alright, but they are pretty brutal, and the wine is made of dinosaur-piss, so what would you do in that situation?
Freedom Call/Chris: He-he… Oh… Oh… What would I do? I think I would have to change my tastes, and bring them in the direction so that I would prefer some piss before I drink wine. So I guess I would change my direction for my positive being.
MetalKings.com: Also on your site you were asked what three things you'd take with you to a desert island, and you named a hammock, sunbathing body-milk, and a lot of wine. And what three things would you take with you to Antarctica?
Freedom Call/Chris: Special socks, definitely cause I hate cold feet. A cup for icecream, this is very important, and maybe some bottle of vodka, I think that would make me warmer than wine.
MetalKings.com: The worst nightmare of any author, is that the characters of hi works came to life, so now try to imagine this bad dream, when all of a sudden Ramses comes to life and starts suing you and Daniel as the two authors of the trilogy for making him hang around some godforsaken places for many years looking for some stupid stones. And while he was risking his life you two were cashing in from selling the albums with his story. What are you going to do?
Freedom Call/Chris: A very bad dream. I would say we'd have to hurry up with writing a new story. To release the new album in the next month. That I think would be the best reaction. Write a new story about him.
MetalKings.com: Imagine that you are getting a soul-deal offer from the Devil, what would you ask for in return?
Freedom Call/Chris: Phew… Maybe… his big nose or his horns..
Freedom Call/Chris: It makes you special!
MetalKings.com: Imagine that for one day you are becoming a god - the god of what you'd be and what you'd be called?
Freedom Call/Chris: I would be the god of melodic metal and the name would be Daniel Zimmermann!
MetalKings.com: Okay, thanks for the interview and your final comment?
Freedom Call/Chris: Thank you and we hope that we can come to Russia again. It was a very good experience and I hope we can repeat this.
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