A few days before Brainstorm released their new album "Firesoul" I had the chance to have a chat with singer Andy B. Franck. We talked about the new album, the heaviness of the "Firesoul" and the release shows. It was interesting things Andy had to tell. Enjoy reading the interview:
Markus' Heavy Music Blog: Hi Andy, How are you?
Andy B. Franck: Hi Markus, I’m good thanks. I hope everything’s OK with you too.
MHMB: Yes, everything’s OK over here in Holland. How is it with Brainstorm?
Must be very exciting weeks for you guys with the new album in the pipeline.
Andy: Indeed. We are very happy at this moment and very satisfied with the new album. We had of course some expectation when it comes to „Firestorm“, but I have to say that we are impressed about the really positive reactions so far. This came almost a bit unexpected, but it’s a very nice situation. Since we also had it with earlier albums a bit of the other way round we are very glad this time with the positive feedback.
MHMB: I fully agree. The new album sounds almost like in the earlier days of Brainstorm, esp. since the last two albums have been a bit more complex and interlaced. Therefore it was a good experience to listen to a Brainstorm album which is raising hell.
Andy: Right. I think there are periods in the life of a band when you think that you can change and adjust a few thing here and there. But in the end the fans want to hear from a band what they appreciated from the beginning. Actually this is also what you can do best as a band - doing what you’re grown up with. There is a saying: 'cobbler stick you your last‘ and that also goes for a band. I also don't think that the last two records have been bad. Not at all. We tried out new things and left a bit the save road we have been on for so many years. But the songs and the sound of the new album fits us better and we are back on track.
MHMB: It was on a morning car ride when I heard the album for the first time and I can tell you that I was immediately awake. The songs are heavy, rocking and melodic. That was a cool experience and what I understand from you is, that it was a conscious decision of the band to go back to roots.
Andy: Yes. Actually we already started to think about the „Firesoul“ songs during the last tour. We had to decide on the setlist for the shows and it was sometimes hard to find the right songs from the newer records since it was not easy to reproduce them on stage in the best way. That was an indication for us, that we might have made some of the tunes too much studio based. We went into the studio with songs which haven’t been totally ready. We used the time there to finalize these tracks. That had the effect, that due to all the technical possibilities in the studio everything sounded great. But it’s another story if you have to play the songs live. Therefore we decided this time to spend more time in the rehearsal room. We worked on the new material till we got so far that we could say: now the songs are 100% worked out and they fit. That’s why we had to postpone the album a couple of times, but we think that the result was worth it. Those songs are now exactly how we wanted them to be and they are perfect for playing them live.
MHMB: You mentioned the last tour; if I have it right in mind you have been supporting Primal Fear at that time. Interesting enough they also released a heavier and more straight forward album a few weeks ago. You could be tempted to think, that both bands inspired each other for a more heavier record.
Andy: We had awesome tours with Primal Fear and we had a lot of fun too. Last time we actually have been together for two tours at which the second one has been the even more successful one. With such a positive tour vibe, combined with the reaction of the fans for the song like e.g. from „Liquid monster“, it’s easier to go back to the songwriting and deliver basic heavy stuff.
Photo: AFM Records (Promo)
MHMB: And you HAVE this heavy stuff on the album. Tracks like „Shadowseeker“ and „Descendants of the fire“ are real highlights. Talking about those song; I have the feeling that I can hear a bit of Judas Priest here and there. Is that correct?
Andy: You know, we are playing heavy metal. The principles and the base is mostly similar or even the same. You can’t really do a lot of fancy new stuff. You can tweak things a bit here and there, but there will be in one or another way often a comparison with more established bands. And of course Judas Priest was one of them. They can be seen, together with bands like e.g. Iron Maiden, as the founders for the whole genre. Due to that you can call those bands as an inspiration for us and we see it as an honor to be compared with these icon bands. Priest actually knows about us and they have been asked once in an interview, which bands they think are exciting. That was about 10 years ago and they mentioned, next to a few other bands, also Brainstorm. Therefore I don’t have any issue with a comparison with Judas Priest. Not at all.
MHMB: Being mentioned by those guys sounds really great. Talking about the songs, how did the songwriting go this time?
Andy: Basically it was the same procedure as always. Todde and Milan, our two guitarists, came with the basic idea and we worked those further out together with the whole band. My focus is than more on the lyrics and the vocal lines. That’s our standard way and we also want to keep it like that since it works out pretty well. The difference was, as mentioned already, not in the songwriting - it was in the time we spend in the rehearsal room.
MHMB: You mentioned that you take care about the lyrics. Wherefrom do you take the inspiration for those?
Andy: As soon as I know that we are heading for new songs and a new record I start to follow news, magazins and documentaries even more intensively than normally. I’m trying to get some more background information about certain topics in order to understand things in a better way. That means that I take my inspiration from real life - politics, religion and human interaction. Those are our Brainstorm topics. We are not in a fantasy world, we are in the here and now.
MHMB: Let’s talk a few minutes about the cover of „Firestorm“. It seems that you guys wanted to create a package which goes back into the 2003 - 2005 days. It reminded me to e.g. „Metus mortis“ and „Soul temptation“.
Andy: It was a conscious step towards a new cover designer. I think that we got great covers in the past and we took now the next step. We had the feeling that, based on the spirit in the band, this was needed. Felipe (Machado Franco) is a big fan of the band and has offered already in past to do a cover for one of our records. So, we talked to him and described a bit our thoughts and what he did based on this input is what you can see on the cover of „Firesoul“. That it looks a bit similar to „Soul temptation“ surprised us actually as well, but it was good surprise.
Photo: AFM Records (Promo)
MHMB: After a break of 7-8 years you also worked again together with Achim Koehler as producer. How did that happen?
Andy: We turned the time back (he said with a smile). After we had a good time during the recordings of „Downburst“ and „Memorial roots“ together with Sascha (Paeth) in Wolfsburg we decided to work this time again with Achim. After he heard the new material for the first time he also said immediately that he wants to do this. Since he produced some of our earlier records and since he also was on tour with us, we know him very well. So we agreed pretty fast to do the album together. Based on a good understanding for each other, Achim was aware from the beginning what we wanted and we knew what to expect from him. Therefore we could focus on the music from the very first minute on without spending time into a „we need to get familiar with each other“ period.
MHMB: Brainstorm will promote the new album with four release shows. Can you tell us more about the shows (the interview was done in front of the shows).
Andy: We actually planned in the beginning to play two shows. But in the end it became four concerts, which are really special ones as well. We will play the entire new album during those shows. It doesn’t happen very often to play the whole album, but since we are really proud of the new tracks we decided to go for all of them during those four gigs. This is doubtless an exciting thing for us, since we have to play one hour completely new material. That demanded a bit of rehearsal, but it's special and it makes fun. And last but not least it is a kind of 25 years celebration fro the band too.
MHMB: True, Brainstorm exists 25 years this year. Are there more special events that we can expect?
Andy: We’re doing the four shows, but we haven’t planned extra things so far. And it’s not only 25 years of Brainstorm. It is also the tenth record and I’m teasing the other guys a bit with ‚15 years Andy B. Franck‘ in the band too (he smiles). So it is three anniversaries in one year. This is quite funny, but it also shows how fast time goes by. We have seen a lot of bands coming and going in all those years and we are very happy to be still in business with Brainstorm.
MHMB: Beside the release shows, how about a tour for the new album? I have seen that you are playing some festivals during summer. Is there more in the pipeline?
Andy: We will be most probably on tour in autumn, during September and October, but nothing is signed yet. We hope that all works out well.
MHMB: That sounds good. I hope that also Holland is on the list.
Andy: As far as it looks right now we will come to Holland even for two shows.
MHMB: That sounds great. I hope to see you during the shows. Andy, thanks a lot for the interview. It was great talking to you and say regards to the other guys.
Andy: You’re welcome and thanks for having me. See you in autumn during the shows.