In May Matt Phelps flicked a horned salute in the direction of the debut album from Danish metallers AnoxiA, now he puts some questions to band members Lars Fredriksen and Claus S. Nielsen.
First off, thanks for taking the time to chat with Über Röck today. Secondly, let's get stuck straight into the heavy metal questioning...
Let's start with the name. How did you come to choose it and were there any other interesting names you discarded in favour of AnoxiA?
Claus: The name was adopted around 2000 because it was a metal sounding name, which was found suitable for branding the product. Unlike the previous bandname that was discarded in the favour of "AnoxiA"...
Tell us a bit about your current line up. How does having two brothers in the band affect the democracy within the group? Don't they ever get tempted to start trying to get everything done their way like Angus and Malcolm Young?
Lars: Haha, actually you've got it totally wrong. Whenever a great discussion is about to kick off in the rehearsal dungeon and you got this REALLY bad mood hanging in the air it is usually because of my brother (Soeren) and I. We have absolutely no politeness-filter and we don't hesitate telling each other that a riff or drum fill suck. This often makes the dungeon temperature increase to a level close to hell. I guess if you look from outside the band it looks like we're killing each other some days, but when we leave the dungeon there are no hard feelings. Soeren and I (and the rest of AnoxiA) know that there's no time for compromising when it comes to write a killer song. The band democracy lives and we are definitely not comparable to the situation in AC/DC he he.
Claus: However if other bandmembers, such as myself, attempt to join in the Lars-Soeren crossfire, that is not a problem at all, let's call it a creative battlefield open for business, haha!
I guess these last few months have been some of the busiest ever for AnoxiA, following the release of your debut 'A Lapdance For The Devil' in February. How happy are you with the response to the album so far?
Lars: Yes, it has been quite busy already from day one of the recording session. We have got a lot of different reviews from middle to top scores. I am normally all right with the reviews. But once in a while there comes this stupid critic with the absolutely wrong idea about our music. It is difficult not to take the reviews personally when you are referred to as Lars Frederiksen - the horrible vocalist of AnoxiA. That sucks! It's like a personal slap in the face. But generally the respond is actually quite good on 'A Lapdance...'
AnoxiA has been likened to bands such as Metal Church and Megadeth. Do you think those comparisions are fair and roughly sum up your sound and style? What bands would you choose to liken yourselves to?
Lars: I am always honoured and flattered when people compare us with the giants. We have been compared to many bands (Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, Helloween etc.) and I guess when you play this kind of metal we're playing you will always be compared to the masters of metal. We're playing what we like and we are not striving to create a brand new music style. Let the indi-core-fusion-prog-punk bands do that!
There's plenty of melody involved in your music as well as straight out speed/thrash, so where else do you take infuences from outside of the thrash metal genre?
Lars: We're all great metal/hard rock fans in general and not just thrash metal. On the vocal side Dio, Bruce Dickinson, Whitfield Crane, Axl Rose and many many others inspire me. The melodies have a high priority in AnoxiA. They are the glue that binds the riffs together. But we listen to a whole lot of music in AnoxiA. From Guns N' Roses to Lamb Of God and from Slayer to Black Sabbath. Our drummer is more focussed on the modern scene and the guitars maybe a bit more oldschool. All in all a perfect combination!
You found your sound on 2005's 'Kept In Sin' EP, a great introduction to AnoxiA. That was the first time you worked with Tommy Hansen wasn't it? What led you to his door?
Lars: I have allways had a passion for the organic recordings stripped to the bone. I was familiar with Tommy's sound long before we got to know him. He has made incredible work on Helloween, Pretty Maids, Hatesphere, Bad Monday and many more. By coincidence one of our friends knew Tommy and we thereby got in contact. His productions are "minimalistic" and he doesn't wrap the production in a thick carpet of synth etc. I guess you can call it an "honest" sound. The guitar sounds like guitars and the drums as drums. No camouflage. I am extremely satisfied with the drum sound in particular. Great, great warm tones!
You chose to use him again for 'Lapdance...' and also split the production between Tommy and newcomer Simon Joergensen. Why did you decide to use two different producers for the one album?
Claus: We used Tommy Hansen for tracking the drums as well as the final mixing and mastering. The reason for choosing him as the drum producer was obviously a sound-matter, since we were after the sound we knew he was able to get out of a drumkit. Choosing Simon was more or less a matter of convenience. We had to track all guitars, bass and vocals on weeknights and weekends, so Simon being local AND skilled was a huge benefit. Not to mention him being patient enough to work with us, hahaha!
Hansen's gotta be most famous for his association with Helloween - it must have been somewhat inspirational to be sat in Jailhouse Studios surrounded by all the awards and the history. Tell us a bit about that experience.
Claus: Yeah, it's more or less one big rock 'n' roll cartoon in there. Whenever some of the guys are working on or discussing a detail that's out of your own focus or comprehension, you can always find some item of memorabilia to check out. Getting an anecdote or five out of the man himself is never a problem either, hehehe.
'Lapdance...' is being pushed as your debut album (following 2005's 'Kept In Sin' EP), but there was a previous full album wasn't there. 2003's 'Melanchollision', released on a different label to the one you're on now. So can you tell us a bit about that one and why you now consider 'Lapdance...' to be your "official" debut.
Claus: That album was compilation of 3-4 demos and promos, recorded on different occasions between 2000 and 2003. The reason why 'Lapdance...' is our official debut is, that it was written and produced as an album, with a continuity and context throughout. All bands do demos until they feel mature to take the "big step", and that's what we did, we just did the somewhat untraditional and compiled some of these demo unto one cd.
It's been a long ride to get to today, AnoxiA forming or at least being conceived way back in 96. Tell us a bit about those early years, getting the band started and some of the problems you faced starting out.
Lars: The line-up back then was not the same as today. Our current line-up has been active since 2004 and together we have made a promo-EP in 2005 called 'Kept In Sin' and now this album. We have made several promos during the years before 2004, but our music-direction was not as defined as today. AnoxiA also used to suffer from line-up problems in the early years. Those problems are eliminated for sure. We're all hungry musicians ready for action. Our music direction has developed a lot as well since the good old days. Back then we played some sort of hard rock/grunge/punk.
It that time the Euro metal scene has seen a massive rise in popularity, particularly over the last 10 years. Do you feel the internet has been an important and major factor in the rise of European scene? Before bands only really got worldwide exposure if they were good looking enough to be picked for MTV, now everyone in the world can access any band anywhere at the click of a mouse.
Claus: To me the internet is basically an updated version of the tape-trading-scene of the 80's. However the exposure is way better now, since it's not only for the truest of the true, as was the issue back then. And you're just right, it's absolutely more convenient nowadays, where you don't have to copy your new Exciter album onto cassette and ship it over to some guy in Uruguay, in hope of getting a copy of the latest Sepultura demo in return... Regarding MTV the times have indeed changed as well. Do they air music videos at all anymore?! At least the pretty-boy criteria have vanished. The Osbournes prove that very well!
The internet can also be a curse as well as a blessing I guess. Just because people can now hear your music doesn't mean they're going to buy it legally. How do you feel about that?
Lars: Yeah... I have already observed ALFTD on all these pirate bay kind of sites. There's absolutely nothing you can do about it. I see it this way: Bands like us are upcoming acts and these illegal sites make it possible for people to hear us far away from the territory of our distributor. I have convinced myself that true metal fans appreciate the physical albums. Sometimes I find these great bands on myspace, youtube or whatever. If I like the music I prefer to buy the physical album and support the act instead of downloading anonymous mp3's to save on my hard disc.
You were handpicked to play the prestigious Bilbao festival, how did that come about, was the internet involved in getting you noticed for that?
Lars: Well... I don't quite recall the procedure, but suddenly we were on the bill and we had an awesome trip together as a band. Actually I guess it was something as old school as a physical promo package that found the way to the jury in Bilbao. But usually the internet is the main promotor for AnoxiA. There's only one thing bigger than the internet when it comes to pomoting and that is physical buzz. Rumours spread by people is much more valuable than a video on youtube. But it takes much more time and effort.
The Bilbao show nearly didn't come off though, there were some "travel issues" to say the least. How determined were you to get there and play and how did the show go in the end?
Lars: The day before the gig all of us except Soeren(drums) flew to Bilbao. We were quite excited about the upcomming show and spend a great night in Bilbao. The next morning I got a phonecall that replaced the excitement with huge frustrations. I picked up the phone knowing it was Soeren and said "welcome to Bilbao". "Bilbao... I'm stuck in Denmark", Soren answered. My face turned white. It was awful. But luckily we've got the most creative drummer in the world and he found a flight-route that implied one whole day of flying. Soeren managed to get to the gig aproximately 30min before showtime he he. The show went fine, but I guess we have become much better since then.
You've also played a few shows opening for some big names like W.A.S.P. and Krokus. How were those experiences and what did you learn from them?
Lars: Uuuuuh both of the experiences have been awesome. We managed to get our old LP's autographed he he. It is always great to warm up for the greater bands. Cool to sit and watch the sound checks and get closer into the atmosphere of the bands. You can definitely learn a lot from these giants. Their stage show is awesome and the performances are tighter than hell. Great inspiration for bands like us.
Going back to 'Lapdance...' for a minute before we finish, tell us a bit about the cover art and why you chose it.
Lars: The cover artwork is made by our friend Alan Domazet (guitarist of Modra). The layout and photos are made by another friend Mikkel Groenkjaer. Both are extremely professional and dedicated. Yeah it's a great artwork! We are very pleased with the result. We wanted one of those great classic iconic album covers and not just some futuristic sharp Photoshop product. Actually the cover is originally prepared for a LP-cover soooo who knows. Maybe it will eventually sometimes be release on vinyl!
What's your favourite old school metal cover art then?
Lars: Well, speaking about both Krokus and W.A.S.P. - they have awesome artwork. Actually my favorite cover is the LP cover of 'Appetite For Destruction' - just love that artwork. But Dio, Iron Maiden etc. are just great.
Who do you think is the sexiest illustrated lady from a metal album cover then? I'd say it's the witch from Helloween's 'Better Than Raw' album myself...
Claus: Yeah, she's a fox. However she will never top off DORO on the Warlock and solo albums! Also I've always fancied the chicks that MANOWAR cast for their artwork up until 'Gods Of War', where they seemingly stopped taking their vitamins or something...?!
Finally, what's the plan of action for the next 12 months of AnoxiA?
Lars: Hopefully we'll play a lot of concerts and primarily focus on the promotion of 'A Lapdance For The Devil'. We've got a great gig coming up were we'll might record a live concert. We are currently working on new material as well. Sounds great and it's great to keep the song writing process intact. There's no time for rest in this band. We would love to play some gigs outside Denmark, but it's really tricky to find the gigs and so on outside our native territory. Hopefully the next 12 months will kick ass. I'm quite convinced they will!
Any last things you'd like to say to the Über readers before you go?
Lars: Yeah that all the readers and staff of this zine will stay healthy and hopefully we'll be able to see you all on the road. I hope (and know) that 2010 will be a great year for AnoxiA. I love hanging out with those guys and we'll be touring and partying like we use to do. Then I don't care if it is 2010 or 2020, I just want to continue with these guys. Go check out our music and if you like what you hear go buy the album and make us all very happy.
Once again, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions today and good luck with your future lapdancing.