German medieval/folk-metallers Feuerschwanz are gearing up for the release of their latest album; ‘Das elfte Gebot’, their first since signing with Napalm Records. The captain himself; Hauptmann Feuerschwanz, was kind enough to put down his horn of mead and talk to us about the new album, and how the band have taken on more of a power metal sound, while still retaining that trademark Feuerschwanz sense of humour.
New album ‘Das elfte Gebot’ is the first one for Napalm Records, did signing to a major label bring any pressure?
Yes, a little bit of pressure. After our last album ‘Methammers’ we decided, we are on the way to a harder sound, to go more towards the metal scene, and we knew what we wanted. This made it easier for us to write the songs, we were going straight towards more of a power metal sound, but still with a mixture of medieval sounds and folk.
I believe the English translation of the album title is: ‘The 11th Commandment’?
Yes, it’s a deeper title for us, it has a message of: live your life, death is waiting tomorrow! For us, our band is 15 years old, we’ve had many parties, and now we want to share in our own way how fragile and precious life is.
On the track ‘Lords Of Powermet’, Feuerschwanz used the English language for the first time on an album, was this an experiment to see what the reaction was?
Yes, now that we are with Napalm, we have a chance to go outside of Europe, to English speaking countries, so it’s good to experiment with languages. I think, with the English parts on ‘Lords Of Powermet’, it rules! Maybe on the next album we can experiment more!
The album is hugely enjoyable, even for those that can’t understand any German, it doesn’t get in the way of what is a very strong album..
So you enjoyed it without being able to understand German?
Yes, of course. Bands like Rammstein and The Hu have proved that you can enjoy music without speaking the native tongue. Look how popular opera is worldwide..
Very good! Cool!
You mentioned 15 years as a band, did you expect Feuerschwanz to last this long?
We’ve come from medieval markets and our goal was to have fun with people, drink and party! The medieval scene in Germany is very dark and we wanted to add more colours. After a few years we began to grow with a more professional sound, more professional songwriting. We are a self-made band so we learned by doing it ourselves, it’s an amazing development that we are now with Napalm.
Feuerschwanz have certainly brought some much needed colour that’s for sure. Having watched many live festival shows from the band over the last few years, the festival crowds love the band!
I would say that the medieval scene: 40% loves us and 60% hates us! We polarise audiences. Not everyone loves us but our message is; people can come and have fun at our shows, our fans are friendly and welcome outsiders.
The show at Summer Breeze in 2018 was a real highlight, the crowd were partying with you guys! You’ve got them on the ground “rowing” a viking longboat, at other times the crowd are swaying side-to-side with arms interlocking, no question that the crowd at this one were on your side.
Yes, we are a powerful band live, we want to make a good show, at our own longer shows there would be a ballad, but festivals are a party.
It’s a shame that the current situation means that festivals, as well as parties, are out, we could all do with a party..
Yes for sure, with the shutdown, our fans are supporting us and helping us to have an album release concert. They are giving money towards it, and we are proud to present an open air concert in a castle which is very cool!
Do you think the reason that folk/medieval metal is so popular in Germany is beer-related? It is great music to get drunk to..
Good question! In Germany we have our own medieval folk scene, this development is very important because we need some cool sounds with old instruments. With this scene, we are, a little bit, dealing with our past. It’s all about roots, the roots are Celtic and European of course, very old roots and it’s a good thing. The beer helps!
Yes it does!
It would be nice to perform in Scotland in the future!
That would be carnage! You might be familiar with one of Scotland’s medieval rock groups: Saor Patrol? They have a massive following in Germany, and play a lot of European metal festivals.
Yes, we know them from the medieval markets in Germany.
They are also part of the Clanranald Trust for Scotland, and are recreating a medieval fort here in central Scotland for educational purposes. They have the battering ram used in Russell Crowe’s ‘Robin Hood’ movie onsite, he donated it as he became friends with the organisation when they were working on the ‘Gladiator’ movie.
Yes I know of this project, it’s very cool. The main man in the band is a stuntman I think?
Yes, Charlie Allan, he played the role of the barbarian chief in the opening battle sequences of Gladiator, he’s the one holding the severed head! Most movies set in medieval middle ages will have some of his guys in there somewhere, they provide the stunt teams for combat scenes.
Ah yes! He’s a big guy, with lots of muscles!
He certainly is that! Back to the new album ‘Das elfte Gebot’, the deluxe edition of the album includes a handful of covers, including one which features guest vocals from Melissa Bonny of Ad Infinitum. Have you known Melissa for a while?
We first saw Melissa with the band Warkings at a festival in Graz, Austria. She has a great connection with an audience, she is a powerful performer. We tried for a famous singer, but then we heard “no” from the famous singer! (laughs) They didn’t want to sing with Feuerschwanz! So it was very cool for us to sing with a newcomer, Melissa is very talented.
It’s a great song, with a fantastic video, whoever scripts your videos needs a pay rise!
Oh! A message from my heart: thanks!
Who chose the cover of Ed Sheeran’s ‘I See Fire’?
This came from myself and Hodi (Prinz ‘Hodi’ Hodenherz – pipes, guitars, vocals), we are fantasy nerds and we love Tolkien; it’s our bible! This song comes from the soundtrack for ‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ film. The Hobbit films are not so good for us, too much computer design, but this song was very good in the film. We saw the movie and thought that the song was amazing, but we thought that it had to be more epic sounding. This song needs more rock and folk! More of a Celtic influence. So the idea was; in our fantasy world, this song was a Celtic rock song.
And it worked really well, it’s a fantastic cover. You mentioned that both yourself and Hodi are huge fantasy nerds, there are several Game of Thrones references throughout the album, and the Mother Of Dragons appears in the video for ‘I See Fire’. So, speaking as a huge fantasy nerd, what did you think of the final season of Game Of Thrones?
(laughs) The last season was a compromise I think, I was a little bit sad about it, one season wasn’t enough for the conclusion to this epic story and it was a little bit too short.
In one of the most talked about scenes of the season, it was of course Arya Stark that killed the Night King. But, did you think that it would be her that would kill him, or had you picked another character for that?
Good question, I’m not sure! Arya was a great character, one of the best in the entire story. In the band, we were interested in making a song about a person like Arya, someone who kills people, but to have fun with it. She has grown, she has friends, has parties, then goes killing! This is our song ‘Schildmaid’, it’s about a female warrior.
Check out ‘Schildmaid’ when ‘Das Elfte Gebot’ is released June 26th on Naplam Records.
Pre-order “Das Elfte Gebot” now: https://smarturl.it/DasElfteGebot
Find out more about the online album launch show here.
Interview – Dave
All images – credit: Nikolaj Georgiew