The German version of this article can be found here.
CHAOSBAY will release their new album on Sept. 18th this year and the anticipation increases daily. Singer JAN LISTING took the time to answer some questions about this urgently awaited release. You can now read the whole interview here!
You can pre-order the album here.
Huge thanks once again to lightinmirror.de for the amazing pictures!
Shieldmaiden’s Voice: Why did you dedicate the album towards a cause that’s mostly vanished from people’s minds?
Jan Listing: Well… I don’t think that it’s vanished, on the contrary. That can be felt especially in the political context with the AfD [German right-wing party] gaining so many new voters und the people feeling like the country, they were born in by chance, is their property and their pride. I don’t know where they get their justification for that from – they have never done anything in order to be in this country – and now calling it their property and trying to decide who gets to come in and who doesn’t, who can have a place here and who can’t, that’s something i simply cannot understand…
I dedicated myself to this moral problem which came up in society in the last five years and I truly believe that it is still a pressing issue. Especially because of social media in which people often feel like they have a well-founded opinion which is not the case most of the time.
Many feel like they have to spread their opinions and these are mostly the ones that aren’t reverberatory since they come from the heat of the moment. I think that the possibility to the fast proclamation of unfounded opinions into the world is not good and is only benefiting the agitators. This is a big problem.
I think, in short, that the problem hasn’t vanished, but rather came back in a different disguise caused by the refugee crisis.
SV: You face the problems quite head on. You could have put it in a more fantastic context, like you did in Vasilisa. Why did you decide to do it this way?
JL: Because it wouldn’t have been on point. I find it to be quite mislead to put a topic, which has so many links to our current situation, into a fictional story. That is something you can do with topics that are 50 or 100 years old, but you have to face recent issues with all its seriousness.
Besides, I did „invent“ a story into it. There are certain individuals and speakers or characters that appear on the album whose situation I included into the story. It’s a fictional story containing certain strings of action, but as consequent as in Vasilisa, because it wasn’t supposed to become a fairytale, and everything is packed into a real problem statement.
What is also important is that it’s more complicated this time around than a story about good and evil. That is the reason why I wanted to transpose this more serious this time.
Furthermore, I like to break with metal music standards. Most of the time there are fairytales or autobiographical story and both is not that interesting to me anymore because it’s so one-dimensional. I think the metal scene, and prog metal especially, deserves deeper content.
SV: Quite some time has passed since Vasilisa. How did this time affect your songwriting and the sound of the band in general?
JL: A lot has happened! We all grew up in a musical sense. We learned a lot, especially in the pop-genre, and that can be translated to other musical styles as well. A song works regardless of genre. You can write songs that’s completely independent from any genre and with more experience you can write this song even better, in my opinion.
In addition, a lot of bands have gained fame that are now inspiring me and to which I started listening and the other guys as well. We experimented with lower guitar tunings which was something we wanted to try for a long time.
Everything, like ourselves, has grown up a bit more. We aren’t artificial in unnecessary places anymore and we don’t lose ourselves in random instrumental rollercoasters. At the same time we know in which places we wanted to become harder and in which we wanted to become softer. I would say that we enhanced ourselves in both the harder and the softer direction.
SV: If you say that you learned a lot in the pop-music-genre, why is the music that CHAOSBAY does still prog-metal?
JL: Because prog metal to me is still the metal direction that allows the most non-metal influences, especially pop. All bands that are exemplary to us have a big pop share in their music, even though the metal community doesn’t like hearing that, but the part that gets you to sing along is the pop share and that is important.
I think that these aspects can be perfectly combined in prog-metal since „Progressive“ has always been the term that, even as a teenager when I was first confronted with it, offered the most freedom to do what I wanted within a community that supports it.
People, who want to be surprised, listen to progressive metal.
SV: Would you say that the topic of the album is fitting the musical style quite well?
JL: Yes, totally! This style gives you lyrical and musical freedom to do a lot and you have a listenership that is open for this. That is totally awesome.
SV: What is the most important message that you want to convey with this album?
JL: The most basic message is to be nice to each other, talk to each other, try to understand the others and especially try to put yourself in their shoes. That is immensely important, because people just talk and talk and don’t listen and because of that fail to understand other situations and thus view innocent people as their enemy. It is important that we work together and not against each other.
SV: In Vasilisa there was a story you could follow throughout the album. Will there be something like that in Asylum?
JL: Yes, in parts. The story is interrupted by different sequences. It is like someone on a hike and who can follow if you want. In between there are dreams, day-dreams or trains of thought that in one chapter briefly lead the listener into another world and in the next chapter they are being led back to the trail they came from initially.
There is a story in the album, but it’s not as dramaturgy-like as it was in Vasilisa.
SV: What does Asylum have that no other album before had?
JL: In my opinion, this albums highlights the content level while not neglecting the joy to play or the the musical pleasure. This entirety is interesting to me. It was boring to me to just lose yourself in the music without paying attention to the lyrics or to view the the song as a poem set to music.
I like that it has so many different layers and that you can have fun on the musical level, but that it is also thought provoking on a lyrical level. That is what makes the album so special in my mind.
In a musical sense it combines, as always with CHAOSBAY, brutal metal with catchy melodies and big stadium hymns.
SV: All of you in the band are quite different personalities. Who does what within the band?
JL: Let me start with Johannes, our fifth band member even though he’s not on stage. He manages the mixing board when we play live and takes care of everything that has to do with technical equipment which is quite a lot in a modern metal band. Without him we would be nothing, we wouldn’t be heard and we wouldn’t have this powerful sound that you know from us. Furthermore, he is involved in all decisions concerning music, show and videos.
Matthias is the main person giving me feedback on production and songwriting. He plays bass and is the one I most discuss the arrangements and compositions with. The songs are mainly written by me, but I don’t do that alone in my secluded room and then tell the guys what they have to do, but I take their advice and what they have to say about the songs. Matthias is the one I have the most exchange with concerning these things because we have written many songs together over the years and we compliment each other very well and also have the same vision of rock music.
Alex plays the guitar and is responsible for our merchandise. He is also responsible for a number of organizational issues like the ticket sales and visual things during the video shoot. And he takes care of our guitars and bass since he has the most knowledge when it comes to instrument construction.
Patrick, our drummer, is solely responsible for the lighting. That is a vast area because we provide all our lighting for our live performances and that has to be programmed beforehand. Patrick does this all on his own and has the most equipment to realize this task. In addition, he cuts our music videos (in collaboration with our video guy Fabian).
I mostly do the songwriting, production, booking and I try to combine all the different ares. All strings come together with me because we don’t have a management yet. I am pretty much on hand for everything.
SV: You recorded some Live-Sessions. Why did you do that?
JL: We did it because we can’t play live at the moment and because it was important to us to have the people see us play apart from the professional music videos since many say that the most impressing thing about us is our energetic live performance. We wanted to capture that in a video and show the people how we sound live but with a studio sound. At the same time we also talk about the making of the album and the band’s history, as well as about the videos. We wanted to do that as a monthly series to introduce the band to the people a bit.
SV: What is this album supposed to do for you? Which goals are you trying to reach?
JL: We hope to reach fans on an international basis because we believe that the topic of fighting racism and xenophobia is important all around the globe. The topic of „be nice to each other“ is something that can be universally understood. In addition, the music style and the whole prog scene is very international which is why we hope to reach a lot of people.
We even have fans in Mexico who are already very excited.
And of course we want to play festivals, book live shows and generate new listeners by doing so.
SV: Which challenges are you facing at the moment?
JL: At the moment we don’t know if we can play the tour that we are planning. That is very exhausting. You can re-schedule gigs, but it’s just exhausting that you don’t know wether the time and effort you invest will actually pay of or not and if you can actually play or if it will be re-scheduled. That is the biggest challenge at the moment [The tour has since been re-scheduled]
The other thing is to compete against other releases that are out there. There are wonderful and amazing bands like us who deserve to reach the top, but there’s not room for all of us. This is why we’re facing a normal competition. But we can make it.
SV: If you could plan ahead, where would you want to be in five years?
JL: We’d love to travel the world. It doesn’t matter how big the crowds are, we just want to travel together because we genuinely enjoy it. It is amazing to be together and to play music that you love. Its is exactly that. Playing bigger festivals, internationally at best.
SV: Do you think that thematic relevance will be important to you in the future as well?
JL: Yes, because that is my personal demand on music. Maybe I’ll write an instrumental song in the future, but having a distinct emotion behind a song and to not only play the song because it’s music, to not play music just to play, is my personal requirement towards music. I want to improve the world a little with what I do because everything else would be quite self-serving and I do see a cause behind my actions. Especially since you might think at first glance that one is just trying to turn the hobby into a profession, it’s my goal to elevate it to another level by giving it a cause. Or to at least try to move something.
SV: What can fans be most excited about this album in your opinion?
JL: What comes to my mind right away is the amazing sound. It was engineered by CHRISTOF KEMPE. I produced the album on my own and he mixed and mastered it. He is someone who immediately understood how the CHAOSBAY-sound works and who realized the vision I had in mind. It is incredibly exciting to follow this sound world and to just be engulfed in it with all its highs and lows, with its loudness, the craziness, with its amplitude and simultaneous order. That is, I believe, one of the biggest strengths of this album. And, as always: Brutals riffs and catchy melodies.
SV: What is your favorite aspect about this album? Or something that really excites you about it?
JL: The sound and production are aspects where you spent a long time figuring it out until you sound like your idols and for the first time in my life I had the feeling, that I managed to come close and that is wonderful. And for the first time, we release the album via a record label which is amazing as well.
There are many obstacles that we, as a band, managed to overcome for the first time. No matter if it will sell well or not. We have an awesome artwork, amazing sound, songs that are elaborate and with which we are 100% satisfied and we have a label distributing the album. We are excited!
SV: What is the best way to support you right now?
JL: To buy the album and to support us on all platforms, that distribute to the artists in a fair way. Buying the album physically helps us the most or to download it on e.g Bandcamp, and streaming as well. You can do that. Maybe also, in the coming months when the tour isn’t happening, buying our merchandise we would have brought with us on tour from the coming online shop. That would help us a lot if people would order from there, maybe already as a Christmas present.
Don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Asylum here.