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People who know me are well aware that I am sometimes leaning towards a more opportunistic way to approach things. No wonder that I jumped at the opportunity to interview DYING EMPIRE when the opportunity presented itself. Especially since they gave me such a hard time judging them for the Metal Masters 2020… You can now read what we talked about and what the group from Dresden was doing in the EMPERIAL SOUND STUDIOS.
Their latest album, released via BLEEDING NOSE RECORDS, is available here.
Huge thanks once again to lightinmirror.de for the amazing pictures!
Shieldmaiden’s Voice: If you had to describe your musical style in three words, which words would you choose?
SV: How did you get the name „Dying Empire“?
Joe: „Dead Mesmerizing Ocean“ was simply too long and our current name wasn’t taken yet, which is always very important. There was no „Dying Empire“ before us.
Mag: Originally, it was only supposed to be „Empire“, but that already existed.
Joe: And it fits us better content-wise because right from the get-go you know what content we want to sing about and for that „Living Empire“ would be quite wrong for that purpose.
Mag: And „Happy Empire“ as well [laughs].
Joe Exactly, all that doesn’t work as well as DYING EMPIRE. The name is quite telling for what you’re about to listen to.
SV: What topics do you prefer covering in your music?
Mag: Overall, we have socially critical lyrics. We always had that and it is planned that it stays that way. We have things concerning the psyche and environmental topics and just bit of everything. Human rights, individual fate of human battling psychosis and things like that. That is our area.
Joe: To conclude this: We started at psychoanalysis and have now, with the latest album, arrived at the impact the human psyche has on the environment.
SV: What are your most important sources of inspirations when it comes to music? If you have these topics on the one side, how do you arrive at the finished music?
Joe: It would be quite hard for me to write a happy song. You need a rather dramatic bass setting. I don’t really need that one specific momentum or situation that inspires me or some news that I receive, but I have to be able to let myself fall into the music. I can do that best in a room on my own. Ocassionally there is a substance that is helping you because it makes you a bit lose and when it happens, it just happens.
Panzer: A lot happens because of the feeling you get when something happened in the world and you’ve seen, felt or heard about fates. I often try to focus on this feeling and the question „What does that with me?“. Then I take the guitar and just play around with harmonies, if they are dark enough for the sinister feeling or if they need more aggressiveness. You really start composing the music because of that triggering feeling.
SV: „Samsara“ is term coming from Buddhism which describes the cycle of life, death and rebirth. Why did you choose this term, that is rather negative in Buddhism, as a title for your album?
Mag: It concludes the variety of our lyrics pretty well since a lot of things play into it. It’s something negative in Buddhism and that fits our music.
Joe: We chose it pretty much because it is negative. We don’t look at the topics from a happy end perspective, but rather the opposite.
SV: If someone has never heard from you, what can they expect from your album Samsara?
Panzer: A lot! If you listen to a typical metal album or just start exploring new bands, you listen to one song and think „Ok, this is the kind of music they do.“ On Samsara, there is a lot of different stuff, we even tried doing a ballad. That is something that breaks with our normal structure and is something the band didn’t try before.
Joe: It’s difficult… We would probably prepare the listener for what is going to happen to the melodies, probably with the ballad as well and when you listen to the album, it starts with a blast beat. It all contradicts itself a bit. You have to be open-minded if you listen to us. People who explicitly only listen to death metal, or other specific things, will have a problem with us. They would probably like a few riffs, but not the package as a whole. This is also why we are often titled to be „modern metal“ because the reviews can’t place us. Nobody really knew where we belonged.
Mag: There was a bit of everything, really. We were placed everywhere from Death Metal to Metal Core.
Joe: If we are asked how we sound, we like to use the comparison that is often used for us which is the one with MACHINE HEAD or TRIVIUM because they can’t really be placed either. They do a hard song and it is followed by a ballad.
SV: If reviews can’t place you, what would you say is your style or your genre? If you had to name it?
Mag: Most of the times we describe it as „Modern Metal“. For me, everything we ever did was metal and we have modern influences. We have clean vocals, we have break downs, something rhythmic, there is a bit of everything. Due to the production, it has also become quite professional and all of the sudden it’s music. I think that it is necessary for the modern sound to be of high quality.
SV: What makes Samsara relevant or up-to-date in your opinion?
Joe: The topics are timeless. The main single we had, We Are Not Gods, is relevant in every week and you can see why that title makes sense. The lyrics on the album are not directly related to events, we are not singing about a specific problem, but rather want to project various issues. If you look at the single, it stays rather general. You can relate the essence that we aren’t gods but act like we are to a number of problems. In five years it will be relatable to things that will happen then. The content is timeless.
SV: Why did you decide to re-record parts of the album as unplugged versions?
Joe: First of all because our experiment with the ballad went quite well and because we fancied doing more in that direction. We probably would’ve done it anyways at some point in time.
The second thing that played into it was that we wanted to kind of „cancel“ our off days on our European tour which would’ve worked quite beautifully. We were scheduled to have two days off, each a Sunday, and we would’ve used that time to play unplugged in Irish Pubs. It was planned that we shorten our free time on tour.
We are doing it right now because there is no tour and we are bored and we want to try to push the band into the spotlight again later this year. It is more of an act from necessity because it’s on short-term notice and we lack the funds for a full production. This is also why there’s only going to be an EP with „just“ three songs.
SV: Is the tour, if it ever happens, going to calmer? Meaning that you include unplugged-sets or is that not yet decided?
Joe: We don’t know yet. At the end of the day we’ve been rock and metal musicians for years and are now moving on thin ice with this unplugged thing. Furthermore, the unplugged concept calls for string players and a pianist. Maybe there will be an explicitly unplugged concert, but I don’t know if we work it into a regular show. Maybe, maybe not, we haven’t spoken about that yet.
SV: Due to the pandemic, you tour had to be rescheduled. How did the pandemic affect your album release?
Joe: It’s a catastrophe! We were ready to go and a week before shit started hit the fan. It was exceptional timing.
Panzer: And for the release you can say that it is always the coolest when you can do that in your home town where you know a bunch of people. That wasn’t manageable either. We had the alternative where we did a live-stream-show so that we had at least a release concert where people could join and listen to it in a live setting. It’s not important if it was streamed or not because it was at least something in a time where you basically had no other options.
SV: Would a live-stream-show, like they are being done all around, be something that you would maybe do again in the future?
Panzer: That is a difficult thing… It’s a cool opportunity to be able to do a live-stream-show, but in the end, even if we do another stream, it will never replace a proper live show. You don’t have the energy from the audience which is vitally important for a band. As a musician, you exude energy, the people feel that and when they give it this energy back, it’s just amazing for both sides. The feeling is superior to the feeling you get performing in front of cameras. It’s just dryer and kind of strange because you don’t get the feedback from the audience.
Joe: It was for sure something special to play the release show as a live-stream-show and the next concert we would be playing would be exactly the same. Maybe we could play another set…
Mag: You could develop it further, at the most… If there is a second wave coming and this whole situation drags out for who knows how long, then I could imagine that we do something like that again. I’ve also heard questions whether this streaming would find a permanent place in the concert scene, but, to be honest, I don’t see that. It’s just not the same.
Joe: What I can imagine though is, that you take the experiences you gathered and stream a regular concert so that someone can enter via Twitch and watch the concert that is happening in another city. But another „ghost concert“…
SV: What pandemic-related problems you have to face as a band right now?
Joe: We completely lost all the money we would’ve made, so we have big whole in our band fund. The main source of income would have been the concerts and the merchandise, which we canÄt sell right now. We couldn’t practice for a while because it was prohibited. In Dresden they inspected that which is why we were afraid to practice since we didn’t want to pay a fine if they caught us. And you lack the drive. It’s getting better with the production of our unplugged EP, but I sat on my balcony a lot and cried [laughs].
SV: Keyword finances: What is the best way to support you right now?
Joe: That would be our webshop, when it goes online. We’re working on that in the background to enhance our merchandise palette and we used the time to gain more know-how in that area so that we can do that on our own in the future. The shop will probably be online in the coming weeks and people can buy t-shirts from us and we will receive the money and not some other company.
Mag: And just streaming our songs so that our stuff will be listened to, that it’s speed if people like it and watching our videos on youtube, liking it and sharing it as well. It would help us a lot if it would be shared even further. That would make it easier to start touring next year and a couple more people know us.
Joe: That was also our last statement during the streaming concert: „Don’t forget us.“ That would be the hope that we turn up again as the newcomers and the people have forgotten about us.
SV: If you had one last message to the fans, which would it be?
Mag: Again: „Don’t forget us“!
Joe: Hang on! Everything’s going to be alright!