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Interview

Freedom Call's Chris Bay: "I Don't Think That You Have To Apologize [For] Being A Happy Person!"

Back in 1998, Chris Bay and former Gamma Ray drummer Dan Zimmerman created Freedom Call. Zimmerman has since departed in 2010 following the release "Legend of the Shadow King." For the past sixteen years, Freedom Call has taken the "happy power metal" formula of Gamma Ray and made it even more cheerful. With bombastic infectious choruses that especially shine in an interactive live experience, Bay has embraced this "happy metal" title and adopted it as a theme. In the word of metal, it seems that years of portraying evil and negativity have caused any act that chooses to be positive and cheerful to come under fire for "not being cool." Chris Bay has a different message for the fans - enjoy life, get "beyond" yourselves and embrace a positive outlook.

The band is set to release the new album "Beyond" on February 24th (EU) and March 4th (USA) via Steamhammer/SPV. Chris Bay took some time to answer questions about the new album, the return to a heavier style and the band's positive philosophy.

CROMCarl: From my first listen the direction of “Beyond” has taken a substantially heavy turn, with an ode to older albums like “Crystal Empire” and “Eternity” with not as much of the hard rockin’ material that we heard on “Land of the Crimson Dawn.” Was this the intention going into the writing process for the album, or is this just how the material came out?

CB: Oh yes, of course it's definitively more heavy turned compared to "Land of the Crimson Dawn." We have two new members in the band [referring to the return of bassist Ilker Ersin, who had left in 2005 and new drummer Ramy Ali of Iron Mask], that could be a good reason why the new album is more epic and probably a bit back into the early days of Freedom Call. We toured a lot and were travelling around in the last two years as a very tight team and this strong company feels as if it was in the early times...that binds together and brings new inspiration. I'm happy about this ability to keep our naturalness. We don't have the tendency to change the direction of our traditional music.

CROMCarl: Speaking of writing, how does the writing process happen within the band? Does it start with a riff or a lyric or a combination of both?

CB: This time of the song writing process passed quickly...after touring a lot in 2013, there was not so much time left. But the band built up a very strong and creative team, so we're able to write the new album in less than a year.

It's also the first time, that all members of Freedom Call are involved in the song writing. The order of the procedure is absolutely different. I'm personally preferring to write my songs with the guitar or piano. Sometimes when I got stuck I'm changing the instrument and so on...For example the song "Dance Off the Devil"... I began the song writing with beats & grooves, that was inspiring me a lot. You see, there isn't just one way of doing it :)

CROMCarl: Lyrically on the new album, the band has really inspiring lyrics about never giving up, and being free and doing never regretting what you've done. How much of that comes from personal experiences you have had over the years and what do you hope the listener takes from them and the songs?

CB: The main topic of "Beyond” is our positive attitude to all life in words and tunes...it's a invitation to everyone to join us at it. We wanna send out our life affirming way of life, maybe just to enjoy or to be part of this open minded way of living...

CROMCarl: What is the idea behind the cover artwork and does it tie into the lyrics of the title track?

CB: "Beyond" is an invitation to be part of a positive thinking, open minded and optimistic living world. The cover artwork shows our "Beyond" in the background, to reach it, you just have to overcome yourself...you're always welcome, every time and everywhere!

CROMCarl: You have a video planned for the track “Union of the Strong.” Tell me a bit about the song and the video and when can we expect to see it? [NOTE: Just days before publishing this interview, the video was released and can be seen just below]

CB: The song “Union of the Strong” is a typical and traditional Freedom Call Song. It contains our trademarks like fast drums, high tuned vocals, catchy chorus line...that's the base music of Freedom Call, worth enough to film a video of this song. :)

After the previous video clips of "Hero on video” and “Rockin Radio – Killerbilly" we returned to an epic heavy metal inspired video clip. You will see people jump, banging heads, flying hair and torches and flames...and a huge drum set, very epic !!:)

We also invited a horde of metal heads to the filming,that was a great fun for everybody!! The video clip will be released mid of February and will be broad casted by several TV stations and, of course, available on YouTube.

CROMCarl: The song "Dance Off the Devil" was intentionally spelled that way. What was the idea behind this and does it tie into the band’s "happy metal" image?

CB: I don't think that "Dance off the Devil" is an unhappy song...the lyrics and harmonies are fitting perfectly to the main topic around "Beyond." It's just about the spirit of life, the Voodoo, the humans longing for better days, life & mood. It's just the beat, the groove which makes the song atypical to Freedom Calls trademark. But exactly songs like this let our musically horizon spread and open up our minds.

CROMCarl: With regard to the image, was this “happy metal” idea to counter all the negativity surrounding music? I know in live shows you are all about just having fun, crowd participation and having a great time live and it really shows. With so many internet critics out there with a keyboard these days, does it get distracting and annoying for the band?

CB: Being in a good mood, enjoying the life...being happy and life-affirming, thinking positive and optimistic to the future should be annoying or distracting?We are feeling great and we're loving to live our life in this kind...we don't force anyone to follow, but we're offering it. I don't think that you have to apologize being a happy person :)

CROMCarl: You just played on board 70,000 Tons of Metal….how would you describe your experiences and how would you describe the experience to people who have never been on the boat? [Check out my report, which contains a section about Freedom Call's second set on board 70,000 Tons of Metal over here]

CB: Yeah, it wasn't that bad to escape the winter time in Germany while cruising through the Caribbean sea :) The Cruise was a great experience and exciting to play a concert while the ship was shaking in the waves...beside the shows, lots of pretty girls and ice cold drinks. In short words...it was dead boring :)))

We already played shows on board of a cruiser. In Sweden (Scandinavia) we did it the first time in 2006...the difference was, we crossed the frozen sea instead of cruising the Caribbean! :) What more could one want as sun, cold drinks and 40 awesome metal bands on board. It's warmly to recommend!

CROMCarl: Will there be any touring plans for the U.S.?

CB: We would love to come over to tour in the U.S., but I don't think the time has already come. First our challenge is to expand the tour in Europe before leaving the continent. But there are already plans to go to South America and Asia. But you can't expect “everything and immediately”...we are very concentrated to start our tour “Light Over the Beyond” in March and we'll build it up step by step. If there will be a opportunity for Freedom Call to come to the U.S., we will take part!! :)

CROMCarl: Well thanks for your time Chris! Congrats on the new album and best of luck!

CB: Thank you Carl for your cool questions, your effort and your support! Take care and all the best to you!

CROMCarl's avatar

Carl Frederick is a staff writer for Metal Underground.com. From the early to mid-90's, Carl published his own fanzine called C.R.O.M. In 1997, he released a compilation entitled "CROM: The Resurrection of True Metal," which featured songs from bands from around the world, including the first U.S. release of any kind for bands like Italy's Rhapsody (n/k/a Rhapsody of Fire) and Brazil's Angra. Follow Carl on Facebook and Twitter: @CROMCarl.

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