Dirk Baur: "I Was Struggling With The Strange Doctrines From The Catholic Church"
German Coronatus developed its own unique and patented brand of symphonic metal, which utilizes a dual female vocal attack. Up to the release of its fourth album “Terra Incognita” (See Metal Underground’s review here), in 2011, the band has been a revolving door of vocalists. The latest release saw the band welcoming back former vocalist Ada Fletcher, who sang on the band’s stellar 2008 release “Porta Obscura.”
Founding member and drummer Mats Kurth, guitarist Aria Keramati Noori and bassist Dirk Baur checked in with Metal Underground to give some insight on “Terra Incognita,” the band's numerous lineup changes throughout the years and the band’s aspirations to play in the United States.
CROMCarl: How has the reaction been, if any, from the United States with either the “Terra Incognita” album or with the band in general?
Dirk: We were expecting good reactions, but some of them are almost overwhelming! It seems, there is a huge fan base in the US for this kind of music, at lease, we got quite few great reviews and feedback. Especially with “Terra Incognita,” it seems, that we found the nerves of our generous listeners and the US fans. It would be so cool to tour the US sometimes with our music!
CROMCarl: Aria, in previous interviews, you described “Terra Incognita” as an “experiment” for the band. Was this in reference to the musical direction of the band? I noticed that “Terra Incognita” was a bit darker, but still in the same vein as earlier efforts.
Aria: it wasn't in reference to the musical direction. I named it an experiment because a lot had changed and we hadn't worked together like that before so it was interesting if this is going to influence the music or is it going to bring some new ideas. As we heard it got a little bit darker but still our musical style didn't get influenced. So to speak it was hard to know exactly what is going to come out after so much line up changes. But i have to say I'm totally satisfied with the results.
CROMCarl: Speaking of the lineup changes, the band has seen more than its fair share of member changes over the years, the latest of which sees the return of vocalist Ada Flecthner. How did the band reconnect with her after her departure following the “Porta Obscura” album? Has the lineup finally settled down enough to be a more cohesive unit for a longer period of time?
Mats: We reconnected with Ada because of a coincidence concerning the tour with Haggard. Initially Gaby Koss was planned for the tour, but she had to cancel for different reasons only one or two weeks before the tour started. Thus, we called Ada to do the job. She is living nearby Stuttgart, knew a large portion of the songs already and is simply a very good singer. After some of the shows we recognized very fast that Mareike & Ada is the “dream-team” for Coronatus. We never had so much fun on stage. And yes, because of this we think, that the line up has settled down now!
CromCarl: Does the various member changes, especially with vocalists, impact the song writing for the albums?
Mats: This was not so much the case for the first three albums, since there always was Carmen as a stable factor incorporating the “opera voice” of Coronatus. The rock voices changed on every album, however, those girls did not take so much part in the songwriting process anyway. Regarding the Terra Incognita songs, things developed a little bit different. Still, most of the song writing has bee done by the instrumental section of the band, but because the interplay of both female voices changed with the new line up, the ideas concerning musical new possibilities changed as well. I think, this can clearly be recognized from Arias songs like Saint Slayer, Hateful Affection and Terra Incognita.
CROMCarl: What was the most challenging song in the writing process with “Terra Incognita”?
Mats: There have been several songs, being quite challenging. One of those was “The Kleriker”, which is one of Dirk’s Trilogy songs. We even carried out some major changes while we have been in the studio already. Normally the song-writing is completed when we enter the studio, only some “cosmetic” changes here and there. But this time we really had not so much time for the preparation compared to the previous albums. One reason for this was the tour with Haggard. We had only 3 months to finish the songwriting. But I think the result proofs that we work well under pressure...
CROMCarl: Dirk, in the “In Signo Crucis” trilogy, the lyrics are set in the Dark Ages and involve, in part, the inquisition of the Catholic Church. Do the lyrics and story suggest a certain viewpoint towards the church and the papacy in general or was the setting appropriate for a tale of unfulfilled love? Do you consider yourself a history buff?
Dirk: No, not really a buff. But I am quite interested in history, and the dark times during middle ages and beyond. But most of all, I am very eager to learn about historic beliefs, especially the Catholic Church’s religion, which was responsible for the most questionable terror practices over the past centuries. Since I [was] a little boy, I was struggling with the strange doctrines from the catholic church, which I had to learn in school. Our most aggressive teacher was the religion teacher, the priest from the local Catholic Church. He was punching some of us little boys right in the face or smacked his lips about our girls, when they got older and got their first little breasts. I think, this experience pushed me into my hate relation with the Catholic Church. For many years, I read about what happened during the inquisition, and how insane those women were treated by the so called “god sent”.
CROMCarl: One of the things I love about Coronatus is that a large portion of your songs are sung in the band’s native language of German. I know that the band is most comfortable writing in German since it is more fluid and loses meaning in the translation to English. Does the band ever feel pressure from the non-German fans to do more English speaking songs?
Mats: I read comments like this in several reviews here and there. But I do not have the impression, that this is a very strong nor general demand to the band. Comments and reviews that wished to have more of the German lyrics dominated. But, to be honest, a certain quantity of reviews and comments complained about mixing the languages.
CROMCarl: What can the fans expect on the band’s shows in 2012? Are there any older or newer songs that seem to go over better with the fans? Are there any special guests lined up for live performances?
Mats: The first gigs we played in January was a mixture of all four albums, with the focus on the Terra Incognita songs. However, we will rotate some portion of the set from gig, as well. Special guests like Ally The fiddle, some pipes or other folk instruments we used in our compositions would surely be great! However, this depends on the location and of the opportunities.
CROMCarl: Where is your favorite place to play live and why?
Mats: There is no favorite place for me. There is always so much adrenalin on stage, no matter if you play in front of some 50 people in a small club, or in front of a huge crowd of 2000 people. Of course there are some festivals we really would like to play, one would be the Mera Luna festival or Wacken which are the two largest festivals for Gothic and Metal in Germany. Playing some shows in the US is a great dream, also. Maybe someday it will come true...
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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