Serenity's Georg Neuhauser On ProgPower USA: "We Fit Exactly Into This Roster....It Is Really A Great Start To Conquer The U.S."
Looking back at the ProgPower USA experience, most attendees would argue that Austrian symphonic metal act Serenity stole the entire show. With the excitement surrounding the band’s first U.S. performance palpable before the set, what transpired thrilled long time fans of the band and made a whole string of new ones (See Metal Underground.com’s review coverage of Day One and Day Two). Not only did Serenity “wow” the crowd to one of the few complete standing ovations at the festival, but the members’ presence in and around the venue and Atlanta was felt and new friendships were forged and hope sprung eternal for a future tour in the United States.
Metal Underground.com has provided extensive coverage of the ProgPower USA event and continues here with an interview with Serenity members: Tom Buchberger (Guitars), Georg Neuhauser (Vocals) and newly announced permanent member Clémentine Delauney (Vocals). The interview took place at the Artmore Hotel prior to the band’s performance at ProgPower USA and the band discussed details on the follow up to “Death & Legacy” as well as what the show meant to them.
CROMCarl: So after all this time, the first show in the United States. Is it the first time in the United States for some of you?
Tom: Yes, for me.
Georg: For me also. [Turns to Clementine] - for you also? [Clementine nods].
CROMCarl: So now you are here at ProgPower and I know you tried this once before in 2008 and you had some issues, right?
Tom: Yes. We had problems with our former management at the time. They told Glenn [Harveston] “Yeah, its fine,” but the management didn’t speak with us at the time and then we recognized that we would have to cover all the costs and everything on our own, so we had no chance at the time.
CROMCarl: And then it comes up again, four years later. Did it just work out this time? Did Glenn contact you?
Georg: Yeah, exactly. Then we did it directly, on our own...
Tom: No management anymore.
Georg: I did it with him [points to Tom], the booking stuff, so everything worked out and now we are here and its perfect and we are very excited.
CROMCarl: So now you are here with no tour manager?
Georg: Yeah exactly.
Georg: It’s an exclusive show, first show ever for us in the U.S.
CROMCarl: I know, I am so excited. So this is obviously you first experience with ProgPower, what has the experience been like so far and what are we expect to see from you tonight?
[All parties laugh]
CROMCarl: Well, we’ve never seen you live!
Tom: Yeah, of course...
Georg: We will all be on the stage naked.
Tom: Well first of all...
George: Completely naked.
Tom: Without instruments?
George: And doing all the time...the yodeling stuff.
Georg: You expect that...we are from Austria, so all the yodeling, leather trousers. Yodeling. Perfect.
CROMCarl: Ok, for someone that hasn’t seen you guys live, the “European experience” what will we see?
Tom: I think our show is quite full of energy, full of power... [laughs] and we are full of fun also. I have said it several times to other people too, but we often complain about other bands is that they don’t intend to have fun on stage, so everything is too serious often. With us, of course, we will play a bunch of great songs...
Georg: For sure....
Tom: ...but despite that we will just have a lot of fun out there. We try to get the people into the set and into the show. Normally this works out great, sometimes not..you never know, but I feel really good about it.
[ Serenity Performing "Rust Of Coming Ages" At ProgPower USA (Posted by YouTube User "hivolfes") ]
CROMCarl: I think you will be pleasantly surprised..if you saw last night [Kamelot/Nightwish]. There is a lot of people that are going to know your stuff. I am one of them. By the way, you are playing “Heavenly Mission” aren’t you?
Tom: Uh, yes.
Tom: You know....we are on a mission.
Georg: We will play this song, especially for you tonight.
Tom: We wouldn’t have played it, but now we will play it.
CROMCarl: So its been a little while since we have heard from you for a new album, last year. What’s in the works? Come on, I know you want to spill it.
Tom: The next album will be out in March. So that is fixed already. The songwriting is done, we are currently finishing lyrics and we also recorded the drums. We are just editing some things here and there. All the pre-production and so on, everything is done, also the orchestral stuff and the arrangements are pretty much done. So we will take the next two or three months to record all the things. There is already an artist working on the artwork, so yeah, March.
CROMCarl: So, anything you wanna let us know...any titles or anything.
Tom: No, because...
Tom: ...we are discussing about two or three titles right now. All in all it will have a similar concept to “Death & Legacy,” so we will keep with the historic stuff but different characters, different happenings, different artists, different countries and so on. In general, we wanted it to be, at least for the next couple of years, we want to make it our image, stay with the historic stuff.
CROMCarl: That is like your trademark almost.
Tom: Yes, of course, it was a natural choice for us because Georg studied history in Austria and it was his suggestion to go into this direction and Mario, our keyboardist, who did the lyrics for “Death & Legacy,” myself immediately joined and yeah.
CROMCarl: [to Georg] Ahh, a history man....a man after my own heart. I majored in history.
Georg: Oh really?
CROMCarl: Oh yeah. I love history.
Georg: Cool, cool. I just finished my PhD.
CROMCarl: Oh, now I didn’t get THAT high. Just a college degree.
Georg: I think we are all very interested in history, everybody in the band. So for us, it was not a big deal to write and say lets go in this direction.
[ Serenity Performing "Fairytales" At ProgPower USA (Posted by YouTube User "hivolfes") ]
CROMCarl: So, what are the history topics for the next album?
Tom: We had a lot of people on the list for “Death & Legacy.” We recaptured this list again and we added a lot of things and currently now we are combining the music and the songs with the theme. So, there are a lot of things on this list, for example....[turns to Georg], what can we tell?
Georg: Alexander the Great.
Tom: Alexander the Great will be part of it, probably Napoleon - we are looking into that, or Nero, Rome, the Tudors...just to give an idea.
CROMCarl: And the direction of the music will be in the same vein as “Death & Legacy”?
Tom: I think we produced 2 to 3 albums to find our sweet spot for the music and so currently everything will stay quite the same in terms of arrangements, in terms of elements we use, but of course those will [have] completely new melodies, completely new songs. So I think everyone who liked “Fallen Sanctuary” and especially “Death & Legacy”...I think you can look forward to the new one.
CROMCarl: Any guest stars besides Clementine? Is there anybody else that will be appearing on the album?
Georg: ...this is really the newest thing, I would say, that we have her now [referring to Clementine] on the whole album as a permanent member.
Tom: She will join the band permanently, yes.
CROMCarl: Fantastic. No more “guest status”!
Tom: No more guest status, also it is very important for the live shows to have those female vocals we had also on the albums. It was always hard for us to get someone as a guest vocalist for one tour only, especially for the single shows when you only have one gig in a country. It was always hard to find someone...
Georg: She was cheap and willing.
Clementine: That’s the only criteria!
Georg: Not that bad looking, cheap and willing
Clementine: But the singing we don’t care.
Tom: [To be] honest, Clemsey is really... we lovingly call her Clemsey... [All laugh], she is really enthusiastic about it [Clementine shakes head no], so we also did quite some test recordings too to see her from a serious point of view. [All Laugh] It worked great, it worked great, but we had to do something because you cannot take someone into a band you don’t know. She also did a lot of shows with Serenity last year and this year, so you know her now. You know that it works out.
Georg: Although she is a real diva, but...
Tom: Yeah, we keep her close to the ground.
CROMCarl: Yeah, right - she is real unapproachable.
George: Yes, that too.
CROMCarl: So now what does it mean for you to have this moment now to finally show the United States what you are all about? What is it about the ProgPower experience that you are looking forward to?
Clementine: We are very excited we are going to meet the American audience because we witnessed it yesterday for Kamelot and Nightwish and we are eager to see the response for our show.
Georg: What is really, really, really outstanding here is that, for example, when we entered the venue or when we entered the hotel, people know us, although we have never been here. On every corner “Hey, Serenity, how are your doing. Hey man, hey Georg, hey Tom, hey Clemey, what’s up man?”
Tom: That is really something special, because a lot of people also remember every one of us, also the musicians, because most of the time, of course, a singer is the face of the band, but those people know everyone of us [George starts dancing] So you see they are really, really into it and...
Clementine: He is the diva [pointing at Georg]. He is the diva!
Tom: ..they know your songs, they know pictures, they know everything.
Georg [pointing to me]: Nice haircut, by the way!
CROMCarl: Yes, exactly!
Clementine: Yes, you are brothers, there’s sort of a feeling...
[ Serenity Performing "Engraved Within" At ProgPower USA (Posted by YouTube User "hivolfes") ]
CROMCarl: Well I’m German as well.
Georg: Oh that’s fine, that’s fine....BUT we’re from Austria!
CROMCarl: I know! Its all the same thing.
Georg: OHHHHH....No, no, no...
Tom: Huge difference, huge difference.
Clementine: Ooooh...we are insulted!
Georg: We aren’t even from Austria, we are from Tyrol.
CROMCarl: So here you are, the whole ProgPower experience and now, now is the time for Serenity to come to America to tour.
Tom: We hope to.
Georg: It’s a really great opportunity. First of all, all the people who come here, they’re all into, especially, this kind of music. Otherwise, you won’t be here, you know. Prog, melodic, power, that’s the main thing here. We fit exactly into this roster and I think for us it is really a great start to conquer the U.S.
CROMCarl: Now I want to ask you about that, because I ask a lot of bands this question. Is that a goal? Do you have it in mind that you need to get to the United States?
Tom: I think we need to get to all countries. So the United States, of course, is a big part of it. But all in all, I think we also need to get up in Japan, we need to get up in eastern Asia, we need to get up into central Europe still, so yeah, there is a big map we have to conquer.
CROMCarl: Well the things I hear are that the United States is too big and regional and you sort of have to pick certain spots.
Tom: Of course, you know. You can see a path. For sure, there are a lot of countries where you won’t sell albums, but it is still a possibility to play live gigs there. It all comes together in the end.
Georg: Just one example, we got offers lately from Poland to play headlining shows over there and when you look at the official statement from the record label you sold 200 copies there. [laughs]. There is something wrong. [all laugh] There is something mysterious. [laughs]. When they are willing to pay you a good fee to come over there and officially we only sold 200 copies.
Tom: Yeah, and officially with the 200 people, lets say with you two [points to Georg and Clementine] and stuff, maybe 500 people know you... [laughs]
Georg: ..but they expect at least 1000 people all in all....
Georg: to cover the costs, so...
Tom: We have the same situation in South America. You won’t sell anything there from the official stuff.
CROMCarl: But if you go and play there, there are huge amounts of fans.
Tom: Yeah, yeah.
CROMCarl: Now have you guys played South America?
Tom: No, no.
Georg: The next time. We played North, now we go South [laughs].
Tom: We don’t have a distribution deal down there, so there is not even one album out officially in South America. So this will probably change with the next release.
Clementine: We have a lot of South American fans on Facebook. We can see them. I think maybe they get to know our music through [the] internet more than through any distribution. So though its really great to have physical distribution there if somebody wants to get a CD, I think now with internet and online music we can reach more.
Tom: Yeah, yeah I mean the music business is still changing. I still think, to be honest, that a lot of record labels are trying to get the old times up, but that won’t work.
CROMCarl: Well in this day, everything is instant and anything is available, which is unfortunate for you guys because you are losing out. At the same time, your name also gets out there further.
Tom: Yeah, exactly. At the same time it is a great opportunity, especially if you have quite a small label. If you are a newcomer band, then you have a lot of chances with the internet, Facebook and, of course, with home pages. With the downloading, of course its not great to see it, but for example South America, I don’t think its that bad because at least a lot of people down there probably know us, because of this stuff. So if we ever get the chance to play there, and probably some people buy your merchandise and so on, it’s a different point of view on this business.
CROMCarl: Now are you still going to be working with Napalm on then new album?
CROMCarl: Ok, cause I know some people at Napalm. How have they been for you guys?
Tom: As a newcomer it was great because it was not that easy to get a good contract at that time. So they are doing their job.
Georg: We still have to do some negotiations with them about the new album. So we hope that they will put a lot of energy into it. The fact is we grew with every album. First one to the second one, the selling was better. And now the third one was even better than the second one, so they did something right and we did something right, otherwise we wouldn’t have been profited by this. And especially in Europe now, they changed distribution to Universal, for example, a major label. So, we really hope that this will be the next push.
CROMCarl: ..and it will finally come out here.
Georg: Yeah, exactly.
Tom: And also, especially with “Death & Legacy,” we surprised them. Lets say it that way, we surprised them because we sold out the limited edition quite fast and they didn’t even expect it to do so well. So this is a good start for us for the next album, because they see, ok, there is something happening with this band that is really good for us. But of course, without fans, it wouldn’t be possible because if they don’t buy the album, and the album is the only part where the label gets money, then there is no chance to grow.
CROMCarl: Thank you so much for your time.
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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