BW&BK Interview: VAN CANTO – Brave, Bold… And Balls

By Carl Begai

German a capella metal band Van Canto didn’t do themselves any favours kicking off the release of their fifth album, Dawn Of The Brave, with an oddball-titled single called ‘Badaboom’. Not because it’s a bad song – hell, fans of present day Manowar should be jealous – but because the band’s detractors are always seeking new ammunition for target practice. Van Canto are a thick-skinned sextet, however, and no strangers to people taking potshots at their brand of music. Eight years into their career, it’s fair to say the bitching and moaning from the outside fuels them as much as the accolades from their loyal fans.


“It’s been like that since the beginning of the band,” says vocalist Stefan Schmidt. “The only thing that’s changed is that the people who don’t like us have to admit that we’ve had some kind of success (laughs). The bad thing about it is that people who really don’t like us have gotten more personal in their reviews because they can’t understand how a band like Van Canto can exist for more than a couple years. I don’t think we have to justify ourselves anymore, but sometimes I have the feeling that even though we have a unique approach we often have to excuse ourselves for being unique. When I write songs I notice that I tend to sometimes do things that can cause controversy with certain people. Sometimes I think ‘No, you can’t do that because people will hate you for it…’ and then there’s another voice in my head saying ‘And that’s exactly why you should do it.'”

Which is probably why Van Canto haven’t turned out to be a flash in the pan; commitment coupled with being a healthy kind of stubborn.

“I recently did an interview with a big German magazine and the guy asked me what I say to people now that the joke is over. I asked him why is it that if an artist has a unique sound he or she or they can only make one album. There are so many metal bands that release 10 or 15 albums and they all sound the same, and they sound like other metal bands, but nobody asks them if the joke is over. I don’t know why they do that with Van Canto.”

Maybe that’s the difference between the open-minded professionals out there versus the kiddie journos who get offended by something they can’t wrap their brains around.

“If you put it that way I can live with it (laughs). We’re aware of the fact that a lot of the attraction Van Canto has is because of this gimmick, as some people call it, that we have. We talk to the people that come to our shows and we notice that when we go to the same town a second or third time there are always more and more people. Our music is different, and many people tell us they like us better live than on CD. It’s always great when a musician gets that kind of feedback.” Continue reading BW&BK Interview: VAN CANTO – Brave, Bold… And Balls

BW&BK Interview: APOCALYPTICA – Getting Wagner Reloaded: “The Biggest Rehearsal Room Of All Time”

By Carl Begai

So, Finnish classical metalhead quartet Apocalyptica have issued an audio-visual tribute to famed composer Richard Wagner. So what, right? Three cellists and a drummer paying homage to one of the greats in classical music is hardly a stretch for folks that cut their teeth in the realms of the genre; at least one would think so. But, in actual fact Wagner Reloaded – a live performance shot in Leipzig, Germany to celebrate the anniversary of the composer’s 200th birthday – is the band’s most ambitious project to date. On top of original music composed in the spirit of Wagner by Apocalyptica mastermind Eicca Toppinen, the production features a choreography, dancers numbering close to 100, projectors, moving props, and even a fire breathing dragon. Wagner Reloaded is a bold theater piece more than anything, so damn big that the script probably came stamped with “Logistical Nightmare” on the cover.

Begging the simple question: Why?


“It was really intriguing to be a part of it,” laughs drummer Mikko Sirén, agreeing that the project does sound slightly insane. “We’ve been asked to do all kinds of classical collaborations and projects over the years, and it finally felt tight. The choreographer Gregor Seyffert is behind it all; it was his vision to do this kind of project, and it was that vision that made it really interesting for us to work with the guy. He’s renowned in his own field, he’s a beyond amazing dancer and choreographer, and his energy in how he approaches things inspired us.”

“The whole production idea comes from Gregor, and when we first started talking about it he was saying stuff like ‘The stage is going to be 60 meters long…’ and we were laughing our asses off. ‘Yeah yeah, 60 meters my ass’ (laughs). A lot of times you meet people with crazy visions and no reality behind it, so when this started to evolve and we saw the place we couldn’t believe our eyes. Everything Gregor said was exactly so, and sometimes even bigger than what he’d said.”

“We were very happy with Gregor’s approach. Wagner is a controversial person and there’s lots of shit written about him, but in the classical works he’s the kind of person that you can’t criticize even though you should. Wagner was kind of a dick when it came to his political views, so we were careful and precise in making sure that people wouldn’t see Apocalyptica as sharing Wagner’s political ideas. For us this was only about the music.” Continue reading BW&BK Interview: APOCALYPTICA – Getting Wagner Reloaded: “The Biggest Rehearsal Room Of All Time”