Epigram for the last straw - Megace Interview WWW0.ORG / PROG Last actual Update: 12 Feb 2002

Tabs

Gig reviews

Site awards

About Prog

Here is a Megace interview with Jorg Schroer from November 1999

By John Vidiadakis

Megace is one of the most unknown bands in the prog metal movement, even among the fans of the techno-thrash genre. Could you give a short history of the band, beginning from the band's set up in 1988 and going until now that your second album "Inner War" is released?

The band started way back in 1988. We had several line-up changes, recorded our first demo "The sign of the Ape" in 1988 and recorded our second demo "This is the news", which was produced by Kai Hansen (Gamma Ray) in 1990. Then we got our first record deal and released "Human Errors" on 1MF Recordz in 1991. After several problems with 1MF Recordz our lawyer freed us out of the contract and then we had again some line-up changes. We were looking for a new drummer for nearly one year! The next demo "Pseudo identity" came into beeing in 1994 and after another change on the drumers seat we finallym found the present line-up in 1995. We started writing new songs and after seceral unsatisfying meetings with different labels we started to record "Inner War" in our own studio in 1996. After some delays with the mix we looked for another deal and finally "Inner War" was released in 1999 on Angular Records. During all these years we've been always present live and on countless compilation CD's.

The first thing that someone notices in Megace is that you have a female singer, Melanie Bock, with a unique style in her singing. Could you tell me the reasons that led you in giving the role of the singer to a woman, especially since the style of your music refers more to a strong, aggressive and surely male voice?

Mela is an original founding member and she got the job because she has a unique voice. Very aggressive and powerful, but also softly and melodical. She developed very much over the years and changed her style a little, but now she is better than ever. I don't think, that our music needs a male voice, it only needs a good, strong and unique voice that is able to combine the mixture in our musical variations down to one point. Mela is perfect for that!

In 1991 you issued your first album, called "Human Errors", which in my opinion could be described as a German and more thrashy version of Watchtower. What's your opinion on the musical style of the album? Which are the things you still like in it and what would you like to erase from it now?

This album makes me mad when I think of it, because the situation in the studio was really a horror. We didn't really know what we wanted, at least what we needed, nor did the producers know what would be the best for us. The sound sucks really a lot and in my opinion the arrangements are too
complicated and some songs are not good enough. I still like some of the songs, but I would always prefer the second demo tape, which in my opinion is really great.

In these early days you had played live with Blind Guardian and Iced Earth. Why do you think did these two bands gain wider success in their future steps and why didn't Megace do so?

Blind Guardian and Iced Earth are much more commercial than we are and they belong to the best bands of their genres! We always had problems with our line-up and the record labels have not been really keen on us, because they never knew how to promote our music. Well, indeed it's a fact that some bands make it and some bands not, no matter how good the music is!

Changed line-up...new label...and after 8 years, "Inner War" finally comes out. I think it's really difficult to describe it with few words as it combines way too many things, but could you give your own definition on the album's style?

"Inner War" is combination of Thrash Metal and progressive music. We don't fix our style to a special point, we are very open minded, and so is "Inner War". For open minded Thrashers and into progressive music interested metal fans. You have to listen to it more than twice to get into the material, but after that you can slip into the rhythms and enjoy the variations of the moods we used.

It seems that, now and then, your influences come from Watchtower, Mekong Delta, Depressive Age, Coroner, Voivod. Do you agree with that? Which are the artists and groups that had an influence to the band and that made you to want to play music?

These bands you mentioned are definitly correct! Congratulations! Voivod is one of our main influences, but our influences range from Jazz and Blues, over Punk to Heavy Metal. I only can talk for myself, but I started very young with bands like the Sweet and Status Quo. The heavier the music scene became, the more I liked it. I play in bands since I was in school something at the age of 12, but my first more serous "job" started with Xandril in 1982, when I actually was still in school. The Sweet definitely gave me the kick to play guitar!

Germany had a huge productivity in prog metal (Sieges Even, Jester's March, Mekong Delta, Secrecy, Depressive Age etc) and now it seems that this scene is rising again (House Of Spirits, Soul Cages, Poverty's No Crime, Superior, Vanden Plas, Looking-Glass-Self and many others). What do you think on that? Do you keep in contact with any other local bands?

I'm very sure, that is always very hard for progressive bands, because the mainstream audience prefers easy songstructures and singalong melodies. Some bands like Vanden Plas combine good meolodies with more complicated parts and can attract a lot of people with that. But it is still very hard to survive with this kind of music. I like progressive bands as much as bands with normal songstructures, but I'm always happy when good progressive bands get the feedback that they deserve. We don't have too much contact to other progressive acts, but we are very good friends with Gamma Ray and Bands like Blind Guardian. I was quite surprised to meet Oliver from Sieges Even playing with Blind Guardian, because I know him since the beginning of Megace and I have always been a big Sieges Even fan. I like that the progressive scene is rising, but maybe none of the bands will ever have the possibility to live from their music. But I hope that at least some will make it quite good.

Everyone was quite surprised to hear the Police cover ("Synchronicity") in your latest album. Is this cover a tribute to a band you probably like? Generally, what are the styles and groups you like apart from metal?

The Police is one of my favorite bands for nearly 20 years now and also the others in the band are big Police fans. I always wanted to play a Police cover and we once jammed around with "Message in a bootle", but I didn't really fit for us. As I always was fascinated by "Synchronicity 1", we tried it and it worked. It became much better in the Studio than we expected. Apart from Metal I'm a huge Frank Zappa fan, I love Pat Metheny from the Jazz scene and Jimi Hendrix is one of my biggest heros. I like many kinds of music. I'm big fan of Punk bands like the Dead Kennedys or Slime from Hamburg, but Metal is definitely my home.

How is it to work with Charlie Bauerfeind, Kai Hansen and Dirk Schlachter? What is the freedom you allow your producer to have and how much does the group's opinion count for the final result?

It is very very good to work with them, because they have so much experience that they always can help us. We know Gamma Ray for nearly 10 years now and I work for them as guitar technician since 8 years. They are friends and their studio is 2 meters away from our rehearsal room. This makes it very easy to work with them, because we know each other so good. Kai produced our
second demo tape, Dirk our third and they supported the recordings of "Inner War" with providing their equipement and their knowledge. We also know Charlie because of Gamma Ray. He was working for them quite often and so he once came into our studio to take a listen when he walked in front of our door. He was very interested in mixing our songs, because he liked them a lot, and
as Dirk couldn't find the time to do the mixing, he asked Charlie and that was not the worst that could have happened, except that Charlie needed one year to finish the mix because of other jobs!
We always have open ears for the input of Kai, Dirk or Charlie, and we never had to say "no", because their ideas were always good. We like to play around with ideas in the studio, and so we tried everything out and it always became better. But it is always our decision to agree or disagree. We produced more than 90% of the album by ourselves, except the drums were produced by Dirk.

There's a common characteristic in many German bands in any genre. They have a claustrophobhic, maybe a bit industrial feeling, that gives to the listener the impression of strong psychological pressure and anger. Why do you think does this element arrive? Has it maybe to do with the German way of life?

I'm sure that it has something to do with the environment in which one lives and grows up. I don't know, why many german bands sound that way, let's say "german" if you want. But maybe it has do with a generation conflict. If you take a listen to the music that my parents like, you would know why I
play this different type of music!

In two songs of "Inner War", there are lyrics in German. Do you think that the strong, aggressive German accent can fit better to your musical style? Generally, how much attention do you pay on your lyrics and what are they referring to?

We generally pay much attention to the lyrics. Mela is writing 95% of the lyrics and they mostly deal with human behavior. Mela analyzes the behavior of people around her and takes the ideas for the lyrics out of that. The german lyrics have been something like an accident, when we were joking
around in the practise room with the word "Schweissnaht" because of the german band Die Schweisser. Melas came up with the words the next time and it was really good. It fits very good to some of our songs, because it also adds a punky influence to our sound, and as I told you, we are also big Punk Rock fans. One of our newest songs is a puMre Punk Rock song and has german lyrics also. German lyrics sound very heavy and my friends from Jag Panzer told me once, that they like Rammstein a lot, because the Vocals sounds so scary! It is very important for us to work with different moods!

(the Megace homepage lies at www.megace.de)

 
Epigram for the last straw ©2000

[an error occurred while processing this directive]