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10/11/2008 – Interview with DIGNITY

DIGNITY (website), the new band of ex-EDENBRIDGE drummer Roland Navratil, released its debut album at the end of August via Napalm Records. An Austrian band, an Austrian label. But that's not a common thing, as Roland mentions below. No Power Metal here, but solid Hard Rock where melody has a key role. You can read my review of "Project Destiny" at this location.

I could have asked anyone else in the band for this interview, but since Roland comes from EDENBRIDGE and is a founding member of DIGNITY, it makes the interview easier somehow. Given we're dealing with a new band here - even though its members have already acquired lots of experience over the years and in other bands - it's important to know how the band was formed, what's the idea behind the music, lyrics, if the band is planning a tour and some more personal stuff.

Dignity logo

How did the idea for a new band come to rise? And when did you start writing the material?

DIGNITY was formed in 2006 before I left EDENBRIDGE. Franky and I met in 2000 as he was a backliner for EDENBRIDGE on the first tour. The first time we both played together in a band was in 2003 in Vienna. But because of different reasons we both left the band and the idea of forming a new band together got concrete. So we decide to work out some songs that Franky had already written and compose new songs. Then we started to search for the right members for the band and we found Martin and John Boy Bastard very quickly! Martin was a live guitarist on EDENBRIDGE's "Shine" tour and played together with Franky in a band called INVICTUS earlier. John Boy Bastard comes more from the Punk Rock scene. I've know him for years and as we asked him he was totally enthusiastic about it. The Split with EDENBRIDGE was simple. The relationship was comparable with a marriage where the gap got wider and wider in a lot of things, ending in a logical divorce. I was "just their drummer", while I wanted more influence and responsibility.

Dignity band picture 2008Is there a certain story or reason linked to the band name DIGNITY? I mean, you wanted a strong name, nothing cliché, but was it important that it was linked to the band, the music, lyrics...?

Yes. The band name was my idea. We preferred not to use common terms like sword or dragon, but opted for a short, powerful name that is also easy to remember. We also like the meaning of the word!

With EDENBRIDGE you played a Gothic/Power Metal kind of music, while this time it's Hard Rock. Is this mainly because of your personal taste or because you think there's a lack of qualitative Hard Rock, without the need to go mainstream?

What you can hear on "Project Destiny" is what came out as we where writing the songs. We didn't want do go in a specific direction aside from being melodic. And we wanted a male, not a female, singer. So it is probably a mixture of "what we are" and personal taste of us.

For this first album the title "Project Destiny" was chosen. Since Jake wrote all the lyrics, would it be best to ask him what inspired him or was it important for everyone to know what the songs were about? If the latter, what can you tell about the theme? Is it about different aspects of life, how one deals with different situations and desires?

Yeah, we know about the lyrics. Ofcourse we wanted him to do the lyrics, because he is the one who has to sing them. What we didn't want is have cliché lyrics. You know like dragons and swords. But when you read the lyrics you can interprete a lot of different thoughts. And everyone will have different ones, because he/she has experienced something different. But there we have good messages in it like "Can you change your own destiny?" ("Project Destiny"), "Open your mind" ("Arrogance And Rapture"), historical topics ("Icarus"), religion ("The Edge Of The Blade") and ofcourse about a broken heart ("Cry In Despair"). :-)

Project Destiny coverThe cover art was done by Felipe Machado Franco (ICED EARTH, AXEL RUDI PELL, etc...). Did you check your CD collection to find someone capable enough for the job? ;-) Or was he recommended to you?

Franky came to me and told me about him after reading an interview with ICED EARTH in a magazine. So we checked his website and liked his work. So we got in touch with him. The rest is history and we are totally happy with it.

Is this the first album in a series? Or will each album stand on its own and be different from the previous one (musically and/or lyrically)?

Each album will stand on its own. I can't tell you about the lyrics now, but the songs will be different. Same style ofcourse, but we won't record "Project Destiny" again with a nother name.

The mixing was done by Jonas Kjellgren (CENTINEX, SCAR SYMMETRY, ZONARIA, ...). You/the band wanted someone not familiar with producing Hard Rock and it turned out to be an excellent choice. Will you work with him for the next album or do you prefer to appeal to other producers as well?

Yeah, you are right. Jonas is from a totally different music genre. But we wanted a modern sound with a lot of punch. And as we heard "Pitch Black Progress" for the first time, we knew that we found the guy who will mix the album. Jonas is a very cool guy and he had the right feeling for the cd from the first moment on. Of course we want him to mix our next cd too! We enjoyed to work with him and he did a great job.

You're from Austria, so is Napalm Records, which means it's only normal you sign with a national label, right? ;-) Or were there other labels as well that showed interest?

It is not normal to sign to an Austrian label as an Austrian band. We have been in touch with other labels too. But we know how Napalm Records works and that is why we are happy to work with them.

Any tour plans? Or do you prefer to have a second album ready before conquering European stages?

Right now we don't have a confirmed tour. We hope to have the chance to promote the album on stages soon. We are definitely not a studio project!

Dignity band picture 2008The reviews are all, or for the biggest part, very positive. Did you expect this and did you see reviews that didn't hail the band or the album? Plus, how important are reviews, in your opinion? Do you take notice of possible mentioned 'problems' to improve those points on a next release?

Yeah, the reaction from the press was most of the times very good. You can never satisfy everybody and I think, that it is impossible. We are writing the music we want and if there are people who don't like it, it is ok for us. We won't change our style. I think that reviews are important. But I think it is more important that the people listen to the music and decide for themselves.

How were the songs created? Did each member breed on ideas and exchange them via internet or did you come together to jam and work on riffs, melodies, ...?

The songs where written by Franky, Franky and me and one by Franky, Martin and me. But I arranged and rearranged every song with Franky. As we recorded the bass and the guitars we gave it a try if Martin or John Boy Bastard had ideas. If the new idea sounded good and worked, we did it. If not, we recorded as we wrote the song.

Jake E. handles the vocals and in my opinion he's done a very good job, better even than what he's done in DREAMLAND so far. I'm not going to ask why you chose him, since it's the same answer in every interview, hahaha. You like his work in DREAMLAND and his 'audition' was very good. Furthermore, it seems Austria doesn't have a lot of vocalists that would fit in DIGNITY or any other Hard Rock or Metal band. How come? Are there only a handful of (qualitative) heavy bands? Isn't there any support, so to speak, from music schools?

Ofcourse there are music schools in Austria and there are a lot of singers. But it was impossible to find the singer we wanted. There are also a lot of bands here in Austria. Especially here in Vienna. But most of the bands manage to get attention. The last time when Austria was VERY important in music is, I think 200, years ago. It would be good if that would change again.

How often do you practise, as a band and personally?

As a band we rehearse when we prepare for the studio or for shows. This summer we met in the rehearsel room, had jam sessions and a good time. I personally play as often as I can. Simple because I still love to play.

Compare being in EDENBRIDGE with DIGNITY: is there more freedom now (considering you co-founded the band)? Does everyone have something to say or is it just you and Frank who are in charge?

DIGNITY is very different. Franky and I are in charge, yes. But when we decide or talk about things we also discuss it with the other guys. This is important to us. But the others think the same way that you need someone (or in our case 2 people) who takes the final decision. So it is still teamwork.

Dignity band picture 2008The band's endorsed by several companies. Are there specific obligations attached to that? And in what way does Harley Davidson sponsor you? ;-)

We asked Yamaha for 5 motorbikes Valentino Rossi rides in the MotoGP. As Yamaha said no, we just asked Harley Davidson, haha! No, seriously. Jake has an endorsement with them for clothes. That's all. No one has a Harley. And John Boy Bastard and I prefer the Yamaha, haha.

In all those years you've been playing music: what lessons have you learned? And what are you most proud of?

The most important thing is, that I still love what I am doing. Do whatever you want to do. If it isn't fun anymore - change it! Leaving EDENBRIDGE and starting DIGNITY was one of these things. I didn't know what the future will bring. But I did it and it was good. Another thing is, that it never gets easier. But I am proud that I never sold my soul.

When not making music, how do you fill your time and do you still have time for any hobbies?

The usual things I guess. Playing squash, free climbing, riding motorcycle (but only in the summer), hanging out with friends in pubs playing darts, and a lot of other things.

That's it from my part. Many thanks for taking the time to reply. May all go well with DIGNITY and related matters and let's hope you can get the band on the road. If there's anything you'd like to add, be my guest. :-)

Thanx! I hope that we will meet you and as much people as possible on tour soon. Check our websites for infos and updates!

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