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.:Interviews:.

28/04/2010 – Interview with ORDEN OGAN

The German Power Metal band ORDEN OGAN (official website) has been around since a good 13 years and earlier this year they released their third full-length, "Easton Hope". You can check out the review of the album at this location. Recently the magazine Hard Rocker Magazine released a compilation of ORDEN OGAN songs, from all their albums. In view of that compilation and of course the band's latest album, I sent them some questions about the what, how, when, and more. Seeb (vocals, guitars) and Nils (keyboards) were happy to offer insight in their way of working and even admitted that their previous album, "Easton Hope", needed some polishing up, which will result in a re-release at the end of this year.

It was fun to see the easiness with which they answered and in some way this is the interview I partly could have done back in October 2009 when they were in The Netherlands for a listening session of a rough mix of "Easton Hope". MOB RULES were there too (for their album "Radical Peace") and both bands performed some of their songs. Anyway, learn and enjoy and support this band.

Orden Ogan logo

Let's start with the "Nobody Leaves" compilation that came with the Hungarian magazine Hard Rocker. Whose idea was this? And how was it conceived?

Seeb: I can't tell you exactly whose idea this was, but I know that it was developed in various conversations between our record company AFM records and Bart Gabriel, the chief editor of Hard Rocker Magazine. Bart is also a big fan of the band, I guess, otherwise it wouldn't have been possible. We're very happy about it because it's a great way to get the band known with lots of metalheads that live East of Germany (as far as I know the Hard Rocker Magazine is a Polish Magazine, but it may be distributed in Hungary also).

About your newest album, "Easton Hope": When did you start writing the new material? And did you work differently than before (focus on melodies or riffs or vocal lines...)

Orden Ogan bandNils: We are permanently writing songs, so you can't explicitly say when it starts or ends. "Rise And Ruin" for example is a few years old and was written before our last album "Vale" came out. For me, I can say that I don't focus on special things while writing a song.

Did you take specific steps with regards to the recording, compared to the previous albums?

Nils: This time we did all ourselves, except the mastering which was done by mastering legend Michael Schwabe. Seeb recorded, mixed and produced the whole album while "Vale" was mixed and mastered by R.D. Liapakis from MYSTIC PROPHECY.

Seeb: Not to forget that we recorded with a real choir in the cathedral of Wildeshausen this time. The guys are even credited with pictures in the booklet. It was a great experience and also the sound of the choir in the cathedral turned out to be awesome. That's something you can not reproduce in the studio situation.

"Easton Hope" also sounds like your most powerful album or tightest album so far, when I hear the other songs on the compilation. Was that an important element in the writing process, maybe related to many Power Metal releases sounding relatively soft since some years? I mean, lacking the Power, the heavy guitarwork.

Seeb: Yes, this record was a little bit different to the one before, "Vale", because all the time there were different people expecting different things from you and this time I just thought to myself "fuck you all, we'll just do what we can do best and that's writing material that really sounds like ORDEN OGAN". So there was also a bit of an aggressive component in writing the songs. That's maybe why the record is the hardest and heaviest record we've made so far. And we also don't see ourselves as a classical Power Metal band. I mean, there are Power Metal elements in our sound, but I think we transfered the German tradition into the next millenium by adding our very own touch and a lot of modern elements. Some of the riffs on "Easton Hope" could also be on a Metalcore record...

In the trailer I saw the engineer putting the mics in the centre of the cymbals. Was that a joke or is it indeed better to record cymbals like that?

Seeb: No, it's of course way better to record cymbals like that. To be precise, you don't record the cymbal but the unscrewing screw that winds up while playing. The sound of the screw is way cooler than the cymbal itself. You really should check that out!

What is "Easton Hope" about? Is there a background story?

Nils: "Easton Hope" is the prequel to "Vale". It's a very deep concept about freedom and what people do with their freedom that is given to them. The question is: What is more important? The good of a single man or the good of many?

Seeb: Yes, you can find the concept story on our homepage or the AFM website.

About the deal with AFM. It seems like this small label is quite a busy one, judging by the number of releases and even names they have on their roster: MASTERPLAN, JON OLIVA'S PAIN, CIRCLE II CIRCLE, NIGHTMARE, DESTRUCTION, ... Is there some sort of competition between labels in Germany? I mean, Nuclear Blast has been working hard to capture big, extreme names like KREATOR, IMMOLATION, VADER, UNLEASHED, DECAPITATED, BEHEMOTH, ... while AFM seems to go for variation, yet also trying to sign well-known bands.

Seeb: Nuclear Blast has also big variations in Metal styles. There are also bands like BLIND GUARDIAN or RAGE signed to Blast. I guess there's competition everywhere between labels, but that's not our business. The important thing for us is what they do for us. And I can tell you that we're very happy with our decision to have signed to AFM records.

Nils: Yes, we are very happy with AFM because they did a great job with "Easton Hope" in Germany. We don't know what happened in other European countries so far but it seems to be ok. The record has also been released in the USA and Japan.

Seeb: Yes, and that's a cool thing because the Japanese Market changed a lot in the last decade. It's not normal to have all artists on the rooster released in Japan, too. But it seems like the Japanese Metalheads are into the ORDEN OGAN sound. We had 80 of 100 points and a big interview in the most important Japanese magazine, Burrrn! Magazine, for example.

When you play the new material on stage, do you make small adjustments or are they played as they are on the album?

Seeb: If you play songs that are that complex you have to make adjustments, of course. There is of course a difference between studio work, where the number of tracks is almost unlimited, and the live situation, where the stuff has to be played with just five men. After we have everything recorded we have to rearrange the songs with focus on which instrument plays wich melody or phrase. We like to keep it close to the record, but not too close, because we also like to improvise a lot. And of course we can't bring the choir everywhere we play, so we have to use some samples, haha.

In addition, how do people react so far about "Easton Hope" itself and how the material sounds live?

Nils: We got fantastic reactions so far and it's great to play the new songs live.

Seeb: It's always the same with new material. You have to check and test the songs several shows before you decide to let them stay in your setlist. Of course we knew that a song like "We Are Pirates!" will be great fun for the band and audience as well, but we also thought that for example "Goodbye" or "All These Dark Years" will be very good in the live situation, but, well, "Goodbye" left the set and was replaced by "Welcome Liberty". So we're still looking for the perfect setlist. I guess we'll be looking for it till the end of our career, haha...

It is said you made Folky Power Metal in the past, but somehow I didn't detect that in the songs on the compilation. Or was it in a subtle way that you implemented the Folk feel?

Nils: You should give the "Testimonium A.D." album from 2004 a listen. The guitars are not as straight-forward as on "Vale" and "Easton Hope" and we recorded a lot of accoustic guitars and other Folk elements on that record. For a song like "Moods", which is played mainly with acoustic guitars, "Folky" is a very legitimate attribute.

Seeb: That's right, but you're right, too, because the Folk elements are scaled back a lot on the last two records. On the other hand, even "Vale" had a song like "This Is", that had a very folky feel. Unluckily the accoustic guitars are almost not audible in the final mix of "Vale". That's one of the reasons why there will be a re-release of "Vale", completely remixed and remastered, at the end of 2010!

"Easton Hope" contains lots of orchestral elements. Nowadays it seems you can't make Power Metal anymore without using these in several songs. Was it a deliberate choice (in view of a possible background story) or just because it made the songs sound more epic, bombastic, musically speaking?

Nils: I don't know anything sounding more powerful than an orchestra. So that was indeed a decision of being more epic as you said.

Seeb: And in our case it was a natural development. We already used a lot of keyboard sounds and real violins, double basses, celli and flutes on "Testimonium A.D." which was released in 2004. The orchestra fits our sound perfectly, so we use it. I don't think too much about other Power Metal bands, because I don't listen to Power Metal at all. I'm much into filmmusic (also composing) myself and listen to a lot of different styles, but to be honest - most stuff I listen to is Death Metal, haha...

You managed to have some guests be part of the recordings: Majk Moti, Thomen Stauch, ... any plans to ask them for a gig or two? :-)

Nils: If we told you something about that we would have to kill you ;-)

Orden Ogan - Easton HopeThe cover was done by Andreas Marschall, who (and I had to look it up, since he didn't ring a bell with me) has worked for BLIND GUARDIAN, GRAVE DIGGER, RUNNING WILD, SODOM, IN FLAMES, and several more. How did you think of him? And did you give him guidelines?

Nils: At first, that was meant as a joke. We were searching for an artist to do the artwork when Tobi said: "Ey man, let's call Andreas Marschall!" Everybody laughed at Tobi, but Seeb really called him, the crazy fucker... So we sent him a CD, because nowadays he just works for some chosen bands. Luckily he really enjoyed our songs and agreed to do the artwork for "Vale". So it was crystal clear that he also had to do the artwork for "Easton Hope".

Sebastian, you sing, play guitar and even play the drums a little (judging by the trailer). What do you do best, guitar or drums? And are you as good as the other Sebastian? in other words, in case he falls ill, you might be able to record his parts on a next occasion. ;-)

Nils: NO! ;-)

Seeb: Yes!

Nils: Nooooooooooo... Aaarrrrggh...

Seeb: Hahaha... They don't like my playing, I guess, because I love to disturb their heavenly silence after our rehearsals, haha... To be honest: we're a band that wants to have the best possible result when we are recording and don't give a shit about ego trips. So it might happen that somebody else plays the bass in one part, or that I play keyboards for Nils or that Tobi plays my lead phrase. I can't remember for example who, Tobi or me, played wich riff on the record. So it's also possible that Nils, who is also a good drummer, plays a part for Ghnu if he isn't there for example and we have to change a part or whatever. But I didn't play a single cymbal on "Easton Hope". I feel at ease when I'm playing the guitar, but also when I'm singing. I love to play drums but I would have to practise a lot more if I wanted to join a professional band. I also do a lot of keyboard stuff when I'm composing film music.

Orden Ogan bandThe limited edition (digipack) contains bonus material, only accessible online. Of course it's nice for the fans to have some extra stuff like a making of, bonus tracks, etc... But why not put it as enhanced part on the CD? Or as a bonus disc?

Nils: Seriously, we wanted to do that, but it didn't fit, because the record is too long.

Seeb: Bonus DVDs or CDs are always a matter of expense. That's why AFM records decided to release the bonus content just online. I hope it will be different with the next releases, haha.

In addition: many people don't have a computer or internet connection (yet), but still loyally buy Metal albums each year. Isn't it then unfair that they cannot access the bonus material? Sometimes the regular edition of an album isn't available (anymore) and the shop just has the limited edition. One can't stop the importance and evolution of the internet, but still. People without a computer are easy to dismiss, so to speak (with all due respect), but those that do have one (yet without internet connection) should be able to enjoy the bonus material as much as the others, no?

Nils: Partly you're right. But I think the main reason for providing a special version are the bonus tracks and the fact that the CD ist delivered in a special digipak version. The online content is just another gimmick. I think there are not so many people that don't have the chance to watch the videos...

Seeb: Yes, that's what I think.

Any specific tour plans or will you just play on festivals here and there?

Seeb: There are some things planned, but nothing officially confirmed yet. But we'll see you on a European tour at the end of 2010 or in spring 2011, that's for sure! I May we'll be playing Rock Hard Festival and some other festivals in Germany and Austria. And in August we'll play at Wacken Open Air, of course.

How do you feel about that, playing at WOA? Excited? Nervous? Or is it rather: "we will have played at WOA, which brings us closer to the elite"? ;-)

Nils: To play at Wacken Open Air is a great thing for us and we are looking forward to do that. I think every musician who's into Metal dreams of playing at the Wacken Open Air, right?

Seeb: Wacken is very important for a band, but it's also "just another show". We give 110% in front of 100 or 10.000 people - that doesn't matter for us. But of course it's something special and we'll have a lot of surprises for our fans there... As for me - the first time I was at Wacken was 1998. So it took me 12 years to get from the crowd to the stage, haha. It'll be a great moment, I think.

I'll stop now, else there could be twice as many questions, hahaha. Thanks for answering all. All the best to you, keep up the good work and have a great time on stage. Any final words are yours to add.

Nils: Thank you and your readers very much! Just take a look at our homepage www.ordenogan.de and buy some stuff if you like it. Keep the music alive and don't do that Rapidshare downloading crap. That's bad for the scene, bands die, so keep them alive. Best wishes, Nils

Seeb: Horns up! Hahaha....



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