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.:Interviews:.

26/07/2007 – Interview with SILVER FIST

SILVER FIST (official website) is slowly building on its career, with a clear focus on Europe. That's their goal, according to guitarist Diego Lopez. The band's debut "Ave Fénix" was very hard to get and sung in Spanish, their mother tongue. The successor, "Lagrimas De Sangre" came out last fall and was mixed by Fredrik Nordström (ARCH ENEMY, DIMMU BORGIR, FIREWIND, HAMMERFALL, ...). Once you hear the result, it will blow you away... if you're into rough Power Metal and not afraid to be open-minded. Then in June the English version came out: "Tears Of Blood", of which you can find the review at this location. This re-release was needed to give the band's name an international boost and this helped getting them some playtime at several European festivals. Needless to say that Spain is still the country where they play the most.

As a result of this release I had a phone interview with guitarist Diego Lopez, who seems to be the only one in the band that speaks English, or has the most knowledge of it. The sympathetic sounding Maria from Avispa Music called me, then passed the phone to Diego.

Silver Fist logo

Hi Diego, looks like you're there with the entire crew (there were doors opening and closing and lots of noise - Tim). ;-)

You mean if the other guys are here too?

Yeah.

No no, it was just Maria from Avispa...

Oh, ok then. :-) I'm gonna start with something recent. I read on the website that Ivan won't be playing on Granit Rockfest..

That's tomorrow..

Oh, ok, hahaha. But he will be replaced by Andy from SARATOGA. How's your relationship with the guys from SARATOGA?

Very well. We're on the same label - Avispa -, we played many gigs together here in Spain. You know the old guitarist of SARATOGA? He's my teacher. So normally on Thursdays like today I'm in class, but obviously not today. Finally Ivan can play. He had some teeth problems and therefore had to undergo surgery. But he'll play.

Silver Fist bandwas Andy your first choice?

Yes, he knows our songs and like I said, it helps being on the same label and he's a good friend.

What if, say, you or Nacho (Pablo in this case) can't play a gig. Who's going to replace you then? Or will the gig be postponed? ;-)

This has happened once, but then I played alone. But for the drums it's the first time that this happened. We always try to play overall, if it’s impossible because we cannot find anyone to replace, of course, the gig will be postponed.

"Tears Of Blood" was recently re-released (in English). And I guess this is mainly to give your career an international boost. Was this Avispa's idea to sing in English?

The idea did not come from Avispa. We played one gig at the Keep It True festival in Germany. Here in the Spain the scene is not good. Europe is much better, so our goal is Europe. At Keep It True the people liked the band, but they didn't understand the lyrics. We first made the album in Spanish, but then we suggested our label to it in English, too. Later this year it will also be released in Mexico and Japan. The label is in talks with managers there.

Will there be extras for Japan? Since albums are quite expensive there, bands or labels usually add 1-2 bonustracks or something else to compensate that.

No. The only bonus track we did was ACCEPT's "Balls To The Wall". But our label recorded our performance at Viñarock, which is one of the biggest festivals in Spain. Upon putting it all together, there were some sound problems and so the DVD could not be made. But maybe with the third album we could add this DVD.

Silver Fist - Tears Of Blood"Tears Of Blood" also has some special cover art, with Jesus' head in flames.. what message are you trying bring accross?

The cover was made by Jowita Kaminska, an artist from Poland. We gave her some ideas and the lyrics. But in my opinion it was done a bit too fast. The crying of Christ represents the blindness and suffering of humanity. And the ropes and nails are trying to represent that the mankind is under domination and suffering by politics and religion. This is also covered in songs like "Martyr" and "Tears Of Blood". The world is going down. Another thing we tried are the colours, red and black that make a big contrast and make the cover easy to see.

It is a step forward compared to that of "Ave Fénix".

Yeah but the first cover was made when the band was formed and at that point the label signed the band. Ivan is the one who made it, but he's no professional, hahaha. ;-) It's simple and direct.

The mixing of "Tears Of Blood" was done by Fredrik Nordström, who also worked with big bands like ARCH ENEMY, FIREWIND, DREAM EVIL, DIMMU BORGIR, HAMMERFALL, ... How did you get in touch with him?

When we started composing the songs, our producer Big Simon, who died of cancer, was a friend of Fredrik. So it's through him that we got his contact details. We called Fredrik, but he was very busy. We recorded the album in July and August and he would work Saturdays and Sundays to help us out. Spanish bands don't sound so international at the moment, that's why we prefer people from Sweden, Germany or any other place but with the enough knowledge to make your album sound international.

So for the next album you'll work again with Fredrik?

Yes. If it's possible, we'd like to do it all over there. Record the album with him and directly in English. Anyone can see our lyrics are translated and not written in English directly. We'll speak with him. But all this is a bit expensive. For the mix of "Tears Of Blood" we got a budget from Avispa. We recorded it in Spain and then sent the files from ProTools to Fredrik. He worked on them and when we heard the result, we liked it.

Regarding the themes on "Tears Of Blood", you already explained that songs like "Martyr" and "Tears Of Blood" deal with religion and war. But what are the other songs about?

Silver writes the lyrics. Most of them are about inner feelings. "Flight Of The Phoenix" is about fighting your depressions and emotions. "Natural Born Killers" is about the destruction of nature. "I'll Wait You In Hell" is about feelings with fans. Normally about this kind of things, you’ll never find a fantasy lyric on SILVER FIST for example.

Oh, that sounds nice, hahaha.

Hahaha, yes, but don't misunderstand it. For most people our music, Metal, is hell. But not for those who like it.

Oh, it's a metaphor? Right, now I understand it.

Indeed.

There's also a beautiful ballad on the album: "I Still Believe In You". What is that one about?

About a long-time friendship between two persons, friends for life. About having a bad moment and someone to support you. Some kind of love, so to speak. ;-)

Well, my mother certainly liked it a lot, as it even made her cry when she read the lyrics and heard the song.

Let me tell you something: when we presented our album it was the first time we played our ballad and most people cried. We couldn't even continue the song, since they started singing it. So we decided to put it on the album.

Silver sings with lots of passion, like he lives for the music.

Yes, indeed. But I wouldn't call the song a ballad, more like a powerballad. Now we play it in most of our gigs.

Does Silver have a preference regarding singing in English or Spanish?

He has no preference. In Spain, the people prefer it in Spanish. We asked it via a poll on our forum and most answered Spanish. If you record something in English, you have to present it in English. But now I'll answer your question. ;-) Silver only understands phonetics, so it's easier for him in Spanish. I like the English version better, though.

Silver Fist - DiegoNacho Ruiz left after the recordings of "Tears Of Blood". Was this because of personal reasons or because of musical differences?

Musical differences. "Ave Fénix" was classical Metal, although many reviews said Power Metal. Nacho only likes it classical. We decided to record some of his songs and then he left the band. But we are still friends.

Pablo stepped in very rapidly, as if you knew Nacho would leave and in the meantime searched for a replacement. Did it all go fast or was there a certain time before the guitarist position was filled again?

Yes, three months. When we talked to Nacho - it's difficult to remember, because it was a big discussion - we tried Pablo for the recordings, but there's wasn't enough time. So he began to learn the songs. Nacho then recorded his parts and now Pablo knows the songs. Once the setlist was ready, we practised and played some shows.

Did you hold auditions?

Yes. A lot of people called and came over to our rehearsal room, but lots of them didn't bring their amp and things like that. And that makes you wonder... We had 3-4 guitarists that played well, but I knew Pablo. I mean, the others played well, but we were looking for someone with a good personality. Good thing is that he (Pablo) likes the same music.

David Martinez produced the new album and also mastered it. How important was he? Did he gave you advice, to change this or that in certain songs?

Big Simon also did that. We brought the songs to the label and he gave us advice. When the songs were arranged and we all agreed on the result, the songs were recorded. David was not only the producer, but also the pianist. Most advice concerned the vocals and melodies.. We really liked the changes on melodies on the vocals. Other change at the same time of recording was the final "tram tram" (neck-breaker, hahaha) riff in "The Fear", this and other things was done in the studio.

Something else right now, more focussing on the importance of labels. Bigger artists like e.g. Geoff Tate from QUEENSRYCHE said that over time labels will disappear, that artists/bands are taking back control and with websites like MySpace it's easier to promote yourself or your band. But, in my opinion, labels provide a band with a budget, they have international contacts for gigs, promotion, distribution, and whatever more. Especially smaller bands cannot do it all by themselves.

My opinion is the same as yours. But we cannot stop time. MySpace is a big promotional tool. All of us have the equipment to record something. When you're in the studio, it doesn't sound the same. Some recordings sound good when done at home, but the quality is not the same. A label indeed has contacts with managers, magazines, and more. In the future, if/when labels disappear, they could skip CDs and go for mp3s...

I'd rather they won't.

Yes, neither do I. But then it will be the promoter who will have direct contact with the artist/band. There are millions of bands, growing and growing. Labels are important, but they are slowly disappearing...

Avispa is an important label for bands like SILVER FIST, SARATOGA and others. But there was one other label that used to be quite active: Arise Records. Since a couple of years, I haven't heard much about them. What happened? Are they still active?

You want to know the reason?

Oh, you know what the situation is?

Yes, Arise is first of all a Metal shop. They have shops in Madrid, Bilbao, Barcelona, .. and sell CDs, clothes, and more Metal stuff. They tried to have contact with international bands, but if the sales are low, there's no more money for recordings. In the beginning they did good work, but it was difficult to survive. So now they focus on selling CDs, accessories, ...

Going back to SILVER FIST, do you have any idea how well "Ave Fénix" did saleswise?

Not too much. We sent a couple of copies to friends out of Spain, too. Not many, I guess, 3000-4000. We sold it mainly here in Spain. If you're going to ask me about "Tears Of Blood" (Note: or perhaps "Lagrimas De Sangre" in this case - Tim), I don't know. The warehouse was empty today, so they need to reprint the album, that is a good first step.

I guess the English version is quite helpful then?

Yes, from the reviews we fond out that people prefer it in Spanish. But there aren't any reviews about the Spanish version. If I wouldn't have sent you the English version, you wouldn't have known about it.

True. Did you teach Silver some English?

Yes, during the recordings me and the producer were there with him. You know, not a lot of people in Spain speak English. I saw that you have lots of programmes in English. But in Spain, only 5-10% speaks English.

Wow, I'm surprised. I never thought the percentage would be that low. Let's go back to your debut album, which contained a bonus disc filled with cover songs. Was this your idea or did the label have a say in this?

It was our choice. We like different styles of music and we just like to do covers. At shows we do it, too. I like SLAYER, ANNIHILATOR. Silver likes U.D.O., so it will be a pleasure to for him tomorrow (Note: the festival is over when this interview comes online - Tim). Lately we've added "More Than Ever" from EVERGREY on our setlist and we played it at Headbangers Open Air. Everyone can suggest a song. That also explains why we covered ACCEPT's "Balls To The Wall", mainly because we all like that one. It's like a Metal hymn.

Yup, couldn't agree more. :-) Speaking of Headbangers Open Air, which took place only a few weeks ago: How was the response from the European public?

Weird. We played at 7 p.m. and there weren't that many people in the crowd. When we started playing, more people started coming to see us. Soon the place was full and that was great, seeing the people liking our songs. I also noticed that in Germany, people are quite cold. If they don't like a band in a first contact, they go away to have a beer or something, but what the fuck, like in any other country.

Silver Fist bandI see what you mean. Last March, when RHAPSODY OF FIRE was playing Germany with MANOWAR and HOLYHELL, many people there had only come to see MANOWAR, while there were three very good bands playing. And you could see that in the crowd there were more cheers for MANOWAR. Speaking of taste, which other music do you like besides Metal?

I like classical music and Jazz, Gypsy Jazz. I hate pop, techno and things like that. I do like songs from the '80s, songs I grew up with. Now I have CDs from classical composers in my collection. I also like experimental bands like MESHUGGAH, GOIJRA (from France) and SEPULTURA, one of my all-time favourites. What's your favourite band?

It used to be METALLICA, since I grew up with it, but over the years the place has been taken by RHAPSODY.

It's not really RHAPSODY anymore, is it?

Right, RHAPSODY OF FIRE. All because some guy in the States seemed to own the copyright to the name RHAPSODY. Which is ridiculous, because they've been active since 1995 or 1997 (when taking their debut album)... Where was that guy all those years?

Luca Turilli is sort the star of the band, isn't he?

Well yeah, because he's one of the main composers.

And a great composer he is. But I didn't like his solo albums.

Which one in particular? Also his DREAMQUEST album?

It's just too electronic, not enough Metal. For me a Metalband is the singer, guitarists, bass and drums. No electronics or samples.


--- (Note: at this time we also talk about triggers, something Diego and Ivan are not very keen on using. - Tim) ---

We hate bands that sound like machines. If you hit the drumkit harder or softer, we want to hear that. We also play our parts entirely, never repeat them with ProTools.

There are two videos on YouTube (here and here) where NILE drummer George Kollias explains his technique and also tells that when playing extreme Metal you cannot avoid the use of triggers.

Ivan hates triggers. He does like Death and Black Metal, but only likes 3 drummers, since they don't use triggers and can do the blastbeats without them.

Really? Who?

Andy from SARATOGA, but in his other band WORMED and Daniel (ex-SARATOGA drummer) from SKIZOO.

Back to SILVER FIST: do you have certain plans for the future, like making a specific album or doing a tour with a certain band, perhaps some solo stuff?

We have some ideas and five or six songs arranged yet. We definitely won't record an album fast like "Ave Fénix" anymore, because that results in errors which you have to correct then. You need to work slowly and arranging the songs carefully. In other hand we want to do a tour out of Spain, but that will take time and talks with promoters. But I don't know what the future will be like, so nothing conclusive yet about a tour out of Spain, but we will play in festivals, that is for sure.

Tim, I have to stop now. We've talked too much, haha. :-)

Yeah, sure. No problem. Many thanks for the chat, good luck tomorrow and see you on MySpace or elsewhere.

Yes, we'll stay in touch. Thanks.

See you, Diego.

Byyee.



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