Bremen – Moscow (02/12/2005)
SR – Special Radio
SL – Sönke Lau
SR: Tell us about the Unrest of 2005? Who are the members, how the roles are divided?
SL: As already mentioned, we have started as young and inexperienced musicans in 1988 and it would have been really bad if the band did not have constantly developed itself in all the years. Of the original members since UNREST founded there still is Guido Hettwer (dr.), Claus Wiechert (g.) and myself Sönke Lau (voc.) in the band today. Of course, there have been changes in the setting again and again, especially on second guitar and on bass. You just cannot stay away from that. At last, being in a band also means to connect your private way of life with that of the band. But for two years now we have found the absolute “dream set” for UNREST. With “Andre Neuhaus” (bass) – who has accompanied us already as superviser on several tours – a dear friend for many years joined the band as a firm member. And with “Marco Liedtke” on second guitar another good friend of us joined UNREST.
I don’t really like talking about divided roles because you might get the idea that there would be someone in the band who has got more authority than the others or that there would be someone who is the head of the band. However, fact is that everyone in the band does have his own special share of the “heavy metal machine UNREST”. We understand ourselves as a unit and so everyone equally gives his share in “everything”. So you see, this formation mutually carries, supports and catches itself. There is a mute understanding for each other. We don’t have to talk much (what we do nevertheless) or even start a fight to do exactly the music for that the name UNREST is standing. Actually, I cannot remember one bad word in this formation. Even in times where you cannot give full 100% because you are totally down or because of private problems there is no fight or critism within the band. So for me it is a clear sign that we just know how important each single member is for the band. And it is also a sign for being an adult band “today”.
Actually, I have to realise (not without pride) that UNREST 2005 is a fantastic band. The best band a musician can play in!
SR: On your official website the biography of the band featured in very short version. Why? We get the feeling that you’re not eager to be the centre of a public eye? Is this true?
SL: Actually, we feel the behaviour of many other bands is a real pain. They carry on such an expenditure as if they were superstars. They already have a manager, a colourful homepage, a shrill outfit, stickers, T-Shirts and whatever else even before the first song is written or the first CD is practised. Every review of the press is put on their website no matter how small, and they insessantly tap their own shoulders. These bands also start to fight with other bands before each show about who is going to be the headliner or how many light or sound they are to be given. We never do that kind of thing. Those who want to play after us can do just that. In this respect we are completely insensible.
But when you watch these troups on stage or listen to their songs then you really cover your eyes with your hands in horror (or just rolls down the floor with laughter). It really is frightening what problem some people do have with their ego. We think that good music, good albums and a good show performance for the fans should be the most important. These are the things that should be decisive at last and surely not a colourful homepage or stylish T-Shirts. Performance is what is most important for us first place. Look, the time we started with UNREST we did practise three times a week and worked hard on us. We have put every free minute into the band and into our music without ever losing the fun for it. We don’t want to tell people how “great” or how “important” we are. We just want people having fun with us and our music.
SR: The band is 17 years old. Judging by your posts on the website, the way up wasn’t really easy. What would you change in your music career if you had a chance to?
SL: Oh my goodness… well, we don’t think that we are “up”. In fact, we don’t really care about that. We surely did made our experiences with record companies and the music business and therefore concluded that we are no longer interested in that. We produce our albums by ourselves (and on our expenses) with a producer of our choice. If a record company wants to release our album then they are welcome (provided the contracts are correct). But we absolutely never let us be taken in or talk into.
As we started with the band after a 3-year-break there instantly were some offers from record companies that wanted to produce some records with us right away but we refused because we didn’t think the time was right. Right now we are working on the recordings for our next album. When this one is finished then it will become a great album that will also get released by some company. But most important: this album will be 100% our “baby” then!
When you ask me what we would like to change then I can only say that all you do in your life does also have a meaning. Important is that you learn from your experiences. Therefore I cannot say that we would do something different. At last, we are what we are just because the things we did “right” or “wrong” in the past.
SR: Unrest shares the love for Accept. We think that you can be easily related to Accept and W.A.S.P style. That’s that kind of the rock’n’roll which is full of energy, the music of the real men! Why exactly this music genre is so appealing to you?
SL: (Ha-ha) I really like that with the “real men”.
Actually, I must say that in private we listen to many different music styles and are having the most different tastes in the band. It is like with a good meal: The ingredients are doing the menue. Same thing with UNREST. Each of us is giving his part to into it and the result is that what you then get onto your ears. But of course, we all like such bands like W.A.S.P. or ACCEPT/ UDO but also DIO, Judas Priest, Sinner and some more. But if you think now that this kind of music is running up and down around the clock with us then you are wrong. As for me, I actually haven’t bought any CD for over a year now and it looks similar with the other guys. We do our music without looking first place on other bands or to get impulses by other albums. Claus, for example, presumable just has about 20 CD’s at home and myself is just listening to our album “Cold Steel Whisper” again with entire pleasure. It is just gorgeous when you your favorite music is made by yourself (ha, ha).
Indeed, I think that we have found our own style, just UNREST Heavy Metal. Most intersting is, by the way, that there are bands in Germany, Italy and also Spain who are having our songs in their program. When you come to hear about that then you occassionally become pensive.
SR: In our interview to UDO, they’ve said that metal music scene won’t be as popular as it used to be in 80s. But the metal music won’t ever die though. Do you agree or what’s your opinion on this subject?
SL: But Heavy Metal is present everywhere. You find metal bands everywhere in the charts and at TV stations. Of course, it is a genre just like Jazz, Rock, Pop and Classic. But all in all it is quite a stable scene. Metal will be always there. What might be a bit more difficult for UDO is that he has had real big times with ACCEPT and such a success you cannot keep up on duration as much less music (legally) is sold altogether. The music market just changed dramastically because of the internet and MP3 players. Nevertheless, UDO did write music history with ACCEPT as well as with UDO, and for me he keeps on being one of my heros.
SR: What is the main difference between music scene of 80s and the modern music industry?
SL: As I have already said, music doesn’t gets bought any longer but stolen! This sounds hard or even greedy of money but in reality it just looks like this: To produce an album you need a lot of money no matter who is bearing all the costs, we the band (from our own private money we worked for) or the record company. Let’s say that such a production costs 10,000. The band or the artist is working more than a year on songs and production. And then, three days after the release of the CD everyone is able to download the complete album from the internet! What happens? – The artist (especially newcomer and small bands) and the record company don’t get the money in for all the expenses they have had for the production before and so you will never hear anything from that artist ever again. You see, that’s the other side of the medal. But no one wants to hear it or think about it.
SR: Does Klaus really mean it or making a fool when he says that got into Unrest because there was no place vacant for him in the church choir? Let’s be serious – is heavy-metal your religion, your favorite music, your lifestyle?
SL: To make it short: This music is part of us as the band is a firm component of our lives. I cannot imagine how it could be without UNREST and without that music. Nevertheless, it isn’t a religion or a lifestyle.
SR: There’re no new records from you in a long period of time now. What’s going?
SL: So far we have always taken much time. But the reason for that is just the need of a creative break. At some time we have come to the point where we just needed a “time-out” to think over and sort out all the things in our lives and in the band. We had to make new determinations for the band as well as our aims. This time of reflection altogether did us very well even so many problems had to be mastered. But now we are on board again with tons of energy and so our new album will carry not without reason the title “Back To The Roots”. The name is programme.
SR: Once you’ve said that the song lyrics is not that much important for Unrest. But still most of your texts are so dark. Is this about the music style you’re in? because of your own vision of life? What has changed in your life vision since the latest release of Unrest?
SL: Oops, that question aims on me then.
I am writing the lyrics corresponding to how I feel at that moment. Indeed, I haven’t ever thought about why they then always sound so dark (ha, ha). Actually, I don’t want to transport any message with it. The lyrics must always serve the title and it is totally ok when they also bear some cliches. I love cliches. When we say that the lyrics are not so important then it is only because there have been cases (with other artists) again and again in the past where the fans increased themselves into the songs and the lyrics, partly with fatal consequences. Just imagine I am writing things like: “get yourself a bullet into your head because life isn’t beautiful” just out of mood or just because it goes with the song. And some poor guy is doing just that!
No, I don’t want such thing and so I tell everyone right from the start “hey guys, don’t take our lyrics (don’t take us) too serious, they should only make fun and maybe stimulate you to make your own thoughts – nothing else!”.
They are just songs that we wrote in a certain time and out of a special mood. It is no religion and we too don’t always know about what the right way is. That is one of the reasons why you cannot find our lyrics printed in the booklet.
SR: Please let us continue with the subject we started above. For you the musical part of the song means quite a lot. How do you relate to innovations in your own art? Is this the search for the new sound, new arrangements? When you work – what comes first?
SL: Nothing of all that! We just write songs and afterwards wonder how good of how bad they come out. With the new album just fun is standing in the foreground. As musician you recognize some time what the songs needs. And when the finished song still turns you on after a hundred times of listening and playing then it is a good song and gets onto the album. We have to like the music, then most times the fans like it too. Quite easy on principle.
SR: Please tell us about the new album coming out this year. Is this the same classic Unrest or we can expect something new?
SL: No, you are not to expect something completely new. Actually, each UNREST album has its own entire sound as well as its own entire atmosphere. Same thing will also be with the new album. Our own point given is the way how the good piece will be produced – that is to say, totally without any technical expenditure. With “Bloody Voodoo Night” we have produced a “perfect studio album” with a lot of technical expenditure. For the new album (Back To The Roots) we have chosen Volker Siedenburg as producer with whom we did our first musical steps in 1988. Moreover did we use amplifiers and speakers that partly date from the 60th. By that we created a sound that sounds infernal rough and pressurable. At present almost every band works with the finest technic and the most modern sounds and samples. We do this totally different. With our current production each instrument has to sound already in advance extraordinary for itself so that you can record the whole thing with an already real gorgeous sound. By that the album will sound lively and powerful. Sounds easy but it is a hard piece of work.
But just wait your head will fall from your shoulders (ha, ha).
SR: The question is for Sönke. Is this true you’ve got about 20 snakes back at home? Why snakes? Please tell us about them, what breeds of snakes do you have?
SL: At present I have only 7 snakes at home, most of all ratsnakes. I am just fond of these beasts and love to watch them crawling around their basin in the evening. That calms you down enormously. Moreover I breed with them which is something most interesting and a sience for itself. But what is also fascinating about snakes for me is their being without compromises. That must sound cruel for gentle souls now but once you have watched how a snake pursues its prey you will know what I mean.
SR: Russian metal bands primarly rehearse on attics or cellars. Where do you rehearse and prepare for your performances?
SL: Exactly like you in Russia. The rooms where we rehearse belongs to an air-raid shelter of the 2nd world war. Interesting to know that in addition it is situated on the ground of a shut down dockyard. You see, it is an equal situation everywhere.
SR: Judging by your concert videos, you turn on the audience as easy as 1-2-3. Nowadays who are the fans of Unrest?
SL: The age goes from 13 to 50 years. In the course of years we have played so many concerts and could manage presumably a lot of fans becoming enthusiastic over us and our music. And luckily, these fans are so faithful, so loyal that they even cover hundreds of miles only to celebrate with us together. And YES, I think these people do have their fun!
SR: You’ve performed with many popular artists. Who is most memorable and most comfortable to work with? Who was the complicated one?
SL: The most comfortable to work with clearly is Mat Sinner (Primal Fear) and his complete crew. These guys are the nicest and best people with whom we could already tour twice. As for me, I think Mat is a very nice guy and by heart, I don’t begrudge it to him having such a success now after all the hard years. Then there is also DIO, of course! A cordial, nice man without any caprices. Most impressive!
And then last not last W.A.S.P. You must know that DIO and W.A.S.P. belong to my personal heros much more than ACCEPT. Surely you can imagine how cool it has been to go on tour together with these people.
But there are also many other not so well known bands with whom we share a cordial relation. “Wolfen” from Cologne for example is such a band. You really should listen to their music sometime.
SR: You’re from Bremen. What is metal music scene of North Germany like?
SL: I assume not very different than everywhere else. There are bands that are very professional and work hard on themselves. And then there are troups that mostly shine only because they permanently have their throats wide open than because of their music. Same story everywhere!
SR: What would you like to wish to those who’s eager to become musicians?
SL: Go find a job and do something respectable!!! (ha, ha)
But seriouslly: I think I mustn’t give any advise to all those who have got the potential to make themselves known in the music scene, for they will find their style and their audience. When you have talent, work hard and keep an imperturbable belief in yourself and your capability then you will succeed. You just have to trust yourself. No record company and no manager is able to compensate for the lack of talent and ability. On the other side, a bad record company cannot prevent a real good band because in the end it is the fans who will decide what they want to listen to. You just have to manage transporting your music to more and more people and that only works when you give enthusiasm to people from concert to concert and from CD to CD. All other want-to-be rockstars will be finished in the course of the years by oneself.
I still would like to say Thank You to all the fans that faithfully have supported us over the years and hope much that one day we will also get the chance to let the air burn in Russia. It really would be a dream to visit your country and to experience how you rock!
Thank you very much and many regards to all metalhearts!
Sönke Lau (UNREST)