Interview date

25 Février 2014


Blaster of Muppets


Interview Andy B. Franck (face to face)

Hi Andy, thanks for answering the following questions for the webzine Aux Portes du Metal, “At The Gates Of Metal” in English…

(Singing) At the Gates of Metal, Metaaaaaaal (in a high voice)… Ha ha ha!

Alright, you seem to be in a good mood. You’re here to tell us about your tenth album, “Firesoul”. How are you?

Well, I’m feeling really good. I’m having a nice time in Paris. Tomorrow, I’m going to check out the Château de Versailles, I’ve never been there before… So, everything’s going great, the response on the new album is quite amazing. To be really honest, I expected something but I didn’t think it would be that good! That’s cool.

Yes, from what I’ve heard, the first couple of tracks, it sounds really cool…

Yes, I think the album sounds really rough, really fresh. That’s probably thanks to the way we changed the songwriting process, back to the way we used to write ten or fifteen years ago. We wrote the album 100% in the practising room and didn’t want to leave the room to record the album in the studio before everything was completely finished. On the latest albums, we sometimes went to the studio with songs that were not completely finished. That’s why I’m not completely happy with some songs on the previous albums; I mean, I still like these albums and I think they’ve got really good moments but I believe that some songs could have been better if we had taken some time to finish them before we went to the studio.

It’s funny you should mention the way you used to work ten or fifteen years ago because everything about this new album, from the artwork to the producer, reminds us of albums such as “Soul Temptation”…

Yeah, the thing with the artwork is that it never was my intention to have a cover like the one from “Soul Temptation”. I told the illustrator what I wanted on the cover and I never said that there had to be a woman. I said there had to be a person. I said “it could be a preacher, a politician…” This person stands for society and holds the human mankind in his hands (the skeleton) and basically society burns you as long as it can make profit out of you and then it lets you fall into the fire… That was the main intention behind the whole thing. And he sent me that picture and I was like “wow, that girl looks really beautiful, it’s cool…” and that was it, to be very honest, really that was it… nothing else went through my mind. And then the first interview came up and the first question was “Andy, your new album cover looks like Soul Temptation’s” and I was like “huh???”…

Really?? You hadn’t noticed?

No, really… I thought there were similarities maybe but I hadn’t compared the two pictures, I never had them together… So, after the interview I went home and put the two covers next to each other and said “Ok… yes… that’s true” (laughs). Anyway, it works, it looks amazing to me, I think it fits perfectly the kind of music we play, it looks cool, I’m really happy with it.

Ok, apart from the artwork, it still looks like you’re trying to go back to what you were doing ten years ago…

Yes, that was an intention we had. We felt during the songwriting process that there was a spirit we had missed during the last couple of years… and we were able to feel that we brought something back, something we thought we had lost. And it’s true that we worked with Achim Kohler as well. We tried to focus on the trademarks of Brainstorm. I think it was really necessary to make albums such as “Downburst”,“Memorial Roots” or “On The Spur Of The Moment”. Without those albums, “Firesoul” probably wouldn’t exist. We tried new things here and there and now I think we know how we should sound like. We wanted to go back to what Brainstorm was all about and to what made Brainstorm really successful back in 2004-2005, this is what we expect from ourselves and this is what people expect from us too.

Yes, that leads us right to a question I wanted to ask you: do you find it hard to combine your desires, the fans’ expectations, the label’s? Is it hard to work with all these different parameters in mind or is it something that comes naturally?

Ok… let’s say it this way: in the first place, you play music for yourself. This is how we started, this is how it works, it’s very important to be happy with the music you play. But we also love to talk with the fans after the show and we don’t just ask “Did you like the show? Did you have a good time?”… We also like to know what they think about the latest album. And most of the fans say: “Yeah, this is a good album”, “Memorial Roots is a good album”, “On The Spur Of The Moment is a good album”… “Good as always”. And, to be very honest, that’s an answer I can’t stand anymore. Hey, it’s not enough to write and produce another “good” album. Why isn’t it possible for us to write an album that kicks fucking ass?? An album that makes you say “Yeees!! That’s what I expect from a Brainstorm album!”. Not just a good album that you will forget. So, we asked the fans. We asked them what they missed on the last album, what they thought was missing to make it an unforgettable album. And it was always the same answer, over the years, it was always the same. Some songs were too much in a mid-tempo mode, it wasn't “in your face” enough… The fans expect a very powerful music with screaming guitars, screaming vocals, a very cool production too… So we went back to our typical trademarks and tried to go back to the feeling we had when we wrote songs in our practising room. We used to do that, write a song and spend hours and hours and hours until it rocks. What we did on the latest albums was that we practised a song to a point where we said “Ok, I have no more ideas for this one, let’s complete it in the studio”. And that’s wrong. So this time, we really promised each other that we wouldn’t leave our room until we were completely satisfied. And that’s the reason we have changed the release date of “Firesoul” many times. Nobody knows that actually, but that’s true. First, the label thought we were going to release the album at the end of 2013 and we said “No, we’re not satisfied”. So then it was January… “No, we’re not satisfied”. “Ok, we’ll do it in March!”… “No, we’re not satisfied” (laughs). But this helped us a lot and we can honestly say that we are 100% satisfied with each song on “Firesoul”, I think there’s nothing we could have done better and that’s something I’m really proud of.

Do you have any ideas for singles or videos for this new album?

Yes, we already shot a video clip. A really big one this time, not just a typical performance clip or something like that. It’s us acting this time, you can see the other band members torturing me… it’s the title track of the album, “Firesoul”. It’s an amazing clip and it’s gonna be released on the 7th of March. It’s a cool thing… the lyrics are about sects and it’s a very tough thing to talk about. I think the clip is really cool, I can’t say that everybody will like it but I think that’s a video people will talk about, it’s different. I feel that’s something we had to do. I can’t stand these performance videos anymore, you know, with five guys standing and playing on a hill or somewhere else. That was amazing in the 90’s, that was funny but now I’m tired of that.

As always, there will be a limited edition. What will your fans find on it?

Well, we have lots of different things this time. We have a standard CD, we’ll have a black vinyl, an orange one, a digipack CD with a bonus CD and even a fanbox with tons of stuff in it. On the digipack, the bonus disc is a live recording from the Bang Your Head festival from a couple of years ago, it was the first date on the Spur Of The Moment tour. A lot of people asked for this show actually, they say they had such a great time and so on… So we decided to release it as a bonus live CD. It’s cool because on the one hand, for the fans who have known us for years, it brings back this live atmosphere that they like to their stereo. Now, for the new guy that buys a Brainstorm album for the first time, he also gets a best-of live CD and he can find out for himself if there are other songs from our past that he likes.

Is there a European tour in the works as we speak?

Yes, absolutely! First, we’re going to have four release shows in Germany. These are very special to us, we’ll get to play the ten new tracks from the new album for the first time. You know, we were not able to decide what new songs we wanted to play for these shows so we said “Fuck it! Let’s play them all!” (laughs). And we’ll play six or seven old hits too. Then, we’ll also play a lot of summer festivals. And at the end of September, I think the European tour will begin.

Do you know if you’ll finally be able to come back to France?

Yes, right now, Paris, Lyon and Strasbourg are on the list.

Well, that’s good news because you haven’t been able to come here very often since the tour for Liquid Monster in 2005, I think. What happened exactly? Because, ten years ago, it looked like you were about to become quite big and suddenly you kind of returned to a more underground status and we haven’t seen you too much since then…

Yeah, I know what you’re talking about… and nobody can really explain what happened because a lot of things happened then and it’s not easy to find out what went wrong. One thing is that we changed booking agency and things didn’t work as well as they should… that’s probably the main reason. Another thing is that we didn’t have the same support for “Downburst” than we’d had for the previous albums. That was the last album that came out with Metal Blade and they did nothing, absolutely nothing for it. That was quite tough for us, and not just in France. Then we came over to AFM Records and I have to say that they also didn’t do that much for “Memorial Roots”. That was a tough time for us because we knew there were several countries in which we were close to that breakthrough point, you know… But things have changed. We’ve got a good booking agency now and we still work with AFM Records which I’m very happy with. It’s very important not to make the same mistakes over and over again… But really there are strange things that I can’t explain, you know… For example, we were number one in Hungary with the single “All Those Words” in front of 50 Cent and all the other pop or r’n’b singers at the time. And then when “Downburst” came out, nothing really happened. It’s so strange because at the time we used to play the biggest venues in Hungary, and with the next album, it just didn’t happen. Now, we still play big venues in Hungary but we play bigger ones in the Czech Republic… and nobody can explain why. We play small venues in Sweden but we play big ones in Norway… It’s like five meters across the border. I have no idea why.

Not so long ago, you were fronting two bands at the same time: Brainstorm and Symphorce. I was wondering if you sometimes missed the Symphorce days and if you’d like to give it another go one day?

It’s funny because everybody’s asking me that (laughs). The record company and two former members of the band even asked me that. Well, when I decided to stop Symphorce three years ago, I felt that everything was said and done at that time. And I never wanted to release another Symphorce album just for the sake of releasing another album, you know. To me, releasing a Symphorce album must make sense and I’m very proud of every single note we’ve ever recorded, produced and released. Right now, I know that Cedric and Markus sometimes record some ideas for themselves and they already told me that they had some great ideas that we could use but I told them that as long as we didn’t have enough material to record a whole great album it didn’t make any sense to spend time on that… because we all have our own bands a lots of things to focus on. I’m focused on Brainstorm right now, Markus is focused on Mystic Prophecy and so on. So, maybe it will take two, three or four years… Maybe a new album will come out next year, maybe never… I really have no idea. Right now, the band is dead but who knows what will happen? Maybe, one day, we’ll come back from the dead, ha ha ha!

Will there be a sequel to the “Honey From The B’s” DVD that was released seven years ago?

We have already recorded many shows from the last tour and we’ll also record or film concerts from the release shows and the summer festivals. The record company has asked for a DVD as well but we’ll have to check first if the footage we have is good enough to be released. And yeah, I would love to do it, definitely. I also think that the time is right for that because “Firesoul” is our tenth album, the band has been around for twenty-five years, I’ve been in the band for fifteen years… So there are lots of things to celebrate, ha ha ha!

Any other projects from you or other band members in the near future?

No, there’s nothing in the works at the moment. We’re really focused on our new album and we’ll see what we can do later on. I’ve just received some questions from members of other bands for a project but so far nothing is confirmed so I can’t talk about it.

Anything else you’d like to say to conclude this interview?

Well, I’d really like to say to our fans that we are really sorry we haven’t come too often to Paris or France for the last couple of years… But I’m pretty sure we will be back in the fall and we’ll have a great time! So, give “Firesoul” a listen. Check it out and find out for yourself that it really is a great album! Or so I think (laughs)!

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