The pack of Powerwolf are preparing to storm North America for the first time ever. The German purveyors of grandiose heavy metal have enjoyed a healthy amount of success over the past nearly 20 years, and, for the North American fans, it is high time to slake their lust for metal and fire. Knotfest caught up with keyboardist and on-stage hype-man Falk Maria Schlegel to discuss the upcoming tour dates and their impending release, Interludium, both of which serve as a promise for more to come.
Falk Maria was, quite understandably, excited by the prospect of coming to North America after all this time. “I’m super excited. It only took two decades to come over, haha! The time has really come that we finally come over. There is a huge part of our fanbase in North America and finally it’s happening. Some shows are already sold out, others the tickets are selling very fast, so there are a lot of metal believers, Powerwolf believers and I’m very excited to play these shows.”
Like most bands, they had planned to do this sooner, but the plans were interrupted. “The plan was already there when we did the South American tour, the next step was supposed to be to come to North America, to combine both continents together, and then of course something happened in the world, call the pandemic, so plans had to be rescheduled,” he shared.
“But we did focus on playing more shows in our main market in Europe. We did get some opportunities, but they didn’t fit with everyone’s schedules, but now they fit and we are really excited! We’ve got some good venues over there. Consider this tour as a starting point to a larger tour over there.”
“For me personally it's so important to go over there because I like the country, I like being over there, so it's very special to me to be playing these shows in North America.”
It is one thing to see a show online vs the real thing and for many of us, if not most of us in the US and Canada, online is all we have had access to when it comes to Powerwolf’s infectious live presence. But an epic time is in the works for us! “Fans will see as proper of a metal and a Powerwolf show as they can imagine.” Schlegel promises. “The venues aren’t as big as we play in Europe, so we can’t build the stage the same as we do here, I have to be honest with that. But we have a really good stage setup for the shows, and I can promise the band will be there with a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm.”
“For me, I will be running all over the stage. I don’t know if I will jump into the audience, we will see what’s going to happen, haha! The moment that we are there for the first time, that will be a certain atmosphere. We will celebrate a holy heavy metal mess with you all over there!”
While the venues are smaller than their traditional European venues, Falk-Maria is looking forward to that aspect! “I love to have direct contact with the fans and I like smaller venues,” he states. “They aren’t small venues, around 3,000 or so, but they are smaller than what we play in Europe which is around 10,000. But it's different in the approach and the distance between the stage and the audience, but the intensity will be the same. I play every show as if it would be my last one.”
“But if I can come close to my friends, the fans, and have that direct contact, I like to play like that. That is quite a different Powerwolf show. And I don’t know what’s going to happen since it will be the first time and everyone will likely be very enthusiastic!”
Of course, one thing that can be expected is seeing me surfing atop the crowd at their show in LA in March. “Perhaps I will join you then, so we can do it together!” he promised.
Coming up with the setlist is something the band takes both seriously and personally. “To set up the setlist is always a bit of a struggle, there’s always a lot of discussion. The setlist is not ready yet. Of course we are going to play “We Drink Your Blood,” that has to be played. But we have a long flight so there will be some discussion on which songs we will play then.”
“We consider our fans all over the world as a family. It’s a community, but we don’t know the reaction yet. We will see what’s going to happen. We have almost 2 hours of playtime, so there are a lot of songs for you over there.”
Much like “We Drink Your Blood,” Schlegel promised another fan favorite, “Sanctified With Dynamite.” “That one is also a must! We will play that one. “Sanctified With Dynamite” is fun, even the song title, if you don’t know Powerwolf, you might think we are fanatics or something, but we’re not. We’re only fanatics about heavy metal, haha! I like the sing along moment, when everybody is screaming “Die, die, dynamite” it’s perfect.”
“It is always a fun story, we have all this pyro stuff with us and on the last “Die, die, dynamite” there is an explosion. And every time the band forgets it and gets startled. It’s always funny to see the band jumping on the last part of the song.”
“That shows everyone that we are so into the song and the interaction with the fans that we forget about our stage props and everything around. Sometimes it can be dangerous if we forget some of the fire elements, but that shows the energy and we are always very into it. We are still very crazy people on stage.”
After almost 20 years, bands can tend to slow down, or not find the same energy they once did for the live setting. But Falk-Maria Schlegel has no problem running around the stage and keeping the energy up. “The thing is, fans give me the energy back. For example, when we had this break and we didn’t have any chance to play live shows, I was a completely different person. I was very shy, calm, maybe grumpy, even lazy sometimes.”
“And then we did the European tour last autumn, and normally when I come back from tour I am tired, but in this case, I came home and I was still full of energy. It wasn’t that easy for my family or my friends because talking and talking and doing. I recognized what I had missed over the past couple years. My fans keep me alive. When I get on the stage the fans give me energy and then I can give it back.”
“I really saw it after this autumn tour, I had so much energy. I couldn’t imagine losing my energy. If I couldn’t do it like I’m doing it now, maybe something is wrong. I enjoy every single moment I’m on stage.”
Despite the longevity of their career, Powerwolf are approaching these shows with fresh enthusiasm. “It feels like I’m doing my first concert,” Schlegel said. “I’ve been doing it for 20 years, but it feels like a young boy doing something new. I like that feeling, to be nervous and excited. I’m happy to have that feeling because it's not only professional behavior. I’m looking forward to that.”
“And I consider these shows as a starting point for doing more shows over there, maybe over 3 or 4 weeks. It's a huge country! So this is the starting point.”
In addition to the upcoming shows, Powerwolf will be releasing their 9th album, Interludium, which features 6 new songs and several rarities from throughout their career. Recording the album was a different, more relaxed approach. “Normally we have this schedule and plans where we have the tour activities, then a break for the songwriting process, then we enter the studio, but during the pandemic it was different.” he elaborates.
“We released Call of the Wild, and then we did the Monumental Mass streaming event, then we recognized that we missed each other, we needed to make music. So we said “Let’s start rehearsing and perhaps we can write some new songs,” but there wasn’t the plan. Without any pressure, we wrote 6 new songs. And we had to make a decision, should we keep it back? But we said “Let’s release it!” Then we had to decide, do we do an EP or add some rarities like “Bête du Gévaudan” the French version of “Beast of Gévaudan” or “Midnight Madonna”, a rarity which was only included as a bonus track
“And then we have the release show in Cologne on Easter!”
The songwriting approach was a step back both in pressure and in time for the band. “The songwriting approach, these days, is more professional than it was in the old days. In this case it was 5 guys in a rehearsal room with cabinets. It was a bit like it was in the beginning, back when we recorded on tape, REAL tape. It felt good.”
And Powerwolf was able to take on new challenges while writing the 6 new songs for Interludium. “We are using the hurdy gurdy for the first time. I like the name, hurdy gurdy, haha! But sometimes, when you are using different instruments, it has a certain atmosphere. But we are not a middle-ages band, we are a heavy metal band, and you have to figure out how these instruments fit our dynamic. It’s not always easy to combine everything.”
“I really loved doing the video for “My Will Be Done” and filming in the rain and I like the power of that song. It's really aggressive. Every song stands for a certain atmosphere and I really like that for these 6 songs.”
Interludium also comes with bonus or companion discs of bands covering fan favorite Powerwolf songs. Outfits like Electric Callboy and Korpiklaani put their spin on these traditional Powerwolf songs and the results are surprising.
“It was so much fun, and it was always a surprise and an adventure,” Schlegel shares. “Every band has their very own style and they put their style into the Powerwolf world. I really like that because it’s always surprising. For example, Electric Callboy, doing “Fire & Forgive”, which is a very Powerwolf song, but they took it into their style. I had a lot of fun with this project. It shows me that there really is a metal family all over the world.”
“And, like with Electric Callboy, maybe Powerwolf fans will discover that band and Electric Callboy fans will discover Powerwolf. And that’s good. It’s not a competition thing, there’s so many good bands around.”
And of course, to wrap things up, we got on some super serious dinosaur talk. Falk-Maria Schlegel does have a great favorite dinosaur. “Like from the movie Jurassic Park!?” he asked excitedly. “I can describe one, the one with the guy in the car, and he falls down the hill and then he’s dead because it has this poison. I have never been able to tell anybody this dinosaur is my favorite one! And now the world knows!” For those wondering, that one is called Dilophosaurus.
If you are able to see Powerwolf at one of their upcoming dates, the show promises to be spectacular. Tickets are available HERE. And pre-orders for their upcoming album, Interludium, which is out April 7th, can be found HERE.
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