The veteran German power metal band Freedom Call return with their ninth studio album, Master Of Light. Vocalist Chris Bay gets us up to speed on the new record, touring and other topics.
Chad Bowar: Was there anything unique about the songwriting process for Master Of Light compared to the usual Freedom Call album?
Chris Bay: Due to the fact that we wrote most parts of the new album in a term of touring, I could take a lot of “stage adrenaline” into songwriting. Always keeping the stage situation in sight, I could capture amazing unique moments of studio performances. The songwriting process did not take too long. We learned to decide very quickly which song ideas were right or wrong. That made the work flow run productive and straight. We didn’t feel under pressure, but sometimes it’s better for the creativity if you’re working straight without too many alternative options.
Did having the same lineup as Beyond make for a smoother process?
Of course. It feels much more comfortable and familiar while songwriting. I always imagined in my mind the visual live performances of all band members. That gave me inspiration to find the perfect balance for the arrangements. All band members are strong and unique personalities, and it’s an important part to know about it if you want to write songs for a team performance.
Are there any disadvantages to recording at your own studio?
It’s dangerous if you have your kitchen next door. I probably picked up a few more kilos in weight. (laughs) I operate the studio, but in the same way I’m absolutely mindful that my main function is a musician and artist. Several times our co-producer Stephan Ernst (Saga/Wishbone Ash) was part of the recordings, so I could act exclusively as the singer and artist of the band. The only real disadvantage you have while recording in your own studio is, that the production takes a bit more time of your life, but this time is very comfortable.
How has the band’s sound evolved/progressed on this one?
Because of playing many shows in the last two years, the band developed a very tight and energetic sound. We took more care of the guitars and put them in the front of the sound. Also the general technical progress brings lot of amazing production tools and toys. I personally like vintage sounds for guitars, but I don’t want to be stuck in old times and I’m ready for the evolution of the digital generation.
Tell us about the extra disc with four bonus tracks where each band member sings lead vocals on a song.
The idea was born due to a question of my niece Katharina. She told me that she can’t hear any backing vocals in the rehearsal room and she didn’t believe that Ramy, Ilker and Lars are excellent singers as well! A singing voice is a very intimate instrument and I’m giving my highest respect to my band mates to perform these songs as lead singers! So we could prove that all our backing vocals and choirs are self made and real. Only my niece Katharina is now preferring to listen to my bandmates’ songs. (laughs)
What are your expectations for the album?
The new album Master of Light is a continuation of the previous album Beyond. We just want to give the listener the chance to be part of our positive thinking way, our happiness and optimistic view about life and the future. Since our release of Beyond in 2014 we started to tour worldwide on other continents, so we are working hard to expand and hope to get more followers and supporters for happy metal in the world. So, you’re welcome! (laughs)
How was your experience at this year’s ProgPower in Atlanta?
That was an awesome experience. I was deeply impressed about the perfect organization of PPUSA. We felt more than welcome. When I walked in the venue Center Stage the first time, it felt like diving into another world full of “Power and Glory.” Our show was amazing in the front of a crowd, a big bunch of party people. We would be happy to come back to PPUSA!
How would you characterize your U.S. fan base compared to Europe?
The show at PPUSA was the first time for Freedom Call in the U.S., so I think there is still some space left to the top. We’ve toured in Europe since 1999 and we’re proud to have built up such an amazing fan base of “Warriors.” It’s increasing year to year and from album to album.
The U.S. is a huge country and you have lots of crazy metal heads we try to crusade to our “Happy Metal.” But the focus of our live performances is definitely in Europe. They are most of the fans and followers of power metal music. But we hope to bring the Master of Light tour to the U.S. next year!
Where haven’t you played live that you’d still like to get to?
There are so many places left for us to play, it’s hard to decide. We are going to Latin America at the end of this year and for shows in Asia we are already in negotiations. Freedom Call always was a touring band, we’re always on the road and we are not above to play at any unusual places. We’re excited and ready for new experiences.
What’s the coolest place/site/attraction you’ve visited while on tour?
A lot of big summer festivals in Europe are really amazing. To play in front of 50.000 people and more are awesome moments and make you feel like a rockstar. Last year we were in Mexico on tour and had a day trip to the moon and sun pyramid near Mexico City. This combination of concert, history and culture and jet lag was more than killer!
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Trivium. I love these guys.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Enjoy your life!
(interview published November 17, 2016)