The German gothic band Lacrimas Profundere just released their latest album Hope Is Here. Guitarist Oliver Nikolas gives us the scoop on their first concept album, tour plans, his all-time favorite German metal bands and other subjects.
Chad Bowar: How did the songwriting process for Hope Is Here compare to past albums?
Oliver Nikolas: Normally I compose about 30 or 40 tracks for a record and we look what’s cool and what’s not. But as the idea of the concept was born, it changed everything. We locked ourselves into the studio and simply listened to every riff, melody or snatch I´ve recorded the last three years and sorted it out. There were some heated discussions on this, I can tell you. (laughs)
The last time I had a feeling like this was during the recording process of Filthy Notes for Frozen Hearts, and this is a positive sign! We started the works with a completely new approach. The whole band has spent a lot of time just to be Lacrimas Profundere and not some guys who wanna sometimes be Lacrimas Profundere.
One of the biggest challenges was that we consider it like a movie. We wanted to squire every step the boy did, the infinite freedom, the sudden change. We tried to turn every second of this feeling of freedom, the beauty of nature and also this profound darkness, into beautiful melodies and despair. We tried to capture the cold rain and the electrified feeling of not knowing what’s happening with the boy. Alienated at home – for years!
How did you decide to make this your first concept album?
We’ve talked about a concept record for years, but we’ve never had this burning idea that carries you away. In my opinion every musician at some point in life dreams about doing a concept album. I had the idea of the title some years ago. When I found the painting at the website of my friend and artist Elton Fernándes, it blew me away and suddenly everything made sense.
Rob came up with the idea of the boy in the forest. Everybody was so fascinated about the story, and our goal was to create a feeling that rips you out of your world deep into the forest to a boy who lives there. He’s alone and raised among deer. Is that strange? If your answer is yes, then we have got it right! (laughs)
Give us a brief synopsis of the storyline.
It’s the journey of a boy, alone. The thesis is that a child walked into the wilderness, and came back as a man. It’s about what real beauty actually is, It’s about the forest, the boundless freedom to listen to nature, to merge with it, to be a part of it. The boy breathes, sleeps and is looking for the reason, his reason of life.
Why he is in the forest? He feels strange and yet at home. The dangers, the emotions, the sudden twists. Join the boy. Feel his freedom. Taste his dirt in the deep dark woods that our parents warned us from in all those nighty night stories, No rules, no fears.
In regard to the title, hope is such a big word. I do not believe that hope has anything to do with age or life experience. As a child, we hope for the best birthday and later on the most amazing woman, the greatest children etc. But we never stop to dream. Life is probably not a question of endless hope, or think about “I would have do this” or “it should be like this.” Realize your ideas or dreams, that is what it’s all about.
What are the pros and cons of producing the album yourself?
Rob and I lived in the studio for a month. We slept on an airbed and discussed and composed. After that period we felt strong enough to do the production on our own. At the end we think the song always comes before the egos. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last 23 years, is, that you should listen if “he’s” talking to you, because in the end, the song decides what you have to do. We’ve worked with so many great people so it was time to show the world, what we’ve learned from people like John Fryer or Hiili Hillesmaa. And we saved money!
The con is that if nobody buys the record because a producer did it better, we will never get rich and famous!
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of Hope Is Here?
The first time we all together had goose bumps as we listened to the rough mix of the title track in the studio. Every band member comes from a different kind of music and its always hard to find the right music on our way to the next concert in the van. One guy loves U2, the other needs his dose of Metallica and the next guy adores Sabbath. For me it’s Anathema and our tech guy loves Napalm Death. So if all of these people look at each other and knew that this is something special, it possibly is!
What are your upcoming tour plans?
We are playing some festivals in Europe and in October some support shows, After that in January and February we’ll embark on our European headlining tour.
What are some of your non-music hobbies and interests?
I have a family with three kids, so there’s no time for other hobbies!
Who are your all-time Top 5 German bands?
Helloween, Heaven Shall Burn, Kreator, Running Wild, Blind Guardian
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Asking Alexandria – The Black
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Thank you a lot for the great interview. To all those who do not know us and like the interview, we would be pleased if you risk an ear. To all of you who already know us, or even have some CDs in their cupboard, which hopefully be most of you, we would like to say thank you for 23 years. You have made it possible for us to live our dream. We hope to see you soon on tour!
(interview published August 17, 2016)