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Interview / Breathing the Core Zine

Aktualisiert: 20. Feb.

24. Dezember 2023 Screamer

On this new occasion, we have had the opportunity to interview the Symphonic Metal band Sanity from Germany. Check out the interview and follow the band on their FACEBOOK PAGE.

1. Where did you get the idea for the band name, you plan it or come out just like that? 

Look, we founded the band in the early nineties when we listened to bands such as Death, Megadeth, and Metallica, schoolmates wore band shirts from Fear Factory, Slayer, Cannibal Corpse, Paradise Lost, … you name it. Metal band names had to have some meaning, most of them invoking some dreadful message that went along with their kick-ass music. I won’t tell you all of the names we came up with, I mean, we were teenagers after all, so, yes, we had some cheesy ideas like “Brothers of Destruction” and so on, but luckily we did not go for that (ha ha ha). After the initial hype of finding a suitable name, we became reasonable and figured that we needed a name that went along with the music we intended to write and that expressed how we felt about ourselves and saw ourselves in the world. With all the insanity that we witnessed around us in a world that was turned upside down after the Cold War had ended and Berlin was a free town again, we needed to set an example and call ourselves sane, of a healthy mind, reasonable, and balanced. Our initial music experience (especially on the first album) was not about mosh pit, pogo dance, and riot, it was actually pretty avant-garde and surely not easy to digest. And that’s where the name “Sanity” originates from.

2. Why did you want to play this genre? 

I was growing up in a strange type of musical home. My parents being born during World War II and having suffered bomb raids, displacement and separation from their families longed for a peaceful and silent haven to build a family. Imagine an austere Bauhaus-type house, filled with collector’s pieces and antiques, silent in its core, with classical music the only kind to fill the white-painted halls every other fortnight or so. We did not have any TV, nor was there any radio culture. I was a clean slate when it came to popular music. First mixtapes from classmates featuring the classic eighties quickly led to discovering rock music and I was already playing in a cover band at the age of thirteen.

After having seen The Offspring’s "Come Out and Play" on MTV during a family vacation in the United States I was hooked. The song was not yet known in Germany and so my twin brother and I decided to cover it. That was the beginning of "Sanity" and it was 1994. And it was not enough. Not nearly enough.

We were eager to experiment with creating songs ourselves. I wanted to find out how songwriting actually works. Can I do it? How do I express what I musically enjoy? How does it sound if I compose these chords for guitar, the harmonic 3rd in bass, and progressive drumming underneath it? I was overflowing with creativity.

The early nineties in Berlin were special. You need to understand that West Berlin was completely surrounded by The Wall, part of it is adjacent to East Berlin, part of it bordering East Germany. West Berlin was a small isolated island in East Germany, an island one-third the size of London! And there was no way out without proper visa application weeks upfront. I lived a stone’s throw away from the wall, we could hear the vicious border dogs barking every day, and we saw the heavily armed border patrols on their guard towers looking straight over the wall at us playing. Sometimes menacing, sometimes cheerful. Combine that with the fact that we were an occupied city. I lived in the British sector, the barracks of the soldiers near to a playground I used to frequent. Man, did we have fights with the children of the British soldiers who took us for fair game?

So when the wall came down it was – overwhelming, literally. The wall was gone but the people who were now "neighbors" were so different from us. The villages and small towns just outside of where I grew up and which I was seeing for the first time in my life (!) were so bleak, gray, run-down, and depressing. In the coming years the music culture, as well, was developing very differently between Berlin and the surrounding ex-East-Germany. I got pretty quickly into hard rock and heavy metal, starting with AC/DC and G’n’R. But then somebody from the "East" (that's how we referred to anybody who was from the former German Democratic Republic) had me listen to Metallica, my first real heavy metal experience. Back then we called it "East Metal" because only people from the "East" would listen to it. It was not cool in Berlin – yet.

There was a music show on the public broadcast channel "FAB – Fernsehen aus Berlin" which featured a documentary about "Death Metal". Imagine, a teenager in a classical music home (we had bought a (small) TV in the meantime) watching in all earnestness an educational television program about death metal - and the next thing I know, I went to a music store to buy my first death metal CD. Funny but true, the shop clerk was totally lost when I asked him about death metal, so we both went to the "D" section and found a CD from a band called Death and he sold it to me. Luckily, it was death metal and that sealed my fate and the direction our band would be taking from now on.

3. Did you know each other before the band was formed? 

My brother and me are old hands in the heavy metal business and have been living it actively with Sanity for almost 30 years now. We founded the band together with two high school friends that lived around the corner. The chemistry in the band is really important for us, I mean look at what happened with G’n’R after only six years of living the dream. What they created was legendary but the chemistry was not right and they split up. The line-up of Sanity has changed over the years but still today it’s people we know, we trust and we love.

4. Each band member's favorite band? 

That’s a tough one since we all listen to many genres, but if we focus only on heavy metal, it’s as follows:

Florian (vocals, guitar): Arcturus

Julius (guitar): Dream Theater

Silas (bass guitar): Epica

Phil (drums): Death

5. Who or what inspires you to write songs? 

Over the past three decades, I have come to observe that suffering is a necessary ingredient to creativity. I feel most inspired when in sorrow and distress. I also listen to my inner self and find that quite often music pushes outwards and wants to be composed. For instance, I wake up with a melody or hook line in my mind and am almost driven to sit down to write it down and record it.

6. Where was your last gig? 

In February we played our record release concert in a small club where we invited friends and fans from the past 30 years. We had a blast doing so, it was such a wonderful atmosphere, connecting with our fans, some of them with us from the beginning. You really should have been there, you would have seriously enjoyed it. In June we were booked for the German Church Day in Nuremberg. It's basically a huge, five-day festival organized biennially by the German Protestant Church with over one hundred thousand people attending, hundreds of acts, shows, workshops, and discussions. This was a great event as we could present our music to a much wider audience than usual. The feedback was very positive and encouraging. The record release concert for the second EP "The Beast" is planned for March 2024. There will be concerts in summer and autumn for sure, but we are still in the planning phase, nothing concrete, yet.

7. Where would you like to act? 

From the very beginning, I had envisioned Sanity to reach an English-speaking audience and thus used English lyrics. It would be pretty awesome to get in contact with metal bands from the UK or US and become their support on one of their tours.

And of course, we’d love to play some big stages and are dreaming about a small tour outside Germany. Scandinavia would be awesome or the US. Our latest release is a concept album of the book of Revelation from the bible, a prophetic, dystopian book that vividly and explicitly describes the Apocalypse. A dedicated tour on that topic would be incredible. Let's see what the future holds in store for us.

8. Whom would you like to feature with? 

Wolves At The Gate, Slechtvalk, and Vials Of Wrath.

9. Whom not? 

There are festivals dedicated to satanic or anti-christian bands with all kinds of weird stuff going on, I’d say we don’t have a very appreciative audience there with our biblical message.

10. Have any of you ever suffered from stage fright? Any tips for beginners on how to beat that? 

Yes, all of us have. And I guess that is only normal. Ask yourself why Axl Rose came so late on the stage on many shows or why alcohol and drug abuse is so prevalent among musicians. I used to play in standard rock music cover bands and that was the only time it really went down easy. The music was not complicated, the audience was usually happy and out to party. With Sanity we always push our limits about complexity, speed, and skill, that’s how we like it (at least to compose). To play live on such level is a totally different thing. For me, it’s practice, practice, practice. I need to be on top of my game to feel secure and to be able to run the show. Don’t play a show if the songs are beyond your skill level.

11. What bands have inspired you the most? 

Listening to the five tracks on our EP you will find influences from nineties black metal bands like Emperor, Ancient, and Bloodthorn, but also death metal bands like Orphanage, Gorefest, and Death. Even Metallica plays a role. Gothic metal bands like Cemetary or dark wave artists like Eros Necropsique and Elend were also a resource of inspiration. The way we composed the orchestra parts was definitely formed by us listening to music from Ludwig van Beethoven, Arcangelo Corelli, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Georg Friedrich Händel. I’d say, if you’re into bands like Arcturus, Obtained Enslavement, Throes Of Dawn, or Rhapsody, you know what to appreciate when combining orchestra and metal arrangements.

12. What's the weirdest thing a fan has ever asked you for? 

Hahaha, you’re out for some juicy stories, are you? We all had our share of rock and roll live and some of the concerts and after-show parties were crazy wild. Funnily enough, our fans have always been pretty decent folks, so I might have to take a rain check on that.

13. What do you think of your fans? 

We have a fantastic relationship with our fans, but we are still small enough to be communicating with many of them personally. Back in the good old days, we spent quite an amount of time communicating via letters, then via email, and later via Facebook and the likes. These days it’s all about social media, but you cannot lose your head over this, you gotta master the challenges of life and if you are aiming at staying successful as a heavy metal band you have to get square with the new social media culture. We are not the guys who are constantly online and share every bit of our life, but then again I don’t think our heavy metal fan base expects this from us.

14. What do you think of our site?

Man, you have an awesome lot of information on your website, it’s clearly structured, has fast sub-menus, has great design, easy on the eye, if you know what I mean. I’m really wondering about the team size that is behind this good site. I am not sure if this relates to your question, but I was really amazed about the questions you prepared for the interview, I loved every sentence of it. Keep up the good work!

15. Something to add?

Check out our socials and get in touch with us, we’d love to hear from you!

Streaming Site Links: 

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