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Black & Damned's Michael Vetter: "…this band would never have existed without the lockdown. We were born out of anger against this action"

Interview with Michael Vetter from Black & Damned
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 24 December 2020, 10:19 PM

Now who would have known that lockdowns have such as strong effect? It was a first time knowing about this, and no doubt that it was surprise. With the pandemic creating a lot of havoc around it, with people losing their livelihood and one might even argue, their sanity, some could actually take on the challenge and capitalize upon the situation. And there is the German Black & Damned. Emerging from the lockdown, they were able to channel their anger properly, with the power of classic Heavy Metal. Steinmetal talked to one of the founders, Michael Vetter, about this new foundation, the new album, "Heavenly Creatures", images and words and more…   

Hello Michael, it is great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how is everything going sir?

Hi, I am very happy to answer you an interview. I am doing very well. I had an operation in my shoulder a few weeks ago and am about to let the wounds heal

It seems that you are closer to yet another lockdown than breathing a dose of fresh air, at least by watching the news. Could this be the final outbreak in Germany right before the vaccination spree? What is your input on this situation?

Well, your question came a little too late because we're in the middle of the second lockdown. This is, of course, a very political question and since I'm only a musician, I just want to express my feeling about it. I think that this whole thing will not have survived with an infection, because I don't believe that there will be a real means of vaccination.

Other than the many industries that were damaged by the pandemic, there is the culture, and within it the live scene. In your view, what are the chances for this scene, which has been quite active prior to the pandemic, to return in some kind of form?

I think that the music business will take serious harm, but the music itself will never die! The heart of a real metal fan will beat forever. That’s why I firmly believe that as soon as we get back on stage, we will be able to burn these off!

So, Black & Damned, your new band, I have to know, did the Covid-19 make you do it? I mean, is this band thanks to the pandemic or was this plan already set in motion right before this whole thing happened?

No, you are absolutely right that this band would never have existed without the lockdown. We were born out of anger against this action. Until the first day of the lockdown, there wasn't even an idea for this band!

A kind of an obvious question, yet it would be interesting to know how everything started for Black & Damned? I understand that it started with yourself and your vocalist, Mr. Roland “Bobbes” Seidel. Have you worked together earlier?

Bobbes and I have known each other well over ten years, but we have never worked together before. On the first day of the lockdown sitting at home in my studio and thinking about what I should start with the time gained. I had the idea of putting a song on an online platform and offering all musicians who were also sitting around at home that they should sing their own idea on it on this song. And the first musician to deliver something to me was Bobbes.

By the way, the first song he had delivered was simply a small sensation, this was the song that now bears the title Salvation on the CD. And since the chemistry between the two of us was so good, we decided to just make a band out of it and produce a CD. We had no plan at all for an image. We just put what we really are, we only wear black clothes and are damned to be a musician for eternity, therefore the name of the band also came.

Signing to the Greek / German label of Rock Of Angels Records, also known as ROAR!, your band releases “Heavenly Creatures”. It certainly gave me enough food for thought as I came to witness a rather darkened album. What is the contradiction that is being observed through the album’s title in your opinion, unless you believe otherwise?

Now that with the contradiction, you can see how you like! Then isn‘t all life contradictory?!?! These heavenly creatures may descend from heaven, but from there comes not only the good, but also the evil. And life consists of dark and bright sides, so that's the mirror we want to keep to people.

The album artwork very much enhances the contradiction that I mentioned, showing the supposed Wardress, as a blackened angel, perhaps a form of the devil, upon a burning world. So who is really heavenly here? What can you tell in regards to the vision behind the artwork?

You’ve recognized that very well! Because this creature embodies both evil and good, you can see the savior in it or destroyer. And the vision behind this picture is that we should look closely at what we should see and think very carefully about what all this means for us.

On the larger part of the album, I felt a measure of coldness through the lyricism, a kind of an iron hand upon a dying world, not leaving much to expect for a promising future. If that is the direction, I wonder, what do you believe in light of this? Don’t you believe that there is hope after all for everyone on this planet?

The texts are a snapshot. This is the impression we have where the world is right now. We believe in the law of resonance. This means that we think everything comes as you think it. Negative thoughts build negative results. And positive thoughts lead to great results. With this approach we approached the production of the album. So there is always hope for mankind as long as people really work on it!

Sharing the best of old school Metal music, whether from the 70s or 80s, there is quite a mixture for one to mention an exact influence and the integration of approaches is quite interesting. As a member of once a Hard Rock band, how do you feel that you developed yourself while working on the effort of “Heavenly Creatures”?

I have always continuously developed in my life. Because standstill is death! With my former band the theme was just party and women. Today the topics are just a little different. Therefore, of course, the sound has changed. But that was a natural process. Not wanted but just grown!

In light of the variety of tastes and fusions going on “Heavenly Creatures”, in your opinion, what do you think that Black & Damned is freshly bringing to the table? Is this the face of Heavy Metal in the present?

We are definitely the face of the current heavy metal. We bring nothing new or spectacular to the market. But we play music from the heart and from the „balls“. The music is inspired by a true metal heart.

What can you tell in regards to the songwriting of the album? Since the lineup is rather fresh, even if the players are veterans, how did you guys find the common knowledge for a fruitful work process on the songs?

Only Bobbes and I were involved in the songwriting process. All songs are written by me and Bobbes. Except for drums and keyboards, I also played all the instruments. The "veterans" joined the band only after the production was finished. But since then we've been tinkering with everything together. This is where the concentrated experience reveals itself!

The addition of keyboards throughout the album certainly up leveled the overall atmosphere of the songs, making them even more haunting. Is there a thought of actually recruiting a permanent Keyboardist to the band? I noticed that Axel Mackenrott, of Masterplan, made quite an amazing work on “Heavenly Creatures”

Yes, Axel Mackenrott has done an incredibly good job. We just showed him which spirit the songs should have and he then played in the keyboards according to his free intuition. But there will be no permanent keyboarder for shows. Five musicians on one stage are enough!

I have to admit, it was a little tough for me to pick songs to talk about, but I will start with the first, “The Wardress”. A punchy fist in the face, quite an Acceptish venture at first glance, slowly building up as a fair British melodious. What can you tell about this track and its creation process?

For all songs I had the same approach. I sat down in the studio with the guitar and switched off my brain! I let my feelings run free and played to myself. And so within a few minutes the mood for the respective songs developed. With „Wardress“ it should become a haunting song. With a certain hardness and aggressiveness with a lot of melodies that should animate to sing along.

The album’s probably darkest, a heavier cruncher that has that Helloweenish taunt, is “The World Bleed”. What is your appreciation of this driving force? Is this an optional darkened future?

I love this song! You get the feeling that this song is incredibly fast. However, it is the groove that gives this impression. When I had the idea for this riff I went completely nuts. Within only 4 hours I had recorded the whole song. This thrust of a powerful guitar riff is irreplaceable!

Angelic, atmospheric and quite grabbing is the finisher, “Heavenly Creatures”, it is that Sisters Of Mercy touch at the beginning, and verses, but developed into a heavier hymn, rather atmospheric and with a strong message. Since the album twists and turns, how do you find the direction of this song?

The genesis of "HC" is a funny story! Bobbes sent me a voice message. He had a melody in his head which he sang to me here. I was sitting on the balcony with my wife having coffee. My wife was immediately taken with the melody. For me, however, it was all too much good humor! I sat down in the studio and tried to squeeze this lovely melody into a bitterly evil costume! And so I then made the exact so evil that this monster was created!

Have you considered the notion of perhaps going live on streams in order to support the new release even for a bit or on the contrary, you are waiting for the vaccines to give the A ok for an actual live stage performance?

Well, we are working on the technology for such streams. Because there will probably be no possibilities for shows for a longer time we have to consider this alternative. To give our fans something for the cancelled shows we will release five videos!

Where do you see Black & Damned going forward in the next couple of years? Is there a new album in the plans?

The band will burn down the stages in the next years! We are very experienced musicians with a lot of energy. We will entertain our fans! There is no second album in planning. It's already in the works! I am again in the lockdown. Therefore, there is the same mood in me and therefore the same energy for new songs. However, this time I will write songs in teamwork with my friend Aki Reissmann. Double energy as it were!

Michael, I wish to thank you so much for your time for this interview, certainly a pleasure to get to know a new band, which I think would be doing good in the future. Cheers sir. 

It was an honor to answer your questions! And thank you very much for your praise! We will surely continue to entertain you and our fans!


 



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