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Crystallion's Steve Hall: "There’s no need to jump on a train that rolls in a direction you actually don’t want to go. Don’t do what others want you to do. Do what you like"

Interview with Steve Hall from Crystallion
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 17 January 2021, 9:51 PM

Countless discussions, countless debates, but the solution is actually simple. The past will always come back to kick some ass, and it might well be yours, it would be worth it, in Metal music though. Whether older or younger musicians, there is a kind of great vibes in the older days of the genre, perhaps it is the youthful spirit of beginners, though Metal was already quite grown in the 80s and took a lot of prisoners on the way. However, it felt free and lively without too much sub this and sub that. The Heavy Metallers, Crystallion, made a return to the roots of Metal, with a new lineup and a new album, "Heads Or Tails". Steinmetal spoke with bass player, Steve Hall, about the change in the band, where it is headed and of course the new album.

Hello Steve, it is an utmost pleasure to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing on your end?

Hello Lior, thanks for asking. I’m fine. The album is finished; the sun is shining. Everything’s alright.

Once I saw that news that Crystallion is coming back with a new album, I told myself that it was about damned time, it has been way too long since “Killer”. Was the band in some sort of a forced hiatus? What really happened after the “Killer” release and its supporting shows?

Yes, really much too long, I guess. We had quite a change within the Band. First Patrick quit, and then Thomas. Both for personal and professional reasons. It took a long time to find new musicians. But finally, we got them.

Though I know that you personally have been probably noticing what has been going on in Metal music, since your activities with Edenbridge since 2017, meaning that you have been around, when you look at Crystallion of the present, do you believe that it has to re-prove itself once again in a rather crowded and diverse Metal scene?

Oh, yes, of course. There are so many bands within the scene, the people nowadays don’t have the opportunity to support all of them. We have to fight for every single fan. But in the end, I’m sure, quality will prevail.

One of the major steps that you guys made is signing to Pride & Joy Music, after being independent with “Killer” earlier on. What made you go ahead and sign and not forgo with yet another independent release, since of course that are additional options nowadays? How do you perceive the signing with your new home, what made you choose this particular label?

The independent way is not really what we want. The possibilities with a label are much more varied. “Killer” was an attempt, but not a particularly successful one. We had some good offers, but Pride & Joy’s was the best. It was also important to us that it was a German-speaking label. That makes communication a lot easier.

Half of the new Crystallion lineup is officially represented on your new record, Sven Sevens on guitars and the voice of Kristina Berchtold. Both sound like highly qualified musicians, each to his / her own. Where did you find them exactly and how did you know that they were bound to be part of the band eventually?

Thanks to the internet. We found them through ads on relevant sites. That all was decided very quickly…after the second rehearsal. The vibes were just right and we are on the same page. To pull together…that’s the most important thing.

When it comes Kristina and the older material of Crystallion, do you believe that there is a match or you would slowly play less of the earlier stuff in order to make way for the new material?

Kristina never had a problem with the old songs. Most of them are easy to sing for her. And you are right, the new stuff will get more space in future live sets. But we will never forget about our past, so, there will be always enough space for “Burning Bridges”.

Entitled “Heads or Tails”, I could smell a kind of a bet, perhaps a sort of risk taking, some would say uncertainty but I would disagree. Would you say that it is a simple themed album, a young wild and free type of or rather there are deeper edges that are hard to decipher?

You are right a hundred percent, it’s as easy as you say. The title says “now or never”, “do or die”, or whatever you want. That’s it. Without a deeper meaning. It’s time to flip the coin…but a biased one *laugh*.

With some of the record being written while the Covid-19 pandemic has been rampaging throughout the world, and it still does I am afraid, do you find any relation on the songs, a kind of a relevant influence?

Influence of the Covid-19 pandemic? No! That’s maybe a theme for the next record. And believe me, our government will not be going well for that.

Once again Crystallion shifted its musical direction into a new musical approach. Honestly, not that new direction but rather gazing upon the past with bright eyes, looming over the late 70s and early 80s, vintage German and British Metal coming alive through each of the songs. I could also add to it a sort of a Heart influence to the mix. What made you go back to the roots? What drew you guys towards it?

Heart? Really? I mean, I love this band, but I can’t hear anything like that. But that’s ok…there are comparisons that are much worse *laugh*. Well, this music, 70s/80s, is exactly that kind of stuff that I listened to my whole life. These tunes are my roots. So, we’re growing older…and maybe a little bit wiser. There’s no need to jump on a train that rolls in a direction you actually don’t want to go. Don’t do what others want you to do. Do what you like. That’s all about it.

Some would say that living in the past means that there is no looking to the future, as if being blinded. However, the past evolved the experience, it can teach and tell quite interesting tales. Therefore, it could also be a learning episode of how to shape a future. How do you find the band’s development by going through this nostalgia phase?

In the past everything was better. No, I’m kidding *laugh*. I mean, we all come from the past. That’s what defines us. I wouldn’t say we go one step back…we go forward…but without losing sight of the past. So, even though I think our way is good, the future will show us if we were right. Finally, it doesn’t matter what people say because we love what we do.

Talking about phases, do you see this venturing of the band through the early days of Metal music as a phase? Is there a chance that you would find yourself playing Fantasy oriented Power Metal once again?

It’s all about phases. People change. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned in life: “Never say never!” At the moment there’s no need to make this music again. But who knows what future will bring? Not me.

Were there considerations of perhaps re-recording a few older songs as bonuses for the new album with Kristina at the helm of the vocals?

Oh, yes, we’ve already made an acoustic version of “Under Siege”, but haven't released it yet. But there will certainly be more in the future. Especially a few songs from “Killer” sound really good with Kristina.

One of the cherries of the album is the guitar sound, such a clear low gained orientation that had me intrigued, with most of the bands putting massive gain levels and plenty of distortion, you made it happen the other way around. How do you find this change in perception of the guitar sound of Crystallion?

I’m not the guitar player…and to be honest…I don’t care really much about that. I like the sound, yes, but where’s the difference to the older albums? I don’t know. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you something about gain, distortion, and that stuff. That’s the part of Sven. I trust him and don’t want to interfere. That’s what a band is all about. Everyone is responsible for his own part. At the end, everybody must be happy, of course. I am…and that’s enough for me.

The intro follower, “Knights and Heroes” would probably mislead due to its title, yet it is a street kind of song with pure analogies as I could grasp it. Furthermore, it is a great musical presentation of the new energies of the band. How do you find the dynamics of Crystallion through this track?

Yes, due to the title it would have been better on “Hattin”*laugh*. It’s the perfect opener. It represents for what the band stands today. Fast, straight, meaningful lyrics.

 “Save Me”, with that fine touch of keyboards, has that great measure of Hard Rock meets vintage Metal. Add to it its follower, “I’m On Fire”, and you might find your “Barracuda” driven mastery. What is your appreciation of these tracks when it comes to the efforts of the new members in the pack?

Heart again *laugh*. Both of them did a great job, not only on these two tracks. There’s are lot of very fine guitar work on “Save Me”. Sven wrote a few great licks for it. It differs a lot from the original version.“I’m On Fire”…well…the riffing is very simple on that one, so the song lives from Kristina’s emotional vocals.

A little gothic at times, but also presenting itself as a crunchy rocker no less, there is “Ready For The Sin”. Certainly it is one of the album’s diverse tunes in a way. What can you tell in regards to the song’s creation process?

This riff has been buzzing through my head for a long time. But I couldn’t write a song. There was a jinx on it. At the end I was influenced by one of my favorite bands to finish it…but of course…I can’t tell you the name *laugh*. I love the lyrics, they are very “special”, that’s why I dedicated this song to Kristina *laugh*.

What is your vision when it comes to the approaching 2021, do you see the light when it comes to taking back the stages? How do you see Crystallion promoting the new album?

Honestly? No, due to Corona I don’t see us on any stage in 2021. We’ve planned a few single gigs and a tour for this year, but at the moment no one knows how it will work. So we have no other choice but to use word of mouth and the internet until it’s possible to hit the stages again.

Steve, many thanks for your time for this interview, no doubt you brighten up the pumping heart with “Heads or Tails”. Amazing work. Thank you sir.

It was a pleasure. Thank you so much for this opportunity. Take care. Steve Hall


 



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