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Hammerschmitt's Armin Zelzer: "I used to hear “cause I´m Dr. Evil” over and over again in my head. The others and I liked it and that is how we came up with the title for our opening song. We definitely did not think of Austin Powers, hehe"

Interview with Armin Zelzer from Hammerschmitt
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 11 October 2019, 4:14 AM

Going side by side, no matter what, friendship may as well triumph over the core of the business. If you would like it or not, no matter how others will deny it, a band is a business right from the first chunk change inserting either one of the members' bank accounts. When it is related to the German Hammerschmitt, they may as well found the way to get along, continue their close relations and maintain a pretty good band. Steinmetal had a chance to talk to the band's veteran, Armin Zelzer, about the new album "Dr. Evil", the album's creation, Metal music, Austin Powers, promotion and more…

Hello Armin, it is a pleasure for me to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine. What have you been up to lately sir?

Hello Lior, the pleasure is all mine. After we finally finished working on our new album, we invested much time in our videos and tried promoting with them even before the release of “Dr. Evil”.

Back in 2016, with the release of “Still On Fire”, Hammerschmitt came into my life with its amazing interpretation of the thin line between Hard Rock and Heavy Metal. Three years later, and “Dr. Evil” is inbound, proving the true essence of solid ball of metalized Rock. How do you feel about this new release?

The album simply reflects the last three years with all its ups and downs after the release of “Still on Fire”. We have never been more committed and in our opinion, “Dr. Evil” puts everything in a nutshell. It just feels complete, well-developed and authentic. We are very, very happy with the result.

While “Still On Fire” was mainly a revamping work of old demos, other than new songwriting, “Dr. Evil” is totally fresh. How did it feel to write songs for a full album? Is the spark still high and mighty in the band to produce new material as in your distant past?

We have always loved writing our own songs, but were often driven away from it for various reasons. Partly it was our own fault because we used to be a cover band for several years. But we (especially I) also had to learn to accept the fact that German song texts do not really go well with our musical style. Ultimately, "Dr. Evil" continues with what we have started with “Still on Fire” – back to the roots, we finally arrived home! There is nothing better than getting the appreciation and respect for your own written songs.

Why choose such a title as “Dr. Evil”. I first thought about Austin Powers when I came to notice the title when the album was first announced. Beyond the obviousness, and even somewhat of a cliche, which this title carries, is there something deeper behind it?

There really is no special meaning behind it. This is how it works: Ben comes up with a vocal line, using made-up or somewhat English words, the main thing is that it sounds cool. After that I put the words on the exact vocal line. When I began working on the text, I used to hear “cause I´m doctor Evil” over and over again in my head. The others and I liked it and that is how we came up with the title for our opening song. We definitely did not think of Austin Powers, hehe

Other than it being a fully original new album, and in English, what do you think makes “Dr. Evil” as a standout, in comparison to previous Hammerschmitt albums? What would you say were the main elements in the music that makes it special?

The interplay of the songs, the bands´ energy, the artwork, the mix and mastering, but especially the intensity with which the album was recorded. I think, we have not been able to bring all of that together in such a good way until now. Every band has its special album where everything seems to be just right and it is not important what everybody thinks of it, because that´s how you wanted it to be and no questions remain unanswered from the very first song. To us, "Dr. Evil" is this kind of album – a milestone.

Within the spectrum of Hard Rock Vs Heavy Metal, I must say that “Dr. Evil” is quite diverse. Within the material, I could hear Accept, AC / DC, Scorpions, among the legendaries yet also bits of modern Metallica in the mix. Do you think that this pattern of diversity has what it takes to capture the attention of modern Metal driven new generation of Metalheads?

We do hope that “Dr. Evil” makes young metalheads or fans from different genres, who usually do not enjoy this kind of music at first, curious. Most fans, however, are rather conservative when it comes to their music, then again, you can notice a certain tendency towards bands from the 80s and 90s. It is almost a longing, even of many younger fans, who would have liked to have been there back then, and “Dr. Evil” would be just right for them.

Going back to the songwriting of “Dr. Evil”, what can you share about the experience? Would you say that you guys work as a unit or there are one or two songwriters that call the shots?

We are a well-coordinated team; everyone contributes their fair share. Gernot, Summi and I get the idea for a new song which all of us work on until everyone is satisfied. After that or even in between, Ben creates his vocal line and once we have decided on a title, I write the matching song lyrics.

The sound on “Dr. Evil” is just as I expected, there are similarities to the previous album, yet with an extra kick in the teeth for additional power. How do you appreciate the sound works on this album? How do you like working with Achim Kohler?

Absolutely right, the sound of the album is genuinely amazing. Gernot really wanted Achim Köhler to bring “Dr. Evil” to life. He is an extremely professional person and knows how Metal has to sound like – a big step forward for us!

Which of song of “Dr. Evil” did you find yourself related to? Any particular number that made an impact on you in comparison to the rest?

Lyrically, “War”, “Metalized” and “End of time” make a really big differences for me, because there are, in fact, related to our band history in a very, very personal way. Musically, “Saints of Rock” and “Unreal” are like a travel back in time, but just as you rightly said, “Dr. Evil” is so much more. It is so diverse that I would make a new choice by tomorrow already. The title song itself or the powerful “Say my name”…sorry! haha

Have you already played several songs of the new album in recent shows? If so, how was the reaction to the new tunes?

We played “Restart Your Fire”, “Saints of Rock”, “Tonight” and “Dr. Evil”, and the reactions were very good and show that our new album is also extremely powerful live. But this is just the beginning, “Fly", “Metalized” and “Unreal” will follow.

You are about to host a release show for the new album, I won’t ask you to share the setlist, which I am sure it is quite a thing, however, it would be great to know what is the experience of a Hammerschmitt show? What makes it crazy?

Simply our credibility. We have known each other since 1986 and have made music in the same line-up ever since. This spark of friendship leaps over to the fans. I do not know how to explain it to you, it is something which makes our concerts unique.

What are the next challenges for Hammerschmitt in the coming year? In general, where do you see your musical direction going in the coming future?

This year´s highlight is our release concert on October 19th, 2019 in our home town Munich. For 2020, our wish is to play on big festivals to become more known and then we will see.

Let’s go off topic. Promotion has been quite a varied aspect in the career of bands, whether full time or part time. Which of the promotional methods would you say helped you more than others? What do you think in overall of the promotional process of a band or an album nowadays, is it beneficial or it would be better off like in the old days?

To be honest, I wish the old times would make a comeback. You spend much more time listening to your favorite music, after all, a long-playing record had two sides and a vinyl was a sacred possession. Nowadays someone listens to your music for three seconds at maximum and then clicks on the next song and forgets about you. The internet offers endless advertising opportunities but at the same time supply exceeds its limits. Nowadays word about you spreads fast but you are just as quickly forgotten. It is both a blessing and a curse.

To which bands have you been listening to lately? Any particular band or bands that you believe to be the next thing in Metal or Rock?

Very difficult question to be honest. Right now, I can not think of any bands. I think the big arenas and stadiums will be pretty empty once all the great heroes have quit and I guess you have to count bands like Slipknot in on that, have you not? The last concerts I went to were Saxon and Metallica, simply amazing!

What are your plans of supporting “Dr. Evil” live? Any European shows or perhaps crossing to different continents?

We would like to do all of that very much, but our luck depends on the success of “Dr. Evil”. For now, we have no tours planned. We have made some arrangements, especially for festivals, but not before 2020!

Armin, I wish to thank you for your time for this interview. You rocked me once, and you did it again. All the best mate.

Thank you very, very much Lior, it was an honor!



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Edited 06 December 2022

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