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Interview - Mario Pauwels (Ostrogoth)

Interview with Mario Pauwels from Ostrogoth
by YngwieViking at 15 May 2014, 11:22 AM

OSTROGOTH is very much alive and about to strike back in the new world of Metal, almost fourth decades into their career. Drummer Mario Pauwels connects with long-time OSTROGOTH fan YngwieViking in order to answer a few questions about the new album and the good old days in the 80’s. 

Hi, Mario, I’m glad to discuss with you about the predicted renaissance of your lifetime band OSTROGOTH, can you tell us the whole inside details that lead to the recent reforming situation?

Well my dear friend Yngwie, I had already in mind to reform the band, after our first try out reunion in 2002. We were asked for several gigs on foreign festivals, but the other guys felt not right about it. After years of hibernation, I thought the time was right to call back the tribe. Our apparition at KIT 2012 was a blast and convinced us to carry on our journey. Meanwhile our tribe was enriched with Mister Frodo on guitars and Josey Hendrix on vocals. Coz’ we had to say goodbye earlier that year to Red Star and Junao Martins.

You are one of the founding members of OSTROGOTH and even the mastermind behind it. Do you see the things like that? How this occurred?

I am indeed one of the founding members of OSTROGOTH, way back in 1980. I do not see myself as the mastermind, but as a kind of spiritual father of it (laughs). My main concern was always to keep the band alive; the reunions were also a long struggle to endure, but it was always worthwhile fighting for. And I am still proud to ride with my fellow tribe members.

I would just like to know what bands influenced OSTROGOTH back in the good old days?

Well that’s rather easy: Black Sabbath, Scorpions, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Rush, Michael Schenker, Saxon….. beside the very early influences such as The Beatles, Steppenwolf, Grand Funk Railroad, Jimi Hendrix, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin.. and the progressive 70’s rock….

Your career spans over more than 35 years. What are you the most proud of? Do you have any regrets?

I have no regrets at all. It could have been maybe more adventurous. We could have made the States, who knows? Situations and circumstances are always difficult to predict and in those years we were like pioneers in the Belgian metal scene, which still gives us that culture band signature till nowadays. I am most proud of the fact that we succeeded to create 4 great albums, nice gigs, some unforgettable support acts and (the fact) that we still are running around alive and kicking.

Can you tell the inside story concerning your time with Peter De Wint (CROSSFIRE)?

Peter is a great singer and a true professional. I invited him to take over the vocals in OSTROGOTH when Red Star was planning to quit, back in 1986. His band CROSSFIRE had decided to retire even so and knowing Peter’s skills, I had no doubt in asking him to join the tribe. We made an excellent album together (Feelings of Fury) with Brazilian guitarist Junao Martins, bass players Villafranca and Cherotti and last but not least, keyboard wizard Chris Taerwe. On stage and in studio, he was an outstanding performer, but internal interests and different visions made us break up.

Please, could you tell us the tales behind the Josey Hindrix recruitment?

During the second reunion in 2010, we did a lot of rehearsals and played even with three guitar players; the band had the almost original line-up (Junao Martins having replaced Sphinx in 1986) and we were working to reappear on stage in September 2010. Unfortunately this was not a big success and we lost two of our guitar players. I asked Dario Frodo, whom I knew from my prog rock period, and he was instantly interested. We played a fantastic gig in Athens, Greece in 2011 and the road was open again for some Ostrogoth adventure. But Whiteshark suffered a very bad accident and we waited for him to restart the machine… Meanwhile our singer Red Star was not satisfied with the current vision and we decided to go our own ways. That was only three months before the important gig at the German KIT festival. Mister Frodo knew Josey as the singer in a hard rock cover band. The deal was concluded and Josey learned the live set in only 5 weeks time. The KIT appearance was his very first show with Ostrogorth.

Are you happy with the new line-up and the mix of ancient members and younger people such as the guitarist Dario Frodo?

We are very happy with our new people and the mix of ancient members and youngsters brings a new fire burning in the band, in creative aspects and especially on stage. Those guys give the band a dynamic injection and they are very closely involved in the writing process already.

How do you proceed to persuade successfully those juvenile guys to join the re-incarnation of legendary OSTROGOTH?

For example: mister Frodo played in a few Belgian cult bands and as so, I played with him in such a band. When our guitar player left, the choice for me to call Frodo was very easy; he already knew the band and our songs.

As a musician, especially as drummer, can you tell me about your influences?

The Beatles, Bill Ward (Black Sabbath), John Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Neil Peart (Rush) and Cozy Powell (Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Michaël Schenker). My influences: big bands, film scores, progressive rock, classical music, progmetal, NWOBHM.

What do you feel about of the state of the market in 2013/4! What is your opinion concerning digital downloading legal and illegal?

Illegal downloading is both a blessing and a curse for a band. Because of illegal downloading a band loses a lot of money, but many fans get to know your band this way, fans who you probably can never reach otherwise. Especially in markets like South America. If a band can make money otherwise, by playing more shows and sell more merch the situation is manageable. I know several people who buy less cd's because of illegal downloading, but they spend their budget on going to see more bands live and buying more t-shirts to support their favorite bands. That is cool. As far as legal downloading… I'm old school. I never really understood why someone would pay so much money for an MP3 file. I still prefer to have an album on cd or vinyl, I want to be able to hold it in my hands and read the
booklet with the lyrics. Digital files are so disposable.

Tell us what we have to expect from your side in the future to come?

We are writing new songs, coz’ we know the fans would like to have a new Ostrogoth album, and if everything goes well the new album will be released in January 2015. It will be our first album since 1987. We would like to play as much as possible in places where we haven’t played before and we would like to do a South American tour in 2015.

Do you plan on touring intensively to promote the new album?

That would be the plan; we are already touring now in Western Europe where we reach a lot of new fans and restart the fire and we already try out some new songs live. We will be playing at several important festivals in Belgium and abroad. In autumn we will take a break and enter the studio to record the new album.

What is the last CD you have purchased? Or are you still addicted to your Vinyl collection?

CLOCKWORK ANGELS (Rush) and DREAM THEATER (Dream Theater). I love these bands
I still have my vinyl collection from the 70’s and 80’s, but nowadays it is easier to store the cd’s (laughs).

Please let us know your OSTROGOTH’s TOP 5

Full Moon’s Eyes
Queen of Desire
The Introduction
Ecstasy and Danger
Heroes’ Museum

Please let us know your all time TOP 10?

VICTIM OF CHANGES – Judas Priest
SPIRIT OF RADIO  - Rush
THE COUNT OF TUSCANY – Dream Theater
EMERALD/ BLACK ROSE – Thin Lizzy
HEART OF STEEL - Manowar
SAD BUT TRUE - Metallica
LAST IN LINE - Dio
BRAVADO - Rush
PAINKILLER – Judas Priest
EVERYTHING from BEATLES, JUDAS PRIEST, RUSH & DREAM THEATER.

Now it's time for the Chinese portrait aka Le questionnaire de Bernard Pivot , which is inspired by Marcel Proust but this questionnaire is probably more familiar to English audiences as the one that journalist James Lipton asks at the end of  the TV show "Inside the Actors Studio."

What is your favorite word?

Enjoy, trust

What is your least favorite word?

Damned

What turns you on creatively, spiritually, or emotionally?

Good music, nature, love and appreciation

What turns you off?

Dishonest people

What’s your favorite curse word?

God damned (sorry)

What’s sound or noise do you love?

Music, nature

What’s sound or noise do you hate?

Machines in the outside

If not yourself, who you would like to be?

Myself again (laughs)

What’s the profession would you not like to do?

Politician

Who would you like to see on a new bank note?

Jimi Hendrix or my mother  J

If you reincarnated as some other plant or animal, what would it be?

Lion or wolf

If God exists, what you like to hear him say at the gates of Heaven?

Hey Mario, you did great, come in and enjoy (laughs)

I wish you the best of luck with the new album and on the musical path ahead. Anything else you want to share with the Metal-Temple’s readers out there?

Thanks Yngwie and all you out there, if we are coming to your town, come see and hear us and come say hello! Cheers. Mario “Grizzly” Pauwels, Ostrogoth wardrums.



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