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Interview - Mats Kurth (Coronatus)

Interview with Mats Kurth from Coronatus
by Daniel Fox at 13 February 2014, 9:22 PM

Mats Kurth of CRONATUS sat down with Daniel Fox for a nice chat about their newest album and a little more about their band.

 Hello Mats, listening to and reviewing Recreatio Carminis was a pleasure. Quite an ambitious piece, in my opinion the most ambitious out of the band's discography. I was very pleased with the result, and I'm sure your fans are; how about you guys?

For us, it is the same. We are very satisfied with the result, indeed. It was a lot of work, as always, but in the end everything went very well, really!

Being so musically complicated, I can't imagine what the recording process was like. So many instrument tracks to go into the mixing pot. As a drummer, were all the melodies written first? Or did the band work around you?

The melodies have been written first, yes. I did it like that for the songs “Towards Horizon, The Monk, Der Gesandte & So tanzt!". George, who is the main composer of “Mein Reich, Schwester, Winterrosen, Sternenstaub & Erhebt die Wogen!” did the vocal melodies first as well. In contrast to my songs, he also wrote the lyrics right from the start of the composing process. After we had finished those rough compositions we forwarded the songs to the other band members, i.e. Aria, the guitar player and Pinu’u responsible for the keyboard/orchestra parts. While they added their instrumental parts, I finished the lyrics of my 4 songs and forwarded it to the ladies. The final step concerning the arrangement was the distribution of the vocal parts between all of the three Coronatus women. ​

 I liked the decision to bring back Carmen; having a third female voice adds more dimension to the band's sound; not many bands I know of have such an array of singers. How has this opened up more possibilities for Coronatus' musical direction?

To be honest, I am sure that with Recreatio Carminis we just started to scratch the surface of all the possibilities that open up by this array of singers! I am sure that we will be able to present a whole lot of really outstanding vocal arrangements in the future of the band! Not to misunderstand me: I am really satisfied with what we already did on Recreatio Carminis. However, it will only be the beginning of a new era of this bands’ development.

Speaking of musical direction; being a fan of MANY symphonic metal bands, I was able to sense nuances and nods towards many of those bands in this album. Who were the most influential, in your opinion, with regards to songwriting?

This depends: for me it is bands like Nightwish, Within Temptation or Sirenia concerning the female fronted aspect. However I am surely also influenced by bands like Subway To Sally, Ensiferum, Eluveitie, Turisas, Finntroll and many more. Concerning Georges’ compositions it is more the independent scene of the 80s like Bauhaus, Sisters of Mercy and so on. However, since his songs always are arranged by the whole Coronatus bunch, there is not much left of the 80s style in the end, haha!

That's modern bands, but what about classical composers? It is so easy to tell by the music that there are some heavy classical influences, but which ones do you think stand out?

Well, this time the classical orchestral parts have been done by Pinu’u Remus. Actually, I do not know, by whom he was inspired most. But I can name you some composers I like very much myself: it is Carl Orff of course or a lot of works of Sibelius, for example. However, Pinu’u is able to create orchestral arrangements in a way I do really appreciate. He writes music for other projects too. That ones are mostly a little bit more progressive, but for Coronatus, he really manages to hit the point in what this band needs.

I actually somewhat preferred the songs that were sung entirely in German, even though I am not at all fluent in the language. Are they there to tell specific stories, or to appeal to your German-speaking audience? Are there plans to release albums entirely in German in the future?

In fact, we do not think so much about the language. While composing, you just get certain vocals in your mind. This is sometimes in German, sometimes in English. It is more a matter of sound, than a planned decision. However, German is our native tongue. Therefore, we are of course able to write much more lyric-like, than story-like as it happens almost automatically with the English songs.

I adored your drumming on the track, "The Monk"; that track really stood out for me. A bit of a cliche question, but who are your most important drumming influences?

Good question! As you know, I am not the youngest drummer anymore! Back in the 80s I adored drummers like Simon Philips, Steve Gadd, Phil Collins (or Chester Thompson, live), Billy Cobham and so on. But this was no metal drumming at all! They have been studio drummers or fusion drummers! In writing my drum lines, for me it is important, always to do something special, not following the expected path. Sometimes it is only very small things, often not recognized at all by the normal listeners, i.e. a certain cymbal line or a tom part instead of a normal bass-snare-part and so on. Or using rhythmical patterns avoiding the “1”, or something…For a tune like “The Monk”, I could really perform some kind of a more obviously virtuous drumming, of course! ​

 Touring with Within Temptation must have been a big honor. Are there any shows or festivals you're particularly looking forward to? What about countries the band has yet to you?

To be honest, we played only one show with Within Temptation in Budapest. This was organized by the Hungarian booker. However, this was really a great honor for us, yes!! We will play a little festival in summer in the north of Germany and of course we hope that we will be booked for some more. It would be great to play at the WGT again or the MetalFemaleVoices-Festival in Belgium. Also the MeraLuna Festival would be great!

What is your view on the current state of symphonic/gothic metal as a whole? It seems like there's a great wealth of female-fronted quintets that employ string samples, but bands like Coronatus and Epica stand out. Like I said, I think the inclusion of three female vocalists makes the band stand out above the proverbial crowd and helped to shake off some of the stereotypes.

I am really proud a little bit that we really can say, our sound is unique! There are a lot of bands in   this genre that have much more success than we do! And it would be great for us of course to participate a little bit more with this success! However, you cannot mix up Coronatus with any other band of the genre. It is a love-it-or-hate-it thing. And as long as the loving fraction will not become too small, we will continue with this band and this sound!

Thanks for agreeing to this interview. As a band who is unfortunately nowhere near as popularized as Nightwish and the like, what kind of advice would you have for bands that are aspiring to start equally ambitious projects?

Oh, in the beginning of a band or project for most of the musicians I know, it is always the most important aspect to create music that reflects what this persons really stand for. However, later on, when trying to change the music due to economic reasons, it often ends up with the end of that band. My advice is, not to go off your own path just because of gaining more popularity! Keep to YOUR dream and keep to YOUR music. By doing so music will keep its diversity and uniqueness; and this is the highest goal, I think!


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Edited 06 December 2022

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