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Lazarus Dream's Markus Pfeffer: "Forget Corona for a moment, we are alive. And the project has come back to life after more than 20 years of "deep sleep""

Interview with Markus Pfeffer from Lazarus Dream
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 16 October 2020, 1:07 PM

Without a shadow of a doubt, most people wouldn't consider the ongoing pandemic worldwide as an advantage, however, it is possible to fine options in order to keep one's sanity and continue being busy. The Covid-19 things recharged the old Lazarus Dream, which was a fine discovery to find out about, and two artists reconnected and continued from where they left off, pursuing the release of a debut album. Signed to Pride & Joy Music, the platform enabled the two gents to rehash material that is two decades old, along with freshness. Steinmetal talked to multi-instrumentalist, Markus Pfeffer, about coming back to record, working again with "Lizard" Schultz, influences, music prospects and more…

Greetings Markus, it is great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how has it been on your end sir?

I’m doing fine, thanks. Looking very forward to releasing our very first album with Lazarus Dream, and the reactions so far have been great.

Stumbling upon the Lazarus Dream project, it was morning news for me frankly, without any early knowledge of its existence. Let’s begin with a short overview regarding this venture’s formation, how did this whole thing start?

In 1999, Carsten Schulz and I had already written a few songs together, by the way, already under the project name "Lazarus Dream", then our paths separated for a good two decades. When the Corona Lockdown came in spring of this year and all musicians worldwide were suddenly "locked up" at home, the idea was born to record the songs of 1999 with the knowledge of today and in the end it became a whole album.

Has this itch to start a new project been there for a while or simply one day you noticed that you needed it badly and made some calls?

In fact, the desire to record a flawless hard rock album only started this year as far as I am concerned. Maybe a kind of midlife crisis, who knows? (laughs)

After taking part in AOR music for quite some time with Scarlett, and also being a member of Winterland, what did you wish to achieve with Lazarus Dream that you haven’t beforehand?

With Winterland, we released the album "Blind" in 1998 and sent CDs to many magazines and fanzines worldwide. Unfortunately many reviewers had a problem with the quite unusual deep voice of our singer at that time and we got a lot of rejection. Frankly, I wanted to finally get recognition in the Hard Rock genre I feel "at home" in.

Teaming up with a passionate vocalist such as Carsten “Lizard” Schulz surely made some waves after announcing this project to the world. How did you know that Schultz is the right vocalist for this project’s foundation as you envisioned it?

We had already worked together in 1999 and you realize very quickly if you can write songs together with someone or not. Carsten and I worked perfectly together then and now as a songwriting team.

How would you describe the experience of aspiring beyond the guitar role, which is your expertise, and turn your attention also to bass and keyboards? I guess that you have kept yourself from taking more than your standard role in an active band setting?

With Winterland, I've been responsible for guitar, bass and keyboards during studio recordings since 2008. In this respect I have been used to these different roles for quite some time. In addition, I play bass in a cover band named “Billy Bowie” since 2018, covering Billy Idol and David Bowie-songs which enhanced my bass playing a lot.

Signing with Pride & Joy Music, the Lazarus Dream project issued its debut album, “Alive”. The way I see it, and it may as well be obvious but worth mentioning, this title is your war cry, your breaking the chains kind of howling into the night, isn’t it? If not, so what is it really?

That's exactly how it is. Forget Corona for a moment, we are alive. And the project has come back to life after more than 20 years of "deep sleep".

Since “Alive” is rather varied in its attention to themes, without really concentrating on specifics, what would you say is the pinnacle of this release lyrically, or conceptually?

The Quintessence is surely the point that life is not always easy. "The Healing Echoes" for example is about burnout. The subject of "daily struggle" is taken up more often on the album. Many people will certainly recognize themselves in this.

“Alive”, other than embracing your early doings within the spectrum of AOR, and Hard Rock, breaches the borderlines while taking the listener into a diverse journey filled with surprises, punching progression, pursuing shards of Metal music, while even adapting a few elements of Funk. As a songwriter, how do you find your development while working on the record?

Basically, I always compose songs with a certain rough concept for a complete album in mind. On the one hand, you have to make sure that the different songs fit together, but on the other hand, it shouldn't get boring. In this respect, I always try to bring in some variety through different style elements.

While delivering a marketable type of music, which you have been used to, do you think that you found the edge on “Alive” of how to blend a direction of music that would be soothing yet also rattling in the same breath?

Yes, I think that we achieved that.

Talking about the approach, integrating the music with the lyrics, in order to capture the right vibe, in particular with the addition of somewhat complex aspects, can be a form of a challenge. How would you say that this integration happened on “Alive”? How did you know how to fit the right form of musical direction to specific songs that aren’t obvious?

In principle I write the music first, and then Carsten adds lyrics. The fact that the lyrics fit to the music thus results automatically, because the "mood" is already given.

I have known Carsten “Lizard” Schulz mainly due to his early bands Domain and of course Evidence One. However, I sense that Lazarus Dream pushed him to a gruffly kind of Hard Rockin’ Blues vibe, which is pretty good, especially on the intense parts of the album. What is your appreciation of Schultz’s performance on the record?

Carsten's singing on the album is simply stunning. I'm especially fond of his polyphonic choirs, and there are plenty of them. And I especially like his timbre on the softer tracks like "Listen" and "Visions And Sins".

Though I have been a big fan of the rhythm guitar riffs, I actually got myself to focus on the lighter, radio friendly, funky kind of song, “Visions And Sins”. Right from the get go it took me back to 80s Pop / Rock. Simply putting it, it stuck and hard, providing the album with dynamics. What can you tell of the experience to cross thresholds with this tune, especially with some heavier tunes that exist on this album?

In addition to the usual hard & heavy bands, my guitar playing has also been influenced by bands like Simple Minds, Pink Floyd and INXS. For me, it’s ok to show that without it diluting the overall picture too much.

Sinking in the spirit of Dokken’s “Under Lock And Key” main riff, you sliced into the Hard Rockin’ chop of “Can't Take My Soul Away”. I assume that you are a massive George Lynch fan, yet you guys took this song forward with making it a crunchy number. How do you appreciate this tune?

In fact, the song is a tribute to and, so to speak, a bow to George Lynch. And yes, his riffs and his slide-tapping have influenced me a lot. Everyone is welcome to know that, haha.

 “Fleshburn” is one of the mightiest progressive driven songs, taking the project into darker horizons and a wicked kind of direction that would certainly surprise every listener that got used to the silky smooth path. What can you tell about the creation of this track and the brainstorming process that surrounded it?

Carsten and I had already written "Fleshburn" way back in 1999. The idea with the flute came up by chance at the beginning of this year, when I mixed a song for a band of friends that included the flute. The bottom line is that "Fleshburn" is certainly the most extraordinary title on the album, of which I am also very proud.

With the title project to the name of this venture, is there a distinct possibility to become a full time band any time soon?

Realistically, no. A "band" like Lazarus Dream doesn't make any money, you just have to put money into it. Under these circumstances it becomes more and more difficult to find musicians for it. That's why I take over bass and keyboards besides my main instrument, the guitar.

With the pandemic still out there, how do you cope with the situation? How have you been keeping yourself busy in order not to go insane with what has been happening?

Quite simple: By working out, recording, arranging and mixing the songs for the album and now also shooting two videos. That was a welcome change.

Markus, it has been amazing to have you for this interview, thank you for your time and effort. I believe that you made an impact with Lazarus Dream, as a sort of unexpected.  It is bound to rattle someone’s chains. Cheers sir.

Thank you!



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