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Peter Langforth (Alpha Tiger)

Interview with Peter Langforth from Alpha Tiger
by Gil Leht at 08 March 2015, 10:32 PM

A truly wonderful Heavy/Power Metal band to come out of Germany in recent years, ALPHA TIGER have recently come out with a new powerhouse, titled "iDentity"; a rather cynical jab at the domination of electronics over society and the human psyche, released under a new deal with SPV/Steamhammer. Gil Leht had a talk with guitarist Peter Langforth about their decision to continue with the quasi-Orwellian concepts driven by their previous album, "Man Or Machine", the recent departure of vocalist Stefan and their rocky history with record deals.

Hello Peter! How are you?

Hi, thank you very much for this Interview. Sorry that I needed so much time, to answer your question but we've been through hard times these days, cause our singer Stephan decided recently all of a sudden, to leave the band. That's a big loss for us!

Can you introduce your band Alpha Tiger to the people who do not know you guys?

Ok, here is a little summary. We started back in 2007 under the name of Satin Black, at first we did just some metal covers like every young Metal band. But we always wanted to sound more melodious and ambitious as the other bands in this time. That's why we were searching for a brilliant singer and did find Stephan finally in 2009. Together with Stephan we were able to realize all or musical visions and recorded the Martyrs Paradise EP in 2010. This EP brought us the attention of Karl Walterbach, the former of Noise Record, which was the biggest german record company in the 80's with Helloween, Running Wild, Kreator…

We decided to change our name into Alpha Tiger in 2011 and we recorded our first record Man Or Machines in Karl's studio. We got great reviews for this record and played a lot of huge festivals like Hellfest, Keep It True Festival, Headbangers Open AIr, and more.

After this we got a record deal with Century Media and brought out our second record Beneath The Surface. In 2014 we changed again to SPV/Steamhammer and released our third record iDentity

Can you tell me of your personal background as a musician?

I started to play Guitar when I was 16. The trigger was when I heard Brothers In Arms from Dire Straits the first time. I was love at first sight. I bought my a Ibanez starter Kit and practiced like a maniac to Metallica, Priest and Slayer songs. A year later I met Alex for the first time and we decided to do something together. Soon we found on this school our Bass-player Dirk and our former Drummer Axel.

Some rehearsals later, we had our first gig! Some minuets before the show we chose Satin Black as band-name, I sung and we played a bunch of Metallica songs. I guess it was very crappy, but who cares :D

But in the upcoming years, we got better and better. Finally when Stephan joined the Band in 2009 we were good enough to establish our own style and to earn some transnational attention.

What are your personal influences in playing and writing?

When I started to play guitar I was obsessed by the Big ones like Metallica, Sabbath, Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer, Maiden, Priest but later I went deeper and deeper into the metal scene and discovered great bands like Crimson Glory, Riot, Fates Warning or Sanctuary. But I always had an soft spot for Artists like Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Bob Seger, Simon & Garfunkel or Terry Reid, they know how to write awesome lyrics and songs, which are able to move people.
I also love southern rock and country music like Lynyrd Skynyrd, Alabama, Marshall Tucker Band or Levon Helm.

I'm also inspired by experimental bands like Saga, Rush, Queen or Peter Gabriel. All of them created their very own style. This is what I treasure most at bands, for me it's the peak of creativity!

I have listened to your new upcoming album “iDentity”  and was very impressed with the musicality of you guys - Can you introduce the album to the readers? It’s influences? When will it come out?

We chose iDentity consciously as title of this record, cause you can interpret this word in many ways. Obviously it stands for our musical identity, which we are still trying to search and to define, so this record is a big move for us. On the other side, I reflect parts of my life in every single song. I try to tell what identity means for me personally. This album is very personal.

The album title is written in that way, cause its a innuendo to brands like Apple. Most of the people are dependent on modern technology, they can't live without their smartphones, iPads or whatever. It's highly questionable. The title “iDentity” is a pun, cause these new technologies are everything but no help in matter of finding our own identity. People communicate only with their smartphones, they can't conduct a simple face to face conversation. I don't dare to imagine what's coming next.

We write about current issues and problems. I guess this is what makes us relevant to this age. We want to reflect the problems of our generation in our music. Musically it's hard to do something completely and groundbreaking new. But we added some interesting elements to our music and we wanted to bring in more groove to the songs.

Also we experimented with piano sounds, synthesizer and Hammond organs from the 70's, we combined Blues Parts with Speed Metal parts. Particular it isn't anything new, but Its the combination of all these elements who made our sound more independent now. The album was already released in January 2015.

Can you tell me of the process of the album’s creation - writing, recording, production and post?

Every new record is a blank page for me. I don't expect anything, I just want to do the record as good as possible for me. There are no pattern for a new song. Every song originates from a feeling and tells his own story. Most of them are related to my life.

When I start to write a song I don't know in which direction it grows. Sometimes it starts with a simple riff, sometimes with a melody or a vocal line, but it can always morph into something completely different.

For this time I wanted to give every song something special which separates him from the other ones. Just listen to the flamenco part into “long way of redemption” or the blues-part into “Shut Up & Think”. But I think all this new elements harmonized well with our former heavy sound.

We record in Karl's Musicflash studio in Berlin again. Domi Glöckner and Godi Hildmann did the recordings. We already did our first two records together, so we were already a good team. But for this time, we decided to engage a professional sound engineer, so we chose TOMMY NEWTON, the man behind classics like Helloween's Keeper of the seven keys or the Celtic Frost records.

Also we got some help from our friend Michael Gerlach, the Keyboarder of the great German prog-band ELOY. We helped us in recording the keys, hammond sounds and synthesizer. It was a great experience for us, to work with those veterans in music!

What do you think of the final product?

I'm still very proud of this record, but it has a bitter-sweet taste for me cause I have to face, that this one is the last of an era. I mean the last one with singer Stephan. I don't know what the future will bring, I don't know who will be our next singer and I also don't know  what will happen next. So I can be very happy that we gave all our soul, live-blood and energy to this record.

I'm also very happy that our friends and fans like this one. We were a bit afraid, cause we did some experiments on this album, but know I'm sure that it was a good decision to extend our horizon.

How do you feel about the current state of the music industry? Can you agree with what many people say that it's only going on a downward spiral for artists and it becomes harder to succeed commercially?

It's quite senseless, to moan about the current state of the music industry, cause we can't change anything of this situation. It's right that its getting harder and harder to become successful and commercially. But all we can do is to give all what we can, to write songs as good as possible and to work harder.

But its not only the music industry. It's getting harder for every part of the entertainment industry. It depends on the mentality of the new Facebook, Youtube & Spotify generation, who are habituate to get everything for cheap or even for free. Times are over when you had to pay lots of money to get the music that you wanted, now its just not more than one click.

But like I said, it is how it is and we have to adapt ourselves to this situation. Maybe we will face better times in future, when people realize that music can't exist a long time in this way.

What can you say about the scene in Germany? What are some of the difficulties of a band there?

The German scene is very alive! There are so many great festivals, which lots of metal-heads all over the world want to visit. Its a important market for metal music and every huge band know this for sure and take this serious. So you can see all of those big bands frequently touring here.

But that's also the big contra of being a German band, because people here are glutted by this huge supply of bands. It's hard to be looked upon as a serious, international acting band, cause there a so many newcomer bands.

There is also the fact that a German Band don't have that special exotic bonus for the German Metalheads, like bands from Canada, Sweden or from the United States have. People could see or meet us every time and everywhere, they can  party with us at festivals or concerts, or they know us for a long time. I suppose that you need that little mystic, unapproachable touch to gain popularity.

But I will not complain. We have a good status within the German scene, so everything is good, but it's a hard and stony road!

I have noticed that between every album release that you guys made there was a change in label, how come you guys changed a label every so often? What is your current label different or better from your previous labels?

The first move from Sonic Attack to Century Media was scheduled. It was just a natural step to move on to a bigger record company, because Karl Walterbach is the head of Sonic Attack and also our manager, so it was also his intent that we join a bigger record company.

We had a good time with Century Media, they did a great job for our second record "Beneath The Surface” which was a good seller. But during the working process of iDentity there were some little problems which became bigger and bigger. I don't want to tell everything about what happened, cause there were mistakes made on both sides.

But soon we found in SPV/Steamhammer another great partner for our music! They listened to “iDentity” and liked it very much, that was important for us, they know how this kind of music has to sound!

We are very happy now to be part of the heavy metal family of SPV/Steamhammer, it feels a little bit more personal and familiar now. But I hope this was the last change for a while, now we need now is a little bit of continuity!

Do you guys have any upcoming gigs? Some you are specifically excited about?

This Year we already did a bunch of fantastic record release shows together with our friends from Stallion and Evil Invaders. Most of the shows were sold out or at least close to it. But than we got the bad message that our singer don't want to be in the band anymore. It was very hard to swallow cause we got so many tour offers and festival requests. We still have many options to play tons of shows this year, but first we have to substitute the singer position in our band. This will be the hardest challenge for this year.


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