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Phallax's Johannes "Jogi" Schurr: "Why we chose Latin? I don’t remember. We all woke up the morning after and there was this title, written on a shitty piece of paper"

Interview with Johannes "Jogi" Schurr from Phallax
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 01 February 2021, 11:43 PM

Sometimes it is putting the truth right between the eyes, it is never easy when the other side knows that shit hit the fan, and it was about time to pay the price. So where is that decency among people? It is there for certain, yet at times it dodges so may bullets that is prefers hiding its shiny head. So what can really put things into order? People understanding the rules perhaps? Act kindly to one another maybe? Only the future has the answers, and yes it is vague. Letting a little bit of humor into the dark equation, Phallax returned after a hiatus, landing "Lex Concordia”, and it appears that there is harmony and strong tight Heavy Metal. Steinmetal had a fine chat with Johannes Schurr, the ex-mayor, also known as Jogi, about stuff of socials, the new album, and more stuff, which some of it is rather hilarious

Greetings Jogi, it is a great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, I trust that things are a bit shaky there in Germany with the pandemic still taking its toll?

Yeah, we have some serious problems here. Some struggle from the lockdown and miss live shows. Others can’t go to work to earn money and some even are scared to lose our democracy. I think that last one is stupid. But you have so many interesting question beside the pandemic.

There has been plenty of chatter about vaccinations, people are seeing the end of it all, perhaps 2021 could be saved after all, with everything reopening and our lives would get back to a measure of normality. What is your standpoint on that?

I hope that we won't go back to normality. I wish that we all as humans learn from this. Especially how small and tiny we are. How fast things can turn, how thankful and helpful we could be. Yeah, normality to go to concerts and so on. But there is a great chance to re-think the things now.

From what I understood, and noticed, you guys are a fun band, happy people playing hard to the core Metal and the stage is a setting that is closer to a home when you perform. What do you miss most from the live shows, which were just a year ago before everything was put on hold?

Well, I miss this thought. Not one special part of it, I miss all of it. I miss to sit in my garden with the guys and drink beer before the rehearsals - and after and during. I miss to laugh together. We always have so much fun because one is always cheerful and that’s also very contagious

Let’s kick things into gear, shall we? Right. Things were rather quiet within the Phallax camp over the past several years, ever since your sophomore album. I noticed that were elected mayor, at least from what it was written. I thought to myself that the guys haven’t lost their sense of humor, unless it is actually true and you turned political on us. What was that all about? What contributed to your return to the ranks?

First of all, it’s true. I maybe am the first mayor whose also singer in a metal band. As I was working in the financial business before, that was also it sometimes. I wanted to give something back to society. I wanted to do something more real but I have nothing to show and I don’t want to be a professional singer. So what else than politics could I do? A bit to be honest – I was pretty scared of this new way to life and work. That’s why I had to put PhallaX on hold.

Now, you are introducing the brand new, and different, “Lex Concordia”, and also in a brand new label, Metalapolis Records. I looked it up and made the connection concerning the title, and I came out with something distorted like Law Of Harmony or something of a kind. What did you mean by this phrase, which I believe that you found it somewhat twisted?

Why we chose Latin? I don’t remember. We all woke up the morning after and there was this title, written on a shitty piece of paper. Some more information but… Yeah it’s complicated ;-) After all when we released the “Relics Of Harmony” the idea was, that some archaeologists could dig out the album. They have been searching for some decency and grace – and harmony. What you hold in hands now, is what they found. That’s the story.

I know that you guys didn’t make the artwork, but I have to say that it is interesting. That is well made drawing, unlike the computerized stuff that I have been seeing countlessly. The image of the judge always sends me Thrash Metal for some reason, and I can’t say that you didn’t show it in your music. But really, what is this display of lawfulness that I am gazing upon? How does it symbolize what is going on the record?

That’s easy. There is a judge screaming at you to shut your fucking mouth, sit down and be calm. He told you to search form decency, grace – and harmony. But so fucked up ;-)

When it comes to a theme, “Lex Concordia” strays into various directions, back and forth, whether maintaining the band’s humorism, yet also raises questions and criticism towards whatever was, or still is, on your minds. So, what was, or is, on your minds that you felt the need to lash out through the tunes?

Oh there is so much. Summarized it’s everything that the pandemic is trying to tell us. Environment, contentment, pride and arrogance, capitalism. Such as equal rights, war, human trafficking. You know, as long as there are assholes on this planet, we’ll have things to write about.

While listening, “Lex Concordia” felt like a continuance of "Relics of Harmony", yet turning your attention to the verge of the harder edges of Traditional and melodic Metal, slightly crossing into the boundaries of Thrash Metal and Crossover. The feel is of the street kind, less theatrics and more rotten to the core so to speak. How do you look at this sort of step forward for Phallax musically? What were the influences that were bound to this changing of the guard?

I cannot exactly tell influenced. It’s more like growing older. PhallaX is like our child and we, the drinking and drug taking parents, have to take care of it haha. It’s our job to keep the child on the right path. I think have been doing a good job so far. We have so many different characters in the band and everyone can put his ideas in the songs. Whatever one is listening to can be found in the song. Always trying to make it a metal traditional metal song.

Was it a natural selection of simply you guys wanted to play a little harder, to step out of a sort of old image?

No, that was no decency decision. And image is not our thing. Think of us what you want. And when you do that, we did a good job. We don’t want to make someone see something that is not real. When we want to do harder music wen do that – for our fun. Fun fact: wen never wanted to sound harder – that just happened.

Would you say that Phallax are to aim for perhaps a heavier direction in the coming future?

Who knows – I don’t.

Looking back at the days of songwriting and recording of the album, what stood against you that you took on as a challenge? Was it a smooth sailing operation (aside from your stepping down part)?

You know, you can’t plan a song. And you can’t sit down and say – now I’ll write a song. It comes, and when it comes you have to be there. Some songs are written in a few minutes and some just take months. For example, “Jornsack Newton” that happened on one night on tour with the Chrome Division guys – and was written pretty fast.

So let me get this straight, the album was ready already prior to 2017, or most of it was written and you aimed for a 2017 release? All that was to complete was your vocals at the end?

We started drum recording on like 22th November 2017 – that’s true. Then came the election and everything was upside down. You know this job needs a lot of creativity and so I had nothing left to give.

You had Mr. Krämer, from Sound Glade studio, and mix and master by Dome from domination records, behind the engineering of the album, running the show behind “Lex Concordia”, pretty good job on producing, did he also take charge of the entire engineering for the album? I have to admit that the album’s sound is one of its strongest elements

Mr. Krämer is a nature boy. He doesn’t work with samples. Except the ones he made by his own. Listen to the “steam machine” on silent tragedy – that was a bunch of things we found in his kitchen. I tell you, to make you understand how he works. And that’s what we wanted here. We wanted to let the people hear the whiskey on our fingers. Dome was on tour with his band during the chrome division tour we did together. He knows us – that made the mix and master very easy.

When “Here We Stand” boomed my earphones, I knew that I was stepping into the mouth of a different kind of beast. Charging with heaviness, turning up a motivational song that would make one clench his fist and be proud of being a Metalhead, to kick posers in the balls. What is your angle on this magical opener?

Yup! You are just right. And a little bit to show that we could do a classic power metal song if we wanted.

You fooled me with the Thrashfest going on the intro of “Sei Du Das Licht”, which evolved into a true German sung hymn that would spin people’s heads. Screw Rammstein, this here is the real deal and I could feel the positivity flowing around. So what is this song all about? What is the nature of this felt positivity?

It’s as simple as it could be. Be the light and you’ll never walk in darkness. There can be so much that helps you to stay positive and this song is more or less a list of this things and a manual, a how-to. Based on a quote from Theodor Fontane. He was like, rain is good for crowing, but you need sun! So much sun sun!!!

You knew how to finish like true rockers with the clincher “Rocksolution”, as if you knew the right hit points to plunge through my armor. You are smart. If I were you I would play this last on the set. Is this a sort of a tribute to the 80s or did you simply feel cheery at that moment in time?

I don’t remember how this was created. But yeah, a good song to end a show. So good, that we wanted to write another one like this. So me and my brother Felix (guitarist with the long beard in PhallaX. He guitar, me on drums) started jamming. The result was “I shit on your parade”. That’s how songwriting can escalate and once more – you can’t plan a song or songwriting. But rocksolution is a kickass one – mic drop!

Even though not a sticky tune, “Hey You” comes in with a harsh lesson, a down to earth kind of song that is no holds barred. What can you tell about this song and idea behind it?

Do you have children? Did you ever try to think about what you would scream in the fucking face of a motherfucker who tried to touch your kids or wife? If you didn’t you’ll never have to because here it is. Maybe this is the worst thing you can do to a loving father. Finally, there are movies about this. In the end always the father wins. But in reality this is not usual. So on every show I scream this words to the unknown danger.

How are you looking at the promotion of the new record, especially with there are no shows? Any plans for a video or live stream show, something of the sort?

I don’t think well do this video streaming thing. I’m not so much into that. The only online show I watched was the Sonata Arctica acoustic thing. That was awesome, and it was something special. No online show can replace the feeling of a live event – not at least 10% of it. That’s not worth the work and we can wait. And one day the clubs will open, and there will be tons of zombies on withdrawal. This are going to be shows to remember. This will be the day we’ll be back.

Jogi, thanks for the eye opening, ear splicing record, you made a mixture that is a match made in heaven. All the best mate and keep it up.


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