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Sapiency's Lars Bittner: "If someone would have told me there that Gerre will play in one of the videos of my band… I would call it crazy. Pinch me, please – maybe I am still dreaming…"

Interview with Lars Bittner from Sapiency
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 19 September 2020, 9:30 PM

To think positive, to find solutions for personal problems other than constantly focusing on what is going on outside. Sometimes, it would be best to solve inner issues than merely going out there, filled with frustration because on the home front, everything is nothing more than black. Carrying to the torch, in the name of positivity and striving for life, there is the German Melodic Death Metal band, Sapiency. No matter time, situation, their undying will to never back them down, brought them to recognition again with “For Those Who Never Rest”. Steinmetal had a good and thorough chat with vocalist Lars Bittner about the band's lyrical idealism, a little history lesson and hopes and dreams concerning the new album.

Hello Lars, it is great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing mate?

Hi Lior, thanks so much for the invitation and for the awesome review of our new Album “For Those Who Never Rest” that will be released on Massacre Records on the 25th September 2020. It’s a great pleasure to have this interview with you. Thank you for this opportunity, Lior. We hope you are doing very good, too?

Everyone in Sapiency is doing very fine at the moment and we are all very excited.  Especially since the time when we released the first Video for the first Single “Everest” of the new Sapiency album mid of August 2020. The reactions to the video were absolutely overwhelming. Receiving such a great amount of positive feedback by known and new members of our fanbase really pushed everyone within Sapiency to a best productive level in the history of our band and the investment of energy is really paying off when we are seeing all these awesome reactions to our music on the various channels – especially for songs from the new album these days.

While thanking the commenters and fans for their trust and for motivating us in such a powerful manner, we ourselves invested and planned new milestones to give something back to them as quickly as possible and finalized the next video for the second single “Like Yourself” from the new album. At the beginning of September, we released the next Video ”Like Yourself”.

This video is one of the craziest and intense things, we have ever done so far: Imagine to get the chance to work with the most professional and creative film-crew, a group of highly motivated actors and actresses, with 3 trucks filled until the roof with the finest lightning and camera-equipment – what else can you dream of then ? Our answer: We need a Superstar playing main role and protagonist in “Like Yourself”. And guess what: We did not even find a Superstar - we found the one of a kind Metal-Superstar Gerre from Tankard performing in our Video and also on the Bonus track of our new Album “For Those Who Never Rest”.

Certainly it appeared that you guys went out of your way this time, I really hope it will pay off eventually

It has been far too long since the last time I heard of the Sapiency name, in particular the memorability of the material behind the name, and you are, back to the fold. I understand that these last several years, nearly seven, since your “Tomorrow” album, haven’t been easy so to speak. What happened to you guys?

Well, you are right and the various reasons for the long delay might be hard to believe. Indeed, the number of years passed since the Album “Tomorrow” came out in the stores is quite high, even though the band has always been active.

After the release of “Tomorrow” we focused very much on playing Live shows to promote the Album. We played a European Tour in 2014 and a number of support shows with big acts in the following years and also on great national and international festivals like Metal Days in Slovenia, Out & Loud, Dong Open Air – only to mention a few.

In parallel we were constantly working on a large number of songs to release a new album in 2015. This plan was thrown back, because of various changes in the line-up of the band beginning with the departure of our growler Mid of 2015 and of our drummer and bass player Mid of 2017, emigrating to Australia. Even if there were a large number of candidates interested to play at various auditions the search for new band members took us plenty of time.

In addition to these evolutions in the line-up our band was hit twice by water-damages caused by heavy rainfalls, which entirely destroyed our rehearsal-room and studio. Almost all electronical equipment and instruments became unusable trash within minutes and also the nerves of some of the band members started to rust away – especially as this happened in 2016 for the second time.

In June 2017, all auditions for bass and drums were held and the light at the end of the tunnel became really bright: Hendrik Winter (Bass) and Jonas Schuetz (Drums) completed the line-up of the band.

In parallel our growler Phil Heckel (ex-Prophecy23) announced that he received an attractive job-offer that forced him to leave Sapiency from beginning of 2018 on. In August 2017 we found a new growler, who left the band one year later. Our bass-player took over the part of the growler since then and luckily brought us in a position to play a couple of very nice shows. In autumn 2019 Tyler Zechlinski finally completed our line-up and since then – finally - we are more than ready to start our new chapter of Melodic Death Metal made in Germany.

As you see from the happenings described above, you might get an idea of why the new Sapiency album is entitled “For Those Who Never Rest”. Besides the fact, that we express that there is no option to give up we are blessed to dedicate this album to those who have not rested to believe in us and those who are continuously supporting us during the years.

Were there thoughts to let everything go and cease activity at any point?

No. Let me check the Title of the new Album again. No, we never rest and never give this band up. Giving up has never been a good option for anything.

As it seems, to the Metal scene’s delight, you held ground, gathered yourself new forces in the band, and continued forward in full strength. One of the achievements of the band turned out to be in the image of signing with the powerhouse label, Massacre Records. What do you feel about the signing? Was Massacre a first choice or were there other offers? What do you seek to accomplish with this signing to such a renowned label?

Indeed, we started to get in closer contact with a couple labels since the beginning of this year and negotiated different options for the release of our new Album. Most important for us was to have a strong partner that supports us to exceed our degree of prominence in a professional and effective way:

As Massacre Records is one of the most legendary record labels for Metal in Europe and home of famous bands like The Prophecy23, Paragon, Eisregen, Illdisposed, Sinister (and many more) our decision to sign a contract there was indeed the option that we preferred the most.

We are excited to be part of the Massacre family of bands under this professional label company which has experience of almost 30 years in the business. Massacre is a great and strong partner for all bands that are looking forward to achieve a significant improvement of promotion of the band and the distribution of a new album. In one sentence: For those who want success. Sapiency is glad to have a strong partner now and feels pretty much at home. We want to take the chance to thank the team at Massacre Records very much for their support for Sapiency so far.

When I faced the title of your new album, “For Those Who Never Rest”, it made a different impression on me, had me thinking of dawn of the dead sort of themes, a sort of a post-apocalyptic vision of the dead ruling the world. Nonetheless, I was mistaken. What can you tell about the title? Which is not part of the tracklist just to point out

Looking at all the ups and downs in the history of our band you might get an idea of why the new Sapiency album is entitled “For Those Who Never Rest”. The title of the album is the summary of the story of a group of six guys with an unbeatable will to reach a certain goal in their life (like reaching the peak of a mountain on the front cover) together. Giving up or turning around is not an option.

We are inviting all those who are deciding not to rest or who are not seeing a good reason in giving up: We take them with us and reward each and anyone with a package of the best Melodic Death Metal we ever produced. Everyone who is willing to follow us on our journey will get this gift from us – that’s the deal.

Besides the fact, that we express that there is no option and no reason for ever giving up, we are blessed to dedicate this album to those who have not rested to believe in us and those who continuously supported us over the years.

Unlike the majority of Metal albums that usually discuss problems, ordeals or social decay, which yet another issue that is barely faced head on, Sapiency did something different on “For Those Who Never Rest”, you are actually trying to provide the solution. What is your viewpoint on that?

Thank you for mentioning this point. It proves that you really had a detailed look into our lyrics which is a great delight for me personally. You are absolutely right: The main goal of our band is to motivate and energize everyone who loves Metal or Aggressive Music of any kind.

Regarding lyrics in Metal in general I had the feeling (in the 90s with the very first lyrics I wrote) that the majority of people is not really interested in messages I want to pass in a song. Maybe I was right in the past far behind me, but nowadays I am absolutely wrong: After the first concerts with Sapiency, I was impressed by people asking me about parts of the lyrics they heard during our concert. There was even one guy asking me, if it’s possible to buy the booklet only for reading the lyrics. Seeing people reading the lyrics in the booklet - even while the band after us was already playing -  looked a bit irritating in the beginning, but I really love to talk with interested and open-minded people.

Of course I could also serve the stereotypic way of writing and singing about war, death, blood and brain spilled on the pavement, but I always wanted to write about something more personal: Something like a zip file with “Motivation” that someone can easily carry home on a disk. (I hope this picture doesn’t sound too weird)

In your opinion, it is possible to garner strength to carry on when one is so down low? Any personal experience regarding that rather common issue in our demanding society, which some are simply ignoring?

My intention is to encourage individuals in the audience without promising or teaching anything. I absolutely try to avoid political statements and I also find boring to criticize “The Society” or finger point on obvious grievances: Everyone does this – so, why not do something a bit more different? For example: I hate racism, but no one will bring me ever to the point to write a song about it, because thousands of bands are doing this already. I got no reason to be the 1001st.  I want to write messages for single individuals, yeah! I write mainly for individuals or even small groups, but not for and not about so-called “societies” ;)

What is that source of motivation that you are trying to inspire people that feel neglected, abandoned by others, as simply saying “don’t give up” in variations isn’t really a solution?

“Everest” and “Like yourself” are two good examples to explain the intention of the lyrics. Both lyrics are intending to inspire and to motivate and energize the listener with two very different methods:

On “Everest” the mountain stands for a very very simple metaphor for a goal that can only be reached by someone who is massively motivating himself with every method he can find (intrinsic motivation). Amazing is that you can almost feel the freezing cold in the intro, even if you do not hear a snow-storm or so. The protagonist can be viewed from outside – by you, me and anyone else. The story of “Everest” describes someone willing to reach the top of a very very high mountain (metaphor). Instead of having respect for the goal he is starting up a inner verbal fight with the mountain, insulting it (i.e. by calling it “a little hill”). Similar to an arrogant self-confident Boxer or like an aggressive Tennis-Player shouting at himself to motivate himself.

The message is encrypted in most parts, but a listener could take over a few percent of this self-confidence and re-use it for his own purpose and for his own goals. For me “Everest” is a great song for cycling in the mountain-area and to forget the pain of extreme ascents; my self-confidence to reach the peak somehow grows while listening to this song. I feel like watching someone in front of my inner eye who is also struggling together with me to reach the peak as a team.

“Like Yourself” uses a totally different method, but the result for the listener should be a similar one (even for another topic): This song brings the intended message directly “Into Your Face” – simply by using 2 single words. There is no trick and no decryption needed. The hook is catchy and can be used as good and very simple mantra. I love to provide such tools:

You know, if only one of thousand listeners is taking advantage of such a tool written by myself I can somehow say that I did my job well: As you are asking exactly this question about the lyrics in this interview I am glad to have this great conversation with you, because I found the one of the thousand. Thank you again for this question and for your time to have this interview with me.

My pleasure sir, and I am glad for the answer in length

With the positive message hailing out of “For Those Who Never Rest”, Sapiency sounds more brutal than ever before, even though maintaining its memorable / catchy kind of tunes and of course melodies. What aspects in the band made this change in your musical perception? What made you tick to become fiercer?

The combination of catchy hook lines and aggressive verses is something that I really love and what became a kind of trademark for Sapiency. To become heavier and massive, and more powerful and transparent in the sound was a contribution from the head of the band Rene Ritzmann, who spent a whole lot of time to optimize the sound in his Sound Seducer-Studios.

Everything about the Sound Seducer Studios in Frankfurt can be found here: Bei Facebook anmelden | Facebook

How were you able to integrate between the ferocious pattern of music to a form of lyrics that are meant to inspire people to live a better life?

I believe music – and with “music” I mean the instrumental part – is the best transportation-layer for vocals-tones and words and messages. People may say that each transportation-layer must respect the other (i.e. brutal music must have aggressive tone and brutal message), but I don’t think this is entirely always right.

Imagine to hear a Death Metal Song about a sad tree or about a Skydive in the sunset or about a song about quit smoking: Most people would think that such topics would never fit to an aggressive Melodic Death Metal song. Believe it or not: These examples above are three examples of my favorite songs from Sapiency's first album “Fate’s End” from 2009.

Coming back to the Lyrics on “For Those Who Never Rest” : All lyrics on this album describe situations where people decide to turn their life around for the better. The songs aim to be a source of motivation for the weak to become strong, for the troubled to find relief and for transmitting positive energy to those who open their eyes, ears, and minds to our lyrics and our music.

Which elements in the band’s music, in your opinion, gave the proper edge to “For Those Who Never Rest” in contrast to your previous albums and of course what is currently going on in the market?

I think this could be a good question for the comment-section below for the listeners. The band’s sound is now more massive, powerful and transparent, and the riffs are more brutal and versatile, without losing their melody and depth.

In addition, Sapiency put the pedal to the Metal speed-wise, making „For Those Who Never Rest“ probably the fastest album in the band’s history

With the new members becoming integral in the band, would you say that your songwriting process changed in light of that?

Due to the line-up changes in the last few years, various new influences came into the band, which led to the songs going through different genres without losing its common thread.

Would you say that the album challenged you as songwriters?

Yes, indeed. I was not entirely satisfied when I wrote the first vocal-lines for one or two songs – especially “Dropped Again” and “Thin Ice” were a challenge. It took me weeks to choose the best out of 20 different alternative vocal-lines.

To choose the best alternative was more difficult than writing lyrics describing the life of a manic happy butterfly for an Extreme Metal Grindcore-Song with three 10 String Guitars and 260BMP Blast beats. Oh, … you let new ideas grow in me. No, just kidding; I never did that, but I am sure no one dared to compose such contrast until now ;)

In comparison to the more difficult situations described above the majority vocals lyrics on the new album were developed easily and quickly (at least the rough first ideas): I will never forget composing the vocal-lines and lyrics for "Everest" and "Like Yourself". Both hook lines took me less than half an hour. I just needed to hold my pen over two white sheets of paper – and the rest is history. It was one of the very magic moments in this band.

Probably the band’s main hit on the album, which also was awarded with a version with Tankard’s Gerre, is “Like Yourself”. Actually, it is quite an intense song, both musically and lyrically. What is your opinion on this track? What made you invite Gerre to share his vocals for this tune?

We dreamed of having a real Superstar playing main role and protagonist in “Like Yourself”. And guess what: We did not even find a Superstar - we found the one of a kind Metal Superstar Gerre from Tankard performing in our Video and also on the Bonus track of our new Album “For Those Who Never Rest”.

I am pinching myself to check if all of that is real sometimes, because it’s more than special to have the opportunity to work with a legend like Gerre. Believe it or not: The first bigger concert I ever attended in my life was Tankard on Easter-Sunday 1992 in Batschkapp in Frankfurt/Germany – the greatest club in Frankfurt with the friendliest and most professional crew you can ever imagine.

If someone would have told me there that Gerre will play in one of the videos of my band… I would call it crazy. Pinch me, please – maybe I am still dreaming, but when I click the link on YouTube I realize that this wish became reality for sure.

You can never have too many dreams or wishes, because when you work hard for them you can reach them. Our band is a good example that it’s better to not stick up, but to run for the goals you wish to achieve and to believe in every single day. It’s good to bring your dreams and wishes in order of priority sometimes.

The most important wish I have and the top of my priority-list is that you and all the Metal Freaks out there will enjoy our new album and the videos and the music of Sapiency in the coming days and come or stay in contact with us.

 “Bleeding In The Sun” has quite a brutal approach, at least in most of it, delivering Sapiency as a harder and heavier band than ever before in its history, but also emotive. Is this to be expected from the band later on as well?

Oh yes. This song has a great energy and tells a number of real stories. Indeed, it is the only song on the album that should not motivate to step in the role of the protagonist: It should be the absolute opposite. The song transmits a whole lot of energy to the listener though. The hook line is one of my favorite ones, because it was written in a few minutes. We are willing to continue to write such energetic and powerful songs.

How has Sapiency as a band been handling the pandemic? Have you been thinking of solutions in order to promote your material further, not mainly relying on the label?

Yeah, indeed. As you know us in the meantime: We do not stick up and we are quite creative in getting over a couple of catastrophes. We have been offered to play at Online-Festivals like CouchnSofa and hev recorded a few videos in the Sound Seducer-Studio of our guitarist Rene Ritzmann in July 2020

Parts of the Sapiency’s Corona Live Gigs can be found on YouTube on the following links:





I believe that a cure will be found in a few months and so we will see us on stage soon. Oh wait: I almost forgot that we've got one more thing for you this year! What would be the release of a brand new album without a proper release party?

We are extremely happy to announce that we will be sharing the stage together with our friends from All Will Know and Pornophonique on the Metal Up Your Life - Festival // Phungo 249 on September 25th to celebrate the release of our new record "For Those Who Never Rest"!

Tickets are limited to 200 pieces so be quick before they're all gone!  The tickets are available online so that the organizers of the PHUNGO-Festival can plan ahead for the show a lot better!

Event: Metal Up Your Life // Phungo 249 und DU!
Tickets: https://bit.ly/2Fgkl2V

What is your prediction for 2021, are we going to get through this planetary ordeal?

My prediction and wish is to have another interview like this with you about our tour and all the great festivals we intending to be booked on next year. Or maybe about the next album??  The future is too bright to stare directly at it too long. I thank you very much for this interview, for your great interesting questions and for support for our band Sapiency.

Stay healthy, stay tuned and see you very soon back on stage! Best greetings from Frankfurt/Germany from Lars and from the entire band Sapiency

Lars, I wish to thank you for this interview, it was a pleasure to have you. This album is certainly one of the band’s strongest offerings, if not the best. Thank you! Cheers.


 



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