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Season Of Dreams' Jean-Michel Volz: "We all live, in a way, in a shelter where we have our habits and what’s outside isn't light and darkness or black and white"

Interview with Jean-Michel Volz from Season Of Dreams
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 14 July 2020, 11:30 PM

Though it has been argued, there are rare occasions where music is deprived of emotions. Even there are examples where it would appear as such, it is absolutely tough to come by a musical piece without a share of the personal state of mind. The brainchild of guitarist and composer, Jean-Michel Volz, Season Of Dreams, has been entangled with his personality and his own reality, perception of life and everything that comes with it, for better or worse. With the band's debut album, "My Shelter", hitting the streets, Steinmetal had the pleasure of talking to Mr. Volz about the band venture, the singer, the emotive music and more…   

Hello Jean-Michel, it is a great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing sir?

Hello, thanks for this interview, I'm doing great, sunshine and holidays!

Well, I assume that with A Taste Of Freedom put in some sort of ice, as nothing has been going on with the band of late, you felt that the need that it was the right timing to start a whole new entity under the banner of Season Of Dreams. What exactly led you to this decision to start the new band, as you have been the main behind the music of the former band?

A Taste of Freedom is probably dead, due to the schedule of the other guitarist Neogeofanatic who is now the new guitarist of the French band ADX and Guitar Master classes.

I wanted to start a new band with more Power Metal influences and more freedom in composition. I was the main composer in A.T.O.F. (Rhythm guitars, some lead, bass drums and keys) but a little bit restricted to show my Power Metal influences. When I compose, I want that all the members can be proud of the music they play and that include these little sacrifices.

The foundation of Season Of Dreams, led you to search for a singer, and based on the music of the band, you really needed that extra kick. After it didn’t work out with Freternia’s Pasi Humppi, you turned to ex-Zonata’s Johannes Nyberg, which had some involvement with your early band I believe. What did you find in Nyberg’s abilities and image that led you to taking him on?

I was in contact with Pasi for a long time and when I started to looking for a new singer for A.T.O.F. I asked him but due to their new album with Freternia he cannot follow me With A.T.O.F. so he introduced me to his old friend Johannes Nyberg.

So Johannes was first the new singer of A.T.O.F. but Neo quickly realized that he would not have enough time to work for the new album. So I proposed to Johannes to follow me in a new Band/project more Power, exactly the music that Johannes and me are fans and Season of dreams is born!!

Johannes is a real power metal singer with powerful vocals and real great ideas for vocal lines. I have always been a fan of Zonata since their beginning and working with Johannes was such a dream. He is now my brother of metal and we work together as one. I wrote the songs for this first album (intro and outro are from Johannes) but things are changing a little bit for the second album actually in production, he is an amazing songwriter and keyboards player and of course singer haha!!!

Titled “My Shelter”, Season Of Dreams’s debut album, everything felt rather personal, as if you were unraveling yourself throughout the release. It seemed rather personal. Sharing emotions, fears, longings, a look to the future while coloring it with a type of fantasy oriented shade. What is your viewpoint on that?

It's true. The work on this album was a deliverance at different points. I think that for many composers, music is a metaphor of life. For me, my shelter is my music. I can express my fears, my hopes, my thoughts with freedom.

I can express it in the lyrics, and it's a good work on my inner self, but I can do the same with my music too. Emotions are the most important things in music for me. You can be angry; you can be in love or simply love life. Everyone can be at the composer's place and feel what he feels. If someone feels something by listening to my music, the match is won.

Continuing the previous questions, “My Shelter” also has that little quest for answers, and I believe that Johannes Nyberg, with his passionate singing, sheds some light on the matter. What are you trying to find within the album?

That was one of the first thing that I loved on the vocals of Johannes. There is no compromise, he lives each song and understands where I wanted to go. The emotions he led on the different songs are just perfect and he added what could had been missed without his vocals. In fact he managed to bring the songs in his own emotions, what I cannot necessarily express in my music.

The artwork created by Stan W. Becker, shows that there is an inner late in the veil of darkness. Is that how you feel about the world out there, a dangerous place to be feared from with only each person’s light to entrust himself with?

Not necessarily, I’m a normal person in a real life, I’m a Father and I think that I have a role to protect my family. We all live, in a way, in a shelter where we have our habits and what’s outside isn't light and darkness or black and white. The world can be a dangerous place but it can also be wonderful made of discoveries and sharing.

With A Taste Of Freedom setting you in your main position as a guitarist, things changed in Season Of Dreams as you handled nearly anything, except for most of the soloing. How did it feel to take charge like that? Did you feel a certain pressure? Did it help you to perfect your skills as a multi-instrumentalist? Why not take on additional session musicians?

It is not really a big change, I was the main composer for A.T.O.F. , the main difference from Season Of Dreams is that I write lyrics too (But I was behind Rhythm guitars, bass, drums, main keys for A.T.O.F.), so one of the main pressures was to work with such a talented singer to write songs that would fit perfectly to his vocals capacities. For this first album we wanted to work as a small team, so John Nyberg joined us only for solos. But things are surely to be changed for the second album who is 70% done already. We will announce soon if things will be going in this way.

“My Shelter”, musically, has its refined moments, yet on the other hand, lets the beast loose a bit with a rough edged Metal. There is a fine basis of the melodic sensations of Edguy, Stratovarius and Helloween, yet a heavier dosage, even if small portions of Primal Fear, Hammerfall and Accept. I guess you wanted to enjoy both worlds on the basis of your state of mind, the freedom to create?

Yes you’re exactly in the right!! I started listening to Metal music at the age of 10 with 3 albums that I discovered with my neighbor's sister, "keeper of the seven keys part 2" from Helloween, "Metal Heart" from Accept and "Kings of metal" from Manowar. As much as I can tell you, I put my two feet inside and since then never stopped listening to metal! I’m a big Power Metal fan but I also like Heavy, Thrash, Speed, some symphonic and more. Of course this album is pure freedom to show a big part of my influences.

As a songwriter, and composer, what is your assessment regarding the developmental stage of your abilities on “My Shelter”? What do you feel about the progress made in terms of coming up with ways to entice the listener’s soul?

I have always worked with one element: Emotions. When you create something it’s first for you, of course, but always in search for the best song that gives chills and smile to every listener. On this album, I tried to give the best of what I know how to do while trying to get out of my comfort zone.

Johannes Nyberg’s brother, John, found interest in the band after the former and yourself started writing it. What is your perspective regarding his addition to the fold and his contribution for the lead section on “My Shelter”?

When we started Season of Dreams we were only two, but I knew that I w as not a true lead guitarist. I can play melodies but I’m not a solo shredder. So we started thinking about a lead guitarist and John came up as a good choice. I loved his solos in Zonata and Johannes asked him to join us for this album. John took his guitar after a long pause and after his first solo we knew that he was the lead for this album. He understood the direction of this album and made a great work as lead

After a dramatic turn of the intro, you started with an epic track as the album’s true opener, “In The Rubble”, which I felt was rather a two sections kind of song. Why did you decide to open with such a lengthy track? What can you tell about its songwriting process?

"In the Rubble" means different things for me, it’s the first song that Johannes recorded and made an amazing job on it. It is also the first song that I wrote for Season of Dreams and what better way to show what we can do and attract the attention of the listener than a lengthy song with different sections, great solos, profound vocals skills, different ambiances …

Sometimes, might be even often, I say everything I have to say between 4 or 5 minutes but some songs need more to be completed, and "In the Rubble" is just it. So in this case it's relatively easy to have many ideas to take the listener for a ride of emotions. It starts differently for each song, a guitar riff, a vocal melody for a chorus, some lyrics who stay in my head…

"In the Rubble" starts with the melody of the first chorus and the second chorus comes easily. After that I made the intro with a place for John's solo, and the rest was very easy. It's hard to explain how ideas comes in my head but it’s more like a routine, I record a guitar riff, then a drum to fits it , then some keys or melodies and bass… When you know finally how to write a song you can go everywhere you want and the limit is only in your imagination.

Your intro and outro are called, “Before The War” and “After The War”, what war were you referring to?

Always refer to metaphor, life is a war and at the same time the song just after the intro is "In the Rubble" who talks about war. So it was a good title to start the album, and in the same idea after the war which brings the calm after the war that created chaos.

On the other hand, there is a song, which I noticed that it was less serious, yet quite fun and pretty much a potential hit, “Mr. Blacky”. It reminded me of Helloween’s “Dr. Stein”, and the band’s earlier, “Gorgar”. On what it is all about? Was it merely for the thrill of it, write a heavy catchy song and let it fly?

It's always nice to take one's self less seriously even if I don’t consider myself as serious haha!! I always loved songs like that. "Dr. Stein" is a good example but Edguy made some of those too as many other bands that I a fan of. For this song I started with the idea of this old guy Mr. Blacky who is afraid of everything and everyone. These type of songs are easy to write and create a memorable song. There will surely be another one on the next album.

“Monsters” is yet another track that I found interesting, it has a powerful combination of European Power Metal with traditional 80s Heavy Metal, along with the album’s haunting atmosphere. What do you make of this song?

It’s typically the kind of Heavy /Power that I like to hear when melodies of power hit the hardness of the Heavy Metal. The lyrics are made with the fear of monsters in the cellars that my wife had when she was a child and music in kind of old Helloween style, a good combination, I hope so

Is there an intention to develop Season Of Dreams into a full time band?

For now the band will remain a project, but we don’t know of what tomorrow is done. With good opportunities maybe we could hit the stages… We have hope in the future to come.

With the pandemic still on, how do you intend to promote “My Shelter”, mainly by press? Will there be videos or perhaps live stream shows?

Press and Internet are the main promotions at the moment but why not make live video if it could interest some people … Everything is possible. We will see in the future probably.

Jean-Michel, plenty of thanks for the interview and for your time. I really enjoyed your debut, it has a strong potential and it would be excellent to continue it. Cheers mate.

Thank you for the support!! Hope there will be other people enthusiastic as you ;) See you for the second volume of Season of Dreams


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