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Serious Black's Dominik Sebastian: "It‘s hard that you get what you want – the industry makes you want what you get. Most of nowadays‘ music is made more or less just for the moment – often streamed in random shuffle mode"

Interview with Dominik Sebastian from Serious Black
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 18 January 2020, 10:39 PM

Food for thought, food to feed one's sanity in check, yet at times it is simply not enough. However, Insanity doesn't have to be mainly based upon harsh acts of violence, yet also a disconnection from our world in order to escape into a suitable reality where everything clicks, and simply in place. Going deep within the mind of the insane, Serious Black are exploring in the Grey. Coming forward with "Suite 226", there is a hero searching within himself. Steinmetal talked with long time guitarist Dominik Sebastian about things that matter in insanity, songwriting, back to the roots and more…

Hello Dominik, it is an honor to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how has life been treating you sir?

Hi there, thank you for your interest! Well, I’m fine so far, as I quit my job last year to be able to concentrate mainly on the music business and music itself. The last years have been quite turbulent – juggling the job with my bands and family business, immolating all vacancy for the music. Now I got other, different challenges to fight and conquer. Earning money for example (haha)

Stimulation on the verge of madness, or perhaps we are already there without even knowing it. The mental instability comes to life within Serious Black’s next conceptual adventure through the human condition, titled “Suite 226”. After dealing with the magic man last time, what drew you to explore the wacky world of insanity? What drew you to venture these potentially scary grounds?

First of all, this is not a classic concept album. Although the theme shows up more or less in almost every song. The idea is based on Urban‘s thoughts and concept. When he told us about it, we were instantly thrilled. You have to admit that this topic has so much potential for creepy stories. Imagine that the cruellest stories were (or still are) real! I personally love horror movies in this genre.

When thinking about it, sometimes losing yourself into a dream world can be a means to escape a harsh reality, shocking past events that left the soul broken. Does the protagonist have nothing to hope for? Does he have nothing outside other than his insanity to guide him through imagination?

This I would leave to the eye (or ear) of the betrayer. But think about it, almost everyone wants or tries to escape from the reality in different ways. You don‘t necessarily need to be locked up and calmed down like our poor bastard. Probably he‘s more lucky in some way?

Does the early character of Mr. Nightmist has something in play within this dramatic course of events on “Suite 226” or is this man that you are referring to is some sort of a twisted version of an alternate Mr. Nightmist? If not, who is the man and for what stands for in your opinion in real life?

I like the idea that the story continues and Mr. Nightmist has gone nuts due to overconfidence and megalomania. But this is my personal thought of it.

Are you that distrustful of psychiatric methods to attempt to cure mental instability? On a philosophical note, do you think that psychiatry is just an obstacle, other than a reliever, before the inevitable for the mentally ill?

Not commonly. The methods of the early days of research and experiments were barbarous and cruel. No doubt. But nevertheless some of those findings led to nowadays‘ understanding. A fact, that today much more people need or would need real psychiatric help for some reason. On the other hand: what is ‘normal‘?

Going into the veil of the music, “Suite 226” sort of starts a new chapter for Serious Black. In terms of influential impact, I could simply inhale mid to late 90s Helloween, yet with enough of the band’s character in the mix, which certainly gone into aggressive edges. After the success of the past albums, why go heavier or did it come naturally?

For us it was on the time to get back to our roots again as our so far bestselling debut album ("As Daylight Breaks") was much heavier than the recent releases. Serious Black was created to be a power metal band. So we should more or less do what we are expected to do.

How do you find the band’s musical progress on “Suite 226”? From my end, you came a long way throughout the last 5-6 years

Much happened in those years. Ups as well as downs. It was a hard work to come that far. I better think of the great moments and absorb the energy out of those to feed my motor. This is somehow reflected in our new output somehow I would say.

On that note, what do you think makes “Suite 226” a special kind of release in comparison to your past works in particular, yet also in light of the vast offerings coming from the Melodic Metal market?

We are a live band and we tried to bring this energy we are known for onto the record. The market is for sure overloaded – also by great releases. So we concentrate on live performing and stay as authentic as possible. The record should be the soundtrack for a hopefully good time at home.

 “Suite 226” also marks a change in personal, and a new line-up perception in Serious Black. You recruited Ramy Ali (ex-Freedom Call) and Dominik Sebastian remained as the sole guitarist, with Bob Katsionis’s departure. Is Serious Black built to be a four-man band after it was six in number with its killer releases? Don’t you feel that there is something missing?

No. There‘s nothing missing so far. Work is much easier when you have less people for creating something. This doesn‘t mean that it could not change in future. For this album we decided to stay on us four and just recruited some session musicians for additional parts, e.g. keyboards and orchestral stuff. But for the live performances it‘s hard to bring our music on stage without at least a 2nd guitarist. I don’t like it when too much music is coming just from out the sampler.

How would you describe the songwriting process of “Suite 226”? What exactly changed in the band’s approach of how to come up with material on this new title?

The changes in our line-up made the most difference. This time most of the songs were based on Urban‘s ideas. First because he had some already done going along with the main concept and story but also because most of my ideas would have needed more time to arrange and the schedule was tough.

 “Castiel” is no doubt one of the album’s most powerful tracks, could have been part of the Iron Maiden legacy, especially with its mesmerizing intro right until it begins to break things. What can you tell about the creation of this track? Who is Castiel for the protagonist? Is he his savior?

I’m sure that Urban could give you a 3 pages long answer to this question as he‘s written this one. What I know is that the character‘s name is taken from the TV series ‘Supernatural‘. It‘s a demon. Sorry that I can‘t tell you more about it as I hardly watch it

I can tell you that it is a good show, now running into its final season after more than a decade, as far as I know Castiel is an angel on that show, pretty mysterious guy

“We Still Stand Tall” is a classic Power Metal song, a kind of motivational effort to keep one’s spirit high up in the sky, and without being drugged. For some reason, I can’t find its relation to the whole concept. Maybe you can help me out here. Also, how do you find this particular song? I bet it has a strong potential for a live number right?

As I mentioned before, this album is not a concept work where the story goes through like a red yarn. This song is one more standing alone. You are right about its potential for on stage performance. It surely will be on the set list.

Taking a little turn into generality. There is a strong wave going on nowadays' market, where bands that display strong technical abilities, mainly focusing on musicianship rather than actually write songs that could capture one’s ear and become a legacy. Is the term “Song” is being mistreated by the contemporary technical bands? Is the classic version of the song, as you have been tagging along for years, still matters?

The pity is that just writing music doesn‘t pay your bills. You are forced to spend much time on social media channels to stay in mind and you have to play your ass off. It‘s hard that you get what you want – the industry makes you want what you get. Most of nowadays‘ music is made more or less just for the moment – often streamed in random shuffle mode. Who has and takes the time to listen to an entire album without doing anything casually? We at least try to find a way to handle both sides. Streamers and dreamers.

What do you think are the main challenges for Serious Black in the next period of time in 2020? Where do you see this band going forward?

There‘s plenty of things going on right now. First of all the preparation for the European tour with Hammerfall and Battle Beast. Then we already started to collect ideas for the next album to stay on track. And we also discuss some other important things which I can‘t talk about yet. You will notice.

What are your support plans for “Suite 226” in the coming year? Where will people be able to see Serious Black? Any countries that you haven’t played in the past?

As mentioned, the support tour starting in a few weeks. There will be some places we haven‘t visited yet, first of all Poland. For possible Summer festival slots, I don’t have the last facts. Further activities are still in progress. Let‘s see where we‘re going to sail to in the future.

Dominik, I wish to thank you for the interview, your time is highly appreciated. Nothing but the best for you and the guys. Cheers.

Thank you once more!


 



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