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Stallion's Alexander Stöcker: "Maybe we should prefer to write less dark lyrics and more easy listening ones. But with all the bullshit going on we simply can't do that."

Interview with Alexander Stöcker from Stallion
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 08 February 2020, 2:13 PM

There are a times when there is that wakeup call saying that you only live once, yet on the other hand, why not act upon what you believe in instead of feeling that you might have done different, yet with an empty heart in the back. For the German Stallion, it was obvious, them also being "Slaves Of Time", similar to their new album title, coming out via High Roller Records. Time is limited, yet it has to be used right in order to feel better about one's self. Steinmetal had the pleasure to talk to guitarist Alexander Stöcker about the new album, traditional Metal in the present and more…

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

We’re fine and rather busy as there are still a lot of things to do but we’re looking forward to the release and to bring the new songs on stage.

I believe that the correct phrase, attacking from all cylinders, would be the right one to describe the newfound effort made in Stallion’s “Slaves Of Time”. Listening to the album has been something that you have been doing, I can presume even now while doing this interview. Looking back throughout the entire experience, what is your general appreciation of it? Did you have a chance to play live some of the new songs? If so, how were the reactions of your fans?

Sure man, I must have listened to it a million times as I'm recording everything as well. For me it was easier to make than the previous records. There was more of a flow to it than it was before and we didn't let the pressure get to us. From what we've heard up until now people seem to like it quite a bit. We've played "No Mercy" live a couple of times and the reactions were always great.

Being a band that is relentless and not being afraid to provoke with its themes, what are the issues at hand circling in the pit of the new album? What is up with the social human decay? In overall, though there have been bands doing the same, do you believe that it is crucial for a band to drive into the wall of politics within its music? Do you think that it actually strengthens the influence of the musical output?

I don't know what's going on but it sure isn't good. Reactionary nationalists are in charge of a lot of (big) countries by now. Art always has been political and went where it hurts. We're not shy to say what we think and it can indeed be inspiring to write new music.

When you say “Slaves In Time” as a title, do you mean that we are slaves because our time on this planet is short and we simply have to make the best of it or that actually the technological advancement of the age makes time run faster, without us really making the best of it? Please elaborate on your thoughts

Yes, "Slaves of Time" can be seen as a race against time. Our planet for example is melting away in our hands and we need to act fast. We're also slaves of the time we live in. Maybe we should prefer to write less dark lyrics and more easy listening ones. But with all the bullshit going on we simply can't do that. Hence, we're forced to react to the time we live in.

As far as I can tell, “Slaves Of Time” is Stallion making a long drive through, prowling everywhere possible within the borders of what could be called Traditional Metal. It appears that exploring is in your blood, not afraid to dwell in areas that aren’t ultimately part of the band’s legacy. One could call it a step in maturing. What do you think makes this album as a step forward for Stallion?

We're always open for new things and really try to not think about it too much. If it feels right it is right. As I mentioned earlier this album came together with more of a natural flow and this really is a step forward for us.

Such ferocious exploration has to entail with it various mood swings. How was it possible to shift from such a Hard N’ Heavy 80s mood of looseness into the harsher steel melting Speed and Thrash Metal persuasions? 

If you take "All In" for example it simply reflects the lyrics. The first part of the song has the overly confident Hard Rock feel to it, which shifts into insecurity and aggression. We just try to reflect that in the music

Throughout your exploration I trust that there are approaches within your music that you favor more and some probably less, ones that you feel a connection, yet not as close as to your prime passion. Which direction within the vast lands of Traditional Metal drove you wild on “Slaves Of Time”, gave you motivation to come up with ideas and such?

The good thing with Stallion is that we're all a little different there. For me I'm more into the Hard Rock, classic Heavy Metal stuff. The others have different influences which all add up to our own sound.

What can you tell regarding the songwriting process of “Slaves Of Time”? How did the new members on bass and guitar get integrated into the whole material arrangement? Would you say that their contribution made it happen for the album to become a strong number?

Christian has been with us for quite a while and has been an important member ever since. Clode came to us in early 2019 and wrote all of his lead parts in no time. They turned out absolutely amazing if you ask me and it sure is the icing of the cake.

 “Die With Me” is certainly a song that I have the feeling was somewhat of a challenge, if it sounds natural. It is like listening to an upgraded Scorpions oriented balladry, yet with a bite of Helloween. How did it come to be such a lengthy tune and also rather crafty? What does this track mean to you?

Haha, yeah man, Scorpions and Helloween was what came to my mind as well. It just came about quite naturally. The lyrics are sad and yet hopefully and it just requires some theatric build up hence its considerable length.

 “All In” was a shocker to be honest, a heavier edge Van Halen, yet with a surprise attack of pure Speed Metal, Motorheadish kind of essence, which simply waited to erupt on command. What can you tell of this track’s arrangement phase? What influenced you while writing it?

I just love the sound of the open G main riff. That's exactly how I like it my riffs. I think I was thinking of early to mid-80s Hair Metal, like Dokken or Ratt for example. It's always been a trademark of Stallion, to give the more Hard Rockish songs some kind of speedy twist. Same is true for "All In".

What is your viewpoint on the production of “Slaves Of Time”? How would you say that Marco Brinkmann contributed to the lively 80s Metal sense of sound of the album? Is it safe to say that it wouldn’t be the last time you call Brinkmann to arms?

From the beginning I knew that I didn't want to mix this album again simply because I wanted to be able to concentrate more on the music itself. When I first heard of Marco in 2016 I knew that he would understand my vision of how the record should sound. And that's exactly what happened, we're super happy with the mix! It's always nice to have someone who understands you aesthetic vision and can give you feedback so he's definitely contributed a fair share to the sound of this record. I'm sure we will be working together in the future!

Swinging into general terms. Since the first decade of 00s, there has been a revival of Traditional Metal, yet it still feels rather behind the contemporary direction of Metal that maintains a strong stance. How do you think that Traditional will be able to survive the test of time and continue to be relevant for the next generation of Metalheads?

Hmm, that's a difficult one. Traditional Heavy Metal is a niche product and probably always will be. On the other hand I'm always overwhelmed with the consistent supply of new young fans and bands that just keep coming. I'm pretty sure that some of the records will stand the test of time, I'm just not sure that bands will be commercially successful on a large scale. But if that is desirable in the first place is quite a different topic. This way it's about the music and only the music and that is the most important premise to survive as a genre.

With the recent death of Neil Peart (Rush), and only of recent, Sean Reinart (Cynic / Death), we were reminded that our idols, our gods of music, are continuing to fade away. Do you think that the term gods of Metal will still be relevant once the generation that began everything will leave us for good? Are there new gods of Metal?

I think the concept of a Rockstar or "Metal God" is somewhat of an anachronism. For something like that to develop you need to have a certain distance between artist and fan which happened naturally in the 70s and 80s. But in times of social media you're always very close to the artist which in fact I think is a good thing for the artist as well because a lot of people obviously have problems to handle their "fame". I think you will see a lot of great artists in the future they just won't appear as "larger-than-life" then it used to.

An article by The Conversation said the following: “Metal can make you feel like nothing else matters. It’s so easy to blow your speakers and shout it out loud”. How do you relate to that sentence? What is your perception of the power of Heavy Metal and its impact on your daily life?

Agreed 100%. I can't even describe what it is exactly, but putting on a great record is like a power transfusion. There is a song for any situation is life. I don't want to imagine it without Heavy Metal.

Looking forward into the not so near future, what do you think are the main challenges for Stallion, supporting “Slaves Of Time”? Is your schedule becoming full with shows or are you taking it slow?

The challenge will be - as it always was - to find enough time to do all the things we want to do. We all work full time as it's just not possible to make a living out of it. We're doing everything by ourselves, we have no management and we're doing it all in our free time. Especially in the time period before a release when so many things have to be managed we all reach our limits. So our schedule is definitely more than full. From end of February until the beginning of April we'll be playing every weekend. We're also playing METALHEADZ OPEN AIR and HEADBANGERS OPEN AIR this summer and there might also be a touring surprise as well :)

Are there plans for team ups for upcoming tours? Any places that you wish to play in for the first time in 2020?

We have the release tour planned for which we will be joined by Space Chaser for the majority of the shows. We'd love to play in South and Central America on day, but this is not very easy to do.

Alexander, I wish to thank you for this interview. The new album is a killer, and it is bound to bang some heads in the process. All the best.

Thanks, man we're happy to hear that :) Thanks for having us and all the best.


 



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