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Stefan Aurel (Kickhunter)

Interview with Stefan Aurel from Kickhunter
by Grigoris Chronis at 12 December 2010, 3:12 AM

“Retro is the future of yesterday!”…and what else would a group like KICKHUNTER stand for dammit? The German band – also known to many for featuring HELLOWEEN’s bassist Markus Grosskopf in its ranks– turns on the Rock ‘n’ Roll volume to ten and “All In” shall haunt you down if you’re looking for original classic Rock music to make your day (and night)! Guitarist Stefan Aurel spreads the word of KICKHUNTER and I confess I can hardly wait to raise my beer glass up high to one of their future gigs.

Hi Stefan, it’s weird we’ve never talked in the past but…better late than never! KICKHUNTER’s new album “All In” is out in the streets and I’d like to know what’s the feedback so far, from both the Media and Rock fans.
The feedback is very positive! Media and fans like the positive vibe of our new album. We have a big variety of styles on “All In” - Classic Rock, 80’s Hard Rock, Southern Rock, boogie. The people like the timeless attitude very much.

The band seems to be devoted in the classic (Hard) Rock style, after three albums. I remember reading the news ‘bout KICKHUNTER supporting the mighty DEEP PURPLE and LYNYRD SKYNYRD prior to even releasing your “Hearts And Bones” debut. Was this the music you wanted to play from the early beginning or the style was shaped as soon as the lineup was built? Who formed the band really?
Our drummer Karsten and I formed the band to make exactly the music we like. Our plan was to create our own soundtrack for having BBQ, a motorcycle ride and hanging out with our friends. There will never be a single note on KICKHUNTER - albums which we don’t like. It’s 100% pure from our hearts! We are dedicated to the good old classic Rock! It’s very satisfying for us to play our stuff live or even to listen to the albums.

To be honest, I would not expect Markus to play this style of music, since he’s worldwide known from his deeds with HELLOWEEN. It’s a nice surprise, though! Is it true recorded his 10 bass tracks in 10 different countries during the last HELLOWEEN tour?
This is absolutely true. He was on world tour with HELLOWEEN when we finished the guitars in Germany. It was no problem for him to record the basses with his little mobile studio on his day offs. It is very uncomplicated nowadays thanks to the Internet. Markus is a big fan of THIN LIZZY, THE WHO, URIAH HEEP, DEEP PURPLE, AC/DC since ever. So it’s a nice addition to him to play good old Rock ‘n’ Roll with KICKHUNTER. He is an unbelievably good Rock bass player: John Entwistle meets Paul McCartney. Take your time and listen to his playing on our albums. Amazing stuff!

With a style being equally European and American Rock, what’s the band’s status in the American market? Do you know how the sales are going over there? Have you ever played live in the USA?
We never played with KICKHUNTER in America, but there is talk of playing a few gigs in 2011 over there. Our status in America is very small but we want to change that. We have a lot of positive fan response from all over the USA. I don’t know about the sales because the album was just released overseas…

It’s not common to have a lineup with eight members, though, three of them being vocalists? How do you work on the songwriting? Do you focus on the basic melodies first? How do you choose who sings what, in addition?
J.C. is our main lead vocalist and the girls are mostly background singers. I always liked the female voices on LYNYRD SKYNYRD albums as well as the Hammond organ in DEEP PURPLE and early WHITESNAKE. This is definitive a big influence for me writing the songs with these sounds in mind. It is true that I first work on melodies, I add the lyrics later. We like to feature the amazing female voices a bit more in the future, at least two lead vocals for the ladies!

I’d bet the new album “All In” would be perfect for evenings in Rock clubs having a good time, but I wonder if there’s something of more ‘serious messages’ in the album’s lyrics. Let’s party…or something more? Or maybe you do not want to mix two different aspects?
Sure, party is one aspect, girl/boy lyrics as well. But there are deeper meanings in a few songs as well. “Feels Like Home” tells the story of a German soldier in Afghanistan missing his girl and family. “Ocean” is about the fact that all life started out of the water. “Another Tear” is about skipping through the television channels - you can see all aspects of the human life within 20 seconds: love, crime, advertising, war, SpongeBob, politicians, sports etc. Bikini bottom is just a second away from bomb terror in Iran. You have dinner with your family and the TV in the background tells about 60 people murdered by terrorists and no one cares. That’s life…

Female voices in Rock music was never a rare case but it’s not also something you come across every day. In the new album both Melanie and Ela do a lot of singing. Are you aware of their basic influences as singers ‘cause I think I can imagine of a couple of names and I’d like to confirm!
I can’t speak for them. What I know is that both are able to sing in different styles. They are very professional singers and well known for there talent over here.

As for you, which artists or bands motivated you to grab the guitar and form a band? Are you any keen on more ‘modern’ music really? Do you think today’s music makers can actually offer spirit and vibe in a world that – in my opinion – is not that far from going completely nuts…
Seeing all the cool long-haired guys with guitars in the 70’s made me wanting to be like them. I liked especially the image of LYNYRD SKYNYRD. They looked like a dangerous gang of cool cowboy rockers to me when I was young. A guitar was like a weapon for me as a kid. So it was natural for me to play the axe! I am not interested it ‘modern’ music. I think the real spirit of Rock was big in the early 70’s. I love to listen to old stuff, there is still plenty of music I never heard from that era. But what does ‘modern’ mean anyway? Good music is timeless. We will listen to THE BEATLES songs in 200 years like we listen to Beethoven today. Good music is never old.

I was surprised to see you’ve included a cover take on VICTORY’s “Check’s In The Mail”. The original is a killer song and I feel the same for your version too. How did you come picking this song? “Call Me”’s remake sounds cool too!
Thank you very much! I’ve always loved “Check’s…” since I have heard it the first time in the 80s. VICTORY has been one of our favorite bands of that era, so I thought it can be a nice idea to KICKHUNTER-ize this party tune, which means slide guitars, Hammond etc. Melanie did an amazing job with her lead vocals, as well as Ela did on “Call Me”, which was Karsten’s idea. He thought that this tune might open the doors for more radio airplay for us.

Apart from KICKHUNTER, what other things are you up to these days Stefan?
I just finished a Rock album together with Axel Mackenrott from MASTERPLAN. I am working on an album with my side project GYPSY DICKS as well. There is an EP on iTunes and the album will follow in spring. I do a lot of voice-overs for television and radio advertising, it never gets boring for me!

You’ve shot some videos for song off the new album, right? Which were your picks? You think it’s worth the time and cost to have video clips in our days?
Our first pick was “Revolution”, our first story production, which came out killer.
The second one was “Mine All Mine” - an awesome biker Rock song with a lot of footage from the Hamburg Harley days, the biggest biker event in the world. We are the only band who played three times on this event. To your second question: we believe that its absolute necessary and reasonable to produce videos these days, the Internet is the new music channel.

I read in the label’s Press sheet you have Axel Mackenrott/Jan S. Eckert (MASTERPLAN) and Hermann Frank (ACCEPT/VICTORY) guesting in the new album. Where there any other guest invited that could not finally make it?
Yes, David Coverdale! No, I’m kidding… There we no other guests invited, I think there are enough on this album anyway.

Many judge on classic Rock/Metal being retro music. Others say it’s timeless music. Your opinion?
Retro is the future of yesterday!

Stefan, don’t wanna waste your time no more. Thanx for taking the time to talk to Metal Temple mag. Hope we’ll sometime have the chance to see you here in Southern Europe too!
Thanks Greg, hope we can Rock your city very soon!


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Edited 31 March 2023

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