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Steve Handel (Seventh Calling)

Interview with Steve Handel from Seventh Calling
by Grigoris Chronis at 04 June 2007, 12:24 PM

Steve Handel and Lance Lange are the kinda 'guitar duo' axemen that will blow your speakers at first hearing; SEVENTH CALLING's debut album is entitled Monuments and the USA-based band seems rather hungry on providing the Metal world with some neckbreaking Heavy Metal assault. We caught up with Steve and here is what he proposes regarding SEVENTH CALLING's intentions for 2007.

Hi Steve, greetings from mag!

Hello. It’s nice to be speaking with you.

Even if SEVENTH CALLING’s debut album comes out in 2007, it seems the band has been active for many many years, right? Did you and Lance form SEVENTH CALLING?

Yes, we have been working hard for several years now and, yes, Lance and I are the ones that formed SEVENTH CALLING.  It has been our vision for many years.

Is actually SEVENTH CALLING you and Lance, only? What about the rest of the band? Are they kinda session musicians or is it a permanent lineup?

Well, at first, when we begun recording the album it was only Lance and I, with the ‘hired’ help of Tom Croxton on drums.  He was on loan to us from IMPALER. Lance and I wrote all the music and recorded all except the drums.  Now, we do have a regular line-up with Jamie Strobach on drums and Michael Poplees on bass guitar. They have been with us since November of last year.

Really, is there any special reason for choosing this particular name for the band? Or is it just that it sounds ’right’?

It basically sounded right to us when we first came up with the idea.  The main reason is we were looking for a two-word band name.  Kind of like JUDAS PRIEST or FIFTH ANGEL or IRON MAIDEN, and so on. Most of our favorites have two words in their name, so we figured SEVENTH CALLING sounded right!

On to Monuments now: is the tracklist consisted of newly-penned songs? Are there any tunes going back to the first years of SEVENTH CALLING?

There are 4 songs on the album that were from the early years of \[SEVENTH] CALLNG; they were basically re-written for the direction that we are going.  A few twists and changes were made, so I guess you could say that all are relatively ‘new’ for the album.

How long did it take you to record the album? Was it before or after you inked deal with the Melissa label?

Well, we recorded Monuments over the course of 4 months during the latter part of 2006.  And, yes, we recorded the album first and we signed with Melissa after that.

Really, how’s cooperating with Melissa Records? I see they are based on Holland; they seem though to have a great ’taste’ on American Metal music (at least, judging from SEVENTH CALLING!). Are you getting along well enough?

Yes, things seem to be on track.   We have been doing OK so far.  But we hope that with this release things will get ‘better’ for us.  The label is very easy to work with.  And hopefully, together, we can bring this ‘Metal machine’ to the masses!

Back to Monuments (again!): the cover artwork really reflects the ’inner’ of the CD. Powerful, somehow ’gloomy’ and lots of ’heavy’! What was the motive for choosing to play this particular style with this specific sound?

This particular style, (to us), is power. We get the most satisfaction from playing this style of Metal.  Plus, this style is essential for making our songs come to life.

Monuments has – in my opinion – the unique characteristic of including pure Metal music ’arranged’ the 21st century way (thankfully, we do not see any Nu-Metal stuff in there, ha ha!). I mean, the album will surely please 80s Metal fans but – in a special way – younger metalheads will be attracted to SEVENTH CALLING due to peripheral elements (production, guitars sound, vocal lines etc). Are you expecting to reach many juvenile fans too, with Monuments?

We really hope to!  The young fans are the future of Metal!  And we hope, with the added elements that you mentioned, it will make our music appealing to ALL Fans of Metal! They are the ones that make SEVENTH CALLING become a reality.

The chemistry between you and Lance is obvious from the very beginning! It seems you’ve been practicing a lot together. What amount of contribution does each one of you have in the guitar work (e.g. maybe one is a better rhythm guitarist while the other is better in soloing?), or is it an one mind, one soul status?

The contributions are basically 50/50.  Sometimes, we are able to write an entire song without help from the other, and the other times, it takes a combined effort. And what I mean by that is:  I may have a song together except for 2 parts. Perhaps a chorus rhythm and solo rhythm.  I present the song to him, and he already has parts to fill in the blanks.  The weird part is, he had written those parts already, before he even heard my idea for the song.  This is how it has been for…well…since the beginning.

Are you on the way of writing the follow-up to Monuments? I guess you have tons of guitar riffs to transform to full songs!

We are in the recording process now with new material as we speak!  And, yes, we have TONS of new material.  Just waiting for the fans, ha ha!

Speaking about monuments and guitars, can you give me your personal monumental bands, albums and guitarists (or guitar duos) in Hard Rock/Heavy Metal music? I think I already know some, of course, listening again to Monuments (laughs!).

Well, if you are speaking of influences: First and foremost, JUDAS PRIEST. And then, you have METAL CHURCH, IRON MAIDEN, SLAYER, VICIOUS RUMORS, just to name a few.  And the coolest thing about that, is, we were influenced by all of these bands back when we first started playing guitar, and they are all still kick ass live today! As far as duos, Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing - Dave Murray and Adrian Smith - haha - Hanneman and King. You can speak their names to anyone and people will know right away who they are!  To be that well known for playing guitar is an awesome accomplishment, in my opinion.

There seems to be a lyrics concept in the album, or not (the promo copy, unfortunately, does not provide any info)? Would you tell us some details regarding the lyrics themes in SEVENTH CALLING?

We are a band that deals with things like fantasy, science fiction and - to a point - real life.  For example, Dark Angel is a song that deals with uncontrolable desire created by a vampire, and Faces Of Deception deals with two faced people and what I would like to do to them (laughs)! Then we have our Damnation Creation storyline.  It is a 3 part song that deals with, in a short version, a man that has an unknown illness that is killing him slowly.  In an attempt to stop it from spreading, he goes to doctors that cryogenically freeze him and study him over a course of years, but, he is still aware of his surroundings.  He goes insane.  Then, the cloning happens!  Ha ha, I can’t give you the whole thing, it would take quite a bit.  But that is the story.

How important do you think is the part of lyrics in a Metal band’s music? I mean, many bands focus 99% on the compositions and only write childish lyrics in order to just have something to sing!

That is true.  There are a few like that.  To me, my opinion anyway, I feel that certain styles of music demand certain styles of lyrical content.  In our style, I feel that one should think about what they are writing.  If one does not do that, generally, the finished product tends to sound rushed just to get it done. That may take away from the heaviness of the music. Or, from the ‘picture’ one is trying to make with the music.  That is simply just my opinion.

Metalheads seem to be more ’thinking’ as years go by. There are times they demand from a Metal band to write lyrics that will be food for thought. Your opinion?

I agree totally with that.  From a band view point, the songs need to have the ability to draw your fans into the song, or the story.  Therefore, making them think about it and eventually retaining it.  A fan that becomes bored might not be a fan for very long (laughs)!

On to live activities: you’ve already shared the stage with some brilliant Metal bands and I think – due to the release of Monuments – we should expect a ’busy’ SEVENTH CALLING schedule, right? So, what’s up for the near future? North America? Europe? Any summer festival dates?

Well, we have a few scattered shows in North America coming up.  We are going to be with SYMPHONY X and then, after that, we will be joining RAVEN for several dates as well!  We are looking forward to those! Our goal, however, is to go to work. So, I am sure there will be more things in the works soon!

By the way, Europe has proven to be a more trustworthy shelter for Heavy Metal bands, all these years? Do you agree? What is the reason, in your opinion? I know America has lots of Metal bands playing on and on but – in a weird way – Metal music, as we know it, seems to be somehow out-of-date for big audiences?

I agree with that.  The reason?  I am not really sure to tell you the truth. It is a question I think for many years now, that Metal bands have been wondering… It is no surprise that Heavy Metal has never really made a huge connection with America.  Certain bands sure, but the genre as a whole, not so much so far. You are right, there is a strange movement happening here, but there are more and more American Heavy Metal bands emerging. And I personally LOVE IT! When it comes to big audiences, it seems to be with the Metal festivals or the summer festivals that gain most of the attention.  I would love to see the arena tours come back in full force again!

Steve, thanks a lot for this interview. We, in Metal Temple mag, hope all the best for SEVENTH CALLING and Monuments!

You are very welcome!!  It has been a pleasure.  And thank you for the support!


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