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Mad Max's Jurgen Breforth: "In all these years since 1982 we have always kept that feeling and passion for our kind of music and never really changed, I guess that's what the fans really love about Mad Max. We're not a fashion band."

Interview with Jurgen Breforth from Mad Max
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 02 September 2020, 9:14 PM

At the end of it all, the roots matter, and it is always great to come back to. The public might have an opinion that would draw to the decision to head back to the past, however, it is also an inner feeling, an urge to set it to a sort of back on track. Mad Max, from Germany, clocking over 35 years, made it happen with their new album "Stromchild Rising", revamping the old flame of the 80s, further igniting it with gasoline. Steinmetal had the chance to talk with the founder, Jurgen Breforth about the new release, the sensation of the 80s, inspiration and hope, and more…

Greetings Jurgen, it is a pleasure, and quite an honor, to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine. How have you been doing kind sir?

It's an honor for me. Thanks so much for supporting Mad Max, and for supporting the new album "Stormchild Rising".

How are things going on in Germany concerning the pandemic? Are there signs of improvement in the country? How have you been handling this rather crazy situation in the history of humanity?

Sorry to say that, but Covid is still ruling all our lives. The situation is absolutely not under control and the whole live music scene is more or less dead. Sure there are some "social distancing" events, but all the big festivals like Wacken and club tours are cancelled for 2020. Guess in 2021 the situation will not really be much better. We have a huge European Tour scheduled in fall 2021 as "Special Guest" for Axel Rudi Pell. We hope so much that this can happen.

I remember the first time that I received a press release regarding a new Mad Max album, at first I checked that I was seeing straight, titled “Stormchild Rising”, and yes your third album, “Stormchild” is an unforgettable gem, so I thought to myself, “Perhaps it is a reboot? A re-recorded version?”. Apparently not, so I ask, why really reprise to that old title? Was it really mainly because of the fans, didn’t you have a craving for the past?

So many fans all around the world were always asking for the "Stormchild" and we thought that now is the right time to bring him back. The songs on the new album are all brand new but the vibe and the philosophy of the "Stormchild" is bridging the gap between 1985 and 2020.

How has the album been received so far by the media, and especially by your longtime fans?

It looks like this album will be our most successful album since the 80's. The album is getting a fantastic feedback from both fans and media. It is already listed in many metal and rock charts from magazines and radio stations.

I have to ask, since you guys have been playing for more than 35 years a style within Metal and Rock that appears to be drowning in a sea of albums, needless to say in an age where technical attributes within the music appear to take their toll in contrast to actual songs. How is Mad Max holding on in this era with its melodic Hard Rock / Metal persuasion? 

When I founded the band in 1982 there was no internet, no mobile phones, no streaming. Fans were buying vinyl records. We got our very first record contract with a cassette that we recorded live in our rehearsal room and sent it directly to the record company. So times have really changed. In all these years since 1982 we always kept that feeling and that passion for our kind of music and never really changed, I guess that's what the fans really love about Mad Max. We're not a fashion band. I personally listen to the same kind of music that I loved when I started in 1982, classic Def Leppard, early Iron Maiden or Saxon and Dokken. Dokken's "Under Lock And Key" has always been my favorite album.

Let’s go back a bit, I never really asked this before, as I was three years old back when “Stormchild” was released, but perhaps you can tell who is that warrior mascot that has been harboring so much attention among the die-hard Mad Max fans?

We first created "Stormchild" in 1985. He is a warrior who is fighting for the good. But he is not fighting with weapons or violence. He is fighting with rock songs. That's exactly what the world needs now in this Covid situation. For the future it would be great to have a "Stormchild" album with rock songs from various artists and bands maybe for a charity project.

What does the “Stormchild Rising” version of the warrior represent nowadays, in 2020? What are the main messages that you are trying to convey to the world through his image?

The songs on the new album are all written before Covid, but the lyrics of some of the new songs are kind of "prophetic". While writing the new songs we already had the feeling that the world might change in the near future. The main message of our song "Ladies and Gentlemen" is that only the young and older generation together can solve the problems of the world. And the song "Hurricaned" is about the media overkill that blows us all away like a hurricane. And with Covid this media overkill even got worse. Overall, the "Stormchild" stands for this philosophy that is part of a lot of songs on this new album.

The last time I had a chance to see you guys play, actually it was also my first time, was back in Wacken Open Air 2010. To be honest, it was a rather heavy show, pure old school German Metal rather than Hard Rock. However, I have been listening to your albums and there is that melodic Hard Rock edge with shards of traditional Metal. Nonetheless, “Stormchild Rising” is bursting with more of the old flame of Hard Rock of the 80s. Even though the fans had something to do with it, personally, what motivated you to go back to the early days of the band in terms of music?

Going back to the feeling of 1985 brought more of our Hard Rock roots back. In 2010 we thought that the Wacken audience would prefer more the metal side. That was the reason we played a special old school set. I guess the fans love both sides and there are some of our classics like "Burning The Stage" or "Night Of Passion" that have to be a part of every Mad Max show.

In comparison to early three albums of Mad Max, what do you think that makes “Stormchild Rising” refreshing, and I am not referring to experimentation, which as it seems you turned your gaze from?

Last year we played a fantastic festival in Germany called Trveheim. There were a lot of young fans from all over the world who were not even born in 1982. This young generation really inspired us to come up with a very fresh and classic Mad Max album. A lot of these young fans told us what they wanted to hear from us and this was like a kickstart for us for the songwriting for "Stormchild Rising".

Even with your vast experience, there are always lessons learned. In the case of “Stormchild Rising”, which elements would you say looked differently, or improved, regarding your songwriting process that made the new record stronger in its magnitude?

Bringing the character of the "Stormchild" back was a very important element because this character has a very special energy that you can feel on the whole album. With this energy and knowing what the fans wanted from us the songwriting was very focused. Maybe this is the reason why the whole album is so powerful because the high energy level is there right from the very first song until the end.

Largely most of the album fires bursts of melodic Hard N’ Heavy, rather the anything from Germany, however, there is that odd sod, uncanny groovy beast, “The Blues Ain’t No Stranger”. It is one hell of a heavy track when it comes to Mad Max. What was the source of its creation? How do you observe your work on the lead section with Stryper’s Oz Fox?

This very first Mad Max Blues song ever is really becoming a monster because the fans and media love it so much. When I wrote the lyrics for “The Blues Ain’t No Stranger” I was really worried to use the word "Blues" in a Mad Max song because we had never done that before. But finally the song wrote his own story when Oz Fox from Stryper did his wonderful heavy blues solo. We toured with Stryper in 1987 and since then we had always stayed in touch. Oz loved the song and we are really proud to have him on the album.

Working with Rough Cutt’s Paul Shortino, now I bet that was quite an experience, covering a strong classic crispy tune. How do you observe the duet between the raspy, melodic tone of Michael Voss and the gruff rough voice of Shortino? Anyways, was it a decision of an instant to cover this exact tune of Rough Cutt?

"Take Her" from Rough Cutt has always been one of our favourite songs from the 80's. Michael Voss and Paul Shortino are very good friends and so this duet was possible. The two voices sounded incredible together and so we thought the fans would love to hear that on the album.

I am sure that no fan would ask more once listening to tunes like “Talk To The Moon”, “Mindhunter” or “Kingdom Fall”. I know that I was lost in translation, a swift journey through the 80s. What do you think that Hard Rock nowadays misses in comparison to your pitch examples from that magical era for Rock and Metal music?

We are one of the bands from the era where it all started. I remember my very first AC / DC show before the very first AC / DC album was released. It was on a huge festival and AC / DC were totally unknown. They played in the middle of the night long after the headliner RAINBOW had finished their show. It's the history that has a special magic and we are one of the few bands that have this history.

Let me ask you this, and I am positive that it won’t be easy, which of the album’s songs is your number one? Please elaborate

This is not an easy question indeed. "Ladies and Gentlemen" is a very important song for me personally because I was lucky to work together with Detlev Joecker, Germany's most successful writer for kids music (he sold over 17 million records) for this song. The other song I'm really proud of is "The Blues Ain't No Stranger" because it really was an adventure to add the Blues to the MAD MAX sound.

Since the pandemic is here to stay, hopefully for not too long, where are the upcoming endeavors of Mad Max? Perhaps doing a live stream show to promote the album?

As long as the Covid restrictions are that strict we will not play any live shows. We are doing many interviews and we are producing a lot of videos to visualize the album and the songs. I'm doing Podcasts for the fans where I talk about news and "behind the scenes" stuff. Plus we have a new website for the fans (www.madmax-germany.rocks) .

Jurgen, I would like to warmly thank you for this interview, it was a sheer pleasure of mine. Thank you for reminding everyone that the 80s are alive and well. Your kingdom won’t fall. Cheers sir.

Thanks so much for supporting MAD MAX and for helping the "Stormchild" to fight for the Good. Stay safe and healthy my friend.


 



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