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Reinforcer's Logan Lexi: "It is a shout out to stand your ground. We are going nowhere, united we can stand up to every enemy, even if it has no physical shape."

Interview with Logan Lexi & Niclas Stappert from Reinforcer
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 18 June 2021, 10:53 AM

It starts with motivation and vision, afterwards the will of a single to make a chance for the many. It also takes an of courage and pure logical sense of how to look at things. Nonetheless, sometimes to off, being unrealistic, might also drive to a newfound greatness, by taking a lot of risks. The German Reinforcer wanted to emphasize the bravery of the little person, that one that would rise against powers that are way beyond his abilities to take on. Following the release of their debut album, “Prince Of The Tribes”, along with signing with Scarlet Records, Steinmetal had a talk with two of the band's main men, Logan Lexi (Vocals) and Niclas Stappert (Guitarst) about the new album, its content, music and more…

Hello gents, it is with a great pleasure to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing?

NS: Hi Lior. As for all bands and everybody else, the last year has been very challenging but we are all good and confident that things are getting better now. Besides that, we are obviously very excited about the release of our new album.

Your band Reinforcer came into my life in a rather long period of time where I have been exploring, looking to find the next shining beacons of Metal throughout the world. Since you haven’t been around for too long, what can you tell about the band?

NS: It all started back in 2015 when bassist Marvin and me parted ways with our old band. The two of us always had a good connection, so we decided to form a new band, this time with a more serious and professional approach. That in mind, we started a long and nerve wrecking journey to find the right line-up. After two years we had finally found drummer Lasse, guitarist Tobi und last but not least our singer Logan. We all had the same ideas of creating powerful Heavy Metal with big riffs and epic melodies, so it only took us one year until we could finally release our first EP “The Wanderer”. After the good feedback, we wanted to make a big step forward with our first full length album, so it took three years in total until we are now here and can talk about the release.

When it comes to the band’s image, and I presume that it has to do with the themes that you strongly cling to, are you all heroic or rather still exploring new horizons?

NS: Well, I think we are all a bit biased by the music we listen to. In a way everything came naturally. Logan and I write the lyrics and we both are absolutely into all the battle, swords and leather stuff and that fits perfectly with the music, so we didn’t have to experiment with images or have to disguise. Obviously, it’s always a bit more over the top on stage though.

Recently, you made your first step into being a label band by signing with the Italian Scarlet Records. How did you know that it was the right time to make that step forward? It may sound odd to ask yet there are a lot of bands nowadays that choose to remain independent even with a full length in hand

NS: That is an absolute legitimate question. Of course, we discussed everything within the band, but we quickly came to the conclusion, that we neither have the knowledge nor the time to promote and distribute an album in a way a professional label like Scarlet is able to. We want to concentrate on the areas we think we are good at and that is making music. I can understand every band that decides to stay independent and I’m sure it can work out but it’s a hell of a lot of work and you have to be very good at it. Then, and only then it might even be financially more profitable at the end, but our aim has always been to reach as many people as possible with our music. Therefore, we think having a good label supporting us is the way to go.

Entitled, “Prince Of The Tribes”, which is a shower of heroism and glory, I assume that your debut deals with the revolts against the dying Roman Empire. It is also rather evident from the artwork, which is glorious. What piqued your interest in that period of time? Do you see any particular analogy to the present?

LL: The interest in that time period is explicitly caused by the story of Arminius and the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest itself. We were born and raised in that area, so everyone around here knows all about this tale from a young age. It is the perfect fit for our kind of music. It contains the old goods, a battle with the simplest weapons in our native Forest.

The Analogy behind that is probably not what you'd expect, it is not the fall of an empire, not a political statement either. It is the resistance of a simple man who could be anyone, against forces that appear unmatched and seemingly undefeatable. In my opinion that is a timeless analogy that will never be outdated and gives hope for everyone.

What does “Prince Of The Tribes” symbolize for you personally? What is your perspective towards it? Is it simply a tribute to your own Germanic heritage?

LL: Arminius was exactly what you expect from a hero: he's strong, brave, loyal and maybe even a little bit insane to mess with such an enemy. Since I first heard someone say, “Fortune favors the bold", I instantly drew the connection. Who but Arminius is a better example for that? To me it's a reminder to always go for it all, against all odds, that's how you achieve true greatness. And the importance and loyalty of friends and loved ones of course. Without them I have no one to fight alongside and nothing to fight for.

I guess that if there is a way to escape the menace of the pandemic, and its collateral damage, is through a presentation of historical events, with possible interpretation. Is “Prince Of The Tribes” your means to escape it all?

LL: It is a shout out to stand your ground. We are going nowhere, united we can stand up to every enemy, even if it has no physical shape. And the pandemic will not change who we are and what we do. Hopefully the album will make an impact in the community, we gave all we have to offer and are confident it will take us a big step forward, especially with the upcoming post-corona concerts and festivals in mind.

There is no chance that I could let go of the artwork, as it stands strong for the album and represents it quite well by showcasing The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. What can you tell in regards to the vision behind it?

NS: Before even knowing the title of the new album, the first thing that we were absolutely sure about was that we wanted to work with artist Hendrik Noack again, who already did an amazing job with our EP-Cover. After we had decided that the title track would be “Prince Of The Tribes”, we knew that we wanted an epic scene from the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. A picture that soaks you right into the era and represents the power of our music at the same time. We did not have to give Hendrik a huge amount of input, from the first sketch he knew exactly what we wanted, and he delivered once again. It’s always great to work with professionals and when they share your vision, it’s even better.

Rather different than most newcomer bands nowadays, which either surge into extremity or entrust their souls by the chains of core, Reinforcer harnesses the iron fist of the 80s, along with the revival of European Power Metal of the late 90s and early 00s. How do you find this mixture, or better stated, the continuance of the old epics? Do you believe that it is still relevant nowadays?

NS: That is a very nice description you chose! In my opinion the old epics will always be relevant. I would even go one step further by saying that there will never be such heroes like all the “big guys” from the 80s again. But we have the chance to keep their spirit alive by using them as an inspiration to create something new without forgetting where we come from.

Which gods of those eras mentioned came about while you were brainstorming your wits, gathering material for “Prince Of Tribes”?

NS: Well, we actually didn’t have a conversation like: “Oh, let’s take a little bit of this, let’s sound more like that…”. We all have our own heroes and influences. While Logan and I can totally be described as the old school 80s Metal Heads, listening to stuff like Priest, Sabbath, Dio etc., Tobi and Lasse are more open to extreme Metal genres. I think it’s a good combination when it comes to giving the classic Metal components a bit more speed and color. Besides, we definitely have to name bands like Iced Earth, Accept, Blind Guardian or Gamma Ray. They all had such an impact on the Power Metal genre that must not be unmentioned.

You have been one of both the old school and the contemporary means of Metal music, in your opinion, what makes Reinforcer a new form of power, a force to be reckoned with in contrast to a lot of material in your spectrum that is being released nowadays?

NS: We simply combine the best of all those eras and love that music from the bottom of our hearts. We never had the vision of being super innovative or technically over the top. We want to make good music. Music that we would listen to ourselves, that moves the listeners and let’s them have a good time. I think that is still more important than inventing an image, wearing costumes, or dreaming of becoming the new Dream Theater.

Since you already have an EP, which was your trial by fire, you've particularly immersed yourself in the songwriting process. How would you say that you were evolved in your knowledge of structuring and arranging songs after working on “Prince Of The Tribes”?

NS: I think we really made a step forward regarding the songwriting for “Prince Of The Tribes”. That is not very surprising since the creative process has been totally different this time. Most of the songs for the EP were already written when there was not even a complete Line-Up. Especially the factor that Logan joined the band just shortly before the EP was recorded, played a major role. He obviously wasn’t involved in the song writing process. Consequently, some critics mentioned that there could have been more vocal passages and better arrangements of choirs and things like that. And I must admit, they were absolutely right. This time all the vocals were arranged together by Logan and myself. It is totally different when you create songs together with a singer instead of writing a song from the guitarist’s point of view, writing lyrics, giving it to the singer and then he just does what he is told to. Besides that, I had a lot more focus on the details of different song parts compared to the EP. In the past it often was like: “So, the song is done but we still need a guitar solo. Ok, let’s take the riff of the chorus then and shred a solo.” For the new album it wasn’t like that. I think the solo parts of “Allegiance and Steel” or “Z32” are good examples. Just listen how much is going on in the background that you wouldn’t notice when you hear it for the first time. But all such details give the songs and the record a great color and variety.

With Reinforcer, and the record in particular, being on the offensive, how did you know how to relay the written music to the lyrical form of each of the songs? How did you find that fine line that made the connection between the two?

LL: Niclas and I have a very good connection when it comes to songwriting, he shows me a riff and that triggers a feeling, sometimes even a topic to work with for me. The other way around, if I show him some lyrics I wrote, he comes up with a melody mostly as I imagined it to be. That is how we write most of our songs. It appears we match pretty well as songwriters and I'm very grateful for it!

Other than providing a series of great rhythm guitar riffs, there is the melodic element. What is your perception towards the importance of melodies to guide songs and perhaps make them better or at least more interesting?

NS: Melodies have always been the most important thing in music for me. A melody is always the first thing that sticks to your mind, and it is that part of music that really touches your feelings. A great riff can cause certain things as well, but it will never replace the feeling an awesome melody evokes. I think the best example is the solo of Judas Priest’s “Beyond the Realms of Death”. These guys have written tons of unbelievable riffs but once you’ve heard those melodies created by the unrivalled Glenn Tipton, you will never ever forget that.

How did the melodic factor, in your view, rise to power within “Prince Of The Tribes”?

NS: I think it is absolutely essential not only for the record but our sound in general. Right from the beginning my idea was that we have two guitarists that never play the same thing at once. We always have the riff on the one hand and the melody on the other. You have all these little melodies in the background as well as major melody- and dual lead guitar parts. Those things can definitely be seen as some kind of a Reinforcer trademark.

What came as a challenge for you guys in the making of the album? Did you have delays or perhaps obstacles that were hard to overcome while this release was made?

NS: There was not one certain thing that delayed the release but a hell of organizational matters that had to be sorted out. Directly after we had finished the song writings, this Corona shit appeared. We had no chance to rehearse the new material, so everybody had to prepare his parts alone at home. Then we had to coordinate studio times etc. The search for an appropriate label also took some time. We started recording the album in May 2020 and the release is now on 18th June 2021… more than a year later. We strongly hope that it will not take that much time for album number two.

What is the basis for the song “Black Sails”? Perhaps it was a sort of a supposed ace in the deck to try out into the halls of pirate styled Metal? What is your appreciation of this track?

LL: On this Album it is unique in style and actually some sort of a continuation to our EP's “Shipwrecked". The basis were the myths and rumors pirates spread around Black Beard and is focused on making him much more demonic, cruel, and mystic then he actually was. We recognized performing pirate style songs to be one of our strongest tools when it comes to live performances and the easy, yet catchy gang shouts (“Black sails!") make it memorable thus giving the audience a chance to join in on the song.

NS: Yes, it simply is great fun doing one or the other pirate metal number. No worries, we will not become a second Running Wild, even if there was the chance that it might be more successful than our normal stuff. But at the same time, I can promise that there will much likely be a pirate song on the next album as well.

Which of the songs would you like to elaborate about? I believe that it won’t be an easy task, yet your perspective could take the song forward to new fans and listeners.

LL: I think I speak for both of us saying that our personal favorite is “Z32". It has a mystic darkness, so much mystery and diversity in riffing and vocals. It's a dark tune that offers everything Reinforcer has in store. Slow and fast parts, silent and loud, technical riffing, great solos, and constantly rising vocals to the song’s crescendo. It combines the whole of our musical abilities and we're very proud of the result, so hopefully the fans will agree with us.

NS: True. “Z32” is somehow different but not in a way that you would say it doesn’t sound like Reinforcer or shouldn’t be part of the album. It’s simply a perfect final for the album.

How does 2021 look for you? Is there still hope for the band to go live this year or do you rather wait patiently for 2022?

NS: We are definitely hoping that we will be able to play some live shows in 2021 already but we have to wait how things develop. At the moment there is only one show planned at the postponed Rager’s Elite Festival in Hamm, Germany on 27th November. If things get better and better, we will do everything to add more shows to the 2021 schedule though.

Guys, I wish to thank you so much for your time for this interview. You opened my eyes and ears with your music, certainly you are in your element. All the best. Cheers. Lior Stein

NS: No problem. Thanks a lot for your interesting questions and your hard work for the metal community, Lior!


 



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