Gared Dirge and Niklas Kahl, Lord Of The Lost
Ahead of their headline debut show in Manchester, Rockflesh managed to grab some time with Hamburg Goth Metal band Lord Of The Lost. Sarah is joined by Gared and Nik to talk about Thornstar, Brexit, and David Hasselhoff…
Sarah - “Hi guys, let me start by saying Welcome Back to Manchester. I saw you guys last year supporting KMFDM. In fact, I thought you blew them off the stage, it was incredible.”
Gared – “Oh you think? Thank you”
“So you were in Glasgow last night. Good gig? Did you have fun?
Gared – “Absolutely, yes it was an amazing crowd. Very very intimate, and very very loud. I didn’t know this amount of people could be so loud!”
“I think the Scottish people aren’t just from a different country, they are from a different planet. They are so crazy and fun and energetic”
Gared – “I can’ tell, I’m from Germany, so everything over here is very different… so if you say so, yeah”
You’re touring off the back of the Thornstar album at the moment. How well received has that album been?
Gared – “Actually very well. It’s charted in Germany at number 6 on the main album chart, so this is like our personal record, so I think that is one indicator of a good reception. But other than that, telling what people are saying to us or how the audience react, it is that people actually do really like it and we like it so it’s a mutual kind of thing. I mean we do this kind of thing to make ourselves happy as well. We’re not entertainers – we are musicians, we are artists. In the first instance, this is for us and we obviously do make a lot of other people happy with that, and that’s really really lovely to see”
I think listening back to your albums over the years, the sound actually moves from being really heavy and industrial, then we go to the Swan Songs which I think are just beautiful albums – both of them! What Thornstar presents to me is a fusion of the rock and heavy element from the earlier albums with the tenderness of the Swan Songs. It’s very melodic.
Gared “That’s one way to see it”
That’s just how I’ve interpreted it. It’s also a concept album?
Gared “Well, yes, but it’s just a loose concept behind it. Its not a proper concept album, like you’d get from Pink Floyd or whatever. But yes, there is a story behind it”
So where the idea come from to base the album on?
Gared – “Its actually based on a very ancient and almost forgotten culture and the mythology around it. One day Chris told us the story of it, and each of us had heard about this mythology in our youth. We were all just like ‘Yeah I think I know about this, it sounds interesting’ and we decided to take the inspiration from that. Its mainly around two characters, two Gods or Goddesses. That’s how it came about”
So what would you say your favourite track from Thornstar is?
Gared (laughing) “Well that changes every day, it all depends on my mood. I think right now it is Black Halo which we also play in our live set these days. I really really dig that song because it is so heavy without just being Metal noise. It’s just a heavy feeling song, I really like that right now”
Nik “I also have the same problem, every day it’s a different one. But I think I the song I like the most is probably Haythor”
I think one of the words that is used quite often to describe Lord Of The Lost is “diverse”. Where do you draw your musical inspirations from?
Gared “Really everything, everything that we like. Chris is our main songwriter and he can draw inspiration from anything he sees, on the street or whatever he hears, stories, the news, everything that affects him from one or another. And musically, it’s whatever we like. Chris is a big Roxette fan, where as I like more Prog Artsy stuff. Class is our really metal guy. So all those inspirations and those ideas are what comes together in the melting pot and they make up the album, so yeah, it’s really anything”
What bands are you listening to at the moment?
Nik “My favourite band is Nightwish, and also things like Dream Theater. I like that Prog Metal stuff as well, Ayreon and a German band named HISS, they are playing music with such strange instruments like the accordion and lute harp.
Gared “They are bluesy and folky somehow, and with very funny lyrics”
Nik “Yes! ‘Meine Frau ist fett’”
Gared “My wife is fat!... Its just funny. But these days I really am into the aforementioned proggy stuff like Steven Wilson, a British artist, and all his various projects. For me, it’s the melancholic kind of music that I find uplifting, and vice versa… the happy music just drags me down.”
You’ve had an incredibly busy year, with the release of Thornstar, Thornstar Naked, Confessions and seemingly non stop tour dates. How do you find the time and energy to do all the things you’re doing at the moment?
Gared “Well I think it helps that we do something that we absolutely love… it comes in very handy that if you are doing something that you love, you make the time for it. These days, you can’t really stop, because if you do, there is so much new stuff out there and people just forget about you. Everything moves so fast, you go on Facebook or YouTube and there are so many new artists out there. So if you stop, you are lost somewhere. We don’t want that and as I said, we really love what we are doing.
Nik “And by the way… Confessions has just entered the chart at number 53…54…53?... today.”
Gared “At 54 I think it is. Its somewhere in the 50s in Germany. It’s a live DVD but it also has audio content as well so its suitable for the charts”
I’ve been listening to it the last few days; I’m looking forward to seeing the DVD. So, back to the interview, what do you do with your free time when you are on tour?
Gared “I give interviews like this… (laughs). It depends on who you ask. Me personally I don’t really take the time to explore the cities. I don’t feel like I have the space in my head for that. If I see a city that I really like then, then I think “Ok, I have to come back here another time, privately”. On tour, I’m mostly inside the venue putting up my stuff, sound checking, working on different things on my laptop maybe. The other guys, mainly Pi and Class, they are the explorers of this band. They are really keen on going outside and seeing the city, exploring the shops, buying the local craft beers, they are real suckers for that”
I did see Class on Facebook earlier today posing with a craft ale he’d obviously got in Glasgow yesterday!
Gared “Yeah that really is his thing, local craft beers!”
To go back to favourites again, do you have an overall favourite live track.
Gared “Obviously, we all have a favourite… Nik do you have one? I mean… it changes every day. Let me guess Nik, yours is Haythor”
Nik “Actually… there is one song I really hate, but er…”
Gared “Feel free…”
Nik “Ah… I don’t like to play Doomsday Disco and Blood For Blood”
Oh no! I love that one!
Nik “Yes, but there are just two songs are so boring for me. It’s just Boom Tish Boom Tish Boom Tish for four minutes and when Blood For Blood is over we go directly to Doomsday Disco where I just go Boom Tish Boom Tish Boom Tish”
Gared “The thing about that is, I can totally understand what you mean by that. There are some songs we play where I think ‘Oh great, here we go’ but as soon as the song starts and you can see how the audience react, I like playing the song”
Nik “Oh yes, absolutely there’s so much energy in the audience and it just comes on stage. The energy that is, not the audience”
Gared “We’ve played Dry the Rain on literally every show. There was one show where we had to cut it because our set was cut short. This song is haunting us because it’s literally the first impression people got of us, the first single from the first album. We start playing it and we’re like “oh god its Dry the Rain” but as soon as you see the people react, then you’re like “Fuck yeah, it’s Dry the Rain” but, yes… coming back to the question, my favourite? I think it’s probably the first three songs on this set which is ‘On This Rock I Will Build My Church’, ‘Loreley’ and ‘Morgana’. There is just so much energy in the first ten minutes and this is really the highlight for me at the moment.
Nik “I think my favourite would have to be Under the Sun”
Gared “Oh yeah, I think that’s even got some dub step elements in it”
Talking of favourites, what is your favourite venue? Anywhere in the world?
Nik “Years ago I played a show in Berlin, an open air show at the Wuhlheide. I don’t know if you know the venue? Do you know the Rammstein Live Aus Berlin DVD?”
Oh well let me take a moment to show you my embarrassing tattoo… (at this point I reveal a terrible R+ tattoo on my wrist. The band groan at how bad it is)
Nik “Well you will know then, Rammstein Live Aus Berlin was filmed there. I played there a few years ago, we played two shows over two days. It was sold out with 16500 people in a kind of amphitheatre, and so you’re on stage looking out and there is 5000 or 7000 people on the infield . And then it just goes up, and it’s all just people staring down at you”
So this is obviously a very special memory for you
Nik “Oh yes. Very much. It was impressive. Mind blowing”
Gared “I think I have to go out of the Lord of the Lost context. I was on tour with David Hasselhoff, I’m not kidding, I was playing keyboard for him. We were in Hamburg at Sporthalle. Ten years ago I watched my first concert there, there was about 5000 or 6000 people, and I was standing there and I thought ‘One day, I’m going to play here. Even if I’m in a support band or whatever, I want to play here’ and this year I got to play there twice with David Hasselhoff. I just felt like ’Ok I’m there’ and it was mind blowing. But there are also so many smaller venues that are just so lovely and so cosy though…”
Gared “Yes, Pratteln, in Switzerland. Z7. It’s the rock and roll capital of Switzerland. Huge great stage, great catering”
Nik “Great catering, and lovely locals. They are taking such good care of you”
Gared “There’s so many factors to what makes a great venue, there is the stage. There is the local crew, how they behave, what they are like. How the backstage commodities are. Sometimes you go into a club and you are like ‘Yes the stage looks good, the club looks good’ and then you get backstage and then you go ‘Oh ok let’s just get back on the bus’”
Nik “I’ve been somewhere backstage where a girl has come up to me and asked me ‘hey you guys, do you have any laundry to do’ and we were just ‘erm… yes’. It was that perfect point, we’d been on tour for 14 days and it was 14 shows, and it was right in the middle, we all had fucked up clothes, we all smelt like shit! She asked us, and we were all really confused, like ‘yeah, why are you asking’. She goes ‘Yeah give it to me, I’ll do it’ and she gave us all little bags to put the stuff in”
Gared “Yeah, this kind of thing is very crucial when you are on tour”
Nik “When I get back off stage, all my clothes are backstage, perfectly folded, ironed. This was so crazy. I was just the drummer in a support band and when you are a support band you are lucky if you get something to eat, maybe a beer. I was one of the last guys in the venue and there was maybe a few beers left in the fridge, and I ask the guy from the catering ‘hey is it ok if I take these beers for the bus tonight’ and he goes ‘just wait a moment please’ and he comes back with maybe 2 or 3 cases of beer. That is a great venue!”
Did you know you are one of the last bands who will play in the Ruby Lounge?
Gared “Wow, yes I just heard about this. What is happening with it?”
This isn’t just a problem in Manchester, this is across the UK. We seem to be losing all our little independent venues, losing our metal clubs.
Gared “That is a bummer. How many bands are playing here after us?”
Not many. I think you are the last original band on. Lots of tribute acts and club nights until Christmas.
Gared “That really sucks. It’s not just a problem in the UK though, we have this in Germany too. Sometimes it’s just the owner changes but the venue stays, and then the whole concept of the venue changes. There are no rock and metal concerts anymore, I don’t know, it just becomes dancing and parties”
I know the feeling, my favourite metal club has just become a really trendy nightclub, its all very flashy and nice inside.
Gared “That’s a global problem”
Talking of global problems, there is speculation that Brexit will actually make it harder for bands to come to the UK and play. What are your thoughts on knowing it could potentially be so much more difficult to come and do shows here?
Gared “I think it depends on how you define difficult. When it comes down to it, we apply for work visas all the time. We apply for them when we’re going to Russia or next week when we’re going to China, so that wouldn’t be the biggest problem. But if it was going to become as difficult as it was to get into America, like we tried last year in October with KMFDM then we’ll have to see about that. What happened last year was we applied for our visa to get into America, we did it properly as it has to be and we got denied, for whatever reason, we don’t know. One week before the tour was about to start, we lost a five figure sum of money just on the visa and we aren’t going to try that any time soon. If that’s how difficult things would be to get into the UK then maybe we would need to think things through before trying that again”
And finally, the last thing I want to ask you about is next year. You are celebrating ten years of Lord of the Lost with some special shows in Hamburg. You’re playing two different types of shows, with one being rock and heavy, and the other being the ensemble show.
Gared “Actually we’re doing four shows now, two rock shows and two ensemble shows. It’s just so we can offer everything we have, and show everything we have done over the last ten years”
Will you have the orchestra with the ensemble show?
Gared “Yes, just like we did last time with the orchestra. And two regular rock shows”
Nik “Well not really that regular. I think on the Saturday there will be a special show with some guests and so on, and then the additional show… has it been announced?”
Gared “Yes it has. With the second show, we are going to let the fans vote for the setlist. One hundred percent, the audience gets to decide what we are going to play. We’ve just got so many songs and you can’t please everyone, so this is the closest we can get to doing that. See how that turns out”
Gared and Nik, thank you so much for talking to us today.
Interview by Sarah Cummings