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From Steam Train to Zeppelin


Архив интервью | Русская версия

Germany's Pyogenesis, after more than a decade of silence, came back with a bang and show no signs of slowing down. This past February saw the release of “A Kingdom To Disappear”, already the second part of the trilogy that the band dedicated to European history of the 19th century and dramatic changes in science, culture and society brought by that era. This interview is also more like Part 2 of the one we did a short time ago. Our first encounter with guitarist and singer Flo V. Schwarz occurred at St. Petersburg's Opera Concert Club in late 2015, where Pyogenesis came to support their previous album "A Century In The Curse Of Time", but having heard on the upcoming release of a new record, we jumped at the opportunity to continue our conversation, this time via Skype. Flo is hardly an eloquent talker, but what he does reveal helps to understand his music a lot.

You may remember me, we did an interview at the Opera Concert Hall in St. Petersburg before your show here in late 2015. How was the show, did you like it?

It was our first show for many years in Russia, and I really like to play in Russia, because I like the country and the people. So for me it was great, yeah.

Yeah, that was a good show. It's a shame there were too few people but we enjoyed the concert a lot and it was fun. Now let me congratulate you on the release of the newest album "A Kingdom To Disappear". Can you tell us how was it received by your audience?

Actually they liked it. We got really good reviews, and we got the highest ranks in sounchecks of many magazines. I really can’t complain about that.

That's cool, yeah! And what about the album's concept? It seems to be a sequel of your previous one so could you tell a bit about the story behind the album and the differences between these releases?

Well, the concept is the same as the last time, as on “A Century In The Curse Of Time”. It’s a concept album about the change of the society in the 19th century. “A Kingdom To Disappear” and “A Century In The Curse Of Time” belong together, because they’re parts of a trilogy together with the third part, which is not released yet. Yeah, they belong together, and they should be heard in a row.

Ok, and what about the differences? Because for me it seems that the first album has a more "steampunk" mood in the lyrics, so this steam stuff in the title of the album and "A Kingdom To Disappear" seems to be a bit different, without all this steampunk stuff. So what can you tell about it?

I mean, steampunk… It’s not that we really meant to dig in this concept of steampunk in general, but if you sing about the 19th century, then steampunk is a part of it. I wouldn’t put too much value in this steampunk thing, it’s not that we were really singing about steampunk.

Ok, I see. And could you explain the title of the album? What "kingdom" do you refer to?

There are two different meanings. First of all, we sing about the 19th century, and the time before the 19th century - without factories, without electricity, without all this important stuff like trains, etc. – it’s a land of its own, it’s a kingdom, and it disappeared with all these inventions. On the other hand, “a kingdom to disappear” refers to Poland, because Poland was divided by Russia, the Germans and Austria. For 123 years it disappeared from the face of Earth, no map of that period had Poland on it.

Ok, that's an interesting thing, I never thought of Poland in this point. Are there any songs about history on the album?

Well, the title track is about that – the Germans, Russia and Austria splitting Poland in three. That’s the only song about Poland.

As far as I understood, another good song from the album, "Every Man For Himself And God Against All" is based on the story of Kaspar Hauser. It’s quite an interesting story, and what do you personally think about the mystery of this man - who was he and who killed him? Do you have any ideas?

Of course, I don’t know it either, but I think it’s very interesting. If you know, he is said to be a crown prince of Baden, who was replaced by a very ill newborn baby that died a few days later to change the dynasty. If’s always the first born son who inherits a throne, and when there are no other sons left, it changes to another branch of the family. They did this to change the following and to change the history, and I think that’s very interesting.

Yeah, that's quite a story. Well, you have some acoustic stuff on the record like "New Helvetia", for example. Do you plan to include it into your live shows? I really enjoyed this song and I am interested in hearing it live.

Let’s say it this way: we are on tour at the moment, and we haven’t played that song live yet. But it does not mean we will not include it at a certain point.

Ok, let’s hope it will happen one day - some special show with acoustic stuff. Another song that I enjoyed is the song called "We (1848)". What is it about, I'm wondering?

You know, Germany as a nation only exists since 1871, and before that there were smaller German kingdoms and parts, 38 independent parts. They weren’t together. All the Germans spoke one language, but there was no Germany. In 1848, there was the first attempt to unify Germany. All the other European countries, such as England or France or Russia, they had already been nations.

Well, I enjoyed not only the songs but also the cover of the new album, it’s quite a nice one. Who drew the cover and is there any special idea behind it?

Well, again, just like the previous cover, this one was made by Stan W. Decker, a French cover artist. And just like on the latest record, there are tiny people on the cover, who are the four of us in the band. I don’t know if you noticed that…

Actually, I saw the cover but I didn't recognize you.

Yeah, on the bottom right, that’s me, and there are all of us on the cover, very tiny.

I saw four persons but I didn't think they were you.

And again, the cover features another symbol of superior mankind and technology. On the first part of the trilogy, there was the train, and now there’s a zeppelin. It’s very interesting to follow up from one record to the next one, and it’s not easy as well, to include the same ideas and the same kind of feeling. But with the cover, I think, it worked very well, I really like the cover.

Do you have any idea about the cover for the third record and the concept of the third record?

Yeah, but I can’t talk too much about that now.

Ok, I see. But have you composed any material?

I’m working on material, yeah.

Well, we are looking forward to hearing it. Now let’s talk about some live stuff because I saw you not only in Russia but also at Wacken last summer and I'm wondering what happened with the timeline back then. As far as I know you were supposed to play in the tent in the evening firstly but then you got the main stage but in the afternoon.

We had to change the slot because we had another show in Bulgaria that was coming up, and if we had done the original showtime, we wouldn’t have caught the plane. It’s a very simple explanation.

Ok, I got it. Did you like that show?

I remember it was very rainy. That’s a hard and difficult thing. But yeah, it was fun.

Yeah, that was a good show, but the rain... It was a real trouble particularly for me because I had left my raincoat in the press area and I had to leave the show to get it and then returned to the first rows to see you.

Sure, yes.

Do you have any plans for big festivals like Wacken for this summer? Maybe not Wacken itself, but some other open air, like maybe HellFest…

We’re playing a couple of festivals, but honestly I’m not sure which ones I’m allowed to talk about right now, because I don’t know which ones have already published their line-up. (laughs)

Ok, your record label seems to be quite tough on that. And what about the promotion from the label, are you satisfied with how the things are going with the newest album? Actually I'm also wondering how the things changed for comparing for the promotion process like 15 or 20 years ago?

Of course, everything changed. Nowadays social media are so important, and 15 years ago there were no social media.

Yeah, no social networks, no Facebook... And what do you do besides music? I mean, do you have any full time or part-time jobs or may be you are earning money only by making music?

I run a management and record company called Hamburg Records, and this is what I make my money with. I started Hamburg Records with the money I made with Pyogenesis, and today Hamburg Records gives me the opportunity to go on tour with Pyogenesis, because I don’t need to make money with it.

And what about the other members of your band?

One of us is a technician for PA, he rents PA, he runs a company, and the other two just make music.

Besides making music you listen to music - we talked about it last time - you listen to a lot of metal. A lot of new albums were released during the last year. Could you pick out any albums, your favorite ones released during the last year? Have you heard anything really interesting?

The Killswitch Engage album – was it last year or the year before?

Yeah, that was a good album.

Who else, let me think… Well, of course, there was Metallica. I bought it on iTunes, but I wasn’t really convinced. I think if this band wasn’t Metallica, they wouldn’t gain the same success with it, do you know what I mean?

Yeah, I see your point but personally I enjoyed it a lot, may be because I'm not a Metallica fan and I never listened too much to Metallica apart from "Ride the Lightning" (1984). I listened to the new album and I had no big expectations but I think this album is really good, I enjoyed it but everyone has his own opinion about it. And what about some German stuff like Kreator?

Wasn’t it this year?

Yeah, it came out a few months ago, may be one month ago.

Of course, we’ve been touring with Kreator 8.5 weeks, so for sure we know Kreator. I think it’s great that bands, especially metal bands, can be around for so long and still be successful. That’s what I really enjoy about metal.

Yeah, and its also true about your band - you are still playing, still making good records, still playing Wacken and other big festivals and that's really good. By the way, do you have any plans for visiting Russia again?

As I said, I really love Russia, and I would love to come back. We were actually talking to some people, but nothing is certain yet. (Some time after this interview it was announced that Pyogenesis will play at Moscow's Brooklyn Club on November 4 - ed.)

Actually I think I'm kind of running out of questions. Please can you say something inspiring for your fans here in Russia because we are waiting for you to come again.

Yeah, we hope to come back! It’s always great there, it’s both fun and adventure. I even learned the Cyrillic alphabet. Of course, Russia is not the same as Hamburg where we live, but there’s a lot of similarities, and I think that’s really exciting. I really like Russia.

Actually, I think there are quite a lot of similarities between Hamburg and St. Petersburg, have you noticed that?

Yeah, the river and the bridges.

Pyogenesis on the Internet: http://www.pyogenesis.com

Special thanks to Irina Ivanova (AFM Records) for arranging this interview

Interview by Pavel Vlasov
Promotional photos courtesy of AFM Records, live photos by Roman Patrashov
March 21, 2017
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