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Voodoo Circle

Voodoo Circle
Same Ingredients, Different Values


Архив интервью | Русская версия

After we spoke to Alex Beyrodt, guitarist and mastermind of Voodoo Circle and also a member of Primal Fear and Rock Meets Classic, back in February 2018, we believed that we had received answers to all our questions. However, in a matter of only 2.5 Alex did a thorough reshuffle of the band, brining back his old colleagues David Readman (vocals) and Markus Kullmann (drums) and recorded a new album called “Locked & Loaded”, bringing back a lot of the full-on classic hard rock feel that gave way to the more modern sound on the previous record, “Raised On Rock” (2018). Add to it the ongoing pandemic, which changed the lives of all the musicians completely, and you will find out that there’s a ton of new questions to be asked, which is exactly what we did, reaching out to Alex just a couple of days before Christmas…

How are you spending the current lockdown? Are you in Germany or in France?

Oh, you’ve made your homework, I like that! I’m actually in France.

So the lockdown in your area is not as tight as in Germany, right?

Actually in Germany all stores are closed apart from groceries, but in France everything is open. (laughs)

That means you’re lucky! Let’s go back to where we stopped with our previous interview. “Raised On Rock” was the most successful Voodoo Circle album, it debuted on No. 43 in the German charts. But why did the band never tour with it?

Actually that’s a good question. It’s something we always had problems with – to find the right tour and also the right timing. That’s also one of the problems, because every musician in Voodoo Circle is also playing in other bands. Mat (Sinner, bass) and I, we also do Primal Fear and Rock Meets Classic, both things are very successful and need a lot of time. Sometimes the timing is just not right. We really hope that after all this crap is over, the timing may be right for a Voodoo Circle tour to support a bigger band. That is something we’re missing, and we need that to make Voodoo Circle more successful.

How do you look back on “Raised On Rock” now, three years since its release? For some people, as far as we understand, that was quite a change in the style of Voodoo Circle…

Of course, Herbie (Langhans) is more of a heavy metal singer, and he gave “Raised On Rock” a different color, but there are also many people who liked it a lot, because it was heavier. I can’t say anything bad about Herbie or his work, he did a great job on the album, and I’m really happy how everything turned out back them.

How did you manage to bring David Readman back in the band? We remember from our previous interview that you were quite surprised, and unpleasantly surprised, with his departure…

Oh yes, I was. (laughs) And I told him about that. Actually the comeback of David was very unspectacular, because I just wrote him via WhatsApp, saying, “Hello, how are you?” Five minutes later we were on the phone talking, and five minutes later we decided that he would be back in Voodoo Circle. So that was actually very easy. You know, as we grew older, we looked back at our career, and we said, “Come on, let’s work together again. We’ve done so many great albums, and the fans will love it, if we go back together”. That’s what we did, and actually we’re both very happy.

And what about Markus Kullmann? Why did you decide to bring him back and not continue with Francesco Jovino?

After it was clear that David was back in the band, I saw the chance to have the original and most successful line-up of Voodoo Circle back, and that’s why I asked Markus if he would come back to the band. And four minutes later he was back in the band. (laughs) Like I said, it was very unspectacular. It was very easy, and easy is good in this case!

After all these changes, does the band still function in the same way as before when you are writing and recording the material, or are the vibe or the process different in any way?

It’s basically the same. The way how we work together has never changed, it’s always the same, especially when David and I are working on new vocal lines and melodies. That’s always when the magic happens. On this album I remember when he was here in France in my studio for five days, and we worked on the material, there was this magic floating around us, these ideas, and it’s always very creative when we work together.

The first single “Devil With An Angel’s Smile” has an obvious Led Zeppenin influence which is something we haven’t heard from Voodoo Circle that much before. Was this your deliberate choice of direction, or do you just put all the hard rock ideas you have on an album?

Well, if you listen carefully to the previous Voodoo Circle albums, you will find there’s a lot of Led Zeppelin, in my opinion. You can have your opinion, that’s okay (laughs), but in my opinion, that influence has always been there, and this time it was made by purpose. On every Voodoo Circle album the sound is a little bit different, but the ingredients are always the same, and the ingredients are Whitesnake, Deep Purple, Rainbow, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. Those are ingredients of every Voodoo Circle album, just in a different value. This time it was time to find my inner Jimmy Page, and for David to find his inner Robert Plant. (laughs) And of course, with a drummer like Markus, to me Markus is the German John Bonham. After I knew that David and Markus would be back in Voodoo Circle, I spoke to Mat on the phone, and Mat said, “Alex, why don’t you start writing songs again”. I was already finished with the songwriting for the new album, but Mat said, “Why don’t you start writing songs again having in mind that David and Markus are back in the band?” That actually led me to write eight more songs, and those songs are now the main songs on the album. I basically rewrote the whole album after these guys came back. (laughs) That’s where this Zeppelin thing happens, and I think it suits us very well.

The cover artwork of “Locked & Loaded” is quite different from “Raised On Rock” – there are band members on it once again, like on “More Than One Way Home” (2013). Why did you decide not to continue with Mexican themes on the cover?

Well, this is the comeback album of David and Markus, and I wanted to have a band picture on the front cover in the respect of that, and also to make something different. Nowadays everyone is looking for an album artwork that looks great on T-shirts, but I wanted to have a band picture on the cover to make a statement. That’s why we have chosen this kind of artwork.

As far as we understand, the pandemic and lockdown did not have any effects on the lyrics and topics touched upon in “Locked & Loaded”. And what about the album title – does it have anything to do with the lockdown?

Actually no. “Locked & Loaded” was written in 2019, the lyrics had already been done before this pandemic bullshit happened, so this is a coincidence actually. But when we were looking for an album in the middle of the pandemic, I said, “Why don’t we call it ‘Locked & Loaded’, because it fits very well to the situation”. (laughs) And it is a great song, and it’s different from all the other songs, so that’s how we came up with the title.

People usually associate Voodoo Circle with lyrics about love and heartbreak, but “Raised On Rock” had a few songs that dealt with much more serious topics, such as “Time For The Innocent”, which was about refugees, or “Ultimate Sin”. And what about the newer songs?

Well, I have already written five songs for the next album. This one is not even released, and I have songs for the next one. (laughs) When it comes to lyrics, nothing has been decided yet. Let’s wait and see what happens. Maybe it’s gonna be more political, or it’s gonna be about love again - I don’t know, it all depends on how David and I feel.

It’s obvious that promoting an album that will be released during the pandemic is more difficult than under regular circumstances, as live shows are not possible. What else are you going to do to promote “Locked And Loaded”? Do you have any ideas how to keep people’s focus on it after the release date?

There will be a video released, probably in the very beginning of 2021, for “Locked & Loaded”. The single “Locked & Loaded” was released 10 days ago, but we haven’t readied the video because of the pandemic. It’s quite a challenge, because you can’t just meet and do a video, there’s so much stuff you have to take care of, and we live in three different countries. David lives in the Netherlands, I live in France, and Markus and Mat live in Germany. Believe me, it’s really not easy just to get together and make a video. We are a little bit delayed, but it will be released in January. That will give the album another push. Apart from that, the only thing you can do is promote the album via the Internet, and hopefully the people will like the album, and the word of mouth will take place. So far I have read many reviews, and they are all wonderful, and also soundcheck results are very good, so I think we have a really good album on the market, and I’m very much looking forward to release it and see what happens.

Everybody knows how the pandemic has affected bands and musicians. But what about your company Guitar Slinger Products? Is it also suffering from the effects of COVID-19, or is there still a big demand for its products?

Actually Guitar Slinger Products is running better than ever before! It is definitely affected, but in a good way. People are at home, people are bored, and people have more time for their hobbies, so they start fixing their guitars and pimping their guitars even more than usually. To me that’s actually good. (laughs) But speaking about Alex Beyrodt the musician, the pandemic is a total nightmare, because I lost 120 shows, I got 120 shows cancelled, so basically I have no income this year, and that is really not good.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, tickets are still being sold for the Rock Meets Classic tour in April 2021. In your opinion, what are the chances of this tour actually taking place as scheduled, or do you already consider a Plan B, so to say?

This is a question I would kindly decline to answer. (everybody laughs) Very kindly, in a very nice way. This is big business, and there’s lots of money involved, there are managers involved, and companies. I am just a guitar player on stage, and I’m not involved in the business and administration part of this, which I’m happy about, especially these days. I’m sure they have a Plan B, and they already work on something, but to be quite honest, so far I have no official statement about this, so I can’t answer this question. (The tour was eventually rescheduled for 2022 with the same line-up – ed.)

What do you think of livestream shows that have become quite common in the past few months? Have you watched any of them?

No, and I’m not a big fan of it. In the beginning, when it was new, it was kind of cool for the people, but I don’t wanna play in front of cars. I mean, come on, the most important thing in a live show is the audience and interaction with the audience. The blood sweat and tears, the beer on the floor, the ability to look into the eyes of the audience – without that it doesn’t make sense, and it’s not fun.

You’ve apparently had more free time than usually after all tours stopped. Have you found anything new to do, any new hobby or creative outlet during the pandemic? We know that you love golf, but has it been possible playing it in the light of corona-related restrictions?

I’m glad you asked - actually I went back on the golf court.

Actually, yeah, because social distancing is there – players are far away from each other!

Absolutely! I was able to work more on the driving range, I could work on my handicap, and of course, I write music all the time. I had more time to work on the recording of guitars for “Locked And Loaded”, I put a lot of work in this, and on top of that, I discovered a motocross race track not far from where I live. Before I started playing electric guitar, I actually wanted to become a motocross champion! (laughs) I was doing motocross in the woods. Actually I sold my very first motorbike, and I used that money to buy my very first Fender Stratocaster. During the pandemic I rediscovered this old hobby, and I will be back on the race track soon.

And what about music? Last time we spoke you mentioned that you were inspired by Joe Bonamassa – and what are your current sources of inspiration?

To be quite honest, I listen a lot to country music these days. I like Jason Aldean, for example, and there are so many really great country rock acts out there – I’m saying “rock”, really heavy. I like that, it gives me a different vibe and feeling, and since I live in the countryside, it makes sense anyway. (laughs)

Our next question is something we think about a lot, and we have heard or read other musicians speaking about it. Don’t you think than people have given up on live music too easily? It’s almost like they don’t suffer without it too much. Like in the past they’ve given up on physical products for the sake on mp3s, and now it will be very easy for them to make yet another step into virtual reality – to enjoy concerts in the comfort of their homes. At the same time, going to a venue doesn’t seem to be more dangerous than flying on an airplane. What do you think about it?

Well, I’m actually a little bit afraid of what will happen when live shows will start again. I’m afraid people will be afraid to go there. This is something I’m thinking about. But there’s nothing you can do, you just have to wait and try. Let’s see. It’s a good point, sure. But also I read a lot of comments on Facebook, like, “Oh, I miss concerts so much” and stuff. I think it all depends on how people will feel after this pandemic is over, and how they personally and their families have suffered from it. For people who got sick, and that was their personal experience during the pandemic, that’s a very important factor.

As far as we understood from posts on the Primal Fear Facebook account, the band is working on something new. Can you give any details, or is it too early to speak about it?

I know the details, but I can’t talk about it! I very kindly decline to answer that, too. (laughs) If I say anything right now, that would be premature, and I would be disturbing the marketing side. Please understand.

In this case, what other albums and projects are there for you in the pipeline? Where else will we be able to hear your guitar next year?

So far I have nothing confirmed from Primal Fear or Silent Force or Voodoo Circle. I’m just working on new music and recording new song ideas. But I am thinking about taking January off and writing an instrumental album. This is something I’ve never done, and this will be a huge challenge. I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of days. Well, I had this idea many years ago, but in the past couple of days I’m thinking, “Why don’t you make an instrumental album in January?” After four weeks it would be ready, and I could release it very fast. Maybe I could even make some money! This is something I’m thinking about right now.

Voodoo Circle on the Internet: http://www.voodoocircle.de/

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

Interview by Roman Patrashov, Natalia “Snakeheart” Patrashova
Live photos by Natalia “Snakeheart” Patrashova, promo photos courtesy of AFM Records
December 23, 2020
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