2019 is a big year for Freedom Call, both celebrating 20 years as a band and at the same time releasing the 10th studio album. PowerMetal.no asked the man in charge, Chris Bay, a few questions in that regard.
As you promised last time we talked (August 2018) we now have a new masterpiece delivered by Freedom Call. Congratulations with another excellent album!
Chris: Yeah, I promised and here it is! Thanks a lot for your congrats, great to hear that you like it.
And I must congratulate you as well with the anniversary: 20 years with Freedom Call and 10 studio albums! If it’s possible: can you describe those 20 years? How has the band developed, how has the music industry developed, how has the music scene developed, and how has the ride been like during those years?
Chris: Yes, 20 years sounds incredible. But it feels like it’s just a couple of years ago, the time is truly flying.
When we started, back in 1999, with our first album Stairway To Fairyland it was a very exciting time. The first contract with a record label, the first tour, interviews, reviews and the dream to become a Rockstar. Finally, it turned out to be a hard work and constant attendance in all concerning’s.
But anyways, that’s exactly what we are longing for, and we have had so much fun traveling around, producing new albums and working on new song material. Music is my best friend – it’s my passion!
The music industry changed, absolutely! Especially because of the digital platforms, streaming etc.
On the one hand the selling rates of CDs and all physical products went down, but on the other hand you have the possibility to use social media platforms to promote your music.
We just have to accept that the time and generation changed.
Since last time we spoke there has been some lineup changes. Ilker Ersin left the band in September 2018 (and drummer Ray Ali left earlier in 2018); how was that. Was it surprising, and how much did that affect the songwriting process for the new album?
Chris: Sometimes it is how it is, but family and personal reasons have definitely priority.
There are some things in life that is more important that playing in a band.
But it didn’t affect the music of Freedom Call. Neither of them was a creative part of the songwriting process of Freedom Call.
In April 2019 you announced the new members, bass player Francesco Ferraro (Vexillium) and drummer Timmi Breideband (ex-At Vance, ex-Bonfire). How was the search for new members and how does that process work out actually? I guess it’s not an advert in the newspaper anymore?
Chris: We didn’t search for new band members. I was convinced that the right guys would appear eventually – and I was right!
Kevin Kott, our live / stand-in drummer in 2018, couldn’t guarantee the continuing performance for Freedom Call because of business reasons. So, he recommended the drummer Timmi Breideband, who recently quit his previous band Bonfire…the rest was clear.
Regarding our new bass player, Francesco Ferraro, we met for the first time in 2012. We shared the tour bus with his Italian band Vexillum.
Since then, we have been friends and in contact.
Early this year I was on tour in Italy with my solo album Chasing The Sun and played a show in Florence/Italy. The band of Francesco were invited…I just asked him for fun if he wanted to become the bass player of Freedom Call and he said „Si». We all were laughing about it, but the next day I called him…the rest was clear.
Now we are happy to welcome these two amazing guys, as persons and as musicians, to an incredible time.
We must talk some more about the new album M.E.T.A.L. About the title you have said that it’s tongue in cheek and that it’s some kind of irony on the fact that some people don’t consider this type of music as «metal». Why did you feel the need to name the album M.E.T.A.L? Is it a statement?
Chris: We are not taking ourselves too seriously. Life is short, nobody should take all these things as strict.
Everybody who knows Freedom Call, knows that our music and lyrics often are written and performed with a blink in the eye, because we are making Happy Metal.
But for all the haters, who are saying that Freedom Call isn’t Metal, we have great news!
After 20 years of existence, we finally decided to make a real M.E.T.A.L. album!
In my review of the album I wrote that it seems like you have picked up some ideas from the earlier times. Maybe because of the anniversary? Not that it sounds dated or that I’ve heard it before, but there is an energy present that’s remind me of the earlier Freedom Call! Wat are your thoughts on the album, and do you agree in some way?
Chris: Thanks a lot for the compliment! For me that means we haven’t lost the energy or the creative inspiration since the early days of Freedom Call.
In my eyes authenticity is the most important element of music.
That we still are able to keep up the trademark of Freedom Call songs, shows that this is exactly the music which is flowing out of us.
Maybe this is a stupid question, but I am curious: the ability to write numerous singalong anthems; how does the melodies appear in your head? The last time we spoke you said that «so many melodies, harmonies and musical themes are flying around in my head». Every melody that are flying around in my head are melodies already written by someone else; how do you manage to create new melodies?
Chris: Hmmm, this is a good question. Maybe the reason is, because I’m a musician, haha!
That is one part of my job to find melodies and writing songs. Of course, I’m not inventing the wheel twice, but melodies and harmonies are in focus of my style of song writing.
I grew up with lot of music around me. My parents were mostly listening to classical stuff like Bach, Wagner, Mozart…the melodic and epic composers. That was definitely forming my taste of music.
I must also ask about Dan Zimmerman, who appears on the new album. What’s the story here and where have he gone? Has he quit playing professional? Are you still in touch, and how was it to have him onboard again? He was the co-founder of Freedom Call, I’m I right?
Chris: Dan is still one of my best friends and I’m in constant contact with him. For our 20 years anniversary it’s a «must be» that he is part of the new album. He’s still an «emotional member» of the band and it feels great to have Dan back on this album M.E.T.A.L.
I formed Freedom Call together with Dan in 1998 and we wrote and produced all albums until 2010 as a team, I’ll never forget that period in my life.
He’s still playing in a local metal band, here in Nürnberg/Germany. He settled down with his family and he’s doing great in this role. That is much more important for me that he’s happy in his life, than to have him as a drummer.
And the 20th anniversary tour! That has turned out the be quite a big tour. How will that be and are you looking forward to celebrating 20 years of happy metal? What can the fans expect from the tour?
Chris: Yay, we’re going to start the tour with an anniversary special show on September 27th in our hometown Nürnberg.
Many friends and fellows are invited and it will become a great evening.
But I don’t want to overrate our anniversary…it’s just a number.
For this upcoming tour we upgraded our show massively and all fans can expect an incredible show.
We are already looking forward to play this expanded tour, that will continue away out in 2020.
The current tour schedule is just the beginning of our crusade for Happy Metal!
The final question: what will come next: a new Freedom Call album or a solo album?
Chris: Firstly, next up is the tour, that will take a lot of time. There are already several plans to play in Asia, South America and more…hopefully we can play the biggest tour ever.
Of course, there will be some breaks in between,that I can use for collecting new song material.
After playing Heavy Metal almost 24/7 on tour, it could feel comfortable to work on some «more relaxed» music material like my solo stuff…but anyways…who knows.
Thank you for the nice interview and for your time and efforts. All the best to you and Cheers to Norway.