Seemingly out of nowhere MENTALIST appeared on the surface after they announced THOMEN STAUCH (ex-Blind Guardian) as the new drummer. But, who are the rest of the guys in the newly founded melodic metal band – and how is the work with the debut album going? PowerMetal.no asked the band.
Mentalist got my attention when the former Blind Guardian drummer, Thomen Stauch, was announced as your new drummer. That’s quite an addition to the lineup? How did you get him onboard?
Peter Moog (guitars): I have been a big Blind Guardian fan since the early nineties and in my opinion Thomen is one of the best drummers in the metal scene. When I first met him three years ago, we became friends and we knew we would make music together someday. Thomen is a great enrichment for Mentalist with his melodic, dynamic and progressive drumming.
In addition to Stauch, the Mentalist lineup consist of Peter Moog (lead guitar), Kai Stringer (lead guitar) and Florian Hertel (bass guitar). Who are you guys; what are your musical backgrounds?
Kai Stringer: I have known Peter for 20 years. He has written many melodic metal songs in his life but has not made many public appearances so far. Parts of the Mentalist debut album were composed at the beginning of the 2000s. Basically, most Mentalist songs carry Peter’s genetic signature. In the band we call him «Peter the Leader».
Peter Moog: Kai is one of the best guitarists I know. He was already extremely fast 20 years ago. He has an incredible talent and is extremely creative. His greatest strength may not be, as he thinks, his fast style of play. He’s just a full-fledged, perfect musician and manages to improve each song a lot.
Thomen Stauch: We are definitely all very experienced musicians and therefore certainly have our own skills, which in one way or another bring the band forward. Everyone in the room has certain strengths that the other may not have, but that’s what makes our band special. Because we balance each other out to finally form a well-functioning unit. That’s what it’s all about in a band that will last.
Florian Hertel: For my part, I have played exclusively in regional bands and more in the area of progressive metal, which is why Mentalist is a completely new experience for me on many levels. Playing with these talented and experienced musicians and this energetic music always inspires me again and again.
How was Mentalist founded and what the idea behind the band?
Kai Stringer: Mentalist was founded in early 2019. It has always been clear to us that we wanted to make music together. With Thomen we were already three friends who shared the same interest. Florian comes from the regional music scene and made a very good name in the local scene with his virtuoso bass playing and was therefore the first choice for our band.
Peter Moog: I regret that there are hardly any good releases in the melodic metal area for many years now. This music is always up to date. You may just have to interpret it a little more modern and progressive nowadays. We try to contribute accordingly with Mentalist.
Thomen Stauch: Yes, I have to agree with Peter! In the last few years there were hardly any releases in the melodic power metal section that really kicked me. Our goal with Mentalist is to create a very melodic and powerful album that is bursting with power and enthusiasm. We hope that listeners will be able to honor this and hear and feel our love for this music, because then we have reached our goal.
Florian Hertel: I already know Kai from the time I started playing the bass. At the music school where I was taught he already worked as a guitar teacher at that time. Now, many years later, I was suggested for Mentalist by recommendations from local musicians and mutual friends Kai and Peter, and joined the band that way.
The latest news from Mentalist is that you have announced a vocalist, the Swedish Rob Lundgren. Where did you find him, and more generally; how was the search for a vocalist. As I have understood, the vocalist is the hardest one to find?
Kai Stringer: Among our friends there are many fans of Rob. Peter had contacted him, and Rob seems to have liked our songs right from the start. After singing a demo song I think we all knew that there can be only one vocalist for us.
Thomen Stauch: Yes, I can definitely confirm that. Rob has really shown a lot of creativity with the vocals. Already after the first finished demo song we could hardly believe how much talent this guy has. We are very happy to have him!
Rob Lundgren: Thanks guys, this is how they welcomed me – with open arms. The music really spoke to me as they had a lot of things already recorded and demoed, but I could really feel the melodies and “dance” of the songs. Tried my vocals on it and it completely changed my view of not joining another band. And I’m so glad I went thru with it as then when later meeting the guys in Germany it further confirmed a great chemistry and friendship in this band. Great music, great guys! Let’s rock!
I know that you have some songs already recorded, and that the debut album will be released this year. What can you tell me about the music of Mentalist? What can we expect? Who are your musical influences?
Kai Stringer: I think you can sometimes hear our musical roots in our songs. Peter has always been a big fan of bands like Iron Maiden, Blind Guardian and Helloween. For my part, I’m a big prog metal and guitar shredding fan. Thomen has no influence. He is the influence!
Rob Lundgren: My influences have come and gone in waves from rock to heavy metal to prog to power metal. I enjoy spicing up the songs with different styles of vocals to what suits best for each moment. Love dynamics and even have the big pop singers influence and inspire me. I ofc have my own style and keep it within limits not to make it too crazy but not too monotone as well. So if you hear a fast song, expect energetic vocals. If you hear a slower tune, expect powerful emotion. Life has many sides and Mentalist wants to show you that thru metal music.
How will you describe the songwriting process, and how long have you been working on the songs? Are all the songs on the upcoming album from the Mentalist era, or are some songs written prior to that?
Kai Stringer: About half the songs have been composed only in the Mentalist era. For the other songs the basis is usually one of Peter’s compositions, which we worked on together as a band.
Rob Lundgren: The recordings are a team effort but ofc each of us come up with ideas and bounce them back and forth until settling. If I have an idea that I really like, I’m not afraid to show the guys and say “hey, check this out” and they reply “nice… but maybe try it this way” I go back in the studio, test it out and boom, something even better. Or vice versa. There is a great “connecting force” that makes it all grow, however which way “It” wants to grow.
Regarding the upcoming album; what can you tell me about that?
Peter Moog: The new album will most likely be called Freedom of Speech and has 10 tracks, including the intro. Kamelot keyboarder Oliver Palotai will most likely contribute the keyboard sounds. We are also happy that two excellent guest musicians will back up our songs. We will announce more about that shortly.
What are the future plans? When will the album be released and what about future concerts?
Peter Moog: The album will be released about six months from now. The tour will follow in 2020.
Thomen Stauch: Along with Peter’s ability to write fantastic, melodic songs and putting together a well-functioning band, he is also an outstanding businessman with utmost discipline, which certainly benefits the band much. He has an extremely well-developed talent for planning and uses his rare free time with every minute for creative processes in the band. If Peter is talking about that the album will be released at the end of 2019, then you can be pretty sure that it will happen this way. He is very reliable with his promises and his time management. If it should not come out at the time it was promised, it will surely not be Peter’s fault, but the label might have other plans. This is how we know Peter and why we love him. A great friend! I am proud to be a part of Mentalist because I love all the guys! We get along well both musically and personally and just want to finish the album already and then rock the stages!
We hope that our music will also hit the heart of heavy metal listeners. We are very motivated, have many ideas and little sleep. The second album is already available in parts.