is a German power metal band that was formed in 1989 by drummer Sören
van Heek. The band is often referred to as "Germany's answer to Manowar"
with lyrics that often narrate battles, metal, war, steel and such
subjects (with the exception of the album ‘Odin’, which is a concept
album about Norse mythology). Wizard does play a lot faster than Manowar
though, and they have a high-pitched vocalist among their ranks.
After longtime guitarist Michael Maass quit the band in 2003 due to
health problems, the band recorded two albums with guitarist Dano
Boland: ‘Magic Circle’ (2005) and ‘Goochan’ (2007). After a three year
hiatus, Michael Maass returned to Wizard to record a new album and it
was decided to keep Dano boland in the band too. The new Wizard album is
their eight opus and is entitled ‘Thor’. The album was released on
January 30 through Massacre Records.
It appears there is plenty to talk about and drummer
Sören van Heek
was available to answer some questions. Here you can read what he had to
say to the readers of Metal-Experience.com
Congratulations on the recent release of your new album
First of all, can you give us a small update of what
happened after your previous album ‘Goochan’, for instance what made
guitarist Michael Maass decide to come back to the band
after a three-year break?
Snoppi: It was clear that Michael would come back after
his break. He had to study during that time so he had no time for
rehearsals. After completing his master, he is ready now to play with us
again. From the ‘Goochan’ album we got a lot of positive reactions,
especially from the Netherlands. It was new for us to receive so many
mails from there. Some people thought that ‘Goochan’ was a little bit
too “modern”, but I cannot agree with that. So we gave a couple of
concerts and composed the songs for the ‘Thor’ album which was released
in january. There was nothing more to happen.
How did you launch into writing material for ‘Thor’ and
how much time did you spend on the songs?
Snoppi: Oh, every time we meet for rehearsal (once a
week) we play old songs (the ones we play live) and then we compose new
songs. Some songs were nearly ready in the mind of Volker (bass) or Dano
(guitar) and then we would finish them together. So we always spend half
of our time preparing ourselves for live-shows and the other half on new
Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them
down or was it more of a careful composing thing?
Snoppi: Yes, in most cases Volker or one of the
guitar-players or Sven (vocals) would have an idea and we would all work
together with that idea. Often this was done very fast, in two or three
rehearsals. If we need longer for a song, it will usually not be a good
song. It has to come from the balls, not from the mind, if you know what
I mean. Sometimes songs are a bit complicated for us, so we have to
practise them more often than others.
What were the goals you had in mind when you started
recording ‘Thor’, any elements you definitely wanted to have on the
Snoppi: No, we have been composing the same kind of music
for so long now, we do not want to change our style. What was very
important to me was a good sound. My favourite producer was Achim Köhler
and I wanted to work with him on the ‘Goochan’ album. But during that
time he was not available so we recorded with Dennis Ward. This time we
could successfully book Achim and he did a very good job. I am very
satisfied with the sound, the guitars sound killer!
What is the utmost important ingredient for a song
according to you?
Snoppi: Hu, yes, I think a lot of our songs quite basic:
Intro, Text, Refrain, Text, Refrain, Solo, Refrain, End. Sometimes we
put in a break, but alltogether we are not very progressive or
complicated. But for our skills this is right, there is no need for more
technics. Wizard is known for Sven’s voice. This voice is very unique
and if you like it, the rest is secondary. I myself like metal with
great guitar-riffs. Sven and the other guys like it more if a song has a
good chorus. So we have different opinions of what Wizard songs are
“good” and which are “not so good”. But that’s ok.
This was the first time you recorded an album with two
guitar players, were there any difficulties you had to deal with and did
you work differently than on previous albums?
Snoppi: I don’t really know because I was absent while
they recorded. Of course they had to see what they really play (and what
the OTHER guitareplayer plays). In our rehearsal room there is always a
very loud noise when playing. You cannot hear every single note you
play. So sometimes there are differences in playing that you do not hear
in the first moment. If you record right then, you will hear that they
play different riffs. But I think that was not a big problem for Dano
and Michael. The recordings were ready in 5 days.
Who was responsible for writing the songs and lyrics on
this album and where do you get your inspiration from?
Snoppi: The songs on ‘Thor’ were composed by Volker, Sven
and Dano. The lyrics were written by Volker and Meldric, a good friend
of Volker’s who has the same religion as he has and who knows a lot
about the religion that is ‘Thor’.
Lyric-wise the concept is clear, but what made you decide
to make an album about Thor?
Snoppi: Because Volker believes in these gods. It is his
religion and he wanted to make an album about it. In the past we also
did one album about Odin. That was the beginning, and so an album about
Thor fits very well in our themes and with our music. Perhaps in the
future we will do an album about MY religion, I am christ and believe in
Jesus. So for Volker these are not only mystic stories but he really
believes in this.
What comes first, lyrics or melodies? Is it like you sit
down and write a new song because you need more material now or do you
wait until you get an idea?
Snoppi: In most cases the lyrics are ready when we start
composing together. If Sven has no lyrics, he cannot compose new
melodies. So in most cases we first write some lyrics for a few songs
and when we compose the melodies, we take one of the lyrics.
How important is it to you that people pay attention to
the lyrics apart from listening to the music?
Snoppi: For me it is not very important. For Volker it is very
important. That’s why he also writes liner notes in the booklet where
people can read more about the songs and their backgrounds. In most
cases I don’t read the lyrics. As I told you before I am more keen on
the guitar riffs. But that’s only my opinion, other people may see that
Did you guys spend a fair amount of time working on the
record before heading over to record the album? How much time did you
spend in the studio for ‘Thor’?
Snoppi: We did a pre-production before entering the
studio. In our rehearsal room it’s so noisy that you can’t hear what you
are playing, hahaha. It’s not bad, it’s a lot of fun and metal from the
balls, but for preparing the studio work it is not very good. So we
recorded a pre-production in Volker’s studio and everybody could listen
to it and change things. The whole album was recorded in about 2 weeks.
Drums in 3 days, Vocals in 3 days, Guitars in 5 days. And after this
Achim worked on the sound which took another 2 weeks.
The album was produced by Andy Horn, what made him the
perfect man for Wizard?
Snoppi: We only recorded the drums and the vocals with him, he did not
produce the album. We did not know him before, but our label told us to
record with him. He is a very nice guy and it was a lot of fun working
with him. On this album I could play and record all the breaks I wanted
to play for the first time. On all the other albums there was not enough
time, or something went wrong so I had to leave out breaks or play them
less fast than I wanted. With Andy I could play everything the way I
wanted, that was great. Sven also enjoyed recording with him because he
is very experienced in melodies and the theoretical side of music. His
experience was very useful for recording more than one choir.
In which things/songs on the new album can one clearly
hear his vision and ideas?
Snoppi: On no song. As I said, Sven did all the singing on the
pre-production and this was so good, that he ended up singing the same
thing as on the pre-production.
What do you think are the main differences between your
previous album ‘Goochan’ and ‘Thor’?
Snoppi: The sound is different. ‘Goochan’ had a very good
sound, Dennis did a good job. But the ‘Thor’ sound is more aggressive!
For me that sounds more metal. I love this. The songs may be a little
bit more simple where the drums are concerned. But in general I think
they are both Wizard-like.
Do you have any favorites on ‘Thor’, songs that you think
are somehow above the others?
Snoppi: Yes, for me there is “Utgard II” (false games)
and “Resurrection”. My ultimate faves. The guitars are great, they go
just through my stomach, hahaha. When I listen to them, I immediately
want to start drinking beer J
Have you received any feedback on the album yet?
Snoppi: Yes. Mostly positive, but there were also a few
negative critics. I think the more people know you, the more people are
out there who do not like you. But that’s ok, a lot of people who write
critics about our album don’t listen to heavy metal. So I always ask
myself why they do that. But a lot of critics are positive, for example
we reached the third place in the Soundcheck of German metal magazine
Heavy!. That was great! And also in RockHard and Metal Hammer we got a
good place in the soundcheck.
Are third party opinions (press, fans, etc.) on your
music important to you? Or are your music and band the only things that
Snoppi: Yes. We don’t earn money with our music, so we
can do what we want. We don’t care about labels or fans what our music
style is concerned. If we would do that, Wizard would not exist any
more. And of course for me it is important that I like the music. I have
to play it every week, so I would stop making music if I had to play
songs I didn’t like. I am not in a fucking Top 40 band who has to play
all kinds of shit. So the only important thing is our own mind.
Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of the songs or
would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective?
Snoppi: No, absolutely nothing. Everything about the
album is fine, I would do it again like this.
How would you describe your own music and what are your
musical influences, are there any particular bands that’ve been a big
influence in your song writing, metal or otherwise?
Snoppi: We just play heavy metal, nothing more and
nothing less. In the beginning I practised a lot on my drumkit and I
also had idols: Ian Pace, Dave Lombardo, Charly Benante … But after a
few years with the band the others would tell me that I would play
things too complicated and that this often did not fit to the songs. So
I played stuff more simple and the last 10 years I did not practise or
improve very much. I don’t have idols in drumming any more, because I
know I will never be as good as they are. But that’s ok. I am satisfied
with that. I am no professional drummer and my skills are enough for
Wizard. I think that Wizard is influenced by more than one band. Some
people listen to van Halen, Rush etc., some to Manowar, Kiss etc. and
some to Slayer, Anthrax etc. So I guess there is more than one influence
in our music. But in the end we make Wizard-music.
What do you think is the difference between Wizard and
other bands in the heavy / power metal scene?
Snoppi: We have been playing together for over 20 years
in the same line up now. That’s very unique in my opinion. We are bound
by metal and that’s great. We live the metal. That’s perhaps the
difference. Besides that I think there are thousands of bands like
Wizard. Tell me one band that is still unique? For every band, millions
of other bands exist which play the same kind of music. There is not
very much new music nowadays. But that is not bad. There will always be
interesting good songs, doesn’t matter if another band recorded it 20
years ago with another sound and a different voice and different lyrics.
What is your opinion on the
heavy / power metal scene these days, what do you think about the
overload of bands at the moment?
Snoppi: Oh, I also answered this question 15 years ago. I think there
was never a time where this overload was not there. I always had the
impression that every month there are millions of new albums. Not only
nowadays but also in the past.
I don’t care about that. I play my music and that satisfies me, no
matter if other people listen to it or not. In my opinion every
metalhead should play in a band, it feels very good, it’s pure fun!
With several albums under your belt, how far has Wizard
surpassed your original dreams and what would you say is the most
rewarding part of being in the band?
Snoppi: I never thought that we would reach such a state with our music
like we have now. We are the oldest newcomer band from Germany, hahaha.
Of course we are not as famous as Manowar or Hammerfall (allthough the
music is nearly the same). But that is ok. We have no management and we
do not have a lot of money, so we cannot become famous. It’s business,
nothing more. I have a very good job which I like and so I would never
become a professional metal-drummer, hahaha. Most of your time at
concerts you have to spend hanging around and waiting for something. For
that my time is too expensive. Sometimes have to spend a whole weekend
somewhere to play only one hour. During that time I could go and do
other good things. So I would never be happy if I had to wait the rest
of my life.
What were the highlights and low points throughout your
career up ‘till now?
Snoppi: Highlights were our gig at the Wacken Open Air and of course our
European tour with Grave Digger. It would be great if we could repeat
such a tour every year. Two weeks are enough. That was fucking great, we
had so many funny stories and also the people at the concerts were
amazing. Low points always have to do with trouble in the business. When
the label does not pay or a concert booker does not pay or advertising
goes wrong and so on.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of
things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics?
Snoppi: I don’t write anything for our albums. Perhaps I will write a
text for the next album. I don’t compose songs either. I am too lazy for
that, hahaha. I can only hit the right place at the right time. That’s
What can we expect from Wizard
in the near future, any touring plans?
Snoppi: Yes, we will play a few gigs this year. Confirmed are concerts
in The Netherlands, Tschechai, Poland, Switzerland and Germany. I hope
that there will be some more, and also some festivals. Let’s wait to see
what will happen. Besides that we will start composing new songs for the
Where do you see the band going within the next couple of
years, and where do you see the band’s musical direction going for the
Snoppi: I think there will be no change at all. We cannot compose
another style of metal. And I also don’t think that we will have a
breakthrough and become famous from one day to the other. So everything
will be as always, no big changes.
Any last statement?
Snoppi: Oh, my fingers are aching, this was a vey long
interview, hahaha. I hope that your readers will read it to the end and
that my answers are not too boring for them. I also hope you understood
everything I wrote, if not, just ask me. For more info about Wizard
please visit us on the net under
thank you for these questions!
Sven D'Anna - Vocals (1989-)
Dano Boland -Guitar (2004-)
Michael Maass - Guitar (1989-2003, 2007-)
Volker Leson - Bass (1989-)
Sören van Heek (Snoppi) - drums (1989-)
Son of Darkness (1995)
Battle of Metal (1997)
Bound by Metal (1999)
Head of the Deceiver (2001)
Magic Circle (2005)