On a special press day in the Bosuil in Weert we are
given the opportunity to chat with Perzonal War about their new
album ‘When Times Turn Red’. We talk with vocalist “Metti” Zimmer and
drummer Martin Buchwalder who has also produced the new album.
First of all, can you give us a brief history of the band?
Sure, we started the band in 1996 and up till now we have recorded five
albums, ‘The Inside’ in 1998; ‘New Time Chaos’ in 2000 and ‘Different
but the same in 2002. The first two albums were released via our
previous label and due to contractual obligations among other things we
had to change our name from Personal War to Perzonal War. At this point
we have recorded the third album through AFM records which is titled
‘When Times Turn Red’ for which we have different interviews planned
When you hit the Studio for the previous album
‘Faces’ you had actually just found a new bass player, and so he had not
been able to co-write the Faces album. What was the difference in
recording ‘Faces’ and the previous album?
Before our bass player Sven joined the band we didn’t
have a very good bass player, he played the songs and that was it, there
was no real teamwork with the other band members. So we decide to find a
real bass player before we recorded the Faces album. We had already
known Sven for a while. He was in a deathmetal band but had decided that
he didn’t want to play metal anymore. Still when we were already in the
studio to record the Faces album we managed to persuade him to come over
and be on the album. We knew this was our chance to convince him to join
the band if he liked the songs, and surely this is what happened. After
recording the album we did a European tour with Blaze and it became
clear that Sven would stay with the band. He came up with some ideas for
the album, he played a relatively small part but he did what he wanted
to do on it. Of course he joined in more in writing the new album as we
had got to know each other much better also on a private basis. We had
spent a lot of time together playing shows and the atmosphere was real
How do you go about writing new songs?
Everyone in the band comes up with their own ideas
and riffs and then we put all this together and create new songs in the
studio. We just keep working on the songs until everyone is satisfied.
We live by the rule that everyone in the band should get the chance to
do their part in the way they want and that really works for us.
Do you make many changes to the songs when you are
in the studio?
Yep, there’s always many small things that we change,
but the songs have generally been written before we go into the studio.
About seventy percent of the songs will be already completely written
but if a song doesn’t work for us when we’re recording then we’ll change
it of course. Also in the studio you get better acoustics than during
practice so that is often a reason why we change stuff too.
Who is responsible for the lyrics on the album and
could you tell us more about them?
“I’m the singer in the band so I write the lyrics”
Mattias tells us as if this is the rule, then drummer Martin interrupts:
“I drink all the beer but I didn’t brew it myself!” Mattias decides to
ignore him and continues. There is actually a running theme throughout
the whole album, the title “When Times Turn Red” announces this. It’s
about the whole situation we are in at this moment, we have big problems
with unemployment and politics in Germany and the problems just keep
getting worse and the government doesn’t seem to be doing anything about
it. Every day when you turn on the news you are confronted with these
problems, hundreds of people that have been fired etcetera. I think it’s
like this for most European countries, but we can’t be too pessimistic
about it all. You always have to try to make the best of the situation.
You can’t just say “Okay, I don’t have a job so there’s nothing I can
do”. You have to fight to change your own situation. The album is not
really a concept album but the title of the album kind of describes the
red line that runs through it.
Was there a larger budget for this album and, if
so, did this influence the recording process in any way?
Nope, we had the same budget for this album but we
are of course content with that. The album was recorded in the Gerhart
studio in Siegburg, Germany. We all have jobs besides the band, Martin
works as an engineer and producer in the Gerhart studio so he produced
this album himself. This gave us the chance to spend more time in the
studio than most other bands because we had access to the studio
whenever we wanted.
How did the recording process in the studio go?
We booked the studio for four weeks and we had access
to it for twenty-four hours a day if we wanted too. We didn’t do that
though. There was less pressure as we had more time to prepare for the
recordings and so there was no stress. Four weeks may sound like a long
time but time flies when you’re in the studio. We had a pretty tight
schedule: first three days for the drums, then a couple of days for the
bass guitar parts so that we had a solid basis and then we recorded the
rest of the album.
Wasn’t it hard for Martin to work with his own
No, on the contrary, I found it easier. I have gained
so much experience working with so many bands that I was able to use all
the good stuff that I had learned in order to make this a real good
Does the album ‘When Times Turn Red’ have a
Yes, it’s about the general position of humanity.
Times are getting darker. The whole social situation seems to have
deteriorated rapidly in comparison with ten years ago and not just for
the German people, it’s like this everywhere. Times are rough for people
and we all have to work harder for our money, that’s about the gist of
Are you satisfied with the result on the new
Sure, we have to be. When you finish recording then
you’ve done the best you can at that moment, otherwise you shouldn’t
bother recording an album. This time we were well prepared, better than
for the Faces album for which we had to touch up some songs in the
studio in order to get them up to standard. For this album the
compositions were much better. This time we just went and recorded
everything in a row; drums, bass, guitars and vocals and it worked well
because we’d just done a lot of live shows. Of course if you look back
on an album one year from now you’ll see things differently but at this
moment we are very happy with the album and we can’t wait to get out
there and play the songs. Of course when I listen to our first album I
hear things that really make me laugh but hey we did it and that’s what
Your previous album ‘Faces’ has only been in the
stores since may 2004 so this new album has followed it up swiftly. Is
there a specific reason for this?
After the release of the Faces album we got really good reviews and a
number of large European magazines started to show an interest, so this
made us feel we should release a new album soon. We couldn’t afford to
wait another two years and risk to be forgotten again. Right now we’re
receiving excellent reviews mainly from German magazines and the new
record is doing well in Holland and Belgium too. We were under some
pressure to make another solid album but I think it worked out real well
for us. The major magazines are giving us the attention we deserve.
After listening to the new album I find there are
still vocals that remind me of Metallica’s James Hetfield, don’t you get
tired of being compared with him?
Of course I get tired of that, but we really tried to
avoid that this time. We tried to write the melodies and vocals in such
a way that there would be as little similarity as possible but I can’t
change my voice, that’s just the way I sing. In a way it’s a good thing
when your band is compared with Metallica but on the other hand I don’t
think Metallica fans will buy our album because of this comparison, they
are usually more mainstream metal fans. A couple of years ago we really
sounded like Metallica but with this album and all the different
influences on it I think we really found our own sound. I also believe
that it’s very important to be open to new ideas and different kinds of
music in order to grow as a band and to avoid repeating old stuff on new
What kind of bands do you listen to yourself?
We all listen to different stuff, I tend to listen to
classic like Priest and Maiden but actually I like anything that has to
do with rock music. I also listen to new stuff like Godsmack and
Nickelback, but also bands like Gorefest, Slayer, Nevermore and Fear
Factory. Our guitarist Sacha listens so Porcupine Tree, the Gathering
and Opeth and Sven likes jazz and bands like Primus. We all love Anthrax
but we’re not very positive about the reunion with Joey Belldonna, to us
John Bush is the best singer for that band. We’re also really into bands
such as Over Kill, and Testament, classic eighties thrash bands
How do you feel about illegal downloading of
Our latest album was available on the internet two
months before the official release date. Our record label sends promo’s
to different media and apparently there’s people among them that placed
the album on the internet. Still this way a lot more people will hear
the album and discover our band, but we hope that our fans will still
buy the album. On the other hand all the downloading is really killing
the music industry at the moment and many bands are kicked off labels
and the prices of concert tickets keep getting higher. I also think that
nowadays people really have to think before they decide what to spend
their money on. Nearly everyone has a computer and people have to choose
between buying cd’s and games. And so bands are putting a lot of special
edition cd’s out there with extra songs, video clips and live
registrations so that people will buy them sooner. Downloading has
become so easy! Back in the day we used to tape albums on cassettes.
Right now there are so many bands around that you just don’t know what
to buy, that’s why it has become important for bands to sell their stuff
via the internet to reach a larger public.
What can we expect from Perzonal War in the future
and is there anything you’d like to say to the readers and fans?
Next week we’re going on tour with Destruction and
Candlemass, we’re looking forward to playing the new songs live. We love
going on tour and we always hope to make new friends on the way. We’d
like to recommend to everyone to give our new album a listen and to come
to one of our shows! And thank you for this interview.
After this drummer Martin lets us know that he thinks
Anthrax should kick singer Joey Belladonna out of the band and let John
Bush back in…
(Martina Schouten / Eugene Straver)