Three years after the release of “Veto”, HEAVEN SHALL BURN strike back with a brand new album called “Wanderer”. On ocassion of this release, we have the honor to host the guitarist of the band, Maik Weichert, and chat about the new album, the band’s view of the world, the hidden messages and meanings behind the songs and of course about their future plans.
If you ask me, “Veto” was a very good album, but I think that “Wanderer” has better melodies. If we should name a big difference between these two albums, which would that be?
I think it has a lot more melodies that’s true. I think the variety of emotions is a lot more on the new record, the calm stuff was more melancholic and the aggression is more aggressive. I think that is the biggest difference music-wise. Of course there is also a big difference in the layout and the sound as well. But music-wise I think that, how wide the variety of emotions is on the record, is a big difference.
Is there a deeper reference behind the title of the album? What inspired you to name the album like that?
We choose that word because for us it stands for being able to change positions, not only in a physical way, but also psychological. That you can think out of the box and look on things from different angles. To be a wanderer in mind not only with your feet and body. So that ambivalent meaning of the word, that was very interesting to us.
In your previous albums you had various artworks. From comic art to paintings. For “Wanderer” you choose an impressive photography collection. Obviously the question is about the reason you made this change.
We always like to surprise people. The basic concept of the “Wanderer” theme was to show people that they don’t have to be in the turmoil all the time. That they also have the possibility to step back and think about things, to regain power and then come back and attack again. For the step out, for the escape into nature. That’s why the nature photography concept was very fitting.
The history themed song, called “Extermination Order”, is one of the highlights of the album. Why do you continue to connect historical aspects of war with your music?
We are a very political band, we always try to commend on political stuff but I think it’s a lot more effective if you draw parallels between historical issues and stuff that happens today and I think you can learn a lot from the past. That’s why we choose a lot of historical issues, tell about them and people can draw conclusions about actual political problems. For example the theme that is mentioned in the Song “Extermination Order” is about the genocide of the Hereros and Namaqua in today’s Namibia ,a former German Colony. How German government deals with that topics still today reveals a lot about how the government actually is. And as somebody from Greece I don’t have to tell you about the German Government (laughs).
One of the main songs of “Wanderer” is “Bring the War Home”. Its rhythm in the first minute was vibrating in a RRAMMSTEIN way, but the remaining time was full of different things. Breakdowns, melodies, riffs…When you are composing a song, how often do you go backwards and say “no, this one we have done it before, let’s try something else”?
I think if you listen to our songs you realize that we don’t ask the question “Did we do that before?”. It happens once in a while that we do the same things twice, that we use a riff that it might have been almost exactly the same as five years ago. But if it fits the song I don’t care about it. When I write a song, I just follow a line, a line that you actually don’t see but you follow, it just develops. I always listen to the song from the beginning ,again, and if it flows with each other then it’s right. No matter if we did something like that before. But of course you will never hear a song that sounds exactly the same like something we did in the past.
You have a song called “They Shall Not Pass”. To whom do you refer exactly?
This song is about also an historical issue that is about the way to deal with topics I explained earlier. This is about London in 1936 where the fascists were marching and the inhabitants of London stand together and threw out the fascists of that quota. It was everybody fighting together, Jews, Irish workers, communists, socialists, they all stand together against the fascists. That is actually a really cool statement for today, that society has to stand together against the right wing dangers that there are in our societies.
So we could say in a way, it is a song about unity?
Yeah, unity of the upright people!
Europe is facing difficult times this period. Do you feel that music business in the years to come, will be affected from this risky environment..?
Of course you realize there’s difference when you play in Spain or Greece and when you play in Switzerland or Germany. People in some countries don’t have so much money anymore to spend for music, especially young people when in a country like Spain there are so many unemployed young people. But I’m really happy that people still have such a passion for music, no matter how much money they have. I think if people in Germany would have such problems like young people, for example in France or Spain, many of them wouldn’t be so enthusiastic about music anymore and wouldn’t spend so much money on music anymore. That’s what really impresses me for these, let’s call them, southern European people, that music is still part of their life and they still spent so much money on music no matter how bad their economic situation is.
And now a question that is tightly connected to the previous one. Do you think, or even better, hope, that your music can change in a better way these times?
That would be like a really big thing. I think our steps are a lot smaller. I mean there are musicians who could really change the world like, in the 1968, Bruce Springsteen, Joe Cocker and Janis Joplin all these revolutionaries against Vietnam War. Or in Chile for example Victor Jara the famous singer. They really had power to change something. A band like us today, I think we have the power to change the mind of some people and that is one step before changing a total condition in the society. But making people aware, it’s at least the first step.
I can see that your lyrics are really meaningful, and intend to raise a point for many subjects about politics and humanism. What’s your point of view for the European crisis nowadays as it comes about financials, refugees, and all those things that are daily bombing the news on TV?
That is like, for example, the cover artwork of our previous record Veto, which shows Lady Godiva, a noble woman, that cared about poor people and fought for their rights. We chose that as a symbol because today’s so cold economical and political elites do not care about ordinary people anymore. They are just trying to gain power and collect money for their aims and they are not aware of their duty, that they have to use their power to make people’s lives better. That is the main issue that leads to all the other issues we have.
You are known for your anti-fascist and anti-racism beliefs from your very beginning. Before fifteen years, the talk about human rights was not a main attraction for the interest of many people. How do you feel now, that time has come for humanity, again, to face the terrible aspects of Nazism, fascism and racism?
I don’t think the time has come to think about human rights. If you look at the refugee crisis, people fleeing from war and they are just being denied by many people in Germany. So I don’t really think that people think about human rights nowadays, they are not really sensitive about it. I don’t know about the situation in Greece, but your economical problems are a lot worse and I believe there are a lot of people who rather care about their own than caring about even poorer refugees. I wouldn’t really say it is good time for being aware of human rights, it’s more like a time of economical egoism. The individuals themselves are egoistic but also nations are very egoistic. Everybody is now fighting on their own and nobody is aware that all these problems that make refugees come here also have an impact in our societies. If you go to the supermarket, for example, and you buy so cheap products, then you have to be aware that the fall on, in the rest of the world, is connected to these cheap prices and the cheap life you have here. You can’t just export all the aggression and all the pollution as well to other countries and just keep the money and all the wealth and all the splender here in your country. That doesn’t work, this is one planet and what comes around goes around.
So what are your next plans?
Right now we are having a little break after the release of the record. I’m still doing promotion for the record of course and then we are preparing for things in 2017. Like negotiating for some festivals and also we have already announced a tour with Korn. That would be the agenda for the rest of the year.
Any chance for a live show in Greece?
They always book us one and as soon as schedules fit and we can make it over there, we’ll be there and play. It was always a lot of fun playing there in Thessaloniki.
If you could sum up the whole Wanderer album in a single word or phrase, what would that be?
Wandering through emotions.
Last words are yours. Any message for the fans?
I know that people in Greece are waiting for us. We get lot of mails we are really working to come back there and play a fantastic show. Promise.