The Call of the Wild beckons! Okay well, actually it was the call from Napalm Records to let me know that Falk Maria Schlegel, Keyboardist of German power metal pack Powerwolf was on the line ready to chew my ear off. Thankfully they meant with conversation and not by literally eating my ear flesh which was kinda nice. Even nicer was that he wanted to talk with me about the band’s upcoming album Call of the Wild!
I wanted to get to know Falk some more, he declares “I would consider myself to be a unique keyboard player by the way I behave on stage because I’m not only playing my instrument, I’m jumping around and sharing in the fun, it’s not so typical for keyboard players. Also when I look into the mirror without the makeup, I see that I’m getting older but I also still see myself as that 17-year-old boy fascinated with heavy metal music.”
Of the advantages of being in a band like Powerworlf, Falk muses “We’ve only had one lineup change in our existence over 10 years ago, for our development, it’s a big advantage to have the same friends and partners involved and I work best on stage and in the studio when I’m surrounded by great people. It’s possible I could work with other musicians but I imagine I’d feel out of place as Powerwolf is like home to me. We all feel comfortable daring to try things while jamming songs and our main composer Matthew would be like… Hey! What was that you played!? It feels like constant miracles. I can still remember the early days, the wet rehearsal room with wet carpets and condensation everywhere, we still remember and laugh about those days while holding onto the enthusiasm and moments.”
He also goes on to assert that “We always do our best to deliver high energy performances whether playing live or in the studio, although this time was a little more difficult due to being separated but our creative process is more than song output, it’s commitment. There’s a strange story that comes to mind, when I know I’ll be on the tour bus for weeks I’ll enter the tour bus a day before the tour starts out of excitement. It’s not only saying goodbye to family and going back to work for a bit, it’s like *EXCITED NOISE* I GET TO DO IT AGAIN! The way I felt when I was younger and I always want to keep that feeling”.
A common technique in productions today is having musicians program their parts, keyboard players in particular. Falk prefers to use a more tactile approach and play his parts as he feels, and I agree that “It’s necessary! We could use technologies to make things easier but we really don’t want to go down that route, we want to feel everything we play and you can hear that in the songs. On-Call of the Wild, you can hear how dynamic the songs are with their layers and the amount of room they have, it should be kicka*s but some parts will call for a big organ part, others will just be Atilla and a guitar. The hands-on approach allows us to make decisions on what we’d like to feature and what’s important for the song. Otherwise, we’d just add guitar and organ and drums and vocals, put everything at 10, and have the mixing guy yell at us saying it sounds like sh*t! I’ve also had the opportunity over 5 albums now to record my parts on a church organ, that can feel like going to work and I could have it easier but I don’t want that. It’s like having good people around me, having the right tools gives me the best results.”
In these times, logistics can be a bit difficult due to the worldwide situation with travel and services restricted. Falk recalls “The band was ready to start songwriting in March 2020 after touring with Amon Amarth and I optimistically thought this thing would last a couple of months at best. The effects of it weren’t depressive or anything, it pushed us harder to get it done. It’s like, we were doing our Powerwolf stuff and expanding that universe, it didn’t hinder us much from being surrounded by that. The only part that sucked was hearing the same news every day and keeping the motivation up but in the end, our desire to achieve what we set out to do overcame that. For us, the situation wasn’t going to make us stop.”
Call of the Wild is a fantastic, high-energy album! I wanted to know if the group had a sense that they were onto something or if they felt like they were succeeding at delivering kick-a*s tunes. Falk answers that “We don’t typically do the whole shoulder clapping self-congratulatory thing but when you finish songs like Faster Than the Flame, Dancing with the Dead, and Beast of Gevaudan, you get this feeling that you can do it again! It eventually led to the album title, this is the wake-up, the call for new anthems, then we got this feeling of confidence.
Other times, we’d be working on several songs at the same time with missing pieces and it can be hard, they’ll be missing parts and it’s hard to tell where to go but with the previously mentioned songs, you get a feel for it through the nerves don’t go away until it all clicks. It’s impossible to plan for creativity, you just capture the moments as they happen and that’s what ties everything together.
A great example is a track Alive or Undead, we didn’t plan to write another ballad but when Atilla heard it he said “Shut up I want to sing this right now and you will finish it!”, it means for us; we’ll do this f*cking song! He wants it! Sometimes it works the other way around, he might say that something is bullsh*t but we need this kind of filter and we don’t take it to heart even if we’ve been working on something for a week or more.
That’s the thing about Call of the Wild, there were a lot of creative moments, perhaps it was something in the air or the food… maybe the beer? Maybe in the experiences, we’ve had in the past couple of years *Laughs*, You can hear the enthusiasm in my voice so you know it’s real!”
“Joost (van den Broek) was involved from the very beginning” continues Falk. “We sent him the first demos and asked for his thoughts which we usually do towards the end of the songwriting process and it was a great working relationship. He knows we have a strong vision for our sound and knows what he can and can’t do. Originally we were to track in Switzerland but because of the situation and restrictions, we thought it might be easier to travel to the Netherlands but it wasn’t so easy in the end as our government told us we couldn’t travel there. We did anyway as we were going to be in quarantine anyway due to tracking.”
On what his favorite track is from Call of the Wild, Falk quickly answers that “I think you should listen to Blood for Blood which I can imagine people jumping around in their room, in their house, in their flat, even in their garden *Laughs*. You should also record yourself jumping around and send it to me.” Note: I told him I would add his Instagram link and he insisted on it, so Click here to send videos of yourself jumping around to Powerwolf tracks! “I will collect these videos. We want people to move physically and mentally, to share in that. If people can entertain me while I’m entertaining them, it’s a great triumph!”
Unfortunately, that led to the end of the call, Attila was in the background calling for Falk saying dinner was ready, I could then hear the tune Varcolac playing followed by screaming and howling. I’m just glad I wasn’t the one on the menu, this time!