A talk with
LENY (Vocals) & RICHY (Guitar)
(Questionnaire by Sloof)
One of the first Speed Metal bands in Belgium was Drakkar. Eventually, they succeeded in surpassing the genre and committing great gigs, but personal problems occurred and the band was forced to call it a day. Blood is thicker than water, so the members got together again and with their new album ‘Once Upon A Time…In Hell’, they sound better than ever before. It’s time to have a chat with this Belgian pride, as it seems like their second youth has just begun…
Q: Well, some of the Belgian metalheads will be surprised as the band is together again, and they sound stronger than ever. Before we start talking about the new album I would like to know what happened after the release of ‘X-Rated’ in 1988. What were the highlights, the things that are still clear in your memory?
A: Well, after a good start, we have known a lot of contractual problems with our label, with a bad distribution in Western Europe and secondly, a non- declared distribution for Eastern Europe and South America. We referred to the justice but having a 3 year contract, we had to wait for the judgment to be able to sign elsewhere. At that time, 2 years seemed too long and some of us were disgusted... and tried their chance with another band...
The Highlights? Our fans and some gigs like the first act for Metallica, Slayer, Queensryche or Overkill...
Q: Shortly after the release of the debut album, the band visited a local radio station in Belgium called Radio Aktief, which had a metal radio show Overdrive. Believe it or not, but I was the host of that radio show… Do you recall this moment, or was it one of many interviews and stops at that time?
A: Ooh no, so sorry, can you imagine? It was 25 years ago!!! But, for sure, it was a good interview, because if it was a bad one, I wouldn’t have forgotten you!
Q: Drakkar worked together with Rudy Lenners, the ex-drummer of the Scorpions, in the early days. How did you get in touch with Rudy and how was it to have him as producer for the first two demos and during the recording sessions as backing vocalist?
A: We met Rudy after a show; we asked if we could send him our demo… He accepted… It was as simple as that! We had a lot to Rudy.... I remember we were like students in front of the teacher, with open mouth and ears.... but receiving punishments as well... We were young and wild and sometimes it was difficult for him! I have a lot of respect for him, He taught me how to work, how to make and feel Metal : It's a great Sir! Except for the backing vocals : I don't know now, but in 88’... He sang as a virgin teen ahahahahah!!!
Q: Some problems occurred, the band was forced to stop and every member concentrated on a solo career. Can you tell us a little more about that. Who did what afterwards?
A: For my part, nothing exceptional! We all played in some small bands, except for Terry (Max Pie) and Richy (Resistance).
Q: In 2012, the debut album was re-released as ‘X-Rated Reloaded’. Was this a decision of the record label Ultimhate Records or a decision of the band. What was the goal, what did you want to achieve with this re-release?
A: When Richy asked the others to join the band again, He said : "We should propose something to our fans immediately!" And so we did the 'reload'. During that time, We have stabilized the line-up and found the time to write new songs....
Q: After all those years, many people will be surprised that Drakkar is still playing in an almost original lineup. Can I say that the members of Drakkar are friends in first place, prior to musicians?
A:50\50 but of course, without our friendship, we wouldn’t be here today! To work with DRAKKAR isn’t a job, it’s a real pleasure for every one of us. Sometimes, We work 3 hours in a row and after that we just stay together joking and laughing for the next 4 hours! And we go back home with a bottle in the ass!
Q: The second youth of Drakkar is alive and kicking right now. What are the objectives anno 2014, and in what way are they different as the objectives in 1988?
A: We hope to find some label to distribute our cd in Eastern Europe and Latino countries... And for the rest, play, play, play and play again....
In 2015, we will be touring in Europe and for the end of that year, a new full length album must be released (2 songs are already written). From the start in ‘88 ‘til now, the objectives always remained the same: Do our best and always going further!
Q: I guess that you encounter a lot of differences in the music industry. Now, there is internet, everything is digital, and the world is laying at your feet. I suppose that this unlimited way of working is also very interesting for a band, despite the download era and change of mentality?
A: Yes totally different, everything goes faster! You can show what you do to the whole world with only a few "clicks"... Today we have fans from Japan to Brazil just because they watched the videos! You can easily propose a new song between two CD’s just to help your fans wait for the next full length album! Same goes on with the band: You don't need to be gathered together to write a new song, just record a file and send it to the others... Your friend writes his part and sends the file back…
Q: Back in the days, people bought your album and if the distance wasn’t too far, they also visited an occasional concert. Now, they download albums, and if they like it, they come to see the band live at one of many live gigs and summer festivals. Everything is so close within reach, there are so many more possibilities compared with 2 decades ago. Which one do you prefer, or is it too hard to judge?
A: Before, you had to work very hard to win a couple of fans over... Now, fans are just behind the screen but they can see and discover thousands of bands!!! What is best? ...nobody knows. If it has to be for you, it will be for you!
Q: Besides the logo of the band, which was original a 3 dimension logo, the musical direction of Drakkar changed as well. How would you like to describe the metal of Drakkar nowadays?
A: Difficult to find the right definition, it's something between Power, speed , heavy Metal.... You know, we all come from different horizons. I come from Heavy, Richy from Death, Pat from Hard, Terry from Speed, Tytus from Hardcore and Jonas is playing with PRO-pain..
Drakkar is the mix of all of us and we don't want to fall into a category, we just want to stay ourselves!
Q: In my review I wrote that it has some resemblances with ‘Hell meets Accept’. Can you live with this comparison, or do you prefer the Speed Metal label, like defined by the record label?
A: It's not a problem. People need comparisons to make themselves an idea what the band is about ... 20 years ago , it was Helloween , now Accept , sometimes Iron Maiden...Only big ones!!! And to tell you the truth, we're a bit proud of it! The day I’ll be compared to Shakira ..I swear that I will stop making music..ahahahha
Q: How did you get in touch with Spinal Records and is "Once Upon A Time... In Hell!" a ‘one album’ deal?
A: Thanks to Luigi, the guitar player from KOMAH… He's a real friend of DRAKKAR and KOMAH is on SPINAL REC too.... He talked to the Spinal boss about us, We sent the tapes and signed with them! I don't think that we will stop working with them because a mutual trust is established between the label and us. We feel that they really love DRAKKAR.
Q: The band supported the new album recently with gigs together with Sentinhell and FireForce. How were these gigs?
A: It was amazing! Powerful gigs, screaming headbangers.... We have met new friends.... The FIREFORCE members are really great and fucking funny.... I hope to play again with those guys!!
Q: In November you will play some live gigs with Salem (UK), a festival ‘Metal Against Child Cancer’ and last but not least a supporting gig of Lizzy Borden in Maasmechelen. I’m sure that you are looking forward to these gigs, isn’t?
A: Yeah of course! We can play to a larger audience and therefore, enlarge our popularity. But there is one thing that people must know... They don't have to wait for the big dates to come and see us because we play with exactly the same energy , the same power on a small stage or in a Club.
Q: Is playing live the most important thing for a band like Drakkar?
A: 50/50 with the pleasure of creating new songs!
Q: In the past, you played gigs with Metallica, Overkill, Slayer, Queensr˙che among others. Isn’t it inconceivable that you shared the stages with those Metal titans?
A: Wait and see.., Everything can go fast with Music! Sometimes, only one song is enough! And I don’t want to give a wrong message to the young bands, you know…. Never say never, work hard and live your dreams, everything is possible… always!
Q: Besides touring and supporting the new album, I guess it’s also very important how the press is writing about the new album. Have you seen many reviews so far, and what is the overall impression?
A: For the moment, no bad reviews... Maybe some mags thought that we would release an X-rated part 2 and We surprised everyone with a different style and a powerful sound and an effective storyboard...
Once upon a time… in HELL ? What a marvelous beginning ..... and every one of us can recognize himself inside that tragedy called humanity.
Q: Do you believe that the fans are still into Drakkar, that they didn’t forget the band at all?
A: Come see the show and you will know!
Q: Those that aren’t familiar with the new Drakkar yet, can check some video and live registrations on You Tube, but Drakkar also shot a video for the song ‘Lost’. Why this song, is this one the most accessible of the new album?
A: We don't exactly know why we chose that song.... When We wrote it, the whole band agreed and said : Wouaw this is the single!
And perhaps the lyrics are less historical, more accessible...more actual!
With time, more and more people have Alzheimer; have burn outs and more...the Madness! The world is going mad!
Q: What is meant by the album title, as it refers to a fairytale but seems to be rather a horror story…
A: It's only the story of Mankind, our story! Mankind could be a fairytale but our story seems like Hell. Our album is a kind of timeline about all that we have done for power, money, in the name of religion.
All songs have historical references...it’s exactly what we have done at this moment of our history...I didn't invent anything! From Yerushalayim to the Saint Bartholomew's night and from the Essenians or Cathars massacre to the world wars.
Maybe is it time to ask ourselves the right questions.
Q: Can you give us a little story about the front cover artwork as well? Compared with the re-release of the debut album, this cover artwork is rather simple. Perhaps a word of explanation can clarify a bit…
A: As I said before it's a kind of mystical timeline.... created by Sponge (burn your design).
We have been very lucky to meet him...He's amazing! Go and check his website and you will be amazed!
Q: Well, I guess that we know much more about the band, new album and future plans. Is there anything else that you want to talk about, perhaps a final message to the fans?
A: Thank you for being there again! It's for and thanks to you that we do that job... still partying together, we love you!
You guys kill!!!!!
Sloof:Well, thanks a lot for your time, we will support Drakkar the best way possible and if there is news to spread, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! Keep up the good work, have fun at the upcoming gigs, and we’ll meet each other soon... Thanks!