Sunday, November 27, 2011
Stefan Schmidt - Van Canto Interview
If there's one thing I love, it's talented music that blows your mind to Kingdom Come. Van Canto is the first, and currently only, metal a cappella band in existence. The very first song I heard from them, Last Night of the Kings, drew me in like a whirlpool and I was mesmerized. Sometime later I remembered the song, looked it up, and then went on to listen to another of their songs—Lost Forever. That was where my mind was blown to Kingdom Come. Van Canto is a completely vocal metal band, with the exception of drums. Each of the six members play an important part in the band.
Due to virtually all of the "instruments" being vocals, I have never felt so much emotion in the songs of any other band. There are two types of people who listen to their music—those who instantly love it, and those who hate it. I, frankly cannot understand those who hate it. The more you listen to these days, the less their music seems like hilarity and the more you realize that it is... true art.
I recently talked with Stefan Schmidt, the founder of Van Canto. He's different from the other vocalists in the band for the reason that he plays the "guitar" solos. In truth, he sings into a guitar amplifier. No, that's not a cheat. That's legitimate.
Now, sit back with some popcorn and enjoy!
Reuben Horst: How has your life been recently, Stef?
Stefan Schmidt: Full. But great! After being on tour last year we produced the new album, played festivals and just finished our first European tour. So everything is busy but very nice.
RH: What have been your major influences over the years?
SS: For me as the main composer I can name all the bands we are covering. The only main inspiration missing is Europe.
RH: Have any of the members of Van Canto been involved in other musical projects in the past few years, or have they all stuck close to Van Canto?
SS: Before Van Canto we all played in regular metal bands. Bastian and me in Jester's Funeral, Inga in Fading Starlight, Sly and Strilli (our first drummer) in Synasthasia, Ike in (cp) Rono and Ross in Deadly Sin. Since then we all stuck to Van Canto and quit our former bands. Bastian is running a piano-oriented side project named In Legend.
RH: What is it like to write songs in English, as your first language is German? Will you ever come out with any albums in German?
SS: It's easier to write in English because you don't have so many people around you telling you that your lyrics make no sense, haha. But on Break the Silence we have our first German song with "Neuer Wind", and we got very many positive reactions on this. Concerning the future I cannot tell; we don't make "master plans" or anything like that.
RH: As the first song I ever heard from you, Last Night of the Kings quick became one of my favorites. Was there anything in particular that inspired it?
SS: You should ask Sly [a.k.a. Dennis Schunke, lead vocalist], because he wrote that one. But his inspiration was just the imagination of the story the lyrics are about. Entering a king's castle and to make the night his last one.
RH: If Blind Guardian, who strongly inspired you and worked with you several times, were to cover one of your songs, which do you think it would be?
SS: "Take to the Sky" would fit, because Hansi already knows parts of the lyrics, haha.
RH: Have you ever considered the possibility of recording a concept album?
SS: Yes, we started something like that with our transmedia project "Peer Returns", which will be launched by the end of the year. Break the Silence contains a preview song of it: "A Storm to Come".
RH: Of all of your original songs, which is your favorite?
SS: It changes from day to day. Today it is "If I Die in Battle".
RH: What do you see in the future for Van Canto?
SS: Playing gigs, recording albums, having fun, staying friends. As easy as it. ;-)
RH: What is your favorite food?
Thanks once again for reading, and thanks to Stefan for letting me interview him.