AUGUST 28th 2014
Welcome to Metaltitans, Guardians of Metal entertainment worldwide. We are here talking with Alex and Marco of 21Octayne, a band out of Germany. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us.
1. You are a fairly new band, tell us how you came up with the name 21Octayne ?
Alex: Well, obviously after 40+ years of Rock it's not easy to come up with a really original and unique band name. You quickly realize that most names have been taken already. So I came up with "Octane", but no chance, a couple bands already with that name. Then we changed the spelling and it was Marco that suggested the number. We thought it sounded cool and at the same time the number has meaning as it stands for the 21st century.
2. Who was it that came up with the idea of putting a band together ?
Marco: Early 2008, actually before I met Alex for the first time in 2008 I wanted to form an own group with musicians from my area but we couldn’t find the right singer and to be honest, it didn´t really click at the time but the first idea for what later became the song "Turn The World" was born during those days! Then I met Alex in July 2008 when he auditioned for AXXIS and yes right from the start, we had this amazing chemistry going on! We shared the same taste for music and became friends very quick! During his AXXIS audition process, he wrote me an email where he said "Someday we have to form our own band and make a musical statement" and I said "ok...if I ever do a serious own band for the next thirty + years....then let´s do it together the right way!"
3. Tell the readers how all you well-known musicians Hagen Grohe (vocals) (The Joe Perry Project) / Marco Wriedt (guitars) (Axxis) / Andrew “The Bullet” Lauer (bass), (PAUL GILBERT) and Alex Landenburg(drums) (Rhapsody) came to be in 21 Octayne …
Marco: Alex and I had the vision but we needed two years to complete the line up! Alex knew Andrew Lauer (Bass) and we jammed a couple of times. It sounded great and I think quite unique! We jammed hours and hours and at that time, musically it sounded a bit like Rush and dreamy...not heavy to be honest. Andrew suggested Hagen because he played with him prior. He told us that Hagen toured with Joe Perry (Aerosmith) and we couldn´t believe it! So Andrew showed us some Youtube clips where Joe Perry talks about Hagen! It was crazy! We needed to have this guy in our band! So the four of us met in August for the first time and that was it! Hagen brought the Classic Rock vibe to the table! He loves Bands like Bon Jovi, Aerosmith, Bad Company and so forth so we added this element into the songwriting as well. 21Octayne was not a great Management idea! This Band just happened! Four musicians that met at the right time!
4. Why was it essential to create something fresh, to overcome boundaries ?
Marco: To be honest, I’m quite bored with many new albums these days! Of course there are still great new bands but there is just too much generic, plastic stuff going on. We wanted to do things a bit different. We wanted to produce a real Rock Album, with groove and a diversity I don´t see too much in Bands these days. I always loved Bands that took chances and changed a bit from album to album. We want to surprise people with 21Octayne and our debut “Into The Open”.
Alex: I honestly believe it's always essential to create something fresh. There is simply no point in repeating what's been done before. Especially, if it had been done really well before. Imagine we would have created a copycat of one of the other bands we're known from. That would have been extremely pointless in my opinion.
5. Can’t really put you into one genre of music as you have catchy pop/rock songs and ballads to heavy rock, what made you decide to basically cover it all ?
Marco: Everyone of us has very diverse influences! We love Rock, Progressive Music, AOR, Classical Music, Jazz, Fusion, Metal....it just happens naturally! All the songs came to life in the rehearsal room when we jammed! NO Email Songwriting as I call! We wrote all songs the classic way!
Alex: It wasn't actually the decision to cover all these styles in our music, but rather the decision to write with no boundaries and just let the music flow. All of us have very different musical influences and we love the fact that we have a band where we can bring them all in.
6. “Into the Open” was just released on May 27th, how did you come up with the name for the album ?
Marco: I think it just fits very well to our musical statement and sounded epic!
Alex: We actually had the album artwork ready before we settled for the title. During a songwriting session, working on the song "Into the Open" we realized how well it fit the artwork and also how much of powerful statement it actually is. So we decided to name the album after the song.
7. Album cover definitely fits into the title, someone walking out into the open, but who came up with the idea, and who created the artwork ?
Marco: A young artist from Eastern Europe and it looked very nice...the cover was first and then we put the title on it! It just fits very well I think and people can relate to it!
8. Who in the band writes the lyrics for your songs ?
Marco: On this album, it´s our singer Hagen Grohe.
9. Where does the inspiration come from to write them ?
Marco: whatever happens in all our lives really I think! There are some amazing lyrics on Into The Open I think!
Alex: Yes, Hagen has a "real life" approach to writing lyrics. Very direct and emotional and I guess that's why many people can relate to them very well.
10. Are you planning to tour in support of your new album ? Where if you are ?
Alex: Oh absolutely! As much as we can. I mean despite the fact that each of us are individually known for our past, the band is actually still a newcomer. And the only way of getting it out to the people is playing as much as we can. And we love that! For now, there are only European shows on our schedule. We'll play a huge tour as special guests of Uriah Heep in November for example. But of course, we can't wait to play in Canada. I have a very special connection to Canada anyways. As you might know I was drummer for a while in Canada's very own Annihilator. I still have many friends there and I just love the country!
11. What studio did you record your 12 songs in ? Why that choice ?
Alex: We basically recorded it at our singer Hagen's own studio. Just for the drum and vocal recordings we booked another studio that had a bigger recording room. Because we wanted to have a huge drum sound on the record and that you can only get in a huge room.
12. Is this something you have always dreamed of doing since you were young ? Was there ever a time you wanted to do something else ?
Marco: I’ve always had this dream becoming an artist and professional musician! It started all when I was nine or ten years old! I just loved playing guitar so much
and everything else was out off the question for me.
Alex: Well, as a kid I wanted to become a Tennis player. But somehow at about age 11 from one day to another I suddenly just knew I had to be a drummer. I just happened.
13. Did it matter what genre of music you played when you first started out, or you just wanted to get some time and practise in to help you decide which way to go ?
Marco: When I grew up, I loved Classic Rock and Metal! Bands like Maiden Queen, Megadeth, Metallica, Stratovarius, Queensryche, Dream Theater, Aerosmith, ELO....in my later teens I discovered Progressive Rock Bands like Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd, King Crimson, Nektar and when I spent some time in Texas at my uncle’s place (I was twenty at that time) I got in touch with the great classic American Rock Bands like Journey, Boston, Kansas, Fleetwood Mac but also newer bands like Creed and Audioslave. In my early twenties I got in touch with classical music from Europe like Debussy, Brahms, Liszt, Vaughan Williams! So you see there is not just ONE musical genre. I never cared about that. I just liked what I liked you know! I like something or I don´t....
Alex: Oh man, that's a good question. When I started playing drums I also immediately joined our school's Big band. So from day 1 on I was playing Big band Jazz. I really believe that that made all the difference in the world. I could go on for hours but I'll try to make it short. Swing Jazz has a triplet feel, and when you study that at an early age, chances are that you never develope a really stiff way of playing. Rather you always retain a little bit of a "swinging" feeling even if you play straight 8th Note Rhythms. And I'm convinced that's helping me now in interpreting our music in this way. So to answer your question, I played Big Band Jazz and it mattered a lot.
14. Band life takes up a lot of time, do you ever feel like you might be missing out on anything ?
Alex: To be perfectly honest, I sometimes think I missed a little bit out on "real life". I spent a lot of my life just playing my instrument. Since I left school at about 20, I was just playing drums. So I guess I missed out on the so called "Student life". But on the other hand, I don't want to complain, because this way I'm also missing out on having a "real" job - meaning 9 to 5 - and I travelled the world and met tons of cool people at a young age.
15. I have watched the video “Dear Friend” numerous times, great video, but what made you choose that song to put onto a video out of all 12 songs ?
Marco: The first single "The Heart (Save me)" had this Classic Rock touch so wanted to show a different part of 21Octayne in our second video.
Alex: Exactly. We wanted to make sure people realize that this band has more to offer than just one style.
16. What would surprise people the most to find out about 21Octayne ?
Marco: I think 21Octayne is a surprise in itself! The diversity makes it a surprise!
17. Is there anything you would like to say that I may have missed asking you that you think the people should know ?
Marco: we hope to come to Canada very soon! Alex rehearsed there with Jeff Waters years ago and told me great things about it! Let´s spread the word so we can come over to your beautiful country very soon!
Alex: Yes, as I said, I love Canada and I - just like the rest of us - can't wait to go there with 21Octayne.
Thank you ( danke ) for taking the time to do this interview with us here at Metaltitans, and we wish you much success with the band and your album “Into the Open”.
Marco: Thank you very much!
Alex: Thanks a lot ! Great questions!