Paragon – Defenders for Controlled Demolition

Thursday, 16th May 2019

Dead Rhetoric: Who have been some of the newer bands that have made an impression on you as of late? Do you ever worry that many of these younger bands in this current digitally driven, streaming model of music consumption will be unlikely to ever achieve massive success to the point of filling arenas or headlining major festivals?

Bünning: Presently we have three different kinds of scenes in a way. The old, classic bands that will cease to exist in the next years, Black Sabbath already, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Ozzy are still around, Saxon is still around – but they won’t last so much longer. They get into the charts and sell a lot of records. Then we have these more commercial metal bands, a lot of new bands which are in the charts but I don’t like because they don’t sound like metal and it doesn’t seem like they are into the music, but they want to make money with it, which is not my intention to be in a band. And then there are a lot of underground bands. I like the first Striker material, newer bands like Idle Hands and Sanhedrin. There are some good bands and some shitty bands. I think many younger bands try to recapture the old sound of the 80’s- you cannot do that. The 80’s are the 80’s, today is today. It was a special feeling at that time, and you cannot recapture that.

Many bands in interviews are saying they record everything in analog, old school recordings. I don’t think it’s an old school recording – it’s a shitty recording because you won’t invest any money. Many of the bands were sounding bad in the past because they had no money, and the studios weren’t as good as they are today. Bands would sound much better if they had the budget for a decent recording. Striker always has good sounding recordings. That’s a problem of many younger bands – they should try to make their own sound. Over the years we’ve made our own sound, we mix everything together. We also try to not sound old-fashioned. I will not name any bands – but it could be a cheap imitation of a NWOBHM band from the 80’s on Ebony Records. A lot of bands sound like that – I didn’t like it in the past, why should I like it today? We like to have good production.

Dead Rhetoric: People forget in the 70’s and 80’s, some bands didn’t sound as good because the producers and studios weren’t good enough to replicate the proper sounds people wanted for heavy metal…

Bünning: They didn’t have any experience with the heavy guitars. Of course there are many examples of albums that still stand the test of time – old Priest and Maiden – but they are major bands with a lot of money. The smaller stuff, the older stuff from Metal Blade – Bill Metoyer, he did a lot of great albums which I can still listen to today. Ebony Records – they always sounded bad, most of the albums at least.

Dead Rhetoric: If you had the ability to change certain aspects of the metal scene either on a local or global basis, what would you consider changing and why?

Bünning: In the end, you cannot change it. I sometimes feel as a band, it’s a lot about money these days. It’s very hard to get gigs these days. We release very good albums, we always get good reviews, people like us but we have no big booking company, it’s very hard to get good shows. Big festivals, they will say which band is that? They are on a big label, but I’ve never heard of them. It’s not like in the past, it was more about the music and not about the image or the money. Some bands are more about image than the music- and I think the most important thing should always be the music. There are bands who have it the other way around – you know what I mean.

We should teach people about what is metal – there are some bands who think they are playing metal but forget about the melodies. I listen to a lot of different kind of music – I love soundtracks, soundwave, and there is a band called Gost without the H, and they release some hardcore version of the John Carpenter soundtrack stuff, blast beats and everything -interesting stuff. I like my metal pure in a way – classic stuff and not mixed up with folk or Viking stuff. It’s okay if people like this kind of music, just in my opinion don’t rush to call it all metal.

Dead Rhetoric: You mentioned in an earlier interview we did learning from Piet Sielck the idea behind capturing the right performance versus perfect playing. Where do you see the differences between the two when it comes to the studio and the stage?

Bünning: Some bands say they have an old school production. It sounds like some guy put the microphones into the rehearsal room, recorded the stuff, and that’s it- with no overdubs. I don’t think that’s a good studio album, they could do that for a live album. When you do a studio album, it’s like a puzzle. You put together certain things, other parts are missing, you learn to change things and when the album is finished, it will never change. There has to be interesting parts, a good sound, some overdubs for other parts, that’s different to have the band playing with power in front of you. That’s so different than playing live. You don’t have to be 100% perfect anymore. Piet back in the day knew we were not the best musicians. Today I’ll only correct one or two parts – because I have better feeling. You have to work at the studio more than the stage- sometimes you play a wrong note live but you are smiling and headbanging away on stage, the aggression of the instruments becomes much louder than what you listen to it at home. When we record backing vocals we do 14 tracks with five singer on each track – for live we only have four people singing the background vocals.

Dead Rhetoric: How important have the personal relationships been between the band members in keeping the desire and creative fire necessary for Paragon to continue forward this deep in your career?

Bünning: It’s much easier these days as I said before because we are much more relaxed. We have families, we take everything much more easy. We don’t have many fights. We had a few people in the band that we threw out after a while because they were not team players. Now the guys in the band, everybody is a good team player, we get along very well. I can go to Bushy’s to party, the others as well. We are friends and we love each other. It’s important to have this chemistry and everybody having the same goals.

Dead Rhetoric: What are your thoughts on social media and crowdfunding when it comes to your band – or heavy metal in general? Do you prefer a time when developing a following was more organic through flyers, word of mouth, tape trading, etc.?

Bünning: The thing is, when we started to play in Paragon – there was no social media. Record companies had to do advertising and sending out the albums out. I’m sure that was much more expensive. Today you can reach a lot of people with just one click. Massacre Records will send out our new album with a link where people can listen to it, it’s much easier to make promotions for bands. The downside is, many bands just produce their own album- it’s easier to record your own stuff but it’s good to have somebody else say to you – that’s a good riff, but it’s not good enough.

I love to be on social media with Paragon. I use it as much as I can- I run our Facebook page. It’s cool to see the diehards saying nice things about us, sharing everything we post. We made an official video for the first time on this album – we have a lyric video and two real videos. We have a lot of attention for this – one of the videos, we reached 70,000 views on YouTube, which is surprising in a way. We may as a result be able to go into the German charts with this album, we’ll see.

Dead Rhetoric: You have some tour dates lined up with Iron Savior later in the year – anything else in the pipeline over the next twelve months for Paragon? And are you already starting to assemble ideas for the next full-length?

Bünning: The thing is, I do the bookings but I couldn’t take care as much of it last year due to personal issues. I am negotiating with some festivals right now, so I think there will be more shows. We want to find a booking company that will handle all this stuff in the future, because it’s very time consuming and pretty frustrating. The big ones, they have twenty bands and they send emails out to x and y, and when I send them an email as a member of a band, I cannot get an answer.

We would love to go to countries like Brazil, South America, and the USA. We have a lot of fans, maybe we can manage that with some professional help. In Europe, we have been to a lot of countries so far, but we want to go all over the world. The songwriting ended in the middle of 2017, Martin just wanted to come today but I have a cold. He already has written riffs for two fast songs and one other one – we also have some leftovers that we couldn’t finish for the last (album), the plan is when we don’t play to make as many songs as possible ready now so it won’t take as long to release a new album. Maybe the end of next year release a new album.

Paragon official website

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