Edenbridge – Hunting the MindThursday, 14th November 2019
Attentive to satisfying the creative beast within ten albums deep into their career, Austrian symphonic metal band Edenbridge feel the need to stretch in a natural way record to record. You wouldn’t expect a band that started in 1998 and released their debut album Sunrise in Eden in 2000 to sound the same in 2019 with Dynamind – as ardent listeners notice the natural progression and experience that seeps into each recording. The latest album may be heavier in spots than their previous The Great Momentum, but also sees the group delve into Celtic/Irish nuances and even throwback 70’s rock elements beyond their natural base. It’s evident that main composer/ multi-instrumentalist Lanvall as the driving force embraces a multi-sensory experience that paints broad strokes for the listener to treasure on a grand scale.
We reached out to Lanvall to learn more about Dynamind as well as delve deeper into the lyrical content of the record, thoughts on highlights during the band’s career including their recent tour of China, and his love of skiing / hiking beyond normal Edenbridge talk.
Dead Rhetoric: The latest Edenbridge album is Dynamind – the tenth studio record for the group. Tell us about the development of this set of material – has the process of songwriting and refining ideas from the demo stage to final completion changed much from the early days Edenbridge to the current incarnation of the band?
Lanvall: The way we work and the way I work is pretty much the same. I’m collecting ideas and pile them up, write them down and at a certain point I start arranging them on the computer. I’m making the demos and pretty much it’s a long process, this takes about eighteen months, sometimes even more. It can also happen that I get stuck on ideas for certain songs, it’s better to put everything away and work again when I am fresh. I’m not only doing Edenbridge, I’m also doing film music and symphonic pieces, it’s always something that is around me when it comes to music.
This time it was pretty much the same process, in the summer of 2017 I had four songs. There was a bit of a break, and after this break which did me well I came back and everything went very smoothly then.
Dead Rhetoric: You say when it comes to your songwriting, you definitely take a lot of time to refine the process. Are there certain periods where you find yourself more creative than others- or certain times of the day that you work better?
Lanvall: Yes, I am pretty much a morning guy. I don’t like to work in the late evening, I never was creative or couldn’t really do work when the night is coming. The only exception is when Sabine is recording it gets very late because she has her best moments around midnight. It’s a bit of a struggle for me. Normally I start to work around 7 or 8 in the morning, the time before midday is always the best and the afternoon I think.
Dead Rhetoric: It feels like with songs such as “On the Other Side”, “All Our Yesterdays”, and “Tauerngold” that the group is balancing out conventional Edenbridge aspects to your melodic/symphonic metal base with other influences. How important has it been to stretch yourself creatively while also hopefully satisfying what the listeners desire and want?
Lanvall: Yeah, it’s a good question. For me, the improvement and the search for new sounds was always very important. I don’t want to repeat myself over and over again. While each Edenbridge album sounds different than another one, I think this new Edenbridge one sounds a bit heavier with less orchestration. You also named the newer songs that bring those newer influences in. The Irish side for “On the Other Side”, and “Tauerngold” is a very unconventional song for us. This is a natural way, those ideas are flowing into our music and I think it’s a very important process for us to go through.
Dead Rhetoric: Where did you want to come across lyrically on this record?
Lanvall: We have different themes. A couple of songs deal with the topic of memory, which is very important in all parts of “All Our Yesterdays” and “The Memory Hunter” and also “Live and Let Go”. One of the most important lyrics I wrote was “The Last of His Kind” which is about the terrible dying of animal races in the world. This is the third part of a series I started on “The Grand Design”. “Dynamind” is kind of a twist on the word ‘dynamite’ which stands for the dynamics we are currently experiencing on earth as well as the second word mind from the spirit, the spirit that each individual contributes to the big picture, back from the collective consciousness. The deeper things that we need with the connection of the heart and the mind. When these dualities can connect then you can have real spiritual development.
Dead Rhetoric: Where do you see the evolution of Sabine as a vocalist – I definitely felt more attention to the harmonics in her melodies, more of an ABBA-type influence in some of the choruses too…?
Lanvall: It’s funny, because we didn’t change anything from the last record. We used the same backing and choir singer Thomas Strübler, because we were so satisfied with him on The Great Momentum so we asked him again, this kind of choir-type vocal he blends so well with Sabine. I wouldn’t say ABBA versus more of the Queen-choirs, although I do love ABBA and Queen. It’s okay to be inclusive, as there isn’t any more fighting like in the 70’s between the ABBA and Queen fans. I think they are both the pinnacle of pop and rock music, and with Sabine she is getting better and better. We have done some very low parts for her this time, and she’s simply stunning. It’s quite easy for me, I’m not stuck on a certain kind of key which I have to write in. I can do all the keys and do all the vocal parts that come to my mind and Sabine can sing it totally naturally and very easy.
Dead Rhetoric: Was it a natural choice to have “On the Other Side” as the first official video off the new record?
Lanvall: Of course we did the lyric video with “Live and Let Go” before that, but I think it was pretty obvious that we had to do “On the Other Side” for the video clip because on the one hand it’s a different song that we hadn’t done before, but also the music brought us to the locations that align with the music. It was also great to show the different natural instruments we were using in this song, the mandolin, the Hammered dulcimer, the Bouzouki, and of course we wanted to play them in the video. Maybe we can reach another audience with that song, that maybe are not that into metal and are able to learn about us through this song.
Dead Rhetoric: Considering your abilities as a songwriter and multiple instruments you use to execute your ideas, where do you see your role within Edenbridge to get the best performances out of each member and stay true to your ideals / final vision for the band?
Lanvall: I have to be honest, the songs are pretty much written when it comes to the recording and I have clear ideas about each instrument. This is natural for me as a producer because I have the big picture in my mind. As an individual player, you tend to make your instrument more important than the others – for me, every instrument is important and has to play a certain role in the mix. It’s always good not to focus on one instrument but have the whole mix in mind. Therefore, our drummer has the freedom to bring in his ideas, the bass player too – and then we always have to judge if it’s possible to bring that in, if it makes sense, I’m listening to all the ideas the members have. Sometimes the discussion is good, sometimes it’s not that good and other ideas will come in.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you consider some of the more important moments for Edenbridge in your career – either specific albums, live performances / tours, or key professional decisions where you knew you were moving up the ladder to make a bigger impact?
Lanvall: Our biggest show we have played ever was around three weeks ago, it was Nanjing Forest Festival in China, as we were touring there in September/ October. We played in front of 30,000 people which was really exciting. I would imagine this as a really big show, but there were so many moments in the past that you can say are great. The music itself keeps pushing me, as a composer it’s always the most important thing to write music. The creative process goes, and then it comes to the live performances on stage – so it’s always hard to name a special album. Every album in our career has been important to make the next step to where we were moving.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you believe the crowdfunding campaign went in conjunction for the new album? Do you enjoy this direct to fan model for the future in terms of offering special items and experiences for those people who want to support Edenbridge in a bigger way?
Lanvall: Yes, absolutely. We started this a couple of years ago, with The Bonding album, and it was such a great experience with the crowdfunding. The people are loving it, it’s not something that we do because we just want to have the money from the fans but we offer certain packages that are from the small wallets to the bigger wallets. All kinds of people are appreciating it. Record sales are going down and the streaming doesn’t compensate for the loss of record sales. Somewhere the money has to come from to deliver the same kind of production that we had in the past. The direct fan input therefore is extremely important nowadays, it’s great to be able to rely on such great fans that we have around the world.
Dead Rhetoric: How have you personally handled the major shifts in the music industry from the late 90’s when Edenbridge developed to today? What do you consider to the good and bad regarding the current business model?
Lanvall: To be honest, I cannot say that the process and the situation that we are facing is good. It ruins creativity, many bands don’t have the time anymore to focus on writing great songs because they have to return to the stage much too soon to make a living out of the stage fees and merchandise. I’m very lucky that I’m not having to rely on the income from the stage because I am also doing film music and I wrote a symphonic piece for a live production which will have its premiere next year. A complete classical piece I wrote on guitar, that will have a big choir and a big orchestra around 300 people will be on stage. I’m very widespread in my musical activities, and Edenbridge is still my main income source, but the great thing is that I can really take my time to work as I long as I want on the album. If I am not satisfied with the album, there will be no release date set. This is good to really focus on the production and focus on the songs.
Dead Rhetoric: What would surprise us to learn about Lanvall the person away from the music – how would you describe yourself as a person and where do you think you’ve grown, learned, and changed the most over the years?
Lanvall: That’s a difficult question. It’s a normal process that you are changing over the years, you are progressing. There’s an evolution in everybody’s life, and you cannot be the same in your forties when you are in your twenties. It’s the same with the music, the music is a picture of yourself within a certain era. When you take our debut album Sunrise in Eden I was in my late twenties and now I’m in my late forties, something has changed. It would be unnatural in my opinion if we still sounded the same like we did twenty years ago.
Dead Rhetoric: Where do you see the state of symphonic and power metal currently? Are there developments that excite you or concern you?
Lanvall: No. I don’t listen too much to metal. Of course I’m listening to it, but there are so many releases, nothing new has been delivered. My favorite bands I look forward to their releases, but when it comes to the younger bands I’m not listening too much to what is coming up. Nothing is inspiring me in the younger bands when it comes to the modulation of melodies, harmonic excitement. There are enough types of music that are still exciting though to be discovered.
Dead Rhetoric: How did you develop your interests in skiing and hiking – and how does it recharge and refuel your life so you can put as much as possible into your activities for Edenbridge?
Lanvall: I’m addicted to the mountains, and I rediscovered that about 15 years ago. At the time I stopped smoking and was back into sports again. I was very much a sports person in my teenage years. I learned skiing at the age of three, so I was very interested in skiing. Skiing for me is something where I can get my hands completely free away from everything. You have to be focused not to get hurt, and if you go fast you are right in the moment. The most important thing to learn when it comes to life is to live in the moment, and not to live in the past or the future. Skiing is a good exercise to be focused, and it helps me to be focused in the writing and arranging stage. When I walk in the mountains, it’s great to be free.
Dead Rhetoric: When it comes to your songwriting, you have shorter songs as well as the epics. Is one type of song easier for you to develop versus the other – or do you enjoy the challenge of both?
Lanvall: Both are not easy. The shorter songs, you have to focus on the main elements to keep everything tight and also short. On the longer songs, you have to be exciting for twelve minutes. You can bring in more ideas. I love to do both of them. You need the shorter songs to make more impact live of course when the audience is listening. It is this balance between both that is important.
Dead Rhetoric: What concerns you most today about the world that we live in?
Lanvall: I think it’s the current system we have. A lot of things are dealing directly with the financial system that we have. As long as we have this interest system, it’s always firing the greed in mankind. If there is greed, there is also extinction. It’s hard to explain – the animal races, we are cutting the trees in the Amazon forest just to make space. As long as humanity is addicted by greed, the need for more money, nothing will change.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s on the schedule for Edenbridge over the next twelve months to support Dynamind? Any other special recordings or projects from the members of the band we should also be on the lookout for?
Lanvall: We are focusing now… I’m focusing on the score for my symphonic piece next year. There will be a European tour next April and May together with Visions of Atlantis. And then hopefully a lot of other shows, festivals, another headlining tour in the fall of 2020. This year was very successful in terms of musical journeys and adventures, I hope 2020 will continue like this.
I was surprised that (China) changed since we last toured there 12 years ago. There is a lot of progress in the cities, there is a lot of green which is what people are taking care of. The environment idea has arrived in China, they know they have to do something. The economy is growing there year by year – the cities don’t look much different to the Western culture. The food is absolutely great there. We laid the foundation to maybe play more often there.