Silverlane – Arising like LeviathanThursday, 17th February 2022
Originally known as The Rising Force from 1996-2005 before having to change names for obvious reasons, Silverlane have been out of the spotlight since releasing their second album Above the Others in 2010. Performing in a melodic power metal platform, their latest album Inside Internal Infinity not only features a few lineup changes but also a newer set of influences that can keep their sound potent and viable to a younger generation while not forgetting about the original followers to the band.
We caught up with guitarist Christoph Schmitt on Zoom and he was happy to bring our readers up to speed in regards to the lengthy break between albums, lineup changes, thankfulness to work with Drakkar Entertainment, how they are handling the newer social media platforms that were just developing when they left the scene, plus thoughts on me vs we outlooks on life and hopes to hit the stages sooner rather than later.
Dead Rhetoric: What are some of your earliest memories surrounding music growing up? At what point did you start listening to and appreciating hard rock/ heavy metal, and then want to pick up an instrument to start performing in bands?
Christoph Schmitt: Oh my god! It started in the early 80’s, when we were all kids. I come out of a musician family. We all used to play instruments at an early age. I don’t know whether you know but my sister and my brother were also in the band. My brother started playing the drums in the early 80’s, and then I picked up the guitar at the age of nine or ten, and then my sister started playing the piano at the age of nine or ten. We used to play together, so this was a pure family band. Unfortunately, the other guys have now left the band, I’m still there.
Listening to heavy metal music, it started in the 80’s with the cassette recorder, recording all the good songs from the radio as we all did. That is the history, I was used to hard rock and heavy metal. I came to it at the age of twelve, I visited my friend’s house, and he had a huge collection of metal CD’s. He played those CD’s, and I was very curious, I wanted to play that hard sound as well. My first wish was to get an electric guitar and start over with an amplifier that my father built for me. I picked up things by ear, I taught myself during the first few years. I really got pretty good for what I was doing. I did take same lessons, but it didn’t bring me much further.
Dead Rhetoric: Silverlane started under a different name as a family band as you said with your brother and sister, correct?
Schmitt: Exactly. We started with covering songs and playing here at local festivals. We got used to our own ideas very early and started recording them. We started recording them on a four-track cassette recorder, to a mini-disc multi-track recorder, and then eventually to a PC. We built up our own studio and started producing our own CD’s then, with our own ideas. We changed the name to Silverlane when our original name The Rising Force was initially used by Yngwie Malmsteen, so we had to change it (laughs).
Dead Rhetoric: Inside Internal Infinity is the third album for Silverlane – and first in over twelve years. What life circumstances and situations took place for the prolonged break between records?
Schmitt: First of all, there were personal reasons. Some kids came into our lives, marriages, houses were built. That took us away from being enthusiastic and some of us didn’t have the time to get into the music. Apart from that, when our first singer left the band right after the recording was finished for our second album, it was a huge misery for all of us. We had problems finding another guy that had the ability to sing our material, and that was not forced to make a living at this because as a small band, with great ambitions but not having the money to pay a singer for each gig we play it was pretty hard to find somebody.
Luckily, we found Tom after two years, he started helping us with the situation because he didn’t want to make music professionally again – he had been in the business for about twenty years, earning his money from playing in several bands, and being in the United States for three or four years. He quit that and wanted to get a real job, and then we came into his life. He wanted to make a CD with us because the spirit in the band was pretty great. He always pushed us during the last ten years, the album was ready two years ago and then COVID-19 started and crossed out the planned release we had. He brought all these ideas and new ideas; he rang me up. We had one meeting three years ago where my brother quit as our drummer, and Tom asked if we wanted to handle this again or quit now. We wanted to go on, we finished the album and that’s where we are now.
Dead Rhetoric: Is the material a mixture of older and new songs over this past decade, or are most of the ideas and songs very recent?
Schmitt: The songs were written at several times during that period. Some of the first songs for example are about ten years old. We had them in the live set for the last gigs we played eight or nine years ago. Five of the songs were written during the last one and a half years of the production. This is also the reason for a mixture of songs on the record – many influences took shape.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you believe the latest members Tom Klossek on vocals and Basti Kirchdörfer on drums bring to the table for Silverlane in this current incarnation?
Schmitt: New guys, new influences. Basti is a really straightforward drummer and a really happy person. He has a huge influence on the feeling of the band as he’s a really funny guy. Also, a real professional musician as he’s been in the business for a lot of years. He has his own drum school where he teaches kids how to play the drums. He brought a very good feeling into the band. And Tom has been a member of the band over the last ten or more years already, we know each other very well. We knew what to expect from that. The other members have known each other for over twenty years. Tom comes from our regional area. They bring good influences and that’s why we have continued, more influences, more songwriting.
Dead Rhetoric: How did the recording sessions go for the new record? Were there any surprises, obstacles, or struggles that had to be worked through – and where do you assess this record in comparison to your first two albums?
Schmitt: I see it as a great progression next to the other records. The song structures are more complex than the last record. People always call us power metal – but I think we are writing a little differently away from that pure power metal thing, because it is a matter of what you want to express with your music. The song structures are more complicated, I guess, compared to the other ones. It is a matter of the ages that we have in the band.
Dead Rhetoric: It seemed like to me there was a difference in some of the modern tones and choices of riffs/hooks, how you use the tempos and keyboard structures…
Schmitt: It is a matter of the influences, what you hear and what music you like. I really enjoy the more complex song structures, and the other influences came mostly from Tom. He has very great ideas and putting some growl elements into this and broadening the orchestration of the songs. This is the bigger influence, and the ability that he has to sing from his technique that brought us to another level here. The singer has a huge influence on that complete structure. My brother, he has certain skills as a producer and composer, he is still in the background. His abilities with the orchestrations improved over all these years due to the other productions he’s done with other bands. That’s what you can hear now.
Dead Rhetoric: Working with your brother Simon Michael now in a producer role instead of being the drummer for Silverlane, where do you see his importance, vision, and insights that help make the final record that much stronger?
Schmitt: In fact, we are still a family band. You cannot step out of your family. We are very tight; he does not come out of that. I still write songs with him; we are still in close connection as we are living in the same city. We see each other regularly. He is the first person when I have a new song idea, I send it over to him and say, what do you think, what can we do here? If I am stuck, he is able to help me.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you tell me about the special guest appearance with Patty Gurdy on “Für Immer und Ewig”?
Schmitt: This was a song that we were recording in the studio with Tom. He said that we needed female vocals on this. We all liked the idea very much. Simon came up with Patty because he is working with her in another project. We showed her the song and she liked it. She also appears in the video. It was a short-term decision; I rang her up when we were doing the video. We booked her hotel room for one day longer to be able to get her in the video, she’s a very fine person and has great skills.
Dead Rhetoric: What can you tell us about the cover art – what did you want to get across to the listeners?
Schmitt: This was a mystery. The graphic guy who did all the layout and such is an old friend of mine. I gave him the songs, asked him to listen, and see what he thought about that. The only direction we gave him is we wanted to go away from these dark, unfriendly heavy metal covers. We wanted to go into a space direction, he came up with the image of those three discs. We really like that layout. Everything came together, it is our third album and those three discs on the cover, we really like that.
Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe Silverlane’s outlook when it comes to live performances on stage? What have been some of your favorite memories over the years when it comes to touring or festival appearances?
Schmitt: Well, we don’t play any roles on stage. Our main focus is the color that everybody wears is the same. On the other side, this is a pure fun project for us. We want to go on stage in clothes we really like to wear, comfortable. We want to get our own energy onto the stage. We want to look good, but as we want to look. Just to keep the energy of the band thing together.
We had some small things going on with Kissin’ Dynamite and some other bands as well as tours with Lordi and Doro. Rage, all that stuff. So many memories. One was the Lordi tour, which was the first really great tour that we did. Traveling and other things. We arrived in Hamburg, we were waiting for the truck of Lordi which had a breakdown on the road. Everybody was running around, there was a huge confusion for the crew. Half an hour before the show, they weren’t aware they could have started the show, so we had to delay the show about two hours to get that truck with all the Lordi stuff back on track. This was a very uncomfortable situation dealing with this for the first gig on our tour, everybody was very nervous and angry, and we just wanted to play our gig.
And I have another memory with Rage. In fact, we did some covers in the beginning of the band with my sister and brother together. I was talking to Peavy, he was saying backstage he really likes when other bands cover his songs. I had a recording of us doing one of his Rage songs about ten years ago – I gave him a CD of that. He really laughed out loud about that.
Dead Rhetoric: What would you consider some of the biggest challenges for Silverlane in terms of navigating the metal scene and establishing a stronger presence and following – not just in the German scene but on an international scale?
Schmitt: We are trying hard to get used to all the social media stuff at the moment. (laughs). That was not present when we left the stage ten years ago. It was there, but not with the presence that is now. It’s hard to get used to all this, I am not a photo editor, I am a computer guy but not a graphic guy. We have to regularly post content and generate videos, keep the audience busy with us. That is the job. I simply want to make music, but now I am sitting in front of my PC creating some content.
Dead Rhetoric: You are still a part of Drakkar Entertainment as your label, how important have they been, especially with the longer break between records?
Schmitt: Yes, they have. They were very supportive of our first two albums. And I was very thankful that they stuck with us for this new third record. They have done a great job with us, coaching us with the social media platforms. They really keep an eye on us in terms of promotion. This is a huge thing that you need to do here. I am happy that we can work with them again. After this long time, we are starting all over because a lot of people have forgotten about Silverlane. We have some hardcore fans that are still out there, but most of the masses haven’t heard about Silverlane from ten or twelve years ago. That’s what we have to do now to attract them again.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever received regarding the music business and industry – and what are some common errors or mistakes that you see younger musicians make that maybe you wish they would think harder about and avoid?
Schmitt: That’s a hard question. I don’t look at what others do; I simply want to focus on what I want to do. I’m not in a position to give anyone advice as I wasted about twelve years not doing anything with music, not releasing any records. From my point of view, it’s best to be yourself and not play any kind of role. That’s what we keep doing here. We keep promoting a product that is mainly ourselves. This is also a matter of the social media thing that has come up. People create something else through their social media look, and this is not something we want to do. We are what we are. Stay in the real life and keep on focusing there.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you feel about the metal scene today, and where do you see the difference between today and the scene you were a part of at the start?
Schmitt: With respect to COVID, everything has changed. With the live market, contracts being made, I don’t know where it goes to. When we started with Drakkar, there was no problem getting gigs, we could do fifty to a hundred shows a year. Now with having kids and being grown up nearly, it’s hard to develop a road map. Each and every gig we had contracted we have had to cancel now. Our bass player recently caught COVID, so we had to cancel a gig. Let’s see what happens now.
Dead Rhetoric: What have been some important albums in your world and the most important concert memories?
Schmitt: The most vivid concert memory would be the first concert I attended as a kid, which was Metallica on the Load tour. This had a huge influence on my image of the metal thing, it was that huge, the great audience, huge stage that they had. I wanted to do this as well. We listened to Stratovarius a lot when we were kids, a lot of the European power metal. Metallica was a huge influence. And one of my most recent bands I love is Evergrey. I am very sad that the show I had from Evergrey has been deferred due to the pandemic. I am eager to go to that show.
Dead Rhetoric: What worries, or concerns do you have most regarding the world that we are living in today? If you had the power, time, energy, and resources to make big changes that could impact humanity, what would you focus on and why?
Schmitt: A huge thing is everyone is focused more on themselves which we target with some of the lyrics on the album. We forget that it’s not only a me thing, it’s an us thing. The whole society, we should really think about each other. Social media pushes the individuals out there, and we forget that we should have an eye on each other. If I had the resources, I would focus on telling people that they should help each other.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you see the next year or so shaping up for Silverlane activities? Are you hopeful to have a fourth album out within the next couple of years?
Schmitt: Not only a fourth album. This is one of the questions that came from Drakkar. Do we have to wait another twelve years for this next album? No, we want to rock it again. I want to focus on releasing new records, we are focused on writing new songs at the moment. We want to play live as soon as possible; we will try hard to book shows for the summer and autumn. Hopefully all the shows that were deferred will take place. I want to go on stage and have that feeling again. We want to play the new songs.