Metal Bulletin Zine (est. 2006) is a metal music zine (Seattle region), online and on paper. 160 issues so far.
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Saturday, April 27, 2019
Pirates in Black
interview: Pirates in Black
The old, classic ways are alive in the form of Pirates in Black (Germany). The band does not even care about what label people put on the music and they just call themselves heavy rock, as heavy metal was known in the early days before the craziness of the genres, subgenres and subsubgenres and that stuff. Pirates in Black for the old at heart, whether you are young or not so much a spring chicken. It does not matter, this is music you can understand easily because the purpose is to rock, and nothing else. Ahoy, mateys! All aboard!
Friends, who is Pirates in Black and how many recordings do you have?
Hi, my name is Falo Faltu and I am the founder (and the Captain) of the PIRATES IN BLACK. I’m the lead singer, play guitar, and wrote all of our songs so far. And I’m very pleased to answer your questions.
The PIRATES IN BLACK formed as a band in late 2016. That was the time when I thought the songs I had written and recorded back in those days should be played live. I asked my friend and drummer Hans Heringer (serving on board of our pirate ship as a Powder Monkey) to join the band. Hans used to play the drums for many years in the band UNIVERSE which you might now as a long time established melodic hard rock band from Germany. On bass we have the Gunner, Carl Clover. I used to play together with Carl back in the early 90’s in our band LYVE WYRE (some great kind of heavy hard rock, though we didn’t get far). And the other guitar is played by the Quartermaster, Accu Becher. In fact, Accu heard about the project, the PIRATES IN BLACK, quite incidentally, and asked me if he could join us. He was a well known guitar player in our local community, with great skills, and a long experience in various local bands. So I was more than happy about his request. And here we are: Four old school rockers, who payed their dues in many ways, with the passion for heavy rock music, and the strong urge to let the good times roll, again! We are Pirates! Ready for plundering. Stealing riffs wherever we can. Destroying them. And devastating the stages with all of our might. And – yes – we do not take it all too seriously! :-)
Back to your questions: The songs available on Bandcamp (and on our website are part of our first album “Pirates In Black” which is going to be released in May. The album will consist of 10 songs (and a bonus track).
How much experience do you have?
Yes. As I mentioned before all of us look back at a long history of playing in different bands. Some of them were (heavy) cover bands. Others played their own songs. All of our former bands played hard and heavy rock. Today Hans and I use to be members of a heavy cover band called BANDOXX. Accu plays guitar in another band of that kind, called MEDLEY CRUE. We all live in Germany in the region around Wuppertal, called Bergisches Land. The next bigger cities are Cologne, Dusseldorf and Dortmund.
Honestly, playing music in a band is not our main profession (although we would describe our musical skills as semi-professional). All four of us are self-employed which gives us the flexibility to play gigs, shows, and festivals whenever we are given the chance to. Until today we played shows in a circle of about 100 miles around Wuppertal. But this will change soon since we are already booked for a gig in Northern Germany. And we keep spreading the word for sure!
What is the inspiration for your band in 2019? For example, do you like the old Running Wild pirate-loving music? What about 1980s music like Ozzy, Accept, Faithful Breath, Scorpions and similar bands? What about 1970s?
Yes, we are grey headed bloody old bastards :-) Our musical roots go back to the 70’s and 80’s. I am very much inspired by Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, but also by Zakk Wylde and his Black Label Society. AC/DC and Motörhead, of course. I love Whitesnake, especially when John Sykes played the guitar (and btw I give a sh*t on Steve Vai’s humpty dumpty fiddeling). And yes, Accept was also a great band from Germany. Did you know that Udo Dirkschneider, the former singer of Accept, was born in Wuppertal? Fun fact: We recorded the vocals of our album in the studio of Udo’s brother Peter Dirkschneider (also known as the singer of Vanize). He was also in charge for the mix of the songs.
Of course, we know Running Wild’s “Under The Jolly Roger”. But believe it or not, I only got aware of that song way after I founded the PIRATES IN BLACK. Anyhow, great (and funny!) song!
Have the German rock publications done any reviews of your music? Is there a market for your music in Germany? I mean, rock fans in Germany still love Scorpions, Judas Priest and Ozzy, right?
In fact, this one is our first serious interview. So you deserve all the credits to be the one who had the PIRATES IN BLACK beforehand of all the others :-) We are still at the very beginning. We are not signed by a label right now, but have to manage all of the PR stuff on our own. Which is fun but also very time consuming. We had some air plays recently, on rock stations like Pure Sound Radio, Metal Only, and Metal Devastation Radio. And we have been listed as a newcomer band on the website of Radio BOB, which is one of the two major rock radio stations in Germany. So I think we are on a good way, but there is still much more way to go.
I have the impression that most of the other newcomer bands are much more into metal, growling, playing faster, than we are. On the other hand those old school guys like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, KISS, even Saxon, and of course Ozzy, are undergoing a kind of revival today. If you take a look at Wacken (the biggest heavy metal festival in Germany) you will find that the kids still go crazy about classic heavy rock. So – back to the question – yes, I think there is still a niche (a market?) for classic heavy rock like we are celebrating it. To undermine this: We took part in a newcomer band contest last year (called the SPH Bandcontest) and made it to the region final (which will take place in September this year). So there must be definitely at least some interest in our kind of music.
“Words Are Loaded Guns” is the first song. It has a cool heavy big midtempo riff that is the basis of the song. The drumming is grooving and the guitar solo is a nice blues-based melodic segment. What is the story behind the song?
The title “Words Are Loaded Guns” is a citation of the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre. For me, it means that people don’t need real guns, or any violence at all, to change the system they are living in, or at least to force the current leaders to resign. We had the so called “peaceful revolution” in Germany in 1989 where the people in the streets peacefully protested against the socialist system of the German Democratic Republic, and the system collapsed with not even one shot out of a gun. This is one aspect of it. The other thing about it is what we are experiencing with leaders today who try to cut the rights of the free press, calling them “fake news”, knowing, fearing, and using that in fact “Words are loaded guns”.
After the midpaced song “Words Are Loaded Guns”, you respond with a faster tune called “Pirates in Black”. When you all formed the band, what did you imagine that Pirates in Black would be as a sound? Pirates are outlaws. Do you feel like you are outlaws playing music that goes against the grain in Germany? I do not know what music is popular in Germany! I don’t know if Rammstein is big or if bands with growled vocals are popular.
Rammstein is big in Germany (although I think they are beyond their peak in terms of sound and songs). Growling is very popular in the German metal scene. But there are a bunch of other great bands in Germany, too. Listen to Twenty Dark Seven, for example. Great heavy rock straight into your face. Or The New Black. Great bands, no growling, just ROCK!
Are we outlaws? Well, in a certain way I think we are. We describe our sound as “Merciless. Lawless. Heavy. Rock.” And that is in fact how we mean it. We don’t care if anybody else does not like the groove, the style, the rhythm. We really give a sh*t about genres, especially into which genre we might – or might not – fit in. What really drives us is to play music we like, together with persons we like, in front of people, who have fun. We are wearing pirate costumes on stage. We are posting funny things on social media, speaking in a pirate way, arrrrrr!!!! Some so called “professional musicians” do not like that. But we have fun with it. And so have our fans. That’s the only thing that is important for us. I mean, if you go to a rock show, what do you expect? You want to be entertained! You want to have a great evening. You want to sing out loud! Bang your head! You want to see crazy people on stage who give everything! You don’t want to see our next door neighbor. You don’t want to go home later and think, “well, next time I’ll stay at home and watch TV instead of going to that pirate show again.”
In the end it is all about having fun, destroying our ears, pushing up the amps, and rock. Is there a business in it? We don’t know. With rules to be obeyed? We don’t care. We are pirates!!!! Harrrharrrharrr!!!
Is there one general theme in all the songs or are they separate stories? For instance, the song “All Alone” (a cool mitempo song that becomes a rocking uptempo tune). Are the lyrics based on personal experiences or is it a story about somebody else, not necessarily about you?
There is no general theme shared by all the songs. Not so far. To tell the truth, I really love those concept albums, for example Queensryche’s “Operation Mindcrime” or even “The Wall” from Pink Floyd. And (for me, personally) it would be great to set up something like this in the future. If this ever happens, I don’t know.
Concerning the songs of the PIRATES IN BLACK I can tell you that I like to sing about things that move me. “All alone” is a song about homeless people living in the streets. I have never experienced that on my own, although I used to play guitar as a street musician for a couple of a while. That’s not the same thing. But you get in contact, and you learn about those things, as long as you are open minded and keep your feet on the ground.
Is there anything in particular happening in Germany that has made you write lyrics about it?
I’m not so much focused on what is happening in Germany particularly. But of course I listen to the news. I keep myself informed. I am interested in politics and in all the other things happening in Germany, in Europe, all over the world. As I said before, I like to sing about things that move me. Our Song “Eternal Blood” for example is dealing with terror caused by religious fanaticism. Another song, “Omerta”, is a story about politicians who have their own hidden agenda and use their power only to become richer and richer, “raping your society”. But in the end we are not a political band. I’m convinced that most of our fans like us because of the music, not because of the lyrics – and we feel great with that. Otherwise we might have called us the “Bob Dylans” or so ... but wait a minute, maybe we should name our pirate ship “The Black Spirit of Joan Baez”? Harrrharrrharrr!!!!
Coming back to the music. Now your recording is finished, what do you think about the guitar sound on it? Are you pleased with how it sounds? It has a classic-style heavy metal guitar tone, but it is also chunky, heavy. It’s both classic-style but more modern. Do you feel like that is what you wanted?
YES!!!! That is exactly what we wanted it to sound like. A little tiny bit of Black Sabbath. A small amount of Zakk Wylde. On top a pinch of Judas Priest. Some plundering here. Some stealing there. There you have the pirate sound! :-)
More seriously we recorded the DI-signals of our guitars and sent them through a great ENGL-Plugin at Peter’s studio. A little bit of playing around with them knobs and there you go. Hail to the inventors of digital recording technology!!!!
Given that you love the classics, do you ever wonder if recording in the analog ways would be possible?
If you are speaking about using tape as a recording medium I would say no. Those times are gone. But in means of putting down the tunes live without (too much) overdubbing, well, as long as you go for just a few songs (three or four), that would be an interesting (though demanding) way to go at least as you are a (more) semi (than) professional band as we are. It is technically demanding but not too difficult. You would need good equipment, a good location, and a sound engineer who knows how the things are done. I’m sure that the result would be great as long as we would take our time until we nailed down the songs REALLY good! The main disadvantage would be the studio time you have to pay for. We do not expect to make very much money (if any) with our music. We just want to have fun. And we want to produce the best sound possible keeping in mind our limited financial capacities. So if Napalm Records told us tomorrow “There you go with 100.000 bucks you bloody Pirates! Go and make another record!” we would be more than happy to record it live. Since this will probably never ever happen we stick to our home recording tools, DI-signals, Midi-Drums, and save our money for pirate costumes, rum barrels, and guitar strings.
What is the current situation for touring? How can fans support your band directly?
We are really looking forward to do some more shows this year. We will be on stage in May in Haan which is quite near to Wuppertal. We will take part in the region final of the SPH Bandcontest in Bochum in September. There will be a show in Wilhelmshaven at the northern shore of Germany later this year. And there are still some more options for us. Plans for 2020 are to be part of some bigger open-air festivals in Germany or in surrounding countries in Europe.
Fans are welcome to support us by buying pirate shirts or songs via our website. It is also possible to buy our songs via Bandcamp. And once our album had been released we will offer our songs on iTunes and Amazon as well. But – of course – if you like our music and you are out for a digital download or a physical CD, we are more than happy if you choose our own website for that despite of one of the big players who are going to keep a substantial share for themselves.