True German heavy metal master's talk about their genuine 'Force Of Destruction'
Paragon are a real, true heavy metal band from Northern Germany and whom have been releasing albums for many years. Their recent release ‘Force of Destruction’ is a perfect album for true heavy metal heads, fist raising, headbanging reminiscent of great artists like Accept and Judas Priest. Brutalism was really blown away by this remarkable album, hence when we spoke with Jan Bünning (bassist and backing vocals), we found out some background relating to this true heavy metal masterpiece.
‘Force of Destruction’ is an amazing metal release; you must be pleased with the result and the great response so far?
Yes of course we are very pleased with all the positive feedback. I hope we sell as much albums so we will get rich ha ha. Just kidding. To be honest it´s an amazing feeling that the album is received so well as we put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into the making and it´s great to get it back in some way.
Is/was there a set formula you wanted to follow when writing and recording the album?
After the last two weaker albums "FoD" was more or less an "do or die" album. In my opinion "Revenge" and "Law Of The Blade" are our strongest albums and when Wolle and I met and recorded demos we always had that in mind. I guess "FoD" has the best of both records and even some new influences from our new guitar players Jan and Wolle.
What (if anything) was different to say the recording of ‘Screenslaves’ or ‘Forgotten Prophecies’?
I can´t say too much about the recordings of "Screenslaves" as I was not in the band at that time. I think the sound of "Screenslaves" is ok concurring the quality of the recordings, but it´s a not really a sound that fits to Paragon. The songs are also ok and we still play songs format he album like "Hellgore" and "Screenslaves" but it´s not our strongest album. The recordings of "Forgotten Prophecies" were really awful. The two guys who "produced" the album never ever recorded a professional band before and had no idea how to do it. I hate the sound of "Forgotten Prohphecies" but there are some really strong songs on it and I don´t want to start thinking about how good it could have been with someone like Piet producing it. The recordings with Piet (Sielck) this time were really easy. He was much more laid back than in the past and I don´t know why but we even needed less time than on our previous recordings with him. Maybe because we had made whole pre-production with demos of our songs. In the past Piet was much stricter e.g. about playing every note 100% perfect but this time he was more relaxed and of course we are also better players today as in the past. That´s maybe why the new albums also sounds more natural and organic that our previous "Piet-albums".
What did Piet Sielck bring to the Paragon sound? ‘Force of Destruction’ is very in your face, powerful and sounds really good.
Piet has the same taste in music as we have e.g. he’s into Judas Priest and Accept. So he knows exactly what kind of sound we want. Besides that he has a very special way of recording guitars and backing vocals. Our aim was to get the chainsaw guitars from "Law Of The Blade" (Brutalism: Paragon’s 5th album from 2002) and the full bass and drums from "Revenge" (Brutalism: 7th album from 2005) and I think we are very close to that. If you work with a producer he often changes a lot of song structures because he´s is more objective about the songs but this time most of the songs stayed like they are except for some minor details here and there.
How long was the recording process?
The recording didn´t take too long. Two days drums, two days bass, two days rhythm guitars, two or three days leads and overdubs, one day for backing vocals and five days lead vocals. But as I said we did a whole pre-production so we were well prepared. And of course you have to add editing and mixing. But that was all done by Piet.
What is the concept behind the artwork and who did this? It would actually make rather a cool tattoo!
In a way it´s a new area for Paragon as we have a new line-up, a new label and we didn´t release a new album the last few years. So when I spoke to Dirk Illing about a year before we went into the studio I told him we want some kind of re-launch of our old logo and artwork and also something graphic. We worked with him on three previous releases and he already has done artwork for Running Wild, Scorpions and the whole Wacken Festival. When I called him this year just after the recordings had started he was already finished with the artwork. It was a real surprise because he is always busy with all that Wacken stuff but we really LOVE the artwork. The best work he has done so far.
Sure it´s a cool tattoo and I guess I will have to find a spot where my tattoo artist can place it.
This is your first release for Napalm, why did you sign with Napalm records?
It was a do or die record as we recorded everything before we were shopping for a record deal. When everything was finished we send out the CD with the whole album to about eight bigger labels and four of them wanted to sign us. But our favourite was Napalm from the beginning as they are the most growing Metal label at present, they have a worldwide distribution and they don´t only have classic Metal bands and so we are not only one of let´s say 50 bands but one of four or five.
Apart from ‘Force of Destruction’, do you have a Paragon album that you consider to be as close to the high standard you have set; i.e. do you have a favourite from your discography?
When we wrote the songs for "FoD" we thought which albums are our strongest albums. Looking back we think "Law of the Blade" and "Revenge" are in our opinion the strongest, because both have a lot of great songs and a killer sound. "Revenge" sold the most of our albums so far and "Law of the Blade" is still the favourite of our fans.
Will Paragon be touring in support of this release this/next year?
We hope to. Nothing is set yet but of course we try to do a support tour for a bigger band and also festival appearances.
You played at the first four Headbangers Open Air events, and twice more since, are you close to the promoters? What are your impressions of the development of such events? They are very popular in Europe.
I don´t remember the exact number but we played the HOA more often than three times (maybe five or six?). The festival is very small (2000 people), not to far away from Hamburg and of course we know the promoters. One of them used to run the famous "Headbanger´s Ballroom" and so we met a lot of times because we were regular guests. We also played a lot of other bigger festivals like Wacken, Sweden Rock, Bang Your Head, Keep It True etc. but as a guest I still love the HOA most because most of the visitors are still real Metalheads and not only there to party and drink beer.
With the previous question in mind, how do German promoters manage to achieve great bands (within classic metal genres) and great crowds year after year with minimal pricing? It is certainly not the case in the UK where I am based!
Hard to say, but in many cases bands do not get paid for playing at a festival or better they only pay the bigger bands. I don´t think that is a fair thing because without bands there would be any festivals!
Since your career began, what changes have you seen within the music industry, the actual studio recording experience, touring, band marketing (internet) etc….and do you think the changes are for better or for worse?
There are of course a lot of changes, for the worse and for the good. Of course it not really great that everybody can download your album for free at many places on the internet, e.g. Maybe the people don´t realize it but making a quality album costs money. If nobody buys our albums we will not be able to go to Piet (Brutalism: their producer) anymore in the future and maybe have to record all ourselves. I don´t hope that will happen but of course every band has sold more albums in the past. On the other hand you can of course get more popular because everybody can listen to your stuff all over the world, so maybe more people will come to your shows. There are always two sides of the coin. So the changes are both good and bad.
You have previously covered Overkill, been involved in Helloween and Tankard tribute albums; now on the digipack release you have Accept’s (‘Son of a Bitch’). Why this track?
In a lot of reviews people write that we sound like this German band or that German band. But in fact the only German band which influenced us is Accept. So doing an Accept tribute was overdue. It´s also a kind of statement. After Martin left the band many people, especially here in Hamburg, thought that we are dead and "SOAB" is like the middle finger to them. (Brutalism: I like that!)
Does the band have any other interests outside of Paragon?
Of course we spent a lot of time with Paragon but two of our band members even have kids and of course other hobbies. Wolle and Chris most times play music but Jan Bertram has his own company, Buschi reads a lot of books and I am into movies, books, sports and I am also very interested in photography. You can check out some of my works on my Facebook page.
Finally, may I congratulate you on ‘Force of Destruction’, it is one of the highlights of the year, and I hope to see you on the road.
Thank you for letting me do this interview and I hope people who are into classic Heavy Metal like Priest and Accept will check out "Force Of Destruction".