Void Estate by Michael “Sad Sir” Setzer
I still haven’t come up with a better explanation or description than “bad weather music”. Somehow this still fits after all these years. ‘Void Estate’ is a little more mellow and probably grumpy at the same time. This one turned out even different then we all expected, which I think is quite cool, since we kind of surprised ourselves as well. The songwriting process, this is something I can honestly not put my finger on. Sometimes we’re working on ideas that have been there for quite a long time, sometimes one of us comes up with something on the spot. If we all approve the ideas, they might end up on a record. This time most of the songs were done and written in Michelle’s Homestudio, which has been very nice because we’re feeling at home there. And there is good coffee (laughs).
Each one of us has at least a couple of interpretations. We probably never came that close to “art” (laughs). And I personally don’t necessarily see a void as something negative – especially compared to those moments when you’re not able to catch sleep because there’s too much swarming in your head. I don’t know, if we have important themes in our lyrics – we never said: let’s write a song about feeling alienated. Some of these things just happen on the way. It’s like writing off what’s on your mind. On ‘Void Estate’ there are probably more songs that deal with loss and tragedy because it is something we all experienced way more than we asked for. Actually, no one would ask for anything like that. It happens.
We’re more confident. It’s hard to judge or be reflective when you’re that close to the matter. We have always been bullheaded when it comes to our music. You can’t please everyone, that’s just not possible, at least not without sounding like crap. We figured out long ago that it’s hard enough struggling with our own expectations. I really think with ‘Void Estate’ we’ve come to the point where we are 100% free to do whatever we want, and we appreciate it. And this never had to do with the record label trying to control anything, they let us do whatever we want to, and they always have. I guess the difference is that we’re not questioning ourselves when we do something that feels right to us. For example it might be popular to cover an old 80s-tune, but we felt it’s way more “us” to cover ‘Crossroads’ by Calvin Russell.
Inspiration comes from everything that happens around us, everything that happens to us. It might even be a good movie or something we hear on the table next to us in a pub. We’ve never been storytellers – it’s more like capturing different moods, thoughts and fears. Damn, it’s hard to explain that without sounding like a pretentious art school guy or lame poet (laughs). Sometimes we soak up bad shit and turn it into music. And sometimes, which is my favourite thing to do, we’re turning our dark clouds into something creative. You know, when I feel really good, when I’m happy, having jolly great time, I usually hang out with friends. On the not so good days, I prefer being alone sitting at home thinking and playing the guitar – not with the intention of writing anything. Just because it makes me feel better while I ponder. Most of the times it sounds awful, sometimes it turns out to be a song.
Bad stuff is also very inspiring. No, metal has so many different faces nowadays, it’s easy to push those aspects aside that you’re not content with, and there’s still too much good stuff to listen to. There’s a lot of music that wasn’t made for my personal listening pleasure in the first place, it has always been that way, and it’s okay with me. I accept that (laughs). For me a band like Bolt Thrower has always been inspiring, you might not hear that in our music at all, it’s more of a “state of mind” or the way we handle “stuff”. If you ask 100 metalheads you’d probably get 110 different variations of what metal is supposed to be like. And the fun part is: each of them is absolutely right and horribly wrong at the same time. The stuff I am most certainly bored of in metal has been the same over the last 20 years at least: narrow-minded fucks. A perfect mixtape is made of great songs: Bolt Thrower, Dio, The National, Gang Starr, Melvins, Voivod, Dinosaur Jr, The Cure, Descendents, Tragedy, Gil Scott Heron, The Clash, Neu!, Napalm Death… I would not want to miss out on any of them. Oh, put Trouble on the list as well. See, there is so much great music, I refuse to waste my time on those that don’t make me, erm, wet. My most “metal” friends are those who appreciate music, not the way it is dressed.
Our guitar player Oliver “Kerker” Merkle came up with the artwork, as he always does. We’re very fortunate to have someone in the band, that has a way for music and for visual art. I mean, he’s able to translate what we do musically. We all took a look at the picture he came up with – and each one of us immediately had a different interpretation of what that would be. Sometimes, and this is the fun part, I would consider our music totally different, then I see Kerkers ideas for artwork and I realize: damn, this makes so much sense as well. Kerker also did the artworks for the singles, which is kind of sad: they look so good, we should release them on 7″, not just digitally.
Interview by Alex Milazzo – Copyright 2017 © Heavy Music Artwork. All rights reserved.