Text: Mirek Valenta, Miloš 'Headbanger' Tollar
Foto: Dirk Schelpmeier, Levente Kovacs
German power/heavy metal icons AXXIS celebrated 25 years since the release of their debut full-length album Kingdom Of The Night, and they celebrated it in a very special way – on the same day, 25 years later, the band has released a sequel to the album titled Kingdom Of The Night II. This anniversary was among other things we have discussed, and we of course asked about the tour, which had a very important leg in the Czech Republic.
Axxis have recently celebrated an important anniversary of February 28th, however, before we get to that, let's go back to the past. How was Axxis found in 1988?
Oh. Axxis was founded much earlier. In its origin the band's name was Anvil with a big anvil on stage which was used during their concerts. But because there was another band from Canada with that name the band changed the name to Axis with one 'X' (must have been around 1984) and later to Axxis (1988).
I couldn't find what 'Axxis' means. Sure I know what Axis with one 'x' is, but Axxis?
As I described in question one was the former name of the band Axis, where the wheels of our lifes turned around. But we have to rename it cause at that time there was already a band existing with that name. We had to make a decision between the name White Swan or Axxis. You know what happened.
Your debut album Kingdom Of The Night was released quite soon. How did you feel when the album became the best-selling debut?
We were totally surprised by that. The band came out of the practise room directly with a major deal with EMI into the market. A respectable result was what everybody expected but then it grew up to the best selling German debut album in hard rock ever. Unbelievable. By that big success we were able to get the support slot of the Black Sabbath tour in 1989. Absolutely amazing.
The album was released on February 28th 1989, which means it has been 25 years since the release and on February 28th 2014 you release your new debut Kingdom Of The Night II. Your fans know it's not a re-edition of the original music album but a full new album. This album will include some changes. Can you explain what the fundamental differences are?
We were really infected by the virus Kingdom Of The Night during the period of songwriting. We felt the same spirit and the same vibes as we did in 1989. But there are 25 years of experience in between it and a different line-up in the band and so the songs appear in a different way. Also the way of producing is different in the times today even we tried to take care to get a lots of old effects on tape.
Fans of harder metal will probably be most interested in disc number 1, which is marked as Black Edition. Can fans expect something similar like was your last music album Utopia, where you perfectly managed to blend heavy aggression, power metal dynamics and amazing melodies, or is it be more of a musical summary of those twenty-five years?
The Black Edition was written more for the fans of the period since the album Time Machine. This was all in all the reason to do two different CDs. We have a lot of fans who like Axxis as a power metal band and we didn't want to force them to buy both of the CD's. In that case you make the right decision with the Black Edition.
Of course, we can't miss the second album White Edition. What can fans expect from this 'softer' recording?
It contents the smoother and more rock oriented songs. More melodies and more ballads. The fans of the early Axxis decade – albums II or The Big Thrill – will love it.
I'm really curious about the song titled Mary Married A Monster, because it is on both albums, like Our Version and Her Version. Can you tell me the reason why the song is in the playlist?
In our private environment we had a case of domestic violence and for some reason we couldn't understand why the woman wasn't able to break out or to do something against that situation (Our Version) but always was trying to find the reasons for that she was responsible for the cruelty of her husband (Her Version).
Female vocals and sometimes German texts appeared in your recordings in the past. Can listeners expect something like this on the new album?
Female vocals have only a very very little spot in the song Venom. But not really. On the other hand we have a German song called Lass dich gehn on the Black Edition. It's a kind of love story.
The current line-up is fairly stable; the only new member is the drummer Dirk Brand. Of course, fans have already seen him. Are you happy with him in terms of studio work?
Yes absolutely. Dirk is a real pro. He studied drums, holds a chair for drums at the University of Münster, wrote different books about drumming and played with lots of famous people in the past (like Seal or A-ha).
If I'm not mistaken, he first appeared on the CD reDISCOvered (2012). Why did you decide to release this recording, which is very good and I prefer some of the songs in your presentation to the original. Do fans like it too?
Fans yes – the press not – but nobody understands the real reason for the release. We wanted reDISCOvered to be a warning. Because of so many illegal downloads there is so few money in the market that new bands only have a little chance to become famous and so only existing material by already known artists will be rereleased on and on in different forms. If this trend is going on even Axxis will come to an end or be forced to play only covers cause there is no time left (because of less money) to create something new.
You introduced the new album at a tour. Was it successful?
We already played it. It started in Germany on the 26th of March. It has been our most successful tour in many years. After that we've appeared on many festivals like Masters Of Rock. In the autumn we will be flying to the Firefest in Nottingham (Great Britain) and before Christmas there are talks about Axxis playing with Unisonic in Southern Europe. And in the beginning of 2015 it looks like we will be doing a small tour of Poland and the Czech Republic after all.
You've played in the Czech Republic several times. How do you like Czech audience and can you compare it to the other countries?
Czech fans are very kind and very enthusiastic. I really like them and it's always a great thing to play in your country. You can compare it a little to the enthusiastic of countries in Southern Europe. But only a little. At the end – every country is special and we like Czech Republic very much – even more because our manager is coming from your country.
Do you have a favourite place or festival where you love to come back?
Yeah. Masters of Rock is great, so is W:O:A or Sweden Rock.
You must be used to playing to many people at mega festivals. Is it for you still as exciting as the beginning of your career after all these years?
Yes it is like it was. There is no change during all the years.
In 2012, I saw you in the club Zlín Masters Of Rock Café. I remember that you played with one selected fan on the stage. Do you do this during each concert?
Yes – this is part of our show. Bernie is picking up somebody of the audience and this person has to do something on stage. Playing Tambourine or drums or whatever.