Interview Heaven Shall Burn: Maik Weichert

Artiest: Heaven Shall Burn

Geïnterviewde: Maik Weichert

Interview afgenomen op: Fortarock 2013

Label: Century Media Records

De melodic metalcoreband Heaven Shall Burn stond op het programma van het Nijmeegse festival Fortarock. Gitarist Maik Weichert stond ons te woord. Zodoende gebeurde het volgende.

First of all, thank you for doing this interview with Festivalblog. It’s a honor for me to meet someone from Heaven Shall Burn, so thanks a lot!

No problem!

Well, now for the real questions! How was the show today?

It was a quite special show, because we couldn’t rehearse yesterday. So we went on stage without rehearsing for like 3 or 4 weeks that we didn’t rehearse together. Something like that! So we were like kinda nervous, but I think it worked out. People had fun, we had a few sloppy moments here and there. But anyway, it was fun, because playing at such a big festival in the Netherlands is the first time for us. Usually we play in Benelux, like the bigger festivals in Belgium and not in the Netherlands. We didn’t really know what to expect if the ‘moffen’ come to the Netherlands (laughs, on the background Eric Bischoff (bass) laughs too). It’s quite hard to play in a band sometimes, but it was really, really cool and there were a lot of German kids here. From what I saw from the stage, people also had fun, so it was a cool show!

Well, good answer! Can you tell me something about the history of Heaven Shall Burn? How did it all begin?

We were just like 5 friends and we started playing music. Then we met the other guys on shows and in the scene and we just rehearsed together. It’s how every hobbyband starts, really nothing special and we are still going on. It’s really nothing spectacular, in those days there were no adds or magazines or anything like that. We were just 5 friends playing together and we are still like that. We can find a better guitarplayer like me or a better bassplayer like Eric or a better drumplayer like Matthias for a show, or something like that, but that wouldn’t be the same, you know. So we are just going together, not anything else!

Okay, different one then. You evolved so much in the past few years. What was the inspiration to become a band like what you are now?

Actually it was more the urge to play music, ‘being a band’ is nothing that we were aware of in the past. ‘Being a band’ means like people see you as an act or something like that, but that wasn’t how we are looked at it in the past. We were just kids that wanted to say our political opinion, so we started out in the hardcore scene, but we were metalkids and we were just stupid to play guitar, so we’ve came to play some weird metalcore (laughs, Eric Bisschoff (bass) laughs too). And yeah,… that’s it! We’ve never wanted to be like a band where people were looking up to or like an act or something. We just wanted to play music! 

How does that feel for you that there are so many people out there that look up to the music and lyrics of Heaven Shall Burn?

(surprised) Well, it’s still unreal! Sometimes you fly like 12 hours, you get out of the plane, go in the club and there are like a 1000 kids screaming your lyrics. That’s so unreal, but then again so cool! It really gives you shivers, but the band isn’t the main thing in our life. We still have our jobs like university stuff and everything. So, it’s a big part of our lives, but it’s nothing to the thing that defines ourselves. Our singer is not the singer of Heaven Shall Burn and nothing else, no.. he is also a good volleyball player in his team, a good nurse in his hospital and I am a lawyer in the Germany University. So there is also other stuff that we do as well! We don’t feel as ‘a band’ like if you look at the Airbourne-guys, they live it every day and every second. That is their life and that’s not what we do.

Don’t you want to be like that or?

I mean, just rock ‘n roll is for really passionate people, and we are very passionate, but maybe we are not stupid enough to just play rock ‘n roll. I think it’s really cool to have a life beside Heaven Shall Burn, that really makes you a lot happier! (smiles)

Well, another thing is that you brought a new album out called ‘Veto’. Why did you call it ‘Veto’?

Oh, that was really funny! (smiles) We wanted to have a name of a novel that is released in Germany and that’s how we came up with ‘Veto’. So that’s how simple it is.

So it doesn’t relate to the album?

It does, it does, on the artwork and stuff. After we had that name more and more ideas came up, so that’s how the album came to stand.

Well, how did you came up with the artwork for ‘Veto’? It’s really one of the most beautiful covers from all the albums of Heaven Shall Burn.

Yeah, it’s a painting. We just saw it and when I wrote something about the city of Coventry in England and there was a very famous gallery. I saw some pictures that were exhibited there and I saw that picture. It just fitted, you know? I saw it and it was like: "Bam, there it is. That should be the cover of our new album". The other guys liked it too.

Can you describe the similarities and the differences between ‘Veto’ and the previous releases?

Yes, there are a lot of similarities, I guess. I mean, after 20 seconds you can hear that the same band is playing (smiles). We didn’t change our style that much, but we were a lot of pickier in the studio. We put a lot more effort in it and play more accurate, more transpirant sounds and I guess that’s the most conscience difference that we brought into it. After listening to the record at some distance, I would say it’s more melodic then the previous one, but I guess it’s a follow-up. So I would say there’s not a really big difference, it’s just a band that is grown up. So that is maybe the difference.

Heaven Shall Burn did many covers in the years that went by. How did you came up to cover ‘Valhalla’ from the band Blind Guardian?

Oh, we wanted to do something special and nowadays bands are covering like Katie Perry and Justin Timberlake and all that stuff and they think that’s really cool, but we wanted to do something really traditional. We were always fans of Blind Guardian, especially our singer is a great fan of them. So yes, we gave it a try and it was so much fun playing that song that we wanted to be it on the record. But we were kinda afraid of ‘the true metalpolice’ in Germany (laughs), because they can be very harsh. So then we called the singer of Blind Guardian (Hansi Kürsch) and we asked if he was interested to sing it on our record as well. That was one of the coolest things that happened, ‘cause he was really into it and he wanted to help us out. We were really nervous, you know, ‘cause he was one of the roots in my childhood. They were very professional and very friendly guys.

Maybe this is something related to the last question, but do you have any influences of other bands in your music or lyrics?

Yeah, of course! The main part of the band is a mixture of all the influences we have. We are not creating something really new like Mastodon or Rammstein did. Heaven Shall Burn sounds like Heaven Shall Burn, because we like At The Gates, Earth Crisis, Kreator and all of that. That’s the mixture. Maybe it’s something special because we have so many influences and not just in one direction.

Hmmm. Good answer. Can you tell me something about the best and worst things that happened through the years of Heaven Shall Burn?

Well, the best thing is always if you finish the record and if people like it, you know. Lyricwise it’s special if the people talk about the album, listen to the album and give feedback on it. That is for if you write something that it really means something to the public. That is really special. And the really strangest thing that happened is that the German press really got confused about the song ‘Hunters Will Be Hunted’. They were like covering it with ‘they want to murder hunters’ and stuff like that (laughs). It was great advertisement for us and it brought us really high in the charts, but that was really strange that people can misunderstand lyrics like that.

Crazy people! Well, if you would do a split-album again, with which band would you do it and can you explain why?

Ah, there are a bunch of bands were we would love to have a split-album with. Like with Rammstein (laughs). Yeah, because we are really like big fans of them. They started around our area and we played our first shows there where Rammstein played and we still saw them playing small clubshows for like 100 people. It’s impressive and they deserve the grand success that they are having and that’s why we love that band so much. Maybe a third split-album with Caliban would be a logic thing and that’s a thing that we are always talking about. But for now, schedules didn’t match, but I am pretty sure that we have that one day.

How did you came up with Caliban? Were you friends before or it is something for touring with them…?

No, that was in the very beginning when Caliban still was a demo-band and we didn’t have a demotape. In the beginning the German metalcorescene was really small. We still are really good friends today.

What does metalcore mean for you in these days? Did it change throughout the years that you’ve played with Heaven Shall Burn?

Yeah, like when I started out, metalcore was to me like Liar, Congress and all the great bands, you know. And nowadays it has no meaning to me anymore. I just find it under modern metal, you know. That’s not what I call metalcore. Metalcore was for me like All Out War and all of that. Maybe in the positive way Killswitch Engage and these bands are metalcore, you know. It’s like the metalcore-blueprint. I wouldn’t consider Bullet For My Valentine for metalcore, that is modern metal.

Maybe this is a personal question, but you have any tattoos?

No, I really don’t have one.


No (laughs).

But all the other members have tattoos?

Except for me everyone has tattoos. (laughs)

Well, that’s fucked for this interview.

(laughs) No, I think that I’m very special for not having one. Everyone’s is talking to me like "Why don’t you have tattoos?" I don’t know. I thought about it back in the days, but nowadays people that work in a back or assurance company have tattoos covered over there whole body. If people need to choose about to express on things or mark points in their lives, that’s okay for them, but that’s nothing special for me.

Okay. Different question then. Can you describe Heaven Shall Burn in 3 words?

3 words? Euhm. ‘One-shortening’ (which is D.I.Y. (do it yourself). The second word would be ‘Passionate’ and the third word would be a third expression and that would be ‘down to earth’, yeah. That’s how I would like to see Heaven Shall Burn, so if we are still ‘down to earth -people then it’s good! (laughs)

Well, what’s the strangest thing that ever happened to you and the band when you were on tour?

Oeh, that would be like another half hour of talking, ‘cause touring is strange! One thing that I remember and that I always tell is that we were on tour in South America with As I Lay Dying and we wanted to enter Venezuela, our VISA’s got denied and we had to wait like 8 hours somewhere in some transit kind of thing and there was like a huge poster of Hugo Chávez. But it was really scary, like the poster was looking at you like this all the time (Maik shows his eyes like huge eyeballs staring at you) (laughs). And it was smiling at you like in "Why don’t you like us?" (laughs). I guess there was some issue because As I Lay Dying is an American band and you know. So that was really strange, because they wanted to send us back to Columbia and that we could fly back to Germany.

Is there a strange thing or present that a fan ever gave too you?

No! (really surprised!) If you are a girl in a metalband, then you would get strange presents, but as a male guitarist in a metalband, no. Only cute presents like posters, photos or handmade sculptures, but that’s not strange.

Okay. Hmm, will Heaven Shall Burn come back to Belgium in 2013?

Yeah, yeah!

Yeah, I know that you will play in Antwerp in the Trix on November 22nd.

Yes! (laughs). We are also playing Graspop this year. And then the clubshow what you were saying. I guess that will be it for 2013, but we are always coming back to Belgium.

So, what’s the thing that you like about Belgium?

Well, I really like that they have really good vegan burgers in Belgium, ‘cause in frying stuff Belgium is not the number one. And there’s that really good chocolate called ‘Godiva’, but I can not eat it ‘cause I’m vegan, but I always give it too my mother and she loves it. Back in the days that I was a kid I remembered that there were really good Belgium football teams as well. My father was always talking about the ‘Red Devils’ and all that stuff. Sadly enough I hope that it will be coming back again. If I talk about Belgium, I usually talk about the Flemish speaking part of Belgium, the Wallonian part is nothing that I can connect to. Hopefully next time they will have a faster government! (laughs).

Can I ask you a personal question?

Yeah sure.

How did you became a vegan? Beause I know that 3 of the members are vegan?

Yes, 3. But one was vegan and is now vegetarian. Drop-out! Fuck it, no but euhm.. (laughs). I became vegan like 18 years ago. I started out like being a vegetarian and if you think about it, it has lots of consequences. And that’s what I loved about Belgium back in the days. Going to Belgium for all the Alpro-stuff, it was like pure gold if you brought it home. Nowadays you can buy it everywhere, but that was really something special.

Well, thank you for the interview! It was really a great honor to have this interview with you!

Thank you too and I hope to see you once more!