Van Canto – interview with Stefan

Van Canto - Dawn of the BraveWith their new release (Dawn of the Brave) imminent, I had the chance to fire a few random questions at Van Canto. Stefan took the time to reply…

Probably a question you’ve been asked many times before… but what gave you the inspiration to form a predominantly vocal rock/metal act?

Yes, we heard this question before haha. After the split of my former metal band I wanted to do something vocal oriented. We just tried some things in my studio and then it turned out to be the world¹s first metal a cappella band.

It was the cover of “Battery” that really caught people’s attention on your first album. Has it been a problem getting fans to recognise your original work? Do you get more requests for covers than originals?

We are told very often, that the covers are the reason people get to know Van Canto and our own songs are the reason why they stick with the band.

Is the recording of “Battery” on Tribe of Force a remastered version of that on A Storm To Come or a complete new recording?

We don’t have “Battery” on Tribe of Force. “Battery” is on A Storm to Come, on Tribe of Force it is “Master of Puppets“.

[And, yes, I know I could have removed this but I screwed up and Stefan took the time to point it out! In my defence I was writing the questions at around 2am…]

How do you choose which tracks to cover? Are they just favourites, or do you select ones which will work best?

We have to like them to perform them well and to keep up with the original lead singers. So yes and yes, these are our favourites and that’s why they work best.

How much work is put into getting Ross, Stefan and Ingo’s vocals to sound similar to the instruments they’re “replacing”? Do they tend to have the same tone throughout an album, or vary a lot from song to song… or even within a song? And how do you manage this in a live performance?

To be honest, since we’ve been doing this for years now, it just feels natural to us. We do not think that much anymore, we just sing, as we developed our own sound through the years.

Van Canto
Van Canto

How many of the band, if any, are trained vocalists or musicians of any description? Some of the rhythmic vocals (the “rakkatakka”) sound like some warm-up sounds a friend of mine showed me when she was practising her oboe!

Interesting, I’ve never heard that, perhaps because I do not know any oboe players, haha. We have all been lead or background singers in our former bands, so we knew what a singer does. The rest was learning by doing.

You’ve had a few guest vocalists (and guested yourselves) ­ is there anyone in particular you really wish you could have singing on one of your songs? Or, for that matter, joining Bastian on drums?

Hmmm. Every bandmember would name different names, I’d put Eric Adams on first place on my list.

What was all the fuss with Spotify? Your catalogue was removed and reinstated twice. Was this a label decision or one you yourselves made? What are your views on Spotify and other streaming services?

This is up to the label. Personally my view on streaming services is that I do not use it. If I like what a band or an artist does, I want to own a physical copy of his album. Perhaps I am old fashioned but that’s how it is.

The album’s out in the next week or so (as I type this), then you have a series of live dates over two months. Any thoughts as to what you’ll be doing afterwards? Festival appearances, chilling out, flying to Glasgow for a surprise show…? ;)

As I type this, it’s the release day of the album in Germany. First we will do the tour, then some selected festival appearances. After that we’ll decide what to do next. Chilling sound good, Glasgow as well ;-)

Incidentally, I love the idea your fan club had for getting fans to the Cologne gig. The only UK date is London which I know will disappoint a lot of people (but understand the issues with costs, bookings, venues, agents and so on). Any hints for those who want to enter for the big prize?

Record a video why you should win, upload it, sent the link to  and go for it!

[NOTE: info on the competition is available here – you still have time to enter!]

Would you ever consider using an instrument other than the drums in a Van Canto recording? Or would this be heresy and should I be burned at the stake for mentioning it?

No, we are quite relaxed concerning new ideas ;-) We already worked with an orchestra twice and also did a ballad together with Marcus from Blind
Guardian on acoustic guitar. The current album is just pure a cappella, let’s see what comes next.

Whose idea was the superhero motif throughout the new album publicity? Brilliant stuff!

We call ourselves Hero Metal A Cappella, so it was a logical thing to use the superhero thing throughout the album.

And just to confirm… the “guitar tuning” at the start of the “Badaboom!” video is all vocal work?

Yes it is. Cool that you are asking, mission accomplished, haha.

Thanks for your time and best of luck with Dawn of the Brave!

Thanks for your interest in Van Canto!

[As ever, thanks to Andy at Napalm for organising the interview and passing the emails around]

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