Interview: Steven Wussow of Xandria

Xandria - Fire & AshesMax was lucky enough to grab a little chat with Steven backstage at the Academy in London before their show with the mighty Powerwolf recently. Hey, we treat our new staff well!

So this is your first tour with Powerwolf I understand?

Yeah it is, we’ve actually done a couple of festivals together before, also we ran into each other on these festivals but now this is our first tour.

Any after-show shenanigans?

(laughs) No not yet, but on this tour yes not at the festivals, the usual partying (laughs)

I saw you got a new tour bus as well, that looks good.

Yeah, it had to leave because there is only room for one tour bus at this venue so we got dropped off here and went down to the parking lot.

How recently have you been able to use your buses?

It just depends you know, how many shows you play, how big the crew is that you take with you. So on this tour it made sense because we’re travelling together with Orden Organ in our bus, we have our crew with us, so it’s like 16 people on the road, then it makes sense. We have another 4 show block in October together in Germany so everybody comes in this van because it’s much cheaper. Next year in February we’re doing another headlining tour together with Serenity. It’s just a matter of taste you know, I like touring in a van because you have a hotel each day, a shower each day, here you just have to see what you get (laughs)

You’re going to China for the first time in December. What would it mean to Xandria to “make it” in the music world?

China is something we’ve been waiting for such a long time. We’re also doing two shows in Japan and one show in Taiwan which is yet to be published. This is something I’ve dreamed of since I was a little boy and all these records like Live in Budokan (Dream Theatre) or Raw Like Sushi (Mr Big) or Tokyo Tales (Blind Guardian) and you say “fuck this is where I want to go” much more than the U.S. for example. So this is a dream come true for us.

Is there anywhere else you’d be psyched to go to?

I have a little scratch off world map at home and there are still a few spots under this copper topping, something like Australia of course would be nice but this is very hard to get. We’ve been to exotic places like India this year, we’ve played in Dubai, South America, North America so we’ve almost made it around the world. If one day we ever had the chance to go to Australia it would be awesome.

And this is the first EP Xandria has done, isn’t it?

Yeah, by the time Napalm came to us with the idea of an EP between two full length albums we were like “this is a good idea” but then as we were talking about it we thought “hey why not” so we’ve done things we weren’t able to do on a full length album like the cover tunes or the remakes of the old songs and it’s so much fun you know, recording a song like Meat Loaf’s “I Would Do Anything For Love”.

Should the fans expect more EP’s? Or are you going to return to full length albums?

For us I guess it’s still full length albums because in our genre, people want to hear the whole CD with 60 minutes of music maybe some extra DVD, the big package stuff, yeah maybe some live songs as bonus material or whatever you know. In heavy metal, this power metal genre will want to have the full package, we’re no punk rock band that can release a 7 inch every now and then, people wouldn’t like it, it’s more the full length service to people.

Do you think on this EP you can still capture the power and energy you would have on a full length album?

Yeah, of course, sure. All the three new songs were actually for this record and they also give the direction in which the next full length album will go, it may be released the end of next year or early 2017. We’re already knee deep in the song writing. It just depends on when we can get in the studio. So you have all this in the direction you want to go in, this is, for me, a full Xandria release not only something that you can buy or cannot buy, if you want to have Xandria you’ve got to have this EP.

And this is your second piece with your new singer (Dianne) isn’t it? Do you think she’s fitting in now with the crew and the band?

Dianne was the missing piece of the puzzle you know, when I joined the band Manuela was still in the band so I got to know Manuela and yeah it worked out pretty well. For us there had never been the idea of a change but when she decided to step back and say “I don’t want to do it any more” and Dianne came in and we said “hey this is what we actually needed. This is what was missing without us knowing!”

She appears to be capturing the hearts of the fans

Yeah, yeah.

Was the 31st of July release a tactical one? Or did it just come around to be at the time?

Yes and no. A couple of years shoot was like we only release records in the Spring or in the Autumn so that you can promote your tours. Right now it’s just don’t release it right before Christmas, because then all the “Best of” and live albums are released, so a tactical release, no not really. We were doing some Summer festivals so we said “OK we want to have something to promote the summer festivals, then of course it has to be released before this Powerwolf tour because we want to do the new songs on tour.

Would you go as far to say there’s a secret to the sound that your records capture? Is there anything that sets them apart from standard albums that other bands release?

Well, this is a tough question (laughs). It’s us you know, it’s a very unique sound and the songwriting team never has changed that much since the reboot of the band you know, since Neverworld’s End we have Marco doing the songwriting and Joseph who played the keyboards on After Forever and was responsible for the classical arrangements. This is our songwriting team and has been for the last two records and the EP as well and it will also be the songwriting team that is working on the the next album that’s going to be out next year. So, secret? I wouldn’t call it a secret, it’s just us, we’ve found our unique sound and keep developing it. If people like it, we’re happy.

In your albums you’ve got a lot of orchestral voices and string parts, when you’re writing the hard material, how do you visualise where that’s going to go?

It is more or less in Marco’s head you know, when I record the albums I have only the drums, one guitar and my bass so I record the basic version for Xandria and then afterwards everything that is in Joseph’s and Marco’s heads flows down into the songs and at the end you’ll have this bombastic masterpiece.

Individually as musicians you’ll have your own inspirations but for Xandria as a whole are there any standout power metal acts that inspire you as a band?

I don’t think there are some standout power metal bands, it’s just that we’re all about the same age so we have the same influences like the classic metal bands from the 80s like Maiden, like Priest and the heartache bands of the 90s like Guns N Roses, we all have those influences then everyone likes soundtracks and musicals, cinematics, soundscapes etc. so if you put all this together you get the sound of Xandria out. And some modern touches, everyone likes up to date music like In Flames, Killswitch Engage, Fear Factory. You don’t necessarily hear that in the songs but yeah.

Have you got any solid plans for your next time in the UK?

Yeah we’re back here in the UK next February, we’ve got two shows here, one in Camden [and the other Steven couldn’t remember]. The tour dates are going to be published I guess next week or early October. This is a co-headlining tour we’re going to be doing with Serenity and we have another support band with us, so three bands this is going to be called something like “4 hours of Symphonic Metal”

Are there any future plans that can be spilt as of yet?

Yeah, despite everything we’ve talked about the tour in Asia, the tour next year in February, starting to record a new album next year, maybe over the summer we’ll see how the timetables fit together so that it’s going to be released next year in Autumn or early 2017, lets see what happens you know.

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