Interview: Maik Weichert of Heaven Shall Burn

Heaven Shall Burn have recently released their brand new double album, Of Truth And Sacrifice, to excellent reactions from both critics and fans alike. Prior to the release, our senior editor got the opportunity to chat with guitarist Maik Weichert about the new album, organisations the band supports and his recent historical studies.

How do you feel the response has been to the songs you’ve released so far?

We are really happy with the feedback so far. Usually in the times of the internet, to me it seems that people giving negative feedback they feel a bit more content about things than people just saying “Wow, this is great!”. That being said, we’ve been really overwhelmed with the reactions of people saying it’s great.

We were really nervous about releasing a 30-minute double video, in particular in these times of social media with people’s short attention spans. It came out great however and the reception has been really positive for that. It’ll be interesting to see how the response will be for the rest of the album.

A part of the reason we did the double video was because we couldn’t decide what song to release first. The first track, “Protector”, is a classic song from us and has all the trademarks but isn’t much of a surprise. The second track, on the other hand, is much more of a surprise but would have been too much on it’s own. Therefore, by releasing both, we can showcase some more of the album and people can get a greater view of the album.

This album is also a double album. What made you decided to create a double album?

To be honest, the first thoughts were that we had so much good stuff and that people needed to hear everything. When we entered the studio, we felt that there’d be a creative explosion and then we pretty soon got the record title. With the two strong words and the amount of material, it became pretty clear to us that we’d be making a double album.

Was the process behind this album any different to previous ones?

We kinda had the same setup from an equipment and technical point of view, although we had different mastering process, but the mindset was totally different. We decided to take a break for 2 years and just focus on the record without any deadlines. That was a great kind of feeling which I guess led to this creative explosion which I mentioned earlier. It was really nice to have no worries and deadlines in your head, which meant we had time to breathe in the studio and more experiments. Had we not had the time, we would not have been able to do as much experimentation as we did.

What equipment do you typically use in terms of guitars, amplifiers and other things?

We used Ibanez guitars, but you know that when using this much distortion the guitar is not really the thing which is in question, it’s more the pickups and amps. This time around, I tried out the Bare Knuckle aftermath pickups which I was really surprised by. They delivered a really dirty and aggressive sound which we mixed with our Fishman fluence pickups through a Mesa Rectifier and a Engl powerball. We also recorded DI’s which allowed us to re-amp if we wanted to, but we ended up only using it on two tracks which we wanted more of a HM2 sound on.

What would you say was your main inspiration when it came to writing this album?

I’m from Thuringia which has a lot of forests and is quite beautiful. It was kind of strange where the creative explosion came from. When we decided to take the break and having nothing put pressure on us led to this explosion. It left so much space in our brains to create which was almost scary.

Dan Swanö has guested with you a few times in the past. Do you think there might be a collaboration in the future?

That would be absolutely great! Dan Swanö is one of my favourite musicians and producers ever and we almost ended up having him guest on this record. We had a part which we had which would have fitted his clean vocals and we almost asked him but then after we rearranged the part it wouldn’t have fitted. I’m certain that it will happen in the future.

It’s been mentioned in a few places that you guys support Sea Shepherd. What drew you guys to support it and are there any other organisations which you feel people should support more?

Back in the days when we played in the small venues and bars, we had lots of friends from punk and metal bands from Italy and one band’s singer served on the Sea Shepherd for ten years. One of our friends from Australia is now a captain on one of the ships as well so we’ve had a long connection and friendship with them. We really support them and fight the propaganda war for them.

We support smaller organisations as well including the local animal shelter and a local charity that helps children with cancer. It’s important to support both the NGO’s and local charities close to home. There should always be a mixture of both global and local.

What would you like to see less of in the music scene?

I would love to see less of the EP and single releases. Bands should just release albums and singles from that albums. We are bored of seeing bands releasing tracks just to get on the streaming playlists. We put out this double album as a statement that we don’t do that and want to have a fat chunk of music for people to digest. I’d love to see less of this splitting up of a records. A record should be a whole work of art.

What do you enjoy doing outside of playing/writing music?

I do like playing badminton and football or course. I do a lot of other sports and enjoy reading a lot. I also started studying again in cultural history. I have a PHD in law and it was always a dream of mine to study history which I really enjoy. Two weeks ago I wrote a paper about a flute made of bone which was 1000 years old which was really fun to research. It’s a very nice counterweight to the music. We won’t have a bone flute on the next record though!

Aside from the release of this new album, what are the bands plans for the next few months?

There will be definitely more dates than the previous two years and we’re super nervous about it. We’ve not done it for a while so it’ll be interesting to see how it goes. We have a few festival dates lined up and we’ll see how it lines up.

What’s a question you wish someone asked you?

It’s a difficult one with you being from the UK as right now in the state of Thuringia we’ve had a bad development with a right wing political party which I like being asked about. I really like talking about history and nerd talk about guitars but I don’t have that sort of dream question which I would answer in front of thousands of people.

What do you think of archives?

I’ve spent many many months in archives which has been really amazing. It’s crazy how much money is spent bringing these items to a digital form which some people might not be able to read in about 20 years or so.

Well, that’s my day job. I’m a digitisation technician.

Oh awesome! I’m really interesting in archive working and I’m doing an internship next year at the state archive in Thuringia which I’m really looking forward to. The history of the UK is really impressive and I wish I could spend a week at the archives of the British Museum. That would be so interesting and there’s so many other amazing archives. I still find it amazing that we’re allowed to handle these documents which are hundreds of years old!

Do you think there should be more focus on digital access or physical access?

That’s a tricky question. I think it’s absolutely necessary to give people access to certain papers digitally around the world but at the same time, more money should be spent on preservation of the original. If you had an old parchment from 1000 year ago which is in good condition that’s potentially more likely to be viewable than the digital copy. Restoration and preservation I think should be more of a focus.

Tea or coffee?

I prefer tea, but not the kind of tea in the UK. I drink more fruit teas with no caffeine as it makes my heart beat too fast. I really like peppermint and rosehip tea. I really love rosehip tea as it’s very nice and tastes very different to how you might expect.

Header and inset image by Candy Welz.

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