ARVEN hail from Frankfurt, and is basically a female band but with one male member, Till Felden. He must be one of the luckiest guys in the world LOL. ‘Black Is The Colour’ is the band’s second album, and Massacre Records invited me to interview them for the second time in case any of you missed it the first time, so here it is with Till, their drummer!
Hi and best wishes from the UK. Can you tell us here at Ravenheart Music how you came together to form Arven?
Till: Hi thank you very much. It’s great to get interview requests from the Uk. Would be great to come over and play some live shows one day! Arven was formed back in 2006. Our guitarist Anastasia initially searched for other girls who had the passion and musical abilities to form an all-girl metal band after having played as the only girl in male-dominated metal bands for quite a while. She was quite successful but seemed to have problems in finding a female drummer who was good enough for the band. So that was my chance, hehe... By the end of the year the lineup was complete, only our bass player Lisa joined in 2009.
And can we be introduced to the members of the band?
Till: Anastasia is not only the founder but also the main songwriter in Arven. I think her greatest ability is to create fantastic ear catching but not too simple melodies. Ines is beside of playing electric guitar in Arven also a professional classical guitarist. So that’s great for the acoustic moments in our songs, which she can do very easily. It’s the same with Elena, our keyboard player, who is also a professional classical musician and a masterly piano player. Carina, our singer has a classical trained voice, which fits very well into our music. She is also responsible for the lyrics along with Anastasia. Despite of being the youngest band member our bass player Lisa does most of the organisational and managing stuff for the band. She just looks best through things. She and I together with Anastasia are the more metal-addicted part of Arven. But of course the others like Metal as well, just as we also like the classical and folk parts in our music!
Are any of you involved in any other musical projects?
Till: Of course - Ines and Elena as classical musicians often have solo-concerts or gigs with small classical combos. Carina and Ines also play musicals or perform on marriages, or something like that. I also play the drums in the local Thrash-/Deathmetal band Fallen Temple and in the Progressive Powermetal band Dreamreaver.
You are based in Frankfurt, what is the music scene like there?
Till: In Frankfurt and the surrounding a little smaller cities in the Rhein-Main-Area there are quite a lot of venues where you can see most of the touring rock- and metal bands, which is very cool. Unfortunately this also means that many fans don’t really appreciate a good underground concert, because of being so fed up. Sometimes as an unknown band you get bigger audiences somewhere in a small town in the countryside than in the big city of Frankfurt. Speaking of the Bands, we have some really great ones here. One of the bigger ones are the thrashers of Tankard – one of my favorites, but you should also check out bands like Beyond the Bridge, our rehearsal roommates Awaiting Dawn and of course my other bands, I mentioned before, hehe.
Can you tell us about 'Black Is The Colour' that to be honest I think is rather good?
Till: The first songs for Black Is The Colour were already written even before our previous album Music of Light was released. So we had some time to check them live and improve them over the last two years. Other songs like My Fall and The One For Me were written shortly before we went into the studio. Maybe these songs are a little bit more complex but surprisingly they work very well in the live situation as well. Musically you get highly melodic stuff, mostly played along with heavy guitars and drums, but also sometimes with classical or folk-influenced parts. I think in spite of breaking the boundaries of different genres like Power metal, Folk music, Gothic or Symphonic stuff even sometimes within one song, its always in a flow and you never get the feeling that the parts don’t fit together.
Regards the name of the album – how did you arrive at the title ‘Black Is The Colour’?
Till: Black Is The Colour is the name of a beautiful folksong, we once played at a special live open air show. When we searched for a name for the new record, we felt that the new stuff is much darker both lyric- and music wise than the last one. So we remembered that little folksong, because the title perfectly catches the vibe of the songs and is a great contrasting statement towards the last title Music of Light. When Massacre Records asked us to do some Bonus tracks for the limited edition of the new album, we took the chance and recorded that folksong in our own version. So that’s how the circle is closed.
Where did you record the CD and how was your overall experience in the studio?
Till: We recorded the album at the Basement Studio with Markus Teske, who is a real expert for the sound of symphonic- and power metal. You might have heard of his work for Vanden Plas, Mob Rules, Dominici or Symphony X. It was quite different than the last recordings, when we went to many different studios and worked with different people over a very long period of time. This time we did all the instruments within a few weeks in one studio. Only the vocal recordings lasted over several months, due to some time schedule problems. For me it was definitely the best studio time so far. Markus simply knows how to get the best performance out of you!
I know the album has not actually been released yet while I am writing this, but have you had any media feedback yet?
Till: Well it is released while I’m answering – sorry for the delay, hmhm. Mostly the feedback is very well, as far as I know. We even made it into the German album charts which came as a total surprise. There are some writers who don’t get along with our music not fitting in one genre, or who simply don’t like the musical style, we do. But you can’t satisfy every taste. I think music which tries to achieve that would be very boring. The most important thing is, that our fans like the new record. And we obviously even managed to convince some new fans, too!
And talking about media feedback, how was the first album ‘Music Of Light’ received?
Till: For a debut album it went very well. We did many interviews and got mostly excellent reviews, which helped us quite a lot to make the step from a completely unknown local band, who mostly played small gigs in the surrounding area and with the only real fans being friends and family to a higher level. Since then we have fans who attend nearly every show of us, and who we didn’t know before they showed up at our gigs.
And for those unfamiliar with your music, how would you describe it?
Till: As I mentioned before, it’s all about the melodies, but also the power and energy of metal and the emotions of dreamy or folky parts. Another characteristic element are the classical influenced female vocals of Carina.
Can I ask you a question Till? :) – what is it like mate to be in a band where all the other members are female?
Till: Well you’re not the first one to ask that question, hehe. Of course it’s great to play in a band with five beautiful girls. On stage, you always get to see some really nice backs instead of some sweaty guys... Sometimes on long journeys to the gig venues or even during rehearsals it can be hard when all these typical girl-themes are discussed. Then it’s usually time for me to grab a beer or turn on some music. But usually we get perfectly along. At least these girls are heavy metal musicians, so they must be cool!
With so many girls in the band, do you feel that some guys (possibly!) may only be interested in your music as you are mainly (with the one exception) a girl band?
Till: I don’t think so. Maybe it’s a bit easier for us to get the first attention of people. I think that’s also the reason why our record company likes the album artworks with the band pictures on the cover, hehe. But nobody will buy a cd only because of some band members being female, if the music is crappy. In the end the music is all that counts and that was the aim, right from the beginning. We want to be liked or disliked because of the quality of our music and not because of the gender of the members. Sometimes it is even harder to convince people of the music being seen as a girl-dominated band. Especially in the metal scene. We still get commentaries from time to time like: “I didn’t expect that from a band with five girls”. So if we do bad albums, some people immediately will see their prejudices proved true.
I always argue that the music should do all the talking and not how good looking the singer or any of the band members are (male or female), but at gigs, do you feel that you may to some guys be seen as sex objects rather than musicians?
Till: Well, luckily there were no offensive offers of any guys to me so far, hehe! So I can’t tell any stories. I know that the girls sometimes get invitations from fans for a date at a restaurant, or something like that. In cases like that they have to be a bit careful not to encourage the fan to further going actions. But we never had any serious problems with that. We always talk to our fans after the gigs, and mostly it’s about the music, the show or the future plans of the band. So I think they really like us because of that.
Changing the subject, how did the deal with Massacre Records come about?
Till: After having released a Demo-EP in 2008, we decided to risk a bigger step and record a full album which should have a professional studio sound. So in 2009 and 2010 we recorded the Music of Light album completely self-financed. We sent the finished, mastered record to some record labels and Massacre immediately answered and offered us the deal. Seemed to have turned out not too bad. So a few month later, Massacre released Music of Light as our first official studio record.
Do you have any personal faves on the new CD or indeed on the previous cd too?
Till: Maybe my favorite song on Black Is The Colour is the second tune Don’t look back. I like the variety and all those little things and melodies which can be explored. This song just never gets boring! But I also like the opener Believe and the instrumental Cercle d’Emeraude very much. It actually differs from time to time. On Music of Light, I choose Ruined Castle and Dark Red Desire. It’s always also a matter of how much fun it is to play the songs live!
If you yourselves had to sell your music to the music buying public, how would you do it?
Till: Usually people like comparisons to other bands, but this can easily lead on a wrong way. So I just try to describe it. If you like female fronted melodic metal, with heavy riffs, symphonic elements and folk influences but also highly emotional calmer parts, mixed into interesting but always fluently narrating songs, then you’ll be fine with Black Is The Colour!
Is Arven a full time project, or are there day jobs that pay those all important bills?
Till: We’ve always put much more of our money into the band than we’ve ever got out of it. So we all have our jobs to pay our (and partly even the bands) bills. Some of us are also studying at university on top of that. So unfortunately we can’t run the band 24/7 at the moment. It’s a great hobby and a great adventure and maybe sometime it will be more. It’s always getting better at the moment. We did a way better production for the new album and even did a music video for the opening track Believe. Two years ago, there would have been no way to afford that!
Who or what are your musical inspirations at the moment, and what/who do you listen to when you are chilling out or relaxing?
Till: I think musical inspiration comes not necessarily from one special artist. In my case, all the music I listen to has an impact on what I like to play on drums. Of course it always has to fit the actual song, but I need to put all the patterns in a way that I feel good with them. I listen to nearly all types of heavy music. Starting with Hard Rock from the 70s and 80s to Heavy- Power- or Progressive Metal, Thrash- Death- and Black metal, some folk- influenced Metal like Ensiferum and even some Punk rock here and there. But I also like classical music, especially opera, but unfortunately I didn’t make it to the opera house for quite a while, now.
And if you was given the choice to support a top named band, who would that band be and why?
Till: Well, it’s always good for the fans to have a package with bands who are not too far away from each other musically, so it wouldn’t be clever to choose a Death metal band – although we did that before, and it worked quite well. I choose Blind Guardian, one of my all-time favorite bands. They surely are one or two steps harder than us but I think it would fit nevertheless. We both have this little folk-affinity.
Many thanks for the interview and before we go, is there anything you would like to say to readers of the Ravenheart Music website?
Till: Thank you for reading this. I hope I could give some little insights what Arven is all about! If you got interested, watch our Video on Youtube or visit us on our homepage or on facebook! Hope to see you soon in the UK!
...and sorry for my bad english...
Dave Smith (Sep 13, 2013)