I spoke to Georg Neuhauser and Thomas Buchberger from Serenity in their dressing room before their headline show at the Underworld in Camden, London on 25th March 2012. Pythia singer Emily Ovenden who was also in the dressing room and who I know well, joined in at times with a few comments starting moments after I walked into the dressing room.
Emily: Don't tell him anything, he's a troublemaker !
Festivalphoto: Your current album, Death and Legacy came out last year. How has the album been going down with fans?
Georg: First of all, the reactions were great. To be honest we were really a bit surpised that the reactions were that great, because when you release a new album you never know how fans will react to it, but it worked fine and we really were lucky to be able to tour with Delain afterwards with this album because especially for the guest appearance of Charlotte the female singer in Delain, you know the attraction was quite huge just about this guest track. So yes I think we're satisfied so far.
Thomas: Everything worked out well.
Festivalphoto: The album has a concept or theme with the songs being about notable figures from Europes history. Where did the idea come from to choose that theme?
Thomas: The idea came from Georg our singer beause he has studied history and geography so there was a natural interest into these themes and as I and Mario (our keyboardist) who is part of the songwriting team and mainly does the lyrics, we immediately said yes it's a good idea, it's something different and we can make a whole concept for this band, so we had a look in a lot of books at background stories and picked out the most interesting figures out of history and that's basically it.
Festivalphoto: It must have been quite difficult to narrow down the choice of people to write songs about.
Thomas: Of course it is, but we from the very beginning said that this is something that can maybe last for a longer period of time and not only this one album. Right now we are already discussing what we are going to do next and so this historic thing will stay for quite some time I think
Festivalphoto: How many songs from the album do you include in your live shows?
Thomas: Good question, I think 5
Georg: Yes 5
Festivalphoto: So thats a good part of the set then.
Thomas: It's completely a mixture. At the moment there are sixteen or seventeen songs, and about five from each album
Festivalphoto: When it comes to recording with a female vocalist, do you have someone in mind early in the writing process or do you write the songs then decide who to get to sing them?
Thomas: That's not that easy to answer because sometimes...yeah it's always a little bit different. Sometimes we know somebody we've already asked to do guest vocals on the album then we try to make the song fit with their special voice. Other times we just write a song and then think what can we do with it, and maybe think ok this part would be great for female vocals, so it's always a little bit different.
Festivalphoto: You're currently doing a short tour in Europe including two dates in the UK. How has the tour gone so far?
Georg: We really were surprised at how many people were showing up at the shows, we really had no clue. It's our first try to headline Europe so in Switzerland and yesterday in Wales it was great and for us the very special thing is that there are so many people from the Netherlands, from Belgium, heading over the the UK just to see us playing for one and a half hours. You go on stage and have such a smile on your face because you know all the stress and everything was worth it just for this special moment.
Thomas: It's also a good indicator for the future for us because now we know we can do headlining tours especially with the next album done.
Festivalphoto: On the next UK tour are you likely to play a few more dates rather than just the two?
Thomas: Hopefully, hopefully. The thing was we just changed our booking agency, Twisted talent, Jörg Michael the former drummer from Stratovarius is our booking agent at the moment and he said, "right lets just try 2,3 or 4 headlining shows, I will just send some emails out and see how the response is and then we'll go for it, and if this works then I will have a base for the future", so thats the reason why there are only three dates this time, and next time for sure we'll do more shows, especially in the UK because we think the UK is a really great market for us as well.
Festivalphoto: It must help that you've played the UK before, including as part of the Out of the dark tour.
Thomas: Not only the out of the dark tour, the other tours we did before with Delain, Kamelot..
Thomas: With Threshold also. Each time we play we see people with shirts from Delain, from Threshold, Kamelot so we know that people know us from these tours, these support gigs and we know it was worth it and the plan worked out because we gained new fans.
Georg: There are so many bands out there that you have to tour with bigger names to attract new people.
Festivalphoto: What happened with Nemesea? They were announced as supporting you then they issued a statement saying they weren't.
Georg: The booking agency asked their management if they would be interested and they said yes, so the booking agency sent out the offer with Serenity, Pythia and Nemesea but then when dates were fixed, they told us that they are not able to play on these dates, this was the problem, but the promoters immediately sent out the whole package as the advertisement, so one day later I saw the first poster with the three bands listed and I wrote an email, "come on guys they are not a part of the tour", and thats the reason why they are not here.
Festivalphoto: You have Clementine Delauney as the guest vocalist on this tour. How do you decide who you want to work with on a tour?
Georg: Who is cheap and willing (laughing)
Emily: Who will go that extra mile.
Georg: The question is the first of all, the voice, it must fit to our music. Then optical wise it should fit to our stuff, so for instance we can't take a girl with us with a completely alternative outfit or punk girl, because it wouldnt fit. The most important thing besides that is the character, because sitting together in a small van like we do at the moment for this tour for 150Km
Thomas: All in all 3500 kilometres
Georg: Yes 3500 kilometres, you have to be able to get along together.
Festivalphoto: When you do a headline tour, how much input do you have into deciding who will be the support band?
Georg: On this tour I suggested Pythia and asked them if they would be interested because we know them since the Threshold tour, we played a show together here at the Garage, and Marc the drummer organised a special gig, I think it was last year..Emily was it last year?
Emily: No, the year before.
Georg: Marc organised this show in memory of his brother, a Queen tribute and he asked me to sing there, so we always stayed in contact and they were the first choice for this tour.
Festivalphoto: Did you get to watch any of their show last night?
Georg: Yes for sure.
Festivalphoto: We're they any good or were they rubbish as usual?
*at this point a few comments were made by Emily while everyone laughed*
Georg: The band was great, only the singer was a bit..
Emily: She was really crap
Georg: But she has great boobs so its fine.
*more laughter from Emily and the others plus shocked looks from Clementine*
Festivalphoto: Are you likely to be playing any European festivals this summer?
Thomas: It's not that easy for us this year as we really want to concentrate on the next big thing which will be the next album, its quite a long time ago now from the release of Death and Legacy, and our music, our style and the high production class we are aiming at now takes quite a lot of time, so we need to concentrate on that which is why we won't have that many gigs this year.
Festivalphoto: You have one date in the US later in the year. Are there any plans to add more dates while you're over there - it seems a long way to go for one festival appearance.
Thomas: No this will be exclusive, the promoter over there wanted that, because this festival is the biggest festival in the US for this type of music. Afterwards we'll play several shows in the Netherlands together with Delain, we will announce this tomorrow, then we have to make the new album then we'll be back on tour to headline Europe.
Georg: Wembley stadium
Thomas: Sure, sure (laughing)
Festivalphoto: That's great, thank you for your time.