Melodic death metal band BURDEN OF GRIEF has been along for quite some time now. Albeit the members have changed quite a bit but the Steve Harris of the band, Philipp Hanfland, is always faithful. In essence no one else is a ready and equipped to answer questions about the band, the new album and the ever challenging future. What has kept, keeps and will keep BURDEN OF GRIEF going?
PLEASE DESCRIBE THE NEW ALBUM. In aspect of the cover disc, how have the featured artists influenced you a/ in the past, and b/ on this album. What do you aim to achieve with BURDEN OF GRIEF?
- With our new album we have tried to combine the different influences of the individual band members with our general music style. Many people would name it ‘melodic death metal’, but in our view our music features many more elements than just some ‘Gothenburg’-riffs. While most of our previous albums were written almost completely by me, “Follow The Flames” is by far our most diversified album since we have written it together as a band. Especially our drummer Robb and our other guitar player Joe came along with tons of great ideas that I had never dreamed about. So in my opinion this is the strenght of the new album. While writing music we always had one general view in mind, we want to combine real heavy riffs with strong and catchy melodies. And this view of songwriting always allowed us to do what we want. The main aspect of our music is of course a strong thrash and death metal framework. But on one hand you will hear many classic hard rock and heavy metal influences riffs and melodies which I am mostly responsible for. My absolute heroes are the ‘architects’ of metal, which are Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Iron Maiden and Metallica. And on the other hand there are also many ‘modern’ and groove-oriented elements in our music. These are important influences by Robb and Joe. And if we take a look to our cover-disc, I think that the list of these bands gives a pretty good overview of our influences. Although it might sound strange at first sight to name bands like PANTERA and WHITESNAKE equally, which are obviously very different bands – this is the way we want to go with BURDEN OF GRIEF. We don’t want to limit ourselves in any way. We can put hard rock-riffs in our music as well as blast-beat parts and groove-parts. At the end of the day it always sounds like BURDEN OF GRIEF, since the sound of our music and last but not least the voice of our singer Mike will give our familiar trade mark, which is ‘melodic thrash/ death metal’.
5 ALBUMS/10 YEARS DOWN THE ROAD, where will the band be in another 5 albums/10 years?
- Oh, we have never looked so far into the future. Nowadays it’s obviously not possible to make any plans for many years. As we have founded the band 16 years ago we had never dreamed about a ‘career’ that would last for so many years. All plans that we make are maybe 1 year in advance. At the moment we are planning the shows for the upcoming autumn and winter and also the festival shows for the next summer. But we don’t even think about the next record at the moment. I’m sure that we will make another record in 1-2 years. But if there will be another 5 records in another 10 years, I don’t dare to predict.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE INDIVIDUAL BAND MEMBERS; who contributes what etc?
- Since I am one of the remaining original-members of BURDEN OF GRIEF and since I have always done every work that comes along with the band, I’m still responsible for almost every aspect of BURDEN OF GRIEF. I’m writing most of the songs, I’m creating most of the graphic works, I’m doing the booking and I’m doing all the promotions stuff like interview and so on. So I would say that I am the Steve Harris of BURDEN OF GRIEF, ha ha... But I don’t consider myself as band leader, we are very much a democratic band. Although I am responsible for most aspects of BURDEN OF GRIEF, the other guys are giving strong and important contributions, too. Mike has always been responsible for all BURDEN OF GRIEF lyrics, and as the singer he embodies the front man of the band ever since on all live shows in a pretty good way. Joe is a very strong guitar-player, and during the songwriting of “Follow the Flames” he came along with many great songs and ideas. In the meantime he has defined himself as the most important songwriter in BURDEN OF GRIEF besides myself. And on stage he is really a wild party-animal, hehe... Robb is an incredible talented musician, not only as a drummer. Of all BURDEN OF GRIEF members he is assuredly the one who is expanding his skills the most. All the time he is trying out and recording some new stuff and new ideas. He had a huge impact on the songwriting of “Follow The Flames”, much more than any of our previous drummers. There are even 2 songs on our new album where he wrote the basic framework for. He came along with rhythm and drums ideas for complete songs, and Joe wrote the riffs to these drum-fragments. That was a kind of songwriting we had never done before. Our bass player Florian is the guy with the hardest day-job. And he also lives in another city. So it is sometimes hard for him to contribute to the band as he actually wants. But he is responsible for all website and myspace programming-stuff, and he often supports me on various organizing matters.
WITH TODAY`S SHAKY RECORD BUSINESS IN MIND, what is the trick to keep BURDEN OF GRIEF a healthy going concern?
- I think it is very important that we are not reliant to record sales. BURDEN OF GRIEF has always been and will ever be a ‘hobby’-band besides our regular day-jobs. We don’t have any kind of financial pressure with the band. We don’t have to sell a certain amount of records and we don’t have to play a certain amount of shows to finance our costs of living. We just have to sell enough records that our record-company is satisfied, ha ha... I’m sure that many other bands are suffering under the increasing financial pressure. So on one hand we don’t have any pressure from outside, and on the other hand we have a very balanced and relaxed atmosphere inside the band. BURDEN OF GRIEF has obviously existed for 16 years now, but with some important line-up changes. Before the band should break up for any discrepancy-reasons we try find new members to keep the band going. So a good chemistry inside the band is very important, and I think that we have finally found a very strong line-up.
HOW WILL YOU PROMOTE THE ALBUM?
- At the moment I’m very busy doing many interviews. I’m happy that there’s still a strong interest in BURDEN OF GRIEF after all the years. And at the same we are very busy doing the booking for the next months. Despite all internet-developments during the last years it is still the most important matter for band to go out and play as many shows as possible.
WHAT HAPPENS IN THE BURDEN OF GRIEF CAMP THE NEXT 12 MONTHS?
During the next year we will try to go on the road as often as possible. After writing and recording the new album for over a year, we can’t wait to go out and present it to the fans. I think that we will start the songwriting for the next record not before next summer. So the next record would see the light of the world not before 2012.
Aw well, the truth, plain and simple from Philipp. Today the best choice seems to be to have a hobby band, even with reasonable success. I must admit to liking Philipps attitude and down-to-earth attitude. Keep up the good work lads, and I hope you play the WHITESNAKE cover live!