Athorn: Adventures in Symbionic Metal

Although Athorn from Germany has been around for a relatively short time, the band has gained massive respect from music fans all around the world.  The admiration club includes Hansi Kursch from the legendary power metal band Blind Guardian, who gave Athorn’s debut release PHOBIA a favorable review in MetalHammer magazine.  The album has been unleashed through AFM Records worldwide, and the band is more than ready to conquer the world with a mighty sound they call SYMBIONIC METAL.  Here is a recent interview we conducted with rhythm guitarist Tobias Liedke…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Athorn, and how long the band has been together.
ATHORN (Tobias): We knew each other for many years and met up at metal-shows or festivals. Years ago Sören (drums) and Thomas (bass) played together in a gothic-metal band and later on, Tobias (guitar) and Thomas joined a neo-thrash band. So the link between us was and still is the music. One day Thomas called me to do some jam-sessions with him and Sören in the early 2008. After four or five weeks we began to create the basis for ATHORN. In the late summer 2008 Stefan (lead guitars) came on scene. Our last missing piece was a real good singer because we didn’t want a shouter or grunter! Fortunately Stefan and Carsten were producing several bands together in the WAVELAND STUDIO in Hanover so that Stefan had the chance to get Carsten into the band. That was in the autumn of 2008.

Each band member has very different musical influences and the only point of intersection is metal. Sören likes progressive and alternative, Stefan is more into melodic metal, Carsten likes Swedish melodic death, Thomas is the doom head and I like bands like DEATH or CYNIC for example.

The songs are the result of five musicians jamming and composing together. When we start writing, everyone brings in his own influences and we try to write that kind of music, that challenges us as musicians and listeners. In our early days we weren’t able to describe our sound so we created the term “SYMBIONIC METAL”. So if you just try to imagine a brew of the best various styles of metal you would get an idea of what we call “SYMBIONIC METAL”.

Where is the band based out of and what is your local metal scene like there?
ATHORN (Tobias): We all live in Hanover, lower Saxony, which is approximately in the middle of Germany with a population of circa 500.000 residents. Our local metal scene is pretty small so we have not many places to play gigs.

Is there any story or concept behind the Phobia CD title?
ATHORN (Tobias): Most of the lyrics were written after we had completed the music. At the beginning of the production there was no song named “Phobia” and no concept. It came incidentally that the lyrics of the songs where handling with similar themes. So – short spoken – “Phobia” is not a concept album after all, but it has indeed a central theme or coincidentally became a concept album.

Where do you get the ideas for some of your lyrics? Please cite two songs on particular and what the lyrics are about.
ATHORN (Tobias): Every musician is a little wacky, so writing songs is like a self therapy, you know? Each of us had and still has its own problems and experiences. But since we started this band we have the possibility to deal with them by writing songs.

Humanize the Demon” for example deals with people who try to hide their demonic and evil character by pretending to be nice and living behind the mask of an honest man, while “Phobia” is about the fears that sleep deeply inside and rise slowly but inexorably until they erupt.

What could one expect from a live Athorn show?
ATHORN (Tobias): A very, very tight kick in his or her butt, but with some cool melodies … hahaha … ! We have just started to think about some gadgets, that we want to use in our shows to get the ideas of our songs and their meaning across to the audience.

Has Athorn ever played here in the States or plan to do so in the future?
ATHORN (Tobias): We haven’t had the opportunity to play in the States, yet. But we would love to play there very much! It is extreme difficult for us to get on the road, because most labels are bonded with booking agencies. They aren’t interested in bands from other labels. That’s actually our main problem. But if anyone would like to book us for some gigs in the states or anywhere, we will play them! I think the metal fest or the rock power festival could be right for us, too.

What is your favorite German beer that you could recommend and is there any American beer that you might be fond of?
ATHORN (Tobias): If you take a look at our website, you can see the brand “Einbecker” as one of our endorsement partners. It´s a good German brewery that is based in the south of Hannover and we get a lot of beer from them, whenever we want it! Of course “Einbecker” beer is the choice for us. The only American beers I know are “Miller” and “Anheuser Busch”.

How did your show with the legendary Entombed go, and did you get to meet them and hang out at all?
ATHORN (Tobias): We were playing the Blitz&Donner X-Mas Festival together with Entombed, Hail of Bullets, Merauder and many other bands. So, unfortunately we just had the chance to talk to LG and Alex for some minutes, but we couldn’t really hang out and drink some beers with them.

How did Hansi of Blind Guardian hear about your band and have you actually met him?
ATHORN (Tobias): Every month the German magazine “MetalHammer” invites a musician from a well known band to do short reviews of some new releases. We were very pleased that Hansi got a copy from our album “PHOBIA” and gave us such a fantastic review (7/7 Points) but we didn’t met him in person, yet. Hopefully we will get the chance to play some shows with Blind Guardian in the future.

What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most after hearing Phobia for the very first time?
ATHORN (Tobias): The most people need to listen to the album “PHOBIA” twice or more times to really get into it. So we hope the listener remembers to press the repeat button after listening to the album for the first time (hahaha). If you do so, you will be taken on a short trip – a journey – through our minds. You will be able to find some treasures in every song. Sometimes a nice guitar harmony or an additional overdub, another time it’s some multi-layered vocals. That’s something we really like.

Anyone in Athorn get really creeped by Spiders? Who came up with the idea for the individual photos with the spiderwebs?
ATHORN (Tobias): I never thought that anyone in ATHORN is afraid of spiders until you mentioned it, but I think Thomas (bass guitar) came up with that spider web thing. He has many phobias so far, so maybe he is also scared of spiders … hahaha…!

Any final words of wisdom?
ATHORN (Tobias): Enjoy life! Eat your veggies and drink responsibly!

(Interview by Kenneth Morton)

Athorn on Myspace


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