Mentalist: Power Metal Freedom Of Speech For The World
Mentalist: Power Metal Freedom Of Speech For The World
Mentalist is a dynamic power metal collective from Saarbrücken, Germany that was founded in 2018. The group consists of Peter Moog (guitars), Thomen Stauch (drums, ex-Blind Guardian, ex-Savage Circus), Kai Stringer (guitars, Starchild), Florian Hertel (bass) and YouTube star Rob Lundgren on vocals. Their glorious debut album is entitled Freedom Of Speech, now available worldwide from Pride & Joy Music. An inspiring adventure in sound that listeners will want to experience time and again, Freedom Of Speech by Mentalist is certainly one the very best debut metal albums of this turbulent year of 2020. Highwire Daze recently interviewed the one and only Thomen Stauch to discuss the creation of Mentalist and Freedom Of Speech, his time spent within the ranks of the almighty Blind Guardian, presenting an album in the age of Covid-19, and other topics of intrigue. Read on…
How did you become involved with Mentalist and what made you decide to take on this particular project?
I learned to know Peter Moog, when Alex Landenburg (Kamelot) contacted me in 2016, to ask me, if I would like to play 2 or 3 songs from Blind Guardian with several other musicians on Peter’s birthday party. He had rented a big old venue in Saarbrücken and invited lots of business partners from his companies and musicians which are friends of him. These were i.e. Stephen Mageney (Crystal Ball), Kai Stringer (Starchild & now Mentalist) & Sandro Giampietro (Starchild), Alex Landenburg himself etc.! I agreed of course, too and we had lots of fun. We stayed good friends and so it happened that Peter asked me about a year later, if I would like to listen to some songs he had partly already written lots of years ago. He wanted me to join that band as the drummer, so I did and Kai was at that time already working on more songs with him. Later, Florian and Rob also joined the band. We were Mentalist, a real band, no project! I´m proud to be part of it! Great music, great friends!
How did you wind up signing with Pride & Joy Music?
A friend of mine and Blind Guardian suggested Birgitt Schwanke from GerMusica and Pride & Joy Music to me as a fantastic promo agency and label. As Mentalist Records in cooperation with Pride & Joy Music, Peter decided to go for a pure promo version with GerMusica! Birgitt is a great person and did an amazing job for us so far! Now people must just buy our album and spread the word about our band and product, then nothing should stand in our way to make this band a big name in the music scene. Thanks for everybody’s support!
In this day and age, an album called Freedom Of Speech is such a timely topic. Is there any overall story or concept behind the album?
No, not directly! The song Freedom of the Press is surely one of the most political/social critical songs on the album. Other songs have different issues. But democracy is one of the main aspects on the album. For a long time mankind tried to bring new standards to humanity and our lives, but nowadays there seem to go so much positive things backwards, again, to bring up the negative aspects once more. Mankind doesn’t seem to learn! It’s simply a disaster! The album talks also about such topics.
Kai Stringer of Starchild is also in the band and they just released a new album called Killerrobots. What do you think of Starchild, Killerrobots – and would Mentalist and Starchild ever want to do a show or tour together?
To be honest, I didn’t find a chance to listen to it so far. But I will put an ear on it as soon as I get a chance. About a concert or tour I can’t say anything at that point. We will simply see what makes sense for us all, when we bands are able to play normal tours or concerts again after the corona pandemic. Let’s better hope it won’t change in general all live activities in the way they were before. You can never know, but we hope for the best!
How did YouTube star Rob Lundgren become involved with Mentalist?
That’s pretty simple to answer! 😊 We were searching for the right Mentalist front man, that could deliver the voice we wanted for the band and the songs we had so far. Then, a female vocal teacher of Peter, Rubina from the band Systopia in Saarbrücken suggested Rob to Peter. We contacted him, sent him a few songs and he immediately agreed to enter! Wow, that was really great and made us all very happy. His further performances on the songs you can now listen on our debut “Freedom of Speech”! Simply amazing in my opinion! And such a kind and relaxed person at the same time….incredible!
How did Daniel Heiman of Lost Horizon (a blast from the past to be sure) become involved with the making of Freedom Of Speech?
Since we all like his voice so much, it was not coincidence to have him on the album. We just thought he would be the best fitting duet singer for Rob’s vocal performance. Daniel is an outstanding metal singer, as Rob is, too, so it was great to hear he accepted to work with us for one song as a duet with Rob. He did an amazing job! On “Belief“, Rob and Daniel delivered a vocal duet that I would call a masterpiece of both.
What has it been like to record and release new music right in the middle of a pandemic and so much social unrest in the world?
You can probably imagine, that we were not really amused about the Corona virus . But we did our best to go on with our work and vision to finish our debut album! Finally, it’s done and already released here, though the release date for the USA is September 4th. We are proud that we managed to record and produce such a fantastic, powerful and melodic power metal album in the 21st Century, where music in general doesn’t seem to have such a big status anymore, as it had in the Eighties or Nineties, when bands like Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Helloween and Blind Guardian etc. had their big successes! Everything nowadays changed so much, but there is still a market, you just need to know how to handle it. Not easy for old dinosaurs like me nowadays. 😊
Who did the cover art for Freedom Of Speech and how much input did you have on it?
The cover artwork was made by Andreas Marschall, known for his great artworks for several Blind Guardian, Running Wild, etc. albums. He did a great job once again, in my opinion! We have given him a basic idea about what we wanted, he sent us a drawn draft and then we trusted him 100% and let him just make it! It was worth to do so. I suggested Andreas to the band when we were thinking about who could do that work. They all agreed, so I called Andreas immediately and we were happy to hear from each other again after so many years. 😊
When you look back on the 18 years you spent with Blind Guardian, what do you think now? Do you still keep in touch with any of the Blind Guardian members?
I’m proud about what I did with Blind Guardian and I never want to miss that time of my life! Surely these were the best years of my life, because it made me to what I am today. Lots of old fans still support me in every possible way, follow everything I do or did after Blind Guardian. Yes, I have contact again to my old band mates and so they invited me also to the BG history stuff they did for YouTube, etc. about 2 years ago. Hansi also helped me out with contacts for Mentalist and sang choirs on my other power metal band’s YouTube- 3 song trailer for Dawn Of Amber.
Is Savage Circus active, and if so, how close are you to releasing new music?
No, Savage Circus is currently not active anymore. I tried to re-activate it, but it was a mess concerning time management with all the other band members I had in at that time. So, finally, it didn’t work out and I let it rest for an unknown period of time. I don’t know, if I’m ever gonna re-activate it in any way.
What is currently going on with Dawn Of Amber?
Dawn Of Amber is just extremely delayed, since the shit with Corona happened and because we were so active with Mentalist, so I had to step back a bit with my overall activities, but Bene and Mick are still working on stuff for it. The first album is almost completely done, but we are currently searching for a new front man, since Carsten didn’t find the time for it anymore, because of his normal day job. So we have to find a new cool guy that is able to sing that style. We’ll see what the next months will bring us, also concerning corona pandemic, etc.! Let’s just hope the best for us all!
Are you currently involved with any other bands I haven’t mentioned?
No, for good luck, NO! Hahahahaa
What’s up next for Mentalist?
We plan to jump on a big tour in 2021, but that depends on corona etc.! Meanwhile we will write on new stuff for the 2nd album already. This is gonna be a blast! 😊
Any final words of wisdom?
Yeah, I wanna say Thanks A Million to all our Mentalist followers and supporters! Please, never give up on anything just because of Corona and stay as you are! We will see us on the world’s stages, hopefully soon! We hope you like our debut album and you’re gonna buy it! We believe in YOU ALL!
Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions. Such an amazing new album! Hope to see Mentalist here in the States someday when it’s safe to tour and do shows.
Thank you very much for this great interview, Ken! Yeah, we hope so, too! It’s time to present our music on the world’s stages! Thanks a lot once more and all the best for you and Highwire Daze Magazine!
(Interview by Ken Morton)
Mentalist on Facebook
Pride & Joy Music on Facebook