It’s Friday evening after an extraordinarily busy day and 5 pm rolls around, heralding that it’s time for me to sit down and take a phone interview with Dirk Sauer, guitarist of the mighty German Power Metal band Edguy.
From the very first seconds of our conversation it’s clear Dirk is in a great mood and once we finish greeting each other we begin discussing the band’s upcoming release, a 25th-anniversary celebratory album titled Monuments. When asked where the inspiration came from to put together this package, Dirk mused,
“Well actually, after we missed the 20th Anniversary for some reason, and didn’t celebrate at all, we thought, actually it’s a good thing to celebrate with fans. Looking back makes it even more worth doing, we’re proud of what we’ve done in the past”
He goes on to elaborate how without the fans, it wouldn’t have been possible, showing that even after decades of worldwide success, Dirk has stayed humble and down to earth.
“We sat down and said, ‘how are going to do it?’” he continues, “It’s gotta be an anniversary so you have to take your memories from the past to the present. After that, we decided to get some video footage.” Referring to the package and how it includes not only 2 CDs but a DVD of their Sao Paulo show in 2004 from The Hellfire Club tour and a photo book, Dirk calls it a “Brilliant package”
The discussion flowed seamlessly onto the topic of the 5 new tracks that will appear at the beginning of the first disc. Dirk whimsically stated that whilst it’s a retrospect, “We’re still alive, there’s still more to come, so why don’t we do some new songs?” I prompted him to explain why all new tracks were placed at the beginning of the album and Dirk’s logic proved flawless, “Well it’s the new stuff, so people should listen to this first.” and he went on to explain how the rest of the tracklist doesn’t necessarily have special order and it’s “Pretty mixed up” as opposed to “chronological”
Jumping quickly back to the topic of the live DVD, Dirk clarified why it was that particular show that was chosen to be included. He explains,
“It was one of those shows we recorded back in the day, but 15 years ago it was a little bit more difficult to shoot a DVD. It was much more expensive the nowadays. But this was a special Edguy show, and back in the day we had the idea of releasing a full-length DVD, but some reason we had some technical issues and some camera problems and had to restart the show, it turned out it was not the best thing for us financially and it was just impossible to do it. When it came to this best-of, we said “Okay can we find a company who can fix it up for us?” and they did a great job. And the turnout was a pretty great stamp of time, so we thought let’s do this and put it on the best-of as well.”
When I began to ponder how seamless all the tracks sounded in terms of production quality I asked Dirk if any additional mixing or mastering had to be done to which he detailed, “The songs have been remastered, but not remixed at all, it doesn’t make sense in my taste because it’s the sound of the band at that time. I mean, of course, if we were to record Kingdom of Madness today, we would do everything totally different, but it is what it is.”
Dirk went on to discuss the loudness wars and how he and the rest of the band were against using copious amounts of compression to achieve a louder and more uniform sound. “We wanted to do production better and have more dynamics.” Providing insight into his own listening habits, he states, “If you listen to old records, they sound good because they are like that.”
Whilst we continued to reflect on the past of the band, I directed the conversation towards the songwriting process and how it may have evolved from their debut to the new tracks on Monuments. Dirk jubilantly tells me,
“Well it’s changed a lot, when we started the band, we spent most of the time in the rehearsal room, which was basically a good thing. It’s always good to rehearse! But, it took us many hours to create songs, because you’ve got to wait until everybody understood what’s happening so it can take a while. It can happen that we write a song like that, again, here and there. But basically, now it’s more working on this stuff at home. Everybody is recording ideas and doing demos. It’s a good thing because you have to be responsible for the stuff you deliver. It’s more to the point, an effective way of working.”
Along with this stream of consciousness, I briefly inquire if the whole band has home studios to accomplish this and he tells me that most of them do, but lead vocalist Tobias Sammet tends to work with Sascha Paeth, the band’s longtime producer, to record his parts.
The conversation once again turns retrospective at this point and Dirk began to explain to me the exact moment that the band realized they could make a career out of music,
“We were 18 and it was the day we finished school, and after school, we went straight to Finland to mix this album. That was the first time we really put money in and said, ‘okay we gotta try this and focus on this’ and it’s worked so far so I’m really happy and thankful for that”
As the conversation begun to wind down I knew that it wouldn’t be a conversation between two fellow guitarists without some brief discussion about gear so I had Dirk explain the guitar equipment he used on the 5 new tracks. He recorded through a Kemper Amplifier with his Gibson Explorer guitar which he explains is the “Perfect guitar for me.” And he only used other guitars such as a Gibson Les Paul to add extra ornamenting parts.
Just before I let Dirk go I asked him to give his best advice to aspiring musicians in the rock and metal scene. He had this message to give:
“Keep that rock and roll thing in your DNA, and just stay focused. Of course, you can’t force things and you have to have a lot of luck. But first of all, you have to give this 120% and work hard for your aims. Just follow your heart”
Monuments is scheduled for release on the 14th of July and will see Edguy embark on a 25th-anniversary world tour, with many performance dates yet to be announced.