Urban spoke with Olaf Lenk, the leader of a marvelous melodic metal band At Vance!

- First of all, I must congratulate you for a marvelous done hardrock album. Are you satisfied with the out come of it all?

Thanx for the compliment! Sascha Paeth at 'Heavensgate-Studios' has done the mix. It was fun working together. Heís a very nice guy. Iím satisfied with the outcome of it all. I also think there are some little things that can be better next time. But you know everybody has his own approach to Sound and all that so you should respect that always, cause itís a personal thing.

- Everything from the production, song material, to the cover artwork of 'Only Human' is very impressive indeed. Do you feel it's important to be able to present a 'whole' package here? Like, do people buy more CD's with a cool front cover?

Well, you wouldnít sell your own CD with some old lady sittin' in the kitchen makin some cake, would you? :-) [Kimmo: well, Unruly Child had a cover of a young lady sittin' in the kitchen about to eat a frog...]

I think the cover has kind of a deepness to it and it fits perfectly to the title "Only Human". It shows the weakness of an angel who is normally untouchable and stronger than anything.

- So, what's the story behind the title track "Only Human" ?

Well, like I said above. The lyrics are about the weakness everybody's got. Itís just that not many people talk about it cause they might think they lose their personality or identity.

- The problem with some of the guitarists/songwriters out there (no name - no blame): They focus way too much time on their guitar tricks and tend to forget how to write catchy and strong song material. However, we can NOT find that problem with Olaf Lenk! How do you usually write your material? It's very chorus orientated.

Itís always important for me to create a good song for itself. It doesnít have to be the guitar-solo or some mutant-scales that make the song interesting. For me every song is a baby, every song tells his own tale and I wrote the songs throughout different times in my life. I put in it whatís on my mind at the time I write one. The chorus mostly plays the center part of a song and I always try to create some hooklines that you canít get out of your head.

- What's your favorite track of 'Only Human' right now, and why?

Iíd say 'Only Human' and 'Take Me Away'. The 1st one because itís so powerful and drivin' but at the same time melodic and it has real cool lyrics. The 2nd one because itís pretty challenging to play. But I also like the chorus and the coda before the lead. My favorite guitarsolo on the album is again 'Only Human'.

- I noticed that Sascha Paeth (Rhapsody, Luca Turilli, etc.) helped you with the mixing of the album this time. I guess it's always nice to have a second opinion by your side? Or do you prefer to have 'total control' over everything?

No. I have done the mixes of the first three albums, and I really wanted to have someone whoís pretty objective to the music, 'cause Iím involved so much into every little detail. I just demand dedication, respect and a professional attitude thatís all.

- Some say 'At Vance' is really nothing more than your solo project. And that you would be the German version of Malmsteen with a similar ego. But that's far from the real truth, right? Like, Yngwie would NEVER accept a second, rhythm guitarist :-)

Right! If it would be my solo project, why should I release my solo projects like 'Food' or 'Sunset Cruise'. With Rainald as a rhythm guitarist I have the safety that the riff of a song stands there like a wall of steel, during I play the solo part. I also think for this kind of music, two guitars are the ultimate way to let it R U M B L E.

- Are you tired of being compared with Yngwie Malmsteen, Rainbow, Deep Purple (Ritchie Blackmore) by now?

In a way yes. Itís always cool to be compared with those GREAT musicians. They have been a huge inspiration for me and my playing, but thereís also many other guitarists that influenced me such as Shawn Lane, Allan Holdsworth, Uli Jon Roth. I think you can hear a lot of them in my playing also.

- I mean, with At Vance you do have a sound of your own! Still, the easiest way to describe you guys (for someone who never heard your albums before) would be a mixture of the above mentioned artists. How would YOU describe the sound of AT VANCE to the readers out there?

To me itís like a mix between Stratovarius, Yngwie and Rainbow / Deep Purple stuff.

- You also cover the old Rainbow hit "I Surrender" on this album. How come you chose this particular tune? Since it's after all 'Russ Ballard' who wrote it and not Ritchie Blackmore :-)

I have loved this song for many years and I always wanted to play a 'harder version' of it. So here it is!

- Do tell us a little bit about your equipment. You do not use Fender guitars all of the time, as some could imagine?

Well the guitars that Iím playin are Vigier Excaliburs. The model is called 'original'. I use Seymor Duncan Pickups. For Liveplaying I use Line 6 amplification, 'cause itís pretty reliable and programmable. In the studio I use all kinds of gear. Too much to mention.

- You will tour with Rhapsody & Angel Dust all over central Europe this spring. How come that Scandinavia is not included this time?

I donít know. We just jumped on the tour and we werenít involved in the planning, which is pretty normal when you do a support.

- What's your opinion about your fellow tour bands and let's be honest... you will play their socks off, right? :-)

I really like Rhapsody. Great guitarist, great band! Also Angel Dustís new album is a burner! Weíll have great fun playin' with them and we are very excited about that!!! Itís not about being the fastest or the best. You canít judge music with these restrictions. In the end the fans will decide what they like, but I promise that weíll give our very best.

- Germany has always been a good place for 'traditional' hardrock / metal. Why do you think that is so?

I think we have many kinds of influences over here. And then of course the huge classical culture.

- Do you still teach the 'art' of guitar playing?

Yeah! Iíve got a lot of students Iíam very proud of, and itís a great feeling to give them a piece of my music on their way.

- If YOU have anything you'd like to say, add or plug. Please do!

To our fans: Thanks for listening. See you on tour and stay At-Vanced!

Interview by Urban Wallström

Pix borrowed from www.at-vance.com