Interview with Jens Ludwig, EDGUY
Nosturi 4.12.2001 Helsinki, Finland

This German powermetal band has been around for years and is getting bigger each year. Their latest album "Mandrake" has gotten a great welcome from all the fans, including yours truly, so I was really looking forward to this interview to ask all those questions about the album and more. Unfortunately my questions were mostly for Tobias Sammet, but he was saving his voice. So I met with Jens and tried to squeeze everything from him's how I teased and squeezed him.


AOR-E: How has the headlining tour gone so far ?
Jens: It's going very very good. So far we had one little show that we had to cancel because of illness. That was the only thing bad until now. Of course there are small problems like people breaking our buss or vandalizing the trailer, but besides this the people and everything around so far has been very very good, so it has been much better than we expected.

AOR-E: You've been treated nicely ?
Jens: Yeah.

AOR-E: You're going to play some Avantasia live ?
Jens: Yeah.

AOR-E: Do you have a background tape for the choirs or do you all sing ?
Jens: All sing except Felix. Of course it's not like a choir with 30 people, but it's live. And I don't like the choirs from the tapes. You can't make a live concert sound 100 percent like the record and that's why it's live.

AOR-E: Are you gonna play "Nailed To The Wheel" live ?
Jens: No, we can't play it live, because when Tobi sang the song (in the studio) you should've seen him that after it he was totally broken. And to sing this every day on the tour we could do one or two concerts and the tour would be over.

AOR-E: What are the plans after this tour ?
Jens: Well actually it will take a while after the touring is over 'cos this goes till 11th of December and then we have a short break like 6 days and then we fly to Portugal to make two concerts and then next year in March we are going to South America for couple of weeks and then are coming the summerfestivals, still a lot to do. Nothing after this big tour now, maybe have a little bit of holiday.

AOR-E: You don't have new songs anywhere ?
Jens: Not new songs, but we have recorded a live album on this tour and we will see what happens, 'cos at the moment we don't even have a record deal 'cos it's over with AFM. When we're back from the tour we of course have to check offers and see what happens in the future.

AOR-E: But you're not going to continue with the same label ?
Jens: They have very good chances that we continue with them, but we have to check different offers, that's for sure, and what people are offering us. But with AFM we shouldn't forget that we have the top priority on AFM.

AOR-E: It's been a good deal for you so far ?
Jens: Yeah, they've done a very good job with promotion and everything. We can't complain, but of course we have to check.

AOR-E: What has the reaction been for the new album ?
Jens: So far we can't complain. The sales have been much better than we expected. At the moment we are very satisfied with the situation. Well at least of course we hope that it will get better with the next album, but in the success we have with this album in Europe it's almost unbelievable. People seem to sing along so they know the songs.

AOR-E: It's such a great album. I think it's the best one you've done so far.
Jens: Well that's the way it should be. With every album everybody's saying this is the best one so far.

AOR-E: But because of the sounds and all. You sound more heavier and fuller.
Jens: It's a little bit down to earth and in my opinion there's more variety in the songs. A little bit more midtempo stuff and not only double bass from the beginning to the end and...I like it much.

AOR-E: I saw your gig in Wacken in '98 in the tent and I remember you were really good then, but you've improved since those days.
Jens: That was actually a pretty funny story, because we were not supposed to play in Wacken. We only played there 'cos one band couldn't play and then one week before Wacken came the message that we could play there. The problem was that our drummer was in America on holiday so what should we do now...and we made some phonecalls and found this Alex Holzwarth (Rhapsody) and we asked if he would like to play and he said yes and we played the concert without rehearsing. So I remember sitting in the car with him driving to Wacken and listening to the songs and I explained to him "ok this part we are going to do a sing-along part, it's this long" and he was writing down everything to the paper next to the drumkit and playing the songs. It was quite a nice experience..

AOR-E: How did you end up having French, Finnish and Swedish bands as supports ?
Jens: We called different record companies that we're going on headlining tour and need some supports and if somebody is interested just say a word. We heard that those bands are interested and well, we think the music fits pretty good together. Maybe Lullacry is not fitting so good, but we like the album so much, so that was the reason why we took them with us. Basically there are no troubles within the bands, everybody gets along well with the other bands. It's a pretty good mood on the tourtrucks and that's the way it should be. Makes a tour being a good event. It's not good if one band doesn't like the other and there's stress and everything. So we can all party together and that's quite nice.

AOR-E: So have you heard Heavenly before ?
Jens: Yes I have their first cd and I like this kind of music.

AOR-E: There doesn't come many of these kinds of bands from France and they're really good.
Jens: Yeah, they've been on tour with Stratovarius last year or something.


AOR-E: You have one video of "All The Clowns", will you do a second video ?
Jens: I don't think so 'cos for the metal bands it doesn't really make sense, because nobody sees them. It was just a new experience. This time we decided to make a video and see what happens if the tv station will show it or not and realized they won't show it, because it's metal. But now we've done it and we'll put it out as multimedia cd or something that everyone can see it.

AOR-E: Maybe on the live album ?
Jens: Maybe.

AOR-E: I haven't seen that video either, so can you tell me about it ?
Jens: We shoot the video in this small village close to Münich. It was like an old industry hall and most parts of the video it's just performance, playing. But there are also some played scenes in it. They're quite nice and funny. Tobi wearing a clowns mask and he's stuck in this chair with tape and can't move or say a word. We had a lot of fun.

AOR-E: You have to release a full Edguy video for the fans with special stuff. You have any ideas for something like that ?
Jens: Yeah, maybe some backstage shootings. There actually has been some plans to record a dvd on this tour, but we had to cancel it. We wanted to record it in France, but there was so many things coming up and so many new expenses, what we hadn't even heard before. Finally we said we will cancel it. At the end it was good that we cancelled it, because we would have just blown money on the wind and the video would have been crap. Then we thought it's better to wait maybe half a year and prepare it really good.


AOR-E: Anything specific why you always come to Finland to mix the albums ?
Jens: Actually it started in '97 when we asked Timo Tolkki (Stratovarius) to mix our album, because we like the sounds of the Stratovarius cds a lot, so we met and asked him if he would like to mix an album for us and he agreed and said "yes, but we will do it in Finnvox studios". We said no problem for us and that's how it started. And we've been so satisfied with the results all the time that why shouldn't we do it again at Finnvox studios. So never change a winning team. And it's nice to see Helsinki every year.

AOR-E: Can you tell me about the new songs ?
Jens: Well there's no red line which is going through the whole record, so every song can stand on it's own. It's about what's in Tobi's mind. Everything what's around him when he thinks about something. Then he writes a song about this, it's a mixture of everything.

AOR-E: Why does Tobi write most of the songs ?
Jens: Because he's the singer and he knows his voice best and he's doing all the melody lines and vocal lines and it's good that he's doing this, because he knows his voice best. He knows what he can do, what sounds good or maybe not so good. And music always deals with emotions and if I write something I'm concerned about or pissed of and give it to Tobi "ok, now express my feelings", well it wouldn't work that good. So the rest of the band we have no problem that we have to write songs. As longs as the songs are good, there's no problem. And it's going pretty well the way it is right now, so we won't change it.

AOR-E: But it's not like he tells you how you have to play each song ?
Jens: No, we exchange (music) a lot. I record a lot of guitar licks and riffs at home and give Tobi a cd to see what he can make out of it and the other way round. Like Tobi has some vocal or melody lines and chords and he asks could you try to make some guitar riff out of it. And we're arranging all the songs in the rehearsal room with all the members, so there's a little input from everybody.

AOR-E: What is the story behind doing the incredibly heavy song "Nailed To The Wheel" ?
Jens: There's no story behind it, we like the song. Of course we realize it's pretty heavy, but on the other hand why shouldn't we do a song that is a little bit heavier, so there's no certain story behind it. Lyrically the song is about aggressions in general, so it fits.

AOR-E: About "The Pharaoh", it's quite a long song. Jens:
This one we will play live.

AOR-E: You don't usually have songs as heavy and long as this one?
Jens: We don't want to record the same album one more time again and I think it's ok if you have some changes. If you put some new elements it's certain kind of development I think. With "Pharaoh" we wanted to have a song with atmosphearic parts. And with metal songs they won't play it on the radio, so who cares about the length of the songs.

AOR-E: Are you ever planning to change your style ?
Jens: Our concept is that we don't have a concept. Before writing an album if you say to yourself that we want to go in this or that direction, you put yourself in a certain frame and you create borders that you may not want to cross. I think that's not good for musicians, if you put yourself into borders before writing an album. So we just try to do what we think is right and what we like. We are metal fans, we are not creating the songs for the metal fans, we are making the songs because we like them. And if you find other people who like the songs as well, it's very good then. And if there are people who don't like the music, then they should buy another album.


AOR-E: Why do you make so much fun of your drummer Felix ?
Jens: Well you should know him to understand that he's a really nice guy and he has no bad behaviours, but sometimes he has some very strange behaviours which is something very funny for the rest of the band. And you know drummers are known to be the fools in the band. We are no exception.

AOR-E: So how does he feel about it ?
Jens: He knows how he can take it and within the band everybody's fooling about everybody and as long as everybody knows how he should take it it's a joke and isn't meant as evil or bad, then it's no problem. Felix knows how to take it so he can laugh about it. You know that's the only thing you can do on tour, I mean except sleeping you do everything together, so there's not much to talk about. You just have to fool about something and make jokes about our members.

AOR-E: How did you come up with the story for "Save Us Now" ?
Jens: Well that was actually Tobi's idea. We had finished all the songs for Mandrake and about two weeks before we entered the studio Tobi called me and told me about his idea and he already had this song with this very high chorus and so it was planned to be a joke. Finally in the end we liked the song so much that we put it on the record. And the funniest thing was that when we rehearsed the song everybody in the band knew what this song should be about except Felix. So he was always there complaining "why should I play a drumbreak here, doesn't fit at all", "yeah it's ok, just keep on playing..". It was very funny sometimes. You know it's an honour, we're the only band who makes a song about their drummer, except Bruce Dickinson did as well, l "I'm in a band with Italian drummer"..


AOR-E: Do you know the latest news on Avantasia ?
Jens: The second part will be released in the middle or in the end of next year and basically it will have the same characters in it, 'cos the story will have to continue and if you break a story in the middle and put complitely new characters in it, it wouldn't work so good. There are also some new people on it for example Bob Catley of Magnum will sing a song on it and I think Eric Singer from Kiss will play drums, so there will be a part two.

AOR-E: Can you reveal anything from the story ?
Jens: No I can't, because I don't know.

AOR-E: About Michael Kiske singing on the first album, is Tobi also singing on his album ?
Jens: No, I haven't heard anything about this.

AOR-E: Is there anything happening with those guys ?
Jens: No, nothing.

AOR-E: What is going on with Taraxacum (=Felix & Eggi, Ferdy Doernberg, Rick Mythiasin & Frank Wolf)
Jens: Actually I think they start to write new songs and collecting ideas and I don't know when Eggi has new songs and when he will release the new album. I don't know anything more about this 'cos at the moment he's on tour with Edguy. AOR-E: Will the line-up be the same ? Jens: Yeah I think so.

AOR-E: Are they gonna play live at all ?
Jens: Yeah, if Eggi wants to play live and he already had some offers from festivals, but I have almost nothing to do with this band, so I'm not well informed about what's going on. But at least I hope that he will do fine.

AOR-E: Do you personally have any side projects ?
Jens: Nothing serious. Because of fun I'm playing bass guitar in a thrash band and I do some studio jobs for different people, but nothing serious. Have a little bit of fun besides Edguy. You know it's good to play bass guitar, because with guitar you always have to concentrate because I have to play full chords and with bass you only have to play like one note. And you can run around the stage even more.

AOR-E: But you haven't recorded anything with that band or have anything in the net ?
Jens: No, nothing.

AOR-E: What is the band called ?
Jens: It's called Faceless.

AOR-E: Do you listen to German bands ?
Jens: Actually I listen to some punk bands, like Die Toten Hosen. They've quite nice melodies and sometimes very funny lyrics. But besides this what you can hear on the radio like german pop songs, but I'm not so much into this german stuff. I prefer the english lyrics.

AOR-E: Do you listen to progressive metal, like Dream Theater ?
Jens: Yeah, it depends. DT is pretty good, but I don't like those who are progressive only because of being progressive. I like melodies on the songs.

AOR-E: Do you have anything going on in US or Japan ?
Jens: There's actually something happening. Seems that some people now realize that there's this kind of music still existing and we have some entries in the guest book and we have a new distributor in the States, but everything is still very very small. In Japan nothing really happens, for some reason they don't like us, I don't know.

Also read Jens' Beast Side Story and his ten all-time favourite albums from Catchy hooks and a gig report coming up...

By Satu Reunanen
Photos By Kari Helenius