What is the date of foundation of your band? Whats the meaning of the bandname? What was the initial impulse to form a band?
Wulfgar: Wildhunt was officially born in 2011. My former band Final Release has just broken up and after I wrote some new songs I wanted to start a new band. I’ve known Luki for about one and a half years and after jamming together a few times we decided to form a band together as we shared the same musical and stylistic vision from the beginning. I had the idea for the name Wildhunt after I’ve read about a tale about ghosts and lost souls riding through the sky by the time around christmas, which is called the Wild Hunt. The leader of the hunt is Odin, which although varies from culture to culture. However, after I wrote a song about it, I thought it would also be a great band name fitting the turbulent flow of our songs. I like band names consisting of one word so I put the two words together.
Luki and I recorded and produced our debut EP „Scenting the Prey“ all by ourselves in 2012, consisting of 5 songs. When Benjyi Breeg joined the band on bass in Autumn it marked the birth of Wildhunt as a band rather than a project for me as we were now able to play live. We played our first gig in December 2012 and at that time the guitarist of my former band also played guitar for several shows. At the beginning everything went quite fast, because we all had plenty of time as I was still a student and Luki just finished school, which allowed us to put all the energy into the band, which isn’t as easy now with all of us having jobs, etc.
Lukas: The initial impulse was to play music I enjoy by myself and of course to stand on stages and perform. I was born into a family where music, buying records and going to concerts was a major thing. While always supporting my dad at his concerts it was just a natural desire to stand on stages and perform music to an audience. After experiments with some musicians I began to search for people to form a band and came across Wolfgang who wanted to start a new project too. As he said, it “clicked” quite fast and we realized that we are tuned to the same wavelength in terms of the overall vision and got the same attitude to music, image and style. The rest is history.
Introduce band members – Name, age, musical experience, anything else you wanna share.
Lukas “Walt” Roth, 25 years old, Drums. Started playing the piano in my early years and switched to the drums when music got harder and faster, hair grew longer and longer and the big red drum set in my dad’s rehearsal room had suddenly been cooler than the piano upstairs. I never reached a pro level but I still enjoy playing and experimenting on the piano especially in the magical hours of the night.
Wolfgang „Wulfgar“ Elwitschger, 28 years old - Guitar and Vocals and song writing.
Julian “Malki” Malkmus, 20 years old, Guitar.
What about your latest recording – Where/how it was recorded/produced? Who released it, how is it doing?
Lukas: Right from the very beginning Wolfgang and me had been interested in doing our own thing, not only musically and image wise, but also in terms of generic and genuine sound so we again decided to produce the album on our own. Since we had very accurate beliefs in where we wanted to go it was the only possibility back then. “Descending” had been recorded in Graz, Austria and mixed in our current hometown Vienna by myself. The Mastering was done in cooperation with Thomas Konrad of Plattenwerk Vienna. It’s quite tough when you arrange, produce, record and mix your music by yourself because I tend to be very overcritical and perfect every aspect right to the bone but in the end of the day the hard work always paid off.
Our debut was recorded completely digitally. We are fans of analogue but just couldn’t afford to produce 59 minutes on multi track tape back then. I solely used real, massive drums and huge rooms to capture big sounds and Wolfgang chose various guitar amps and recorded tons of guitar and vocal overdubs to enlarge the production. We wanted to go big and heavy, like Metal always used to be. I’m no fan of all those slim and soft - or let’s better say pseudo heavy sounding - new productions. For me our genre always came with a bombastic larger than life aspect to it. Heavy Metal doesn’t have to sound natural, we are not playing Jazz you know. The wall of sound has to come OUT of the speakers not being squashed behind them.
After checking out several labels we signed to Italian Metal On Metal Records who released the album in April 2016. It came across well by critics who loved the originality and distinctiveness of our music and praised the heavy sound to it.
Lyrics – what language do you use (and why?) and what are the topics/importance?
Wulfgar: All our lyrics are in English, mainly for the following reasons. First of all, people all over the world will understand what you are singing, and it also makes the contact to the audience in foreign countries much easier as if you would sing in your native language. Secondly, English is just a great and easy language for expressing things with few words. I tried to translate our lyrics to German for fun and it’s just really hard to keep the rhyme and make it still sound good. I won’t rule out that we are going to do a song in German in the future though.
Although not equally important as the music itself to us, lyrics are of course important as they can massively contribute to the mood of a song and may even twist the mood sometimes. As for the topics, we try to avoid clichés (with the exception of the song “Thrill to Kill” haha) and our songs cover a wide range of topics. “History Deletes Itself” is a song about the paradox of war, “Made Man” is about the mob and based on the series “The Sopranos”, “Erlkönig” is a twisted modern day LSD-version of Goethe’s poem “Der Erlkönig”, “Terror Right Below” is about the infamous Fritzl case where an Austrian guy locked up his own daughter for 24 years and “Age of Torment” tells about what the Christianisation has led to. The overall feel of our lyrics is dark and we always like to put in little twists and references that aren’t too obvious and might provoke a bit of thinking. We never wanted to be a “funny” band and this humorous approach that so many bands have today is becoming more and more worn out and annoying. There are of course exceptions like Insanity Alert from Innsbruck who are really funny and great, but for many bands it just seems really put on.
Who is behind your graphic designs – how important is this to you?
Wulfgar: The artwork for our debut album „Descending“ was painted with oil by Italian painter Paolo Girardi, who has also done artwork for Manilla Road, Power Trip and many others. For us, it was clear from the beginning that we want a professional and hand painted cover for the album cover, as the imagery is nearly as important as the music to us. At the end of the day, we do it for ourselves above everything else and our aim has always been to produce something we would be fans of ourselves and we would like to put in our own record shelves. When it comes to promo stuff and gig posters etc. we try to do as much as possible by ourselves. For example, the promo picture for our song „Made Man“ was photographed by Luki and the band logo was created by me as well as most of the posters for our self organized concerts.
Which bands/people/artists would you label as your source of inspiration (if there are any such)?
Lukas: I orient myself by lots of different sources. When it comes to musicality I draw inspiration from various genres, mainly Rock, Hard Rock, Blues and classic Heavy Metal bands but also Pop and Synthwave artists. I don’t consider Thrash as main influence, I would stagnate and run out of ideas when limiting to the music I am playing by myself only. All inputs of good music, bands and artists are welcome. I never dropped an idea because it was too “Jazzy, soft or untypical”. Within the last months I wrote some pieces on the piano which we are going to use partly rearranged for guitar and partly recorded on the piano for the new album. If ideas feel right for you, just go for it and fuck genre borders! I think Heavy Metal got jaded when bands stopped to incorporate various inputs in their music, even back then in the golden eras from the 60s to the 90s. In my opinion there have always been “Alpha” and “Beta” bands. Formers are leaders, think different and are confident enough to do their own thing. Those artists shone out of the masses and naturally got bigger. Latter ones copied without too much effort in going their own way and bet on already existing concepts. Of course this worked and works even today but if it’s done in ongoing “generations” it’s getting stale quite fast I think. It’s very likely I won’t be interested in such band’s music too much. Of course you can’t reinvent the wheel but gladly even nowadays there are still some “Alphas” around who are really doing great work and think outside the box in terms of music, image and overall attitude. Those are the bands which I am really into.
Wulfgar: Obviously all kinds of Metal and Hard Rock from the 70s to the early 90s, really too many bands to mention all of them. There’s still so much insprining stuff to discover from this era after all those years. I’m also heavily into 70s Prog Rock, what probably reflects most in our unconventional song structures. I always liked this kind of storytelling way of songwriting, with its twists and turns always allowing the song to go in different directions. However, whatever sounds interesting is a source of inspiration for us, whether it be classical music, blues, jazz, film scores, synth music, 50s & 60s music, etc. We‘ve never dumped any ideas because they weren’t Thrash/Speed or whatever. If it sounds good and feels fitting we do it and I think there will be a few surprises on the next record.
Whats your experience with applying for record contract(s) with record labels... Are you happy where you are?
Lukas: Nowadays it’s quite hard to sign to really good record contracts especially when you are not well known at the beginning. Because the demand is mostly higher than the supply you have to stand out of the masses much more than in the 80s I think. For “Descending” we have been signed to Metal On Metal Records. They did great work in promoting and distributing the album and are really nice guys with whom you can enjoy raising the glasses at concerts and festivals.
How many gigs have you played so far, any good ones to mention?
Lukas: We played about 50+ gigs to this day. In late 2016 we toured through the east and more northern parts of Europe and for me especially some gigs in the eastern countries remained in my memory because the maniacs had been into the shows so much, going nuts and screaming along all the lyrics. Moreover, it doesn’t happen too often that people in the audience play along your drum fills. Some other ones to mention are definitely our self organized gigs with our compatriots HIGH HEELER, KÜENRING and HELLREX which you should definitely check out along with the AUSTRIAN HEAVY METAL ALLIANCE. Haha, furthermore I am thinking of a gig in Split, Croatia where we played behind a wire mesh fence like in that scene of the movie “The Blues Brothers”. A drunk heavyset dude jumped and hang on to the fence all the time, shaking and rattling it while screaming something in Croatian. Gold! Or a funny gig in Germany where we performed in an ancient inn with a piano placed on the stage which had been so small and piled up. I played some intro on it but it took ages to climb behind the drums again to count off the song, being a bit like bad slapstick. Blessedly this had been the poorliest attended show in our history, you could basically call the people in the audience by name, haha.
Whats your global ambition of the band – working hard on becoming bigger? Or primaly just having fun?... or anything else?
Lukas: Of course any artist wants to become bigger. Our main ambitions are to write, record and release good music. Performing music you enjoy by yourself will naturally lead to having fun and enhance the level of quality and originality. I never considered Wildhunt as a party band but of course everyone of us enjoys destroying the stages, booze and party after a successful show. You only live once and at the moment I’m feeling fine in a stage of life where I live for the heat of the moment - for the presence - pretty much. Neither too much for the past, nor for the future, just going about it and never regretting. Don’t let any concerns lead your life.
We all know that we won’t grow rich from our music but nevertheless standing on stages while performing music I love has been the number one business in my life since day one. There’s so much shit going on in the world and music always helps to stay strong and focussed upon the positive especially in tougher and darker phases of your life.
Our next big step will be the recording of our second album on which we are focussing on the strengths of our firstling “Descending” and incorporating some very new approaches and styles to the music and production.
Your plans for future? And are you looking forward to your show at Thrash Nightmare festival vol. 6? :-)
Wulfgar: We haven’t played live for nearly half a year now, so we’re really hungry to hit the stage again! The show at Thrash Nightmare will be the first in the new line up and from what we heard about the festival so far and the great bands, it will really be a baptism by fire we are really looking forward to. We’ve never played in the Czech Republic before but so far we got a great response from Czech metal fans regarding our album „Descending“. Our show at Thrash Nightmare kind of marks a new beginning for the band and hopefully won’t stay the last gig in 2018. Our next big step will be the recording of our second album which we aim to release in 2019 and want to combine with a bigger tour. Most of the stuff has already been written and we can’t wait to record it.
Lukas: I’m bloodily looking forward to play this show, I heard the place is killer! See you soon, Na zdraví!