12/12/2016 – By Sam
Munich’s Waldgeflüster unveiled a massive epos of atmospheric black metal this past October with the release of their fourth full-length album, “Ruinen.” Metal Exposure recently spoke with band mastermind Winterherz via Skype about his inspirations, his musical background, and the kind of work the band entails.
Metal Exposure: Up until 2014, Waldgeflüster was your solo project. Why the decision to make Waldgeflüster a full band?
Winterherz: Two reasons: First, Waldgeflüster had reached a point where I was no longer able to do all the jobs by myself anymore. There’s so much organizational stuff with the booking and everything, and I wasn’t able to handle it all on my own. And second, I finally had the lineup that I felt comfortable with. I had known the guys and played with them for two years, and they really put the effort into the band that Waldgeflüster needed. They contributed a lot. It was the right lineup at the right time; I’ve never felt as comfortable with a lineup as I do with this one.
ME: Has working with a full band changed the writing and recording process?
W: Yes, a bit, because now we have five opinions where there used to be just one! (laughs) But from my point of view, it’s a change for the better. They really contribute a lot of great ideas that I never would’ve been able to come up with on my own. The lyrics are still my part, though. That’s something I won’t give up!
ME: Sticking with the lyrics (because that’s my favorite part!): It seems to me like you must have an interest in poetry or literature; your lyrics remind me of the German Romantics. Would you say that’s true?
W: I found it very funny that you wrote that [in your review of “Ruinen”], because after reading what you wrote, I thought about it, and yes, the lyrics are actually kind of influenced by the Romantic era. Although I have to admit that I haven’t read *so* much from that period! I am very interested in literature. I read a lot; not poetry, but literature, so I guess it comes from there.
ME: Any reading recommendations (modern or classics) for those of us looking to explore the world of German literature? I personally read a lot of fantasy…
W: Yeah, me too! In terms of the classics, right now, I’m reading “Der Steppenwolf” by Hermann Hesse for the first time; I don’t know why I skipped it all these years, and so far, I have to say, it’s one of my favorite books ever. It’s really amazing. Hermann Hesse’s “Demian” is also very good. And of course, “Faust” by Goethe is an all-time classic.
ME: On older albums, it seems like you were inspired by the Nordic countries. When did you first become interested in the region?
W: Ever since I first read about it and saw pictures of Norway. It’s just a beautiful country. Back in 2007, my brother and I took a 13-day hiking trek through Femundsmarka in Norway, and that had a huge influence on my life. The second record is about that trip. I still get something out of the journey, even though it was years ago.
ME: Was is just because of the natural beauty of the region, or was there more to it than that?
W: The nature and the loneliness. In Germany, you can never be as alone as you are in Scandinavia.
ME: If someone wanted to start listening to Waldgeflüster, is there a specific song you feel best represents your sound?
W: Hmm. That’s a really tough one. I feel like we’ve changed so much over each record – at least that’s my impression – that it’s hard for me to choose one. I think if you take “Fichtenhain” from “Femundsmarka,” that’s probably one song that has a little bit of everything in it and gives a good overview of what we do.
ME: What’s your favorite song on “Ruinen?”
W: It’s always either the newest one or the one we haven’t played so much. Right now, I think it’s still “Weltenwanderer.”
ME: You also had a couple of guest vocalists on “Ruinen:” Helge Stang (Wolves Den, ex-Equilibrium) and Seuche (Fäulnis). How did that cooperation come about?
W: We’ve known both of them for a couple of years, and we’re friends. I did a guest vocal part on the Wolves Den record [“Deus Vult,” released in 2015], so I said to Helge, do you want to do some guest vocals on ours? He said sure, and it turned out perfectly, so I’m pretty happy about that. With Seuche, when we wrote the song and came to that part, I immediately had his voice and singing style in mind. So I just asked him, and it turned out perfectly as well, so that’s good!
ME: The other person you’ve cooperated with quite often is Austin Lunn from Panopticon; you released a split album earlier this year. How did you first connect with him?
W: Funny story (and he always tells it differently, but this is my point of view!): When “On the Subject of Mortality” came out, he did a special wooden box set, hand-made, that was limited to 30 copies and could only be pre-paid by PayPal. I wrote to him because I didn’t have a PayPal account; I said hey, I’m the dude from Waldgeflüster, I’m a huge fan of your music, can you save a copy for me until I get a PayPal account? And he wrote me back and said I’m a huge fan of your music as well, and we’ve been writing to each other on a regular basis ever since. When he did his internship at a brewery in Norway, I went to visit him, and since then, we’ve been the best of friends!
ME: How did you first start playing music?
W: A friend of my parents’ always played The Beatles on the acoustic guitar when I was young, and at some point, I realized I wanted to do the same. So I asked him to teach me the guitar, and I’ve been into music ever since. I started playing the guitar when I was 11, and I started my own band a couple of years later, when I was around 14 or so. Since then, it’s been the main thing I do in my spare time.
ME: Did you have any formal musical education?
W: Nope! That’s a huge problem, actually; I have no idea about musical theory or anything like that, and my guitar skills aren’t that great either, because I mostly teach myself. So I have no formal education, and it’s sometimes an issue, but it still works. (laughs)
ME: Does your day job have any connection to music?
W: No. With audio, but not music, unfortunately.
ME: I always think it’s important to ask bands about their day jobs, because not everyone is aware that most metal bands can’t earn a living from music.
W: Nope, there’s no way at all. We finally, after all these years, have come to a point where the band is self-sustainable, so we’re able to recoup all or most of our costs. But I can’t say we’re making a profit from it. I think it’s OK to have a day job and make music as a hobby, though, because I occasionally have the feeling that the big bands that live from their music kind of lose the connection to the music sometimes, because it’s not something they *get* to do; they *have* to do it.
ME: Is there a certain band or album that had a major impact on your musical trajectory?
W: I guess there are two. Matchbox Twenty, the first record – that was the album that first got me into music! Before that, it was only The Beatles and The Rolling Stones from my parents, but this was the first album that I researched and found myself. So that was a milestone. And the second one is Tool – Ænima. I think that’s what introduced me to long songs. It still has a strong influence on me today.
ME: What are the albums you’re listening to most right now?
W: I listen to so much different stuff! There’s a Polish band, Wędrujący Wiatr – that’s something I got recently and listen to a lot. I’ve also been listening to the latest Khemmis record; that’s pretty good. Then there’s the new Alcest record. And Katatonia…always! Everything! (laughs) Also some pop records: Ben Howard – “I Forget Where We Were” is a pretty awesome record. But my playlist changes every week.
ME: Any plans for a tour?
W: There are discussions about a tour for next year, but nothing is fixed, so I don’t want to say anything specific about it. We had so many discussions about tours in the past that never materialized; I don’t want to get anyone’s hopes too high!
ME: Thanks for your time!
W: Thank you!
I’m a freelance translator and hurdy-gurdy enthusiast originally from Cleveland, Ohio; I’ve been living in Berlin, Germany since 2005. I’m primarily a folk metal fan – I love bands who toss in a “weird” instrument or two next to the standard guitars – but I try to be open-minded when it comes to other genres. When I’m not working, you’ll usually find me alone in the middle of the crowd at club shows, awkwardly trying to headbang with short hair.