A talk with
TIM HARDER (Guitar)
(Questionnaire by Stefan)
Storm Warning is an unsigned German Metal where the old school tradition remains a key issue. Heard them recently on the “Baden Metal Compilation Vol. 2” album with ‘Leaving The Circle’, a track managed to hit me in the face really. Still unsigned but hope they will catch a record deal soon, they deserve it in any case. With the following interview I want to give the band a chance to tell their own story ranging from the establishment until the current band situation, I’m also curious about Storm Warning’s future plans. The man who will lead the answers in the right direction is guitarist Tim Harder.
Q: Hails Tim, in what ways and by whom Storm Warning was founded?
A: Hi Stefan, thank you for the nice introduction. Actually, the band was founded in quite a drunk moment. During a regional Metal concert in the winter of 2009 and 2010 Andreas Nägele, the other guitarist (and also our current singer) had a few beers together with Johnny Topside, the previous singer. So they both were very enthusiastic about the idea to bring back the classic sound of heavy metal to our region, but they still needed other members and a rehearsal room. So it took a little while and finally we had our first rehearsals in the late summer of 2010. The rehearsal room was actually an old air-raid shelter and we paid the rent in beer, since Johnny Topside worked in a brewery back then.
Q: Where is your band mane based on?
A: Our first idea for a band name was “White Tiger”. It was meant to express on one hand the wildness and energy of a heavy metal band, and on the other hand that this kind of music is getting rare. But then we learned that there was a US-Glam band with the same name and suddenly the idea was not that cool anymore… I think the new idea came up while listening to Count Raven; they originally were called “Stormwarning”. We all liked the pre-apocalyptic connotation. And again, it sounds dangerous.
Q: What were the proposed goals those early days of existence?
A: From the very beginning, we did not just only have fun on our own. As I said, we wanted to bring back the classic sound to our region. We have a few great Thrash bands like Pessimist and Total Annihilation here, but we missed bands which sounded like all those early British bands. That’s why the first song we learned to play was “Denim and Leather” by Saxon. Andy also started to organise Vinyl-evenings together with our drummer Frederic Gröbke in our favourite bar.
Q: Since decades, Germany is flooded with Metal bands what makes the mutual competition even sharper. How are you going with this?
A: The first thing to say is that being a fan, it cannot be considered a bad thing to have loads of great Metal bands around. And I don’t see how there should be a competition in a negative way. When there are more bands, it means the scene is growing stronger. I enjoy the mutual support of the bands.
Recently I saw a picture of the guitarist of Speedbreaker on stage, wearing a Storm Warning shirt. And Iron Kobra mention us in all their thank listings, just because they think we’re cool. So now a few metalheads in western and northern Germany know that Storm Warning is a band to check out. That is not a competition.
Q: Are you always been a four-piece formation? Introduce your fellow team players Tim.
A: No, we actually started as a five-piece formation; this is also the line-up you could hear on the compilation. Our singer Johnny Topside left us in order to be master brewer in Munich. First, we met Mike, who had a strong voice, the same taste in music and who turned out to be an extraordinary guy. But he decided not to be a member of the band because he did not like to be on stage. That was a few months ago, and now Andy is both playing the guitar and singing. We got nice feedback on this solution, so it will probably stay this way. Apart from Andy and me, there are Freddy on the drums and Jacky on the bass. Freddy also is my former flatmate (Andy has taken my place) and I know Jacky from school.
Q: Tell me something about Storm Warning’s discography.
A: Until now, we only have one three-track Demo-CD. It’s been recorded in 2011 and released in early 2012, and it is sold-out now due to the small number of copies we had. Mike from Swords & Chains records did a small reissue on tape, but that’s it. We had a few discussions about what to release next. We could have taken all the songs we have and spend a lot of money to make it a good album, but it probably would not get recognised since we are not well-known yet. So we are going to record the three or four best of our new songs to release an EP that we will be able to be proud of.
Q: By email you told me that you guys weren’t satisfied with the sound quality, what went wrong?
A: Well, we neither had great experience concerning studio recordings, nor enough money to pay some professional producer. So we stayed in our bunker and Shane, a good friend, did the producer’s job. In view of the fact, that we were a bunch of amateurs recording a CD within three days, it turned out pretty well.
But in retrospect, “Thunder in the Night” is played way too slowly and “Storm Warning” sounds kind of thin, maybe because we accidentally moved the microphones or what. Those are actually the reasons for which we did not do a reissue. For all of those who still want it: you can download it for free on our website www.stormwarning.de
Q: Despite the negativity about the production, you also let me know that the demo was totally sold out. A poorly recorded CD that was still easily sold, I don’t get the picture Tim. How do you like to respond to this?
A: Haha, that surprised me as well. “Sold-out” sounds cool, but we’re speaking of only 300 CDs. We sold them on concerts for only 3€, so people would not meditate a long time about getting one or not, but just buy it and even have some money left for another beer.
Q: Do you guys consider to re-record the demo including a better production?
A: Maybe one or two of the songs will appear on the album one day, I don’t know. It depends how the new songs will sound like and if they fit together.
Q: Based on the style of music, in what ways do you like to describe this demo? Give me a few names of other bands that you want to compare with?
A: My guitar teacher said it’s like a mix of Trouble and Maiden. That would be a strange mixture; he probably referred the doom-parts in alternation to the twin guitars. Let’s say it is no avant-gardist post-whatever, but just pure heavy metal the way we all like it. High Energy Rock! Someone compared us to Manilla Road, which is not too bad.
Q: Recently, I reviewed the Baden Metal Compilation Vol. 2 – Flight Of The Griffin album featuring a lot of local bands offering their own style of Metal. Storm Warning participated with the song called ‘Leaving The Circle’, a stunning blend of 80s Metal with elements of NWOBHM… I was pleasantly surprised ! To what do you owe this participation?
A: I have already known Yücel, the head of Baden Metal, before. He had a booth at a concert and was selling CDs. I somehow missed the end of the party and did not know how to get home, so I asked him whether he drove past my home by chance. He made a detour just to make sure that even poorly organised kids get home well.
Last year he contacted me again to ask if we had any songs to contribute to his new compilation. He already had our Demo, so I had to tell him there was nothing new. He answered that he liked it but it sounded too crappy to be released on the compilation, but in the end he changed his mind. What a nice surprise! (Whoever is interested in purchasing a compilation can contact us via our website.)
Q: Superb initiative of this organization, this is the ideal way to push forward lesser known bands, right?
A: Yes, Yücel is doing a hell of a job for this. He is doing everything on his own, the communication with the bands, the financial stuff, the layout of the booklet and the distribution. That is way more than usual free-time metal support.
Q: Besides MTI, any other media sources that have positively responded?
A: We got many responses, but not throughout positive ones… Though most media appreciate the NWoBHM-influence, they also criticise the simple songwriting or the kind of grumpy voice of our ex-singer. Concerning the songwriting, they are totally right, so I’m okay with it. The voice is rather a matter of taste.
Q: What’s your personal opinion on the rest of the featured bands?
A: I subscribe to your view that Pessimist is the best band on the record. They kick ass. I also like the other thrash bands, Chaossphere and Mission in Black. Sceptor and Sons of Sounds do have this old-school attitude, that’s great. Since most subgenres are represented on the CD, everybody will discover something he will like. Many of the bands that I did not mention are doing really well, but it’s just not my personal taste of music.
Q: To me, you guys deserve a record deal ! I know it’s damn hard to grab one these days, have you been approached by people that want to consider offering a Storm Warning a contract?
A: Thank you! We once got an offer, but we thought we don’t need a label, so we refused it. So we are not really searching for a contract. The underground network works totally fine for concerts, and that’s the thing we enjoy most! It will get more interesting in terms of the mentioned EP. Once finished, we’ll probably try to convince some underground distributors.
Q: What happens to the band if you guys finally can’t get a record deal. Keep going on as an unsigned band, is it financially viable to survive?
A: The rent of the rehearsal room, the cost of the equipment and so on makes it quite an expensive hobby fur sure. But we haven’t started the band to earn money with it, so we won’t split it up because of money. I really can’t imagine that money could destroy the band.
Q: How strong are you guys while walking the stage, what can I imagine from a live performance?
A: I think this is the strong part of Storm Warning. Maybe it is also the weak part, because we should rather concentrate on the playing than on the show…
Q: Which bands have you been able to share the stage so far?
A: The greatest experience was when Alpha Tiger and Attic asked us to support them for two gigs. Those were great shows. One of the stages was really big, which I really enjoyed because we did not hit each other with the guitar necks. We also shared stage with Sacred Steel. Meeting Ruler from Italy was great fun, too. Another two bands to name are Bitterness and Stormhunter.
Q: Are you a regular visitor of concerts/festivals yourself? As a German band, I’m damn sure that each and every year you’re present at the almighty KIT and Headbangers Open Air festivals, right?
A: Of course, we consider ourselves more as fans than musicians. Freddy and Andy have been to the KIT several times, I haven’t been there yet. We’re from the very south of Germany (even the south of Baden), so Headbangers Open Air is far away. My favourite festival so far is the Rock Hard Festival in Gelsenkirchen. This year I’ll be at the Ages of Metal festival in Belgium, the line-up looks awesome!
Q: At which festival you’d like to play yourself, why?
A: Probably at the KIT, because it seems to be the heart of the old-school heavy metal world. Andy and Freddy have been at the Muskelrock Festival in Sweden this year and they kept smiling for two weeks or so. Judging from the pictures they took and from their endless descriptions and stories, that would also be a great stage to be. But that is rather a dream than a wish.
Q: We approach the end of this conversation Tim, there only remains a question about the future plans of Storm Warning. What lies on the table to become a potential reality?
A: First, we have to finish the songs we started to write. Andy suddenly came up with several cool ideas, but they don’t fit together. So now we are working on several songs at a time. After that, we will chose three or four of the songs that are not on the Demo to record them. Cristoph Brandes, the guy who produced the “Badnerlied” for the compilation, already claimed he would be interested in working with us, so let’s see… And, of course, bringing all this to the stage! That is the most fun part.
Q: I wish these plans may come and like to thank you for your answering my questions. Any last remarks before completing finally?
A: In order to thank Speedbreaker and Iron Kobra for their support, I’ll just mention them again. Check them out! And also check out Sin Starlett, Ruler and Maggotor. Up the Irons!
By the way, if some of your fellow readers are going to the Ages of Metal Festival, too, feel free to contact me. I don’t know anybody in Belgium.