In February the Master Of Light himself, Chris Bay from Freedom Call, released his first solo album. What was the story behind that album, and what about Freedom Call? When will the next album be released?
First of all: how has the summer been? Has it been all work, or did you have some time off?
Chris: I thank you for your time and efforts. Oh, we were all suffering from this extremly hot summer this year. My studio is at the attic floor, so I was forced to enjoy a holiday season, haha!
In 2016 Freedom Call released Master Of Light, the bands ninth studio album. How would you describe the journey from the first album in 1999 and up til now?
Chris: Hmm, that could be a very long story. The time is flying and it doesn’t feel like it’s almost twenty years ago. We started as a melodic power metal band in 1999 – and we still are a melodic power metal band in 2018, haha! We’re always trying to fill our music with positive attitude and happy melodies. In the beginning we were searching for a clear, unique character and sound, and after the Eternity album in 2002 we were «outing» the style of Freedom Call as «happy metal». Finally, in an album review in a US magazine, we got the title as the «happiest metal band in the world». This «crown» is what we have to defend, haha!
You immediately marked yourself as one of the best power metal bands, and you have managed to release album after album all very true to your original style. No compromising at all. Is that a specific «strategy», or do you just write the music you like?
Chris: Haha! That we started as «one of the best power metal bands» was not the meaning of the band. The music business tries to push their artist as best as possible. In my opinion there is just one chance for bands to survive: keep you own style, jump and carry on!
As a songwriter, musician or artist anyways, you should keep your authenticity and enthusiasm in every department of your work. If our music doesn’t come from our hearts, we should better close the book.
When Freedom Call released Stairway To Fairyland the power metal scene, in my opinion, was starting to blossom again with a lot of new bands poping up everywhere (Rhapsody, HammerFall, Sonata Arctica, etc.). What do you think about the power metal scene today, compared to that period?
Chris: Freedom Call didn’t start because there was a trend of power metal. We wrote songs years before, and in 1999 the power metal scene was unfortunately already going down.
My fellows from HammerFall was blazing up the power metal for a while, but the peak was already gone.
There are so many categories of metal, power metal, melodic power metal, etc., and many times I’m surprised about some of the bands which are running under the flag of «power metal».
What are the plans for Freedom Call the years to come? Do you ever feel that «this is it, I can’t write any more Freedom Call songs», or do you have many more FC-albums within you?
Chris: The plan is already in progress, the songwriting is running well and you can expect a new Freedom Call studio album in 2019. Also the tour preparations are in work. All topics around a new release are starting much earlier now than it did before.
Music is not a bottle of booze which goes empty. We toured almost two years around the world and now we are refreshing our source of inspiration and creation. A normal circle.
Still, there is no end of happiness in sight, haha!
As you said; you are working on a new Freedom Call album. How is that going?
Chris: Yes, it’s time for the next album. Since we have been touring a lot, we will expand the «magic two year circle», but the most important thing is to release a good album, not just an album.
As I already have said, the preparations of a new release are starting earlier than before. Because of single releases for YouTube and Facebook, vinyl printing, social media promotions etc., you have to start producing a new album much earlier.
What I can promise is that Freedom Call won’t leave the paths of our traditional Happy Metal!
In february you released Your first solo album. Was that something you’ve been thinking about for some time?
Chris: I have been collecting songs for many years. In every songwriting process there are some ideas and material left, which were not fitting in with Freedom Call. But in my opinion the songs were to good and catchy to get buried in the archive.
In 2013 I started to arrange this song material, and I wrote several songs in 2015 and 2016. Then I produced the album.
It was a very exciting time, and of course a challenge to play all the instruments (not the drums) by my self.
The solo album is somewhat different from the Freedom Call stuff. Did you feel the need to do something else, or was this music you wrote during the writing session for a FC-album, but that you felt didn’t fit in?
Chris: All correct! I’m feeling much more as a vagabond artist than just a metal singer. I’m not a «power metal melodic happy machine», haha! That was never the intention when I became an artist. I want to feel free in creativity and out of all limits and boundaries.
So many melodies, harmonies and musical themes are flying around in my head, I’m not willing to hold it down.
How do you combine your solo career with Freedom Call?
Chris: It’s been very busy, especially the last year, but I don’t feel exhausted. The production of the solo album was an adventure and it didn’t feel like real work. I recorded all the tracks by myself in my own studio, so I didn’t have any responsibility towards other musicians. It makes it much more relaxed when you don’t have to plan and organize recording sessions and appointments.
The touring and and the general work with Freedom Call has absolutely priority. While touring with my solo stuff I have the opportunity to refresh my thoughts and inspiration for upcoming things around Freedom Call.
I decided to tour with my solo album (Chasing The Sun) just with my acoustic guitar and vocals, it’s the pure way of music. But to be clear; as I do love the simplicity, I’m always missing my band buddies beside me!
Are you planning any new solo albums?
Chris: Right now my number one priority is the next Freedom Call album. That takes time and we don’t want to write «just a Freedom Call album»; we want to write the BEST Freedom Call album. And that is always an challenge.
When I find the right time, and when I have collected enough song material again, there will be a new solo album – of course.
Being in one of the most succesfull power metal bands around yourself, can you name a few bands that you think deserve more attention?
Chris: Hmm, too many. The market is full of fantastic artists, which are unfortunately impeded by the music business.
It’s tough for new bands. The budgets are decreasing and the position of metal music was much better in the recent decades.
Many brilliant musicians are not getting the chance to introduce their art, because they have to earn money for example as a teacher in a music school or with a nine-to-five job – instead of recording great music and be on the stage.
But, it is how it is… giving up is not the solution.
Chris Bay are still touring with his solo album, Chasing The Sun.
Checkout his homepage: chris-bay.com for dates and tickets.