Symphonity is back with a new lineup! PowerMetal.no had a talk with founder Libor Krivák about the history of Symphonity, the new vocalist, and wether or not there will be a new album.
As the founder you have been in the band since the beginning, back when it was called Otter. Then the name was changed to Nemesis and you released one album (Goddess Of Revenge, 2003). After that there were som lineup changes and the band renamed the name to Symphonity.
It’s been quite a ride, from the beginning in 1994 and until the birth of Symphonity! How do you remember those years?
Libor: Yes, I founded the band called Otter with the drummer Tomás Suchácek when we were teenagers. It was a good time because we were students and had a lot of free time. But on the other hand, we did not have money to buy good equipments and we had permanent problems with the lineup, so for many years it was only me and Tomás. So, after a few years with a lot of lineup changes we also altered the name to Nemesis and as you mentioned, in 2003 we released a debut album called Goddess Of Revenge. After that the lineup settled down and we played some gigs, but in the meantime Tomás left the band. We then hired Martin «Marthus» Skaroupka [Cradle Of Filth] as the new drummer. During the preparation for the next album, big changes came.
With the change of name to Symphonity you also got a new vocalist in Olaf Hayer, and you signed a deal with Limb Music. Was this a new beginning and a fresh start for the band?
Libor: You are right, in fact. Symphonity was more like a brand-new band than just the old band with a different name. Olaf Hayer was, without doubt, my dream singer and I was very exited when he recorded vocals on the album Voice From The Silence . Then, after Dionysus split, he joined the band as a permanent member. As you mentioned, we also signed a deal with Limb Music which opened us to a bigger market than before. Later, we started to play bigger festivals, mainly in the Czech and Slovak Republic, and on those shows Herbie Langhans joined us as a second singer.
Unfortunately, everything went wrong again. Olaf’s wife became ill, so Herbie had to finish up gigs, like Winter’s Masters Of Rock in 2010, alone. Less than two years later, our bass player Tomás Celechovský became ill too, and after about three months he lost the battle with pancreatic cancer. The band was totally collapsed for a long time.
As you mentioned Symphonity released the debut album in 2008. Looking back; what does this album means to you, and how was the process writing for that album?
Libor: In my humble opinion, with this album, we reached European power metal standards in every aspect. We started a cooperation with Sascha Paeth, so we had a good sound, a good production, a strong lineup with great musicians, an excellent singer and a good label.
The songs for this album I wrote during a long period of time. The oldest one, like «Gates Of Fantasy», was from the Nemesis era, the others, for example «Evening Star» or «Give Me Your Helping Hand», I finished during the recordings of the album. If I remember well, I had not finished this song («Give Me Your Helping Hand») before we entered the studio for drum recordings, so Martin had to record several variants of breaks for the solo parts, haha!
Eight years later you released King Of Persia (2016). And this time you also had Herbie Langhans singing. Why was that?
Libor: The idea of making a two singers album was a little bit older, but during the recordings of King Of Persia the idea was relaunched. One of the reasons for that was the fact that Olaf started to have problems with his voice. I think it was the best solution in this pity situation because Herbie had become an excellent singer in the meantime, and the chance to have two great voices on one album is not something that happens every day.
During the Symphonity years you have released two albums. Would you say anything about the different reasons for the long periods between each album?
Libor: Except for the aforementioned problems, there are also other factors like I don’t compose so many songs as most of the other composers. I think the emphasis should be put on quality rather than quantity. And last but not least, I still have my normal full-time job, so preparing an album takes a little bit more time than we and the fans wants.
A few weeks ago the news about the new lineup was published. What can you say about that? What are the reasons for the new lineup?
Libor: As I said in the video the main reason was that, after we released the King Of Persia album, we were not able to play even one gig. Honestly, in these days, it is impossible for the band to live just from the album release. The music industry has changed a lot with the digital revolution and the sales are very low compared to how it was some years ago, and most people don’t buy CD’s at all.
As I understand both Hayer and Langhans is out of the band. What are the reasons for that?
Libor: With Olaf it is a sad story because, as I said before, he was somewhat of an ideal singer for me and besides that he is a very nice guy too. But unfortunately, there was not a chance to continue with him in the near future. I hope his condition will get better, but as a band we need to move forward. Herbie is a different story. He is a very busy man! Besides Avantasia, he joined Voodoo Circle and now he has also started his new band called Radiant with former members of Seventh Avenue. Because of all these activities he couldn’t accept the offer to be a full-time singer. So, I had to look for a completely new singer.
What can you say about the new vocalist?
Libor: His name is Antonio Abate and he lives in Brindisi, Italy. I found him on the Internet, something that is common these days. After a short e-mail communication, I went to Slovakia to see him on stage with his Italian band called Perseus. A few months later Antonio flew to the Czech Republic to rehears with Symphonity and we then agreed that he would join the band as a follower of Olaf Hayer. Antonio has a clean voice with wide vocal range, and he can reach the higher notes easily! So the fans of this kind of metal singing will be satisfied, I hope.
What are the plans for the future? Will there be a new album coming out, and when?
Libor: First of all, we want to play some gigs next year since our last album, King Of Persia, had no live support at all. Of course we will play some songs from the first album too, so it will be something like a best of set list. During next year I also want to complete the material for the next album, and then enter the studio for recordings.
When you are writing a new album now, do you think differently than you did before? Do you have different sources of inspiration, have you changed musically and do you think that the music of Symphonity has changed during the years?
Libor: Yes, I think there is a hearable progress between the years, but we still keep a continuity with our previous work, I think. I am, as a composer, growing up as well, so my music is also naturally changing. On the last album we probably had less neo-classical parts in the Stratovarius vein, but I still like the first Symphonity album too.
At the moment, I’m in the middle of the composing process for the next album. This time, my work is a little bit different than usually, because it will probably be a conceptual album. So, this time I compose the songs more like a movie soundtrack. It is a new challenge for me, but don’t worry; it will be a logical successor of the King Of Persia title song, I think.
Since you founded Ottar back in 1994 a lot have changed, also on the power metal scene. How would you describe the scene today compared to when you first started?
Libor: In the first half of the 90’s there was a big fall in the melodic music we liked very much. Grunge was everywhere, and a lot of the bands were trying to change their musical style to something more grungier, to keep themselves alive. Fortunately, bands like Gamma Ray kept the flame of power metal burning. I still remember when I bought Land Of The Free in 1995. It was a real light in the dark. One year later, Stratovarius released Episode, and power metal bands started to grow up again. Today, the situation is a little bit different; there are so many bands, but the market is very saturated.
Finally: it’s good to hear that Symphonity is still going strong, and I hope there will be a new album released soon!
Libor: Yes, never give up! Thank you for the questions and I’m wishing all the best to you and all the fans.