Interview with mainman Stefan Hertrich, SpiRitual (February 27th 2007)

Hi, first off I just want to congratulate you on your new album “Pulse”. To new fans could your please fill us in on the history behind it all?
Stefan - Thanks! “Pulse” is the debut album of my new ethnic metal project “SpiRitual”: I handled the vocals, guitars, bass and keyboards on the album, and was supported by many musicians from all over the world, as well as a German book author. I did another ethnic metal project in 1999 called Betray My Secrets, so you could consider “Pulse” as “unofficial 2nd Betray My Secrets album”. 

How has your new album been received by the media?
Stefan - Surprisingly very positive. The album is very experimental and in contrast to most metal albums it has a positive message, so I expected media to react hmm… not so enthusiastic. But the opposite happened. From “SpiRitual is a new metal genre” to “this album increases your self-awareness” every positive comment was used, and I am REALLY happy about it! Many bands don’t talk positive about media, and I can understand them to some extend, because reviews are often very cynic and not objective. But in the case of SpiRitual I must say “thumbs up!”. Apart from some exceptions all magazines tried to review the album very objective/constructive. I also get so many interesting interview questions etc. which showed me that metal isn’t just a music genre but that there’s also much room for intellectual things. 

I know artists don’t like to put a label on their music - but a spaceship from outer space has just landed in your backyard, and is demanding an answer - so how would you describe SpiRituals music to an alien from another galaxy?
Stefan - I have no problems putting a label on my music, its ethnic metal music. But an alien wouldn’t understand that I guess. I’d say its music that combines the aesthetics of various cultures from our planet. I then would tell him that the lyrics have a light “new age” touch, and would explain that “new age” is a new peaceful and balanced way of thinking and acting. I guess he would laugh out loud then and tell me that it’s so old fashioned and the last person who thought and acted “new age” died out on his planet 1000s of years ago LOL. 

If your music was an emotion, which one would it be?
Stefan - An energetic, constructive emotion.

Who and what inspires you when you write a song? Walk us through the creation of a song?
Stefan - I don’t need any inspiration, I just sit down and start writing a song, without knowing how the song in the end will sound like. It can take 5-6 days fulltime until one song is finished. One thing I need is the sun. I cannot write good songs in winter or autumn, or when it rains. But when the sun is shining and the birds are singing -> awesome! 

Which subjects do your lyrics refer to? And what inspires you when you write your lyrics?
Stefan - I am inspired by the content of books, for example “The Peaceful Warrior” or “Conversations with God” as well as some good German books about spiritual and personality improvement topics. Please don’t understand me wrong, my lyrics are not religious. You could describe them well as “motivation training lyrics” maybe LOL. They are about life being a permanent battlefield and that we must see defeats as friends who teach us lessons and give us experiences. 

Who has produced and mixed the album? Are you pleased with the result?
Stefan - I produced it by myself, but it was mixed and recorded by my friend Tommy, guitarist of Darkseed owning the Helion Studios in the area of Munich. It’s so relaxed to work with him in his studio; it’s like working in my own living room. My personal number 1 address for every kind of recording and mixing work! Tommy doesn’t just have big ears; he also has good ears for mixing, ha-ha. I am 100% pleased with the sound; it’s a sound I always wanted to have. Especially the guitar sound and how good it fits to the drum sound. 

Who has done the artwork? And how important do you feel it is to have a great cover?
Stefan - The artwork was done by my good Russian friend Bonez. He’s an excellent designer and also made the website I am very happy that he helped me so much with SpiRitual, and the website he made is simply fantastic. He’s so busy with designing covers for other bands that I am worrying he can do my next cover, ha-ha. However, a good bottle of Russian vodka for sure can change his mind, ha-ha. A great cover is so important for me; it’s an essential arts component of my music. So I consider the video clip guys of Deviant Creations and Bonez as spiritual members as well. 

Do you have any touring plans?
Stefan -
Unfortunately not, it would be too expensive to form a line-up for touring. So many exotic instruments and vocal performances… Apart from that I have a tough time schedule with my job (I have a small computer gaming company with a friend) and my other music projects. 

Let’s speculate – you have been granted a free slot on a tour of your own choice – who would be your ideal touring partners?
Stefan - Hmm, I don’t have any wishes concerning bands I would like to tour with, but some “concert situations” that would be great. For example playing in a desert, or in a tropical area, or in countries you usually cannot access easily, like near/middle east etc. 

How do you feel about the co-operation with your label?
Stefan - It’s a much uncomplicated co-operation, and we’re in touch over messenger, which is better than phone or letter. You cannot reach many labels over messenger, but I consider it as very important. It’s a good label that cares more about the quality of a band than about potential sales/trends. 

The internet is a very important source for many metal fans – how do you use the internet and how important is it for you and other bands?
Stefan - I indeed use internet very much, but mainly for communicating with friends etc. It’s necessary for bands to be represented in internet, but not 100% necessary. Much more important is a damn good album and a good line-up for touring.

By the way, most of the communication for SpiRitual (for example the recording process of the female ethnic vocals) was done over internet. Yana singing in Russia and sending them to Germany for then writing songs.

And how do you feel about the metal scene in general at the moment?
Stefan - Uff, I don’t know much about the metal scene, but I know that downloading doesn’t just destroy the sales, but also the enthusiasm of people. 10 years ago I was happy about every single piece of metal my ears could get. We thought long about which album to buy etc. In our days you switch on the computer, start the file sharing program and download 100s of albums. The scene is too big, too much like a labyrinth, and it’s difficult to identify yourself with a special music style. Because it’s not special anymore if you have every album of a band etc. You can get them all for free now, in just a couple of hours. 

Which song do you consider to be the best one you have ever written?
Stefan - I think “Symphony of Life” of the SpiRitual “Pulse” album, but also some songs of my old band Darkseed are good, in my opinion: “My Burden” for example, or the Betray My Secrets song “Shamanic Dream”. 

Name an album, person or event that has had a huge influence on your life … and why?
Stefan -
There are so many people having a huge influence on my life. It could be a successful book author like Dan Millman or Neale Donald Walsch, or simply a person sitting in a wheelchair talking to me and making me feel happy that I have feet to walk. Sometimes also life stories of people from all over the world. People living in warfare territory and making the best out of their life by never giving up and always seeing the positive aspects in everything etc.

Which music do you listen to at home?
Stefan - Hmm, I don’t listen to music that much, but if I do, then I like listening to Dead Can Dance, especially when enjoying the spring and summer sun in my village forest. Apart from that I like all kind of mantras (sort of meditative songs with lyrics/vocals/music themes being repeated for many minutes, making me feel balanced and peaceful etc.). But sometimes I also like dark wave or metal bands, of course. 

Vinyl has had a small comeback lately – do you still prefer “the old sound” or are you a CD/DVD kind of guy?
Stefan - Oh, I am a big fan of vinyl. Not because of the sound quality, but because vinyl for me is something “handmade”. I don’t get used to digital music sales over internet; it’s so “empty”. But having vinyl, maybe even as limited edition, with very good booklet design etc. yes… definitely rocks J I’d really like to do some vinyl releases in the future, so if there’s any label being interested in publishing some “spiritual influenced gothic / soundtrack stuff”, please let me know J
I didn’t know there’s a sort of “Boom” (I don’t know much about the scene and what’s going on there, seems like I am getting too old ha-ha).

Last question - do you have any famous last words for our readers?
Stefan - I don’t have any famous last words, I just can offer my typical “famous last quote” LOL. Last words can be so cheesy, boring and sometimes dishonest. So let me close with a quote. Today I was talking with somebody about the fact that the world is always a mirror of us. If we think and feel negative, we also regard the world as negative. If we are afraid of many things, so many fearful situations can be found behind every corner.
There’s quote saying it so good in one single sentence:

“We don't see things as they are; we see them as we are.” (Anais Nin).

SpiRitual - Pulse

Album available on
Sensory Dark.

For more info on SpiRitual - click on the album cover.