Interview with Stefan Keller (Guitars) - Neaera, November 2010

Neaera just released their 5th album in 6 years, time for us to ask them a bit more about the new record and lots of more of course. Just read below what these Germans are up to.


Neaera is a very creative band, 5 albums in 6 years is a lot, don't you have any social lives besides being in the band?


Stefan Keller: We have plenty of free time actually. It wasn't even stressful to write the record and record it. I don't know. We have an urge to be creative, surely we are a little driven, too. After a few months of not having written something we usually get nervous. But at the same time, we don't pressure ourselves. We act at our own pace!


Who is the creative brain behind Neaera, who writes the biggest part of the songs?


Stefan: In fact, it is the other guitar player Tobias, our drummer Sebastian and myself who write everything. More precisely, it is Tobias and me who come up with concrete ideas. These are woven together in the rehearsal room to nice little songs.


Your new album 'Forging the Eclipse' is a kind of musical mix between the 2007 album 'Armamentarium' and the 2009 album 'Omnicide' - do you agree with that?


Stefan: Oh yeah, I totally agree. At the same time, we had the feeling that the new record has something of all our records. Some riffs or melodies can also be found on the first and second record. But as far as the production, the mix, the sound and the development of the band are concerned I'd say your observation is absolutely correct.


I would describe the music of Neaera as a kind of melodic death metal band with black metal influences and a little metalcore. Do you agree and by what bands are you influenced?


Stefan: I must agree again. This is exactly what we are and trying to be. This is what we like and what we want to do. We don't consider ourselves as artists. We are not even good musicians (ok, except our drummer...that nerdy bastard...). But we are determined to create a good and maybe unheard mix of various metal styles we love. Our influences are Bolt Thrower, Wolves in the Throne Room, Edge of Sanity, Ulver, Heaven Shall Burn, Hatebreed, Dark Tranquillity, Rammstein, Nevermore and a few others.


The title 'Forging the Eclipse', is there a certain message behind it?


Stefan:The idea is that we destroy ourselves. The idea is that the eclipse is within ourselves and that a lot of the challenges and dangers of every day life stem from us. And, thus, also are in our hands. The eclipse, something powerful and mighty, can actually be forged, that means be influenced. It is also a metaphor for self-responsibility, for opportunity.


What does the band want to express with the artwork? What is it that we see?


Stefan: We see a symbol of a member of modern western society: Struggling, anonymous, replaceable, lost. The person is trying to fend something off, an enemy, but it cannot be seen where it is coming from or what it is. It is the darkening that wants to infect him. This can be manipulation or lies or illusions, it can be something that makes you desperate and desolate and losing hope. It can be short-sightedness or stupidity.


Metal Blade is one of the bigger labels in the metal scene, releasing five in a row for a big metal label is something a lot of bands dream about. Are you pleased by their support and is your popularity still increasing?


Stefan: We extended the contract after the fourth record. There were no reasons not to. Neither from MB's side nor from ours. The band is definitely still increasing. We can still feel the growing popularity of the band by people who are writing us and just discovering us as a band. At the same time, it is difficult to observe the very own band's increase due to the digital revolution and problems the record companies are facing with selling the raw CD.


The album is mixed by Tue Madsen, Alexander Dietz did the production, but why were the drums produced by Andy Classen?


Stefan: Simple answer? Because after four records, we found out that he is the most capable drum producer we have ever met. Of course, Jacob Hansen, who I appreciate a lot, also did a fantastic job on our records, but Andy Classen lives close by and we liked the idea of returning to the source for this one (he produced our debut).


Germany is a rather 'big' market, in what other countries do you have lots of fans?


Stefan: People in Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Lithuania, Russia and Estonia also like us a lot, we recognized. But as we played most shows in Germany and Austria, I' d say these are our countries at the moment.


Are there any touring plans already?


Stefan: Yes, there will be a long European tour with All that Remains and Soilwork and our friends of Caliban starting in three weeks. Then there will be a short Germany Christmas tour with our friends of Callejon and We Butter the Bread with Butter.


Please tell us one strange or exciting story that happened to you or the band being on tour.


Stefan: It is as hard to recall all of these stories as it is to enumerate all of them. When we played in Russia, the mentality definitely was very strange to us. We were offered drugs, prostitutes, alcohol and everything (which we turned down actually because we have girlfriends and are boring.) At the same time, we were not really allowed to say anything against the organizer, who still was a nice guy, but very dominant, too. He lead us through Moscow and all we did was follow and shut up because we were so frightened.


Which five albums will you take with you going on a long holiday?


Stefan: I would take the new Arcade Fire record 'The Suburbs' because it's great. I would take Rammstein's 'Reise, Reise' because it is the best record I have ever encountered. I would take a Kansas or Blue Oyster Cult record because that's great travelling music and the  Meshuggah record 'Obzen' in case I got stuck somewhere and am extremely pissed off about it.


Anything else you want to share with our readers?


Stefan: I like Denmark a lot. As a child my family and I did our holidays there every year. We also recorded our 2nd and 3rd record there with fabulous Jacob Hansen. So I simply wish all the best to all of your readers!


Interviewed by Reinier de Vries

Neaera - Forging the Eclipse

Album available on Metal Blade Records