“We channel our emotions into the music” – Interview with Nailed to Obscurity

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We had the chance to talk to Raimund Ennenga (vocals) and Jan-Ole Lamberti (guitars) from Nailed to Obscurity. The German melodic/doom band celebrated their newest record, Black Frost by accompanying Amorphis and Soilwork on their European tour. Before their concert in Budapest we had a really nice conversation where it became obvious how well the two guys fit and work together – at times even finishing each other’s thoughts! We asked them about the past and future of the band and they were eager to respond to some more philosophical questions as well, next to the more fun ones!

Black Frost has just came out not so much time ago. What are the feedbacks about it, and do they match what you feel about the album?

Raimund Ennenga: I think the feedback so far was beyond positive, it was far beyond my personal expectations, especially when it came to the German chart positions last week. We peaked at number 37.

Jan-Ole Lamberti: Soilwork were there too, number ten, which is really really good, all the big, national radio stars, they were all in there as well. We are a pretty small band, so we didn’t expect to chart on that position, so it was a really nice surprise. In general, the feedback was really great – the reviews were more or less all really-really good, we got full points in a lot of them. That was the best reaction we ever got for an album.

And what about your subjective views of the album?

Ole: 100% satisfied. Actually, while we were writing the album, we were still questioning everything, but I think that is normal if you’re creating something. We went to the studio for a week, to make the pre-production for the album, six weeks before recordings started with our producer, Viktor Santura from Triptykon, who is actually here now, playing with us today as a step-in base player. There we decided that yes, this is the album we want to record. There we were 100% satisfied with everything already.

Since the album Opaque you’re working with Nuclear Blast. How did the collaboration come?

Raimund: They actually re-released Opaque and King Delusion, so Black Frost is our debut with Nuclear Blast. Besides that, we are very happy about that, we were signed to a small German label, Apostasy Records, we released King Delusion and we were very satisfied with the result. We thought it might be the right time to take the next step in our evolution as a band. We were talking about that, searching for a bigger label, all of a sudden our back then label manager, Tomasz Wisniewski came to us and said, I would do that for you, I will search for the right label as your manager. We agreed because we were satisfied with his work and it would be great to work with him in the future, and this would give us the opportunity to do that. Then he came with the offer of Nuclear Blast and we were blown away! That is such a huge label, with so many renowned acts on its roster – interested in us?! It was actually a no brainer to sign a contract, it is THE label in metal these days, we are still proud of that.

Looking back to the past, there was basically you had a six year break between two studio albums after Abyss, what is the reason behind this?

Ole: When we recorded Abyss, that was the first time we went to studio, the first ever time for all of us, Raimund wasn’t in the band back then. For us it was the first time it was the first time we ever recorded something in a studio. All the songs we have written were reworked there when Jann (Hillrichs, drums) joined the band, so everything was done then. We didn’t really think about songwriting like we do now. After we recorded that album, we just wanted to play live, and that was our main focus at that time and we kind of forgot to write new songs. We never were in the songwriting mood before, we just recorded what we had collected through the years before. Then we wanted to gain the experience and play as much as possible, almost four years passed and we already had some new material by then. We recorded it in a studio in Germany but we weren’t really satisfied with the production, nor with the vocals our former singer did back then. We had that album lying around, and then we had some concerts, like Mexico and other stuff that was really fun to push those thoughts away and procrastinate, so to speak… (laughs) Then after a while we realised that we cannot release it this way, and then there was a question – do we want to quit the whole band, or what do we have to change? Then we thought that maybe we need a new singer. That is when we asked Raimund to join the band, and we needed one more year to rewrite everything – we made completely new vocals, he wrote new lyrics, we re-recorded all the guitars, because the sound was shitty before… (laughs) This took us one and half year to finish that album after it was already done. So there 6-7 years passed.

On the contrary, your newest album came really fast. Did you change a working method or you became really inspired?

Ole:  We really wanted it to come out at this point and we just put so much work into it. Normally, when we write songs, we sit together in the rehearsal room. But we are spread over Germany, so on the weekends we travel and come together, from Friday night to Sunday night we sit and write the songs. We did this for more than half a year, every weekend. That was the only reason we were faster, because with the albums before we didn’t do it every weekend, but only second weekend, so that is double the time.

Your music has many elements from many genres. King Delusion is classified as more progressive. What do you think about this and how would you classify the newest album, if we look at the big motifs or influences? 

Raimund: That is something we would like to ask from the listeners! We are pretty aware of the variety of ingredients that our music has. We really like it that way. We think a song needs certain ingredients to be complete. It is all about the song, everything is allowed in a way that makes the song complete. We want to create a certain atmosphere, we want to incorporate a certain mood into the songs. All ingredients are allowed to make that possible.

Ole: We don’t really think in genres, we stopped trying to find the right label or tag for our music, because everybody says something different and we don’t know either. Maybe that is a good thing.

So it is more about expressing emotions… Well, mostly sadness?

Ole: Well, yeah…

Raimund: Yeah…

How does it feel to play them on stage, if you are not actually in a gloomy mood?

Ole: You don’t feel happy while playing, it’s just that you feel the song.

But if you are happy otherwise?

Raimund: We’re no pretenders, it’s natural for us, because we know the mood that we were in when we wrote the song and we…

Ole: And we know what it means to us. You’re reliving that on stage, which is a good thing. It is the way for us to express these kinds of emotions, this is how we do it – we write these songs and bring them on stage and get into this mood, it is like a cleansing.

Raimund: And you will see us smile and all that stuff, it is emotional, but I think while this music is our channel…

Ole: That is the word I was looking for! (laughs)

Raimund: It is just great to play it and get rid of these emotions and after that we are just hippies.

Ole: Yes, because you put all the emotions in there, play it, and throw it away, so that is how it feels.

Isn’t it mentally exhausting to do that almost every single day?

Raimund: No.

Ole: No.

Raimund: Not really, because we don’t think our music is depressing or negative.

Ole: It is melancholic but there is always a positive side in there.

Raimund: As I said, we put it as our channel for these kinds of emotions, but it is nothing negative.

So it is something like a special state of mind.

Raimund: Yes!

Ole: Yeah.

Do you actually have capacity or time to listen to other bands and who are your favourites or inspiration?

Ole: There are countless favourites and inspirations! I could tell some of my later discoveries. One of them is the EP called Don’t Waste Your Time by the band Idle Hands, that is some really cool stuff! We also like Soilwork, we are listening to it now! They have this smashing…

Raimund: Stålfågel!

Ole: Stålfågel! It is an amazing song! But of course, we listen to metal all the time, and not only metal, but music in general. There are lots of old time favourites, which for me are Katatonia, Opeth, Paradise Lost, Anathema.

Raimund: Dark Tranquillity.

Ole: Dark Tranqullity, but also other stuff, like thrash metal bands, death metal bands.

Some big German bands?

Ole: Actually there are not that many German bands I listen to! (laughs) There are so many goods bands and so many different genres and subgenres, it is pointless to tell you my favourites because there aren’t just a few favourites. There are so many different bands I’m listening to… Type O Negative!

Raimund: Oh yeah! (laughs)

Ole: (laughs) Now that I think about it! Type O Negative! That is an all-time favourite.

Raimund: For me it is also hard to pick, like Ole already said, we are listening to music all the time. I don’t listen to that much music while I’m on the road, but normally I listen to music all day every day.

Is there a band you listened to children and teenagers, where you said “Okay, this is what I want to do, I want to become a metal musician”? 

Ole: Yes, there is such a band for me at least, but we don’t sound like them at all – it is Sepultura. Sepultura is the reason we started the band. We were eleven and we were huge fans of Sepultura, and that is why we started playing the guitar. We started learing the guitar because we wanted to be like Andreas Kisser! We wanted to have a cool band like he did, so that was the main motivation for us to start playing and by then we alraedy had the plan to found the band someday. We don’t sound like Sepultura, but they are still a very important influence.

What about favourites from your own discography? Or is there any album you aren’t that fond of?

Raimund: Hm, do you have something in mind?

Ole: Yes, kind of. I like all the albums, but on the first one, Abyss, there are some songs that I don’t like that much because they have German lyrics and that is something I never wanted and I never liked and still don’t like, I think Raimund would agree with that.

Raimund: Yeah, but there are some interesting songs too. I don’t want to judge that, it is okay for example Kubus aus Glas, I like the song.

Ole: Yeah, I like all the songs, but what I didn’t like about the album was that there are some English and some German lyrics. I still like the album, but that is why I prefer the other ones. I think Opaque is a great album, but for me, King Delusion and Black Frost are a bit better personally, because I think we found our sound on these albums, which we were still looking for on the previous ones. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like the others, but it would be also pretty bad if you preferred the old albums to the new stuff!

Raimund: I would go with one particular song, iNnerMe. It was one of the first lyrics that I wrote for Nailed to Obscurity and it was one of those songs where I really felt that I’m in the right mood to write these kinds of lyrics and that it gives so much to me. I have this new channel, Nailed to Obscurity, to express these kinds of feelings. I have another band, Burial Vault, which has more socio-critical lyrics. But this is really a side of me that has always been there and I finally had my channel for that. iNnerMe is a special song for me. But I won’t ever put that over other songs, it is just special.

What is your favourite thing abour tour life?

Ole: It is all great. We are having a great time when we are on tour, so far we always had. We are touring with great bands, we never had bands that we didn’t like personally, they are all great people. The crew is great, it is just a fun thing to do. But the best part sometimes is the work – now we have to set up the stage and everything, the logistics have to be organised, but the best part is the playing itself.

You played in Hungary two years ago. How does it feel coming back, did you have a chance to go sightseeing?

Raimund: Yesterday.

Ole: Yesterday we went to a restaurant, a really good one.

Raimund: Very good restaurant!

Ole: Maybe the best one I’ve ever been to! It was the Petrus restaurant.

Ole: I think it was rather new.

Raimund: Yes, I think it says 2015.

Could you also go sightseeing?

Ole: We arrived here yesterday evening.

Raimund: It was a travel day and we arrived late, the only thing we did was eating and going to bed again. But returning to this venue was one of the things we were looking forward to the most! We were talking about this venue so much the last couple of days, because we had such a great time back then! There are so many great memories, it was really something that had an impact on us, it was really strong back then, the crowd too. I hope it will be the case tonight.

Thank you for your time!

Thank you!

Made by: Matyi, Vica

Pics: Dani

Thank you to Nuclear Blast!