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Powerwolf on the Prowl

The German-Romanian band Powerwolf released their third album Bible of the Beast at the end of April. The long player was not only critically acclaimed by the press but also their first album to find its way into the German charts. Obviously this was a good reason for Steinberg to interview guitarists Charles and Matthew Greywolf, two long-time Cubase aficionados.

Matthew, Powerwolf have made a name for themselves in the metal scene in just a short time, thanks to your first-class productions and the image you’ve so diligently created. Your live shows have a somewhat ecclesiastical touch — not to mention the church garments seen on promo shots and live shows. It’s almost like having a corporate identity. How important is this aspect to you as a band?
Matthew: Our visual approach plays a major role for Powerwolf, and always will. We want to take our fans on a journey, musically and visually. That’s why it’s essential for us to stage a show while performing live. We use massive stage decoration, a special light show and to some extent we also regard ourselves as actors, but this is not to be allowed to stand in the way of our music.

Charles: This is misunderstood time and again, especially in Germany. Of course, the music takes the first place — if our albums weren’t musically any good, nobody would be in the slightest interested in our show — we consider the visuals to be a bonus used to convey the music’s mood.

Compared to other bands, you guys don’t take yourselves too seriously — your songs have titles such as Raise Your Fist, Evangelist or Saturday Satan. How does the song writing process work within a German-Romanian band?
Matthew: I guess you still need to make a difference here. We give ourselves that occasional wink of the eye, making use of musical quotations and word puns in our lyrics, but we’re most certainly no band which defines itself through humor or even by cracking jokes. Most our lyrics are based on religious myths and parables. We describe spiritual and religious notions, but we aren’t here to judge and we’re definitely no preachers. And that’s the wink: some of the lyrics we throw in make it clear that Powerwolf aren’t made up of religious fanatics out to do missionary work. Our mission is our music.

Charles: As for our song writing, we write our songs together as a band. The basic structures and individual parts emerge in our rehearsal room. Here we find the quantum of magic needed to make a typical Powerwolf song. After constructing the song’s frame, we may want to work on the details in the studio or during pre-production.

How is Cubase implemented in these processes?
Charles: We use Cubase as soon as we begin with the pre-production work. Especially a complex long player such as Bible of the Beast required an intricate pre-production. This meant we had to plan the four-voiced choir parts ahead of time during the actual recording sessions. Without Cubase and its vast possibilities this would have been rather difficult to realize. Cubase lets us easily create and modify arrangements, making the songs very flexible when it comes to editing.

When did both of you kick it off with music and since when have you been using Cubase?
Charles & Matthew: We started playing music in the late ’80s. And we’ve been with Cubase for more than five years now. Charles has been using Cubase most extensively.

Charles, how did Cubase pique your interest?
Charles: After switching from analog to digital recording technology, I was on the look-out for the right DAW software. Then I bumped into Cubase while visiting a friend — the extremely intuitive handling helped me make up my mind easily.

Have you already had the time to get to know Cubase 5? What do you like  particularly in the latest version?
Charles: The new vocal-editing feature is great. The previous VST tools from other companies just weren’t working that well for me but the newly integrated one does. It only takes a short time to get familiar with, and using it is less time consuming than the rest. The new convolution reverb seems to be spot on too.

Charles, you have your own studio where your pre-productions take place. What gear do you use?
Charles: My setup consists of a Soundcraft Spirit M12, which I use as mixer and preamplifier, and two Fostex VC-8s together with an RME Hammerfall DIGI 9636/52. I run Cubase 5 on my DAW (dual core PC), generally mixing “in the box”.

Due to your rather complicated arrangements do you use samples and playbacks during your live performances. Is Cubase also an integral part of your live shows?
Charles: We use HD drives while performing live. In case issues with the power supply crop up, we can boot these devices much faster than a PC.

Apart from the festivals, will you also be touring the clubs with Powerwolf this summer?
The wolf will definitely welcome you to the mass this fall. But where it’ll take place is still under negotiations at the moment. We find it very important to give our fans the best performance at the upcoming shows. We have to carefully choose our tours with other bands because it’s not always that easy to take our massive show with us. For now we’ve still a few imminent summer festivals where we can guarantee the entire show…