Today at SANNE ROCKS Coen Bakker welcomes ACHIM SCHREINER from BLOOD RED SOUL and WOODLARK and more recently also from his ambience metal band CRAVE FOR DAWNING. I spoke with Achim about all his present musical adventures and the ones in the future!
Coen Bakker: Did I forget anyone?
Achim Schreiner: You almost got it right (laughs). I’m also having a side project called SANCTUARY OF STARS with ANDRA ARIADNA from Romania and I’ll be doing something new later this year.
CB: We will come back to this later on.
AS: Yes, we will.
CB: Tell me what’s new in your camp! You’re still in the middle of an album production for BRS and Woodlark at the same time.
AS: Yes, that’s true. With Einar I have just completed the last mixing and mastering processes and we’re now about to hit the home stretch, so to speak. Some more details with the artwork and preparing the marketing and publishing side of things and we’ll be good to go.
CB: Do you already have a release date? Or a name?
AS: For a long time we had avoided to set any sort of deadline simply as we are all pretty busy with all sorts of things and bands, Einar as well, and have other day jobs in music as well. Plus we had some unforeseen things and issues to deal with. However, I think it safe to say that in June we will be ready to present the album to all the people, if there are any (laughs), who are looking forward to it! I think Einar and I have put some great tunes together in the good Woodlark tradition of sounds and styles. Whoever likes the previous three albums will not be disappointed by the new one.
About the second part of your question, we do have a title indeed. The album will be called “The Ascension”.
CB: How the overall sound? Will be as heavy as “The Grand Mystery”?
AS: Actually it will be a bit of a return to the more melodic times of Woodlark when there were songs like on the first two album. “Grand Mystery” was significantly heavier but we wanted to emphasise on the more melodic side again this time. That being said, there are still heavy elements on that album and especially the title track “The Ascension” will be pretty heavy indeed.
We have to keep in mind that the songs for that record were written and partly recorded over a rather long period of time. I had the first ideas already in late 2016, shortly after releasing “The Grand Mystery”. As always we had more material than we could actually use in the end.
CB: We are looking forward to it! I have read that you are also working on a solo album again which would be the first one since 2017’s “Left Here To Atone”.
AS: Yes indeed. I was not overly happy with this album back then and for a number of different reasons that I don’t wanna go into now. But it was not on the same level as my 2014 album “Black” and I wanna get back to that and also wanted to stretch out and branch out a bit more again. I haven’t done that for a long time. During the last couple of years I have had to neglect quite a few things I usually love doing and playing. Including playing the Blues and funky fusion, jazzrock kind of stuff. My new solo album will be diving very much into these direction again and it was great fun so far to write and record for it. When I started to play the blues again and put together some first songs earlier this year, it felt like a revelation. Suddenly playing guitar and making music was about fun and joy again and I realised how much I had lost the joy of playing guitar during the last 2 years.
CB: The stress and the schedule to deliver certain material on time.
AS: Yeah, that too. You just didn’t have the leeway and time to let yourself dive into other things anymore and I missed that greatly. During winter IU had some great jam sessions with fellow musicians and it was so much joy and so much fun to play something different for a change. I love rock and metal to bits but there is something about the blues and funk guitar that gives you a freedom of expression, the space for subtle ways of pickings etc. that you cannot find in metal. At least not to this degree and this extend. When playing these bluesy ideas it was then when I realised how much I had actually missed it. So my solo album will be very much a reflection of what I have just said. The title will be “Dimension Nowhere”. There are already a couple of tracks available to listen to them for free on my YouTube channel, by the way.
CB: Do you have any guest musicians on this album?
AS: No, except for a drummer who is the very talented Lee Steinmetz this time. He has been out of (professional) drumming for several years already and we get to talk from time to time and somehow I managed it to make him curious about the music I’m writing and started playing more again and to up his game and now, several months later he has already drummed on several of my songs. Lee is in his early 60s already but what a drummer. Immense feel and timing. He has played in all kinds of genres within the last 40+ years. Other than that I played everything myself which is the easiest, fastest and most of all most hassle-free way of doing things as I have realised again (laughs).
CB: What about BLOOD RED SOUL?
AS: Things go forward here as well. Fiona has just recently finished recording her vocal tracks in a studio in Greece with the help of a producer called John McRis who apparently did a great job.
CB: Did the idea come naturally to involve an external producer or was it a conscious decision?
AS: Well, John and Fiona have worked together already in the past and especially last year when the production of the new forthcoming FALLEN ARISE album was taking place. Obviously she liked working with him very much so it was just a logical step to team up again.
Lisa Rieger has done a beautiful job as well who will sing a wonderful ballad on the record as well as Andra Ariadna too. Andra and myself were used to work together already from my side project SANCTUARY OF STARS so it was very nice working with her again, of course.
CB: Can you tell us a release date for this album?
AS: Not exactly but in summer or late summer we will definitely have it all completed and available. When you have a project with so many different people involved who all have their own lives, jobs and other bands, it is very hard to keep a certain timetable. At least this is my experience. Last year things had changed when our singer Ellie called it quits to pursue other paths of her musical career and we had to re-build the entire concept for the second album then. It was already clear back then that it will be hard to predict any sort of release date for it. The title will be “River Of Melancholia”, by the way.
CB: But you had some songs already or did you have to write from scratch?
AS: No, I had the songs we had until then. That was not the problem. Later we also added some more which were co-written by Andra, Lisa, Paul Culley and of course Fiona Creaby as well. Fiona and I have written music together already on the first BRS album where she was featured back then with two songs called “Destination Love” and “Time Ran Away”.
Over the course of the last couple of months we went a bit back and forth in some things and changed mixes, re-recorded guitars and just tried to make it sound better and give it more depth. The usual things when you work on an album for a way too long time.
CB: …especially keeping in mind that you already worked on the WOODLARK album at the same time.
AS: Exactly and quite frankly it was not always an easy ride. It’s impossible to do these things with different people entirely without any sort of friction.
However, I always try to keep things together. At least this is what I’m trying to. Even when it sometimes includes to do unpopular things and make unpopular decisions but someone has to do them.
CB: So you are the bad guy (laughs).
AS: I pretty much am. That’s for sure (laughs). Well, someone’s got to be the bad guy, right?
CB: Do you keep ideas for the next album already? Songs maybe that didn’t make it on this album?
AS: There are always tons of songs and musical ideas I have and and usually I have way more songs than actually needed. It has been like this with BRS and also with each and every Woodlark album. But i think it is way too early to think about anything in the future of Blood Red Soul. It will depend on many factors and also on the agendas of the people involved. Everything’s on the table and we will sit down and discuss this topic calmly after the release of the new album. That’s all I wanna say about this topic now.
CB: Fair enough. Let’s get to the last topic I wanted to ask you about. You are being quoted saying you will be having a whole new project by the end of the year. Is that true and if so please let us know more about it!
AS: I already hoped you forgot about it (laughs). Kidding aside, yes it is true indeed. I’ve been having this idea in my head for quite some time already. I love to try new things and get inspired and enthusiastic about music. In my other bands the image and stylistic framework you are working in can be great but also very limiting at the same time. Sometimes I miss the freedom I had when I did these 4 instrumental albums in 2011 and 2012.
CB: You did four albums in a row back then which were entirely instrumental music. All this beside your regular solo work back then which is quite remarkable.
AS: Thank you and yes, it was quite a drain but I loved every minute of it. There were times I wrote and recorded two songs a day, actually (laughs).
So I really miss that creative freedom and the peace of working on my own again without asking, begging, arguing, back and forth and whatever else. Without all that crap, you know.
So that was when my new project was born in my head.
CB: Do you already have a name or is it still a secret? What about the musical direction?
AS: I have a name and it was a secret so far. Only three people know it so far (including myself), both being my best friends.
Later this summer I will release some tracks and by autumn a full album will be completed already. Already now I have about a dozen tracks already completed.
CB: How could you manage that aside all the other commitments and schedules?
AS: When working on my own I do usually work very fast, very efficient. That helps (laughs).
CB: Do you have any support by any other musician(s)?
AS: Primarily it is just me but I have written some ideas with a guitar student of mine, a female guitarist from the Netherlands. She will also do some background singing. I will do the main singing in the songs that feature vocals at all. Primarily there will be instrumental songs, very heavy, very much in your face and wall of sound kind of thing. Very much guitar based with hardly any keyboards or only just rather subtle to add some atmosphere and colours. It is best described as if you try to mix up elements of Andy Timmons and Marty Friedman, I mean stylistically, and the result could come pretty close to what I am up to in this project. Needless to say that I absolutely loving it. It is probably the heaviest I have ever made and it even includes some occasional growl/grunt vocals from me plus some clean vocals. Tanja, my dutch student and guitarist, is a hell of a guitar player herself already and working with her on original music for a whole new experience for her. She is like a sponge, she loves to listen and to observe and loves to learn. Plus she has a great work ethic which is something that is very important for me. Most of all she is easy to work with, which was equally important to me. I know her for years already.
Also will british bass player Leisl Heath lay down some bass tracks from time to time, depending on the time and song. We will see how it goes.
CB: You still haven’t revealed the name yet!
AS: The name will be TIMESHOCK.
CB: Sounds fantastic.
AS: Thank you very much! I like it too.
CB: Last but not least, what about the CRAVE FOR DAWNING album?
AS: The CFD album is basically completed and after some minor things about the artwork are sorted out it will be out 1st June 2019! The album title will be “Red Dawn” and the songs are very much in the funeral/atmospheric/ambient metal kind of style. I love this sort of music.
CB: Makes me wonder what I should envy the most the creative or the physical energy (laughs). Achim thank you very much for taking the time and talking to us in depth about all these projects!
AS: Thank you so much for having me! Always a pleasure to be a guest here on SANNE ROCKS. You guys have always helped us and I deeply appreciate that. Thanks a lot!
CB: You are very welcome!
Interview was conducted by Coen Bakker (May 2019)