It’s all a bit predictable, isn’t ìt? A band releases an album, and since they want to promote it as good as they possibly can, they say “yes” when you approach them about an interview. Sometimes it makes things more interesting when you are able to break out of this pattern and do an interview when a band is at a different stage in the process. This is exactly what happened this time around, as I approached Sin Starlett in the wake of the release of their very impressive vinyl single.
The history of Sin Starlett dates back to July 2005, with my interview partner Reno (guitar), Jan (guitar) and Elias (vox) being original members. What brought you together back then, and what were your ambitions for the band?
– That’s right, we founded the band in 2005 after we played several years together in a hard rock band called Man On The Moon. We were tired from the monotonous metal scene back then, and just felt that the time was right for a band to focus on real, straight and raw old school heavy metal. So there was basically no plan, except to play the music that we all love. Also, Elias and I we’re forced to make a new start with our lives, as we were both been left by our girlfriends, haha…so you could say that evil women and the devotion for heavy metal brought us all together.
I have to admit I haven’t heard the album “Call To The Punisher” in its entirety, but there seems to be a rather significant difference in quality from this one to “Throat Attack”. What caused what is seemingly a big improvement in just a few years?
– Yes, there is indeed a big quality difference between “Call To The Punisher” and our later releases. The first album was recorded in a very short time frame, and we had no idea about recording, studios and so on. We had no clear vocal lines, no fixed drum arrangements, and no budget! But still I think that “Call ToThe Punisher” has a few good songs and certain charm that can not be reproduced. Some of these songs would sound great with a better production and a little bit more time in the studio. For “Throat Attack”, and also the 7’’ single before, we started with a complete different approach to the songwriting, the songs were a lot “catchier” and we wrote more melodic vocal lines and refrains. Also we began to integrate the lyrics from the beginning into the writing process, so the songs sound a lot more homogenous. And last but not least, we were probably not the same idiots as we were some years before. But let me think… I’m not sure about the last point.
I first became aware of Sin Starlett when I bought the ”Throat Attack”-CD at Keep It True back in 2013, but by then you had already existed for a while. Do you think this release represented a breakthrough for you reaching out to a much wider audience than on the recordings you released in the past?
– Yes, in some ways “Throat Attack” was a breakthrough for us, because it was the first time our music was presented in an appropriate way including an adequate production. It was also our first album that has been released through a world-wide-active label, Emanes Metal Records, so we definitely reached a wider audience with this release. After “Throat Attack” was out, we had the chance to play at several international festivals like “Up the Hammers”, “Pounding Metal Fest” in Madrid, and so on. So we had the chance to present our music to many metalheads around the world, which was a great experience.
While I enjoyed this release, I felt it lacked the last little bit to be a really great album. I felt some of the songs could have been a little better and also the identity of the band could have come across a little stronger. What are the aspects about “Throat Attack” you have looked to improve with the new album?
– We are very happy with the album and we think it presents the band the way it should be. Of course there are always some small details we’d like to adjust, as it will be with every album. An album is always a contemporary document that reflects the band at a certain moment, and I think the songs on “Throat Attack” are great under this aspect. I am not sure what you mean with “identity”, because we don’t pay much attention to this thing called “image”. We are just a heavy metal band that plays metal the way we like it. We are not satanists, we are not part of the so called “retro wave”…we just deliver pure hard ‘n’ heavy music. So I think the songs shall speak for themselves. Of course we always want to offer a coherent overall package including a proper artwork, a typical metallic appearance, so the listener knows what he gets. But in the end it’s the music that counts. The only “change” you can expect for the new album is that the songs are probably more detailed, we paid more attention to the vocal arrangements, backing vocals, solos and so on. The songs on “Throat Attack” were very straight, and directly to the point. The compositions on the new album will definitely show more variety, still offering straight and raw heavy metal music in the vein of the NWOBHM.
Comparing material from your first album to the new songs, there is also a significant improvement in the vocals. I felt they were simply not good enough to begin with, but would like to know how Elias has worked to improve them, because he sounds a lot more convincing now.
– As already explained, after the first album we started to pay more attention to the vocals, especially melodic wise and also regarding the lyrics. We started to develop vocallines together with our singer Elias, tried different versions of the new songs, and adjusted lyrics in case they were not fitting the music. That was a big difference to the first songs we wrote, because back then Elias usually had a bottle of beer in one hand, and the lyrics in the other hand. Then we said :”Let’s go, here’s a new instrumental we just wrote, do something!”. And a new song was born. Haha!
To get gigs in relatively small metal countries like Norway and Switzerland, you often have to play alongside bands from other genres. This is the case for Sin Starlett as well, but Reno really doesn’t see it as a problem.
– Yes, but we see it as a chance to play with bands from other genres…as long as they don’t play gothic metal, we are okay with it. It always gives you an opportunity to enchant people who usually don’t listen to heavy metal, or maybe never would get in touch with it. We plaid a lot of gigs with death- and thrash metal-bands, as these are still the most common genres in Switzerland. Sometimes it’s good to be the only band in the billing that plays this kind of old school metal, because it guarantees you something like a unique element. On the other hand, it’s great to play at a pure heavy metal-festival, because as we know most of these fans are real metal maniacs to the bone and they love exactly this kind of music straight from the heart. It gives you the opportunity to present your band straight in front of your target audience.
At the same time you have, and are supposed to perform at some great traditional metal festivals around Europe. Do you feel extra motivated for gigs like these, knowing that most of the people are there are probably going to like your music?
– We were very excited to play at these festivals an of course it gave us some kind of extra motivation, knowing that we’re going to play together with legendary bands like Raven and ass kicking newcomers like RAM. As already mentioned, it’s a great experience to play a show in front of a diehard metal-audience, because most people there are completely devoted to this music. On the other hand, we’re not a so called “cliché-band” that totally fits the expectation of such a festival…so it’s still a challenge for us to convince this audience and gain new listeners.
Playing the kind of heavy metal that you do, do you think it is more difficult making it when you are from Switzerland than from for instance Sweden? Or will you get more exposure being the “only” band doing it?
– It’s definitely a barrier for us to descend from a country that’s not famous for classic heavy metal bands, with a few well known exceptions of course. The kind of metal we play is not very popular in Switzerland, and there aren’t any traditional metal festivals or stuff like that. The worldwide hard’n’heavy community doesn’t associate Switzerland with old school heavy metal, so they don’t expect a good traditional band from that area…which might lead to the problem, that they will never ever hear about us. On the contrary, Sweden seems to be a quality attribute for traditional heavy metal, and every new, oldschool-band from Sweden needs to be checked out immediately. Of course no one can deny that Sweden has currently the highest amount of cool, new bands celebrating heavy metal in an appropriate way. So let us not complain and just be happy about the present situation & vitality of the scene. But…maybe we should move to Örebro, change our name to “Iron Carousel” and have a new start? Haha!
Keeping your metal traditional with a classic lineup containing two guitars, a singer, bass and drums, how do you work to develop your songwriting? I guess you don’t want to bring in influences from other types of music, or?
– Yes, of course we will always keep our metal sounding classic, but our musical minds are not totally closed to other genres, except any modern stuff that we just don’t like. Our aim was always to keep up this tradition of early eighties metal, when the music was still unspoilt and virginal, and metal was not split into so many subgenres. Especially the NWOBHM covered an unbelievable variety of sounds, without being trendy or pity. Just think about Legend, Saracen and for example Raven on the other side…They all sounded completely different, but it was always heavy! We don’t have any particular plan to adjust or develop our sound, but we will definitely always try new things in our musical spectrum.
The new single, featuring the songs “Digital Overload” and “Electric Expander” is released by Metalworld, and not Emanes, the band’s usual partner i crime, but according to Reno, the reason is quite simple…
– It’s a Swiss metal magazine that had discontinued its activities a few years ago. We met Alexx “Eddiegagg” Fontanini, the founder of Metalworld, around fall 2014 at a metal market, where he came up with the idea of releasing a 7” single with us. We asked Laurent from Emanes Records prior to the release if this was okay for him, and he had no problems with it. It’s Metalworld’s first release, and we are very proud it worked out so well. There are currently no further releases planned with Metalworld, and the upcoming album will be out through Emanes as usual.
Metalworld likens you to the NWOBHM and uses bands like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Saxon as comparisons. Of course it’s normal for labels to use the well known bands as references, but do you think the comparison is accurate enough?
– Judas Priest and Saxon are of course our biggest influences, we will not deny that. Haha! These are definitely the two bands everyone in the band can agree upon. We’re still wondering about the Iron Maiden comparison, it must be the idea of Alexx “Eddiegagg”, who is one of the biggest Iron Maiden-fans in Switzerland. You could add many NWOBHM bands to the list, but as NWOBHM always has a certain charm that can not be recreated, I’m not sure if this a proper comparison.
While I felt the cover art to “Throat Attack” was a bit generic, I really like the cover art of the single. I think more bands should do black and white covers, it would be a great contrast to all the colorful covers. Also if all the covers of a band were held in the same style, it would be a great trademark for the band in question. Will you use this guy, Amadeus Waltenspühl for the full length release as well?
– I really don’t feel that the cover of “Throat Attack” is ordinary or generic. If you check today’s metal covers, you have mainly three types of covers…The modern photoshopped-to-the-max ones, the thrashy ones featuring zombies or nuclear apocalypses, in the classis Ed Repka-style or the trashy, old school to the bone ones…I don’t think that this cover can be put in any of these worn out categories. We really like it, because it reflects our songs…Powerful, shiny as steel & straight to the throat. Haha! Of course the cover art of the single is cool as hell, we thought it would be a great idea to keep the tradition of black abd white covers for our singles. We already had a similar cover for “Black Magic Sky”, our 7” split single released in 2010, and I think it’s a good antipole to our colourful album covers. The single covers have been designed by our good friend Amadeus Waltenspühl, who is a well known artist in our hometown Lucerne, he does a lot of advertising posters, logos for companies and similar stuff. Check out his homepage: http://www.grafik-lu.ch
– The cover of the upcoming full length release will be done by the same guy who did “Throat Attack”, Jaron Gyger. The cover art is already finished, and we are happy to announce that it will contain again our good friend “The Metal Robot” also known as The Punisher”, but this time in a more subtile way.
The single, at least the ordinary version, is limited to 333 and plays on 33 rpm, not 45 which is the usual speed. Although it might look like a nice gimmick, the reason is more practial…
– The songs were too long! It’s always the same problems with those damn progressive hymns. Haha!.It would have been very tight for the songs if the single was on 45 rpm. The pressing plant told us it might be better to release it on 33 rpm. That’s the only reason why.
Are the versions of the songs that we hear on the single, the same as the ones that will feature on the album? They sound really great and very powerful compared to the material on “Throat Attack”, so I guess they are.
– Yes, the same versions will be on the album, we might will adjust the mix just a little bit. We also think that the recordings sound even more powerful & earthy this time, so it’s definitely an improvement compared to the last album.
As far as I understand, “Digital Overload” is also going to be the title of the album. Is the theme in the lyrics of the song relevant to the rest of the album as well, or is it another reason why it is the title track?
– Yes, we have few songs dealing with the issue of this modern electronic & digital overkill we are facing nowadays. The human race is more and more dependent on complex technique and computer-systems, but what will happen if the whole system collides? We think it’s an interesting topic, because it’s affecting almost all aspects of our daily life. Nevertheless, “Digital Overload” is also something that can appear when you are recording on volume 11 all the time…
You wouldn’t be the first band to put two of the better songs on a single released before the album is released. So, how do you rate “Digital Overload” and “Electric Expander” compared to the rest of the material on the album? Also, do you feel they are representative for the album?
– I would say that “Digital Overload” and “Electric Expander” are pretty straight and unfussy compared to the rest of the album. We wanted to have two catchy and typical Sin Starlett- tracks on the single. Of course there are some more songs on the album in the same vein, but a lot of tracks were just too long for a 7’’ single. As already mentioned, the new material shows a slight improved variety compared to the last album. There are some songs who are bordering on thrash metal, and we even recorded our first power ballad, with emphasis on power!
Already in January the band had 80 percent of the upcoming album recorded. To be honest, I expected a release date to be set by now, but album has had to be pushed back for a while.
– Yes, but we have a slight delay as we had some shows to play and a few things to organize, especially related to the 7” single. Everything except the backing vocals is fully recorded now; so after this is done, the material will go through the mixing and mastering process. As we all have regular jobs and even families, the recording progress always drags on longer than planned. There’s no fixed release date yet, as it depends on the exact release schedule of our label. But you can be sure that “Digital Overload” still will be released this year, November or December at latest! Any news will be spread through our Facebook page.
– Thank you very much for the interview!! Spread the heavy metal decadence all across the planet, stay löud an keep the hard’n’ heavy cult alive! If you want Sin Starlett to play in your hometown, drop us an e-mail on sinstarlett(at)gmx.net and we’ll get back to you!