Interview with Jan Bünning (bass)
Interview conducted by Sargon the Terrible
Date online: August 27, 2003
For over a decade Germany's Paragon have been punching out their fast and furious brand of old-school heavy metal. The release of "Law of the Blade" brought the band a wider audience along with critical acclaim, and now "The Dark Legacy" looks poised to take the band to the next level. I got some words with longtime bass player (and webmeister) Jan Bunning about where Paragon have been and where they are going.
Sargon: Paragon have been around a while, can you give us a brief band history?
Jan: The band was already founded 1990 by guitar-player and main-songwriter Martin Christian. They released a demo (Maelstrom Of Decline 1992) and a self-financed MCD (Into The Black 1994) in their classic line-up before the their first official CD "World O Sin" saw the light of day in 1996. After the release the band toured for some time with Tankard but the label Blue Merle / Tricolor went bankrupt very soon and some of the band-members seemed to have lost interest in in the band or Heavy Metal in general Martin decided to put the band on ice.
He continued to write songs and met our singer Buschi one day and thought it would be a good idea to record some demo songs. It was a lot of fun so asked two members of the last touring line-up (Markus Corby - Drums, Claudius Cremer - Guitars) if they are interested in rejoining the band. At that time I just had quit my old band Asmodis so it was perfect timing and I joined the band in spring 1996.
After about two month of rehearsals we went into the studio of Harris Jones to record "Final Command" in about two weeks and it was released in 1997 on B.O. Records. The same year we recorded the next album one which was "Chalice Of Steel" and released it in 1999 which was a good year because we could play the Bang Your Head and Wacken Festival. Then we had a break about two years because for "Chalice Of Steel" B.O. Records didn´t do such a good job anymore as for "Final Command" and so we separated because they also were not interested in us anymore.
When we played the Headbanger's Open Air Jörn of Remedy Records saw us and offered us a deal right away. We went to Piet Sielck in his Powerhouse Studio because he already mastered "Chalice Of Steel" and did a good job. The recordings lasted quite a while because we recorded drums in a different studio and the sound was not very good so Piet had a lot to fix. When the CD was released it was the first time the press was very positive about us and we had our first tour with Iron Savior afterwards (Autumn 2001). The we recorded "Law Of The Blade" and the review for that were really a blast. Everybody seemed to like it and for us it was really a step forward and a big success. On top of it we went on European tour with Gamma Ray which was so far the best experience for us ever.
Just recently we released "The Dark Legacy" which is our roughest and most aggressive album so far - after the "perfect" "Law Of The Blade" album we tried to capture our live energy on CD and in my opinion we did a good job.
Sargon: What bands/albums have been influential on the Paragon sound?
Jan: Everybody in the band likes Judas Priest but we are also into very old Maiden (pre-Dickinson!), Saxon, of course Accept and a lot of US Metal like Agent Steel, Vicious Rumors, Helstar, Hexx, Omen and also stuff like Slayer.
Sargon: It seems you did quite a few live shows for "Law of the Blade", where have you toured and how was the response live?
Jan: As mentioned before we did a European Tour with Gamma Ray and it was really cool. Gamma Ray and crew treated us very good and the fans greeted us with open arms. The gigs in Barcelona and Munich were the best we ever did but also the rest of the tour was unforgettable!
Tomorrow there will be the release party of the Gamma Ray at the Headbanger's Ballroom here in Hamburg - I think we will have some nice memories then.
Sargon: It seemed there was a story behind the lyrics of "Law of the Blade". Can you tell us some about that?
Jan: As "The Dark Legacy" is already released I will rather tell you about the lyrics of this album, ok? The "hero" of the last record inherits an old house and finds a spellbook and an old mirror there. After he reads some spells of the book he is drawn through the mirror into another dimension and has to survive a lot of adventures, e.g. he hast to fight against the monster on the cover (Eye Of The Storm).
Sargon: Well, how did the recording go for the new album? What can you tell us about it?
Jan: We had a little bit less time for "TDL" as for "LOTB" and did some live shows the same time. We tried to capture our live power for "TDL" and by doing live shows at the same time and not preparing every song to the last detail (like we did for "LOB") "TDL" sounds more spontaneous like "LOTB". We also didn't have so much overdubs like on "LOTB" and used more natural sounds.
Sargon: Paragon seem to get heavier as time goes on, will "The Dark Legacy" continue this trend? (I hope!)
Jan: I think "TDL" is by far our heaviest and most aggressive record - "Black Hole" e.g. is the fastest song we ever had and there are no ballads on the CD this time. While writing the album we were pretty pissed because of some business shit and I think you can hear that!
Sargon: Tell us about the writing, how does a Paragon song come together?
Jan: Martin - the only founding member writes most of the riffs. Then Big M (drums) and I (bass) jam a little bit and arrange the songs together. After we have a rough version of the song we record it and Buschi writes his melody lines and lyrics to it. When rehearsing the songs more often we change some details until we nail the final versions on CD. That's it! We are very fast songwriters.
Sargon: Any tour plans for the new album yet?
Jan: Yeah we will for sure do a tour with our Metal brothers in mind of Majesty. We will play in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and maybe also some shows in other European countries. Many people say we are much better live so we belong on the road!
Sargon: Best and worst tour story?
Jan: The best show was as support on the Gamma Ray Tour in Barcelona. There were about three thousand people and they treated us as if we where the headliners. Afterwards we really felt like rock stars and had lots sex, drugs and Rock'n'Roll. Awesome! The worst was maybe our release gig for "Steelbound" - we really delivered a lame live performance - to be honest I still don't know why. Maybe because we played in our hometown and there were a lot of other musicians there?
Sargon: Do any of the bandmembers have any side projects?
Jan: Yes Big M our drummer plays bass in the Judas Priest cover band Electric Ei, and our new guitar player Günny "Gunman" Kruse plays in an Iron Maiden cover band called Powerslave.
Sargon: What plans does the band have for the future?
Jan: Right now we are rehearsing songs for our tour in October / November, we have to record some bonus stuff for the re-release of "The Final Command" and we are also thinking about doing a live record next year, maybe also some live DVD stuff. Of course we are also writing new stuff for the next studio record.
Sargon: Aaaand: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Jan: Yeah as mentioned before we have a new guitarist. Claudius studies in Darmstadt which is about 500 km away from Hamburg and he doesn't know if he ever will come back. The lasted already for a longer time and so both parties said it would be better to have another guy for the second guitar. Günny is a very nice person and already a real Paragon!!! Of course we wish Claudius good luck for the future!
And thanks to all these US Metalheads that write us - it seems that REAL METAL is on the rise again in the USA! Keep on writing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or send us some pictures (especially the girls of course!)
|Other information about Paragon on this site|
|Review: Law of the Blade|
|Review: The Dark Legacy|
|Review: The Final Command|
|Review: Chalice of Steel|
|Review: Forgotten Prophecies|
|Review: Force of Destruction|
|Review: Force of Destruction|
|Review: Hell Beyond Hell|
|Review: Hell Beyond Hell|
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