Interview with Charly Steinhauer (guitars and vocals)
Interview conducted by Daniel DGYDP Guerrero
Date online: October 13, 2009
It's hard to find a decent comeback album within the plethora of releases by recently reformed Thrash Metal bands. The amount of 80's groups hopping on the reunion bandwagon is astounding and it may be hard to find the proverbial quality needle in the haystack. Among the exceptions are bands such as Sacrifice, Heathen or Guillotine, who have released material equal or even superior to their back catalogue. A band that has been back long before Thrash was fashionable is Paradox, a German metal band with an original, melodic sound. "Our sound is more Bay Area oriented," says front man Charly Steinhauer (guitars and vocals), who has been the genius behind Paradox since it was founded in 1986.
Fans of the band can rejoice because a new album is coming soon; their third since the 1999 reunion, entitled Riot Squad. The things I've heard so far fit perfectly into Paradox's back catalogue: progressive melodies combined with violent thrash riffs and clean, powerful singing. As always, however, the band has also made a change in sound, this time towards more aggressive, straight-forward metal. "We consciously decided to only record really harder ideas this time, also because people asked us to do that and we're good with respecting what our fans ask for." Seeking to know more, I tracked down Charly for an interview.
Last time I saw you was at the Chris Witchhunter show in April, where Paradox played an outstanding gig. What have you been up to since then?
Thanks for the praise. We were very much occupied with our new album Riot Squad. We also had some nice gigs, especially at Headbanger's Open Air and Jallometalli in Finland.
How have fans responded to your recent concerts and releases?
The new Paradox is called Riot Squad, what's that about?
It is the shortened title of a track on the album "Suburban Riot Squad" which is about the fights and riots in the suburbs, like in Paris or Athens and all the trouble that goes with the aggressiveness of those kids. The riot squad is the other extreme; a brutal stupid police force who hit everyone without thinking and respecting.
How do you think this release compares to the other albums?
It's a bit more like Heresy but it also has all the new modern and progressive and – typical – Paradox elements. It has the best sound of all albums and we are very satisfied with the each and every song, which are pretty high standard, as we think.
The songs I've heard so far sound a lot more straightforward and aggressive than Electrify [released in 2008 by AFM]. What's the reason for this?
That's right. But Electrify came after an unpleasant period in my life. This time the old aggressiveness is back even stronger, just from the personal feeling. We consciously decided to only record really harder ideas this time, also because people asked us to do that and we're good with respecting what our fans ask for!
What has been the response to the songs you released on MySpace? They sound very promising; hope the rest of the album can keep up!
We definitely had super response, also AFM told us that, and yes, every song on this album is the same quality as the demo songs we presented on MySpace; now we have a song from the album online. In some days we'll put another one on MySpace.
Earlier in the year you told me there would be no ballads on the new CD, how come?
This time I felt like making a real tough Thrash album, that‘s all!
Are you anxious about the fan's reaction?
We are pretty sure that the fans will love the album, but of course you never know yes, we are very anxious about it.
In October and November you will play some concerts with the English Thrash legends Onslaught. Any cool story behind that?
No, we just have the same booker and the bands fit together.
One of these concerts will be the first in Belgium since too long, are you nervous about playing for a new audience? Can you promise me to play "Path of Denial" [from Collision Course, released 2000]?
Sure we'll play "Path of Denial"! No, we're not nervous about it.
Paradox has always seemed like an outcast in the German Thrash scene to me: the music is more melodic and sophisticated, compared to the raw brutality normally linked to Teutonic Thrash.
You are right, our sound is more Bay Area oriented. We really don't have a problem in the scene, but of course we don't meet so much with the others, because we live in southern Germany and most of the Bands are from Ruhrpott Area and even more north. The fans really do respect us and go crazy with us when we play live.
How does Paradox fit into your private life?
Paradox is my private life.
What role do the other band members play in the band? Do you see yourself as the leader?
Well I am the leader regarding the choice of music because I write and produce it. Kai works out the lyrics and does a lot of the management work. We are besides from that a democratic team.
Back to the beginning: why did you start playing guitar and what were your influences as beginner?
I started up with playing drums at school. Later on as a big fan of AC/DC I wanted to be the second Angus (laughs). So I began learning guitar in 1979. Mostly influenced by AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Saxon and Motörhead.
Typical to Paradox is a more progressive/technical approach to Thrash, similar to bands like Heathen, Megadeth or Artillery...
Yes, nice bands, we played twice this year with Artillery. I don't think we're really progressive, but it sounds good to us. It's a compliment.
What are your favorite albums?
Metallica – Ride The Lightning
AC/DC – Let There Be Rock
Motörhead – Overkill
Opeth – Blackwater Park
Exodus – Bonded By Blood
Fates Warning – The Spectre Within
Flotsam & Jetsam – Doomsday For The Deceiver
Forbidden – Twisted Into Form
Raven – Wiped Out
What are your favorite singers and guitar players?
Guitar players: Gary Holt (Exodus), Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath), Dave Mustaine (Megadeth), Jeff Waters (Annihilator), Jeff Loomis (Nevermore), John Petrucci (Dream Theater), Jim Matheos (Fates Warning) and Mike Aekerfeldt (Opeth).
Singers: James Hetfield (Metallica), Dave Meniketti (Y&T), Mike Aekerfeldt (Opeth, Bloodbath), Rob Halford (Judas Priest), John Arch (Fates Warning), Joe Belladona (Anthrax), Eric A.K (Flotsam and Jetsam).
How did you meet the current band members?
We found Roland through an ad in the internet. Olly was introduced to Kai one day and he lived almost next door, so he came by and played some notes on his bass. Kai is a member so long now, that I forgot, how exactly he joined, haha.
Some people have compared your singing to James Hetfield, what do you think about that?
It's true, my voice just sound similar.
Whatever happened to Oliver and Alex Holzwarth, who played on Collision Course?
First of all Olly plays the live bass for some bands, especially Blind Guardian, Alex for Rhapsody. They reformed Sieges Even for one record, but stopped the band. I don't know exactly what they are up to now, but we keep contact and are still friends.
All of the Paradox albums so far sound different to each other, how do you see the band evolve in the future?
The style of music will always be the same but it could be that the next album after Riot Squad will have a similar sound, because we're pretty satisfied this time, but already have found some things to optimize again!
What is your biggest aspiration with your music? Anything in particular you want to achieve with Paradox?
We want to reach as many fans as possible and always hope to get good reactions to the albums. The more people tell us, that they like the music, the more music they will get (laughs). We hope to get more gigs, especially bigger festivals all around the world.
You've had some bad luck in your personal life some years ago, how has this affected the music you make?
The last record had some songs with a little less tempo and even a ballad. I had to express all the crazy and sad things that went on in my life besides the sickness.
I noticed you are very easy going with fans, leaving the rock star attitude to other bands, where can they contact you?
On my email: firstname.lastname@example.org
And finally: whatever happened to that awesome moustache on old band pictures? I think you should bring it back for laughs and giggles.
Well, my style changed, but maybe when we again play an anniversary show one day I'll remember your proposal, haha!
I'll keep you to that, thanks for your time!
Riot Squad will be released October 16th through AFM Records, a preview can be found on the official MySpace page, check it out!
Interview by Daniel Guerrero for The Metal Crypt and Circle of Destruction, September 2009.
|Other information about Paradox on this site|
|Review: Collision Course|
|Review: Collision Course|
|Review: Riot Squad|
|Review: Riot Squad|
|Review: Tales of the Weird|
|Interview with vocalist and guitarist Charly Steinhauer on October 25, 2014 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
|Interview with guitarist and vocalist Charly Steinhauer on November 13, 2015 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
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