Interview with guitarist Sven Luedke
Interview conducted by MetalMike
Date online: October 20, 2014
MetalMike: Mob Rules has been in existence now for 20 years and that is a long time for a band and a proud accomplishment, so congratulations on reaching this milestone! What do you feel has been the secret of your success?
Sven: Thank you! I think its hardheadedness and stolidity ;-) Seriously, we love making music, writing songs, playing live and so we kept going. And here we are, twenty years older!
MetalMike: According to your website, you have some anniversary shows lined up in Germany. What can the fans attending those shows expect and will there be a DVD release for those of us unable to attend?
Sven: We are presenting songs from all of our records. Sort of a "Best-Of" show, if you like. We are not planning to capture the shows on video. We produced the Mob Rules Over America DVD that's part of the 20th Anniversary Box and was recorded at Prog-Power-USA Festival. That Box was so much work, you can't imagine. I need some time to recover and then I will start to work on ideas for new songs.
MetalMike: Speaking of the box set, it is called Timekeeper and is being released in honor of the band's 20 years and it contains three CDs of music and DVD. What else can you tell us about this new release? Are there any extras like photos or interviews included with Timekeeper?
Sven: There is a 44-page high-gloss booklet in it where the story of Mob Rules is told. There are a lot of photos in this booklet as well. And you get a sticker ;-) The Box really is "value for money"!
MetalMike: What prompted you to re-record some of your songs for the second disc of the Timekeeper boxed set? Were you not happy with the originals or was there another reason?
Sven: With the Mob Rules and friends CD we had the feeling we could do some things we wouldn't do on a regular album. So Klaus came up with the idea to re-record some older songs – his idea was to let them sound more like Mob Rules sound nowadays.
MetalMike: Cannibal Nation was the band's last studio album, released in 2012, and apart from a few new tracks on Timekeeper, the band has been quiet on the recording front. Do you have plans for a new studio album in the near future and, if so, can you tell us a little bit about the material you've been working on and what it will sound like?
Sven: "My Kingdom Come," the single within the box will be on the next album. It's sort of an appetizer. I will be working on new material asap. But I always collect ideas on hard drive whenever I grab my guitar, so there's always enough material to start with. Luckily, I'm never short of ideas. (Knocking on wood!)
MetalMike: Why the change from the Power Metal sound of the early albums, like Temple of Two Suns, to a more melodic Heavy Metal sound on later albums like Cannibal Nation?
Sven: I think it is a matter of changes in the line-up and our tastes that have changed over the years; almost a natural evolution. I was always more into the melodic Heavy Metal stuff like Maiden, Savatage and Queensryche.
MetalMike: You've also moved away from the fantasy-based lyrics of the early albums and focused on some historical events, for instance the Kennedy Assassination with "The Oswald Files" from Radical Peace. Saxon also did a song about this subject ("Dallas, 1PM" from Strong Arm of the Law). What is the interest in the death of a U.S. President for folks from Europe?
Sven: I think John F. Kennedy was very popular in Europe and especially in Germany. He saved the world from the third world war, which almost started in 1961 in Berlin. His action had a big impact on German history.
MetalMike: What keeps making new music fresh and exciting for the band? Do many of you have side projects that allow you to focus on things that aren't necessarily right for Mob Rules so you can come back to the band focused?
Sven: No one within the band has side projects on a constant basis. I sometimes do session jobs and run a guitar school where I have to deal with a lot of different styles like Funk, Blues, Rock and Pop. After teaching pop songs to my students in the afternoon I am happy with writing Metal Riffs at night ;-)
MetalMike: You've only played in the U.S. a few times, according to your website, and they've been at festivals (ProgPower in 2011, Bar Fest Bay Area Rock Fest in San Francisco back in 2007). How were those experiences and is the U.S. a place you feel like you need to spread the word, as it were, or are you happy with the successes you've had in Europe and other countries?
Sven: We would love to play in the U.S. a lot more. Playing the festivals in San Francisco and Atlanta was great. The people there were awesome and we felt very welcome. Unfortunately, it's quite difficult for a German band to do a tour in the states.
MetalMike: What have been your favorite places to play and where haven't you played yet that you'd like to some day?
Sven: The favorite places have been the shows in the U.S. and Gothenburg in Sweden was awesome, too. Visiting Japan for some shows would be fun, I think. We've never been there.
MetalMike: You also had some shows lined up with Dio back in 2009 that were cancelled. Where were they scheduled to take place and were they cancelled because of the illness that eventually took Ronnie's life? Were you ever able to meet him?
Sven: I forgot where the shows with Dio were scheduled. I absolutely regret that these shows had to be canceled. We got a message from his management that he was ill and the tour was being canceled. We wished him all the best. We played one show with him some years before and that was awesome. He was such a nice guy.
MetalMike: You had been with AFM Records for a while and now you are with Steamhammer, I believe. What was behind the decision to change labels?
Sven: It is not that we were unhappy with AFM, they do a very good job, but SPV offered a deal we couldn't reject. Anyway, we are only planning from album to album.
MetalMike: How has the music industry changed in the 15 years since you released your debut album, Savage Land? Is there anything you wish could have stayed the same and what are you happy about that has changed since that first album?
Sven: It is more difficult nowadays because of all the illegal downloads and streaming services. So you can't sell many CD's today. The live situation is critical as well because all bands are trying to play as much as possible because of reduced incomes from record sales. But we are happy with where we stand and what we have achieved.
MetalMike: What does a band like Mob Rules do about the negative aspects of the Internet, e.g. illegal downloads of your music? How do you use the Internet to benefit the band?
Sven: We are using Facebook and YouTube and stuff to promote the band. That for sure is beneficial.
MetalMike: When you guys aren't playing Mob Rules music live, in the studio or in rehearsals, what do you like to listen to? Do you try to stay away from other Heavy Metal bands or do you find inspiration in what they are doing?
Sven: I listen to a lot of music since I switched back to vinyl and most of the time it's some sort of rock music, from Krautrock to Death Metal. I like instrumental music, too – mostly of guitar players like Vai, Timmons and Satriani.
MetalMike: Well, congratulations again on reach your 20th anniversary and the release of Timekeeper! Thank you for taking some time to let the readers of The Metal Crypt know what is happening with Mob Rules. Best of luck in the coming years and I look forward to some new music in the future and maybe some live shows here in the U.S. :) Is there anything else you'd like our readers to know that we haven't covered? The last words are yours.
Sven: Thank you, too. Support the smaller bands you like by buying their CDs and go to their shows. The big ones already made their millions ;-)
Sven Luedke, lead-guitar for Mob Rules
|Other information about Mob Rules on this site|
|Review: Ethnolution A.D.|
|Review: Savage Land|
|Review: Ethnolution A.D.|
|Review: Temple Of Two Suns|
|Review: Astral Hand|
|Review: Radical Peace|
|Review: Cannibal Nation|
|Review: Tales from Beyond|
|Review: Tales from Beyond|
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