When it comes to the style some call ‘gothic rock’, the German duo Lacrimosa have done quite well for themselves, both artistically and commercially. While selling thousands of records in some countries, the band has also managed to develop their sound towards an increasingly progressive direction. With a fascinating visual component to their sound to flesh out Lacrimosa, I naturally had some questions that begged to be asked about who they are, and what they’re all about. Frontman Tilo Wolff answered my questions.
Hello; introduces yourselves!
TW: Hello, I am a music-lover trying to do my best to pay my bit into the wonderful world of music!
In a word or two, how might you describe the sound of Lacrimosa?
TW: Like an exotic dish: poetical lyrics in a rock music cream-sauce with classical and strong emotional ingredients.
What first influenced you to pick up music? Do the same things still inspire you to make music?
TW: I that time and still want to express my feelings plus listen to music that I can't find anywhere else. I am fan of many bands but the combination of emotional rock music, gothic with metal and classical instruments I couldn't find anywhere which was the reason why back in 1990 I started with LACRIMOSA.
Very often, you have been labelled as a ‘gothic rock’ band, or ‘gothic metal’. Do you think this term suits you, or would you rather do away with the term altogether?
TW: It might suit for some songs but for sure it does not suit for LACRIMOSA in general. Speaking only about the new album “Revolution” it stretches from symphonic rock (“Irgendein Arsch ist immer unterwegs”) over experimental and hard alternative (“Verloren”, “Rote Sinfonie”) and over classical music with electronic influences (“Refugium”) until rock 'n' roll (“Feuerzug”) and electronic metal (“Revolution”). I am not serving an image! I want to do music and don't want to be stuck in one style!!
One of the first things that struck me with Lacrimosa is the artwork, which manages to be both romantic and mournful simultaneously- something I would also say describes your music. I would also say the album covers each tell a story. Is this true, or am I shooting at thin air here?
TW: No, you are absolutely right! I think an album cover should reflect in a visual way what the music has to offer. I don't understand bands that provide their audience with a cover artwork that has nothing to do with their music! Some sleeve designers don't even care about listening to the music they are doing the artwork for. Why?
Your new album “Revolution” came out in September. What can you say about it? What has the reception so far been like?
TW: Since we've been on tour with the new album already in Europe I had the chance to see how the people are reflecting on it and this is more than I expected. It turns out that this will become our most beloved album of our whole career!
Now with eleven albums to the name of Lacrimosa, what would you say your best work is? What albums would you recommend to newcomers of Lacrimosa?
TW: Of course the actual one which is very logical! If I would have liked to listen to another album I would have wrote different songs but what you can hear on “Revolution” is exactly the music I want to do right now. I still love all of the albums but at this very moment the new one is my favored one.
There are many orchestral, or ‘symphonic’ arrangements in Lacrimosa’s music, the likes of which you would be more bound to find in a film score or classical setting rather than rock. Is the process for writing these orchestral arrangements fundamentally different from your approach to the rock instruments?
TW: I think it comes down to my love of combining things that might not fit together on first sight. When you take a closer look at things you often can discover that the flame awakes out of contrasts. A violin for example sounds the best if you compose a melody for it in which it can evolve as well as a guitar can only punch you right in the face if you give it the right chords. So every instrument is doing what it can do best and at their peek you bring them together and the magic becomes unstoppable!
How do these orchestral ideas go from paper to the finished recorded product?
TW: You need to find a suitable orchestra and a studio that has the possibilities to record such a production. Then it needs a copyist to split the original score into each instrument, a conductor ho understands what it means to rely on a click in order to be in the right timing as the drums and the rest of the band and then you need patience while recording because every single mistake means that you have to start all over again.
Your lyrics are both in your native German and English. What are the pros and cons of each language? Do you find that a song will tend to prefer the sound of a certain language?
TW: Yes. For example songs like “Copycat” wouldn't work in the German language, this language is not direct and pure enough to get such a lyric down within a song. On the other hand the German language gives me the freedom to play with words since this is my native language which I of course know better than any other language.
With only two members in Lacrimosa, what is the arrangement like for live shows? You have a very ‘vast’ style, so it must be quite a handful for two people, unless guest musicians are brought onboard.
TW: On tour we are playing with a band that is with us already since many years but for the writing process and in the studio I prefer to be alone while Anne as a designer is mostly taking care about our clothing. Now on the new album we also had guest musicians such as Mille Petrozza from KREATOR and Stefan Schwarzmann from ACCEPT who are both touring the US while we are having this conversation.
Your ‘progressive’ traits are what first had me interested in the music of Lacrimosa. Are you influenced at all by prog rock?
TW: Yes, by prog rock and many of the classical heroes from the 1970ties!
What have you been listening to lately?
TW: I recently bought the new album of ARCHIVE which I absolutely adore!
A question I ask everyone- what advice would you give to other musicians, particularly those who haven’t started making music, or haven’t ‘made it’ in the music world yet?
TW: Don't listen to anyone! Music comes from the heart and not from the head. No-one knows which music you want to do, so no-one can tell you what to do!
Favourite beers? Do you like cheeseburgers at all?
TW: Fav beer is Heineken and yes of course, I love cheeseburgers – I even prepare them myself one in a while with lot's of own made sauce.
What lies in the future for Lacrimosa?
TW: I don't know because LACRIMOSA is a reflection of my life and I don't know what will be tomorrow and over tomorrow.
Lastly, are you familiar at all with the band Devil Doll? I ask because your aesthetic and vocal style very much reminds me of them. Definitely a band worth checking out!
TW: Don't know them but I will check them out.
Cheers from Vancouver! - Conor
TW: Thanx and all the best!