The Wheels Of Doom Are Turning – A Interview With Ben From Wheel   Leave a comment

Wheel was formed in 2006 under the name Ethereal Sleep by Marcus and Arkadius, former members of the Power Metal Band Avanitas from Dortmund, and Benjamin, former member of Dortmund’s Thrashers McDeath. In early 2009, they recorded their first demo which led to a multi album deal with “Eyes Like Snow Records.” The début self-titled album was released in February of 2010 to great reviews and it truly deserved the positive reaction for critics and fans alike. They seem to have been going from strength to strength ever since. Aleks Evdokimov caught up with guitarist Benjamin Homberger for this interview.

Q: Salute Ben! How are you man? Your MySpace says that the Wheel is turning as you’re working on new material. Let us look – that will be songs for next full-length album and for split-LP with Spirit Descent. Do you have any certain conception of new material?
A: I’m fine, thanks a lot! Yes, as you mentioned we are eagerly working on new stuff and already got three new songs ready and another one nearly finished. The new stuff goes basically in the same direction where the last record has ended: you can expect epic doom with a blend of psychedelic and 70’s Rock influences. We’ll focus more on arrangements and try to improve our songwriting as well.

Q: Why did you decide to coöperate with Spirit Descent? I’m starting to think that Doom raises high all over Europe and certainly its shadow covers Deutschland 🙂 There are a lot of good doom-bands, we can check the first issue of Doom MetalFront compilation to prove that.
A: You are right, there are a couple of good German doom Bands around: Doomshine, Seamount, Tortured Spirit to name just a few. We think, a split with our label mates Spirit Descent makes sense not only because we are on the same label but also musical wise. We both have this kind of “epic” approach in our music and it just feels right.

Q: “Wheel” will be released as a vinyl edition. Ben, you’re not the first man who I ask about it but why do people still like such vintage editions? Yes, yes, I know that “black and big” includes exclusive bonus-track “Night of the Vampire”, but what does it all mean in the end?
A: Vinyl for me is the only real treatment for good music in general. Look, it starts with the usual aspects like the size of the Cover. Then you’ll automatically listen more carefully to vinyl, because you have to turn the sides, clean the disc first with a brush and so on. It demands to be handled more carefully and for this, an LP will live much longer than a CD does. In the age of digital music, this is more important than it ever was.

Q: What is the newspaper “Westfälische Rundschau”? They published an article about Wheel and it looks pretty strange when printed magazine publishes anything about doom-bands! Did your relations and colleagues from work know about your band through it?
A: My colleagues surely know about it and even my chef bought all our stuff. That’s kind of crazy sometimes, if you thing of it but it’s so cool, if your Chef recommends you a new record of some underground (doom) band. I’m working at a record department in a SATURN Store here and so I’m not a “stranger” to them at all. The “Westfälische Rundshau” is a newspaper and the author of the article is also involved in the local music scene, so he did us a favor.

Q: I see that Victorian graphic style is popular among the band’s members – Wheel CD is decorated in that manner and t-shirts are decorated in same way. What is a main reason to use that? Just because it looks cool? 🙂
A: We like the style and we do not want a typical “skull & sword” imagery. So that’s it – we like it, no further background.

Q: What can you say about the album’s lyrics? Arkadius, vocalist of Wheel, sang in band Avanitas, metal-archives say that this band was famous with “sarcastic poetry” and I see that Arkadius continues this line in Wheel with one of the best album’s song “Only God Knows”. Do you agree with text of this song?

A:Yes, I certainly do. Media is corrupting and controlling people more and more and I think he nailed it with the lyrics to that song.

Q: Don’t you think that lyrics about social problems and politics would  fit enough to Wheel? Sometimes usual doom-lyrics about different kind of “deviltry” tire to death.
A: The question is: Why should it not fit? I mean all the people singing about death in multiple ways do not believe in what they sing, I suppose. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against good fantasy lyrics but if you have certain messages to share, why not do so?

Q: Oh, and I would end our discussion about lyrics with the next question: there are two “ballads” on this album – “To My Love Departed” and “The Day I Need You Most”, and I don’t remember when I heard songs about love from any trad-doom band for the last time. But in the end – don’t you think that most of all depressive “doomy” states comes simply from a lack of love? And somehow classical songs about witches and maybe Sabbaths too…
A: Well, why not sing about loss and love? It all belongs together and drives us through or lives.
It is not a cliché of gothic bands to sing of that. I think most bands are just “afraid” to be misjudged by some “underground guru” because it doesn’t fit in the scheme and so they simply avoid such themes.

Q: Ben, how were the songs of “Wheel” composed? I read one “Wheel” review and there were words about obvious similarities between your band and some elders such as Dawn of Winter for example. It’s difficult to compose really extraordinary new stuff under “doom”-label so what is your goal as a song-writer when you know how limited such a genre like traditional doom is?
A: First of all: Doom is not limited at all, even traditional doom is not. It is a dogma, rules, set by some nerds who call themselves “true”. They don’t know what they miss or even do not want to know. Look at how many different bands there are, even in the same genre that are totally different.  As I said before, we try to mix elements of different heavy, emotional styles together as we like it. Sure, it will always be “Doom” in some way but we do not want to repeat ourselves over and over again. It always starts with a riff, then we jam a little and sometimes the song flows out naturally of our hands and thoughts. Sometimes, if we get stuck somewhere, we put it besides and try something different until we feel, that it is right now.

Q: “Only God Knows” is one of most memorable songs of “Wheel” album, because of its high tempo, sarcastic (as we said before) lyrics and catchy melody, what do you think about such “fast” songs in doom albums? Don’t you think that without such tracks doom-albums can be simply boring?
A: It depends on the songwriting, if an album gets boring, not of the speed. “Watching from a distance” from Warning is all slow but brilliant. I like bands like The Obsessed or Cathedral, that also have this “groovy / boogie” style from time to time and so I wanted something in that manner.

Q: I’ve read that Arkadius’s manner of singing was subjected to criticism for its excessive emotional, that it’s “over dramatic”; as for me – I do not agree with that and I like how he sings, and I would like to ask you about your favorite rock or even doom-singer.
A: Uh, those are many: Robert Lowe is for me one of the best traditional Doom singers but I also like Singers like Mark Shelton, Layne Staley, Mikael Akerfeld or Maynard James Keenan. These are just some of my Favorites.

Q: Ben, did you take part in the songs’ composing? Was it difficult after all to write some new doom-stuff when we have so (or even too) much of good doom-bands now?
A: As long as I am the only Guitarist in this Band, most of the Riffs come from me but all in all we compose the stuff together. Everybody puts his ideas in and as I mentioned before, we do not try to “re-invent” something nor repeat anything. We do what we like to do, that’s all.
 
Q: What is your favorite song on the album?
A: “The Day I need you most”, because it carries all our trademarks: The heavy, epic riffing and mellow, psychedelic passages as well.

Q: What does inspire… No, what does help you to carry on playing doom metal? Though it becomes popular genre today it’s not the one on which you could earn great money or conquer hearts of hot chicks.
A: You know, I listen and play Metal since I was 15 and the feeling never changed. Back than it was Thrash Metal (that I like until today!) and later I discovered the “usual suspects” like early Vitus, Pentagram and so on. That was it – To quote Acid: I was “hooked on Metal”

Q: I know that it will sound strange but do you have any pets at home? You know we have bears in Russia as home pets for they’re funny, furry and make cool sounds 🙂
A: Woah, cool! Bears rule, he he. Ähm, but no, I do not have any pets here.

Q: And Ben… What’s about good pubs in Dortmund? I’m going to get my Visa next month so I will search for great places to taste the local sorts of magic potions and maybe to do a friendly box there. Damn no – for last reason it would be easier to visit matches of our football-club Zenit.
A: There are various bars here and even one playing Metal two times a month. It is called “Die Burg” (The Castle) and the local “Hövels” private Brewery is here, that makes some of the best darker beers I know.

Q: Do you have any final goals with Wheel?  What do you aim for?
A: Playing live, recording albums and having fun with the guys in the band. That’s all.

Q: Okay, Ben, that’s all and I hope that this interview was not too boring for you man! I wish you all the best and don’t forget to let me know when you’ll be ready with the new album!
A: Do not listen to trends or what people write in the internet, even in so called “Underground” Media. Be independent with what you like and stand for it. THIS is the philosophy of Metal.
Interview By Aleks Evdokimov
Official Myspace
Eyes Like Snow

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Posted November 11, 2010 by doommantia in Wheel

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