German symphonic Metallers Beyond The Black have been making a big impression in the early part of their career. From playing Heavy Metal’s holy grail, Wacken, in their first few gigs to going top five in the German album chart to losing five members in one go, they have proven to be resilient as well as talented. Jennifer Haben spoke with MetalTalk.
First Published 11 January 2017 – Interview – Ian Sutherland
Their sophomore album, ‘Lost In Forever’, which was such a success in Germany last year, is finally getting an international release in an expanded format and the band have also released a live performance video of the title track.
On the eve of a European tour with Epica and Powerwolf, singer Jennifer Haben had a chat with MetalTalk about all things Beyond The Black.
MT: Jennifer, we must be interrupting your packing for the tour!
JH: “Tomorrow is rehearsal then the day after the tour starts. I haven’t finished packing yet but I will do it later. I am really happy about the tour and looking forward to it.”
MT: Do you know the guys in the other bands?
JH: “I don’t know them personally but I know that Powerwolf are from the same town as me, Saarbrucken. I think I will understand what they want to say to me [laughs].”
MT: “Looking at your career so far so you seem to get thrown in at the deep end a lot. You played Wacken very early in your career, you lost a whole band of musicians and had to get guys to fill in at Bloodstock, you got the new band together then went straight into arena tours with the likes of the Scorpions. Do you enjoy facing these big challenges?”
JH: “I love challenges [laughs]. I love surprises too and there were a lot of surprises last year. It was a bit difficult sometimes but touring with the Scorpions and all that made it all worth it.”
MT: From the outside those massive line-up changes in the band looked dramatic and very difficult. What was that period like for you?
JH: “It was difficult for me partly because the fans didn’t understand what was happening and why. I can understand why they didn’t understand [laughs] but it is like it is and the guys, they decided they didn’t want to do it any more and I had to choose. Did I want to do this or did I not want to do this? Do I want to do Beyond The Black? Then I decided I wanted to continue and looked for new guys to do it with.”
MT: So you felt you needed to finish what you started or at least carry on what you created?
JH: “Yes, It’s my baby!”
MT: Did you pay attention to all the comments in social media about the situation?
JH: “Yes, I always read everything, I think [laughs]. It is a little bit difficult sometimes but you have to know what the fans think about you and the band and about the songs and about the music. That’s also the reason why I love to go to the fans after the show. I want to hear what they say about the new band and everything. Mostly I’m very happy reading what they say.”
MT: ‘Lost In Forever’ was already released in Germany and was really successful.
JH: “Yes, it got to number four in the album chart I think.”
MT: The tour edition being released internationally has four new songs added to it. When were these recorded, in the original sessions or do these feature the new band?
JH: “These songs were recorded later with the new guys so they can have some songs they can identify more with. I am excited about these new songs; it’s always great to have new things.
“For me there is a very special song among them. I really, really love ‘The Other Side’. I don’t why but it feels a little more for yourself, with the atmosphere and all the dark little things in that song. We played it at our headline shows in November, our headline shows in Germany and it was so awesome. I don’t know if everyone will get it but when you get in that song I think it can be awesome for you.”
MT: I take it that it will be in the setlist on this tour then?
JH: “Yes, of course.”
MT: Do you have more songs ready to go for album number three?
JH: “Yes, we have some ideas. We have I think twenty ideas right now [laughs]. I think some of what we have is really special and the new guys, they wrote some good things. I think it’s going to be great with them.”
MT: You get compared a lot to the big female fronted Metal bands like Within Temptation and Nightwish. Are they actually bands who have influenced you?
JH: “I don’t really know! I don’t write with a band in my mind, you know? I think everything I heard since I was a child is an influence on me. I heard so many different genres when I was a child.
“When I was nine years old I had a band and we played AC/DC, Amy Winehouse, The Beatles, Whitney Houston, everything and I think everything like that influenced me. I think when you listen to my music there are so many styles in there.”
MT: Who was it that inspired you to be a musician, to be a singer?
JH: “My mum [laughs]. My dad plays piano, my mother guitar, my brother was in my first band playing first drums then later bass. I have a very musical family.
“My mum played guitar with me when I was really young and I was singing. We have so many videos of that. When I was five years old I went to a choir and I got my own microphone soon after [laughs]. I think all that was the reason I make music now.”
MT: When you get round to making a Beyond The Black DVD, maybe we will see these home movies in the extras section?
JH: “Maybe [laughs]. We have so many things but maybe I don’t want to show everyone everything [more laughter].”
MT: What’s next after this tour for Beyond The Black?
JH: “We have Wacken and some other festivals around Europe and some shows in Russia I think. We will be touring and writing at the same time [laughs].”
MT: You are playing only one UK date on this tour in London, on February 3rd. Do you have plans to come back later in the year?
JH: “I think so. We have touring plans but February 3rd is the first step and we will see if everyone wants to hear us again.”
MT: I think that’s a given [laughs]. Thanks again for your time and good luck with the tour.