ORDEN OGAN (Tobias Kersting & Nils Weise) INTERVIEW
Using the London Underground can be a very testing experience, especially on a day like the 29th of November where a strike was announced and most trains operated limited services with severe delays. Under normal circumstances, I would not have headed towards the Camden Underworld, but the fact that Tiamat and a young but very promising band by the name of Orden Ogan were performing that night left me with no other choice than to attempt the impossible. Two and a half hours of an arduous journey were soon forgotten the moment these five Westphalians hit the stage for what can only be described as forty five minutes of sheer pleasure. After the end of the show, I met up with guitarist Tobias “Tobi” Kersting and keyboard player Nils Weise in order to find out their impressions of the show and also to clarify a few things with regards the band’s last two album and their plans for the future.
By Yiannis (John) Stefanis.
• Hi Guys. I have to admit that I really enjoyed your performance tonight! A surprisingly good one, not because I don’t believe that you are a good band, but because I was not sure how you would feel performing in front of Tiamat’s audience – a band whose music is so totally different from yours. Not only did you manage to gain their attention, but you made them participate in the proceedings, so hats off to you.
Tobias: We didn’t really expect this to be honest! We had no expectations whatsoever for tonight’s show as we had no idea how big we are in the UK and, to be honest, we thought that we would end up playing in front of ten people, not more than that! We expected the rest of the crowd to quietly sit in the back, watching what was happening on stage, so the end result was really great!
Nils: Absolutely! The crowd was indeed quite fantastic!
• So how did you end up becoming part of the bill for this tour? Who do we have to thank for bringing you guys here?
Tobias: (referring to Nils) I don’t really know the answer to that question – do you know by any chance?
Nils: Hmm…I actually don’t know either (laughs). The thing is that both we and Tiamat work with the same management company, so it was they who said that we could join the bill. We did not participate in any tour prior to the announcement of this one, so when Tiamat decided to go on the road, we simply joined in.
Tobias: We waited for a really long time to do this tour as our latest album (“Easton Hope”) has been out since January. We really wanted to go out and play live these new songs, to do as many gigs as we can. We were not originally meant to be part of the bill, but then a band had to pull out and we grabbed the opportunity.
Nils: The spot became available and we took the offer, so…here we are!
• If my memory serves me right, prior to coming here tonight, you did a few concerts in Holland. What was the reaction there? Did you enjoy these shows?
Tobias: Hmm…actually, the tour is not going so well – definitely not as expected! We were playing in front of not so many people there. Some shows were very fun to do and others were not. I guess the ratio would be fifty fifty! Yesterday’s show was not very good; we had to play in front of a very tough crowd, but that is OK for us as we are the ‘outsiders’ in this billing.
Nils: And this is something that we do know!
Tobias: Yesterday I spoke to a fan who did not know us before but she did like our show and she also happened to be a die-hard Tiamat fan! She only came to that show to see Tiamat and she did not know what to expect from us, however she did end up liking our music. So, we do hope that, in a similar way, we will end up winning more people over!
• I believe that one of the reasons why you get such a positive reaction from a somewhat alien crowd is a direct result of your versatility. I find it very hard to find a description that really fits your style of music! By being described as simply a Power Metal band, one fails to recognise the various Hard Rock influences so clearly audible in your music and the same applies to all those smart Progressive elements also included there. You really know how to create catchy melodies and the galloping rhythm in your riffs makes people want to headbang all the time. A great approach…
Nils: Maybe it has also to do with the crowd’s willingness to join the party. I have never before played in front of an English crowd, so I don’t know how they normally behave in concerts, but tonight we had a really good time – plenty of fun! I will say this over and over again! I never expected this and it was absolutely great!
Tobias: We cannot wait to come back and play in the UK!
• A few of the reviews that I read on the Internet with regards “Easton Hope” were promoting you as the successors of Blind Guardian, a description that I found strange and with which I cannot agree! I have been listening to these guys since “Battalions Of Fear” came out and I simply cannot justify such a comparison! There are some similarities, such as the use of polyphonic vocals pompous choruses, but other than that… Do you find such descriptions to create problems for you rather than being beneficial? Do they create any form of pressure on you?
Tobias: People always think and operate with labels in mind.
Nils: They feel the need to put a certain label on anything and everything. They hear bombastic orchestral arrangements in our music, things that are also characteristic in Blind Guardian’s music, and so they decided to categorise us in a similar way. I don’t see any parallels between Blind Guardian and Orden Ogan either!
• What I experienced tonight was a performance by a very young but quite mature band. You reminded me a lot of a period in the mid-90s where we had many bands like Eldritch – bands which combined intelligent musicianship with melody and passion. There are so many different layers of music in your compositions and one needs to listen to them a few times prior to truly appreciating them.
Nils: We are working really hard on every detail imaginable. There is always a lot of work involved behind every Orden Ogan album. It does feel like things are happening automatically, but there is a lot of thought process included.
• Does every member of the band participate equally in the creative process, or is this the brainchild of a certain member?
Tobias: The skeleton and main parts of each song are prepared by our singer (Sebastian “Seeb” Levermann). He writes most of the stuff, but we all play a small or a big part in the overall process. When Nils writes a song that is perfect in every way, then we take it as it is, but other times we can use some of the ideas that I, for instance, will come up which could be fitting. So, the main body of each composition is being prepared by our singer, but we all contribute our ideas and help create each album.
• Ok, let’s tackle a really confusing issue here. The second album you ever recorded, namely “Vale”, was originally release back in 2008, but has now been reissued by your new label AFM records. Your last album, “Easton Hope”, is related thematically to your previous album, but as the story goes, it is a prequel, right? Did I get things right here? Are you fans of Star Wars by any chance!?
Tobias: (laughs) We have been working really close with George Lucas these past few years… (laughs). Well, not really (laughs).
Nils: Ok, first we release “Vale” under a label called Yonah Records, a small independent record back in Germany and then we released “Easton Hope” with the help of AFM records. The first pressing of “Vale” was completely sold out, so AFM acquired all the rights to that release and decided to bring out this 2010 re-issue.
• As the story goes, however, “Vale” describes the most recent events if you may. That is perhaps what will confuse people a bit.
Nils: The story line in “Vale” is indeed more recent than that described in “Easton Hope”. What we did is that we put a CD onto the market and then we decided to make things more interesting by creating a prequel to that story. At this moment in time, we are thinking of creating a prequel to this prequel, so things will become even more complicated!
Tobias: We are not going to reveal too much with regards this one. You will have to wait (laughs).
• Is that a Westphalia approach to music – how you perceive music to be in these parts of the woods?
Tobias: Which woods are you referring to (laughs)? We only live close to the Rhineland, but not quite there (laughs). We don’t write our lyrics in the woods; perhaps we should do that in the future – it would be quite interesting!
• So, most reviews for “Easton Hope” have been quite complementary, tonight’s show was quite successful for you, what’s next? I believe that the tour now moves to central Europe and you perform in places like Austria and Germany, right?
Nils: We will also be playing in Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, France and Switzerland…also the Netherlands.
• Is that also as part of the same tour in support of Tiamat?
Tobias: The last show of this tour is in Osnabruck in Germany on the 19th of December. After that tour is over, we will play a few shows with a German cover band called Van Canto in our country and that should also be quite a fun thing to do.
• The Summer Festival season is not too far away and, even though your latest album came out last January, I assume there is still hope for you getting a slot in one of them. Have you received any offers yet?
Tobias: We have some festivals planned for the following year, but 2011 will be more of a ‘writing’ year for Orden Ogan. After we finish this tour and the additional shows that we have planned we will start working on a new album which will hopefully come out really soon!
Nils: We hope that we get the next album finished by the end of 2011.
• Guys, I am already looking forward to that release! I am happy enough to support a band such as Orden Ogan knowing that what you do has little to do with trends and more to do with real heartfelt music. I hope that people will realise soon what a real gem you are.
Nils: We hope so too!
Tobias: Capture them permanently so they are given absolutely no chance to escape! (laughs).
• So, what is the deal that you have inked with AFM Records? Have you agreed on a specific number of albums that is to be released with their support, or will you go one step at the time?
Tobias: We will see. I am happy with the way our label is promoting the band, everything is going really good and as long as this interest does not stop then I think that our working relationship will further evolve.
Nils: We are very happy with AFM records – they are doing a really good job, honestly!
• Well guys, it’s been a pleasure talking with you. I wish you all the luck in the world and hope to see you again in the UK soon!
Tobias: Great, we hope so too!
Nils: Thanks for the interview.
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