“when we finally release a record, it’s not our music anymore — it’s your record. It turns into your life story too”
Following the release of the latest album from German gothic / doom metal band Lacrimas Profundere, the magnificent “Bleeding the Stars”, I wanted to take a moment to chat with band founder and guitarist Oliver Schmit about this new release, the shift in line-up with power-house vocalist Julian Larre taking over from Rob Vitacca, and discuss some aspects of the band’s lengthy career.
How are you doing today?
Oliver: “Good thanx, OK a bit tired because of the flight back home, but very happy.”
How was your trip to Russia?
Oliver: “Great. It felt like a big party together. The energy you guys bring to the shows is just incredible! We can’t wait to be back.”
It’s been more than a quarter of a century since the band’s formation in 1993. Apart from the line-up changes, how would you describe the progression of the band’s sound and style?
Oliver: “You know, I get older, I’ve grown up a little bit and learned more about songwriting with every album I made in the past. My songwriting gets better with each album, I’ve found my style and I’m not afraid of looking back to my influences so much anymore. In the past, it was always like we were trying to make stuff that we never heard before that didn’t relate to any other band, but now it’s more like: letting my old influences like Anathema, Primordial, My Dying Bride or Paradise Lost shine through more in my way of guitar playing. If I look back and listen to that stuff, it doesn’t feel like 26 years, if I look back it feels like almost 6, but yeah, time is running, but I try to be faster!” (laughs)
Which album from your discography would you say is the quintessential Lacrimas Profundere album?
Oliver: “Wow, hard question, but I would name ‘Bleeding the Stars’. It’s simply the balance between everything, the missing link between ‘Burning: A Wish’ and ‘Filthy Notes for Frozen Hearts’. Something like the blueprint I like in music. Many of the songs on that one feel like they’re going to be future live classics.”
And speaking of albums, ‘Bleeding the Stars’ has been out for a couple of months now. How has the reaction been so far?
Oliver: “It’s the biggest success in our history. We've got three “album of the month” titles including the biggest print in a Metal Magazine here in Germany called Metal Hammer. The reaction of the people at concerts and the reviews we’ve got from them are brilliant. You know, when we finally release a record, it’s not our music anymore — it’s your record. It turns into your life story too, and the soundtrack of your day driving around in your car, or listening at work or at home. What I wanted to say, if people write me that they love the new stuff so much and where they listen to it, I think we’ve done something right. To come to the end, we ‘re proud and couldn't be happier.”
There is a lot of diversity on the album in terms of styles, with some songs being more gothic metal oriented, and others deeply rooted in doom metal. Where did all these ideas come from?
Oliver: “The goth rock stuff was written soon after the release of ‘Hope is Here’ album. The time I’ve thought Rob will continue as the singer in Lacrimas Profundere. As he quit I rearranged some of these to fit to Julian’s voice and during that process I’ve got into this: “now more than ever” and composed 5 new ones in about 2 weeks. One ‘Like Screams in Empty Halls’ together with Kohle in his Kohlekeller studio and the rest at home and all of a sudden the most varied album in my career was done. Since the ‘Antiadore’ release I had in mind to bring the harsh vocals back, but Rob was not able to sing this kind of style, but Julian can sing anything.
The bonus tracks from the box set, ‘Breathing Souls’ and ‘Stay’, are also quite different, experimental even, especially ‘Stay’. What can you tell me about them?
Oliver: “Yeah, ‘Breathing Souls’ I did together with Chris Harms (Lord of the Lost) and Tobias Schönemann (The Vision Bleak). Both guys are friends of mine for many years and as Rob left I’ve sent the material out to my brother [Christopher Schmid] and some demos also to these guys and the result is the song called ‘Breathing Souls’. The second bonus track was as Kohle heard an idea on my iPad. That was there since the ‘Hope is Here” sessions and he really wanted to records that one with harsh vocals and ‘Stay’ was the result.
Will you be releasing ‘Breathing Souls’ as a single, or was that teaser just a promo for the box set?
Oliver: “Yes it was. Our record company said what is on the bonus, stays as a bonus, so we only took this small teaser to promote the Box Set, which is nearly sold out. A pity, because the song talks about our planet, so a very current topic.”
What are some of the main lyrical themes of ‘Bleeding the Stars’?
Oliver: “Everybody has sometimes thoughts about it. You know like: is there a life after death, what will stay if we leave and I always come to that point that you only can leave the biggest footsteps you can walk. That’s it. Last year we read up on the big bang theory a bit. When something huge is created, there is always blood involved somewhere in the process. So we thought that as the universe was created the stars have to spend their blood. And voilà: the album’s title was born! ‘Bleeding the Stars’ deals primarily with the theme of destiny, how it is fulfilled or how it is forced to fulfill it. The former title we had in mind was ‘Father of fate, Mother of doom’ and Elton, our cover designer, and me had the cover picture already finished for that one during the recordings. Then my brother suddenly came around the corner with the words ‘bleeding the stars’ and I really liked that idea and we switched from the old cover and title to the new, red one.”
The videos for ‘Father of Fate’ and ‘Like Screams in Empty Halls’ feature images from ‘The Kingdom Solicitude’. Does it mean that the video for ‘The Kingdom Solicitude’ was the first one shot?
Oliver: “Yeah, we shoot it in Iceland soon after the recordings were done. It was mindblowing, an unforgotten adventure. We flew to Iceland outside the tourist season, because it makes no sense to stop the recordings every single second cause a tourist with his photo camera is walking into your shot (laughs). So we woke up at 4 o'clock in the morning, drove to the first place „the black beach“ and finished everything till the first bus with tourists arrived at about 9:00, then we went to the next location and during our way we stopped by at every place we’ve liked to shoot. It was funny cause Julian had to carry an urn and forgot it 15 times out of 17 shoots. (laughs). After we’ve sent the final cut to our records company they were asking for another clip, so we decided to shoot ‘Father of Fate” and I had the idea to use some of the parts we’ve already recorded in Iceland. Same at ‘Like Screams in Empty Halls’. The idea was something like a storyline or trademark to have a combination of every video.”
The color scheme of ‘Like Screams in Empty Halls’ (red and blue) reminded me of HIM’s ‘Heartkiller’ video. What moods do you think Julian tried to transmit through the video he directed?
Oliver: “ ‘Heartkiller?’ Need to watch the clip again, but I don’t think he had that one in mind (laughs). My only wish was, to use the color red, which stands for the whole album artwork and that cold touch and yes, he did a great job. Very talented guy.
Julian Larre shows a great deal of versatility with his vocals. What vocal lines were the most challenging and which were the easiest to record?
Oliver: “Puh, I think we’ve spent the most time into ‘A sip of multiverse’, but only because our producer and me threw about ten thousand different ideas to his feet (laughs). But it’s so easy to work with him, cause you don’t have to worry about throwing something in front of Julian and going, ‘Oh, man. I hope he can hit that note’, or whatever — there’s not a worry about that. So you’re able to just sit there and go as far as you wanna go. Screams? No prob, very deep Type O stuff? First take!”
Which song was the easiest and which was the hardest to write?
Oliver: “Every song is hard to write, because I always put out the best tunes that I know how to put out, with everything that I have inside of me. After it I always feel like puked or not so dirty talking: sucked, (laughs). So, I composed about 20 tracks for this one and this costs me two years on and off of my life. In the end, the result is great, so it feels good that I don’t waste my time and think it has been worth all the tears, sweat, toil, headaches and feeling puked because of too much of everything. (laughs) And don’t to forget the hurt, cause as I started songwritings my fingers hurts, especially my index finger of the right hand and I went to many doctors and everybody told me that’s arthrosis in my fingers and there is nothing I can do about it. So, I began to think twice before I play some crap, because every tone I’ve played hurts. That is the reason I prefer to play only the stuff it really worth it, cause I don’t know how long it takes till it hurts to much to be able to continue…''
The lyrics to ‘The Reaper’ were written by Julian. Will he be more involved in the creative process on the next album?
Oliver: “Yes, for sure. As he joined the band the material was already written, but on the next album we will work together like a band. ‘The Reaper’ is kinda our [the band]
Queen meets goth song, and as Benny Richter (Caliban, Emil Bulls) came up with the keyboards for that one, it brought this track to the next level and made it one of Julian’s favorite tracks on
the album. His lyrics made it complete.”
And speaking of Julian Larre, how did you find him? Was there an audition process?
Oliver: “This guy is born to act on stage and with him in the front we old bastards feel kinda younger and hungrier again. Everyone is on fire and we definitely have fun playing the music that means so much to us! But, that’s not the question, right? OK here you go: I knew to find a new singer would be a hard job. You need the ‘right’ person in many ways. Good voice, good looking, good performer and you hope that people also accept him as follower. So I started my searching on youtube and watched about 2 weeks of material. Julian was outstanding, so I decided to book a flight for him and we did a rehearsal in Munich. Hey, I think I was more nervous than him, cause I really wanted that he can bring that energy and voice that I saw in his clips onto the stage. He did and the rest is history”.
Your latest concert at M’Era Luna (2018) was like a passing of the torch between Rob Vitacca and Julian Larre, and I have to admit I love how the band has handled this change of vocalists. It was such a classy move. Whose idea was it?
Oliver: “As you mention, it was clear that Rob should get the chance to say goodbye. First of all, I had the idea to do a single special show, but as it was impossible to find a date, it was the Méra Luna and what could be better to do it on that stage everything begins for him. To be honest, on the day of the concert I was really nervous, cause we’re talking about a show in front of 25.000 people on main stage and every difference is another risk. At the end it works and I think most of the ordains liked it, so…”
Fans would like to know if you have any plans for a tour of the Americas – North America and South America?
Oliver: “Yeah, we have plans to tour South America and Mexico in June next year.”
And speaking of touring, you don’t seem to play to many stadium shows. Do you prefer smaller, more intimate venues?
Oliver: “It depends, we really enjoyed the two times we’ve played Wacken in front of all these faces or our living room, M’era Luna, is also a bigger one. If I had to decide I like the most to play a headliner show in a small club and be able to interact with the people and talk after the shows.”
(Lacrimas Profundere live in St. Petersburg, Russia, on September 21, 2019)
What was the hardest decision you had to make in the band’s career? And did you ever thought about quitting / disbanding the band?
Oliver: “Being in a band with all these guys, everybody thinks it's a piece of cake, is not easy. People change as they grow, and some want to go in different directions and do different things and suddenly in the beginning of 2018 I was the only member that was left. I stood in front of a pile of shards that either could be left lying, or wanted to be put together. That was the day I was thinking about quitting. Some sleepless nights later I thought about that I love this job too much. The risk, the adrenalin and to meet so many different people in different countries. To stand on that stage and know that there’s a possibility of failure. It feels great when you succeed and fuck, I´m almost there.”
If you could change anything in the history of the band, what would you change?
Oliver: “Puh, good question. Yeah, if I think back, there were many failures: for example, we had the chance to sign a major label contract during the recordings to ‘Filthy Notes for Frozen Hearts’ and were so drunk at the meeting, that the label manager said ‘we call you, don’t call us’, but, as you know, they never did. (Laughs). Lesson learned: don’t enter a label meeting drunk… One day in Luxemburg at a show together with Septic Flesh and Moonspell, I was so drunk that I’ve lost my satin black guitar soon before the show started. The intro track was already running and I was jumping up and down the stage and was looking for it. Hey, it took me one and a half song till I got it back (laughs). It fell between the drum riser and the lightning stuff, it was dark and the guitar black, so I couldn’t see it. At the end I could finish the show including my lovely guitar. What I’ve learned? Always use a guitar stand…
What are some of the best and fondest memories you have of your fans? Any special moments or stories you could share?
Oliver: “There are so many, even last week for example in Saint Petersburg I met this girl who wears a shirt she made by herself with the band members on it, she was so cute and nervous as she asks me for a picture after the show... or as we arrived in Moscow and people were waiting for some signatures hours till we arrive, all theses tiny little moments, I will never forget. We love you all.”
What is your take on Social Media and the way it can help a band reach a greater audience? We are living in the age of technology and some take full advantage of this aspect.
Oliver: If you ask me, a band should learn first to play their instruments well, second spend some months together in the rehearsal room and fuck, write good music. Nowadays, I think that bands discuss what make-up or kind of masks they wear, comes first. At the end a record should catch me also if I sit at home with my eyes closed and only let the music speak. That’s the art not how good you look on stage or your social media campaign is. I really know that kind of bands who see that some other band is getting successful and try to do the same stuff, also social media wise and I really understand when a young kid starts playing music if he likes some band. For example when I heard Metallica’s ‘Ride the Lightning’ I wanted to be James Hetfield. Sometimes I still do. (laughs) But I think any art – music, poetry, literature – has to be self-expressing. You have to do it just the way you wanna do it. I give a shit to image, I don’t have one. I think as long as my hair is clean and I have clean clothes on, that should be enough. You know, I’m 48 years now and kinda old school guy. So if you create something really special, why should you bother about the so called image or social media campaigns? Write cool stuff and play well, this could help to reach a greater audience!
And now for the last question, do you have any kind of life advice for our readers & us?
Oliver: “Oh, hahaha, I’m the wrong person to give life advice. Simply try to do everything, but know your limits, don’t cheat your wife and don’t drink and drive. Ah, never give up dreaming. Sounds like a calendar motto but it works for me.”
Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with Lyrical Spell Magazine!
Oliver: “Thanx for the interview. Guys, I really hope you like some of my words and I could share some interest in our new output. Listen to it, I promise you will not regret. See you in July 2020! All the best, Oliver Nikolas Schmid, guitar-player, brand-new life coach and beer-drinker in LACRIMAS PROFUNDERE”
This November the band will play along side Finnish gothic metal band The 69 Eyes, during their West End Tour through Europe. (Info and tickets here: lacrimas.com/tour/)
Lacrimas Profundere will be returning to Russia on the 5th of July, 2020, at BIG GUN Festival! Don’t miss it! Tickets and info here.
Special thanks from my part to everyone that made this interview possible!
Check out the review of “Bleeding the Stars” at this link.