Erich Eysn


Carving even the smallest of legacies is no less of a personal matter, and when it is revamp it starts on a small scale only to become much more later on. Wardress, another member of the old guard of Heavy Metal, has been making their way in the modern age of Metal after so many years. Without caring about what is happening all around them musically, they charge with an old school prowess. Recently releasing "Metal 'Til The End", a new era has begun. Steinmetal had a good talk with the band's Erich Eysn.
June 6, 2023
Wardress's Erich Eysn: "For the first time after about 40 years
Hello Erich, I am pleased to have you for this talk about the latest going on the Wardress camp, and certainly things have been quite well as it seems. How have you been doing?

Well, first of all a lot of thanks for giving me the opportunity to talk with you. Personally, I'm more than well, since only in the last two weeks I could visit concerts of Heathen, Overkill, W.A.S.P. and the legendary Keep It True Festival with Halloween, Leatherwolf, Fifth Angel, Vicious Rumors, just to name some few. Man, how I missed that during the "pandemic" years! And for WARDESS, things are going very well, too. We've seen fantastic reactions on our new CD "Metal 'Til The End" in the web fanzines with an average rating of more than 8 out of 10 points. By far the most of the reviews and nearly all of the fans' comments I can only describe as "enthusiastic".

Near the end of last decade things started to heat up with Wardress upon your return to activity after many years. Nevertheless, it appears that the timing, without you knowing it, crossed with a worldwide pandemic. Following your return, and with your 2019's debut album, was this comeback effort damaged in a way due to the happenings of that period of time?

End of 2019 we started our „Eternal War Tour", but in this case "eternity" reached out only onto February 2020, when the upcoming "pandemic measures" knocked us out. So yes, we lost 2 years like many others, too. But our guitarist Gor soon came up with new ideas and riffs, and I myself even took inspirations from that sad period for new and slightly darker than usual lyrics. So, we decided to use the concert-free time to write and record new songs for a second album. I think the result proves us right...

Going a little further back, since it is our first time talking about it, what made you come back with Wardress? Was it only to resurface old songs that were never recorded or there was a feeling that it was time to revamp your past?

Please, just imagine this: For the first time after about 40 years, I could listen again to our old songs, which Gor had recovered on a demo cassette, surviving the time in a box in his cellar. Just as Gor himself, I've been totally overwhelmed, not only by the songs, which of course we immediately loved again, but also by the feeling of meeting our younger selves again. It was really like a travel back in time, with all the memories coming up, of our youth in the 1980's, of our energy and light-heartedness, of us becoming part of that new musical movement called Heavy Metal, of all the fun and partying with our friends, even of my first, fucked-up car, which brought us to our rehearsal room (and sometimes not)… However, back in the present, our first idea was, to record this, as we felt, great material now finally in a studio, just for ourselves. In the further course, with things going very well with the other, new band members, during rehearsals and in the studio, that private studio project soon became a real band again: the new WARDRESS.

Even though there has been a revival of old school Heavy Metal, also called the New Wave Of Traditional Heavy Metal, going on, nowadays it is a little different. From what it appears, today's Metalheads, a lot of them actually, want more from the bands, especially more technical stuff and such. How does that sit with the ideals of Wardress as an old school Metal band?

We don't have a problem with that. We actually use the abilities of studio technique mainly only to achieve the most powerful sound possible. This is what Metal bands did at any time. In our songs, however, the structures, the riffs and the melodies for voice and solo guitars always remain kind of old school style. I guess, we couldn't do anything else, even if we wanted to. Also, each single tone on all of our recordings is generated by the musicians and their instruments, not a computer or whatever. We truly believe, there are still a lot of maniacs who are into such handmade Metal music. Anyhow, at least we ourselves love it.

Recently, you signed with Black Sunset, sub-label of MDD Records, for the release of your second album, "Metal 'til the End". After being already part of Fastball Music, how do you mark this change between labels? What are your intentions going forward with the new home?

Fastball did a very good job, no doubt. Having been new on the market, we were really astonished, how good our debut CD "Dress For War" has been selling. Since the contract dealt solemnly with that debut CD, we took the chance to look around and finally ended up with MDD / Black Sunset, with whom our guitarist Kimon's other band STAGEWAR (excellent Thrashers, by the way…) already had a contract. Also, I personally know MDD's CEO Markus and his staff from their merch stands on several festivals, already for years. Markus is an early Metal fan, just as I am, he founded MDD at the age of 17! Thus, regarding music, we talk the same language and accordingly the co-operation is very trustful. We are indeed happy with our decision to go forward with these guys.

Whether a cliche or not, "Metal 'til the End", as an idea, stands as a totem for all that is living and breathing Heavy Metal, as not mainly a musical form but as it has been referred to as a religion. What is your take on that and what in your opinion is the best expression of this album's title?

There are already quite a lot of religions, so I really don't think we need one more… Seriously, "Metal 'til the End" has two very personal aspects: This song is dedicated to those of our friends, who unfortunately already deceased, and who literally loved Metal 'til the end. One of my best friends, nick-named Gähle, is one of them, he died in 2021. Above that, I wanted to express my own, very strong and life-long affinity to that kind of music. Since all WARDRESS members feel similarly, and as it is a nice slogan, we decided to use that song title also as the album's title. That's all, so you see: there's no religion behind "Metal 'til the End", and we just hope that it meets with the feelings of some other Metal fans.

Other than being the Metal thing in the room, in your perspective, what are the main themes that are at point on the "Metal 'til the End" album?

That's right, with WARDRESS the Metal thing will be always in the room… On our debut, with most songs being written in the beginning 1980s, the main themes besides Metal and the urge of partying, have been warriors and tyrants, just the full range of that medieval stuff being usual at that time. On the second album, we widened the range by a theme I'd entitle "Freedom, its loss and its protection" …damn, sounds like a doctorate, but just listen to songs like "Berserk" or "Serves You Right", and you'll know what I mean… and not to forget "MotorLust", finally a song from us for all the friends of individual, motorized movement, which, by the way, is the first WARDRESS song featuring guitarist Kimon and drummer Andy as co-composers.

I liked the simplicity behind the album's artwork, as traditional as the music, the artwork is in kind. Other than the graphical stuff that has been going on in the 80s, and as an 80s band, how do you find this artwork and the idea behind it?

The story behind it is just as simple as the artwork itself: After we decided to entitle the album "Metal 'Til The End", guitarist Gor had the idea, that, just as his guitar stands for "Metal", a gravestone would stand for "the End". He added: "Don't worry about the cover, guys, I'll go out with my Flying V and search me a nice grave." …said and done. Then, Walter Moreth, who is a buddy of Gor, professionally overworked the resulting photo and added Logo and Title. All other artwork such as inner sleeve or booklet was created by our bassist Mirco, with the necessary input by the rest of the band.

Taking it back to the earlier days of Heavy Metal, and I might add a fusion between the Teutonic triumph and the British persuasion, "Metal 'til the End" is just that. It is hard to ignore that burning spirit that is behind the music, and the motivation to cling to the old habits and atmosphere of this tradition. I have to ask, and we might have touched base on it earlier, what is the magic that you find in the traditional form of the genre?

In order to answer that question, I must go back a little in time. It has been on a school party, when I listened to "Long live Rock'n'Roll" from Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow for the first time in my life. Although this song of course was not yet Heavy Metal but still Hard Rock, this composition of pure energy, enthralling melodies and musical mastery immediately and totally blew my mind. I had to have that album, and all others of that band, followed by all of Judas Priest, Sabbath, Motörhead, and soon also Iron Maiden, Saxon and Angel Witch appeared. Then, I needed to visit the concerts, where I met with all the other fanatics…What I like to say is, that, when the right song once finds a suiting ear, things take their course by themselves. If you are the one with that ear, Heavy Metal will inevitably become the soundtrack of your life… and that's all the magic you asked about.

How does this admiration of tradition, as you see it, come to life through the songwriting on "Metal 'til the End"?

At the beginning of this interview I said, that "we couldn't do anything else, even if we wanted to". If you'd ask a predatory dinosaur: "How do you know what to do to catch your prey?", he'd probably answer: "I cannot really tell you, I'm just following my nature". Now, regarding Heavy Metal instead of prey, Gor and me are just such dinosaurs… With that Metal part of our socialization, as described in the answer to your previous question, we instinctively know, what will fit to WARDRESS' old school metal style and what won't. At least we believe so…

Since Wardress is a part of a major wave, as we discussed earlier, in your view, what makes your efforts, in particular on "Metal 'til the End", to be unique in contrast to the vastness of releases going out on a weekly basis?

We just hope that our listeners can recognize and will appreciate, that our music is created by original 80s' Metalheads, who still do it with all their hearts, and not by a band who is riding a whatever wave only to their commercial advantage. However, we've always set great value on the approach that our ready songs still have a certain roughness and never appear overproduced. Thus, one trademark of WARDRESS is probably our typical mix of that rough energy with quite hymnic melodies, which indeed we have worked out on "Metal 'til The End" even more than on the debut album. Also, I heard from many people, that they were amazed at my voice, which they describe as being "coarser" or "dirtier" than others, and even somehow "unique". To me, a greater compliment couldn't be made.

Rolf Munkes, also known from Crematory as a musician, did everything for you guys when it comes to the engineering of "Metal 'til the End". From my end, the sound production of the record provides that old school experience, yet maintaining the sound modern in order to keep relevancy in regards to what has been going on in the industry. How do you find the end result of the record and Wardress's sound in 2023?

We are convinced that our newly joint efforts with Rolf for the new album have led to an even superior result as before for the debut. This time, we went into the studio with a clear plan and ideas for the sound, and with Gor himself as the producer. He had worked out a pre-production basing on the inputs of all WARDRESS members, already before we entered the Empire Studios. The work with Rolf was about recording the already very good-sounding demos even better. You can hear the resulting improvement, if you compare the sound of the new album with the sound of our debut album. Besides that, we had big fun in the studio again, everything was well prepared and Rolf's professionalism made the recording very easy. Working with Rolf is always like a holiday.

After a long time of not listening to bands covering Ozzy Osbourne, needless to say from the "Blizzard Of Oz" era, you took me on with "Mr. Crowley". Certainly, Ozzy's debut album's darkest song. First, what drove you to cover this particular song? How is Wardress expressing itself through Ozzy's classic creation?

The short answer is: We simply love Ozzy and especially this song. "Mr. Crowley" has been a part of our live set already for some years. We also cover Iron Maiden's "Prowler" live, sometimes. Now, for the album, "Mr. Crowley" became, as we say, somewhat "wardressed". The middle part is arranged with two-part guitars instead of keyboards, our version appears a little harder and also my voice adds more aggressivity to the song. Other than in the original song, the intro not only consists of keyboards, here played by Bernd Pfeffer, but this melody line additionally is very powerfully played by Mirco on bass. There's also a nice tribute to Ozzy in the lyrics. Of course, we didn't change Randy Rhoads' solos - that would be a crime.

I believe that "Metal 'til the End" is not only or the sake of heaviness and Metal but it also has a message. I found it mainly through "Serpents Kiss", which is a mid-tempo crusher. The music is the platform for you to portray what you really think. What can you tell about the song and the musical effort?

When I first heard the main guitar riff for this song, boosted with that impelling drumming of Andy, I somehow had the association of a snake winding through the gras towards its prey. Myths and fears about "the serpent" have been part of human existence at any time and in any place, as proofed in ancient stories about the Leviathan, in the Bible with Eve and even in the Jungle Book. With those impressions in mind, I began writing the lyrics. In the 1980s, this surely would have resulted in a song about a snake monster or a serpent god… but now I decided to combine the strong picture of "the serpent", which stands for malpractice, hypnosis and poisoning, with quite similar human practices such as the abuse of power, deception and deprivation of liberty. You can still easily find all of these behaviours even in societies and governments that address themselves as modern, democratic and humanistic. In fact, they often speak and act in obviously cynical ways, and with such lyrics as of our songs "The Serpent's Kiss", "Serves You Right" or "Berserk", we try to comment this in an appropriate,
ironical style.

It was interesting to find a song with a name such as "Metal Melodies", and furthermore, its music delivers one of your prominent efforts by creating a solid Metal basis that also shares the melodic sense of the British kind. What can you tell about the hooks and melodies? How do you find the impact of the song on the rest of the record?

"Metal Melodies", as well as the song "Wardress", have been written in the first half of the 1980s. I can't really remember how our creative process took place, back then. What I can say for sure: both the songs already unite the main trademarks, which we find typical for WARDESS until the present day: Powerful and rough Metal combined with melodic, sometimes even hymnal lines for both, guitar and voice. With a slight variation of that title, you could also briefly say "Metal AND Melodies", because that's what WARDRESS' songs are all about. Thus, the impact of the song on the rest of the record should be enormous…

What does Wardress's schedule look like in the coming months of 2023? Any festivals booked for the summer?

After all the confusion in the past "pandemic" years, we have concentrated all our activities on the release of the new album, the vinyl version is still yet to come. I must admit that, in consequence, we neglected our live activities a little bit … but know we are hungry to go out on stage again, and our first live shows in this year will take place in autumn and winter. To all who are interested: Please check our presentations and announcements on YouTube (channel: "Wardress Metal Online"), Instagram and Facebook, and as well have a look on the website of our label MDD/Black Sunset.

Erich, many thanks for your time for this conversation, it was good to know about a Traditional Metal band that is proud and strong with its music. All the best to you gents, cheers,

Prost, Lior, and keep on defending the faith…

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