Markus Steffen

Sieges Even

The fact that Sieges Even is one of the most quality oriented bands in Progressive Metal is undisputed. After a long period of absence the band returns with the fantastic The Art Of Navigating By The Stars. We grabbed the chance to chat with guitarist Markus Steffen.
By Michael Dalakos
October 3, 2005
Markus Steffen (Sieges Even) interview
First of all welcome to our magazine. Your new album is amazing and probably one of your best releases ever.

Thanks, indeed. I'm glad you like the album. Of course, we are happy with the result, too. To me it's definitely not only the longest but the strongest Sieges Even release to date.

Let's start with your decision to re-invent the band and use once again the name Sieges Even. When and why did that happen?

Well, after Uneven (1997) Alex [Holzwarth - drums] and Oliver [Holzwarth - bass] had some troubles with the old record company and musicians in the band. They were not really happy with the direction Sieges Even was heading towards. So, they decided to stop the band. Shortly after that, Alex called me and asked me if I was up to something new. I was very hungry to work with the guys again, and so we started writing new songs under the name Looking-Glass-Self.

After a while we changed the name again into Val'Paraiso, but then we realized that our new material wasn't that far away from Sieges Even. Even though we are not into reunions, we decided to pick up the old name again. And we are quite happy with it.

Considering your long absence, where you anxious to see if your old fans remembered you?

Sure, but through all those years we knew that we were not completely forgotten. I got many e-mails from our old fan base - and it was good to see that they were still there. The problem was to tell the world that we were finally back.

Please give us some details about the new album. Is it a concept album?

It's not really a concept album. Of course, there is a red line that goes through all the tracks, musically and lyrically. But each song works as a normal song, if you so wish. And I don't think we'll play Navigating... as one piece on stage. To be perfectely honest, I don't like to talk about the lyrics in detail, since I tried to write them as open as possible. I don't want to take away the personal pictures of the listener.

Talking about the production, we recorded the album in about four weeks (including the mix) in Frankfurt, Germany in collaboration with Uwe Lulis [guitarist] who is known for his work with Rebellion. As I mentioned before, we are exteremly happy with the result: it's transparent and melodic on one hand, on the other it has a lot of energy, too.

Exactly how up to date are the songs included? I mean are they all new ideas or have you also used older written material?

Most of the tracks were really new but there are a lot of ideas, melodic fragments and even rhythmical structures that are older. Unbreakable is a good example: it was written in fall 2004, but the chorus comes from an old Looking-Glass-Self track called Equinox. And by the way, we still have material left. Unfortunately, we were running out of time, but we'll record them for the next album.

The songs in the album brought in mind your A Sense Of Change (1995) Era. In your opinion is the material in The art... in the same vein with one of your older releases or is a totally step into the future album?

It is definitely a step into the future. We always want to sound different with each album. And it's very different to what we did in the past - and I think that's how it should be. But yes, there are also resemblances to A Sense Of Change - we still love that album. And it has definitely nothing to do with the Sophisticated (1995) and Uneven era.

Your music sounds so complicated but somehow doesn't leave the impression that you show off or that you do fancy tricks. How difficult is it to achieve this balance? In your opinion, what is the most common mistake Progressive Metal bands fall into?

Today we have a very different approach to our music. We are extremely focused on writing good melodies, with a sharp eye on the whole arrangement. Of course, we like to challenge ourselves musically but that doesn't mean that we need to write the most complicated music in the world. It's much harder to write a good song instead of writing the most complicated song. Today, the complexity is hidden in the background of the song.

Will there be any touring for the promotion of the new album?

Most definitely! We will kick off the Navigating By The Stars Tour in December in... Athens, Greece!!! After that we'll be heading to Moscow, Russia. Those are headliner shows, followed by a tour with another InsideOut band in late December/January. And as far as I can see, there are plans for some festivals in springtime 2006. So, we are quite busy.

Will there be any limited editions or any video?

No, not with this record. Keep in mind that this is our first album for InsideOut. But the first issue of Navigating comes in a stylish O-Tray-jewel-case.

A couple more general questions. If you had the ability to change one thing in the music industry, what would that be?

Very easy: lower the prices for CDs, focus on the quality of the whole product.

Do you think that the Internet makes a band's life easier or do you think it makes it harder?

Hard to say, but it is really a good way to spread your music even if you don't have a deal in your pocket. As for the whole download thing, I don't think that a band like Sieges Even is struck too hard by this, because our fans want to own the whole product, not only the music burnt on a crappy CD, also a good cover, the lyrics and stuff.

What do you think is the best way to fight music piracy?

Deliver quality and, as I said before, lower the prices for CDs and give the fans a great product. You know what? When we started Sieges Even back in 1986 there was a problem very similar to the internet piracy. It was called tape trading. Has it killed the industry?

Can you tell us what you like doing in your free time?

I read a lot and I'd like to spend my time with my wife. Of course, I play guitar a lot and work on new material.

If you where not a musician what would you have been?

Very hard to say. Yesterday, Oliver called me the professor in the band. So, probably a teacher at some University. (Laughs)

The immediate plans of the band?

Touring, touring, touring. And after that: Working on the next Sieges Even album, to be released next year.

Thanks for your time. Close this interview with a message to all our readers...

Thanks for the interview. And to the fans: Thanks for supporting us so far. We are looking forward to seeing you on tour very soon. Navigate!

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