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inextremo2011_05Interview with

Kay Lutter (Bass) from In Extremo

With 15 years worth of composing, touring and generally blowing our socks off with great tunes, this seven piece outfit originally hailing from Berlin are always a pleasure to deal with and this encounter was no exception. After a pleasant evening in Dortmund listening to the preview of IN EXTREMO's mind-blowing new album 'Sterneneisen' I had the pleasure of having a nice chat and a drink with their bass maestro Kay Lutter. And it went something like this...

Reflections of Darkness (RoD): Hi Kay, nice to meet you! This album is certainly a lot harder and heavier than anything I've heard of yours before. Is that down to having a new drummer or is it more of an natural progression for the band?
Kay: Hi, well certainly the new drummer has had a lot of great input but the band moves in it's own direction always and it's really an album that we've all worked on and so it's more of a natural progression I think.

RoD: Okay, it's certainly a great album. I was particularly taken with the track ‘Vive La Vida’, is there a story behind that?
Kay: (Laughs) Oh yeah, that was written after some inspiration from the problems that COLDPLAY had with their album of that name. There was a huge court case I think about plagiarism and it was kind of drawn from that, from the problems that they had.

inextremo2011_01RoD: I see. With regards to the way that you compose material, the whole band that is, are some people solely responsible for some songs or are they all joint ventures?
Kay: Hmmm... well certainly obviously people have initial ideas on their own and come with something but then we all kind of have an input, so sometimes it's a little hard to give your song over and let everyone work on it. It's very important to you, but it usually works out well, everyone pitches in and things can end up very differently than they began, so usually things belong to all of us in the end - a collaboration!

RoD: Ah okay, talking of collaborations then, if you could collaborate with any artist, alive or dead who would it be and why?
Kay: Oh, well we all have very different idols in the band, it's very complicated, but mine are mainly English 60's music. I like bands like The Kinks, I'm an old Kinks fan. I like the melodies and even before I understood the lyrics, I was such a fan and I like the dialects. I like Slade. I loved their dialect.

RoD: That's Wolverhampton near  Birmingham. “Brummie” they call it.
Kay: Yeah Birmingham. It's home to a lot of great bands.

RoD: It is, it used to have a very vibrant scene but now it's lost that a little as they demolished a lot of the old scruffy venues and replaced them with plush places bands can't afford to perform. Like they did with the Astoria in London, that was iconic as a venue and now it's gone. You played the Astoria didn't you?
Kay: (Laughing) We played the Astoria, we were support for GWAR in 2000! Yeah and you know we only had 20 beers all night.




RoD: That's terrible, I'm so sorry! Talking of formative venues for formative bands have you picked up on any good bands we should be listening to?
Kay: Well I like bands that use the German language, you know, we can play with words so I'm listening to bands like ELEMENT OF CRIME, SELIG, TON STEINE SERBEN, and lots of others too.


RoD: Yeah and is there a sense of great frustration that when you turn the radio on in Germany the majority of stuff is still in English?
Kay: Well yes, but when I was young, it was English music as well and I couldn't translate it - I can now but then it was like what's 'Smoke on the Water' mean? ( Laughs) but I loved the melodies and at the time the lyrics were not important to me.

RoD: So if music in it's own right is good enough it will prevail regardless of language?
Kay: Yes I think so! But England is the hardest market for any band that doesn't sing in English.

RoD: This is true. Tell me about the acoustic tour you did. It was all in very small very intimate venues. Do you prefer those to large stadiums?
Kay: Well actually if you are an artist, I think you love the clubs because you have a rapport with the audience but at huge festivals you have this vast space in front of you and the audience and it's surreal, it's great but it's surreal whereas little venues there can be a real connection with the crowd.

RoD: Yeah and on your acoustic tour, the set design was great, was that a band idea initially, or was it the idea of a designer that you went with?
Kay: We had the idea that it should be 1920's in style so we mentioned that and then threw it over to a designer and they put it together.

RoD: Cool! Moving on to you personally, can you tell me why you're a bass player, why not keyboards or drums, what made you decide to play the bass?
Kay: Ah well that is all down to my step father. He was a musician, not a professional but a musician none the less and I heard records and for me it was totally clear from the age of eight my profession should be a “Schlager” singer. But that didn't happen so a guitarist in a band ( smiles). So we went to Potsdam near Berlin and he said okay then you have to go to music school. So I took the entrance exam when I was nine years old and they had no teachers for guitar. So I said okay I'll play drums, and they said 'No you're nine years old you cannot play drums until you are ten years old' (laughs a lot) so my step father said ' You can play bass guitar!'.

inextremo2011_03RoD: I see, that's a good chance happening.
Kay: Well I asked him what it was and for my birthday he bought me a bass guitar! So I went to music school and two years after that my Grandmother said to me “Can you play a Christmas song?” and I sat there with my bass guitar and thought 'What can I play for a Christmas song alone on a bass guitar?' so that wasn't much of a success (laughs). But then at 13 I got an offer from a band and they were all sixteen or seventeen and I did that for a couple of months then my parents said 'You don't have any time for this because you have to make your grades' and after a lot of discussion and me saying ' But I HAVE to play in a rock band' they said okay and at thirteen I was playing in my first rock band!

RoD: So I'm sensing you had a very good relationship with your stepfather and that we can thank him that you got to be the bass player you wanted to be?
Kay: Yeah, my step father was a very cool guy. He said essentially 'Okay you can do what you want' and he had a company and we had a rehearsal room there and we started to make a band. Then I went to high school in Berlin and they had a very small class for music that wasn't classical, it was more for pop or rock music, so I went there and then later I was in a very well known East German band 'FREYGANG and we were forbidden, you know in East Germany that happened.

RoD: Okay so that's lead you all the way up to your forthcoming album 'Sterneneisen' do you have a favourite track?
Kay: Hmmmm, my favourite track, that's hard actually. I cannot say because when you record you give your very soul to the ideas that you have and it's very hard to give a definitive answer because I like all the songs because we took a lot of time to make them exactly right. I hope they are exactly right because we worked very hard on this album to make it the best it can possibly be.

RoD: I think you definitely succeeded. Kay it's been a pleasure, thank you so much for the interview.
Kay: No problem. Thank you.


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