Lars Kappeler (bass guitar) from Sweet Ermengarde
Since I last spoke to Lars Kappeler from SWEET ERMENGARDE last time in September 2021, a lot has changed. Singer Daniel Schweigler has left the band. But that didn’t mean the end at all: Drew Freeman from SOMETIME THE WOLF has already joined as the new singer and SWEET ERMENGARDE have already played the first gigs with their new voice. In the interview Lars reveals what that was like and how surprisingly quickly the new cast came about.
Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: You played at the Castle Party in Poland a few days ago. A big event - how was it?
Lars: It was very cool! It was a bit chaotic, because a few bands dropped out and our slot was shifted a bit. However, that was an advantage for us, because we got a better slot. On Saturday at 6 pm on the main stage, that was really good. On top of that, lots of people, great weather - you can’t really ask for more.
RoD: Last year we both spoke shortly after the Stella Nomine Festival - that was less than a year ago. Now everything is different. Daniel has left the band; you have a new singer in Drew. How did that come about?
Lars: It was a very lucky coincidence! We knew Drew for a long time, he was often at our concerts when we played in England. He was there as a guest and always liked SWEET ERMENGARDE. He then told us that he also makes music, he was the singer of the band SOMETIME THE WOLF and that’s how we met and stayed in touch. A friend of mine produced them, Simon Rippin, the drummer of EDEN HOUSE. He played me something from Drew’s band. I really liked it and thought we had to do something together sometime. And when Daniel officially announced his departure, Drew called me five minutes later and asked if we were looking for a new singer. That was perfect! (laughs). We didn’t even have to start looking, it was clear right away. It’s a perfect fit.
RoD: Drew lives in England, near Manchester. How do you organise that?
Lars: The fact that he lives there doesn’t make it any easier, of course. So, we always speak English at rehearsals now, and of course we can’t always rehearse with the full cast. But it works. He sends me his vocal tracks, and we then also hear the singing at the rehearsal.
RoD: After Daniel had left the band, was there any thought of breaking up?
Lars: No. That was out of the question. I briefly considered taking over the vocals myself, but I prefer to concentrate on the bass guitar. But breaking up the band was never an option.
RoD: What does the band mean to you personally?
Lars: SWEET ERMENGARDE is my personal life’s work. With the band I started to make the music I want. Before that, I didn’t have the opportunity so often. With the band I could finally realise myself. And especially now with the new line-up, it’s a lot of fun again.
RoD: Do you see this as a new beginning for SWEET ERMENGARDE? Or does the story just go on?
Lars: Yes, it just goes on. We have things to build on, after all. You just keep moving forward.
RoD: How does your music change now? Drew doesn’t just bring a different voice. He has a different personality, interprets the songs differently.
Lars: It’s hard to say. It’s not like you plan it that way. I’ve always been the main songwriter, so that will continue to be my style. Of course, the singing is very formative, but I don’t see a big break for me. Drew’s way of singing is a bit like our first singer Kuba, so it’s a bit of a step back. In terms of his style, he’s between Kuba and Daniel. But I am still responsible for the music. But of course, everyone contributes their ideas.
RoD: To what extent does the mood or the cohesion in a band change with a new frontman?
Lars: For us, it worked immediately with Drew. The mood was very good from the start. And for us it went uphill again after the lockdown anyway. We are a live band, and we are happy to play again with a new line-up.
RoD: You have already played a few gigs with the new line-up. How were the reactions of the fans?
Lars: Very good! Everyone says Drew is the right singer for us. He also has a great presence on stage and a vocal power that we didn’t have before.
RoD: If Drew hadn’t come forward immediately, would you have asked someone else? Was there a preferred candidate?
Lars: We didn’t even get to think about it. We had our band meeting and we were going to talk about it, but when it came to that Drew had already called me. I said we already have a new singer (laughs). But of course, I didn’t make the decision alone. We all agreed that Drew is the right one.
RoD: You still have some concerts coming up. Is this year a kind of liberation for you to be able to be on stage regularly again after the lockdown?
Lars: Yes, totally. It’s really great. We’re always panicking that we’ll get infected somewhere, but so far, we’ve been lucky (laughs). We’ve been able to play all the gigs again so far.
RoD: Do you personally prefer playing at big festivals or in front of smaller audiences?
Lars: I can’t say that definitively. At big festivals everything is a bit more routine, a different feeling than at small gigs. It also depends on the organisers, many of them take great care of the bands and then it’s just fun to play there. Of course, at big festivals you can reach a lot of people and become better known. At the smaller gigs you have more direct contact with the fans, which is also nice. It’s the mix that makes it.
RoD: What are the longer-term plans? Is a new album in sight?
Lars: Yes, a new album is being planned. The songwriting is going well, we already played three new songs at the Castle Party. But there is definitely a plan to finish the album this year so that it can be released in early 2023.
RoD: Thank you very much for the interview!
Currently confirmed gigs:
13 August 2022: Bats In The Attic, Morecambe, UK
3 September 2022: Rüsselsheim, Das Rind, Germany
23 September 2022: Campus Noir X, Ilmenau, Germany
24. März 2023: Darks Skies over Witten VII, Germany
All Pictures by Sweet Ermengarde