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SweetErmengarde2021 02 bySarahRuhollInterview with

Lars Kappeler (bass guitar) from Sweet Ermengarde

SWEET ERMENGARDE is one of the bands which impressed me most on the Stella Nomine Festival in August. Their dark sound - of which some fans at the festival said it is surely inspired by FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM - and their awesome performance electrified all the people in front of the stage. The dark voice of singer Daniel Schweigler, the heavy bass guitar of band founder Lars Kappeler and the epic soundscape let you immerse in the music and forget about the world for a while. Now I was curious to know what the band is currently planning. After their two albums ‘Raynham Hall’ (2013) and ‘Ex Oblivione’ (2016), SWEET ERMENGARDE released their double single ‘Once You Break / Typhonian Trance’ earlier this year. I talked to Lars Kappeler about a musician’s life in times of the pandemic, their first gig after the lockdown, his own musical influences and his plans with the band.

Reflections of Darkness [RoD]: After one and a half years living with the lockdown you finally played the first show on the STELLA NOMINE Festival in august. How did that feel, how do you remember those moments?
Lars: That was really cool! I knew that I missed all this, but how much I really missed it became clear when we were on stage. We absolutely needed to do that again.

RoD: How did you spend the difficult time without concerts and without personal contact to your fans?
Lars: We lived our everyday lives as far as it was possible. The satisfaction decreased of course more and more. But we went on working in our normal jobs, which also was difficult for some of us because of the pandemic. And we gave up our rehearsal room because we couldn’t play there together anyway.

RoD: You mentioned your job - what are you doing besides the music?
Lars: I am a product advisor in the medical field. We make medical software and I do the customer support. So, my normal job has nothing to do with music but with computers.

RoD: Could you use the time during the pandemic in a creative way, maybe writing new music? Or is it difficult to motivate yourself, not knowing how everything goes on?
Lars: It was difficult, it didn’t go that well with SWEET ERMENGARDE. The music we released now was done before the lockdown came, we just finished it. So, we didn’t really work in a creative way. Especially in this band a lot depends on the interaction. It’s not that everybody works alone at home but we all work together in the rehearsal room normally, and that wasn’t possible. But besides SWEET ERMENGARDE I have some more projects. With another band of mine for example we communicate across several countries via the internet, so the situation didn’t really disturb us.

RoD: You founded the band SWEET ERMENGARDE. How did you come together, how did it come that you started a band?
Lars: That’s a complicated story! (laughs). It started with a band called NEON DREAM a few years ago. But some day the band members were gone and we urgently needed people. I also played in a Progressive Rock band and I asked them to step in. And so, a new band developed. After we broke up with the singer I said let’s start again together with a new band, and that was the beginning of SWEET ERMENGARDE.

SweetErmengarde2021 01 bySarahRuholl

RoD: Can you tell me who or what the band name refers to?
Lars: At that time, I was a huge fan of the writer H.P. Lovecraft - actually I still am. I wanted something that refers to his stories, but many other bands already did it. SWEET ERMENGARDE is a parody of the “rags to riches” novels which is written by Lovecraft under the pseudonym Percy Simple. And that’s where the band name comes from.

RoD: Who of you gives what parts in the music - how does your own personalities are shown in your work?
Lars: That’s very different. One of us can have an idea and we work together on it, but it’s also possible that a song is completely composed and the others only play it. It’s important that if you have a vision of a song, a vision of how it should sound, that it is realized that way. We always say the composer sets the tone, but other ideas can be added.

RoD: What kind of music did you listen to when you were a teenager? Who influenced you?
Lars: At the age of twelve I started listening to IRON MAIDEN, that was my first concert as well. A few years later I got in touch with gothic rock, FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM and SISTERS OF MERCY for example.

RoD: Did you grow up with music in your family?
Lars: No. My parents are very unmusical. My mother listened to the radio, but I didn’t like that music. When I was a child, I didn’t know anything but the music from the radio - until I listened to IRON MAIDEN and it was clear that this is different! And that’s what I liked. It is one of the reasons why I play bass guitar now. IRON MAIDEN has a really great bass player as well as FIELDS OF THE NEPHILIM and so I was drawn to this instrument. Steve Harris and Tony Pettitt were my idols. I started learning it at the age of fifteen and I saved all my money to buy a bass guitar.

RoD: What was - for you personally - the most important concert that you saw as a fan?
Lars: I would say that was my first concert, IRON MAIDEN. It left a lasting impression and influenced me so much, as I told you. And LAIBACH impressed me very much too, they are a really great live band.

RoD: And which of your own shows is unforgettable for you?
Lars: That was our show at the WGT in Leipzig 2015. There were so many people who wanted to see us that they couldn’t let them all in. That was quite cool!

RoD: What are your next plans with SWEET ERMENGARDE? Are you working on new music, and are there more gigs already planned?
Lars: We want to start with regular rehearsals soon and of course we will write new songs, that has absolute priority. A new album is also planned. The next live show which is currently confirmed will be in November 2022 in Berlin, but I think, there will be others before.

RoD: Thank you very much for the interview! / Photos by Sarah Ruholl

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