Fair Warning

Interview date

Aout 2009




Interview Helge Engelke, Ule W. Ritgen, Tommy Heart

Hi, thanks a lot for accepting this interview for the french metal webzine http://www.auxportesdumetal.com/

How did you live your comeback in 2006 with the "Brother's Keeper" album release ? Did you get some good feedbacks on this album ?

Ule: Yes, after our "little" break of six years, we didn´t know, what to expect. So we were quite relieved and happy to be welcomed back with so much appreciation and enthusiasm. It really gave us the reassurance that our decision had been right...

What have you done between 2006 and 2009 ? Fair Warning's members have a lot of parallel projects. Am I wrong ? Can you please tell us more about that ?

Ule: Between 2006 and 2009 Tommy worked on the last album of "Souldoctor" and Helge finished the latest "Dreamtide" album. I was working on my paintings as well as writing songs for "Aura".

"Aura", your new album, is being released by Metal Heaven records. Is your deal with Frontiers over ? Can you please explain us the reasons of this change ?

Ule: Yes, for the time being our deal with Frontiers is over, but there are no hard feelings or so. The reasons for the change are quite simple, Metal Heaven made the better offer...

How would you compare "Aura" to "Brother's Keeper" ?

Ule: I think for us "Aura" feels like the natural next step after "Brother's Keeper". Bk was a good new start for us, but I feel "Aura" is quite a bit more focused regarding the songwriting and overall performance. We´ve all matured as musicians and writers and there's even more emotion and dedication in those new tracks...

Can you please explain us your composition processes ?

Ule: I started writing in late summer 2007, recording demos at the same time. Altogether about 25 songs. In May 2008, I gave the material to the other guys and after 2 weeks or so, we decided which songs to record. When I am writing, many influences can spark of a song or an idea for a song. Obviously it can be some melody or groove Ì've heard, however long ago, which suddenly creeps up in my mind, taking it's own shape. But it also can be a film or a book, that I've read. Most of the time though, it is some personal experience, that creates a mood or athmosphere within, which then - step by step - takes the shape of an ´inner movie´, that consists of images, sounds and words, that finally emerge into a whole... the song.

Who composes what ?

Ule: I composed 9 out of the 12 tracks, Helge wrote "Don't count on me", "As snow white found out" and "Walking on smiles".

We all decide together which songs we want to record, we record ourselves and take care of the mixing as well. Everybody is involved very strongly and decisions are made democratically.

Don't you think that "Aura" contains too many ballads/soft songs ?

Ule: Maybe from a metal fan's point of view - but FW is not metal, but a very songoriented Hard Rock band. So if it comes down to deciding between projecting a certain stylistic "band attitude" or a good song, harder or softer, we all will go for the song, not worrying about, whether we might not fit into a certain hard/soft format or not...

How would you compare "Aura" and more generally the Fair Warning music compared to the hundreds of A.O.R releases in 2009 (Hardline, Bad Habit, Crash The System...) ?

Ule: Your collegues from "Metal Hammer" Italy just wrote: "Fair Warning are one of the few European bands able to challenge American melodic hard rockers and beat them on their same eastern colony (Japan, on looking the charts)"... I know this is true - whatever that means... I think throughout our history as a band, we´ve always remained faithful to our identity, developing our own style and keeping our artistic integrity. I guess that's what many people around the world really appreciate, because they sense the honesty behind it.

How do you react to the fact that my CD review of "Aura" talks about influences by Europe, Bon Jovi (before "These Days" era) and Royal Hunt (D.C. Cooper era) ?

Ule: I wouldn´t agree with the expression "influences"... Quite honestly, I´ve never heard any Royal Hunt album, I only recall one or two Europe songs and never was a Bon Jovi fan...
Don't get me wrong: these are all good bands, two of them hugely successful - but believe me, they haven't had any 'influence' on any note recorded on "Aura".

Tommy, your voice is amazing. How often and how do you train your voice ?

Tommy: Thank you for the compliment. My recipe: "Sleep all day, sing all night".

Helge, how do you get this such specific guitar sound inside your solos ?

Helge: This might sound a little strange at first, but the guitar sound is mostly defined by what I want to hear. So I use different guitars and amplifiers for almost every song. Most of the solo`s on Aura are played on my NCC guitar, but I used a Fender Stratocaster and a Gibson Sg as well. Even with my NCC guitar I use different amplifiers, cabinets and distortion units. I think the most important thing is to find the right balance of distortion wich makes the guitar sing and gives you "longer" notes. On the other hand too much distortion kills the character of the sounds. I always struggle to find the right balance. Vibrato is another crucial thing for a singing guitar sound, sometimes I use the tremolo bar, sometimes my fingers.

In your playing, you seem influenced by Uli Jon Roth. Am I wrong ? Who are your guitaristic influences ?

Helge: Yes I am influenced by Uli, but funnily I never learned any of his solos, which is not the case with Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Those guys I studied hard and still can play some of their solos. What influenced me most in Uli`s guitar-playing is not certain lines or licks, but what the solo parts"do", that means a singing melody.

Is Fair Warning impacted by illegal P2P downloading ?

Ule: Of course we are! One short example: Our last album was - 6 weeks before the offcial relase!- downloadable from an illegal russian website for 99 cent. It doesn't need a mathematician to calculate, how much damage this does to legitimate websites or recordshops etc. Needless to say, that no artist earns a penny from that...

Do you consider P2P as a mean to discover new artists or as a destruction weapon ?

Ule: I think it is both, which is typical for the internet. On one hand it offers great new opportunities, on the other hand it fosters all kind of uncontrollable criminal activities as childpornography etc. .

Do you plan an "Aura" european tour ? Will we have any opportunity to see you live in France ?

Ule: Many things are planned and scheduled at the moment and hopefully we're going to play some shows in France as well...