Ever wanted to find out what inspired a particular song?
Was it based on personal experience or simply passive observation?
What happened in the recording studio or on stage to make one song sound different from the rest?
These are just some of the question bands and musicians attempt to answer in Line 'em Up - the newest page of The Power Of Metal.Dk.
This is where your favourite bands comment on their albums, track by track, because as someone once said, “Ideas are the building blocks of ideas”.
chance for you to tell our readers about your new album "The Old Man and the
But could you please start off by introducing the readers to Beyond the Bridge? - Peter from Beyond the Bridge explains...
Btb –Beyond the Bridge is a seven piece newcomer band. We released our debut album „The old Man and the Spirit" under the courtesy of the Italian Label Frontiers Records at the end of January 2012. The band members are Dilenya Mar (Vocals), Herbie Langhans (Vocals), Peter Degenfeld-Schonburg (Guitar), Christopher Tarnow (Keyboards), Dominik Stotzem (Bass), Fabian Maier (Drums), and Simon Oberender (live: guitars and keyboards). The album was produced, recorded and mixed by Simon Oberender at the Gate Studios in Wolfsburg, Germany. The mastering was done by Simon Oberender and Sascha Paeth at the Gate Studios as well.
The music and lyrics are written by Christopher and me. At first sight the songs can be seen in the context of Progressive Rock or Progressive Metal. They contain virtuosity in both the playing and the compositional design. But with the two singers and especially with our way of arranging the songs and vocal lines we have created something which has been rarely heard before. Dilenyas voice is very unusual in the Rock/Metal genre and it adds something to the music which is fresh and indeed progressive.
But it is more important to say that the songs themselves will excite the listeners. Nothing is just made for showing off technical skills. The music is touching. It will even touch you in a different way each time you listen to it. Inspiring and ambiguous lyrics with combination of a large variety of musical styles will accompany the listeners through the story of the conceptual album.
The story of the band, however, is not the most usual one. We started out as a school band. Back then it was Dominik, Christopher and Peter. After their graduation, Christopher decided to become a recording engineer. During his studies he met Simon. That was a very important step in the history of the band as Simon went to the Gate Studios after finishing the University. Simon heard our music and decided to produce it. Luckily Sascha Paeth and the others at the Gate Studio gave us the opportunity to record our music. Simon also brought Fabian and Herbie to the band and Peter met Dilenya at a concert of hers in Munich, Germany.
The mastering of the Cd was finished in April 2011. Finally in September/October of 2011 we contacted Frontiers Records. Up to this point we have rarely been rehearsing and we never played a live Show. But we had a concept album and a signed contract. I have to admit that all of this sounds as if BtB is a project and not a real band. Indeed, it started out as a project but now the members grew together and we are a real band ready to present "The old Man and the Spirit" live on stage!
And now onto "The Old Man and the Spirit"… track-by-track, what inspired you, what topics are you dealing with, what do what to express with this song etc.
Btb – Since this is a concept album let me give you an overview of the story and of my motivation behind it before we focus on each one of the songs.
The whole album was inspired by a situation where I had to decide what I am going to do next with my life. It was after finishing High-School. I had two possible choices. Either I become a musician or I study physics. I believed that physics could be able to reveal the answers to the questions I have been having as a teenager. These were questions that you can find in typical popular scientific literature. Basically questions about the universe, elementary particles, quantum mechanics and stuff like that. On the other hand there was music. And I guess I don´t have to tell you that music can be the most intensive experience sometimes. At the end I decided to go for physics. But as it turns out now, I am back to music.
However, back then the decision I had to make gave me the motivation to write an album where we basically oppose humanity to overall awareness. Of course there is a lot behind the words "humanity" and "awareness". To be a bit more accurate you could say that we oppose experience to knowledge, insignificance to sense, felling to certainty, transience to infinity, love to indifference and so on. Or to put everything in a simple question: Would you like to understand life or would you rather feel alive?
The human part is embodied by the "Old Man", while the "Spirit" embodies the overall awareness. Both characters desire what they do not have. The Album states that having both humanity and overall awareness is not possible for anyone of the characters. However, the "Spirit" offers to trade her awareness for the "Old Man´s" life.
When Christopher and I decided to create the album we knew that we want to take the idea of a "concept album" really seriously. It is not only that the lyrics tell a continuous story but you will also find musical connections between passages spread over the whole album. There are many melodic lines that appear intentionally at certain passages in different keys, tempi, time signatures and so on. The songs sound as if they describe the scenes. "The struggle" sounds like a conflict between the two parties. "All a Man can do" composes the strength and pride but at the same time the limitations and imperfections of mankind. Overall the music and the lyrics merge and create one story. We feel that "The Old Man & The Spirit" really gives consideration to our ideal of a "concept album".
In fact, one of the very first things that came to our mind were the two characters together with the basic content of the story. We wrote a brief abstract and divided the whole thing into successive statements. Basically before the notes were written, we knew what each song had to sound and feel like and what the lyrics had to say. With these restrictions we started the song writing process. At the end writing songs under some restrictions turns out to be just great. Although one might think that restrictions delimit creativity, it was actually the opposite in our case.
Now lets look at the basic idea behind each song step by step. The details can be found within the words. I will not go into the musical details as well as I leave it to the listeners to interpret the meaning of the music underlying the words and the scenes of each song.
But from all this, please do not forget that the album is more about the music than about the lyrics and the story. Although it can be very exciting and challenging to dig deep into the journey of the Old Man but it is also fair enough to enjoy the music only, without the story behind it.
And another thing, please do not forget that we are just some normal people having fun together and drinking beer. If you are not convinced, check out some of our advent calendar videos on our Youtube channel ; )
01. The Call
Btb– The Call is the opener of the album. From the content of the story we wanted the Old Man to introduce himself and his concerns. These are basically the questions arising when you deal with the transience in your human life: „...Existence crashes...as it passes away...". It should come out of the lyrics that the Old Man has not dealt with these concerns before in his life, „...never felt so insecure...". The adjective „old" does not emphasize the fact that the Old Man is weak and infirm but it rather emphasizes a „man" who lived through all the highs and lows of human sensuousness.
02. The Apparition
Btb – „The Apparition" continues with the surrender of the Old Man, „...how can a simple man reveal the world before he dies..." and he calls for help „...spirit come hear my appeal...". The basic message of this song is to say that having both humanity and overall awareness is not possible for anyone of the characters. Although the Old Man hopes to „... reveal the answers alone...", the Spirit denies this possibility „...Dare, how could it be in this reality, how?...". It is just like in the metaphor in the poem in the beginning
„How can a single drop perceive
The whole surrounding sea?
For being part it will receive
A higher cause to be."
The drop within the sea can not perceive the whole surrounding sea. But it could transform into steam and fly over the sea. However, it has to change its physical shape in order to do that.
03. Triumph of Irreality
Btb – We call the state where awareness and humanity merge together as one entity the „Triumph of Irreality". This state is desired by both characters but can not be reached by neither of them. This would be the ultimate goal. The poem in the song, however, gives a short peek inside the Spirit who was human before and accepted the trade. It is supposed to be a monologue. She was „...confined to my reality..." as a human being and is now „...confined to my reality" as the Spirit.
04. The Spring of It All
Btb – „The Spring of it All" is a synonym for the origin of the world or existence itself. In this song and also in „World of Wonders" the Spirit tries to convince the Old Man that being human is nothing of significance compared to superhuman awareness, „...it is all a matter of knowing...".
With this the Spirit prepares the scene for what is coming up in „Doorway to Salvation".
05. World of Wonders
Btb – Here the Spirit tries to excite the curiosity of the „old man". Again this is in order to prepare the trade in „Doorway to Salvation".
06. The Primal Demand
Btb – All the meaning of this song is basically included in the title. The Old Man goes one step back. In „The Apparition" he was willing to find all the answers as a human but now the temptations of the Spirit remind him of the transience of a human life. It seems to him that his life is senseless. He is back at his primal demand as in „The Call", desperate and willing to accept the divinity of the Spirit. That is exactly where the Spirit was aiming at.
07. Doorway to Salvation
Btb – In this song the Spirit reveals her intentions. She wants to trade her superhuman awareness in for the „Old Man's" human experiences. From now on we use the „memory" of the Old Man as a hypothetical construct that contains all of the Old Man´s experiences and therefore his whole life. That is the price to pay for the Old Man.
08. The Struggle
Btb – In „The Struggle" we let the two characters argue with each other. That is one of the moments on the album where we directly oppose humanity to overall awareness. One important part in the song is given by the Old Man's insight where he turns one of his biggest concerns, namely the transience of life, into a key argument against the tempting offer of the Spirit. „...Beauty and bliss...lie in the transience of life...".
09. The Difference is Human
Btb – In this song the Old Man decides to refuse the offer and keep his memories or rather keep his life. Again we use the lyrics to oppose feelings against knowledge. He realizes what is important for him „...my soul is a ponderer..."
10. Where the Earth and Sky Meet
Btb – To put it simple. This is a love song. It describes one of the Old Man's most valuable memories.
11. All a Man Can Do
Btb – Here we deal with the salvation of the Old Man. It is in principle a Homage to humanity with all its pride, strenght and weakness.
Overall it should be understood that the two characters are supposed to oppose each other. There is no „bad guy" and no „good guy" on the album. Honestly, I can not tell wether I feel closer to the Old Man or to The Spirit. It always depends on the mood I am in. Probably many people on this planet would decide differently as the Old Man on our album.
Tell us a bit about the artwork – who made it etc. and how important do you feel it is to have a cool artwork?
Btb – In September/October of 2011 we contacted Frontiers Records with the Master Cd. But we only had the music. There were no band pictures, no artwork, no booklet, just the music. Overall we had about 3 weeks to do all the remaining things. We found the artwork online. It is done by a Hungarian artist called Sarolta Bán. We liked it from the very beginning. To us it is more about the feelings and thoughts that the picture evokes together with the music than about a given interpretation. It makes it much more exciting when everyone has to find his/her own interpretation. But this, however, can be a huge playground for people who like to interpret it as the artwork goes well with the content of the album.
We fell that it is important for the album to be a complete piece of art. The artwork plays a huge role since it is the first thing that strikes you. We realize on the reactions of many people and also on the reactions of some reviewers that a good artwork is worth the money and efforts.
Any last words you want to round this interview off with?
Btb – Well, thanks to everybody for reading this interview. Thanks to you, Kenn, for giving us this great opportunity. Keep on rocking and always try to go beyond the bridge. ; )
Kenn Jensen, March 2012