Interview with guitarist and singer Christoph Wieczorek of annisokay

Translated from German. Click here to read the original version.

It’s been a month since the release of annisokay’s highly acclaimed full-length output “Arms”. See below what singer, guitarist and producer Christoph has to tell us about the new record, annisokay’s tour in the US and more.

Cristina: Congratulations on the new album! How does it feel like to finally be able to share your newest output with the rest of the world?

Christoph: Awesome! On the one hand, we are relieved that all the stress is finally over, but on the other hand, we are proud of what we have created. We received exuberant feedback for our singles already, so we weren’t worried that the rest of the album wouldn’t be well received, and we’ve been proved right!

C: How did the new album come together?

Ch: I’m a full-time producer and have my own studio, which is of great advantage to our band. We can work on our songs anytime and as long as we want to and improve them until we are truly happy. On the same note, we don’t schedule our sessions and in the end, we had six weeks left until the due date and only five finished demos. That’s why we locked ourselves in the studio and did nothing but working on our songs. My fried Benny Richter, who also produced albums by Caliban and Emil Bulls, luckily was able to help us out last-minute. In the end, we were able to finish everything off and in retrospect, we realized that our album even benefitted from the fact that we were pressed for time.

C: What is different about “Arms” compared to your other albums and especially compared to the last record?

Ch: We found our own sound even more. An album is always a snapshot of the band’s sound during a specific time. That’s why our journey and progress over the years is well presented by our albums. The journey is probably not over yet, but “Arms” definitely sounds more mature, raw, organic and melancholic than “Devil May Care”.

C: Just as “arms” can have two different meanings, it seems as if many of your new songs have multiple meanings. What are the lyrics about?

Ch: We love writing songs that our fans can find their own meaning in. They often feel understood by the lyrics even though we may have had a totally different topic in mind when writing them. Actually, every song on “Arms” has its own theme or is at least based on something that inspired us or something we had to deal with. There is no universal theme to the record, though. We sing about everything that is on our mind. Interpersonal (“Good Stories”, “Sea Of Trees”) as well as sociocritical issues (“Innocence Was Here”, “End Of The World”, “Humanophobia”) can both be found in the songs.

C: Do you have a favorite track on the new album?

Ch: No, I don’t have a favorite track. But if I listen to the album, there are tracks that I like more than others, for example “One Second”. Musically, the song is very different from anything we have done so far. We experimented a lot with chords and added a cool rhythm and synth elements to the song. In general, we had a lot of fun writing beyond the boundaries of our genre. Many current metalcore bands don’t do that, which makes the genre quite boring and everything sounds the same.

C: You are also responsible for the production of annisokay’s records. On which aspects of the production process do you emphasize the most?

Ch: The quality of the songs! Everything else like synth sounds or the mix are secondary. If the songs aren’t awesome, nobody will like the album in the end. This comes down to melody, rhythm, harmonies and emotion. I’m always trying to capture the latter in my performance in the studio.

C: Until now, you guys released two music videos for the singles “Unaware” and “Coma Blue”. Can you tell us about the concepts behind the videos?

Ch: “Unaware” takes place in the future after some kind of apocalypse. Everyone is only a part of a big system that uses time as currency. Everyone has to work to reload their timer. If the timer runs out, you die, or at least that’s what everyone fears. At the end of the video, the protagonist’s timer runs out, but instead of dying, she awakens and is free. This is somewhat of an exaggerated depiction of today’s society. We rush from appointment to appointment, work all the time and forget what’s most important, which is life itself.
“Coma Blue” doesn’t have much of a profound message. We just wanted to take our viewers on a crazy trip, a nightmare. The video is virtually a oneshot (an uncut video) and we used many tricks to confuse our viewers.

C: You’ve been on tour in the US for nearly a month. How would you describe your experience and which challenges did you have to overcome during your time there?

Ch: Our experience was positive throughout! This was the longest tour in the history of our band: 28 shows in 31 days. And it was magnificent. We had the opportunity to explore this huge and diverse country almost in its entirety. Ranging from the metropoles New York City, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles to St. Paul, Madison, Des Moines or Ocala (which are rather unknown for Europeans), the US is very impressive. We went surfing in the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. We visited the huge salt lakes in Salt Lake City. We shot our first video on US ground in Black Forrest, Colorado. In Arizona, we got into a sand storm at night. In total, we travelled 15,000 kilometers. We never felt like foreigners, as people in America are very hospitable and the fans have been very receptive to us at the shows. Our lack of experience has been a challenge. Starting with our equipment and its power supply to the planning of our flights and the renting of our tour bus, everything has been exciting. When we arrived in the USA, our bus driver canceled on short notice, and he had the most important job of our crew. Luckily, we could find someone else quite quickly, but it was, as always, a case of your proverbial pig in a poke. To be honest, that was exactly the charm of this tour.

C: Funniest story from the last tour?

Ch: Let’s start with our “worst” show, which was in Lubbock, Texas. Right before this rather poorly attended concert, the centerpiece of our sound system left us high and dry and we had to bridge what felt like an eternity with some kind of spoken-word performance. The language barrier even was to our advantage. Americans seem to like the German accent. Nevertheless, it is still very embarrassing to stand on stage and not be able to play.
During our 31 days on tour, we once went to a mall prior to playing a show and accidentally left our photographer Felix there. We just drove away to the gig without him. We only noticed his absence as we arrived at the club. The funny thing about this situation is the fact that Felix didn’t come up with the idea that we could have left without him. He thought he was lost and wasn’t able to find the tour bus. So he walked around this huge American mall for half an hour and started doubting his sense of direction. We also forgot about him when we took a picture of the entire crew at the end of the tour. But then again, who remembers to include the photographer in the picture?

C: The band has been around for over ten years now – in your opinion, how did the music scene change during this time? And how do you think it the music market will evolve during the next years?

Ch: The internet changed everything, of course, and especially how music reaches the listener. Music television like in the 2000s basically doesn’t exist anymore. Music videos aren’t exclusively broadcasted by MTV or VIVA, but are now available on YouTube or Facebook. The internet offers many opportunities to acquire a multitude of fans in a very short time, but there is more competition as well. Nowadays, a musician can produce high-quality recordings with a limited budget. That’s why there have never been as many bands and artists around than now. On the one hand, it is exciting for the listeners, but on the other hand, they also might be totally overwhelmed by this excess supply [of music]. It may seem like a paradox, but somehow everything has changed, yet still is the same. Newcomers are still faced with the challenge of convincing their listeners with new and fresh ideas and especially of creating a unique sound. In my opinion, the music market needs to break away from CDs. Technically, the CD is completely outdated and there surely are loads of people who don’t even own a CD player anymore. Every album needs an artwork, as well as a single requires a music video. We also go to concerts to see a band and not only to listen to it. I’m curious to see which actions the industry, but also the artists will take to make their music accessible without CDs.

C: And finally: What are you looking forward to most this year?

Ch: We are very much looking forward to our headline tour in support of our new album “Arms”! It is going to start on October 17 and our American friends in I Set My Friends On Fire are on board, too. We will play in the UK, Germany and Austria, and then we will fly off to Japan for four shows. This year, we already went on tour twice as a support band with Callejon and I Set My Friends On Fire. However, a headline tour is special. People are coming because of you or not at all. So the pressure is higher, but you gain likewise. We have the opportunity to create our own show and to play a considerably longer set. It will be very exciting for us to play the new songs off “Arms”. We are looking forward to escape our daily routines and we are doing so with fresh energy. We really can’t wait!

Many thanks to Christoph for the interview.

Read my review of “Arms” here.

Translated from German. Click here to read the original version.

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