“It feels very natural to perform or record our music” – interview with Stefan Schmidt of Van Canto

Van Canto returned with their energetic Rakkatakka-power and released their eighth inimitable offering, “To The Power Of Eight, on June 4, 2021 via Napalm Records.

Bringing pure vocal power to the metal world since 2006, Van Canto set the stage for their very own genre and never failed in surprising their devotees and beyond, while showcasing that metal can be heavy as hell without any riffage. With their previous full-length, “Trust in Rust” (2018), the German rarity reworked its lineup, consisting of seven members since then. For “To The Power Of Eight”, the unit once again joined forces with Philip Dennis “Sly” Schunke, who had been the lead singer on their first six studio records. Sly joins lead vocalists Inga Scharf and Hagen Hirschmann on all twelve flawless tracks as a third vocalist and special guest. It’s clear that this peerless piece of music as written with three voices in mind: “To The Power Of Eight embodies a special sense of common bond and presents Van Canto in undeniable peak form!

From their own original speed-driven tracks, like flaring “Dead By The Night”, raise-your-fist animated “Heads Up High” or mid-tempo, heart-warming “Turn Back Time”, to anthemic heavy metal covers such as Amon Amarth’s “Raise Your Horns”Iron Maiden’s “Run To The Hills” or AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”Van Canto always manages to easily serve their own unique take with every output. On the one hand, “To The Power Of Eight” reflects a well-experienced collective that has gathered several top 50 entries on the German album charts and played numerous shows around the globe and festivals like 70k Tons Of MetalWackenand Masters of Rock. But at the same time, it presents these energetic visionaries of acapella metal, who are far from resting on what they’ve achieved so far. After the release, we did a quick and short interview with Stefan Schmidt.  

-Van Canto is turning 15 years old this year. What were the biggest challenges for you guys in the past 15 years?

-Hmm, that is hard to pick. I think if you are starting a band with friends, you do it out of curiosity because you want to experience something and create something together. The path from an idea to a successful band is the actual challenge, and smaller challenges are paving the way. If you like what you do, all this feels like joy, and not so much as challenges.

-What were the most memorable moments while you were working on the new album?

-For me personally, it is always the most exciting moment when I listen to the master of the album. As the songwriting, production, recording, and mixing were in the band’s hands, mastering is the most important stage in the process of creating an album where we actually give away the control. So after that, it’s really like you can watch or listen to your new baby for the first time in its entire beauty.

-Did COVID-19 affect the album release?

-Not really affected, but of course, this time we were able to pick the release date regarding when the album is finished, not regarding when we start a tour. The recording itself was a bit different, but also a bit more relaxing as we all had to be at home anyway.

-Are you planning to do an online concert?

-No, we decided that a live experience of Van Canto is best when it is the real thing.

-“To The Power Of Eight” is the band’s 8th studio album. How do you still find inspiration, and how do you get over a creative crisis? Do you have any special habits, tricks?

-We released 8 albums in 15 years, so although it sometimes feels like you have no creativity left, the best thing is to wait and experience new things, for example being on tour, meeting new people, and so on. This worked out great in the last 15 years, so we are very confident about that.

-How does teamwork work within the band?

-A band works on different levels, and even the songwriting effort of the new album was again more in my hands, at one time it is about presenting these songs live on stage. So finally here it shows what teamwork is because we need everyone in the band to create the entire sound.

-Metal acapella is outstanding in my opinion, but I also think that it could be really challenging to find new sounding…etc. compared to a “regular” metal band. 

-I don’t see it that way. If you compare the style of our 8 albums there are so many varieties, from ballads over hardrock to real fast metal. With Voices of Fire we included a complete choir, a narrator, and different characters and on the new album 3 lead singers – so we have just as many possibilities as other bands have.

-What was the most challenging track on the album and why?

-Again, I do not see or experience our doing first and foremost as a challenge. It is a creative process and for us, it feels very natural to perform or record our music.

Interview by Afrodite Szeleczky
Coverphoto by Tim Tronckoe

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"I associate heavy metal with fantasy because of the tremendous power that the music delivers." - Christopher Lee

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