“It was clear that the album would not be something religious, or about the church, or all these crappy stuff – it should be about the character of Judas” – exclusive interview with Niklas Kahl about the new Lord Of The Lost album, “Judas”

It’s the 25th of June, Friday – one week left the official release of “Judas“, which is the 7th Lord Of The Lost album. After the first listening, it became pretty clear that “Judas” is a polished masterpiece. “I’m super nervous” – said the drummerNiklas Kahl at the beginning of our interview. Well, it’s clear, that there’s nothing to worry about: the new, double album is just outstanding and a barrier breaker. 

-When did the working process start exactly, and when become clear that it will be a double release?

-Well, it was pretty funny, because the main work on the album started last year in the summer when we did the songwriting camp, which we also already did for “Thornstar“. We took the whole band and the whole crew, who are also great musicians, and some befriended musicians from other bands and put them all together into one studio – we planned to travel Finland this time, but yeah, due to Corona reasons we weren’t able to, so we did it in Hamburg. We worked there for one week. Before we started, we made different teams for each day, so we had teams of 3 or 4 people every day, and those teams changed every day. So, you were working every day in a new team with new peeps… In the end, all the teams wrote one song, each team, every day… So, at the end of the one week, we had a bunch of tracks – more than 30 songs or something like that. 

Pretty much before we started this songwriting camp, we said: “hey, this time we will do a double album!” And everyone was like: “why?” (laughs) “Why are you doing that? Just make an album, make a CD!” We said no, we will do a double album. “But why?” I don’t know, it just felt right.

So yeah, it was pretty clear from the very beginning, and the fact, that we would do the album about Judas was set much-much earlier. There was a message in our band chat on WhatsApp from Chris back in 2019 February, when he sent us a message pretty early in the morning, 6 o’clock or something like that, and he wrote “Hey guys, I just woke up and I had a dream: it was a dream about our new album, the new album will be Judas, and it will sound like this, and this, and this…” And we were like… Dude, are you okay, what’s going on there? (laughs) From that point, it was clear. (laughs) It was also clear that the album would not be something religious, or about the church, or all these crappy stuff – it should be about the character of Judas, the character of this person. It was the very beginning of it. 

-Undeniably Lord of the Lost is one of the most versatile bands nowadays. Does this fact put any pressure on you?

-Uhm, no. There’s no pressure because we never look back to the album we did before, and like “okay, that was cool, we have to do it on the new album also”. We always want to create something new, so we start absolutely from zero.

We only do what feels right at that moment to us.

So, there’s no pressure. Of course, I mean all the past albums went higher and higher on the album charts for example in Germany, I think “Empyrean” was on 9, and “Thornstar” was 6. Sure, it would be super-super great now to reach something higher, but the main thing is to do what we like at the moment, and we also set ourselves some goals and challenges, for production. For example, we just wanted not to have any synthetic sound on this album, so everything you hear is a real instrument.

Everything is a real recorded something, even it’s a noise. So, if you hear a church organ, we went to a church in Hamburg for a few days and recorded the organ.

A lot of sounds we created at the very beginning of the production. We just recorded some noises, so we went to a mall on a Sunday when it was totally closed, and we had this big room and everything, and we just recorded weird stuff like, yeah, of course, some drums, but also in the parking lot, I hit a road sign because it sounded cool. I think one of the bass drums in one song is the door of my car for example. So, we did a lot of programming stuff, especially for drums, but all sounds you hear are completely natural and organic.

-Judas is the 7th Lord Of The Lost album, and some people believe that seven is a “magic number”. And in this case – in my opinion – they are right because it seems like it’s a milestone for the band also. 

-Well, usually I don’t think about things like this, but… At this album, something seems to be different. I don’t know, it’s all the feedback we get from the few things we just released is so awesome. I already read for example a few comments under one of the videos, and someone said “I think this album can be for Lord Of The Lost what Mutter was for Rammstein“. So, the album “Mutter” of Rammstein was the key, it was the point when everything changed and they became super big. Yeah, all those comments, all those great feedbacks… Of course, it’s a business and we want to sell our music, but also the numbers of CDs that we are already sold in pre-sale it’s just awesome! We never thought that it would be like this. And also the fact that we are talking now… I did some interviews for “Thornstar” and also for the “Swan Songs III“, but the amount of interviews that we are doing these days is so much! Right now you’re my number six for today, and there will be one or two more I think. There are so many requests from all over the world and everyone has really-really good questions, not only, you know, the standard questions. It’s like everyone has really listened to this album, got into the story, and yeah, just thought about it. All this together makes it super-super special, and that’s why I’m quite nervous because of next week when it’s going to be released.

-What was the biggest challenge during the working process?

-There was none. Especially for me, as a drummer, this record is super chilled. (laughs) Also, it’s because of the whole producing process… 

Because, normally the drummer is the very first one who’s going into the studio and record his stuff, and then the guitarist, the bassist, and everything, but this time we changed it completely.

We had the pre-programmed drums from the songwriting camp, of course, then we started with all the sound design that we already talked about, and in the end, when everything was completely done, we recorded the drumkit. So, just on top. Only because we thought we wanted to try how it is if we have a complete song which could be totally done already, and where is still some stuff, still someplace to play cool drums, not to have too much drums, so in this production, the drums are pretty… Yeah, I don’t wanna say they are in the background, but it’s not typical… It’s not an album for a drummer. (laughs) This album for me is super groovy, super cool, I have so much time while playing the songs to concentrate. I can listen to the songs while I play them. So, playing this album is not a big challenge for me, and this is something super special for me, because normally, of course, everyone tries to give his best and play the fastest beat you can, and so on.

-You have already mentioned that Corona affected the songwriting camp, but what was the most challenging during these difficult times? 

 -The most shitty thing is that we are not allowed, and not able to play concerts, of course. I mean, Lord Of The Lost is a super hardworking band, they always have been. I know them for so many years and when I met them for the first time in 2011, it was already clear that these guys are super professionals. The band was existing for two years back then, and I was on tour with some other band and we met up at a festival, and every time I saw these guys it was like “alright, alright, okay, wow, why are doing…well, okay.” You know, not only the stage things and so on, but also the working all-around at backstage and so on, super organized, and super strict and it was great. So, Lord Of The Lost is a band that was always on tour. Always… I don’t know if there has ever been a year since the band was founded when they were not on a tour. I don’t mean if they played gigs, no, I mean a real tour about a few weeks. That is, of course, something really hard for us to be not on tour, to not have the tour family, because that’s what we all are. It’s a complete second family. I think the crew is about 16 peeps altogether, all the crew and band together. Yeah, that’s a hard thing right now, so we are happy to do some Zoom calls and conferences from time to time to see each other. (laughs)

-On Saturday “Sinister Summer Stream” will happen. Can you share some details or behind-the-scenes secrets about it?

-Well, of course, you’ll see and hear a lot of new songs! A lot of new songs! And, of course, a completely new stage design, especially for the stream, you’ll see the new make-up and dressings… Unfortunately, about the other surprise, I cannot talk about… That’s all I can say so far! (laughs)

-This summer you would support Iron Maiden on their “Legacy Of The Beast Tour”. How did this opportunity come?

-Huh! I remember the moment exactly when I heard it for the first time. I was walking in the city here, in my hometown with my family, we wanted to grab some ice, it was summer. It’s already two years ago… And all of a sudden, there came an audio message from Chris on WhatsApp to the band chat, it was like “Hey guys… What about touring between June and July 2020?” We were like “yeah, of course”, because it’s festival season, of course… Everyone has time, yeah… What’s going on, what about…? He said: “Yeah, I cannot tell you, maybe in a few minutes…” A few minutes… Okay… Then suddenly he said, “Yeah, okay, these are the dates, we are going to support Iron Maiden.” Wha…? (laughs) I was like “we are going to do what?” It was just unbelievable, it was just crazy, I was super happy of course. And we did not know how all this came together. We just did not know.

We talked to our booking agent, who was doing all the communication with the booker of Iron Maiden, and we just said: “Ludwig, whatever they say, just say yes!” And he was like “yeah, okay”. And at the end of the day, it was like “yeah, okay, 7 shows with Iron Maiden, here you are.”

And we were like okay, fuck, okay, but hey, man, we are all already pretty long in this business and we know how all these support things work… And we were like, “okay, and how much is it for us?” And he was like, “Oh, no-no, you got that wrong! Iron Maiden called us and asked how much is it if Lord Of The Lost would come with us”. We were like “ah-oh, ah-oh, aha, yeah.” (laughs) It was super crazy. Up to then, we still did not know how it came to this, and we set it ourselves for a goal: when we would be on tour with Iron Maiden we have to find out how did they find us. How did it come to this? Then there was a few months ago a fan from the UK, who read an interview in Metalhammer UK with Steve Harris, the bass player of Iron Maiden… The question was I think “Why are you super happy about the new tour?” or something like that… And Steve Harris said in this interview “oh yeah, the most thing I’m happy about is that I found a cool band last year, they called Lord Of The Lost and now they are coming with us”. WHAT THE HELL? WHAT’S GOING ON? (laughs) So, that was super cool. It was Mr. Steve Harris who choose us. 

-Yes, this is true, you guys are just outstanding. 

-Yes, I mean we are super happy and this is, of course, something super honoring. I have never been a big Iron Maiden fan, I grew up with Nightwish, it was my very first contact with rock and metal music. So yeah, I’m a huge Nightwish fan. And the old metal bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slayer, something like that… I did not listen to them, just it was not interesting for me, but of course, everyone knows Iron Maiden and it’s one of the biggest bands ever been on this planet, and they just asked us! (laughs) That’s strange. 

Judas release date: 2021. July 2nd

Click on the logo below to order your copy:

Interview by Péter Tepliczky
Written by Afrodite Szeleczky
Photocredit: Jan Season

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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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