TRANCE is a big band from Germany, they were around side by side with such big acts as Scorpions, Accept… and Markus Berger is the band’s alive spirit, the guarantee that Trance is going to sound old school and still as a fist. Moreover, to talk to founding member Markus Berger is like a attending a master class in the University of Metal, please sit down, read and learn great stories, enjoy through Trance’s history, here at Metalbrothers.es (what else?)
Hello Markus! it’s a pleasure to talk to a legendary and classic band as Trance
Markus Berger: You’re welcome! It’s great to hear, that Trance has many followers in Southern Europe and especially in Spain!
For the young guys and those, me among them, who enjoy reading old stories, Trance is a gold mine, you were already around with acts as Scorpions, Faithful Braith or Gravestone…
Markus Berger: In the 80ies we spent 2 1/2 years at the same place in Cologne, recording at the Dierks Studios. First we’ve made the «Victory» recordings followed by next pre-productions. The Scorpions had been working on «Animal Magnetism» and also Accept was doing their «Metal Heart» Album und «Russian Roulette» with the same Producers at the same moment. It was a fantastic time and big fun to share the place with those guys.
With «Boggie» Bogdan and his blokes of Faithful Breath we had a very good time when we did some shows in the Benelux, and I remember, that they always left an empty fridge behind 😉
Hahaha, awesome. What memories do you have from the old crazy times?
Markus Berger: It was like a revolution – no one was doing the same powerful music like us. The radio and TV blocked us, and there was no big magazine for this style of rock called «Heavy Metal», except the british «Kerrang!». So we’ve felt like doing something very special, and everywhere we´ve played, the crowd gained for more.
You started your career in 1977, what has been the best moment for Trance?
Markus Berger: When we started Trance as a «Hard Rock» band – we played just what we liked, no matter where the trend was going to. We only wanted to be a good pound harder than Deep Purple and Uriah Heep. So we added some more «Tubescreamer-Distortionpedals» to our Marshalls and got a fatter sizzling blasting rough sound, full of heavy energy. Our drummer gained more punch and speed…and the singer sreaming very loud and very high…and – yeah! that was it!
It was an honor those days, to catch a record deal. And after we’ve signed at the Rockport Label, we went to a small studio and rocked in 2 weeks our usual live-stuff in a very rough style on tape. Then we went back home to do our boring daily 8:00 to 5:00 work. Six weeks later, we’ve got a label phone-call, that our song «Loser» was #1 in several european rock-charts, and we are called to be a «Heavy Metal Band». And we thought all over that and said, when the people say we are «Heavy Metal» let’s be this «Heavy Metal», but we had no clue, what they were talking about! It was like an «overnight sensation»!
The beginnings… so beautiful and so hard. Trance might have been a so big band as Scorpions, you had everything for it, but fate is written in the sky, or not?
Markus Berger: No fate always lays in your own hands, just tragically depending on the decisions you´re doing! At that point, when you start to get famous, suddenly many business people are interested to work with you. They promise, to lead you to the top…
In our special case, we had an upcoming deal with USA to produce in LA with worldwide releases. But also here in Europe many different companies wanted to sign us. All are working against each other…Our manager was good from the early days till that point – then the business went too big for his background and experiences and he feared to get fired. So he started to act very strange and broke up with most of our partners – in the end we had to fire him! Now he started to work against us – struggled us with a lawsuit…we had to change the name, what was our career-killer.
Yeah, you changed your name to Trancemission in 1989 and afterward you quit until 2011. What happened that fortunately motivated Trance’s come back?
Markus Berger: After a Rock’n’Roll live full of highs and lows, we’ve got tired of struggeling like Don Quichote, saw no chance to come back in a time, where people, manipulated by MTV, said the «No-Future-Grunge-Music» is Heavy Metal. This was defintely the end of our illusion to change the world with a good dose of positive power by playing heavy rock!
So we quit! I was dissapointed and sad and travelled the world like a soldier of fortune. In 2010 I met my wife, who was a big Axel Rudi Pell fan. She brought me to his show – and I was completely blown away by the same kind of positive Metal like Trance always used to play…so I was back on fire, the same time, when Tom Klein came up with the idea of a Trance- reunion.
There was a split of the original Trance into 2 other bands, Trance and Trancemission…
Markus Berger: Lothar Antoni started again in 2002 to create some new style of music and played only very few Trance Hits at his shows. He’s still very busy with all his different projects. I was more thinking about what and why has happened during the Trance years – and came to the conclusion, that from the moment when we changed to much of our style, in the same way most of the people lost interest in the band. But I was always like „living in the past“ and always had written songs just like in the pioneer days, because that is, opposite to Lothar, the only thing I’m really able to do. So my intention was clear: to go back to «Break Out», «Power Infusion» and «Victory» and follow the line…then I discovered tapes and sheets with some of my unreleased Trance songs from 77/78 – and they proved to be a real hot stuff.
Let’s talk about the present. You are living good days again with the release of your new album “The Loser Strikes Back”
Markus Berger: Yes- exactly! The new album has the spirit of the Heavy Metal pioneer days and I’m very happy with it. It’s the first album I did without Lothar and all his influences by my side. Our producer Charly Czajkowski ( Rage, Subsignal ) was a brillant sound magician, perfect in melting together the 80ies rocksound with the punch of the 2017 productions. We also used no samples and triggers on drums and recorded the album the rough old fashion way.
How long have you worked on it?
Markus Berger: The songwriting, arrangements and pre-productions I started directly from 1998 and continued ´till 2016. So I had the fortune, to select the best fitting material, before we went recording from April ´till July 2016 at the VPS studios in Hamm, Germany. The endmixes were done in September/October ’16. But I already had started cleaning up and demotaping the album songs from January 2016 ´till April.
Markus Berger is the only founding member still in the band, I suppose you know very well how you want Trance to sound
Markus Berger: Yes – I know! I want the nature-drums without modern samples and trigger-manipulating, I want the bass very busy and hard in the front, I want the guitars razorblade-sharp and heavy but not like modern sound with compressors set right into the face, I want the vocals high and powerful screaming, I want the backing- vocals extraordinary and strange…and the compositions epic and at the same time very melodic hooks to hold on to the song!
That’s it! Thomas Klein on bass is also an old friend. Who contributes more to the composition of the songs?
Markus Berger: Tom is for Trance the most important member – with his never-resting virtuos and perfect fitting bass-lines he is definitly the basic of the band. The compositions are written all by myself, exept some lyric parts done by our shouter Joe Strubel.
You have two great drummers in the band, the well known and busy guy Neudi (Manilla Road and many others) and Jens Gellner (Masters of Desguise). They share the recording tasks? Who will play the live shows?
Markus Berger: They share the drumseat to equal rights and both are in the official Line-Up…the actually live-line-up is always depending on their otherwise band-activities.
Deluxe. With a so skilled and experienced line up I suppose is easier to work and write new songs, isn’t it?
Markus Berger: Yes, true! With such a bunch of extraordinary brillant rockers it’s always a special time to play with, and their wild and rough stomach-and-body based playing-style is a big influence and great inspiration for the songwriting of our further albums.
“The Loser Strikes Back” is an album full of ideas, most of the songs are over the 5 minutes? Second youth?
Markus Berger: No – third! 😉 That’s because every song needs it’s time to tell it’s story – and when you write songs and you have the luck that nobody tells you «write a 3 1/2 minute hit», you are relaxed and just let it flow.
“The Loser Strikes Back” sounds as an 80s album, as if Trance had never disbanded, but of course with a modern production
Markus Berger: For myself I have to pretend, that I would be the most worst songwriter for modern metal style – I simply just can’t do it. So I do what I have learned in my youth – like a simple working man – and on top I do what my heart tells me, not my bankaccount… 😉
And you feel it in Trance’s compositions. The song Trust and Glory, more than 11 minutes long, was another nice surprise, how did you get it?
Markus Berger: Trust and Glory describes in epic soundscapes the everlasting universal fight between the good and bad forces. The beginning shows the calm valley in the evening before the battle. Then the «lightsoldiers» meet by the fireplace to swear the oath to fight for honesty and braveness. The endpart is the battle of the legions – the black soldiers with an harsh noisy-sound-orgie – and on the other side, the «light-fighters» with a support from many VIP’s of the last decade with their powerful peace-messages. I’m very proud of this, because it was very difficult to compose this sound-collage. And this song is also my private possibility to set a big sign for worldwide peace, just in fact of todays more and more hateful ways.
Awesome. However maybe Star Invaders is the best track in the album, Trance’s sound all the way, I think it can be one of the fans favourite, what do you think?
Markus Berger: Yes – you’re right! In the just incoming CD- reviews is Star Invaders the absolute metal-hymn of the album, beside the most people´s favorite Trust and Glory.
The cover artwork is the perfect complement for a great album
Markus Berger: We discovered the artist Gonzalo Ordonêz from Santiago/Chile in the web by presenting awesome designs for «World of Warcraft» and «Pokemon». He got a detailled instruction from us for creating the caracter of the «Thunderbird». And the result is fantastic…and seems to be also inspired by the spirit of the great ´80ies artworks.
A great discovering. What are the lyrics about in general?
Markus Berger: Most of the lyrics are about being mistreated and cheated, when your stars not even are shining so bright any more. People kicking your ass, telling lies about you and laughing behind your back – just calling you «Loser» and joking this way about your biggest success… It’s also about your standing up – raising your fist – and never surrender of believing in you… It’s about what happened to me!
And now the question many fans will be eager to get answered: are you going to tour around? Many fans will be pleased to listen to the new songs alongside the old classics…
Markus Berger: We have a confirmed Co-Headliner show at the Pyrenean Warriors Open Air at Torreilles/France on the Sept 9. We’re doing a Co-Headliner Show at the Bavarian Metal-Headz Festival in Germany on May 13. In Sept/Oct we will do an 3 week-european tour, tbc! Our setlist is full of all the wellknown hits from the glory 80ies beside the highlights of our new CD.
You rule, Markus! Thanks a lot for your comments and the wonderful stories you have told us, it was great to talk to a big classic band as Trance!
Markus Berger: Greetings from me and the band to all our fans and all the Good-Old-Heavy Metal Maniacs in Spain. Just enjoy listening to our new «The Loser strikes back» Album and watching the «Star Invaders» video-clip on YouTube – and let´s rock together in the only true spirit of Metal!