LUNAR SHADOW is back again but this time with a turn in their sound, they embrace the post- and indie rock influences on “Wish to Leave”, and this will be no surprise for those who have been following Lunar Shadow from the very beginning. We got a very sincere chat with Max, once again we need to thank him for the attention he always deserves us and for being honest all the time, he never pretends to be other thing than he is or wishes, and that is valuable enough. We wish you all the best.
Hi Max, nice to talk to you again and welcome back with a new album, “Wish to Leave”.
M: Good to chat with you again, I hope you’re doing fine!
I think your new album “Wish to Leave” is kind of an important step for the band for many reasons, but how do you feel about it?
M: I’m proud of this album. I know it sounds a bit different and some may not want to follow our way, but to me it feels right, it’s the right album at the right time for me personally.
Max, you decided to end all LUNAR SHADOW’s live show activities after their now-postponed 2020 appearance at Germany’s Party.San Open Air. How is the situation nowadays?
M: That decision still stands, I wanted to close this chapter for a long time already and now it was time. I have postponed this decision for a longer time because I felt like that I “owed” it to our fans to play live, but it’s just not something that I enjoy or like to do and in the end I have to look out for myself and my mental health, which should always be the most important thing. We’ll have a great last show and then this chapter will end.
Oh, sure many fans will be sad, but as you say health is first. Second, and most important, this new album means a turn in your sound after the heavy and epic meticulous sounds on “The Smokeless Fires”, what do you think?
M: I didn’t feel that I was in the mood of writing just another Heavy Metal album. I moved a bit away from the Metal scene in the last years and wanted to integrate some new elements into our music. As mentioned above, I know that this may irritate some listeners and not everyone will like it, and that’s absolutely fine. It’s just that I don’t make music to meet other people’s expectations. I record and release the music, that I want to play.
What has motivated that change in your music?
M: Mainly my very own musical preferences in the last years. I prefer to listen to bands like Interpol, Ritual Howls or The Chameleons these days and these influences then automatically slip into my music with Lunar Shadow. I am the sole songwriter and you cannot separate Lunar Shadow and me as a private person. Lunar Shadow is the instrument of my musical interests and my imagination of artistry. Thus those two things are always intertwined.
You were, I think, after some years and two good albums, especially your second, a well positioned band in the map of epic metal. How do you think this will affect your fans?
M: Some people might not want to follow us on this new path and I’ve got no problems with that. Yet I must say that most feedback I got until now was very positive and many fans wrote to us, that they were positively surprised. I think that after now three albums people just get to know me and the band, they know my principles and how I work. I do my very own thing, I don’t look to the left or the right and I think people can respect that attitude. But in some way it’s also cool that we’re now a band where some people say “You know, I liked them better in the old days!”, that’s awesome haha.
Yeah, everyone can have an opnion. “Wish to Leave” puts us in the rock land most of the time, although you keep some legacy from the past as the cool voice and some heavy riffs. How easy was to adapt to this new sound and how did you manage it inside the band? Any disputes or it’s Max’s law all the way?
M: Interesting question! It’s not Max’s law all the way, I’m not a dictator. In the end we are a band of friends. Yet it’s true that we are reaching certain limits. I am the only person in the band that likes this whole Indie Rock thing, the others don’t really listen to that kind of music, so if I would push it harder we might get problems with the direction of the band. I don’t know what will happen in the future, I don’t want to think about that at the moment. First I want this album to be fully released.
I worked a lot on the sound with our engineer Max Herrmann. I used an old Greco-Stratocaster from the late 70s on this album, also older Fender- and Marshall-amps. The guitar sound itself grew very naturally though, we didn’t have to work that long on it, everything just fit together very well.
In my opinion one of the biggest turns happens on the drums section, which now has a much different approach, focused on the indie rock side, what do you think?
M: That’s interesting, because I don’t think that the drum sound has changed that much. The snare is different, more reverb, yes. Yet I think the main difference is the guitar sound with much less gain and distortion. Also the bass is more prominent on the album and was put more up in front in the mix.
How long have you worked in “Wish to Leave” and how was the recording process?
M: We worked on the album for three months, again with Max Herrmann in Leipzig. We’re a good team and for me that’s the easiest way to record an album. I tried to let the other guys play a bit more freely this time, I tried to give them more rooms for their own interpretations or ideas. This was especially visible on the vocals I think. Robert developed several ideas on his own this time. But it was a big piece of work again, very long sessions, long nights. I’m glad I get a rest now.
What are the lyrics about?
M: Mainly about events that occurred in my life, relationships, love, the things surrounding me. But also more abstract things that simply interest me a lot like early Christian mythology (“Serpents Die”), magic and smoke (“Delomelanicon”) or the stories of Robert E. Howard (“And Silence Screamed”)
Same old Max stuff then haha, always searching for some cool stories. I suppose many old fans, whether they like more or less the new album, will wonder if this is the path Lunar Shadow will follow from now on, what can you tell them?
M: If we’ll release anything again in the future it will probably more or less sound like this, yes.
What is undeniable is that Max Birbaum is not the conformist kind of musician, aren’t you?
M: And that’s the only way to do art, because who needs conformistic art? I am of the definite opinion that the very moment you start to base your music, your songwriting on thoughts of how people might like it, that’s the moment you lose. You sacrifice your integrity and everything that could possibly make your band stand out! Because look around! Everyone can release everything today. Home-studios, Youtube, Spotify. There are literally thousands and thousands of new releases every single week! Even in something obscure like Heavy Metal. And most of this music sounds the same, it’s so blatant and bland and boring. The only chance you got is to develop your very own, distinctive sound. You need to make sure that you don’t sound like others. And that’s damn difficult, I know. But that’s the goal musicians need to work towards to and you will not achieve this when you try to please people.
A very interesting matter to think about. From previous interviews I think you are a guy that don’t take the easy way and you reflect on matters a lot. So, how do you see the current situation and how has it affected you in any way?
M: The pandemic is difficult, no doubts about that. I feel like that I have not been affected by it as much as others. I’ve got no children, I could still continue to work in my job. Yet I really missed seeing my friends, social contacts. Normal things. Have a beer in my favourite bar. That’s what I miss the most. The small things. I am also afraid that we will see a whole different infrastructure for concerts and festivals afterwards. I feel like many small venues will disappear, small festivals maybe won’t happen again. The big ticket sellers like Eventim will get even bigger and collect the remains. I hope that I’m too pessimistic here.
What relation has the title “Wish to Leave” with that situation, if any?
M: “Wish to Leave” for me basically means change. Leave old things behind. Find something new, work on yourself, be the person that you want to be. Leave things behind that burden you.
With these bricks who can imagine what Lunar Shadow will sound like after ten years… do you have an idea or view or time will tell?
M: I don’t think Lunar Shadow will still exist in ten years to be honest.
Hope you are wrong, Max. What are your plans for this year?
M: I just finished my university studies and need to sort out some things over here therefore. Later this year I want to start recording music for a solo-project of mine, something I wanted to do for a long time already.
Sounds good! Thanks Max, a pleasure to talk to you once again. If you wish to add something…
M: Thanks, always a pleasure. Stay safe and listen to Reverend Bizarre!