INTERVIEW WITH SNAKEBITE DRUMMER JULIAN FISCHER AND BASSIST ALEX LACROIX
Date: June 27, 2018
GERMAN ’80S STYLED HARD ROCKERS, SNAKEBITE, ARE BACK WITH THEIR SOPHOMORE FULL-LENGTH ALBUM ‘RISE OF THE SNAKE.’ SLEAZE ROXX READERS MAY RECALL THAT SNAKEBITE’S DEBUT FULL-LENGTH ALBUM ‘PRINCESS OF PAIN‘ LANDED THE #4 SPOT ON SLEAZE ROXX’S TOP TEN ALBUMS OF 2015! SNAKEBITE RELEASED THREE VIDEOS IN ADVANCE OF THEIR NEW ALBUM ‘RISE OF THE SNAKE’ AND SLEAZE ROXX CAUGHT UP WITH DRUMMER JULIAN FISCHER AND BASSIST ALEX LACROIX TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE ‘RISE OF THE SNAKE’!
Sleaze Roxx: Congratulations on your new album! It seems a long time coming given that you released three singles beforehand. Why did you decide to release those three songs prior to the album?
Julian Fischer: Thank you very much Olivier!
Alex Lacroix: We decided to release those songs because we think they are a good cross section of the whole album. There is the catchy and hit-like ”Two Desperate Hearts,” the melancholic-balladic ”Beyond The Rust” and the punch-in-your-face named ”Run Fast.” Having heard those three songs, the listeners might get an impression of the range of tunes which is awaiting them on the rest of the album. If we’re honest, videos on YouTube are primarily a method of promoting your stuff and that is what we did.
Snakebite‘s “Two Desperate Hearts” video:
First single of the second full length album “Rise of the Snake” by SNAKEBITE (German Hard Rock act). Visit us at: www.snakebite-music.de www.facebook.com/SnakebiteTheBand
Snakebite‘s “Beyond The Rust” video:
Third single of the second full length album “Rise of the Snake” by SNAKEBITE (German Hard Rock act). Visit us at: www.snakebite-music.de www.facebook.com/SnakebiteTheBand Video recorded and directed by Agata Pilarska at Oetinger Villa (Darmstadt).
Snakebite‘s “Run Fast” video:
Second single of the second full length album “Rise of the Snake” by SNAKEBITE (German Hard Rock act). Visit us at: www.snakebite-music.de www.facebook.com/SnakebiteTheBand Video recorded and directed by Peter Kunz. (https://www.facebook.com/roughshotproductions/)
Sleaze Roxx: Did you feel any pressure following up ‘Princess Of Pain’?
Alex Lacroix: I would be lying if I say that there wasn’t any pressure to deliver a sophomore album that fits in the footsteps of our first album and even goes beyond it. ‘Princess Of Pain’ was well received, but we didn’t want to rest on our laurels. We’re a hungry bunch of guys and so yeah, of course we felt pressure, but it was a good kind of pressure which kept us going on and led us to giving everything we got to deliver that second album, which we wanted to deliver. And here we are [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: The songs on ‘Rise Of The Snake’ seem more melodic than the ones on ‘Princess Of Pain.’ Do you agree and if so, was it a conscious decision to do so?
Alex Lacroix: Yeah, I guess you can say it like that. But in fact, it wasn’t a conscious decision. It just came out naturally. We didn’t have a sophisticated plan before we started writing songs or something like that. But in my opinion, the ability of writing songs evolves with time and you become more comfortable in experimenting with this and that. The outcome of this whole progress was the more melodic touch you can experience on the new album. I might say that the sound has a more “adult” touch compared to our last album, but that’s just one way to describe it.
Sleaze Roxx: There are a couple of songs on ‘Rise Of The Snake’ that are a bit of a departure from the last record, notably the ballad ‘Beyond The Rust’ and ‘Fields Of Glory’ which has a guest vocal performance by Rod Usher. What prompted you to cover new ground – assuming you agree of course with my assessment [laughs] — and how and why did Rod get involved?
Julian Fischer: Maybe we stretched the boundaries a little more. I personally wouldn’t consider it as a departure, but if you feel that way from an outside perspective, it may be true. Our goal was to make a varied and colorful album. Chris once said, “Sometimes I feel like many hard rock bands share the same song and repeat it over and over” [laughs]. And we wanted to make it different. I believe ”Fields Of Glory” was one of the last tracks we wrote. We listened through the demos and I felt the need for one more hard edged song like ”Run Fast.” Alex then came up with the main ideas and we all created the song together.
But yeah, having a guest voice is something different. I must say our attitude towards having guest musicians changed a bit after the recording process. In fact, we considered having a guest solo on ”Light My Way” but I’m glad it didn’t work out because Dominik took over and nailed my favorite solo on the record. So you will not hear many guest appearances on the following recordings I guess. Rod is the big exception. I had it in my mind long before he realized it and I knew it would turn out great. His voice is very different compared to Dominik’s and it gives the song a whole new dimension. Rod is a friend of mine and I like his horror punk band The Other. He’s a big fan of ’80s hard rock so it was easy to convince him. And even the lyrics somehow fit to the themes he usually sings about like blood, death and fear and all these things [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: I love the album title by the way. Who came up with the title and were any others considered?
Julian Fischer: Thank you! The story behind it is a little chaotic. The working title was in fact ‘Heroes Of The Unknown.’ Still not a bad idea to me because this song sums up perfectly how we feel as a band. And using a title track is another chance to get some extra attention for another song, which is not a single or an opening track. But Melina Di Febo, the artist who did the cover, already finished her great idea as part of her final project at university. The task was to create art for different bands which fits to the style and persona of those and print them with different techniques. We had to use it obviously but it didn’t fit to the working title. After we brainstormed somebody came up with ‘Rise Of The Snake.’ It‘s a catchy statement, it fits to the cover and it sounds like it was intended from the very beginning [laughs]. We are still happy with it.
Sleaze Roxx: It’s been a while now but back in December 2015, you had announced that guitarist Martin Gerloff quit the band. Why did he leave and how did Chris end up joining the band?
Julian Fischer: Martin is a great guy and he helped to raise the band on another level back then. But in the end, he wasn’t really into it. You know, we always were a band with serious ambition. And when you do everything by yourself like promo, booking, producing, etc., you may be free of external influence but you also got more work and less chances in general. So every member should be involved to split the work. You have to be a unit. I believe Martin was too busy with his stuff and own musical projects to take it that serious. And he lived too far away from us which made things more complicated. But there is no bad blood. We are still friends. His appearance was a first game changer in the history of Snakebite.
Alex Lacroix: The story of how Chris got involved is a funny one. Dominik and I were travelling to Berlin by car, because Snakebite should’ve played a gig together with W.A.S.P. that evening. The whole gig got canceled eventually, but that’s another story. But before we got on the highway, we wanted to buy a wireless system for myself, so that I no longer needed to rely on a cable to connect my instrument to my amp. So we stopped at a local music store and bought one of those. And as you might have guessed, Chris was working there. So we talked a while and it came out that he already knew Snakebite and he told us that he is playing guitar. Back in the car, Dominik and I agreed that he seemed like a cool dude who could fit into the band. So as the spot for the guitar was free, we immediately contacted Chris and the rest is history.
Sleaze Roxx: The big change on ‘Rise Of The Snake’ compared to ‘Princess Of Pain’ from an outsider’s perspective seems to be the addition of Chris. What has Chris brought to the band aside for his love of Beck’s beer [laughs]?
Julian Fischer: [Laughs] I honestly don’t know how somebody can enjoy that corporate piss but on the other hand… If you are thirsty enough to not care about the brand, he always shares a beer with you. Chris earned his spurs on our first coherent tour in 2016. Since then, he’s a full member and I honestly can’t think of Snakebite without him. Watch him live! To me, he’s one of the greatest performers on the planet. When it comes to recordings, the material for ‘Rise Of The Snake’ was mostly written at that point but he added some lead melodies and solos. Plus he translated the songs into his style of guitar playing in the studio. But recently he came up with some riffs for the follow up and we are pretty sure he’s a better songwriter than beer drinker [laughs].
Sleaze Roxx: As usual, the lyrics for Snakebite songs do not tackle the usual cliche stuff of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. What were the inspiration for the song lyrics this time around and in particular for the tracks “Freedom,” “Heroes Of The Unknown” and “Beyond The Rust”?
Julian Fischer: Yes, but this time we even have cliché lyrics on the record with ”All Your Loving” just to prove we can do so. And it’s all based on true events [laughs]. But the inspiration for the bulk of the songs is, like always, love or independence and freedom. The song ”Freedom” is a typical example. It goes against standardized life plans and servile obedience. You miss life if you don’t follow your own dreams and ideals. When it comes to my personal experiences in the last few years, I know it’s easier said than done. But we consider music and art in general as chance to temporary lay aside all these restraints and limits. And we still walk it like we talk it as a band. Our experiences with the hierarchy in the music business and parts of the so called “big rock ‘n’ roll and metal family” affirmed us. Just go backstage at some of the bigger German metal festivals and you’ll know what I mean. Snakebite continues to grow naturally as a band instead of forcing it with the ludicrous ideas of larger-than-life businessmen. Our fans are real because no important person told them to like us. And that is basically the idea behind ”Heroes Of The Unknown.”
Alex Lacroix: “Beyond The Rust” is about the topic of dealing with the demons of your past and yourself. People are having hard times and it is totally okay to have a hard time. But you just have to keep in mind that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how dark the journey might have been.
Sleaze Roxx: What are your favorite songs on ‘Rise Of The Snake’ for each of you and why?
Julian Fischer: Everytime we get asked about our favorites, we name a different tune. I like them all. To me, there’s not one weak song on the record, so it changes from time to time. At the moment, I’d say it’s ”Light My Way” because it is a very personal song to me. The intro groove and the doubletime part with the guitar solo turned out well.
Alex Lacroix: That’s a hard decision, because I really dig the whole album too. But if I have to name three songs, I think I would go for ”Beyond The Rust,” ”One Touch” and ”Run Fast”. Don’t ask me why. Those songs just came in to my mind automatically by thinking about that question.
Sleaze Roxx: The photos for the new CD ‘Rise Of The Snake’ suggest that each of you has gotten a full sleeve tattoo of ‘snake skin’. Did that actually happen and if so, what’s the story behind that?
Alex Lacroix: [Laughs] A lot of people are asking this on our shows. But I’m sorry to disappoint you. The “snake skin” is just a part of our onstage performance. We get it on our arms by using fishnet stockings and a spraycan of non-permanent black hair color. Might sound strange, but this does the trick. Back in the days, we started that by just using black shoe polish on our arms to look kinda “dirty.” But later on, it developed its own dynamic and culminated in the “snake skin” — look, you can find on the photos. And well, what would have fit better to a band named Snakebite than a snake skin-look?
Julian Fischer: The shoe polish… those were the days. I remember when I had two tours in a row, with Snakebite and another band, where I used the polish almost every day over months. After the tour I had horrible itchy rash for weeks. Don’t try this at home kids!
Sleaze Roxx: You’ve already released three videos in support of the new album. Will you be releasing some more videos?
Alex Lacroix: Yep, you can count on that. We got some plans in the making for delivering more videographic content, but more details have to remain secret for now.
Julian Fischer: The album is selling good so we got some money again to waste for stuff like that [laughs]. Maybe something different this time… We’ll see.
Sleaze Roxx: What are Snakebite’s plans for the rest of the year?
Julian Fischer: Touring of course. But a good side effect of not having a classic label deal is we are not forced to go on tour too early. There’s no need to chart so we can stretch the schedule a little. If we’d tour around the date in which the album comes out, it may be a mistake for up and coming bands like us because not everyone has heard of us and our new album. We’d rather focus on bringing the album into effect with promo and videos and stuff so more people become aware of us until we go out. There are some festival appearances in the summer but the tour will be in Fall and early 2019. If everything works as planned, we’ll have some great shows and visit countries we haven’t seen yet.
Snakebite‘s “Road To Nowhere” video (from Princess Of Pain album):
This video was recorded at a show at Jam Club, Koblenz (Germany) by Peter Kunz (www.peterkunz.net). „Road to Nowhere” is taken from the LP PRINCESS OF PAIN. Order it at: http://shop.maniac-attack.de/?s=snakebite&post_type=product&lang=en Visit us on: http://www.snakebite-music.com or: https://www.facebook.com/SnakebiteTheBand