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P.A.W.N. (Germany)

Thanos "ProgCaliph" Patsos

Demetris "All Around"

P.A.W.N. 3

The duo of Sebastian Rudolph and Dennis Matzat have come a long way from gothic-death metal to embrace progressive metal/rock and offer us the "Gift of Awareness" with their first release. JustIn Case Radio explores the characters and PAWNs in this game...


Hello! Where does this interview find you exactly? Composing, meeting up to discuss future plans or simply taking some time off your busy schedule?
Sebastian:
All the reactions on our music inspired us so much that we started to write new music straight away. So yes, we are composing new material at the moment, sitting at my beloved Korg Kronos. The music we are currently composing is for a special project.
Dennis:
All we can say so far is that we will be collaborating with a young German Fantasy/Sci-Fi-author, his name is Philipp Schmidt. He is writing a series of books called “Solanum”. If you are into Fantasy, then check it out – amazing stuff! Well, unfortunately the books are only available in German for now. But I am sure that you will also hear about him beyond Germany at some point in future.
Sebastian:
We are writing some music for one of his audio books. This project will still take some time, but it is very likely that in 2015 we will publish an EP with a few songs that relate to “Solanum”. Actually, we have already demoed the first song of it. And with only 4:30 minutes this is our shortest song so far. It is a bit more “to the point” than our other stuff, but still quite proggy.
Dennis:
This will be a very exciting project and I am sure that – if you enjoy “The Gift of Awareness” – you will be loving this as well.

P.A.W.N. 1

Your biography is already in Progarchives.com but we would like to know more about the transition of your previous Gothic-Death-Metal-Combo to what P.A.W.N. now reflects – how did this change come about?
Dennis:
Well, all of this started years ago… In 1998 Querimonia signed a record contract on the small German label “Source of Deluge”. At that time three of the later members of P.A.W.N. did already form part of the band: Sebastian, me and our former frontman Andreas Konings, who did not only play guitar, but also sang and contributed grunts. We had a couple of good reviews for our album “Void of malice” but the record company never managed to organize proper distribution channels, so the CDs never found their way to the music stores. Something that was absolutely necessary back then, not having all the amazing online distribution channels you have today to promote your music. The music of Querimonia was Gothic with elements of doomy Death Metal. But Sebastian and I always were more into the proggy stuff.
Sebastian:
After some time the band started to break up. One of the main composers of Querimonia was a guy called Stefan Schultz, a very gifted songwriter and singer. Losing him was a challenge, but at the end it worked out quite well. Some more member changes left the three of us – Dennis, Andreas and me – with the need to find new bandmates. That was when we abandoned the band name Querimonia and founded P.A.W.N., reflecting the change of style, focusing more on the progressive elements combined with the grunts of Andreas. Together with new bandmates we gave some great and well-attended concerts here in Hamburg - that must have been 2003-2007.
Dennis:
However, a couple of years later we lost Andreas, leaving P.A.W.N. as a quartet – Sebastian, me, Michael Klein on the bass (btw…he contributed all the lyrics to “The Gift of Awareness”) and Daniel Müller-Ramien on the guitar. By then, Daniel, Sebastian and myself wanted to focus even more on incorporating prog elements to our music - resulting in Michael leaving the band in 2008. That was the point when P.A.W.N. lost its ability to play live on stage. So we decided to record the stuff we had written so far.
Sebastian:
One year later, Daniel was diagnosed with a tumor, hindering him to further contribute to the records. So it was just the two of us... but we decided to continue as a legacy to Daniel.
Dennis:
The song “Vessels” is from that era. All other songs were written by Sebastian and me, using even more prog elements. So in short… that is how a Gothic/Death-Metal band can transform into a prog project!

Composition, recording and production of your first full debut – was this a challenge? Do any of you have experience in production?
Sebastian:
We had some experience in recording demos. But we were sure that this album had to reach another sonic dimension, so we invested in new home recording equipment. To master this new equipment and software was a lot of trial and error. Actually, recording this album was like self-educated audio engineering studies.

How did you go about selecting the guest musicians on your debut album?
Sebastian:
Lisa was looking for a new musical challenge and we met her by coincidence. We recorded some takes with her and it sounded so damn awesome that we wanted to have her on the album. Michael was an obvious choice as guest musician, since he contributed all of the lyrics. In memory of his membership in P.A.W.N. we wanted him to sing on one track - “A Voyage of Uncertainty”. As you might have read in the bandinfo, we are using sampled guitars from a software called “Ministry of rock”. A very powerful tool which you control by using a keyboard. A lot of people do not even realize that the guitars are sampled and not played in real. However – what you cannot sample is a good strummed acoustic guitar. Since I learned a lot about music from my dad and he played music for his whole life, it was my wish to have him on this album as well. After playing on “A Voyage of Uncertainty” and “The Gift of Awareness” he said with a twinkle in the eye: “Oh man, those prog-chords are really tough, get a different guitar player for the remaining two songs”. But we took his wish seriously and asked another friend of ours, who is a professional guitar teacher: Sven Rhenius.

Was the inclusion of female vocals something you always wanted to do or did it just happen? We think it provides a different dimension to your (otherwise) heavy music!
Dennis:
Thanks, we fully agree. This is really a funny thing, because Sebastian and I always had a different opinion about having a female singer. For me it was something I always wanted to have, because I think it fits well to our music. Sebastian was rather against having a female singer. In the end HE was the one who presented Lisas demo takes to me - I didn`t even know about her before. That was a huge surprise for me, in an absolutely positive way. So to get back to your question: I always wanted to include female vocals and in the end, luckily it just did happen!

How would you describe your music to someone who has never listened to you before? Do you espouse the term prog rock/metal and what does it mean to you?
Sebastian:
The question is: To whom do you describe our music – to someone who knows about Prog or to someone who has never listened to Prog before?
Dennis:
This is quite funny, because among our friends a lot of people haven’t heard of Prog before. So I always try to explain: This is the complete opposite of normal radio music… long or even very long songs, complex arrangements, not just verse – chorus – verse – chorus… a lot of instrumental passages, multilayered melodies. I like to compare a Prog song to a musical journey. A “normal” radio rock song is very much going in just one direction, whereas a Prog song surprises with a lot of twists and sometimes it even makes some exciting detours before coming to the final. When those people realize that we wrote a 26-minutes song they are like: “What? you must be kidding! What is the point in writing such a long song?!” My answer: “Good music is the point - music that can be listened to a hundred of times”.
We don’t have a problem with the term “Prog” – I know that a lot of bands do not like to be categorized like this. We are fine with that, we are even proud of being mentioned in one sentence with our big heroes like Dream Theater or Ayreon. Even though I think that there are other bands out there that are more fitting to the term Prog then we do. Prog for me is about pushing the boundaries steadily. I just heard the new Corvus Stone album – such a masterpiece. Haken is another band that immediately comes to my mind when I think about “real Prog” in the sense of pushing things forward. They are incorporating so many new aspects to Prog music – amazing band.

P.A.W.N. 2

Who shares the biggest burden of composition? Who wins () in the end?
Sebastian:
This is a great question, because in P.A.W.N. one cannot live without the other…
Dennis:
I have no clue about the theory of harmonies for instance. It is always so funny, when I have a melody in my head, I try to sing it. The problem is: I cannot sing at all. So first we burst out into heavy laughter… However, as we are doing music together for such a long time, Sebastian always knows exactly what I mean. Sebastian’s part is all about harmony and melodies. Resulting very often in goosebumps when presenting new chord transitions or melodies to me. And of course, Sebastian had to record way more than I did – I just had to play drums...
Sebastian:
Nevertheless, there is a part that lies completely in Dennis’ hands - that’s why we complement each other so well. I always get the bigger picture of a song only by the time when the song is recorded. Dennis has the ability to already see the bigger picture when I come up with only a first small melody – “Oh, wait a second, this would make a wonderful transition from this part to this part” – and I never get what he is talking about until we have the full song! Means, arranging the music is Dennis’ part.

Tell us a bit more about this “Gift of Awareness” and the lyrics on the album – what aspects/stories/concepts do you deal with? E.g. who is the “Princess” and why is she “out tonight”? 
Sebastian:
Well, this is a tough question as we did not write the lyrics ourselves but Michael Klein did, our former bass player. Of course we do know about the general idea and what’s going on in the lyrics. Some texts are pure fiction like “Sailors of the sky” or “A Voyage of Uncertainty”. The latter tells the fictional story about a pirate ship crew and their doomed voyage over the oceans. The working title for this song was “The Pirate Prog”, which fits quite well when hearing especially the beginning part of it.
Dennis:
Other lyrics are about the real life – “Fatal Wounds” for instance explains the wounds that emerge when a relationship comes to an end. We do also have philosophical approaches. The deepest going concept is definitely the title track “The Gift of Awareness”. This one is about the gift of human kind being able to consciously experience its surroundings and nature. It is a present that we can be and are aware about the beauty of nature. Regarding “The Princess” – actually Michael never told us, who she is – so that remains a mystery. What is clear is that she is out having fun and driving men crazy… ending in a tragedy.

Are you happy with the reception of your debut album so far?
Dennis:
We are extremely happy about what happened so far. We didn’t expect this at all! We already had airplay on ten web radio stations and have our own page on progarchives.com – something I always dreamt of. We got some really great reviews, the last two reviews on German prog sites were so amazing, I couldn’t even believe they were about our album! People from all over the world are clicking on our bandcamp- and youtube-sites, we even had one download from the Falkland Islands. We have been contacted by people from Mozambique, Norway, Brasil and so many other places in the world just to tell us, how much they like our music. That is so amazing!
Sebastian:
We are not only happy about the reception, we are overwhelmed!

What motivates and inspires you musically (e.g. artists) and non-musically to carry on with the P.A.W.N. project?
Sebastian:
First of all, our main motivation to finish this album was Daniel, who passed away in January this year. He loved this music so much and we promised him to finish the album, so we tried to carry on this legacy. We never recorded any full song we wrote together with him, but we could save some bits and pieces and include a small guitar and vocal spot from him in “Vessels”. We are very proud that exactly this song gets the most airplay – the best way to carry on his legacy.
Dennis:
When it comes to our musical inspiration and heroes – I always name the oldschool prog stuff like Pink Floyd and Genesis first. I was happy enough to have parents who were into this kind of music. They even went to a Floyd concert with me in 1994 – the best 2.5 hours in my life... almost like a religious experience from today’s point of view. But I am into the new prog stuff as well. I have seen 21 Dream Theater concerts, so that’s one main source of inspiration as well. Ayreon, Transatlantic, Haken, Spock’s Beard, Neal Morse, Opeth – just to name a few.
Sebastian:
I love a lot of those bands as well – but Yes, Vangelis, Jean-Michel Jarre and Mike Oldfield are some other important inspirations to me.

Do you have any side projects/musical collaborations beyond P.A.W.N.?
Sebastian:
Not at the moment. Since both of us do have time-consuming jobs and we try to meet 2-3 times a week for pushing our P.A.W.N. project, there is not much time left for other projects. Music is more than a hobby to us – but we know that we will never make money out of it.

How likely are we to see P.A.W.N. playing live?
Dennis:
Unfortunately, the chances are close to zero. As you can imagine, it would be impossible for the two of us to get this live on stage, we would have to find a lot more good guest musicians to bring it alive. It is comparable to Arjen from Ayreon – with just one main difference: He does not like to play live but he could afford the guest musicians. We would like to play the stuff live, but our lives just don’t allow this - it would be too time-consuming. So we will make use of our good companionship and create some more music in our home studio.

What does the future hold for P.A.W.N.?
Sebastian:
As we explained before, we have this very interesting project in the pipeline, the collaboration with the German author Philipp Schmidt. That will be the next thing to focus on besides the on-going promotion of “The Gift of Awareness”. For now, we do not think any further.

A message from your part for the listeners of JustIn Case Prog Radio, Greece is…
Sebastian:
Thanks for all the positive reactions to our album so far! Hope you enjoy the P.A.W.N. Prog week on JustIn Case Prog Radio and never forget about your personal gift of awareness! Keep on progging!

Anything that you might want to add as a closing note?
Dennis:
Thank you so much for giving us this platform. It is great that young and upcoming bands today have these opportunities, which did not exist in our younger days. From an artists’ perspective, the internet with web radio stations like yours and sites like bandcamp or youtube offers so many ways to get in touch with listeners, but as always, first it needs somebody to spread the word... We had great support from some guys and your radio station. Thanks again guys – keep going with your amazing work! If you didn’t listen to our album yet, you can do this here:

www.youtube.com/pawnprog
http://pawnprog.bandcamp.com/releases

Dear P.A.W.N., thanks a lot for your time in answering those questions!
With honour,

Thanos Patsos
JICProgducer and Special Collaborator in Progarchives.com

Demetris “All Around”  
Founder of JustIn Case Prog Radio and JICProgducer

 

«Τα μουσικά έργα παρέχονται μόνο για ιδιωτική χρήση κάθε επισκέπτη / χρήστη και απαγορεύεται η με οιονδήποτε τρόπο περαιτέρω εκμετάλλευση αυτών χωρίς την προηγούμενη άδεια της ΑΕΠΙ».

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