AUGUST 22nd, 2014
WORDS OF FAREWELL EXCLUSIVE


Welcome to Metaltitans, Guardians of Metal entertainment worldwide. We are here talking with Alexander Otto, vocalist for Words of Farewell. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us.


1. First how did you come up with the name for the band ?


Alex: Basically the name for the band came from my DeviantART profile alias (which I actually changed recently to my real name). We were discussing different options and back in the day we after little though agreed on the name because we liked the connotations it carries and the multitude of meanings it may stand for. In the end the name stands for so many different things because it has been taking on new meanings each time I talked about it or thought about it that the original meaning is no longer relevant. But for the sake of answering the question: it derives from my strong xenophilia and my love for Japanese culture in particular; and the phrase "wakare.no kotoba" (meaning words of farewell) which entails a notion of loss, which is kind of hard to translate into other languages, but I liked the notion because it is emotionally challenging and also holds a wide range of interpretations so everyone can see in it what he or she wants.

2. You have a 2nd album out now called “The Black Wild Yonder”, why was that name chosen to be the title ?

Alex: It seemed to be a good summary for many of the underlying key concepts that in the lyrics contained. It basically stands for the parts within each and every person that he or she hasn't explored yet. In a sense for the unknown territory that has yet to be revealed via introspection.

3. Who wrote the lyrics for this ? Where did the inspiration come from to write them ?


Alex: I wrote most of the lyrics except for Antibiosis which Konstantin our bass-player is accountable for and Luminary Ghost of which I only wrote parts but most was written by Erik. Inspiration always comes from a wide variety of sources be it personal experience, theoretical literature I read for university or the application of these theories to my empirical surroundings, sometimes also popular literature and even popular culture. It's always an intertwined relation between different sources. Sometimes I find a pattern of some sort that transgresses the borders in between these different sources and at that point it becomes particularly interesting, as in if one is able to approach it from a more balanced and "objective" perspective. Usually such conditions lead to interesting questions I can ask and indulge in when writing. But that may not always be the case since I balance my lyrics in a way that I am able to represent different things, sometimes just my love for a certain source material as in 'Riven' or my love for a specific location as in 'Urban Panorama' (a song of 'Immersion') - it doesn't always have to be a philosophical topic related to the human condition. Sometimes I like to simply have fun as well.

4. What made you decide to be more atmospheric, varied and emotional on this album ?


Alex: Well, I assume that is more or less a statement based on personal reception and I wouldn't say that this was our goal since we always saw 'Immersion' being varied, emotional and most of all atmospheric. But if we were able to improve on that formula that is a compliment we're happy to hear. So, it was by no means a decision. It just happened.

5. It’s a really cool look to your album cover, how did you come up with that idea ?
 
Alex: I had various ideas for a cover and although this is a democratic decision in our band I knew I wanted to solidify the art style we had since 'Immersion'. Basically black and white photography as means of stylistic coherency to go along with our music. After being a photographer myself for quite some time now I hang out in communities and see a lot of great photography and the image we chose for TBWY just stood out to me. When I first stumbled across it it struck me as conveying a sense of tragedy, something mysterious and at the same time a hint of strength and fortitude. This specific combination seemed to me as a good visual counterpart for the lyrics I had written for it could be this very dame that appears, disappears and reappears as various characters and narrators throughout the album carrying these different character trades.

6. Do you have a favourite song on The Black Wild Yonder ? If so, why that one.

Alex: From the very beginning it must have been 'In Kingdoms of Rain', 'Damaged Beyond Repair' or 'Beauty in Passing' but this is mainly due to the melancholic atmosphere they hold and I was always someone who cherished this sort of feeling, although I don't really know why I do that to begin with. But there is a slight difference when it comes to playing live. Then I guess it'd be 'Continuum Shift' and 'Beauty in Passing' since both have the potential to unleash a lot of kinetic energy in us as performers and the audience. It can be really bananas.


7. Do you plan to do some major touring in support of this album ?

Alex: I wish I could say yes. But sadly getting gigs was always our weak point because we lack the networking. We would love to do so but there has been no promoter interested enough to grant us this wish since touring is not only a time thing (we all have to work aside university) but also a financial thing. And no one in the band is financially able to carry such a venture. In fact we from time to time have to borrow money in order to print shirts and cover other investments. We're looking forward to every concert we have and give it our all because we know that due to the fact that we only seldom hit the stage every single performance is all the more important.

8. When you were growing up, did you want to be in a band ?

Alex: Yep, pretty much since I got into Death Metal when I was about ten to thirteen I decided that being a vocalist was what I wanted, although I even at the time realized that chances were slim that I'd ever meet people who'd want to do the same combination of music being Melodic Death Metal and not Core or Thrash which were popular at the time. So when I met Erik and our former guitarist Phillipp randomly at a party a girl I only met on one occasion invited me to, I knew that how fortunate I was. At the time I was already "training" my voice and wrote poetry so I kind of knew my crafts - or at least I thought I did.

9. What kind of music did you listen to as a kid ?


Alex: I mainly listened to whatever my Dad listened to, which was Hard Rock and a little Heavy Metal. I still listen to Saxon today which were one of my Dads favorite bands back in the 80s, although more because of the nostalgia than it being my taste but some other bands withstood the test of time as well, like Van Halen, Aerosmith or Extreme.

10. Did you have any kind of training for vocals ?

Alex: Well as I mentioned beforehand I "trained my voice" but actually it was more like I threw in a record, cranked up the volume and screamed my lungs out until after some times - maybe some years I realized how I had to work my vocal chords and my muscles not to hurt myself and how to get the sound of my chords that I wanted. Over the years I refined it auto-didactically but always trying to work in a little more character of my own because I am constantly faced by dumb over-generalizations by people not knowing the first thing about metal telling me that all those "screamers" sound completely the same. Now you tell me if Mark Greenway and Nathan Weaver sound the same, at least I like to believe that that is a false statement.

11. How much time in a day do you dedicate to Words of Farewell ?
 
Alex: Depends on the schedule sometimes several hours but sometimes I don't invest any time in the band in about a week. In general I guess you could say an average of about 2 1/2 hours a day when we have things planned like new shirts, we're promoting records as we are right now and I take time to sit down and write some lines for the press as in this case, or maybe I just sit down read some theory and later on work on some lines for a new song (which can take ages sometimes) or practice my voice.

12. Do you think you might be missing anything with such dedication to the band ?
 
Alex: Yes I do. And I guess most of us do. In my case I decided to quite my studies in Japanese and changed subjects after about two years because I know I wouldn't have been able to circumvent several semesters abroad if I wanted to really be good in my subject. But I chose the band over my career at that point because I wanted to see how far we're able to get. And while I often ask myself what would've happened if I continued down that path (because I was actually pretty good back in the day) it wasn't the worst idea because we ended up getting a contract with AFM something most bands these days aren't able to score anymore because of the severe overproduction of cultural goods. And now people all over the world are interested in our music. We don't make any money with it but we're happy that we're able to reach a big audience. I guess one has to sacrifice some personal things for the greater good that is the band and a band where such sacrifice is not brought or valued is going downhill fast.

13. Is there anything you would like to add, that I might have missed asking that you want fans to know ?


Alex: I guess I want to persuade all readers to check out local bands and support them, after all each and every band starts out in a garage more or less. And if you have doubt about your own band rest assured that that's perfectly normal and usually any sort of dissent that doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Oh, and maybe some wise last words: If you want something in life you'll find a way. If not you'll find an excuse.