DH: As a begin could you please tell me a little bit about your artistically development. How did Icon & The Black Roses start out? Which musicians are involved?
The band started in 1999, when I decided to gather a band called Blue Obsession. I was tired of being in projects that didnít work out for me, in wich I played the guitars. This time I wanted my own thing so I started this band. I couldnít find a singer that could express himself in a way I would really like in my songs so I started singing (Well did I say singing? Most people would describe it like a cow in terrible pain). We recorded a demo called 4 Winter Songs and got a promotion/publishing deal with MusicFlash. Sean Rose (bassplayer) joined the band soon after we got the deal. We together became the core of the band and after two years Sebastian Noir (Guitars) and Mike Thorne (Drums) joined in. We have several people going in and out of the band in between, we had a really hard time finding a stable formation. Later on and in time to record the album, Adam Nox (Keyboards) joined the band and that was exactly when we changed our name to Icon and The Black Roses.
DH: Why did you choose the name Icon & The Black Roses? What do you want to express with the name?
I was in tenerife working on the second demo with Charlie Bauerfiend and they were suggesting me that I could change the name to a one word name (ironic isnít it?). So everybody did a brainstorm and Andi Deris came out with this name : Icone (the portuguese word for Icon). I tought it was a great Idea but after a while, it started to sound terrible because of sounding really funny whenever portugues fans would say it. So we changed it to Icon. I regard this name like a symbol of our unity and strenght. It has a mystical content that i really like and I think its suitable to our sound. Also it sounds really strong, itís a word with an incredible energy contained, just like us, and that shows in the way we play, (In live gigs you get a better perspective of this). Anyway, we went on with this name until there was a really sad event within the band wich I refer to in the lyrics of ďBlack RoseĒ. So that we wouldnít forget what we all learned from this experience we deiced to include it in the name of the band ( so much for the one word name ) and became Icon & The Black Roses.
DH: Your music seems to me as pure gothicrock but with a harder approach. Why did you decide to play gothicrock?
Since I started playing the guitars I would go to my guitar coach with things I wanted to learn, he would try to make me learn some Van Halen and all I wanted to play was Paradise Lost or Carcass. I was a big metal fan, specially a Goth metal fan (of bands like Anathema or My dying bride). For the rest of my bandmates, Sebastian and Adam come from the same place as me, Sean was more into alternative stuff but now rediscouvered Goth and Mike was a 80ís hair rock fan. I think that we all have different influences but we all have a taste for the dark. But definitly we donít consider ourselves as pure gothic rock, pure gothic rock would be for me something like Sisters of Mercy or The 69 Eyes. We have a different edge, vocalwise I donít have such a deep voice and we have a much more dense instrumental. We relate a lot with bands like Depeche Mode and Placebo. So we have kind of a mixture of Goth Metal with 80ís Glam Rock and Synth Pop. So we donít really know which style we are, but we will find out soon I think.
DH: How did you get in contact with the German label Dark Wings? We sent demos all over Europe, the first one and Sanctuary Records gave them all the demos as they were not signing new bands at the moment ( wich I believe is happening with almost every label ) . Some companies contacted us (I guess we had a nice CD cover) and Dark-wings was one of them and after a long love relationship we decided to merry heheeheh.
DH: Your new album is called "Icon & The Black Roses". Can you tell us something about the release. Where did you record the album and how long did it take to record it?
Ok this is our first album and we worked so hard for it, we did like 3 pre productions of it and tons of demos with different producers (Charlie Bauerfiend and Tommy Newton). In the end we worked with Michael Gerlach wich produced the album with me and the mix was made by me and a friend of mine Espinha. We recorded it in Berlin (wich I loved , great city by the way) during a period of 2 months, the mix took about another month but was splitted in two periods, one for 5 tracks that could be singles and another for the 7 other songs. Also we worked in Portugal at our own studio for all the pre productions (not counting the mix in tenerife with Charlie, wich was great!) and for the guitar engeneering for the album. Quite a tough job, but we did everything we could to make it sound as we wanted.
DH: On the album there is my favourite song "Sweetest Emptiness Of Love". What is the song about?
Well that is one of my favourites to, the song is about when you loose someone next to you and how you face life afterwards and the tendency we have to become bitter and to forget about our own life. I lost a person that I really loved some years ago and never got over that completly, I wanted to put in words how I felt about this and in a way to give her imortality. The strange thing is that the lyrics came out in the exact moment I was doing the melody, itís a really honest song, straight from the heart and not from the head. In the end one of the bandís favourites.
DH: Tell us something about the process writing a song. How do you get the ideas for your songs? Do you think that the lyrics are as important as the music?
My songs are always introspective. I am always paranoid with my own personality wich can be really annoying for people around. I write whenever I feel hurt by something, so I end up putting in the lyrics how I feel about a sittuation and what I wish I have said to someone when I had the chance and for some reason I didnít. Also I tend to like to play with peopleís minds so I do double meaning songs wich have a really simple and nice side and a really dark,and sometimes, grotesque one. Having a constant struggle in my head makes my own songs struggling within themselves and if sometimes I could burst the speakers in the ďgrand finalleĒ I would, but the label doesnít let me do that hahhhaah. After having a song written I take it to the rehersal room and the entire band works on it. Its great to see the song coming our of an accoustic guitar and becoming a what in the end we can listen to in the CD. Mike is a really powerfull drummer so he likes to make everything really heavy, Sean and Sebastian add lots of strenght and passion to it and the Adam comes in and performs miracles in front of us all. Itís like an explosive mixture. We have a great musical human chemestry between us all and that has an extension to the way we work together the songs. I believe that a song can be a great song but it only can touch you deep down inside when words are as strong. Dynamics in a song are created by musical arrangements, but you can achieve the same with lyrics. I think all is important in a song, because in those 4 or 5 minutes you must leave an impression, otherwise it would be elevator music.
DH: How important is your work as musicians for yourselves? Its our life. We donít ourselves doing anything else. Also we have the chance of wearing cool outfits.
DH: You are from Portugal. How does the gothic scene look like there? Are there many gothic bands in Portugal? Are there any discos where gothic music is being played?
There are tons of gothic bands and gothic music lovers. There arenít any bars or discos. We had some but almost all closed down for really silly reasons. The nightlife in portugal is kind of in a really early stage, not that much diversity so everything that is non mainstream nearly doesnít exist.
DH: Are you planning to play live in Germany? Which further plans do you have with Icon & The Black Roses?
Yes our label is arranging that as we speak, we hope to come to Germany and play during the summer. We have the plan of conquering the world but we are not sure if it will work. If we get free boose in the end it will be ok!
DH: Thank you so much for answering our questions. We wish you good luck for the future. Is there anything else you'd like to tell us?
Thank you! Well I would like to tell you that our CD will be out in the 26 of April and that we hope it will be the first of many.
Interview: Andreas Ohle