Diary of a Metal Fan: 20 minutes with Caliban
Written by Matt Drummond
When I started writing about heavy metal, I did it because I love it. The idea of interviewing bands that I’ve listened to for well over ten years wasn’t even a thought that crossed my mind. On Thursday, September 22, I was given that opportunity with Caliban lead singer, Andreas Dorner. A scenario which was already very cool for me became even cooler when Dorner turned out to be one of the nicest, coolest guys ever.
Starting things off I wanted to know what the writing process for new albums was, the band’s vision, and their inspiration for such a heavy sound. With Mark Gortz (guitar) being the only remaining founding member other than Dorner, he began with the writing process:
Gortz starts coming up with the crushing riffs Caliban fans have come to expect and love. With the first pattern of riffs being achieved, producer Benny Richter and Dorner start to add their talents. With the foundation in place, the rest of Caliban gets involved. The melodies are put into place and the crushing sound is cemented. This approach has not changed as they go into new albums the same way they went into old albums.
“We want the best possible result. We want everything to be perfect. We look to make the albums better and better every time,” says Dorner, who attributes their heavy sound to their roots, the rural areas they grew up in, and the experiences they’ve had in life.
When Denis Schmidt joined Caliban he brought a clean vocalization with him. I asked Dorner if this was a sound they were looking to implement, and he told me, “Yes, the clean vocalizations was something we were looking to do. I tried to do it, and just wasn’t very good. The screaming I could do, but the clean vocalizations I could not.”
Caliban had a meeting, and all the members took a stab at singing. The winner of that sing-off was Denis and he has continuously proven to be the right choice.
Being curious about how bands go into live shows I asked Dorner an array of things about playing live. When picking an opener and a setlist Dorner looks to songs that get the best reaction out of the crowd. Typically those songs are their singles. For a long time Caliban was closing out shows with the devastating ‘Memorial.’ This year ‘Memorial’ has found its way to the front. Along with ‘D3in Reich,’ those two songs seem to get the crowd involved and excited.
One Caliban song that I wanted to ask about was the killer track, ‘Walk Alone’. I wanted to know firsthand what the meaning behind the song was and Dorner hit me with an unbelievably great response. The song was written to try and open people’s eyes and to be more sympathetic to refugees coming from war-torn countries. Dorner strives to send a wakeup call to short sighted people. He wants people everywhere to be more open minded with these people’s pain. It’s something all of us can probably stop and think about.
When a band like Caliban has played so many shows it’s hard to narrow it down a favorite, but I asked it anyways. Dorner then told me one show that really sticks out in his mind was Woodstock in Poland.
“I don’t know if we sounded our best, but the festival was unreal, an overwhelming experience.”
With an attendance of over 400,000 people, it’s easy to see why that particular show stands out to Dorner.
Dorner put a lot of emphasis on how important Caliban fans are to him throughout our interview and he can’t thank them enough. He told me, “I’m just happy to be in a band, happy to do what we do, happy people like it.”
Well Andreas, I am a Caliban fan first and a writer second. As a fan I can definitely say we like what you’re doing. Caliban has been unleashing extremely heavy albums for a very long time and those albums are as good as it gets. The one thing Dorner wants people who are unfamiliar with Caliban to know is “if you don’t know Caliban, you should check it out, maybe you’ll like it.” That’s great advice and something I agree with 100%.
Special thanks to Tom Huschka, and Andres Dorner. I truly appreciate your time and your music.