Interview: Wicked Plan – Heavy Metal from Switzerland
Interview by Rainer Kerber
RK: Thanks that I can do this interview with you.
Unfortunately you had to cancel your performances at the Baltic Hell in August. I hope Yanik has withstood the surgery well.
Yanik Allenspach: Thank you for asking. I am as fit as a fiddle again and look forward to the upcoming gigs. Of course, soon in Germany.
RK: Are there already plans for future gigs in Germany?
Natali Keller: Unfortunately, there are no concrete dates for concerts in Germany for the next few months. We are working on it and will publish the dates on the website as soon as they are known.
RK: You are not so well known in Germany. Please briefly introduce the band at the beginning.
Natali: We are four in the band, Dan the strings magician on guitar, Ed the woofer on bass, Yanik the GrooveMaker on drums and I am singing.
RK: I tried to translate the band name into German (godless / evil plan). What is the actually meaning and how did you come up with the name of “Wicked Plan”?
Dan Keller: For me WICKED PLAN is a plan with a hidden intention. Not necessarily bad, but a secret plan.
RK: Which musicians and bands influence you in your work?
Natali: I’ve got some that have influenced me: one’s Jutta Weinhold, have listened to her music a lot. Secondly, there were Bruce Dickinson, Rob Halford, Axel Rose, Jeff Scott Soto and Ronnie James Dio.
Dan: I have been influenced regarding WICKED PLAN especially by Yngwie Malmsteen and classic Baroque composers. Besides many ‘80’s hard rock and heavy metal guitarists and bands like Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, George Lynch of Lynch Mob and Dokken.
Yanik: I am mainly affected by drummers like Chris Adler (Lamb of God) and Dave McClain (Machine Head). Metal drummers who, in my opinion, accomplish to let a song sound like Metal without cracking up that double bass pedal for 5 minutes but think carefully about when, where and how to crack.
Ed Cuennet: Especially Steve Harris of Iron Maiden. But also bassists from all sorts of musical styles: for example, Jaco Pastorius, Stanley Clarke, Gene Simmons, and many more Musicians who brought the bass to the foreground.
RK: Wicked Plan was founded in 2012. What have you done before?
Dan: Before WICKED PLAN I played in various hard rock / metal bands, earlier still propagated with Exotic Metal elements in the style of Marty Friedman / Megadeth. Then consistent with WICKED PLAN with elements of baroque music to give WICKED PLAN a clear style.
RK: ‘Becoming God’ was published in 2013, Out Of Fire 2015 (Edit: 2016). Do you work on the third album?
Dan: Yes absolutely! I am currently in an intensive songwriting phase and just working on 4-5 songs simultaneously. When the ideas come you have to take and process them! And today I just finished with the riffs for two songs that I have worked on in the recent weeks. If the skeleton is ready, Natali writes the vocal melodies and lyrics. This means that we can play both songs in the next band rehearsal – it pleases me!
I always give the songs a working title when composing because I immediately connect certain images, emotions or stories with each song idea. I can better keep the songs apart as well. Sometimes then Natali takes one of my ideas, and sometimes the song tells a very different story at the end. The working title of the songs that I finished today run: ‘You Rock’ and ‘Call of the Seven.’ I wonder what will happen… J
Which songs actually come on the next album we’ll see. We only decide at the end, when we have enough material. I expect that the recordings for the next album will start in early 2018.
RK: The album cover artworks are quite colourful and actually atypical of the Power Metal that you play. Who had the idea for this artwork?
Dan: Natali and I wanted a new, stronger logo after the last major reconstruction of the band. Dragons have always fascinated us, so we went in search of strong dragon images. After we had found our dragon, Manfred Smietana, a German graphic designer, has created this new WICKED PLAN Dragon Logo. Manne has then also made the cover of the dragon for the Out of Fire album.
RK: How does your songwriting work? Is Dan the exclusive songwriter, or bring all band members their ideas into the songs?
Dan: It usually runs so that I compose the riffs without vocal melodies and roughly record them to give the others an impression where the groove should lead the song. Then Natali and I discuss possible arrangements, and Natali writes the lyrics and vocal melodies. Then we start playing the songs in the band rehearsals until the riffs are a solid punchy bottom for the vocals.
RK: Natali, on the albums your voice sounds extremely powerful. Do you do special vocal exercises so you keep this power through a whole concert or even a tour?
Natali: After my vocal studies, I almost daily have been doing vocal exercises shown by my former vocal teachers. Of course I have, in the meantime numerous own exercises done, but the former basic exercises still form the foundation. With the right technique, it is usually not a problem to sing for a long time with lots of power. Of course, no smoking and alcohol.
RK: From Switzerland comes a variety of great bands. What about the Swiss rock and metal scene? Have smaller bands plenty of opportunities to play live?
Natali: In Switzerland, there are not so many opportunities to perform, because the scene is very small. Lately it has a few festivals.
RK: Thanks again for the interview. Would you like to conclude anything else for the fans?