If you like true metal, than you’re on the right spot here. STEEL INFERNO’s debut album stands out among all the other releases of the past few months. And if you put a cover of KIM SIXX on your album, then you know what it’s all about. All the more reason to have a chat with Karen and Lars of this heavy metal band from Copenhagen, Denmark. A band, that was only founded in 2012, but in our book they stand proud among all the other long lasting big names in this scene. We raise our magic swords to STEEL INFERNO, all hail to the new Danish metal kings and queen!
First of all, thank you very much for doing this interview. When was STEEL
INFERNO founded and how did you meet up with each other?
Karen: "Lars and Krzysztof have played together for many years. In 2012, they formed STEEL INFERNO. They enrolled Thierry, who also used the rehearsal space. Next Lars put out an ad for a singer, where I replied and luckily got the part. We went through a couple of guitarists, before Patrick joined us for the demo, 7” and for the album. Lately, we have recruited Jens on guitar, replacing Patrick."
Please introduce the band members to us, the instrument(s) they play and their background (previous bands)?
Karen: "On drums we have Krzysztof. He has been playing with Lars on various projects, including the band UKRUDT, as well as making music on his own. We have Thierry on bass. He is very productive with a lot of very interesting projects, like for instance PINK ABSYNTH. His genres are hard to define, but they are all metal infused. Lars plays guitar and has, as mentioned above, played different projects with Krzysztof. I sing and previously played in a hard rock band and flirted a little with the black metal genre in the band ARCHEO. Jens has played different variations of metal in bands, like ARCHAIN, METAL AID and XENOFOBULUS, in which he also plays now."
Karen is the ‘metal maiden’ of the band, who is your front singer. What makes her so special?
Lars: "A lot a female singers sound too nice and clean in my opinion. I like the old school rock and roll type of female vocalist like Doro Pesch from WARLOCK and Leather Leone from CHASTAIN. Karen has some of the same kind of style."
Who actually came up with the band name STEEL INFERNO?
Karen: "That was Lars. He had some good band names in mind and the choice fell on the very classic metal name of STEEL INFERNO to show, that we are aware of our roots.
Lars: "And because it sounds bloody metal...!"
Who can we see as the biggest influence for STEEL INFERNO and maybe you can
also point out some of the influences of each band member individually?
Karen: "Krzysztof has a background in the punk scene of Poland, which I feel is being clearly reflected in the music of STEEL INFERNO. Thierry loves power metal and we joke about him moving to Denmark, because there wasn’t enough metal bands in France, but I don’t think it shows that much in the music of this band. Jens played black and more melodic thrash metal in the past, which will be reflected in the new music we make especially through the solos. I actually deliberately tried not to find inspiration elsewhere, when we started out, because I wanted to create me on a style that fit this band’s music. People would point me in direction of different singers, but I tried to follow the songs apply the vocal style, I felt that would suit our music. That been said, I can’t deny that people like Skin of SKUNK ANANSIE, Lzzy Hale from HALESTORM and Bruce Dickinson of IRON MAIDEN are vocalist, I find inspiring and who has had impact on me."
Lars: "Initially the influence was early SLAYER, the first albums by IRON MAIDEN, ACCEPT and loads of lesser known bands like HOLY TERROR, AGENT STEEL and OMEN. The only common denominator was the raw mix of melody and speed. We try not to sound like other bands or one specific kind of metal."
How would you describe your music yourself? True heavy metal is too simple, I
Karen: "We have been labelled with many different styles, like old school metal, classic heavy metal, speed metal, thrash metal and NWOBHM. I like the term ‘true heavy metal’ though and especially the imperative word being ‘true’. We believe in what we do and let the songs shape themselves individually. Maybe we have progressed towards the more ‘speedy/thrashy’, but we had fast songs in the beginning, like “Merciful slayer” and more classic songs now, like “Defender Of The Old Way”."
What’s your favorite STEEL INFERNO song and why? And what’s the crowd’s
favorite song in your opinion?
Karen: "That one is tough. That is like asking for a favorite child. If I have to choose, I think it’s “Aesthetics Of Decay”. It’s very powerful and filled with energy and it always puts me in a good mode, when I sing it. The crowd’s favorite, I think is “Red Sabbath”. They sing along to the chorus and it’s coincidentally also the first song we ever played live."
The band members of STEEL INFERNO come from all over Europe. How does the
song writing process go in general and how many times do you get together for rehearsals, etcetera?
Karen: "Lars had a lot of the creative control in the beginning, when it comes to the music. He would record the demo of a song at home with a drum machine and then bring it to rehearsal. For the next record I think the process will be more of a joint venture. We play once a week and have done that since the beginning."
You have played shows with CAULDRON, RANGER, NIGHT VIPER, ENCYCLE and SAVAGE MACHINE, just to name but a few. Any upcoming shows or festivals planned for this summer?
Karen: "Yes, we have some great shows coming up. The next festival is Metal Magic with a very exciting line-up."
Any plans for shows in Holland too maybe?
Karen: "Not right now, but that would be pretty cool in the future. We would love to play at the Vixen festival."
I also noticed there’s a show scheduled in May 2017 with WITCHCROSS (High
Voltage), that sounds like a cool experience to me. How did you get to support them?
Lars: "Ole from Deadbangers Production (who released our album on vinyl and cassette) was one the driving forces in the reunion of WITCH CROSS. So he knows them. I had also been in contact with them about doing a show. So when I heard they were looking for a support band, I contacted them right away. It is really cool. They are a fantastic band."
What can we expect from a STEEL INFERNO live show? Do you use any show
elements or stage props during your shows?
Karen: "A very dynamic show. We always give it our all. It is high paced and energetic. No ballads or love song intermezzos for us. No props. Just the music, headbanging and stage dancing and fists pumping in the air!"
Do you have any nice or funny stories to share with our readers, from live shows, or life on the road with STEEL INFERNO in general?
Karen: Once we forgot Thierry on the ferry. Luckily, he was wandering around the parking lot and didn’t stay on the boat. That would have been unfortunate."
What’s your biggest live show so far?
Karen: "If you mean the biggest crowd or event it must have been in at the preshow of a festival, called Metal Magic. A wonderful crowd of metal nerds, who really knows and loves the genre."
How did you get involved with Inferno records, who released your debut album?
Lars: Fabien from Infernö Records has been a big supporter since the very beginning of the band. I think, he approached us just soon after the demo came out. We just kept contact afterwards."
Who did the beautiful artwork of your debut CD?
Karen: "That’s our friend Tuna. He is a great artist, and he did the work on both the 7” and the LP. He is a kick ass drummer too, by the way. We wanted something that wasn’t classic heavy metal covers and we think that it turned out great."
What’s the metal scene like in Denmark? Are there many clubs where you can play live and where do you rehearse?
Karen: "Actually there is, which is both a good thing and a bit of a problem. The audience has a lot of shows to choose from, so it can be difficult to draw in a big crowd. They are very dedicated, but they don’t move around much doing the shows. It’s not like in Poland, Greece or Mexico, where the crowd goes crazy."
Do you play any covers during your shows or do you stick to your own penned material only? And if yes, which covers do you play during your live shows?
Karen: "We only did one. A tribute to a Danish heavy metal band from the 80’ called KIM SIXX. The song is called “Magic sword”. We don’t normally do covers, but if we do it has to be some great underground band, not just a popular crowd pleaser. We want to show some of the great work made by people, that’s not widely known by the general public. We have some potential ones that we are looking at right now."
Which song is the most difficult one to play live and why?
Karen: "For me it is “Dismantling Fixed Positions” because of the high parts. I tried to challenge myself and it worked. But also “Magic Sword” is difficult, because of the long notes I have to keep."
What do you think of the metal scene today, are there any bands that you like to hear in particular?
Karen: "There is a huge variety in metal today and a great palette of genres. I love it. I listen to a lot of more modern metal like FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH, PAPA ROACH, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, SEETHER and GOJIRA."
Lars: "I mainly listen to 70s and 80s music or stuff that sounds like it. But not only metal. Also pop music, AOR, hard rock. Once in a while, some new bands pop up. Recently, I discovered AGATUS, who sound a little retro. But that is the sound I like."
How important is the internet for you and where can we find your website?
"Our biggest platform is Facebook. The internet is vital for all bands today. It provides an opportunity to reach out to a lot of different people all over the world at the same time. You also have the chance to communicate directly and connect with your listeners."
Do you have any goals for STEEL INFERNO?
Karen: "To constantly evolve and improve. My personal goal is to play at a metal festival and go on tour. I have never tried that. The festival-wish is getting crossed of the list this summer with the Metal Magic Festival."
The next two questions are for Karen, your vocalist. Our magazine is dedicated to all the female musicians in the (hard) rock and (heavy) metal. Do you feel you still need this kind of recognition or is there no competition between female and male musicians in the music industry anymore?
Karen: "There are a lot of female vocalists out there playing metal and rock now, but it is definitely not the norm, so I don’t think there is anything wrong with a magazine, that puts a spotlight on female musicians. I don’t feel an actual competition, although it can be pretty difficult to find a band, that wants a female vocalist. When you do get inside the circle, I actually find that it can bring you some positive attention, because people find it interesting and different."
Do you also play any instrument(s) yourself?
Karen: "Only a bit of bass. I like playing the bass, but it’s not one of my strengths."
There is one song that we shortly want to talk about here, if we may and that’s the KIM SIXX cover “Magic Sword”. Why did you choose this cult metal classic and what’s so special for you about this underground metal band from Denmark that you choose to add a cover from this band on your debut album. We just L-O-V-E your version, by the way!!
Lars: "I cannot remember, when I heard the song for the first time. But it was in recent times and not something I knew from my youth. When I saw the video I just knew I wanted to make a cover of that song. It is our homage to the Danish heavy metal history."
We strongly believe, that the metal scene has been gaining a lot of popularity these past few years. On the other hand, we also believe the music scene has changed a lot. It seems to be all about the money nowadays and not if you have any talent or not. What's your opinion about that?
Lars: "None of that money is coming our way, so we would not know. We do this out of passion. I am quite good at skipping the songs and bands I do not like. But yes, there is a lot of crap out there."
Do you have any hobbies or interests besides playing heavy metal?
Karen: "Yes, I like using my hands so I do a lot of different craftwork from knitting to glasfusing and jewelry making. I also like to use my imagination, so I play tabletop roleplaying- and boardgames."
This year we will be spending our summer holidays in Denmark, somewhere around September. Which record stores should we check out, please give us some advice? Any more recommendations would be very helpful, too.
Lars: "Michael Denner (ex-Mercyful Fate) has a record shop, called Beat Bob. High Voltage is a cool rock bar in the style of L.A. Sunset Strip. Other places do have shows, but not metal only."
In closing. the famous final words of this interview are for STEEL INFERNO.....
Karen: "Thank you for spending some time with us with this interview. Keep those horns held high! \m/"
Go to the Facebook page of STEEL INFERNO at: www.facebook.com/steelinferno666/