VISIONS OF ATLANTIS are currently touring the US in support of their third album "Trinity" as the opening act for EPICA. For their aforementioned third album this Austrian band was joined by American singer Melissa Ferlaak. Prior to their performance in Hartford, Connecticut I had the pleasure of speaking with Melissa. I would like to thank Nathan at Napalm records and of course Melissa for making this interview possible. Here is what she had to say.
This is the second night of your current tour with EPICA. How was the show last night in West Virginia?
Melissa Ferlaak: "That went really good actually. It was a little scary, because this was the first time we've played in the United States. But for me, it's great to finally be in my home country again, because it's been awhile. But I think it went good, people had fun."
You played some summer festivals in Europe. How did those go?
MF: "We actually did one this year. It was the Masters Of Rock and that was a lot of fun. Those Czech people, anytime you'd be raising your fist, they'd be raising theirs with you (laughs). But yeah, it went good. We sold a lot of merch and met a lot of new friends."
What can fans expect when they come see VISIONS OF ATLANTIS live?
MF: "To have a good time. To have a good rockin' time."
Are you playing mostly songs off the newest album?
MF: "Yeah. I think tonight we're only going to do two off of "Cast Away", "Lost" and "State Of Suspense", otherwise it's all new material."
How did you first get the job in VISIONS OF ATLANTIS?
MF: "Actually, I was in another band from Minneapolis and was looking for a change. I got to know Ashmedi from the band MELECHESH, who's now a dear friend of mine. He put me in touch with Napalm, because he just wanted to help me out. Sure enough, things kept rolling and I got the VISIONS OF ATLANTIS gig."
Were you already familiar with VISIONS OF ATLANTIS 's music?
MF: "Nope, not at all. A couple of my friends actually were. I asked them what they thought before joining."
Did you go back and listen to their first two albums?
What did you think of them?
MF: "You know, it was a big departure from what I had been doing. It's quite happy music (laughs). My previous band AESMA DAEVA was a little bit more darker music. It was a lot of fun learning the parts and fun when we got together for our first gigs. The songs just come alive when we're doing them live, they're completely different songs. I thought it was a lot of fun playing those old songs."
How has the reaction been from the media and fans?
MF: "The media has been good and the fans have been really good. The media has actually treated us very well with this one. People who had reviewed negatively in the past, were now reviewing positively, but we don't write music for reviewers, we write them for our fans. We didn't want to get too far away from the sound that we had before, because we didn't want to alienate our fan base by any means, but we also wanted to include the elements of the new members of the band."
Can you see VISIONS OF ATLANTIS acquiring a bigger fan base, thanks to "Trinity"?
MF: "Yeah, it seems that way. I know a lot of people that didn't give VISIONS OF ATLANTIS a chance before seem to be giving us a chance now."
Are you already working on new music?
MF: "We started working on the music about a month ago and we're actually going to be doing a bulk of the writing, while we're on the road."
So then, you'll start recording after you come off the road?
MF: "Yeah, we'll do pre-production, when we're in the bus because we have the small recording equipment. Basically, we're hoping to get a new album out in a year."
Are there any plans for the band to do a DVD?
MF: "There was suppossed to be a DVD of our China concert in Beijing, but I don't think that's coming out yet. We'd like to do a DVD more than a video. Because the live show is different than the album and I think that's something that we need to do."
You wrote the lyrics to two songs on "Trinity". Will you have more of a contribution on the next album?
MF: "Definitely. I think on "Trinity" a lot of the stuff when I had joined was pretty much written. There were a couple of songs, that they were going to throw out, that I said "Hey I really like that, can I do something with it"? Hence that is why "Return To You" is on the album and why "The Secret" is on the album. Fabs and Mario do such a great job in writing and they'll probably still do a lot of the writing and I'll still kind of contribute to my own parts."
Is it difficult being an American in a band from Austria?
MF: "You know, I get that question a lot and it's really not. The only bad thing is that I really like the guys as friends. I consider them my brothers, so it's hard to be away from them. We come together, we glue it all together right before a show and the guys are really good musicians and so it just happens. It works and more bands are doing it like that too."
It's also kind of easier to get things done with the internet these days.
MF: "Right. That's how we did a lot of it, sending files on ftp servers."
Tell us a little about your vocal training.
MF: "I did my Bachelors degree in music performance at the University of Wisconsin in River Falls, then I went on and did my Masters degree at the Conservatory of Music in Boston. But you know what? I learned a lot of technique and stuff, but from where I learned the business and where I learned to really love music was from the metal scene and just being in it and meeting people and learning from other people. I think that's been as valuable as my training."
Who are some of your biggest vocal influences?
MF: "Renee Fleming. I really like the way that she uses emotion in her voice. Elizabeth Schwartzkopf is another one, too. They're opera singers. I really like Agnete from MADDER MORTEM, the way she sings, I could never do it (laughs), but I admire her passion."
Who are some other bands and artists that you enjoy listening to?
MF: "MADDER MORTEM, AFTER FOREVER. I really like "Remagine". Itís an awesome album. I really like WITHIN TEMPTATION. MELECHESH is another one I really like. I like Black Metal for some reason. I just really dig it. I like this band called TERETISM, that I've loved since the beginning. They're from Minneapolis and a band called EPICURIAN as well. I listen to a lot of their stuff and actually their guitarist is playing bass with us tonight."
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Do you have anything you would like to add or say to the fans to wrap this up?
MF: "We love you all so much. Thank you, thank you, thank you for supporting us and just being there and rocking out with us. We hope you guys enjoy "Trinity" and check us out next time."
Visit their website at: www.visionsofatlantis.com