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Edenbridge Interview 2013

Edenbridge Interview 2013
May 31, 2013 (via Skype)

It has been well over a decade since Edenbridge first emerged on the symphonic metal scene with their 2000 debut, Sunrise In Eden. Founding members Sabine Edelsbacher and Lanvall have been tested in the crucible of time with both its victories (eight studio albums, massive gigs, etc.) and staggering losses. Perhaps the testing was never more severe than the past two years, when a series of personal losses gave birth to Edenbridge’s upcoming release, The Bonding. The album is not an ode to despair, but rather a reflection on universal energy, birth and renewal, complemented by the 50-plus Klangvereinigung Orchestra of Vienna. Still, you might want to have a hanky available the first time you hear tracks like “Into A Sea Of Souls” and “Death Is Not The End.”


Sonic Cathedral’s Robin Stryker sat down with Lanvall, Edenbridge’s mastermind, composer and multi-instrumentalist, for a heartfelt discussion. Dive in for a closer look at “The Bonding”, music as a healing process, ice pancakes, and much more!

Robin:  Hello, Lanvall, and welcome to Sonic Cathedral!

Lanvall: Hello, Robin!

Robin:  Since the album cover will be the first thing that Edenbridge fans see when they pick up one of the three formats of The Bonding, would you tell us about it? Color-wise, the cover art is bright and happy, but there seems to be a lot going on from the standpoint of symbolism.

Lanvall: That is absolutely true. It is the third time now that we’ve been working together with Anthony Clarkson from Los Angeles, who did also the new album. We found him a couple of years ago. Well, “found him” is not the right expression, of course. He is simply one whom we are really happy to work with.

Symbolically, of course, the cover has a deeper meaning. When you take a look to the cover for the normal CD and for the vinyl, you see this fossil ammonite from the inside, where the river is going in and all those fractals. It was very important to bring the title (The Bonding) to life, and there you have the suction effect where everything is going to be sucked in this spiral. When you take a look at the limited edition cover, you have the ammonite fossil from the outside in the form of a book. When you open the book, then you come to the inside, where the normal cover is going to be seen. So, that’s the story around it, more or less.

Robin:  What are the differences between the three editions of The Bonding?

Lanvall: We’ll first start with the normal edition. The normal edition has the nine songs of the album. Then there is the color vinyl, which has the nine songs, plus a bonus instrumental track. The limited edition has the nine songs of the album and, as a bonus CD, all the nine songs in an instrumental version, which is great. I always wanted to have this, and I love it on other albums. Especially when you have music where a lot of things are going on into the music, it’s great to also have an instrumental version, which is also great for the fans (if they want to do some sort of karaoke thing with it) and also for TV stations to use it as a background music.

Robin:  Are you personally a fan of vinyl?

Lanvall: Well, I was, to be honest. Of course, I’m really happy that the new album will be released as vinyl again. It is so great to watch the cover on vinyl because it’s so big. But to be honest, I have sold my over-1000 vinyl records many years ago because the place where I’m listening to music is mainly the car when I’m on the road. When I’m at home, because I’m busy with my own music all day, I rarely listen to music at home; therefore, vinyl is not really the best format.

Robin:  I understand that The Bonding was born out of a period of profound loss for both you and Sabine -- the suicide of your father, the death of her grandmother, and the loss of others who were beloved. So, what is this album? Is it a form of healing, a memorial, or a statement of faith … not necessarily in a religious sense, but in an ideological sense?

Lanvall: The interesting thing is that I already had the title The Bonding when not even our last album Solitaire was released, so this was around 2010. This title came to my mind, and I knew that the following album of Solitaire must be called The Bonding. So somehow, it all became sense when all those tragic losses happened around us, and of course, the lyrics were influenced by those losses. So, four songs -- “Death Is Not The End”, “Star-Crossed Dreamer”, “Shadows Of My Memory” and “Into A Sea Of Souls” -- are directly connected to my father. Sabine also recorded “Death Is Not The End” in the memory of her grandma, who died on her birthday last year.

The lyrics were a big healing process and also a big process to work this pain and the grief and also the anger off; therefore, it was a very important process for the whole album. In the title track, “The Bonding”, it deals with the universal energy, which is surrounding us … where we’re coming from, and where we’re going back to. Because it was pretty clear from the start that it was going to be a duet between Sabine and a male singer -- in our case, Erik Martensson from the Swedish bands Eclipse and WET -- I wanted to bring these thematics of The Bonding into a kind of conversation between a universal energy (embodied by Sabine) and a disbeliever (embodied by Erik), who is only believing what he can see and what he can touch. I think this was a very nice method to underline this whole thematics.

Robin:  Do you believe that death is not the end, Lanvall?

Lanvall: Absolutely, absolutely. I already felt it; I could feel the energy of my father after his death. Normally, when you go to a funeral … or in our case, the cremation hall … you think you are filled with total sadness. But standing in front of the coffin, this energy went like a stream through my body. It was really something I wouldn’t expect, and I could feel this energy also later on. So, I simply believe that our bodies are only a mortal cover. Also, when we found our father, we found him after two days. It is not a secret that the body is totally cold after, because all the energy is gone. Yeah, this was a very sad process on the one hand, but also a very relieving process because many things became clear to me.

Robin:  The title track, “The Bonding,” is the most sprawling, epic song the band has done to date, as well as being the longest song at more than 15 minutes …

Lanvall: That’s true!


Robin:  How did you go about writing and composing a song with two different vocal styles, a full orchestra, as well as the guitars, bass and drums?

Lanvall: Well, you cannot PLAN such songs. I never make up my mind when I’m composing. I just let it flow, and then the best results are coming out. In this case, it was that I had the first nine minutes, and I simply knew that “this cannot be the end!” <laughs> But I also didn’t have an idea how to continue, so I put it aside. Then I waited for some new ideas, and after a couple of months, the whole mid-part came into my mind. Then, another break, and then the end part came. So, this is something you cannot plan. Yeah, when I’m listening to “The Bonding”, it’s really huge!

As I said, it was planned to be a duet from the beginning on, and I had a long list of male singers, but none of them really seemed to fit for me. Then I went to a CD store, and discovered the last Eclipse CD (Bleed & Scream). I was totally blown away by Erik’s voice, and immediately contacted him. He immediately wrote back, and said he’d love to do the duet. I sent him “The Bonding” yesterday, and he was blown away by the production, and said he is so honored to be a small part of this masterpiece. This was really a great honor for us to have such a great singer on the album, of course. So, yeah, it’s nice to hear such words!

Robin:  The Bonding is Edenbridge’s first album with a live orchestra since your 2008 release, MyEarthDream. When you first conceived of The Bonding, were you planning to use samples or did you just have the belief that this would be an album with a live orchestra, even if you didn’t know how the band would finance such a thing?

Lanvall: You are correct, I have to say. <laughs> Well, the point was that I knew from the beginning that we HAD to do The Bonding with a real orchestra again, because it simply cried for it (and also demanded it). The problem was, at that point, I didn’t know how to finance a whole orchestra, and simply had to believe that some way would open up. Shortly after, a fan of ours from Austria contacted me. He wanted to hear us with a real orchestra again, and asked how much it would cost. To cut a long story short, he offered us to take one-third of the whole orchestra cost, which was simply overwhelming, of course. Then another friend of mine from Germany came and also sponsored a nice sum of money. So, we took some of our own money, and finally recorded the orchestra.

Then it was time to bring the fans on board. Yeah, this was also the second overwhelming aspect of everything, which I also would refer to as some kind of bonding to our fans, because the fans sponsored (let’s say) really the rest of everything, so that we could out-finance the whole project. It was great to have all those reactions from all over the world! But to come back to the very beginning, of course, I first programmed the orchestra with my sample libraries, and it was the difficult process to go from the MIDI-programmed orchestra to write the score for the real orchestra, which took me a couple of months.

Robin:  It must have been absolutely overwhelming to have two fans step forward with major financing before Edenbridge ever stepped foot in the studio!

Lanvall: Yeah, this is PHENOMENAL. I mean, this is also so great to know what fans we have, and of course, they get a page in the booklet with some exceptional thanks. It’s wonderful!


Robin:  I was curious about the reason for Edenbridge recording the orchestra in separate sessions, where the strings were separate from the brass/woodwinds, which were separate from the percussion. Why did you record it that way?

Lanvall: First of all, we wanted to record everything together, and we booked a studio. But around three weeks before the actual album recordings, the studio said to me that they cannot do it anymore because they had some leaks in the roof, so the studio was not damp-proof enough. For me, it was some kind of excuse (some silly excuse). So, three weeks before the records, we had to search for another studio. We found this great studio in Vienna, but they were only able to record 45 persons simultaneously. As we had 53 or 54 all together, we had to do it in groups.

The great advantage of recording in groups is that you can do a lot more in the mix. We recorded MyEarthDream with the Czech Film Orchestra in Prague all at once, and we had some problems in the mixing process. On some phrases, the trumpets were too loud, but we couldn’t bring the strings over the trumpets because they were all on the same room mics, so this was a bit of a mess. This time, of course, it was much better because we had the strings, and we also could double them up, which was great. We had 32 strings, and we doubled them up every phrase, so you have the impression of 64 people playing, which is phenomenal. And they really played well! Then I did a lot of work at pre-mixing the orchestra in my studio before it came to the actual mix. Of course, this was a major step to bring everything out so well in the mix.

Robin:  In addition to a live orchestra and fans having a hand in The Bonding, you also have some of your favorite musicians on board -- Karl Groom (Threshold) behind the mixing board and Robby Valentine on backing vocals and choirs. How did you get those gents involved?

Lanvall: Well, both of them are on board for the fourth time now. We started with The Grand Design. That was the first album in 2006, when we started to work with Robby and with Karl, and they simply stayed. Both of them are very important to our sound because, when it comes to choirs, I am not so much on the classical choir thing, but more on the Queen-type of choir thing. Robby is phenomenal at doing that! The great thing with Robby is that I always come to him in the Netherlands, and all of the choirs are mostly recorded in 12 hours. So, these are a couple of thousand tracks we’re doing, and this goes pretty fast, which is phenomenal.

With Karl, he has quite the same guitar style as myself, and we are really understanding each other blindly when it comes to a lot of things. We simply worked our asses off this time, I would say. <laughs> During the mix, we pushed, pushed and pushed to get the best possible sounds out of it because, as you probably heard, sometimes we have over 200 tracks in the songs. It is not easy to capture all of them and to find space for all of them in the mix, and I think we managed to bring everything out very well.

Robin:  Random question time. I read on Sabine’s profile that a favorite food of hers is an ice pancake. What is it? I think I’d like it.

Lanvall: <laughs> Well, it’s a normal pancake, and you fill it with vanilla ice and chocolate sauce. The vanilla ice is inside the pancake, and the pancake is warm normally. Of course, because the vanilla ice is inside and the chocolate sauce is over it, somehow the translation is “ice pancake”.

Robin:  <laughs> That sounds MUCH more delicious than a plain pancake with maple syrup.

Lanvall: I have been in the States only once, and it was 30 years ago, but one of the prominent memories (when it comes to American breakfast) is blueberry pancakes with maple syrup. This just somehow stayed in my mind from those memories.

Robin:  Getting back to the album, what are your favorite three tracks on The Bonding? I know that’s like asking which of your babies you love the most.

Lanvall: Yes, that’s absolutely right. Of course, the title track is the most large-scale song I’ve ever written. This has so much in it, and defines us (I would say) with all the different elements, so I would name “The Bonding” as one song. I think “Into A Sea Of Souls” is also one of the tracks I would mention because it’s very unusual in the verses for us. It has a bit of this kind of ambient sound in the verses, and I think the chorus is really opening up, and it’s also lyrically a very important track. Maybe for the third, I would … it’s difficult … but I think the opening track, “Mystic River”, is also one I would mention. It has this great orchestral mid-part, and there is also a very nice combination between the heavy aspect of Edenbridge and the very soft aspect and the very orchestral thing. So, those three are a good span over the album.

Robin:  Edenbridge have already filmed a music video for the first single, “Alight A New Tomorrow”, part of which was recorded near your home. What can you share with us about the video?

Lanvall: It is currently in post-production. We shot it on May 1, 2013, and I hope we can release it by the end of next week. Most of the things, we have done in a live-recording studio, where we had the best possible technique and also had a crane camera. Yeah, we shot some scenes in a great river valley nearby our home, which is very pristine and very mystic and offered us some great pictures. But the main thing is the scenes in the studio with the light effects, and also we are working with the cover layers in the background. 95 percent of the scenes are already mixed, and I’m really looking forward because the pictures I saw so far are really great. So, I’m really looking forward for next week until everything is finished. Currently, it’s been putting hands on the effects of the whole thing.


Robin:  What is coming down the road for Edenbridge?

Lanvall: Well, we were so busy with putting the album together in the last year and then busy with all the artwork things. (We have this 32-page booklet for the limited edition version, which took a lot of time to complete.) Now we are totally busy with interviews, and it’s great to speak with the media around the world. But, of course, there should be some live appearance to and some touring. At the moment, we are currently talking to a new booking company, and putting touches to bring things together. Hopefully, we will be on the road in the second half of 2013.

We have an acoustic show next Sunday (June 2), just Sabine and myself with vocals and piano live in a radio show in Vienna, which is the main radio station in Vienna. This is great because you can reach about 2 million people with this radio show. Those are the next things then. We are on a TV station on Monday (June 3), hosting a TV show. So, many good things are happening at the moment, and we’re looking forward for things to come in the next weeks.

Robin:  Speaking directly to your Edenbridge fans, what final words do you have for them, Lanvall?

Lanvall: Well, of course, I want to greet all our fans in the USA. We have so many great reactions and so many pre-orders from the fans in the States, and I really hope that our first live appearance in the States will not be too far away. There are chances maybe for ProgPower 2014 next year, so I hope this would our first appearance. I think it’s finally time, after 13 years of not being in the States, to finally come to the States. We have been in Asia so often, and never made it to the States, which is really a pity. It would be great to meet all our American fans there!

Robin:  Thank you so much for talking with Sonic Cathedral, Lanvall! We wish wonderful things for you and all of Edenbridge.

Lanvall:  Thanks, Robin! It was nice making an interview with you, and hope to see you.


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