Just after Rise of the Hero was released I was able to have a Skype chat with IRON SAVIOR mastermind Piet Sielck. He is one of the most affable, personable, and down-to-earth cats I’ve met since doing this writing thing, and it was great to talk about the inner workings of the band as well as get into what motivates him as a producer. Take a look:
Amps: Rise of the Hero is out now. How are you feeling about the reaction to it thus far?
Piet: I’ll say that throughout the production process I had my doubts whether or not this was gonna be good. But right now I must say I’m really happy with the album and the reactions are awesome! Here in Germany we entered the album charts at position #76 and that is something we haven’t achieved since the Unification album. So the record itself is getting great appreciation all over, and also the media reactions are awesome. So, what can I say? I’m really happy.
Amps: My 12-year old, Mini-Amps, just loves this record, it’s nuts!!
Piet: Yeah, I remember you messaging me on Facebook telling me “Fistraiser” was his favorite. That’s awesome! (To Mini-Amps): Best greetings to you, sir! It always makes me happy to hear stories like that.
Amps: Well, the kid’s got good taste. His favorite song in the world is IRON MAIDEN’S “Fear of the Dark!” (Piet laughs) Speaking of songs, I never heard the original, but I have to ask what made you decide to cover “Dance With Somebody”?
Piet: Well we must admit that we like the band (MANDO DIAO) and that’s why we were thinking about it. And the idea to do this kind of cover, well we had a couple of beers at a party and we still were looking for an idea for our Japanese bonus track and somebody came up with the idea to do it. We were like, “Sure, that’ll do!” and so we started working on it and in the end we really liked it so much that we were like, “Sorry, Japan. It’s a shame to only share it with you guys.” So we put it on the regular album. And of course in the States, as you can imagine, it’s not a problem because people aren’t so familiar with the song itself.
Amps: “Thunder From the Mountains”. Man alive, what a song!
Piet: I really like this one a lot, and the reason why it turned out the way it did was remembering some of the fastest shit I ever did and realizing there hasn’t been anything at 180 bpm in a while, so I said, “OK…I’m gonna turn 50 this year. I need to show the world I can still do that!” (Both of us laughing)
Amps: You were gone for a while before The Landing, now we’re back with Hero. But with these two great records it’s like you never went away. Does it feel like that sometimes?
Piet: Right now, I must say no, not at all. But I do remember those four years where nothing was happening with IRON SAVIOR and I also remember the time just before The Landing, before I started writing the songs, where I was about to quit because of the quarrels I had with my bankruptcy of my record label and shit like that. And I was really asking myself if I wanted to continue doing this. Luckily I said yes in the end and came up with The Landing. We got great reactions from that and now we are here with Rise of the Hero and I think they are like a second career to us, you know?
Amps: True. But it seems like you are doing some of your best writing now in this second phase of your career.
Piet: Maybe it’s like wine with us (laughs), I don’t know. The older you get and the more often you do this you learn how to do things better or best. We didn’t try to reinvent metal because Power Metal has been there for such a long time you cannot reinvent it. But what you can do is improve yourself constantly, and that’s what we try to do. I think what describes it best is that I always have this perfect metal album in my head, which is of course nonexistent, but I have this imaginary perfect metal album, and with every production I try to get closer to it.
Amps: Do you have any plans for a Stateside tour yet?
Piet: Well that would be awesome but we have to be realistic. The problem is that not everybody in the band can make a living100% at music so there are straight jobs which of course have priority. Coming over to the States is something that we’d love to do but usually you don’t get any income from it so in the end it would mean we come to the States for a couple of weeks and play for nothing. And that’s not something we all can do.
Amps: I know, it’s just that IRON SAVIOR is the type of band I WANT to see here!
Piet: Yeah, but we’ve come over for ProgPower before and managed to play some gigs around that, so we’ll see what happens in the future. It would be awesome, though! The other problem is your country is so BIG (laughing)!
Amps: What is your mindset and attitude as a producer? Holy shit, you just get some of the richest guitar riff tones I’ve ever heard, and what you did on STORMWARRIOR’S new album (Thunder & Steele) was dare I say legendary?
Piet: My attitude is that I try to do the job as best as possible and also as fitting as possible to the band. So for STORMWARRIOR I re-amped the guitars for them, but not else. The guys did the rest. And say, the drums sounded different for our album, but I think that’s a good thing. Because if I tried to record everything I would run into the danger of everything sounding too alike. So it’s basically good if a band record the stuff on their own and then I mix it because then it already sounds a little bit different. And I’m really fond of the new STORMWARRIOR, I think it turned out really great. I was a little bit surprised myself at how good it sounds and I think the sound itself is very fitting for those guys. It’s very in-your-face and I think that’s exactly what they need. And Rise of the Hero shows my personal taste as a producer.
Amps: I’ll be honest, if you can drive to an album start to finish, it’s a great record, and that’s how I feel about Rise of the Hero.
Piet: Awesome! Great!!
Amps: By the way, for that STORMWARRIOR record mix, you should get Producer of the Year!
Piet: Well thank you very much, but as I was saying, the production was them; I only did the mix down. But yeah, I do like my sound and I have to point out here that Yenz (Leonhardt) who also played bass with us is playing a LOT of stuff on his bass guitar and of course it’s not that easy to bring a bass forward without losing it. He’s playing a bass solo all over the album (laughs), so that was a really challenging job for me to bring the stuff than Yenz was playing which I think was outstandingly good to fit that in, and make a punching, moving sound in general. I think I did a good job with the bass sound.
Piet: Well, for over ten years I’ve been pretty set on the B.C. Rich Mockingbird. That’s my guitar, my thing. For this album I used my B.C. Rich custom which has DiMarzio pickups. My amp is a Marshall 9100 power amp and as a preamp I’m using a Pod 1 with all functions set to zero. Just a pure preamp simulation that works really well for me. And it’s only this Pod 1 that can do it for me.
Amps: What do you listen to when you’re not writing?
Piet: Actually, I have three children, a dog, and lots of other shit to do so I’m collapsing in front of the TV by the evenings. I listen to so much music while I’m working so I’m switching more to the visual at night.
Amps: You have three children. What do they think of Dad’s music?
Piet: I think they’re proud of what Dad is doing. Also, dad is quite successful (laughs) so they couldn’t be more proud. I have a 19-year old, a 17-year old, and an 8-year old. The 8-year old at the moment is a die-hard fan! The other ones were when they were younger but now they think it’s kind of OK what Papa does (we both laugh). And of course they attend my shows here in the area and raise their fists a little bit, but they’re not metal kids.
Amps: What would you like to say to your fans around the world?
Piet: I always use this opportunity to point out how thankful we are and how great it felt to return to the scene with The Landing and this great warm welcome back we have been experiencing all over the world. And that really gave us a huge push forward. And especially personal for me after this Dockyard shit, it felt even better. One big thank you to all for this!!
It’s times like this I can’t believe I just got into IRON SAVIOR not too long ago. What an awesome band, and what an awesome guy Piet Sielck is, huh?? I hope you guys enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you’ve never checked them out, go listen to IRON SAVIOR’S new album Rise of the Hero posthaste!!!