Last month I had the opportunity to speak with vocalist Urban breed, who I’m sure needs no introduction. With bands like TAD MOROSE, TRAIL OF MURDER, and PROJECT ARCADIA under his belt you really have no business not knowing who he is. Now he is in a new one SERIOUS BLACK whose AFM Records debut As Daylight Breaks will be out on January 20 and features the colossal talents of Roland Grapow and Dominik Sebastian (guitars), Thomen Stauch (drums), Mario Lochert (bass), and Jan Vacik (keyboards) alongside his one-of-a-kind voice. If this group is any indication, then 2015 Power Metal is off to one hell of a start! We talked about how something like this comes together, how songs take shape, and more. So join us, won’t you?
Amps: OK…how the hell does something like this even happen? You’ve got six giants in one band. Just incredible!!
Urban: What happens is you find a really hardworking and enthusiastic band member who pulls things together, and that’s Mario. You have to have someone that’s really working all the time. He’s a super-nice guy, fun to hang out with, but he’s also all business at the same time. And this is how you pull it off. And the way I got brought into it was through my daughter. I’m not on Facebook, but my daughter is, which is how Mario got ahold of me, through her. We met up a few times, had some fun, and that’s how it went. Mario pulled everybody together and got us all in touch, and it’s been a great experience.
Urban: It worked out just fine. You know as frustrating as it was for me it turned into a good thing because the songs that they had when I first got in and started working I suddenly realized after a few weeks that they’d morphed completely, and what I had worked on didn’t work anymore (laughs)! So I had to throw things out and start over, but the songs were much better for it. But we put our ideas together and that’s why these songs work because everybody plays their part. If Thomen wants his drums a certain way and I don’t like it, I may talk to him about it but in the end he’s the drummer and it’s his call. I have to trust that that’s what he knows best, just like he has to trust me with the vocals.
Amps: When you get the finished product and you listen start to finish, what goes through your mind?
Urban: Well, I’m listening from a musician’s point of view and sometimes I say, “Eh, there’s one or two things I might change” but given that this is the first thing we’ve done together I’m very happy with it. There are some fantastic moments on the record that give me goosebumps. And that’s the most reliable sign that you’ve done something right.
Amps: The thing for me with any album is the opener and closer. And I think this record is bookended by two powerhouses in “I Seek No Other Life” and “Older and Wiser.”
Urban: That’s what I like to hear! And when you’re working on something like this sometimes you get too involved and you can’t step outside. I know for me it will take me six months to a year to be able to listen to it more objectively. It’s very subjective to me right now. And in a way that’s how it should be because that’s the goal I set for myself with the vocal melodies and lyrics. I am trying to emote and express feeling; I don’t care so much if people grasp the full concept of the song. The important thing is, do they feel what I want them to feel?
Amps: Do you have any favorites on the disc? For me it’s hands down “Older and Wiser.”
Urban: One of my favorites is “Listen to the Storm.” “Older and Wiser” is your favorite, that’s interesting. That song started with TRAIL OF MURDER and what I did was, Daniel Olsson didn’t like the chorus I did for a song so I took my vocals, lifted them out and sent them over to SERIOUS BLACK and said, “Here, let’s use this.” So they liked it and wrote the music around it. So I gave Daniel some songwriting credit because we wouldn’t have made the melody we did without him not liking it originally.
Amps: How do you feel now that it’s coming out? Excited? Anxious? Both?
Urban: (Laughing) yes!! This is the hard part to explain to people. I’m not very excitable. I don’t get all bubbling and buzzing; I just say, “Yes. This will be good.” I think this is why I love having the wife I do. She’s very excitable, and that’s perfect. She can bring that out in me once in a while. I don’t get excited before things happen, but when they’re going on I do. I’ll have a lot more fun onstage and on the tour than you can imagine.
Amps: What are the tour plans in 2015 for SERIOUS BLACK, PROJECT ARCADIA, or any of your other six thousand projects?
Urban: (Laughs) very soon we’re doing the HAMMERFALL tour. After that we’re going to Bulgaria to do some shows with PROJECT ARCADIA and we might be going to Greece or someplace else, I’m not sure. After that it’s going to be mostly festivals because we have to start work on the next album. I’ve already got some ideas in my head about what I want to do. The danger is that you make an album and you say, “Whew…we’re done. Let’s rest for a bit.” And then the time comes to have the next album out in a few months and we don’t have anything. So you can’t do that. Our attitude is, “Wow! We made a great album; let’s talk about another one.” And the machinery starts spinning. Mario is the expert on this sort of thing. He knows ALL the dates! Plus we have a small tour around Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, and other places together with PROJECT ARCADIA, so I’ll be pulling double duty. That’ll be fun!
Amps: Oh, so there will be an album #2 from SERIOUS BLACK?
Urban: Oh, yes. This is a full-time band. So I’ll be super-busy working with this. So what that means is I’ll squeeze in as much time for PROJECT ARCADIA as I can because I love those guys. But this is higher profile, more work, and we have Mario who works his ass off to keep us busy. And that’s why I say we need to start working on songs right now because this is not a one-off. We have a multi-album contract with AFM Records and AFM believes in us, they give good support and I’m gonna work my ass off so they see that support is not misplaced. Plus, they have a lot of mediators if there are band arguments (laughs).
Urban: It goes in periods where sometimes inspiration just hits me. Other times I have to sit down and really work hard. What often happens is I sit down and work hard, and I don’t keep any of it. And I might just step back and think it over for three weeks, maybe a month. And then I go back with a clearer head and say, “OK, this is what this needs.” I really wanna make sure that whatever I do I have an emotional connection to it. Because if I don’t I can’t quite get it out there. That’s why on the limited editon of this album I don’t sing the cover song. That’s our keyboard player Jan Vacik on that one. He sings “No Son of Mine” from GENESIS.
Amps: What do you do when you’re not singing your ass off in bands?
Urban: I paint a lot. It ends up related to the albums. For example I painted all the artwork for PROJECT ARCADIA’S release (A Time of Changes) so everything in there is my work. I’m a board gamer, too. If I can get a board game going somewhere I’m all over it. I love Axis and Allies. You should try it; or maybe you shouldn’t because it takes hours (laughs)! Another old game that they’re bringing back from Avalon Hill is called Advanced Civilization. I loved that game, it’s fantastic!
Amps: Say something to all your fans worldwide.
Urban: I have to thank everybody that’s talked to me over the years and encouraged me to go on. Anyone who tells me they appreciate what I’ve done I say thank YOU because if I’d never heard things like that I would have quit. Thanks to anyone who has ever talked about the enjoyment, or even help they’ve gotten from my work.
I thoroughly enjoyed speaking with Urban breed and getting into what makes him tick as a performer and writer. Plus, for those of you who didn’t know, he is an avid watcher of the NFL and supports the Atlanta Falcons. SERIOUS BLACK is an excellent band, and I can’t wait to see how they follow up As Daylight Breaks. Be sure and grab your copy on January 20 and if you’re lucky enough to catch them live in 2015, let us know! Share your experiences with us!