A&GS recently spent some time chatting with Flo Laurin, guitarist and founding member of Germany’s speed/power metal masters SINBREED. Album number three Master Creator was all set to release through AFM Records and we were eager to see what their process is like. We also learned a thing or two about Flo that may surprise you. Have a look:
Amps: This new album Master Creator…I don’t want to say it’s a step up. I don’t want to insult you. I think you guys really hit the nail on the head with this record.
Laurin: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. Because you know the third one is the important one. We had a hard time with Marcus (Siepen, guitar) leaving. And we’re totally happy it turned out that well.
Amps: Live you’re going to play together as a four-piece. Have you given any thought to getting another guitar player? Or will you worry about that later?
Laurin: It’s nearly impossible to transport the songwriting we did for the studio version with only one guitar. So, we are currently in the planning phase of inviting a live guitarist. We wouldn’t do justice to the songs when we play it with one guitar. And hopefully, we’ll find someone who is fitting. What the future brings, I don’t know. SINBREED is made for metal excess and we need to accomplish that.
Amps: What do you have lined up as far as live shows?
Laurin: We will open up for VAN CANTO, a few shows and we have a few festivals going on, yes.
Amps: Is there a shot at you coming to the US for a possible tour?
Laurin: Well we did do ProgPower USA in 2012. We’re experienced. That Visa crap is really brutal. We couldn’t be happier to do it someday again.
SINBREED has a very good standing in the US. It would be very important to give the fans something back for all of their support throughout the years.
Amps: What’s the writing process in the band? How do the songs take shape?
Laurin: SINBREED’S first record, When Worlds Collide, was a project where I wrote all ten songs. They were finished and I picked Herbie (Langhans, vocals), and I picked Frederik (Ehmke, drums), and Alex (Schulz, bass) to record and perform the songs with me. We have grown together as a band, as musicians, as friends from that record back in 2009. This record was a process with now having all 4 band members delivering songs and ideas for working on each other’s songs. So for me this is totally cool. I’m also the producer. My role was a little bit to step back and focus on handling all the information, all the ideas that were coming in and putting together a record.
I would have been an idiot to write the songs on my own because Herbie, Frederik, and Alex, they all are talented songwriters. The cool thing is that everyone is finishing their songs 100%. Then they get sent to me and I make them compatible to SINBREED (laughs). You know, getting rid of that, including this. Then I send it back to the author. Then we agree upon one version and the whole band gets it. And they can do critiques, add some ideas and stuff like that. We’re doing it this way like we did on Shadows and for Master Creator also.
Amps: Now that the record is done, mixed, mastered, and packaged, when you listen to it from front to back what do you think?
Laurin: Not many people know you have to give the final master to the label up to six months prior to release because of the vinyl pressing which took so long. And this really is the time when you as a musician and me as a producer have to step back from the record. Because there was so much stress, so much recording, so many problems you had to solve and you really don’t want to get much deeper into the songs again. And when you finally get back the full vinyl or the full record on CD then this is the time when I unpack it. Have a glass of wine and listen to the whole record on the couch with lights out.
Then all the memories come back. The problems that got solved and stuff like that. So, I think this is the real highlight when you finally hold it in your hands and you can listen to it from a fan perspective, not a musician who created it. So, I really like that. That’s what I do with all the records we put out.
Amps: How often are you writing? Now that everything is done are you thinking about anything new? Or do you constantly get ideas and lay them down on tape?
Laurin: What I do is put melodies and riffs and stuff like that into the cell phone. Doing short videos or audio recordings when you sing a vocal line and stuff like that. So, it’s really, really helpful that you can have this idea for eternity and layer on and work it out. This is very important and a useful way when you are practicing guitar and a cool riff is coming out. Once again due to the easy recording situation nowadays you can track it down and have it. So a lot of ideas and riffs got recorded and this is what the next record will contain.
Amps: So you already have ideas spinning away? Do you ever stop?
Laurin: I can’t. I can’t. With playing guitar like 20 years and stuff like that it’s only how you can get rid of the shit and use the good ideas. This is all you can do. But the ideas will keep flowing. You can do it again. I had this one time; the vocal melody from the “Shadows” chorus was such a thing. Waking up at night and I had that idea which is later on, on the record. So, I only had this one spot that was totally worth waking up for because I like the chorus of “Shadows.”
Amps: For the uninitiated what is a SINBREED show like? What can they expect when they see you play?
Laurin: It’s no secret that in SINBREED the songs are produced to the max and they get to the point. And that idea what you have when you listen to the record we want to transpose on stage. So, we have a lot of fast songs and we play it pretty much like on the record.
But with all the vocals and guitar harmonies we do play them live with two guitarists. There is a lack of a rhythm guitar because when two guitarists play the double leads, there’s the sound getting a little bit thinner.
So, the bass player Alex has more room and we have drums mixed a little more in front than on the record. So, the fans really listen to the song live on the record, but in a totally different mixed way. And this is what making it more interesting I would say because it’s handmade. We arrange every song for the live situation later on and it’s like hell on wheels.
Amps: Away from the band, what do you do outside of music to unwind?
Laurin: I’m pretty much a basketball fan. But I do support the L.A. Lakers. I’m really into the NBA. I have NBA League Pass over here so I can watch all the games live when it’s the middle of the night over here. I like keeping the statistics and stuff like that on ESPN. Yeah, I’m pretty much a US sports fan I can say.
Amps: I’m a Mavericks fan and watching them win the 2011 championship was one of the greatest moments ever for me as a sports fan. But as a basketball fan, would you agree that the overall quality of game play has gone down these last few years? Guys can’t shoot. Guys aren’t defending. They’re getting stupid fouls. It’s not the same game.
Laurin: It’s not the same game. I don’t know what’s happening. The most likely issue is that you know the business guys and this huge amount of money on each league which is getting spent each year; that must be the reason why there are silly fouls and stuff like that. Everything gets challenged on the NFL field and stuff like that.
This has nothing to do with pure man power on the field. It’s become very much you know like what does the fan expect, all about the merchandise. When I was in the US, I wanted to visit a Chicago Bulls game and it was like $400 for a ticket. I couldn’t imagine that! So, that’s really insane.
Amps: What’s in your CD player or iPod?
Laurin: Well, I’m listening to the new MEGADETH currently. But besides this, I’m pretty standard. My three all-time favorites are JUDAS PRIEST, VICIOUS RUMORS, and RIOT. This is the stuff I listen to if they have a new album out or not. This is what comes into my record player every week.
Amps: How great was that last RIOT V record, Unleash the Fire from 2014?
Laurin: Yes. Unfortunately, not with Mark Reale (R.I.P.). There’s enough quality though, absolutely.
Amps: If you had to pick, what is your favorite song or songs on this album? I’m big on “Last Survivor” and “At the Gate.”
Laurin: I would go with the title track, “Creation of Reality”, and “Behind the Mask” is one of my favorites because it was so much work. And I really love “Moonlit Night” that Herbie wrote. Because it shows that we can do a little bit different stuff and have another approach for songwriting and it’s a bit different than the stuff we did before. I’m very, very happy with the outcome. Those songs would be the ones I pick.
Amps: What guitars are you playing and what are you playing through?
Laurin: I’m playing a Charvel So Cal San Dimas guitar with .009 strings. And for this record like the other two we recorded it using a Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier. It’s pretty much the same guitar sound like we had on the Shadows record but even at a young age and only a few records out I’m totally satisfied so there’s no change for sound. We said, “We liked it. We nailed it. We keep it.”
Amps: What do you want to say to all the SINBREED fans out there in the world?
Laurin: I’d like to welcome them to check out our new record Master Creator. And if they’re into very well performed power and speed metal and they like a good and heavy roaring sounding voice; then they are welcome to check out SINBREED and our new record. And thank you very much for your support.
Never have I been so glad to be wrong about a band. I wasn’t initially a huge fan of SINBREED when I first heard them two years ago. But the insane metal mayhem on Master Creator brought me around completely. And a great conversation with Flo Laurin only cemented my love of this band further. If ANYONE needs to tour the U.S., these guys do. Pick up the new disc today, you won’t be sorry!