Unisonic

Unisonic are back 2 years after their debut album with a stronger and even more magnificent release. Unisonic is not another “super-project” but a real band which can and will take a leading role on metal music in the future. The mastermind, songwriter, producer & bassist Dennis Ward, talked to Grande Rock about the band, his musical priorities, Kiske and various other things…
Unisonic band pic

Hi Dennis… It feels great to have you here! Congrats on your album! As you already know, “Light of Dawn” is the “Best Album of August” here on Grande Rock!
 
D: Cheers, that’s very kind! smiley We are very happy with our new album as well!
 
 
Hence, what was the plan after this very successful debut of yours? What did you have in mind to achieve with the next release?
 
D: Our plan was simply to continue to define ourselves. We are/were a new band and it takes time to do this. We did want to make a more guitar oriented album and wanted to make sure that the guitar was the feature, besides the vocals of course…
 
 
It’s obvious the band chemistry grew with time. Does that help you with the recordings and the performances in general?
 
D: Of course. It’s a must if you want to progress and time strengthens more than just the performance or songwriting.  We’ve become pretty good friends in the meantime as well.
 
 
Since you are the major songwriter and producer too, please tell us how the other guys contributed to the songwriting and about the new elements you added to your music…
 
D: Well with most of the songs I wrote I just wrote the main parts (riff, verse, bridge, chorus) and then we all together compiled the arrangements with spontaneous input in the rehearsal room. A very critical part of the song writing process happens in the rehearsal room, it’s what makes the song complete and makes the song become “ours”.
 
 
You’ve written on your official FB page that you’ve never had such an efficient pre-production/songwriting session in your career. Why’s that? How did that help on the final mixing and production process? By the way, the production is excellent as always!
 
D: Thank you. Well we were only in the rehearsal room for a very short time. We had no trouble finding ideas. Everything just seemed to flow quickly. We never once got hung up on a song not knowing how to continue. This means that the recordings were easy because we did not have to rely on “production”, which means the mixing process was easier because the songs kind of mixed themselves.
 
 
The mastering was done by Jürgen Lusky (Pink Cream 69, Angra, Ten, Axxis, Van Canto, Crematoy etc.). Jürgen is no stranger to you since you have worked together in Pink Cream 69. He’s your first choice when it comes to mastering, I guess…
 
D: He is not only a great mastering engineer, he is the one I turn to when I need sonic advice. I value his opinion highly and he knows how to get the job done. I master myself as well but sometimes I’ve worked to long on a project and it’s better to turn it over to another engineer so that I can concentrate on other things.
 
 
I’ve read also that Günter Werno of Vanden Plas recorded the keyboards on the album… how did this cooperation occur?
 
D: I’ve made many recordings with Gunter, from working with Vanden Plas to DC Cooper and the Place Vendome records. I knew that he could get the job done and I’m a big fan of his style.
 
 
Do tell us what is the “Light of Dawn” and how is the album title related with the “spacecraft” on the cover artwork?
 
D: The song “Throne of the Dawn” was originally titled “Light of the Dawn” but the lyrics became another concept during songwriting. However, we still felt strongly about the title and thought that it fit very well to the artwork. Every day has its dawn, a new beginning, a fresh start. That’s what this album is for us.
 
 
Please give us a hint about each track…
 
D: “Venite 2.0”: The medley of melodies, listen carefully and you’ll hear them all.
 
“Your Time Has Come”: Everyone is in control of their own destiny.
 
“Exceptional”: If you want to be great at something, be great to yourself first.
 
“For The Kingdom”: We’ve made this for you, everyone in our “kingdom”.
 
“Not Gonna Take Anymore”: Don’t put up with what you do not have to. Stand tall.
 
“Night of the Long Knives”: A story about Adolf Hitlers ruthless ability to control his minions to do whatever he wants.
 
“Find Shelter”: Protect yourself from yourself.
 
“Blood”: (I need to ask Michael) Family blood is the main bond in life.
 
“When the Deed is Done”: What goes through the mind of an executioner?
 
“Throne of the Dawn”: Satan and Jesus were both depicted, at some point in the bible, as the “morning star”. Who will become king???
 
“Manhunter”: She’s taking advantage of her man…
 
“You and I”: Peace sells, and it’s for free.
 
 
Can you tell us about the two bonus tracks too, “Judgement Day” and “Dare”? How did you choose which one to be for the European and the Japanese edition?
 
D: We always have bonuses and we purposely try to record extra material to have for this. We felt these 2 songs were not really fitting to the album as it had turned out.
 
 
I’m sure you also heard the “voice” of the Helloween fans and power metal maniacs generally who were crying out for more “power metal” in Unisonic… isn’t it so? Thus, you offered the apt amount of it on the new album to keep everyone happy… I think.
 
D: I wanted to keep myself and my band happy. We know what we can do well and wanted to show that.
 
 
If I may say, those power metal tracks are way better than anything Helloween have produced in a very long time (some comparison is inevitable due to Kiske and Kai)! They reminded me of the Helloween era, between 88-93, in quality…
 
D: That’s very kind, thank you!
 
 
Unisonic is something beyond a “power metal” band… so the melodic rock/metal and hard rock tracks are also there to justify that thing. I bet it’s a blessing to have a singer like Kiske when it comes to recording and not only, right?
 
D: It’s a blessing to have a constellation of musicians that work well together. Have a great singer, guitar player, whatever does not make for a great band. It’s the chemistry.
 
 
We hear Kiske singing in full force on this album… reminding to all of us that he is among the top singers of our time. How easy was it to “push” him to the edge?
 
D: It all depends on his mood. If I’m unhappy with something I let him know, and it’s up to himself to decide if he will change anything and how. I don’t try to push him beyond his limit, just up to it… smiley
 
 
There was a misunderstanding some time ago that Kiske didn’t want to sing metal songs anymore and things like that. Judging by Unisonic, this should have been a passing phase (the press played a major role on that as well) since Kiske’s voice is meant for hard rock/heavy metal music… huh?
 
D: Kiske is “known” for metal, no one denies that. His success comes from his history. That being said, had he started out making Elvis songs he would have probably been pretty successful at that as well.
 
 
Unisonic is a “real” band. And if some were not sure when you released your debut, I bet that they are sure about it now. So, what are the band’s future plans and what is your personal vision about Unisonic?
 
D: Unisonic is my priority, as is for Michael, Mandy, and Kosta. Kai’s is still the front of Gamma Ray and that will always be so. But Unisonic will continue as a band and will continue to deliver as a band.
 
Unisonic band pic

How do you decide which track fits that or the other band when you’re writing music?
 
D: By making demos and letting the singers sing on it. It’s the only way for me.
 
 
Which are the production secrets in order to achieve an updated and fuller sound in general?
 
D: Gather experience. That’s my only secret, 20 years of professional recordings. With this knowledge I can easily make decisions thus making the production process easier. If I feel I need to make something sound fuller or “modern” I know what changes to make based on the experience I’ve collected.
 
 
A few “weird questions” just before the end! Which kinds of music would you erase from the “music map” if you had the chance?
 
D: None. Everyone has a right to show his/her art, no matter how much it may hurt my ears.
 
 
How do you see all this “metal/rock revival” thing of our time? Is it just a trend or something deeper?
 
D: It’s just there, and will never really leave. I don’t believe it will become “trendy” again but I’m happy it’s here.
 
 
Best rock/metal band of all time?
 
D: AC/DC…
 
 
Most overrated rock/metal band of all time?
 
D: I don’t know.
 
 
Best rock/metal line-up according to you?
 
D: AC/DC with Bon Scott and Brian.
 
 
What’s your opinion about the “free downloading issue” of today?
 
D: It’s uncontrollable and unstoppable. So we have to work around it. More live shows… this “experience” cannot be downloaded.
 
 
Are funding platforms like Kicksatrter, Indiegogo etc. the answer to the “free downloading issue” of the 21st century? It’s kinda weird. On the on hand, the fans get the music for free without caring that much about the artist/group and on the other hand, the fans pay for an album that they haven’t even heard… and most of the times it hasn’t even been recorded! What’s your say?
 
D: I am completely oblivious to these platforms so I cannot answer.
 
 
What do you think about this “Views, tweets & Likes” mania of our time?
 
D: Silly shit, but if it makes someone happy then fine.
 
 
Which character from the “Game of Thrones” would you have been – if you lived in the Seven Kingdoms? The other guys from the band?
 
D: I’ve never seen it. I don’t really like television. When I don’t have free time I don’t want to waste it sitting in front of another screen.
 
 
Which of the Seven Deadly Sins do you reckon is the one, that’s more likely to send you straight to Hell, in the afterlife?
 
D: If I have one I’d have to ask someone else. I’m kind of convinced that I’m a pretty nice guy… smiley
 
 
Imagine that your wife/girlfriend is selling your whole album-collection just to buy an expensive ring for herself. How would you react? J
 
D: I think she’d get a pretty cheap ring. I don’t have much of a collection.
 
 
I think we’re done Dennis. It was a great honor to have you on Grande Rock. Close this interview in your own way. Thx for the music all these years! Take care!
 
D: Cheers!

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