Saltatio Mortis is a unique and engaging ‘medieval metal’ group hailing from Germany, who have recently released their album Das Schwarze Einmaleins. We recently caught up with the frontman of the band, Alea, to ask him a few questions.
Could you introduce yourselves to the readers of Soundscape Magazine who may not know who you are?
Hey there, this is Alea the singer of the band Saltatio Mortis.
To describe our music we have to go back into the medieval times and collect all kinds of strange, historical instruments and bring their sound back to life in the here and now. Then we add a modern hard rock backbone and top it with critical and well-arranged lyrics. When you experience this unique musical cocktail, you know the sound of Saltatio Mortis.
Where did the idea for Saltatio Mortis come about from? You’re just so unique and original, such a breath of fresh air to the music industry!
When we started in the year of 2000, none of us thought that we will be giving interviews one day. We started as travelling minstrels in the streets, earning the money people threw in a hat we placed in front of us on the walkway. Besides this we met nearly every weekend on medieval markets or similar occasions. It was a great part time job and a lot of fun, nothing more.
But times did change. The first big chance Saltatio Mortis got was to play at the medieval week of Visby in Sweden. But to be able play at this event we had to meet one condition. We would have to have a CD we could sell, only then we would be able to join the other bands there. So we met in a studio in Karlsruhe and recorded our first album. That was the beginning of it all. The first album was a strictly medieval one, but just one year later we started to record our very first rock album.
Which song of yours are you most proud of?
In the moment I love My Bonnie Mary, the adaption of the classical lyrics of Robert Burns from Scotland. It has become a great hymn of medieval rock music. But on our latest album Das Schwarze Einmaleins, it is pretty hard to pick out just one song. There are so many cool tunes like Wachstum über Alles, Satans Fall and so on. To be completely honest, I love them all.
I love your new video for Wachstum über Alles. Could you tell us a little bit about the concept and visuals behind it?
The idea was to use the figure of a king and his royal court to show the behaviour of our modern society. Our politics are trying to make us believe that there is only hope in economic growth. No matter how, no matter who is paying for it. We wanted to show in our song and the video that there is no such thing as unlimited growth and if our society will go on like this, we all will have to pay a price.
The king had his fun feeding the minion and watching him grow – but it was never enough until the moment when the creature got so big and powerful that it busted open its cage and began feeding from the flesh of its master. And like the king, we all will be eaten by our greedy run for profit until we realize that we can be happy with the things we already have.
Could you briefly describe your song-writing process?
Most of the time we start with the lyrics, meaning Lasterbalk is starting with the lyrics. When he is ready, we start working in our songwriting team. This team is formed by 4 musicians. Bruder Frank, Jean Mechant, Luzi das L and myself.
Each of us has its own way of working. I always start with my acoustic guitar and the vocals. After I find a good vocal line for the verses and the chorus, the four of us sit together and figure out the final arrangement for the song. Frank and Jean do the most of the rock backbone like drums, bass and riffing, while Luzi and I take care of the medieval instruments and the melodic arrangements. Sometimes Luzi and Jean already have full finished song Ideas waiting for lyrics. Like I just said, each of us has its own way of working.
What is your favourite thing about touring?
Definitely the shows. I am born to be on stage and I love to perform with my friends. I love the energy and the excitement before the show as well as the calm and exhausted feeling after the last song. It’s like a good workout. The body is tired and exhausted, but the mind is calm and happy.
And what is your least favourite thing about touring?
The rough nights in the nightliner. But I have to say it’s much better to be on the road with the liner, than driving on your own without any sleep. We did that until two years ago. It was hell and I’m getting to old for things like that. To be honest, I just don’t know how we survived those tours back then.
If you could tour with any band, who would it be?
Iron Maiden or Stone Sour.
Where is the strangest or coolest place you’ve ever played a gig?
That is definitely a hard question. We’ve played naked in bathhouses, on top of bar counters, in closed down opera houses and at the top of a Christmas pyramid in the middle of a Christmas market during heavy snowfall. But also the big stages of Wacken, Summerbreeze and so much more. I just can’t really tell which one was the strangest or coolest place. One thing is for sure, we always had fun playing and the crowd enjoyed it.
And where do you hope the band will be in five years?
I would love to tour out of the German speaking region. Sweden was always cool, also we never had the chance to play in the UK, France or Russia. I would love to play in Asia. Japan and China would be so cool. Yeah that is what I am hoping for.