Interview with guitarist Luke Lethal
Interview conducted by MetalMike
Date online: September 30, 2023
Dresden, Germany's Acid Blade are one of the bright new bands of traditional heavy metal movement that has been underway for a number of years and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. Formerly known as Angel Blade, which was more of a project, when it became time to transition to a full band, they also transitioned to the new name, Acid Blade. Their latest release, the 4-song EP Shooting Star, is something of a bridge between their debut album, Power Dive, and what will come next for the band. GG Sundin from Jawbreaker Records, the band's label, kindly put me in touch with guitarist Luke Lethal, who was happy to share all the up-to-date information about the band and the EP in the interview that follows.
Hi guys! Congratulations on your latest release, the Shooting Star EP. It comes hot on the heels of your debut album, Power Dive, which came out a little over a year ago (as of this interview). Why did you decide to record an EP and not wait a little longer and put out another full album?
Luke: Hey, thanks for having us! As you probably know, we had a previous project called Angel Blade, which sounded much more as if it was from the very early 1980s, while the Power Dive album made a small jump style-wise and is heavily influenced by bands that came up a little later, too. After a while we realized that we had accumulated some songs that sound like they're somewhere in between and they added up to three, so we said, "Let's do another one that fits with those three and record an EP that's in the middle between the Angel Blade demo and the Acid Blade album!"
I guess I should have asked this first, but could you give us a little history of the band, how you guys got together, what the scene in Dresden was like when you were forming Acid Blade, and how you settled on the name for the band?
Luke: Klay and I got back together after we had the Split with Venator (as Angel Blade). We spoke about getting a proper band together and then started looking for members. A friend of Klay's, who then became our bassist, Sci-Man, knew a drummer, so we had our first rehearsals as a four piece and it worked well. Our former drummer has another band with Alvin, who is the other guitarist in Acid Blade. That's how we all got together.
The scene in Dresden is quite active. Members from both Sintage and Firmament live here, as well as the guys from Schafott and Wucan, two incredible bands! So, I'd say we have quite a strong community around here.
The name Acid Blade was on a list with several others and, of course, stemmed from the previous project's name Angel Blade. Klay and I immediately agreed that it was our favorite out of the bunch. I think we had the name even before we had our first rehearsal.
Forgive me if this assumption is wrong, but you guys seem fairly young. What made you decide to play old-school heavy metal? I hear a little Iron Maiden in your music (honestly, how many bands are NOT influenced by Iron Maiden, right?), but which bands or musicians inspired you to pick up instruments and play this kind of heavy metal?
Luke: Well, "fairly" is pretty much on point. I'm the youngest at 25 years old. Alvin is 28 and all the other guys are in their mid-30s.
There was no conscious decision to play Heavy Metal, it's just what I always wanted to do and what I'm capable of playing, as well. Alvin got into the band because he finally wanted to have an excuse to play long solos, haha! Klay always wanted to do Heavy Metal and has sung in many other projects and genres before. Sci-Man has always been into Black Metal, but quickly got the hang of it, too.
And yes, Maiden is my favorite band (it should be everyone's!) The reason I picked up a guitar for the first time was Dave Mustaine and the riffs in "Wake up Dead." But I can't play his stuff, so instead we decided to go for a more traditional style that suited my capabilities for Angel Blade, and everything from then on has just been a natural development.
What were some of the biggest challenges for you starting out? Do you live in the same area, making it easy to practice together and are there places for bands starting out to play live?
Luke: The biggest challenge, and the reason Klay will leave the band at the end of this year, is that we live scattered across Germany. Klay lives in Lubeck, which is 500 km from Dresden, our hometown. Alvin lives in Halle, which is about two hours from Dresden. So usually the rehearsals are Sci-Man, me, and our drummer. Over the summer it was Jonny, who was the original drummer for Angel Blade and who came to the rescue when we parted ways with our former drummer. Klay and Alvin have to be well prepared when they come to town for rehearsals every few weeks. So no, it's not easy to organize everything and practice together at all, and, of course, that took its toll over the last two years.
Who writes the songs for Acid Blade? Does everyone contribute or do one or two of you handle the songwriting duties? What elements does a song have to have to be an Acid Blade song?
Luke: For the Power Dive album, I wrote 80-90% of the music. Klay came up with the choruses for "Ablaze at Midnight" and the title track. We all arranged them together, though, so there were some structural changes here and there. Lyrics on the album were written by Klay and Sci-Man.
For the new EP, Klay came up with the title track and I added a few bits here and there. It was the other way around for the other three songs, where I brought in most of the parts and Klay added the choruses. Sci-Man also gets a songwriting credit, because naturally the bassist came up with the bass part in the middle of "Rise from the Grave." Lyrics were all handled by Klay this time, and again we arranged everything together. "Mercy of the Wind" and "Weeping Willow" took several weeks, until everything was in its place.
I wouldn't say there have to be certain elements. The songs just have to live up to the standard that we set for ourselves, and the energy has to be right.
Where do you get your inspiration from for lyrics? Do they just come to mind, or do you look to things like current events, movies/films, or literature? Were the songs on Shooting Star written specifically for the EP or were they tracks that you've had in the works for a while? Do you have anything cooking for your next release in terms of ideas, riffs, or even completed songs?
Luke: We don't write songs for specific albums; we just have a lot of stuff lying around and see what fits together. I think all the song ideas date back to before the Power Dive album. I remember Klay sending his ideas for "Shooting Star" and "Rise from the Grave" about 1.5 years ago. The only thing that was specifically written after the Power Dive album was released, is the end part of "Rise from the Grave." That's fairly recent, from earlier this year.
We still have enough songs in the archives to do at least one more album, maybe even two. I wrote a lot of stuff when I was studying (2017-2021) that still needs to be materialized. Alvin also has lots of ideas and even Klay wants to continue being part of the writing process, even though he can't perform with us anymore going forward.
How did your deal with Jawbreaker Records come about? Were you shopping your music to different labels or did Jawbreaker approach you? How have they been to work with?
Luke: We sent our demo to some labels, but none of them had any capacities left. Jawbreaker was the only label that contacted us and not the other way around. It was clear quickly that we have the same ideas and visions and it's been a pleasure working with GG Sundin ever since. He's the boss of Jawbreaker and one of the nicest and most sincere guys I've met in the Heavy Metal scene.
Power Dive was released on vinyl and cassette as well as digitally by Jawbreaker, with Personal Records handling the CD release. How important was it to have your album released on all the major physical formats, including vinyl and cassette?
Luke: Well, it was very important to have it on vinyl and tape, of course. The CD deal was more of a surprise and a good offer from a very nice guy, who is handling stuff for Personal Records. It sold surprisingly well. Other than that, I think if you're an underground Heavy Metal band, you ought to release your album on tape and vinyl, haha!
Shooting Star will be in fans' hands (literally since it is also getting a physical release across multiple formats) on October 13, 2023. What is next in the short term for Acid Blade? Touring? Writing for the next release?
Luke: Next are three shows with many great bands like Firmament, Sintage, Venator, Amethyst and Animalize. Then we'll go on tour together with Armory at the end of October. Afterwards we'll take a break and start looking for a new drummer and a new singer.
What have you lined up for 2024? Will fans be able to catch the band on tour or at any of the big European festivals?
Luke: There's nothing lined up. We'll just take a break and might find some new members while doing so. For now, our goal is to reach the next step individually, so we can return with full confidence and as an even better band when we have found some new guys.
Touring for a metal band presents a number of challenges these days. Most musicians have full-time jobs/careers, families, etc. but do you see a day when Acid Blade will tour outside of Europe or is that not something in the band's long-term plans? If money were no object, where would you like to play? Are there specific cities or venues around the world you'd like to visit/play?
Luke: At the moment we don't think about that, because of the aforementioned reasons. But if I could choose anywhere, it would probably be Hawaii. Maiden played there on the World Slavery Tour in 1985. Megadeth finished the Peace Sells World tour there in 1986. I don't think the Hawaiians got the Metal they deserve since then.
What is a dream line up of bands, past or present, that you'd love to have Acid Blade be a part of?
Luke: Monsters of Rock, Donington 1988!
What is next in terms of releasing new music? Will the next Acid Blade release be a full album or a shorter release and when do you hope to have it available to your fans? Will you be working with Jawbreaker for the next release?
Luke: We'll see about that. Honestly, we just can't say at this point.
When not writing, recording, or performing with Acid Blade, what do you guys enjoy doing? As I mentioned before, I assume you all have a career outside of the band but what do you like to do in your free time (assuming you have any!)?
Luke: I spend most of my time with my dog Samson, but Jonny, Sci-Man and I meet up every other weekend to hang out. Jonny is busy with Firmament most of the time, Alvin has another band as well and his music studies are pretty time consuming. Sci-Man does a lot of creative work and is probably the most disciplined out of all of us, so he practices with his instrument a lot. Klay has a daughter and several jobs, so you can guess what he does day in day out!
If you could write the story of the next 2-3 years of Acid Blade, how would it go?
Luke: Bruce Dickinson hears our new EP and sends us an email that he'd like to become our new singer. We then go on tour with Maiden and since Bruce values our opinions, Maiden plays the whole Somewhere in Time album at every show.
I'd like to thank you for taking some time to shed some light on Acid Blade for the readers of The Metal Crypt, we appreciate it! Is there anything else about the band or Shooting Star you'd like the readers to know that we haven't already covered?
Luke: Sure, thanks for having us! Let me think.... I think people take us way too seriously or think that we take ourselves seriously. We don't, and we know that lyrics like "Tonight it's raining Rock!" are dumb. We also know it's weird that our singer whips us on stage. Who cares? Heavy Metal is supposed to make you feel good and we all feel very good with what we have built in the last two years!
Good luck with all your endeavors and please let us know where we can keep up with Acid Blade news on social media. Thanks again!
Luke: Thanks Mike! Follow us at acidblade.bandcamp.com, and follow acidblade.rock on Facebook and Instagram!
|Other information about Acid Blade on this site
|Review: Power Dive
|Review: Power Dive
|Review: Power Dive
|Review: Shooting Star
The Metal Crypt - Crushing Posers Since 1999
Copyright © 1999-2024, Michel Renaud / The Metal Crypt. All Rights Reserved.