“We want to show that metal bands aren’t always related to dirty lyrics or negative thoughts.” - An interview with the Indonesian epic power metal band Lord Symphony
Lord Symphony is an ambitious metal band from Solo, Central Java in Indonesia that mixes epic European power metal with traditional Gamelan music. The band exposes us to epic stories of their home country but also spreads a message of hope in the name of the Lord. The sextet just released its second full length conceptual record The Lord’s Wisdom but they don’t want to stop there. The band is already planning an ambitious rock opera, the re-recording of their first output with their new singer and a follow-up to their first album. I decided to contact the band and they exposed me to the concept behind their music, the surprisingly rich Javanese metal scene and a fascinating lesson in arts and history. I’m still impressed and want to share the interview with metal fans from all around the world that are looking for new and thrilling power metal bands.
TMO: “Hello Lord Symphony and thank you very much for taking your time for this interview with me. First of all, could you please introduce yourselves to our readers?”
LS: “Hello, we are Lord Symphony, epic power metal band from Solo, Central Java, Indonesia. If you’re fans of power metal bands like Helloween, Rhapsody of Fire, Gamma Ray, Blind Guardian, etc, then “try” us.”
TMO: “Apart of being musicians, what do you do in your everyday lives?”
LS: “Most of the band members work as self-employed, our guitarists Fuad & Fa’i who are brothers own a small guitar factory. Bassist Ichsan Anggoro works in a printing company, Arif aka Monk Bhodi (vocalist) and Dani (keyboards) have their own businesses while the youngest member Uji (drums) is still at the college.”
TMO: “You have all been involved or are still involved in other band projects. Could you tell us more about these involvements? How far did they influence your work in Lord Symphony?”
LS: “Only some of us are still involved in other bands. Arif/Monk Bhodi still sings for his previous band Powerbeat who plays covers of well-known classic rock tracks. Uji also plays with Liberty, a power metal band from Solo who plays cover tracks of well-known power metal bands, and his college band.”
TMO: “Recently, your previous singer Tobias Derisian left after almost seven years in your band and Arif Hartoyo joined as new lead vocalist. How did it come to this line-up change and what are the main differences between both vocalists?”
LS: “Tobias Derisian had to leave the band due to his different vision from other band members. He has an important role in the band’s history. After Tobias left the band, we were urgently searching for a replacement. We did two auditions and we finally chose Monk Bhodi. Monk Bhodi has never sung for a power metal band before but we really liked his vocal character which is a heavy high pitched voice. The difference between Monk and Tobias is that Monk has a more “epic” character with a “heavier” harsh voice, while Tobias has a clean voice like Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween). Some critics told us in the past that Tobias’ voice did not fit with our epic power metal style.”
TMO: “You are six band members and I imagine that you all have different personalities. How do you manage to do compromises and work together as a team? How does your song writing approach work for example? Are their different roles and tasks for each member or do you do everything together at the same time?”
LS: “We “work” as a family here. All of our songs were composed by Fuad. The lyrics were written by our vocalists. Our manager Hendro also helped us out to write lyrics for some songs. Then we worked together on the arrangements in the studio. We are open for any “input” from all members. Sometimes we also listened to non power metal tracks to find any inspiration for arrangements, including inspiration from our Javanese traditional Gamelan music which gives us a different style from any well-known power metal band. You can hear the Gamelan music in our “Black Dawn” single and in two songs called “Down To Holyland” and “Devil’s Emotion” from our new album The Lord’s Wisdom.”
TMO: “What is the concept behind your band name Lord Symphony?”
LS: “Symphony for God or God’s symphony. Basically, because we believe in God.”
TMO: “Indonesia is very well known for its big death metal and grindcore scene but power metal bands are rather rare. What inspires you to go a different way and what do you do to stand out and get some attention with your music in your home country?”
LS: “We do agree with you on this. The death metal and grindcore scenes are bigger here, but actually power metal bands aren’t that really rare here. In some cities like Surabaya, the birthplace of the legendary Indonesian band Powermetal, there are lots of bands who play power metal, and there are many gigs there from small shows in cafes to big open air shows. But most of the time, power metal bands rarely get the chance to play at a big metal festival here. Maybe they think that power metal bands draw less audience than death metal bands, but in fact, power metal fans are huge here. Helloween’s first concert in Indonesia was attended by around 25.000 fans in Surabaya and their last show here in Tenggarong was attended by more than 30.000 people.
We play power metal, because we like the POWER, melodies, harmonies, and most power metal bands have positive lyrics. We want to show that metal bands aren’t always related to brutalism, Satanism, dirty lyrics or other negative thoughts to people who hate or don’t understand metal.”
TMO: “Could you name us other interesting bands from your country? What are Indonesia’s biggest metal acts, records and venues? What about promising newcomer bands?”
LS: “From the power metal scene we recommend Powermetal, Umbra Mortis from Jakarta, Valerian from Surabaya, Devarock from Sidoarjo. Concerning other metal genres, we recommend Burgerkill, Deadsquad and Jasad. The biggest metal band? It’s probably Burgerkill. They won last year’s Golden Gods award in the “Metal As Fuck” category. The biggest records? We don’t have any metal labels that really big here, most metal bands produce their albums independently here. Biggest venues? Hammersonic in Jakarta, Kukar Rockin’ Fest in Tenggarong, Bandung Berisik & Hellprint in Bandung and Rock In Solo in Solo.”
TMO: “What are your different musical inspirations?”
LS: “Our traditional Javanese Gamelan music, a music style you won’t find in any of the world’s well-known power metal bands.”
TMO: “Your first album Bharatayudha is about an important battle in Javanese history. Could you tell us a little bit more about this concept and important elements of Javanese history in general?”
LS: “It’s not about an actual battle event but inspired by a “book” written by ancient writers around 1500 AD. Bharatayudha is the final part of the Mahabharata Epic Story written by Empu Sedah & Empu Panuluh. We were inspired by Rhapsody (Of Fire) or Blind Guardian who made albums inspired by the epic battle and war stories by Tolkien’s. So we thought: Why don’t we adapt our own country’s epic stories to our albums?”
TMO: “This album is subtitled as Part I. Are you working on a follow-up or did you decide to abandon the concept and try out something different?”
LS: “Actually, we already have some tracks for part II, but when Tobias left the band, we thought that we won’t do the second part with a different vocalist. Then we decided to postpone Part II. We are planning to re-record part I with our new vocalist Monk Bhodi along with Part II someday in the future and release the BHARATAYUDHA as a double album.
Before starting the double BHARATAYUDHA album we may manage to release one more album after The Lord’s Wisdom. We are dreaming to have a metal opera album like Avantasia or Avalon.”
TMO: “In early 2013, you already announced your second record and released its cover artwork and track list. A few things have changed since then. The song order is different, some names have changed and other tracks don’t seem to be included on the final version. What did you change between your first announcement and the actual release?”
LS: “We had a lot of material from our previous The Lord’s Wisdom demo and we announced these songs first. Later, we have changed some things after discussions among band members and finally we chose to put eleven tracks on the actual release with some new tracks (Prelude & Interlude). The Interlude part was composed by Annisa Wulandari, who mixed our album. The Helloween cover track “Kings Will Be Kings” was actually recorded during the “Black Dawn” single recording session, but then we decided to put it as bonus track on the digital version of The Lord’s Wisdom album.”
TMO: “You have right now released The Lord’s Wisdom. What is the concept behind this album?”
LS: “The Lord’s Wisdom is a conceptual album with religious contents. The album has eleven tracks with one bonus track, a Helloween cover on the digital version. The whole album story is about a man and his way to the “Gate Of Lord”. It’s a warrior who feels as a sinful human after a war, after having killed his enemies with “Devil’s Emotion”. He looks in the “Mirror”, questioning “who am I really, am I evil?” “Earth Beneath The Sky” has some sort of a double sense. On one side, the song tells about a war representing the warrior’s war but lyrically this song is also about our recent war against pollution, a war for a green earth. It’s the “Magic Knight’s Destiny” to save the Earth, to “Save The Universe”. “Moment of Silence” represents the moment when the warrior is doing his prayer to God and then he finally finds his way “Down To Holyland” where he finds the “Eleven Keys” as the “Key To Heaven”, to the “Gate Of Lord”! The cover artwork of The Lord’s Wisdom album was designed by Mayte CG from Spain who also designed cover art for Turkish power metal band Pinnacle Of Heaven and Gillian Glover’s album. Gillian is the daughter of Deep Purple’s Roger Glover. Our artwork also represents the story of the album. You can see the Magic Knight standing between two towers of a Prambanan temple, while heavenly bright light from above, from the Gate of Lord, shines in front of him. Mayte has perfectly implemented the concept prepared by our manager Hendro, into an epic digital matte-painting masterpiece.”
TMO: “I have read about your album on many different international websites. What did you do to increase the promotion for your new record and to spread your band’s name?”
LS: “We do promotion via social networks like Facebook, Myspace, ReverbNation, etc and we are also promoting our album via some radio stations, online and printed magazines and newspapers. And for our The Lord’s Wisdom, we got a full support from our label Semax Records from Germany.”
TMO: “What have been your most valuable concert experiences to date? Did you play with any famous bands? Did you play in foreign countries? Did you participate at any festivals?”
LS: “The most important concert was when we played as semi-finalist at Gudang Garam Rock Competition (GGRC) in Bandung 2005. We had a chance to perform on the same stage as the legendary Powermetal and headliners Jamrud. Then we were selected as one of the opening band for Helloween during their Hellish Rock Tour in Jakarta in the year 2008.
We never played in foreign countries. We were invited to play in Australia’s Stormrider Festival this April with Black Majesty and Silent Knight as headliners, but since we are not a rich band, we can’t afford to buy tickets to fly there.
We also participated in many festivals like Surakarta Hitam, Wonogiri Supersonic Fest, etc.
Once, we also had an opportunity to perform with a real “Gamelan” orchestra when we headlined a full day art and culture event at Sangiran Pre-historic Museum in Sragen, Central Java.”
TMO: “What are your plans for the rest of the year 2014?”
LS: “We have some show scheduled in our hometown Solo and some other cities. Then, we are going to prepare the release of another album for next year before we work on the double BHARATAYUDHA album.”
TMO: “Thank you again for this great interview. I hope I can help you to spread the name about your amazing music. Do you have a final message to our readers from all around the world?”
LS: “Support us! We hope you guys like our music.”
Please visit Lord Symphony’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/lordsymphony« “You have to make people live every second of the pieces you write.” - An interview with the progressive metal one man project Bader Nana“We want to show that metal bands aren’t always related to dirty lyrics or negative thoughts.” - An interview with the Indonesian epic power metal band Lord Symphony »