Reichl, Joachim (Silent Lucidity) (August 2002)

Behind The Walls Of Silence

This interview originally appeared at in November 2001

Silent Lucidity (© Silent Lucidity)So one day you're walking through the corridors of your favorite progressive rock store (of course, if you're lucky enough for one to exist where you live), or just looking through the really really tiny progressive rock or heavy metal bin, and you notice a name that sounds familiar: Silent Lucidity. Except the Silent Lucidity you once knew was a song, not a band! Well, not this time around, because this German progressive metal act certainly exists and has an album out, with a new one hopefully coming anytime soon. Not only that, but all those expecting a Queensrÿche clone can start looking somewhere else, because Silent Lucidity has its very own sound and approach, with some influences in the mix that rarely show up in other bands of the progressive metal vein. So, leaving all Queensrÿche nostalgia aside and getting to the point of the matter, yours truly decided to interview Silent Lucidity's guitarist and vocalist Joachim Reichl, who in turn was kind enough to provide us with some really interesting answers!

Marcelo Silveyra: The concept of Silent Lucidity started as far back as 1990, when you and Jens-Christoph Maurer decided to do something that merged the structures and concepts of seventies art rock with the aggressiveness of metal for the nineties. Yet it took until 1995 for you to release your Brightness Falls demo. Why such a long time? Was the combination of art rock and aggression purely a result of your ideals, or did you also feel as if there was nobody else doing it at the time?

Joachim Reichl: Well, when we two had the idea to start this project in 1990 the main problem was to find someone who shared our ideas and ideals of music. Therefore you must know that we both live in little villages with less than ten thousand inhabitants. Metal was still something people liked in 1990, but progressive music was mostly unknown in our generation. So it took us two years to find Andreas Jäger and Volker Zeeb as people who did not only like the idea of playing progressive metal, but also fitted to us personally. Concerning your question about the feeling of being alone with that kind of music, I have to admit that we searched for the additional musicians using a tape with some Dream Theater, Sieges Even, Queensrÿche, Fates Warning, and Yes songs on it. This helped us to show others what kind of music we wanted to create. The remaining time we spent preparing the songs you can find on the Brightness Falls demo tape and the Positive As Sound album, which contained only one song that was newer than the Brightness Falls stuff.

Silent Lucidity - Postive As SoundMS: That debut album, Positive As Sound, came out only a year ago [2000], after your demo, through the Music Is Intelligence record label. Immediately afterwards, you received a very positive response in the press, which wrote that you had come up with your very own sound. How did you search for someone to release Positive As Sound and how easy was it to get someone interested? How did it feel to get such a good response to the album and how did it help the band's publicity?

JR: It was quite easy for us to find someone to produce and release our music. During our search for additional musicians we got some contact to the writer of an underground magazine (Udo Glöckner) who helped us to sign at WMMS. The overwhelming response for our album surely made us proud, but it also made us think what these people saw in our music. They drew parallels that we simply couldn't see. Also we found it quite amusing when they wrote about my voice. All in all we were not as satisfied with the sound of the CD as we had hoped to be. So we also were more or less surprised by the critiques. Unfortunately these critiques didn't help us to increase our publicity.

MS: Something that immediately jumped at me when listening to Positive As Sound is that there seemed to be some influences that very rarely show up in other progressive metal bands' releases. I could pick up a hint of Celtic Frost on "A Different View," for instance, and the distorted wah-wah solo on "Restraints" was reminiscent of Metallica's Kirk Hammet. Am I actually citing real influences, or am I just making this up in my own head? How does Silent Lucidity incorporate its influences into its sound?

JR: Here your comments made me laugh. You are the first to hear some influences of Celtic Frost in our music, and ... you are quite right. When I wrote "A Different View" I liked the sound and the riffs of the Into The Pandemonium album very much. This is still one of my all-time faves!!! [I happen to like that album a lot as well - MS]. And Kirk Hammet - well, the first thing that struck me when Volker came up with the solo was indeed, "hey that sounds like Kirk Hammet." I guess, since we all like Metallica (especially Master Of Puppets and the "Black" album), we can call this a real influence. But how do we incorporate these influences in our sound? Let's take an example: After Volker and I had finished "Restraints" we had to recognize that the heavily distorted riff in it sounded just like Megadeth - again a band we liked very much [Joachim's referring to Megadeth's "Symphony Of Destruction" - MS]. That's how it happens - maybe there's all this music we listen to in our minds and when we start to write a new song ... oops, there's this riff or that tune or that vocal phrase from another song. In our new stuff you can hear some tunes from Tori Amos, for example. When I wrote "In Vain" I had some problems finding the right refrain and since the tapped lead guitar sounded like "Precious," maybe the refrain followed that idea.

In the end we do not try to avoid showing our influences. We just play the music we like - if it sounds just like Metallica or Pink Floyd, no problem. Still - the combination of it all is Silent Lucidity. Let's take "A Different View" again. You were talking about Celtic Frost - yes indeed - and there's also Pink Floyd in it! Take a look at the solos...

MS: Yet another thing about the Silent Lucidity approach is that it sounds very German. Both German progressive rock and heavy metal have always had a very strong identity, something that I personally always saw with German thrash metal in particular. Is this a natural result of growing up in Germany and listening to German progressive or metal bands or do you think that it has something to do with the country's customs and traditions?

JR: Hmmm ... I don't know what to answer to that question. I can't see your point here. In my opinion there are some groups like Helloween, Gamma Ray, maybe the Scorpions or Tankard, that sound German, but I can't find this German sound in Sieges Even, for example. I think their first record sounded just like Watchtower [It did -MS]. Celtic Frost, a Swiss band, did not sound German. Maybe you can tell me what you see as the special German sound. If it is there, maybe it results from listening to German bands, which of course we Germans do more than people from other countries (except Japan, maybe). I think there is no German custom or tradition that causes that sound.

MS: One last thing about Positive Aas Sound...the phrase "Stay Sophisticated!" This sophistication, both musical and lyrical, how important is it for the members of Silent Lucidity and their music? Would it be possible for you to write music that was simpler, for instance?

JM: Oh yes, our new album,The Closing Of A Day, will be a bit straighter than Positive As Sound. Still, the lyrics are sophisticated in their special way. The point is, today we think that songs like "Different View" or "King of Paris" might have their own fans, but for us today they are not coherent enough. We wanted to write new songs that are completely rounded works and no more patchwork. I hope we won't lose fans for that matter. By the way, I think Fates Warning's new stuff, for example, is much better than the old songs. They are what I just called completely rounded works. One idea spun to its end.

MS: After going through the history of the band, I noticed that, partly due to your successful three concerts in Stuttgart with Austrian band Mayfair, you decided to release your next album independently. Why no record labels this time around? And what was so special about the gigs in Stuttgart?

JM: There was nothing very special about the concerts in Stuttgart. Stuttgart's Longhorn is one of the larger clubs where bands like Spock's Beard or Dream Theater played when they were in Germany. The reason why we decided to release our next album independently is that we talked to Mayfair who made very good experiences in releasing their records independently. The other reason why we decided to do it that way is that our experiences with WMMS were not so positive. The promotion went near to nothing (except some CDs they sent to some magazines and one or two advertisements), and finally we had to buy most of the CDs that had been left over before WMMS ceased to exist. So why not try to do it on our own? Most of the CDs we sold via the Internet anyway.

MS: Your next album, The Closing Of A Day, should have been ready by the end of last year. Why the delay? And how could the fact that six years have passed since the release of your debut album affect the relationship between the band and its fans? Couldn't it have been a bit too long? [As of August 2002, it doesn't appear as if the album has been released yet -ed.]

JB: Poooh, why that delay? Why did it take so long to get an answer from my side? First of all, the band members had to do exams during that period. And of course, not at the same time, but one after the other. This is one reason why we lost so much time in producing the album. The other reason is that we had a lot of problems recording the drums in our home studio. We haven't been quite satisfied with the drum tracks on Positive As Sound; that's why we tried a lot of new things. Of course this delay is a real problem for our fans - if they really exist. Maybe there are some who really wait for our new material but I guess we have to win new ones with our new material. I really hope that there still is a chance for our music, because we really like the new songs. In my opinion they are much better than all the old stuff - but let's see what the people say when they hear the new material. They are the ones to decide if it has been worth waiting for it.

MS: As each year passes by, the number of progressive metal bands increases and it becomes harder and harder for bands to reach some level of success. How important is commercial success for Silent Lucidity? What does it take these days to rise above the rest and reach bigger audiences?

JM: Well, commercial success has never been one of our major goals. When we started we never even did think of releasing a CD that would reach so many people. All of us have studied, or still do, and thus have jobs besides our music. So the music is still our hobby. We play what we like and are very happy when there are people who like our music the way we do. To rise above the rest I guess it would need much more than playing a handful of gigs a year and producing two CDs in six years. I guess without the chance to do this full time and some people standing behind the music who are convinced of the potential a band has, and who have money and some influence, of course, there is no chance for groups in this sector to rise and reach a bigger audience.

MS: Alright, now let's finish with what is perhaps the most obvious question for anyone who hears of the band. What is the relationship between Queensrÿche and Silent Lucidity?

JB: To tell you the truth: there is nearly no relationship between Queensrÿche and Silent Lucidity, except the name of the band and that the members of Silent Lucidity liked the songs of Queensrÿche very much. When we started this project, Empire wasn't even released, but I had read a lot about lucid dreaming; Freud, Jung, and all that stuff. When I read about that song dealing with these topics, I told Jens-Christoph that it might be a nice name for our band. Who could anticipate that "Silent Lucidity" would be Queensrÿche's biggest hit without even having the chance to hear it before? That's really all I can tell you about our relationship to Queensrÿche. By the way, I can't understand all the comments of Silent Lucidity sounding like Queensrÿche [neither can I -MS]. Are there really any parallels? I mean - listen to the vocals, the guitars or even the structure of our songs. Is there more Queensrÿche in them than Metallica? But I guess that is always the problem of a band who names itself after the song title of another band, and so we have to live with these comments, whether we like them or not!?

There is also a Chicago-based Queenrÿche tribute band called Silent Lucidity. {2011: the German outfit seems to have split up and the follow up CD, The Closing Of A Day seems to never to have been released} -ed.

Brightness Falls (demo) (1995)
Positive As Sound (1996)

Added: August 24th 2002
Interviewer: Marcelo Silveyra

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