Freakstorm began as a tribute project and eventually began writing original songs. At what point did you make the change and what made you decide on it?
In 2016 we recorded Halestorm’s “Here’s to Us”. One day we met them and showed them our version and they liked it. Back home I wrote a song about that experience. It was “We Got the Fire” and that was the point we changed to writing our own songs. It was released as a bonus track on our first EP “From Zero” in 2019.
The days we were on the road following Halestorm on tour and talked to them every evening were fun and we were absolutely in a rock n roll mood. In Bochum, Germany Lzzy Hale (vocals, guitar, keyboards) told the audience about our version of “Here’s to Us”. That’s was the highlight. We felt everything was much cooler than we could have planned.
With my head full of input, adrenaline, and experience I came home and wrote lyrics about the trip. I thought about it as a tribute project, but finally, it was our first own rock song. So I learned how it felt to write and record my own songs. That was the beginning. The next song I wrote was “Nothing”. And it was the first one we recorded with our producer Dennis Ward. From that moment we had nothing more in common with Halestorm. We still love them and they are our inspiration forever, but the songs we wrote until then sound different than Halestorm songs and my voice is different from Lzzy’s.
“We Got the Fire” was the song about the days with Halestorm and we showed that song to them by accident. Olli and I were in vacation in Honolulu when we noticed Halestorm playing a gig in the Republic. Of course, we visited the concert and had a lot of fun. The next day we met Arejay in the Hotel.
“Here’s to Us” and “We Got the Fire” are the only two songs we didn’t produce with Dennis Ward. So they were the bonus tracks on our releases.
“We Got the Fire” is on the “From Zero” EP and “Here’s to Us” is on the album “Storm Inside my Heart”.
What is the band’s current lineup? Has this lineup remained steady since Freakstorm formed? Also, what inspired the name Freakstorm?
When we met to record the first cover just for fun we went with some friends in the studio. Tracy is a girl from the Netherlands and we met her in the front row of a Halestorm concert. She played guitar on some gigs and then left the band because of the distance. The bass player Marc stayed until the “From Zero” EP and left the band during the Corona pandemic because of family reasons. So the only constant members are Olli and I. We tried to find a guitar player who fit into the band but after a few guitarists, I think we found now the best way for us. Our producer Dennis Ward is an awesome bass player and he played the bass on all new tracks and on all our following tracks. He brought Oliver Hartmann into the studio sessions, and he is one of the best studio guitarists in Germany. So, we will continue recording that way. Olli and I now have independence in important decisions. But we have a lot of help from people around like the guys in the newer videos. They are great and help a lot.
When we were looking for a name for our tribute project, we remembered Lzzy Hale is calling her fans freaks. So we liked the Name Freakstorm. I still think it sounds rocking style. The tribute project with all the personal meetings with Halestorm brought us some attention in the local press. So when we started with our own songs we didn’t want to change the name.
How did you and Olli first meet and what made you decide to start working together?
I met Olli first while starting a band together in 2003. Three months later we were a couple and since then we did all our music projects together. Olli knows me perfectly and he gave me the motivation to produce my own songs. Since 2017 we have been married. So Freakstorm is really a 24-hour project for us, because we are together all the time.
What bands did Oliver Hartmann work with before joining Freakstorm?
Oliver Hartmann didn't join Freakstorm as a band member. He is an awesome guitar player who joined us in the studio. It worked very well and we are happy he will help us in the next studio session this month again. It's not easy because he is with his own bands Hartmann and Avantasia.
Are you releasing your material independently or are you working with any local labels? How are your releases being received by the rock scene in Germany?
We work with local labels. Major Promo Music is for the digital releases, Afraid Of Sunlight is for the physical releases and they work together with Cargo our Distributor. That works very well. They are both in the same town of Gummersbach and they have lots of experience. They worked both in the 90s for the German EMI and know each other from those days.
How well is heavy rock and classic metal received in Germany these days? Germany is known for bands like Doro, Scorpions and Accept. Is there still an audience today?
We have still have a nice hard rock and metal scene in Germany. Remember we are the country of the Wacken Festival. Doro and Scorpions are the Great legendary acts, and I love them both. But we really have awesome new bands like Beyond the Black or Kissin Dynamite and not to forget the new Helloween Album was Number 1 in the German Album charts. By the way produced by Dennis Ward too. So Germany is not the wrong place to be a hard rock band.
“Here’s to Us” and “We Got the Fire” were also released on an EP with a few other songs. Explain how this was compiled, who worked on it with you in the studio, etc.
Our first EP “From Zero” was the first step into radio stations and record stores. It was a door opener. Now with the album, we see that it is easier. Some people have heard about Freakstorm before. And the magazines didn’t write about us in the demo part. More and more people are buying our CD. More people listen to Tony’s on Spotify, so we are very happy with the new release and I think we are on the right way. But it’s still a long way. We are really happy to go step by step in the right direction.
“Here’s to Us” and “We Got the Fire” were recorded with friends and produced by Robert Schuller. He played a lot of the guitars too. He is a really good friend. We played with him for eight years in the same band before Freakstorm. The releases of these songs, in the beginning, were self-made CDs.
There is another officially unreleased track on the “We Got the Fire” EP. It’s the Halestorm cover of “Familiar Taste of Poison”. “Here’s to Us” and “We Got the Fire” were remastered and remixed for the official releases by Dennis Ward. After that, we started recording with Dennis and everything became more professional. “Familiar Taste of Poison” is not officially released.
You recently recorded a cover of AC/DC’s “Shot Down In Flames” for a single you released this year. What inspired you to cover AC/DC and release it for fans to hear?
The making of “Shot Down In Flames” is a really cool story. I like how we came to that recording and especially to such a good one. We had that song in our live set. It was always fun to play it live. Olli remembered it during preproduction for the album and recorded the drums in case we would get some problems with our own ideas. Or he thought to produce it just for fun. Maybe as a single B-side or something like that. Olli sometimes makes decisions straight from his emotions and he knew I would sing it great. My point of view was different. I thought no way to sing a Bon Scott song for a recording. That’s a different thing than playing it onstage. And I wanted to record my own stuff as much as possible.
At the end of the sessions, Olli came to me again with the AC/DC cover. He knew the drums were still recorded and it wouldn’t take too much time to finish it with musicians like Dennis Ward and Oliver Hartmann. So Dennis pushed me during the vocal recordings and I started to like that version. But when Oliver Hartmann recorded the guitars it was obvious that we made a really strong version.
Afterward, Oliver Hartmann told us that he is one of the biggest AC/DC fans and that he played AC/DC songs since he was a kid. So no wonder he played a really awesome guitar.
So the ACDC cover became the second single release of our forthcoming album. In my opinion, a lot of singers tried to sing like Bon and no one did it really well. Nobody is like Bon. For me, it was different because I am a woman, so it’s obvious I do not try to sound like him. It’s just my own version. And I think it’s really good. BUT no one is better than AC/DC. That’s not what we tried to do.
Tell the readers about the videos you made for your singles. How much promotion did “From Zero” get on the radio and how many copies of the CD have been distributed to record outlets? Is it also available directly from the band?
“Not the One” was the second single and second video, which we shot on the same day like “Can't Keep Me Down”. The dress I wear in the video is mine from our own wedding in Hawaii on the beach. It's a cool rock ballad. I will never forget how we rehearsed it for the first time the evening before recording in the hotel conference room. Even I wrote the song a long time earlier some musicians from the session didn't know it at that time. Both tracks are on the album because they make it definitely better.
We had 300 copies made of the EP. On Amazon, it's sold out, but there are still a few available from us. Sometimes it's a copy on eBay available. It had some radio plays worldwide. It was a real good start.
How many radio stations in Germany have helped support Freakstorm at this stage in their career?
Maybe I don't know all the radio stations in Germany that play Freakstorm but there are a lot. Still not enough that Freakstorm would be known for everyone, but we are working on that. And it's always exciting when a new radio station finds out about us and plays our songs. In the smaller stations they're awesome guys who invest much of their time to support bands. These guys are great.
There was your single “Storm Inside My Heart” which was included on your first full length of the same name. Tell us about how these came to be and how the album was received.
“Storm Inside My Heart” was the first song we recorded for the album another goal was to show the audience to continue where we were with “Can't Keep Me Down”. It was written at the beginning of Corona so it was really ready to produce. We did a cool cover shoot with model Jenny Curci and she had a role in the video clip. That’s something we haven't done before, like my two different outfits in the video.
We have 500 copies of the album. Again another step. We are busy at the moment to fulfill all the questions and orders that come in, but we love it and are glad that it is doing so well for the band.
Having worked with Dennis Ward for so long, how well have you come to work together? Do you plan to work with him on your future releases?
We will continue to work with Dennis. He is definitely the best for us. And we enjoy working with him. It's been three years now we started working after Olli contacted him and asked if he would like to produce Freakstorm. After he had heard the demos he agreed and we find a way where everybody knows the way the other works. And I can tell you we learned a lot about producing by Dennis. We will be in his studio end of this month again. Really looking forward. Which of your songs are you planning to shoot a video for next? Any covers being considered or will there be more original songs? The next video we will shoot is definitely for the song “Wicked”. It's a weird story about a bad and dangerous relationship. We have many ideas for that video and I can say it will be a little more provocative. Really looking forward to it. I like “Wicked” a lot. It's a really good production. At the moment there are no more covers planned. We are concentrating on our own songs. When there is a good idea and it feels good, then maybe there will be a cover again.
Is Freakstorm gaining more listeners outside Germany due to social media and streaming?
Our followers on YouTube and Spotify are getting more and more, especially after the album release. Social media is the only way we can promote ourselves at the moment. So we are glad about all the reviews and interviews that come in. Like yours. Thanx, that helps a lot.
How often did Freakstorm get to perform before the pandemic hit? Any particularly interesting experiences that happened during these shows?
We played some gigs before the pandemic. In Germany. I think it was four or five and then we started producing and spent all our time preparing for the studio. We had a little six-city tour planned for the EP release but we had to cancel because of my pregnancy. I hope we can do that tour later. When our kid is old enough to come without.
How often does the band get to perform live today, what with everything that’s happening with the Covid pandemic?
We are not playing Live at the moment. It's too weird during Covid. Some friends got their concert canceled four hours before the show and that happens all the time. We hope that next summer the situation will be better and some cool festivals can be played.
Does Freakstorm hope to sign to a larger independent label for increased exposure and distribution? Or will you continue building from the grassroots for the time being?
That is really a difficult question. First, we are happy with the team we are working with now. It's a small label, but everyone is working hard and we celebrate every little step together. That's a nice atmosphere. But we know with a major deal it would be much easier to get famous. But I wouldn't want someone to tell me what to record or how to dress in a video. And the money must be good. No money I can although do without a major label. We will see what's coming in the future.