Band: Squealer, german thrash/heavy metal
Line-up: Lars Döring (guitars), Michael Schiel (guitars, backing vocals, keyboards), Sebastian Werner (vocals), Manuel Roth (bass, backing vocals), Peter Schäfer (drums)
Squealer is a german heavy metal band, who´s career started in the early 80´s. The band is recognized all over the world in the heavy metal scene and it is a great example where hard work and patience can lead to. The band has had the honor to gig at the legendary Wacken festival for example. On December 4th Squealer will release their 10th studio release, album Insanity.
I remember listening to Squealer for the first time at the end of the 90’s. Hellrado 2 compilation album was sold all over the stores over Finland. I bumped into their music after a while and was instantly inspired to ask for an interview. So let’s begin, the answers are by the guitarist of the band, Lars Döring.
1. Guten Abend Germany! I have always admired the seemingly german skill to make convincing, timeless and interesting heavy metal. Squealer does seamlessly belong to this great group of german heavy metal bands. How was Squealer formed in the first place and what is the secret of your long career? Is there a meaning behind the name of your band?
Squealer officially started in 1984. The founding members were still students and it was all about their own fun and maybe also to get some girls. But I don’t know for sure. I started in Squealer in 1989. The idea for the band name probably came of the AC / DC album titled “Squealer”. At that time, if you were part of a heavy metal band in our region, you were definitely part of the bunch of screamers. And one translation of the word Squealer is a screamer. It is important that you really like the music you play and enjoy writing your own songs. This is a solid base for not simply throwing everything away, even if difficulties arise. And the longer you do it and the better you are positioned with your band, the less you throw away what you have achieved. It is also very important to be open to one another. Accepting criticism as a challenge to get better instead of being offended and blowing away your band.
2. I was greatly impressed by your song Live Everyday from the album The Prophecy. I noticed that a finnish audio engineer and producer Mikko Karmila has mixed your record. How did you end up working with him?
Mikko is one of the top addresses when it comes to mixing and producing a heavy metal album. At that time in particular, from my point of view, he was one of the most important producers in heavy metal. The people at Finvox are still one of the top addresses. Since we wanted to stand out from the bunch of productions, we turned to him. The recording technology was going through major changes at that time and not everything was always so compatible. I’m afraid Mikko still remembers this mess today. A few years ago we had nice contact with him again.
3. Your band has gone through some line-up changes over the years. How long have you had your current line-up and in which ways have you bonded together?
Our current line-up has essentially been together for many years. I have been doing guitar work with Michael since 1995, Manuel joined us much later and shortly afterwards Sebastian too. After the last album “Behind Closed Doors” there was another change on the drums, but we are happy to have Peter Schäfer with us. He lives in our region and goes well with us and our music.
4. Where around the world have you toured? Do you have any special memories to share with our readers from your gigs?
Most of the time we were traveling between Sweden and Austria and France and Poland. The highlights were of course the tour with Judas Priest and the two shows at 70000 tons of metal. I can’t tell all of the little anecdotes that have come together over the years. I have good memories of the fact that K.K. Downing often stood at the edge of the stage and watched our show from there. He later mentioned us positively in an interview. I think he became a fan of ours.
5. Your greatest influencers?
As we in the band are not musically on one line, there are different influences. Sebastian stands e.g. totally into the old Whitesnake, I still like the typical Bay Area Thrash, otherwise of course we all like the classics like Iron Maiden, Priest and Metallica. And if you want to get better in certain areas, it is also worthwhile to listen to other kinds of music. To give an example, how did Michael Jackson arrange choirs?
6. I noticed that unlike most heavy metal bands, you tell stories of something else than swords and dragons. What kind of stories do you want to tell with your music?
We are always looking for topics that have a social background, e.g. dangerous tendencies in society. Personal characteristics and fates are also good topics. Especially personalities who act immorally or criminally have a charm and we examine these personalities. In the long run, that’s more exciting than dragons. And we don’t want anything to do with guns.
7. Your new album is called “Insanity”. How would you describe the album?
This is again a typical Squealer album, varied with a lot of energy, composed, arranged and recorded with a lot of zeal and attention to detail, meaningful lyrics and many melodies embedded in a top production. For many years we have also enjoyed playing with different tunings in order to bring even more facets to our music. With the proven crew Ito Grabosch for the recordings and Roland Grapow for the mix, we had partners on board whom we could fully rely on. We started with the aim of releasing an even better album less than three years after the last album “Behind Closed Doors” and I claim we made it.
8. What kind of gear do you prefer to use? From what elements does the sound of Squealer consist of?
On the last album we recorded very traditional. For the guitars we mainly used various Marshall valve amps and cabinets as well as a Rodenberg British Legend valve amp, for the bass an Ampeg SVT Classic stack. In the course of time we switched to Kemper Profiling Amplifier, first for the live shows and finally for the recording. This means that all guitars and basses on the upcoming “Insanity” album were played into the workstation with Kemper Profiling Amps via audio interfaces.
We always recorded real drums in the studio. This time Manuel used different Dingwall basses. Michael usually always uses his Gibson Les Paul, I have been using various models from Schecter for many years, including on an Avenger, various Banshee Elite and Jeff Loomis Signature models.
In principle, we first create guitar music. The songs are basically just with guitar and then the vocals come along. We leave enough space in the choruses for catchy vocal melodies. If the song allows it, we like to add appropriate voices, which are then occupied by individual singers or a choir and make the chorus really big. On the “Insanity” album we arranged up to 5 other voices in addition to the lead voice and recorded them with several singers. Really beautiful and powerful choirs came into being.
9. What kind of plans do you have for the future?
In these times it is difficult to plan shows. But we are optimistic and will try everything to create enough encounters with our fans and hopefully new ones in 2021. At the moment we have a lot to do with interviews and we want to use the time to promote our latest work “Insanity”.
Interview: Pekka Montin
Edited: Aili Viitanen