Whether you’re a casual listener or a die hard fan, the name LORD OF THE LOST is hard to miss in the rock and metal community. They are due to release Swan Songs III very soon, it’s their highly anticipated sequel to Swan Songs II. Rock Out Stand Out’s Lotty Whittingham speaks to their guitarist Pi about Swan Songs III, how he has been coping with lockdown and who would be who in a LORD OF THE LOST classroom.
Hello Pi, thank you for joining us today. You will be releasing Swan Songs III very soon. I am fairly new to Lord Of The Lost, am I right in thinking you used the same classic ensemble from Swan Songs II?
Yes, it is the same ensemble. We have used them since the first Swan Songs album.
When it came to recording the songs, how did you guys decide which instruments were going to appear in which songs? So, for example, where to have violins play etc.
Well, violins and anything orchestral in that matter was mandatory for Swan Songs III. The arranging part; for example, putting Loreley into a classical arrangement, you might have noticed on stage we have two piano players. So Gared [Dirge], our usual piano player, second guitarist and percussionist. We also have a guy named Corvin [Bahn], actually his main job is arranging orchestral stuff. He is the one that arranges all of our Swan Songs albums and orchestrates them. It’s him alone really, he is like the sixth band member if you will.
I was going to ask about the second CD that will be a part of Swan Songs III, classical versions of previous Lord Of The Lost songs. How did you guys choose which songs you were going to do in the Swan Songs style?
Some songs are easy to choose. If you listen to them, they already lend themselves as classical versions of the songs. For example, Cut Me Out is already full of orchestral stuff in the normal version. The original plan for Swan Songs III was to make it a lot more up tempo and party like. However, they didn’t seem to come across that well. We had to look for songs that will come across as almost a new song in a classical arrangement. Actually, we chose them together with Corvin as well because he hears the orchestrated version in his head.
One thing that interested me about Swan Songs III is the lyrics. Especially with the song Splintered Mind. I associated that with living with mental illness as the lyrics seemed to describe this to me. Was this intentional?
Well, I know that Chris [Harms] wrote the lyrics to that song and I know that it’s somehow autobiographical to some extent. Then again song writing for us is always part history, part fiction or part truth. I mean if you listen to the lyrics, you can really interpret this song as a song about mental illness, anxiety or anything of that matter. When I listen to that song, I hear a broken relationship of that matter but also dealing with a person who has anxiety or depression.
Actually, that interlinks. I know from personal experience that one of the things someone with a mental illness is afraid of is pushing away someone they are with. When you spoke about a broken relationship, I made that connection.
Yes. I had that experience of not being mentally stable or having issues with my mental health. Bear in mind, these moments weren’t extreme. I know there are others who suffer a lot worse than I did. If you have these moments, you feel afraid that your partner might not be able to deal with that. So, I can relate to these lyrics too.
I ask this question to a lot of bands. When it comes to recording albums, do lyrics go first and then music or is it vice versa?
For the most part, lyrics always go on top. When we write new songs, we write some sort of singing melody but’s it starts off in gibberish and then you have an idea on where to put the syllables. It’s not a real language at first. You get a line with those certain syllables which you replace with eight words about a certain topic or story in your head, which makes it easier. It’s almost like children speaking their fantasy language. That’s how we do it.
Then again, for some songs we already have phrases written down where you only have to cut out some words. Or we have words that sound cool that we use if they fit the song we are writing. So first it’s gibberish and then we add the words.
Do you have a favourite song on Swan Songs III?
It changes but quite recently it has been Hurt Again. The development of that song is so remarkable for me because I only heard it as the first demo that I heard in the gym. It was just a voice and an acoustic guitar. The next thing I heard was the full orchestral arrangement without acoustic guitar, which was my part to be re-arranged to an orchestral arrangement. With that orchestral arrangement I was like “woah, where did that come from”. That song is so powerful with those lyrics as well. That for now is my favourite song from Swan Songs III.
When listening to the track without an acoustic guitar, do you already have in mind what you will play or is it a case of jamming along and seeing how it works?
Well, it varies. There are songs where there are gaps, so it’s logical to have some acoustic guitar parts there. For example, in the chorus where all of the instruments play so it seems logical to me to add my acoustic guitar parts in there too. Then again, it’s important to know when not to play. That is harder than deciding where to play and what to play. It’s hard to decide where instruments need to stand on their own or if you add to the lead melody for example. For example, in Agape, the whole song is acoustic guitar doubled with a cello. They both play the exact same melody.
In Letters To Home, which is eighteen minutes long, there’s quite a lot of parts that are kind of the same but then again are slightly different in places. You do not ruin it by playing acoustic guitar everywhere. It’s important to know when not to play.
Once we get out of lockdown, you have a tour coming up next year. Will you have the ensemble on stage with you or will the sounds be on a sound track?
We will have the ensemble on stage with us as always. Before we go on tour next year, you have the release show on 8th August. That will also be the same, the stage is big enough to fit everyone on without cuddling [laughs]. That release show is being live streamed worldwide so that will be the first time we will be on stage again this year. You can find the ticket link on our page; the prices are start from 15 euros. You can choose your ticket as we understand not everyone can pay 40 euros or something. You can enter the live stream for 24 hours. So, you can see us on stage this year.
Where is this taking place?
It will be taking place in Hamburg at the Industrial Hall. There is a stage there particularly great for live streams. We will have the production team there as well.
Speaking of lockdown, how have you been dealing with it? Being at home most of the time and not being able to go places.
Well, meh. It’s been weird to say the least. The first weeks, that’s when you realise everything you do is being taken away for a certain amount of time. You have to start to figure out ways to keep yourself entertained or to do what you do but in a different way. For example, we have done lockdown versions of our songs that we upload as videos with the split screen on YouTube.
We did a weekly podcast too. We all work different jobs in music so I work at a recording studio or as a recording engineer in different studios, so they were locked as well at first. Then again, at some point the production company started again so I am able to work at the recording studio now and do projects there. That’s really good.
For me personally, it sucks that we can’t play live but we have more time to write for our seventh album now. I am not alone either, I live with my girlfriend so it’s OK.
Do you have a message for those who are finding lockdown difficult?
I think I do. I am not the one to give advice normally. I think if you can manage or try to manage in some way to focus on what you do have right now instead of focusing on what you don’t have, it makes things easier. It’s not easy to start that, it can take a few days.
For those few days when you’re trying to focus on what you have, turn off news pages that only send out negative stuff because there’s a lot more negativity in this world other than corona right now. Important stuff but negative stuff.
So, I would say for your own sake, isolate yourself from negative stuff to focusing on what you have. Then go back to what the world is dealing with right now. That would be my message.
That’s a really good message, I really like that one. We have some questions from fans for you. The first one wanted to know if there were plans to come back to the UK once lockdown finished.
After corona and stuff is over, we will come back. That is for sure.
As you said before you’re working on your seventh album. Another fan wanted to know if you find it hard not to tease major spoilers for the album.
It’s not that hard, I am very excited for it. I would love to show people demos to see their reactions but I can’t.
I have heard you are like a bunch of classmates on a school trip when you go on tour. Someone wanted to know, if there was a Lord Of The Lost class who would be the jock, the nerd, the class clown etc.
That’s hard. I think either Gared or Chris would be the class clown, Gared for sure. Class [Grenayde] would be the nerd, sorry Class. Niklas [Kahl] would be a different kind of nerd, he would only be good in computer class. Chris and I would be the ones on our phones trying not to get caught by the teacher.
What can fans expect from Swan Songs III?
I keep forgetting it’s not out yet, for me it’s already out. You can expect a very good sequel to Swan Songs II, which is even more epic.
Thank you Pi for taking time to talk to Rock Out Stand Out today and best of luck with the album release.