“we had a few people in mind but this particular character is fascinating”

Symphonic Metal force AD INFINITUM are due to return with Chapter II – Legacy in nearly a week’s time. The upcoming album of their saga delves into the life and afterlife of Vlad The Impaler a.k.a Dracula. Rock Out Stand Out’s Lotty Whittingham spoke to lead vocalist Melissa Bonny about Chapter II – Legacy, mental health and which historical figures she would invite for dinner.

You’re due to release your second album Chapter II – Legacy, which is brilliant by the way. You must have worked solidly to get it released for over a year later as opposed to the normal two year turnaround. Did you start work on it right after working on your debut last year?

No actually. We started after recording the acoustic album, that was an acoustic version of Chapter I – Monarchy. Right after we were done with the acoustic album, we started exchanging demos for Chapter II. When we released our first album, all the tours and plans we had for that got cancelled; even though we were booking new tours, we saw it coming that those would also get postponed. 

So, we decided to work on some new material which was for the acoustic album and to continue with the second album because at some point we thought “what if the tours don’t start again until 2022”. We decided to go on and offer new music to the people who enjoyed Chapter I because we didn’t want to just release an album and then everything goes down and everyone forgets about the band as nothing is happening. 

So Chapter II – Legacy is about Vlad The Impaler a.k.a. Dracula, what influenced the decision to make your next album about this historical figure?

There’s so much to say about him, we had a few people in mind but this particular character is fascinating because there is a lot to say about his life for example the heroic side but also the impaler and bad guy side. Also, when you say Dracula, for some it’s the myth and the vampire so we could talk about these three aspects which makes him the perfect inspiration for an album.

Are the songs in chronological order of his life span to afterlife or are they in a random order?

It’s a random order. We decided the order of the album on what we felt was best for the listener to enjoy the whole creation and not chronologically. We wanted to save the album so it’s a pleasure to listen to from beginning to end.

Amaranthe/Dynazty vocalist Nils Molin features on the track Afterlife, was it easier to get him to record vocals given the situation with no tours due to the pandemic? 

I guess we were lucky, not that the pandemic happened but we were lucky as in that bands were a little less busy. It was easier as bands were a little less busy as a lot of them decided to wait until they could tour again to record and release new material. For us, to get him on the album and also to the work around the album was easier. There was a moment where we were thinking if we should wait or should we do it, we didn’t know as we also had a tour planned for the release of Chapter II which also got cancelled. Then we thought if we don’t do anything, we’re not working on the band so we release new music and we tour when we tour. We can start writing Chapter III.

Was it planned from the beginning you were going to have a guest vocalist on the album or was it something decided along the way, maybe last minute?

We knew pretty early on. Before we recorded the acoustic version of Chapter I, we were thinking about releasing a standalone single and inviting Nils. That didn’t happen as we did the acoustic album instead of one single but we kept in mind having him on the track and also we were supposed to tour with Dynazty for the very first tour for Chapter I. Also, they were doing a tour for their latest album so everything was pointing at having him on the album plus he has a wonderful voice and he’s a brilliant vocalist. The stars aligned so to speak.

Which songs on Chapter II – Legacy are you looking forward to playing live the most?

Animals is my favourite one I think, we have actually had a chance to play it live twice because we had two festivals this summer. We were lucky enough to get two concerts and it was amazing. We decided to play another couple of songs from Chapter II which haven’t been released yet and we played Animals, it was a magical moment. I recall when we played Animals; there was a beautiful moment where the last note was played and there was this orchestral outro playing, at that moment the clouds parted and the sun shone on our faces. I remember this moment and I was closing my eyes enjoying the moment.

Are live shows starting up again in Switzerland or is there still restrictions?

I currently live in Denmark but I have seen friends who live in my home town playing some live shows again recently. I’m not sure what the restrictions are like for concerts however in Denmark, everything is back to normal. There’s been huge concerts and festivals. 

What were the Covid restrictions like in Denmark?

I haven’t been to concerts yet, I’m not sure if you have to show the Corona pass or not.

What’s mental health awareness like in Denmark?

There is a lot of help, I mean for everything around health there is a lot of help from the government. There’s a brilliant health system, I actually only moved to Denmark a year so I am not an expert. If I have to compare to Switzerland, I would say all health help is more accessible here in Denmark.

What do you think we could more of so people feel more comfortable talking about their mental health, particularly when things aren’t going well?

I think we are already on the right path, I think more people are opening up. I have seen a lot of celebrities talking about it and talking about their own experiences. In a world where you look up to people and you think they have a perfect life living in these big mansions, have a lot of cars and expensive stuff but when they say that their life isn’t perfect it makes it more normal. It’s not associated to being a failure or not normal so I think the more it’s talked about, the more normal it feels to accept it.

What do you like to do to help you calm down during a stressful time?

I’m actually learning. I realise especially in these past few months or I would even say a year that I have been doing a lot and not really treating myself the way I would treat others. What I am trying to right now is to listen to my body and take a bit of me time; even if it’s taking a moment to have a cup of tea and watch TV or I’m playing video games, it’s important to tell yourself that this is allowed. When you’re feel like you have to do more or you feel some kind of pressure because you want to reach a goal, it’s important to realise that you won’t reach it faster without a health body and healthy mind.

You have done quite a few collaborations over the past year with bands including Feuerschwanz and Warkings, is there a band or artist you would most like to collaborate with?

It’s hard to say as there are a lot of artists I really admire. If I could collaborate with Floor Jansen, one of my vocal heroes, that would be a dream come true. I see her as this top level vocalist plus super kind and warm human being that makes her like the sun of the metal world.

Given your albums are about historical figures, which five historical figures would you invite to dinner?

I would invite Anne Bonny the pirate because I want to ask her if she is my great great great grandmother. I was not prepared for this question. Louis XIV and Vlad The Impaler as I can ask them what they think about Ad Infinitum’s albums. This is such a hard question, can I call you back tomorrow? [laughs] 

Do you have a message for your fans and Rock Out Stand Out readers?

I hope everyone is OK and I hope everyone is in place where it’s going back to normal slowly. I am hoping they haven’t struggled too much during this pandemic and I am looking forward to meeting everyone on the road.

Thank you so much Melissa for speaking with Rock Out Stand Out today and best of luck with the album release.

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