KISSIN’ DYNAMITE are back with their brand new release Not The End Of The Road which has highly praised by fans and critics a like. Rock Out Stand Out’s Lotty Whittingham spoke to vocalist Hannes Braun about the album, the song writing and mental health. Here’s what happened.
Hello Hannes, thank you for joining us today. Not The End Of The Road is the first album with Napalm Records as opposed to Metal Blade Records, how was the transition between the two labels?
What people from outside Germany don’t know is that we weren’t just with Metal Blade for the album Ecstasy but with also with Sony Music for the German speaking countries. This was way more important for us as we wanted to go back to a label that understands us and has the power to push us in a way that we see the band. We probably would have stayed with Sony Music if they didn’t move from one city to another; it doesn’t sound like a big problem but the team we had wasn’t going with the company so they were partly kicked out so to speak.
We didn’t want to go with label that doesn’t understand Kissin’ Dynamite so it was clear to leave Sony Music plus Metal Blade and to re-direct for something new. We didn’t put pressure on ourselves, it wasn’t the case of searching for a new label right away but we started writing and producing this album. Somewhere in the middle of the creative process, we found we had a strong album coming along so now we can approach some labels. Napalm Records made an offer, talked to us and we had the best feeling with them out of other offers we received. I guess it’s not so much thinking, it was more of an inner feeling on what the next step should be. As I said, we had a good feeling with Napalm.
With Not The End Of The Road, I noticed there is a difference in the song writing from your previous albums. They are very thought provoking, one that comes to mind is Only The Dead.
I would say as humans it’s quite obvious we grow up. The older we get, the wiser we get hopefully [laughs]. That’s also true as an artist, why should you stay the same as you were fifteen years ago? You’re not the same person you were fifteen years ago but I guess that is natural for everyone on this planet. We were teenage kids during the first release Steel Of Swabia; we just wanted to have fun, you don’t know about the big topics and you don’t know about the difficulties in life. All you know is what parties you want to go to, get drunk and have a good time. Unfortunately life isn’t as simple as that and we all had to face that with the pandemic which brought major problems.
For this album, I felt it was wrong to write a party and everything is so cool album. I felt it should be about the true feelings that we have during this creative period. So it’s quite obvious there are songs such as Only The Dead, Scars and Voodoo Spell that bring a darker side to Kissin’ Dynamite.
I was going to ask about the song Voodoo Spell. The beginning of that track reminds me of Bon Jovi songs It’s My Life and Livin’ On A Prayer due to the talk box effects on the voice. Was there some Desmond Child and Bon Jovi influences in there?
Absolutely, I mean Desmond Child as a writer and Bon Jovi as writers and arists are one of my huge favourites. I love those catchy anthems, not so much the stuff they do nowadays but those eighties anthems like Livin’ On A Prayer, Runaway, actually the whole Slippery When Wet album is fantastic and one of my favourites of all time. Desmond Child contributed a lot to that. Did you know Desmond Child has contributed to a song on one of our previous albums?
No I didn’t, tell me more about that.
It’s the song Deadly on our album Megalomania and Desmond Child wrote a lot of that.
In your press release, it states a lot of your songs were written during and inspired the pandemic.
Absolutely, I mean how it couldn’t it. It was a major thing for artists worldwide; closing your eyes and not facing the truth is not the solution. I would keep it that. You have two options, not just artists but everyone on this planet. You either say how everything is going down and we’re close to the the apocalypse, we’re all going to die. That’s putting it drastically. Or you can go with option two, which is what we did and that is to accept this is challenging but we make the best out of it. We believe in better days and we say this in songs like the title track because we mean it. We have always been a band that doesn’t stick their heads in the sand but really empower ourselves and other people with strong songs to say don’t loose faith. To mention Bon Jovi again, Keep The Faith.
When I caught Covid, Good Life was released in the same week I was ill and that song cheered me up instantly.
I am so glad to hear that, that’s biggest compliment for artists because sometimes journalists ask me if I am satisfied with the numbers and success. I don’t pay too much attention to that. As an artist, I pay more attention to what’s going on in the listener’s life when they are listening to our music or does it leave them without emotion. We got so many messages when we brought out Not The End Of The Road, I wrote that song as self therapy so to speak. It didn’t just work for myself, it worked for so many others. So many people wrote to us about things such as having depression, loosing a partner, having a tough time or going through a disease. On one hand it was terrible to read about their struggles but all of them said the song Not The End Of The Road gave them strength, hope and belief. That really touched me, as I have said before I wrote that for myself to feel better.
It’s no secret that the pandemic has effected a lot of people’s mental health, I bet for you as a band it was therapeutic and cathartic to write the songs about what was going on.
Yes because we’re artists and that’s what we do, it’s what helps. Other people go for a run to loose the frustration, others go to the gym. There are hundreds of ways to help you feel better and treat yourself, the one that we choose is writing songs because that’s what we do.
I spoke to another musician and he mentioned it was one thing to write these sorts of songs but to play them for others to lay himself bare he found quite tricky. Did you have similar feelings when putting together Not The End Of The Road or did it come quite naturally?
If you listen to Not The End Of The Road in it’s entirety, you will notice there are different emotions within the songs. That comes with a natural effect because for example, I wrote Scars in a time where I really felt sh*t. I don’t want to hide it because it belongs to my history and it belongs to me. It will also show people that they are not alone, everyone deals with trouble and if they say they don’t, they aren’t honest in my opinion. So Scars shows a personal crisis that I had and Not The End Of The Road has this crisis in it too but gives hope and positive vibes despite those bad times.
Then you have titles such as Coming Home or Good Life has major nostalgic feelings. All of those different emotions are in the songs, I felt them in this time period of one and a half to two years whilst writing this album. Every song is one hundred percent true because I felt it. As a professional songwriter, I also write for different artists. I truly believe that a good song contains real emotion and not just trying to fake it.
There’s the songs Gone For Good and Defeat It, do those go hand in hand?
I wouldn’t say they go hand in hand, let’s start with Defeat It. It’s an overexaggerated view of a narcissist. I don’t see myself as a narcissist by the way but I wanted to point out how a narcissist may feel. Those that think they are so cool, great, awesome and can do everything. They don’t know how stupidly they present themselves. Defeat It is the side of such a narcissist who says get out of my way or I’m going to defeat you.
Gone For Good is a nostalgic ballad. We have all lost people in our lives, I have lost people who were valuable to my life and we all know the pain that goes with it. I didn’t want to just write a song that shows the pain and the dark days of a loss. If you think about someone you lost, it gives you heart-warming feelings when remembering this person and I wanted to showcase that feeling too. On one hand, you have the pain and on the other hand, that smile on your face when thinking about them.
With Gone For Good, I suppose it can apply to both loosing a loved one to death or a break up.
Exactly, that’s open because I think it can be the same feelings.
Which songs from Not The End Of The World are you looking forward to playing live the most?
It might sound arrogant but I would love to play them all of them as they all deserve to see the light of the world on the stages. Of course, this is wishful thinking as people also want to hear our classics so far and I am fine with that as I love to play those. So it’s going to be a mixture of new stuff and older stuff but I definitely enjoy playing Not The End Of The Road. We did that last summer for a few shows and festivals. I was talking about reactions to that song earlier, the live reactions were also mind-blowing because I couldn’t hear myself over the people chanting. I can’t describe that feeling in words, it felt awesome. So I enjoy playing this track a lot. I am also looking forward to playing Yoko Ono and Coming Home. To pick some songs as your favourites would be mean because they all belong to me as if they were my children.
One of the things we like to do at Rock Out Stand Out is spread awareness around mental health, what’s mental health awareness like in Germany as in opening up about struggling with your wellbeing and illnesses such as depression and anxiety?
You’re speaking of a huge topic that I have dealt with too. We’re not Bon Jovi but we are having some kind of success and playing shows in front of a few thousand people in Germany and a few hundred outside of Germany. No matter what it is, I feel pressure all the time because I want to make it the best I possibly can and I want to make sure everyone is going out there with a smile. This is the first problem; you can’t satisfy them all, that’s something everyone has to learn and that I had to learn too. Also that you can’t be perfect because perfect is just an illusion, there are no perfect things in life.
This is something that should become aware of, the only chance you have is give your very best in the situation that you have. For example, me singing on tour; some days are better and some days are worse because I get sick. It’s hard for yourself to deal with the fact that it’s not going to be as good as usual but it’s natural and I think we all have to accept that.
Talking about mental health, I would say the main topic is forgive yourself for not being the illusion that you have.
As family members, friends and partners, what can we do more of do people feel comfortable talking about their mental wellbeing?
Accept them and their struggles that they have because we all know such conversations where someone says what they’re going through and the other says how it isn’t that bad and they should think a certain way. At first, you should them express the feelings that they are feeling in this situation because it’s serious to this person. Also family members and friends should take care of one another. Once they speak about then maybe try to help with advice if they are OK with you doing that. Actually you should ask if it’s OK to help and give advice.
What do you like to do to help relax and clear your head when you’re overwhelmed?
If I feel really stressed, then I would rather go into a silent room and isolate myself a little to process what I am dealing with then go to a party with a load of friends because at first I want to feel comfortable within myself. I also want to get to point where I have processed what is bothering me and then I feel ready to give it a twist in the other direction without interference.
As your mission is to bring back stadium rock, what three bands would like to see on a stadium tour? No expenses spared, you can bring people back from the dead.
I would say Guns N’ Roses, Bon Jovi and AC/DC; that would break every expense I guess. If I could turn back time and see those bands in the eighties, that would be my go to concert.
Do you have a message for Kissin’ Dynamite fans and Rock Out Stand Out readers?
Dear fans out there, it’s really important for bands and artists these days to sell records. I know a lot of people use streaming services and that’s fine but we cannot play shows and lead the normal life as a band as we’re used to so I am telling you buying records in these shitty days keeps bands alive.
If you like our new music, go to the next shop or internet and order your physical copy of Not The End Of The Road. That helps us a lot, it helps us to survive. I thank you for your support.
Thank you so Hannes for talking with Rock Out Stand Out today and good luck with the album release.