Exclusive Interview: Servant talk writing and recording “Blessed By The Light Of A Thousand Stars”!

There is nothing like being alone in the dark on a cold crisp night in midwinter and looking up at the stars to put everything in its rightful place. We are just a grain of sand in the infinity of space and time and as much as the chaos and anguish of our day to day lives vexes us there is something about that notion that soothes the savage beast. Much like “Blessed By The Light Of A Thousand Stars“, the debut album from German Black Metal quartet Servant has since its late November release and a contender for our top #5 albums of the year to be unveiled between Christmas and New Year, it is only fitting that we spoke to them twice about it. Here’s the second of those two exclusive interviews with them, read on if you dare.

What did you learn during your studio time with other projects that you took into recording “Blessed By The Light Of A Thousand Stars” to help make that process better? “Well, that was definitely an advantage in some things and it can quickly become a curse in others (laughs). Over the years I found a certain way of having a kind of workflow. This is a pretty good thing to get fast to a certain point within the production. But experience has shown that every production also has a great individual touch. That was exactly the case here too. The songs, after the drums were recorded, developed a bit again. The great thing is that you work with all kinds of people and everyone leaves something behind in the process. The big advantage in the production of “Blessed By The Light Of A Thousand Stars” was definitely that everything that was recorded can also be heard in the final mix. I think it’s important not to get lost when recording too many and often pointless signals. This usually happens when the path to the goal is not yet fully defined. I want to be able to get a clear picture of the music that I finally want to listen to. Regardless of whether it is my own or another production. Then you will surely reach the goal most effectively. I think when the technical fundamentals are clear, the most important thing is to follow a vision”

Lyrically the album has a lot of depth to it with a diverse range of subject matters including the search for the meaning of life with the help of various religious and occult teachings; what were your inspirations going into writing the lyrics and how much did they change during the recording process? “The lyrics of ‘Servant’ cover a big range like the Elevation of the Self for example, but we are also highly interested in the teachings of the so-called big religions. There has always been a huge interest in the question of if there is something more than the immanent existence for the individual. And to wrap that up, it is the question all cults, teachings or religions have in common. Therefore there is the question of who you are, the seeking for sense; so philosophy and art in general. Black Metal always had the freedom to discuss different religious themes like Transcendence and also occult themes, philosophies and give them a new shape. This is also how art works. And we show the world our perspective. During the main time of recording, some members of ‘Servant’ faced personal struggles. “Negate The I” is an example for this time: Although the title could be read as very negative, the opposite was intended. It discusses the option to break free from your personal negative thoughts and feelings. Even if this means to change something fundamental within your personal setting of life. This also covers thinking and living in general. The seeking for personal freedom. The lyrics had a huge impact on how the songs sound right now. It is about how you perform the lyrics. You have to ask yourself which story you want to tell and in which direction you want your performance to go”

How does the writing process of a new Servant track start? Melody, riff or rhythm first? “Depends on it. Sometimes it is a melody, a lyrical idea or something else. We try not to limit ourselves and try to flow with the ideas Servant brings us. Therefore it is important to be open-minded all the time. Everyone in Servant tries to leave his ego out of the band and works for the idea. Black Metal has been ever since the sub-genre where you had the most amount of freedom in how you want to shape something, not only when it comes to the lyrical part. We try to work within this genre and show the world our own vision”

What was the involvement of Guano Apes drummer Dennis Poschatta during mastering at the Katzbach Studio in Göttingen? He seems an interesting choice of person to work with so how did that happen? “In fact, I’ve been friends with Dennis for a very long time and I know his skills very well. He always treats music with an artistic claim. Shortly after I sent him the mixes for mastering, we had a phone call. He said that he would probably need some time to get more into the material. After a few days I got the first song from him and was absolutely thrilled. Not only that he add punch and volume to the original mix, but he also added more life and even space to it. So it was clear to us that he had to be the first choice for mastering. His work on the album definitely enriched it a lot. We all are very happy with the result!”

For us gear nerds out there, can you tell us what you’re using gear wise (pedals, strings, drums etc) to get your sound? “Of course I can tell you that. We currently use Fender, Schecter and ESP guitars and basses. Since our monitoring is via an in-ear system, we also play directly into the mixer. Instead of guitar amps, we all mainly use a Line6 Helix with Ownhammer IRs. As far as I know, our drummer Apophis plays a Tama drum kit and Armoni cymbals. But I can’t tell you which Tama Kit it is exactly. I never asked him about it. All of this mainly affects the live situation. In the studio, of course, we use the same instruments, with all effects mainly being added in the mix. We used Audix, Rode, Shure and Sennheiser microphones for the drums. All of us use Ernie Ball strings. The gauge of the guitar strings  is 10-52 and 55-110 for the bass. I have to think about which sticks Apophis is playing. Hmm, I think it’s the Vic Firth 5A with nylon tip that he uses. For the vocals we have a Beyerdynamic TG V70. Personally, I like that microphone a lot. Less feedback problems but still very detailed when used live”

What difference would it make to you as a band if you could land an endorsement from a gear manufacturer? “I think the biggest difference is that we would just have to spend less money for the gear and then invest it elsewhere for the band, hahaha. But the musical direction would certainly not change through an endorsement. Of course, every musician would be happy if he received support by a musical instrument manufacturer. Such an endorsement would only come into question for us if we can stand behind it 100%”

Blessed By The Light Of A Thousand Stars” by Servant is out now via Black Sunset

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