INTERVIEW WITH POVERTY'S NO CRIME
Germany’s best kept progressive secret: Poverty’s No Crime
Germany is still a real hard rock/metal country; progressive bands are either active in the underground scene, or they are almost unknown. Fortunately there are exceptions, like Everon, Vandenplas and of course Poverty’s No Crime., maybe the “ultimate” German progressive rock band for the future ... Last year they released their fifth album “The Chemical Chaos”, and it is a beauty, so it was about time to speak to one of the guys. And so I had a talk with Heiko Spaarmann, the bass player of the band, about their new album and other related musical stuff. But first of all a bit of history ...
Poverty’s No Crime was founded in 1991, they signed with Noise Records and their debut album “Symbiosis” was recorded in the T&T studio and released in 1995. A year later their follow-up cd “Autumn Years” was put on the market and received great reviews, not only in Germany, but also in Japan. Despite this success and an excellent European tour Noise Records ended their contract. Fortunately Poverty’s No Crime found a new progressive home at Inside Out and their first album “Slave To The Mind” with them, again received smashing reviews. In 1997 PNC faced their first line-up change; Marcello Maniscalco (keyboards) and Christian Scheele (bass guitar) were replaced by Jorg Springub and Heiko Spaarmann. In 2001 their fourth album “One In A Million” was released and after which PNC took time-out, circa two and half years to come up with their best album so far: “The Chemical Chaos”.
MARTIEN : As I understand it the new album is a concept album; why did you choose to do that?
HEIKO : Well, it is not a concept album in every way, you can listen to each song individually as well; it rather is a lyrical concept album. All the songs are about the same theme and there is a cover motive that is linked to that theme. It really is about destiny and with the fact that each detail, influences the course of things. We all have to make decisions and these decisions influence our destiny and the destiny of all other people as well; the chemicals in our brains force us to make decisions and most of the time there are so many processes going on that there is a chemical chaos in our mind. “Every Kind Of Life” deals with the fact that there is a big plan behind all this that we are doing, or ”Pact With The Past” is about the desperation you feel when you loose the control over one’s freedom of action… Maybe the main question behind this theme is: are we able to decide for ourselves, or is it just a chemical process?? We all talked about this for a very long time, we had long discussions, but in the end we decided that this would be a good angle to “talk” about in these lyrics.
MARTIEN : Was it not very difficult to work with this rather complicated theme?
HEIKO : Yes, but in the end I think it worked out fine. Volker (guitar, vocals, MK) came up with the idea; he actually thought about this in his car. The music was there first, by the way, and then we came up with the lyrics and the themes.
MARTIEN : Did you not have problems with the English language?
HEIKO : No, not really. Volker reads a lot of English stuff and he always writes the lyrics in English directly. So, we do not first write everything in German and then translate it into English….
MARTIEN : I hear certain religious aspects in the lyrics, am I right?
HEIKO : (after a long silence) No, you are wrong. I do not think that there are religious lyrics on this album; no really, the more I think about it, no, not at all. The lyrics deal with certain aspects of our daily life, with destiny and with philosophy, but not with religion.
MARTIEN : Are you religious yourself, do you believe in an after life?
HEIKO : Good question again! (long silence again…) I really would not know, sorry….
MARTIEN : What are the musical differences between this album and the previous one?
HEIKO : Of course we have two “new” band members (Jorg and me) and this album really is a band album. We all made contributions for this one and there are definitely new influences, but it still is Poverty’s No Crime. I think that we got a little bit away from the progressive side, it is not that complicated any more, every aspect fits in better with the music now and the melodies on this album are awesome. The guitar sound is very melodic throughout the entire cd; there are no guitar effects; if you know what I mean.
MARTIEN : Could you give a short comment on all the albums, may be for readers who do not know your other albums.
HEIKO : The debut album “Symbiosis” had some nice interesting song structures, but you know how it is with first albums of a band; but we are not ashamed about that one. “Autumn Years” could best be described as our first real PNC album, it had great moods, excellent songs, and I really love the progressive elements and the rather beautiful melodies on that particular album. “Slave To The Mind”, our first release with Inside Out showed a new interesting side of our music; great catchy hooks and lots of melodic choruses. I would consider this to be our most “commercial” album and it got smashing reviews in Germany. About “One In A Million” I am not quite sure, I think the sound of that album is not as good as it could have been. I think there was something going on in the band, and it turned out that two members left and well you know the rest is history, ha ha ha….. Then came “The Chemical Chaos”, our best one so far, it marks a new beginning of Poverty’s No Crime, two new members, fresh blood, new energy and more fun, what else do you need/want, to be successful? It really is a great album (even my parents like it) with teamwork all along and I hope that we can continue at this musical level for many years to come.
MARTIEN : This album will be your first one to be released in the USA, what are the band’s expectations?
HEIKO : We do not have high expectations really; we are not quite sure what to expect. Is there really a potential market for our music in the States? Progressive music does not do very well in America, the only band that is doing well over there is Dream Theater. Maybe that is why in all reviews in America we are being compared to DT; it is the only progressive band they seem to know across the big ocean. If we are lucky it will take a few years to receive some credit in the USA, and maybe it will never happen….. I still think that we should concentrate on Europe, our new album will also be released in Eastern Europe; we even have had an interview with a Russian magazine already… Western Europe is a great market for us, Germany, Spain, Holland, Belgium, Italy, the only country were we have problems is France. I find that rather odd because Vandenplas do really well over there ...
MARTIEN : Who came up with the rather “eccentric” name of the band?
HEIKO : Volker of course….he got it from an English phrase book. I think that is a rather catchy name, different from the rest. It is definitely better than some common names like e.g. Metal Killers or Prog Gods ... The name also is a statement which is still true; think about it people!!
MARTIEN : What are your main musical influences?
HEIKO : Personally I am into heavy metal and prog metal, I really dig Queensryche, Dream Theater and Fates Warning; but I can also “lose” myself in hard rock from the eighties. I started playing music in a jazz-rock band and I even played in a prog death band; maybe that is why I also like a cult band like Dimmu Borgir. The other guys in the band also like jazz and progressive rock; Jorg is crazy about Magma and Volker is a real Rush fan. But he actually does not listen to a lot of music, he works too hard, ha ha ha and he thinks that if he does not listen to modern rock music that he will not be influenced by that for his music he writes for PNC.
MARTIEN : Will you be doing any touring soon?
HEIKO : We probably will do a small tour in April, but we have a big disadvantage, we have no booking agency; so we have to do everything by ourselves. Even Inside Out will not help us with that, simply because they do not have enough manpower. They already work very hard for us, their promotion for the new album is great, but with touring we still have problems. But I promise that we will do our utmost to do a lot of live gigs in Europe this year.
MARTIEN : Any last words for our readers?
HEIKO : Thanks for all the support, keep listening to our records and please check our web site for the latest information. If you do, do not forget to sign the guest book; we really appreciate all messages from the fans; keep them coming.