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Recently I reviewed the debut Zero Degree full-length album Surreal World thanks to a review copy from Massacre Records. Shortly after doing so, I shot over some interview questions for the group to answer. It didn’t take long for Sebastian Weißgerber, the group’s guitarist, to get back with some answers!

Thank you for taking some time to answer a few questions. Zero Degree issued a demo back in 2007, and then for 2010 recorded Surreal World yourselves. Why did you take this on in an independent fashion? Was this planned out already, or was the label interest just there or not enticing enough?

Sebastian:
Hey Jason! Back these days we didn’t think about the possibility of getting signed by a record company. We produced the album on our own and we really enjoyed the freedom of doing what we wanted and when we wanted. After the release of the album in late 2010 we came to the point where we accepted that it is really hard to get in touch with fans, critics and people in the business on our own. So we took the possibility and sent our album to different labels. MASSACRE RECORDS offered the best option and now we are partners and we are really happy with it.

Surreal World really seems to encompass what the nineties Melodic Death Metal style was all about. Was that the most influential style in your life, or are you actually more fond of another approach, such as Thrash or perhaps Black Metal? If so, why?

Sebastian:
Yes, it was our goal to go on with the style most bands of that genre don’t play anymore. We liked the melodic leads merged with the harshness of death metal, so you’re right it is the most influential metal style to us. But we are also into thrash and black metal. I started playing guitar because of Metallica and the other “bay area” bands. It definitely has got a huge impact on my style of playing. Our guitarist Maik and our drummer Tobias are also very dedicated to black metal. So other styles definitely have an influence on our music as well.

How about for this release? Aside Metallica, what were some of the bands, events, etc., that greatly influenced the material found on the album?

Sebastian:
First of all Iron Maiden, the whole band is very passionate when it comes to “Maiden” and they influenced the music on Surreal World as well as the “Gothenburg” bands like In Flames and Dark Tranquillity. In lyrical terms modern society, literature and movies inspired us for the album concept.

Would you say that the group has really changed in the time between Surreal World and your demo The Storm and the Silence?

Sebastian:
At the time of the demo we didn’t really know in which direction we wanted our style to go. But now the band feels certain in what we are doing and what we want to achieve. The people in the band didn’t change; we are still the metalheads we were right at the beginning in 2006.

All of the tracks from your demo appear on the new album except for one. Why was “Back in Time” omitted from the release, and will we
possibly see it crop up on another effort in the near or distant future, or maybe as a b-side or bonus track somewhere?

Sebastian:
From time to time, we thought about releasing it as a bonus but we have the opinion that new stuff is more interesting for the fans. But we still play the song live. I’m not sure why “Back in time” didn’t make it on the album…

Sometimes bands will include the demo recordings on their debut album, or make them available on their site. Neither seem to be the case with The Storm and the Silence. Will you be making this recording available again at some point, or do you have no interest in doing so?

Sebastian:
Great idea! I think we will put it as a free download on our pages in the nearer future. Perhaps it is a good way to say thanks.

The audio quality to Surreal World is rather well done. Was this the sound you were striving for from the start, and were there any problems in studio regarding it or anything else that might have happened?

Sebastian:
No, the sound was not planned in the studio. It was the result of the work of our mixer Christoph Wieczorek. He did a great job and it couldn’t have been better in the end. The recording itself was quite good and no real problems appeared.

Did you or anyone else in the band happen to use any different gear while recording as opposed to what the group would play live shows with or use during practice? If so, what was used and why?

Sebastian:
No, we mainly used the gear which we play live. Sometimes we used different guitars for leads and rhythm. The drumkit was a “TAMA Superstar” equipped with “Sabian AAX” cymbals. The recording amp for lead and rhythm guitars was a “Peavey 6505+” coupled with a “Peavey 5150” 4x12inch cabinet. Guitars: “Ibanez RG Prestige” (mostly lead) and “ESP Ltd Eclipse” (rhythm and riff guitars). Bass amp: “Warwick Pro” coupled with a “Peavey TVX” cabinet. André our bass player used an “ESP Ltd” bass.

It’s been a little while now since Surreal World was first released by the band. Have you guys come up with any new material since then, and if so, what can the listeners/fans expect? If not, please explain why.

Sebastian:
Yes, we are in the writing process of our second album and it is doing great so far. We hope to get it done in fall off 2012 and it will consist of all trademarks of Zero Degree. Maybe a bit more old schoolish and more “riff” orientated but still with kickass melody lead guitars.

What has the fan reaction been like for the group when you look back to how the album was accepted back when you first issued it compared to when Massacre Records issued it? Was it any different outside of a larger territory being exposed to it?

Sebastian:
It wasn’t that different. The people and the critics liked it as well when it was released in 2010 but we got way more feedback and that is just overwhelming.

Not to discourage you or the others, and I hope you don’t mind my asking this, but while doing some quick reseach on the group for the review and these questions, the number one suggestions on Google was “zero degree surreal world rar,” typically a pirating search. How does it make you feel? Are you more optimistic in the sense that people like what they hear, or pissed off that people are doing this?

Sebastian:
Sure, we know about this but it is really hard for me to judge those downloading possibilities. First of all, I see it as advertising for the band and maybe this way we reached more fans. On the other hand, if everybody who downloaded the album would pay for it, the band could be much higher on the level of its career. So I have mixed feelings on that, it has its pros and cons. In the end, I think making music is also a job and the musicians have the right to be paid for their work but often the music industry thinks that it can exploit dedicated music fans. So there is a misbalance between that and it leads to the point where we’re at nowadays. A look into the future promises nothing good to the business, I think.

Well, again, thank you very much for your time. Take care of yourselves, and I wish you all the best with Surreal World and future activities.

Sebastian:
You are welcome and Zero Degree has to thank you for the interview. Cheers!


Interview conducted thanks to Massacre Records.