To celebrate Axxis and their new album titled 'Time Machine', The Rock Explosion reached Bernhard Weiss, singer of the band. Here is what this great artist reported to us...
Hi Bernhard, so the 21st of January will be available your latest work titled 'Time Machine'. After listening to your CD, I noticed that a pretty evolution have been made to your sound, in songs like 'Angel of Death' your approach is quite symphonic but you didn't loose your well-known characteristics, am I wrong? Would you like to tell us your opinion about 'Time Machine'?
Time Machine is more powerful than the two records before. The guitars and the choirs are more up to the front so that typical Axxis sound-characteristics can be noticed better. Also we use more doublebass on this cd.
Your voice is an element that strongly distinguishes Axxis sound. You can take and push on very high notes and the range/compass you can reach is remarkable. How did you arrive to these results and which is the secret that allows you to keep this particularity for all this time?
I have a classical education that makes me using my voice in the right way every time. You can do a lots of mistakes to your voice so if using it wrong you destroy it. But if you keep care of some rules there is no problem about that. Its an muscle and needs to be traineed a lot.
Is the any hidden concept keeping together all the themes of the Time Machine songs?
It´s not a concept album. It´s more a best of compilation with new songs. When we listened to our former cd´s we found that on the new record there is the best of every period on it.
With songs like 'Wind in the night' and 'Wings of Freedom' you speak about two contemporary factual themes like the fights between the Israeli and Palestinians and the (Gulf) War. What is your personal opinion about these events? You should have felt very close to these ones as you are writing about them.
The way the irakian war took place was very hard for me as an democratic thinking person. Don´t get me wrong. It´s ok that Saddam Hussein is away now. But the way the americans did it (espacially Georg W. Bush) was not ok. In the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians I think there is a different thinking in the population. There are many peace-communities which are working for peace in that region and many people are following them. I hope one day we can go to Israel and sing along with Israelis and Palestinensian people the song "Wind in the night (Shalom)"
You changed from Massacre Records to AFM Records. What are the reasons of your choice to change label and how is it going with your new partners?
There was no specific reason for that. After two records at Massacre records we were free. There have been some companies which were interested in Axxis. For our opinion AFM fits the best to the ideas of the band for the future. And till now working is very fine.
You tour with your friends 'Pink Cream 69' is not coming here in Italy, am I wrong? Are you taking into consideration the possibility to come over here, during summer festivals for example, or do you suggest going and seeing you in Zurich?
Our booking agency is in contact with some promoters of the summer festivals. I don´t know how far it is yet. In addition to that we are planing an european wide tour in autumn this your as a support band for a bigger act. May be then there is something possible in Italy.
When I bought 'Back to the Kingdom' back in 2000 I couldn't believe myself because the best Axxis where coming back to stay with us definitely with a new line-up. Why did you choose to change your sound after the best seller 'The Big Thrill ('93), with albums like 'Matters of Survival ('95) and Voodoo Vibes ('97)'?
There was no specific reason for that. A band is going through a lots of changes during it´s career. At that time we were not quiet sure in which direction the axxis wheel was turning. There were different meanings in the band that makes us feel insecure. After the split in 1998 we turned back to our roots and I think this was the best decision.
'Matters of survivals' was recorded in L.A. with Keith Olsen (Whitesnake, Foreigner, Scorpions). What do you remember of that experience? How had been to work with Keith?
It was very strange. On one hand Keith produced one of my favorite records (Whitesnakes 1987) on the other hand he wants axxis to be more an alternative band. We are everything but not alternativ. He has a lots of experience so we learned a lots about production. It was a good school for us. But the result was not a real satisfaction because soundwise its not enough metal for my opinion.
Which is the top selling album of Axxis and which are your albums you like at most and feel more close to?
The top selling album is still "Kingdom of the night". I feel most close to "The big thrill" (exept the new one).
Is there any concert with Axxis you remember with great pleasure?
Our first gig at "Rock am Ring" in 1993. There were 50.000 people listening to our music and it seem´s we had the biggest party on earth at that time. Unbelievable. I have that on video and sometimes I look to it to remember.
From where your choice to sell 'Pure and Rough' just on-line? Are there any copies left for whom couldn't get it before?
On this cd are demo versions of unreleased songs which we and the record company decided not to release. So we put them on a cd and you still can offer it at our homepage: www.axxis.de.
Which are the bands to have influenced you and your music?
When we started with music the bands we were influenced by were Kiss, Judas Priest, Deep Purple Queen and Scorpions. So one can find a mixture out of hese different styles in the most of our songs.
At your beginning you got a deal with EMI in a very short time. How did that story go and how did you feel after completing the deal? You just earned a winning position
EMI did a great job in Germany. But everything outside Germany didn´t took place. We did one great support tour in 1989 with Black Sabbath. But that was it. And with that our international carrer was on ice. So now with the smaller labels work in foreign countries is totaly different. So for the beginning it was great to be with Emi but so many people were working with axxis during the years that nobody really knows where to go.
Which are the more important differences between the first Bernhard Weiss and the man of today? Both in personal and musical terms!
We started our career without any experiences. Diretly from the practice room into the buisiness. That was very hard because the band was so successful (Best selling Debut Rock Album in Germany). During the years we learned a lot and we did many mistakes. And so you grow up like a child does. Today I like the same music as 15 years before but I have more experience to do music. I´m now working as a producer as well that was not possible at the time when we started.
A curiosity, from where the moniker Axxis? And its meaning?
Axxis comes from axis where the wheels are turning around. And so our life turns around it.
A couple of year ago I read about you and Harry. You just launched a new company called 'Phonotraxx Publishing'. Was your aim to support young musicians and bands? Would you like to tell something about Lakonia? Is there anything that raised your attention?
We formed Phonotraxx publishing in 2001. In our own studio we were producing bands and one of the best artists is Lakonia the female background singer on "Time Machine". Harry is just writing songs with her and I think we soon will start with the production.
Do you know anything about Werner Kleinhans and Water Pietsch, respectively bass guitarist and guitarist of your previous line-up?
Werner Kleinhans is working again in his old job in a chemical company. There is no contact anymore. Walter Pietsch is working as a producer in popmusic and we are still friends. He plays two shows here in germany last year when our guitar player married and was was in honeymoon with his wife. Marcus Gfeller left the band direction Switzerland and was never seen again.
Can you tell us something about the mystery around Richard Michalski? Do you already have a new established drummer in your line-up?
The tour will be played by Andre Hilger of "Silent force". Ritchie has had a serious drug problem and I think he decided to take a timeout to clear up all his life. It´s hard to loose a friend after such a long time but till now we don´t know were he is and I hope he´s fine with that situation.
Bernhard, our interview is finished here. Would you like to say bye to your Italian fans.
Yes. I hope you like our new record and I also hope that there will be a possibillity to play some shows in Italy that we can have some party with you.
Text: Bruno Rossi