We had the pleasure of speaking with Germany’s LANKESTER MERRIN, who have released their second alum on Black Sunset/MMD Records. They’re named after the priest in “The Exorcist” and lot of their music takes on darker themes of life and literature.
If you’re a fan of traditional Heavy Metal you’ll really appreciate their new album. But after listening to Heavy Metal for 40 years I can tell you there’s something different and unique about the band, but at the same time they keep everything we love about the Classic Metal Sound. Enjoy the interview!
RYR: Congrats on “Dark Mother Rises”, it’s a fantastic album of Classic Metal, very well done. I want to talk more about the music but let’s get a background on the band first, did LANKESTER MERRIN form just before the pandemic started? I see that your debut album “Upon The Forgotten” was released in 2021. Give us a little background on the band and it’s formation…
Hey there, at first thank you so much for having us. We are very honoured by your invitation. Ok, let´s start talking about the background of the band Lankester Merrin. Cat and Flo started the band in the end of 2019, in February 2020 the band was completed with 5 members.Unfortunately, it wasn´t the best start ever because straight after founding, Covid-19 entered the world and we couldn’t do what we love to do…performing live on stage! BUT instead of whining, we concentrated on our rehearsals, recorded our first album “Upon the Forgotten” and shot our first video to the song “Dying”…so we were busy busy busy.
RYR: I grew up in the Midwest of the USA, but some of my favorite bands were Accept, Warlock and the Scorpions. In my opinion, Germany has the greatest history of Metal since the early 80’s. Is LANKESTER MERRIN paying tribute to those band that came before you?
Well, well, well…OF COURSE!;-) The Metal of the 80s is such a big influence on our music! Accept and other German bands like Running Wild and Halloween but also international bands i.e. Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Dio etc. give us great vibes to write our songs and continue the “the good old metal” with modern sound. Moreover we are impressed by modern stuff like Battle Beast, Sabaton, Halo Effect and others.
RYR: I have to say that I really enjoyed Cat’s vocals. There’s many female-fronted bands where it sounds like they’re trying to put a great voice into a Metal band. Cat sounded very authentic and she wasn’t trying sound like an Opera singer, she was just “delivering the goods” (a little Priest reference lol) with an aggressive and heartfelt style. What is her background in music and some of her influences?
That is exactly what we are trying to achieve! Cat has an authentic voice which isn´t dominating the song, definitely no opera singing, there are so many great opera voices in the world, it didn´t need one more of them, 😉 ! Funny enough, Cat´s musical background isn´t metal. It basically fell into her lap, when she met Flo about seven years ago. Before she sang more pop and rock in solo projects, but after a few glasses of wine she agreed on trying and she loves it! Her influences are Doro from Warlock and Battle Beasts Noora Louhimo! Cat enjoys the kindness of the metal scene, feels very welcomed and loved by the fans. And as you know, who comes last, stays until the very end!!!😉
RYR: Florian appears to have the most experience in the band, can you talk about his background and some of the other bands he’s been involved with and some of his guitar influences he grew up with?
He is not only the most experienced, but also the oldest, 😉 Flo started in 1996 as a bass player and changed to guitar playing actively in 2014. After several bands and projects (i.e. Cruzador, Ferroconcrete, Rapid Stride and many more) he finally focused on his own songs and started writing them. We quickly realized that these songs must be played on stage!
He is mostly influenced by the “unholy three” 😉: Steve Harris from Iron Maiden as a songwriter , John Schaffer from Iced Earth as a rhythm guitarist and finally Rolf Kasparek (Running Wild) for the composition of his music.
RYR: This isn’t a questions so much but I have to give props to Shawn Layer on drums, I played drums myself and I was just blown away by his double-kick, fills and overall style, so important for Metal, he’s a beast!
We are so happy that Shawn Layer is our drummer, he is young, ambitious and very hard working on his drum skills. It was his first appearance in a studio…and he did a very good job playing the parts all by himself without any drumcomputer or trigger. His fast double-kicks were killing…😉
RYR: The songs themselves are very based in “Metal” themes. “Sweet Lizzie” was about Lizzie Borden, “Medusa”, “We Ride The Stom” etc. How were these songs written and constructed?
Well, the construction of the songs is explained easily. Flo is the songwriter, he arranges and composes all the songs in the first place, some of the ideas of riffs or themes or even melodies had been there for ages. Then he has meetings with Cat, she listens to the demos and then works with him on the lyrics and vocal arrangements. Sometimes there are fights about parts, never physically though 😉, but in the end there is always a perfect outcome for both! After the demo work, the songs get introduced to the others, rehearsed and some drum changes are made before entering the studio.
The themes mainly come from old literature (H.P. Lovecraft, Jules Vernes), historical happenings, films or series.
RYR: Perhaps my favorite song was “Bone Tomahawk”, I could totally see this one going over great live, what’s the story behind this song?
The song has a historical theme. It tells the story of the fights for land and freedom from native tribes against the European conquerors in the past centuries. The call to unbury the “Bone Tomahawk” means to unbury the hatchet.
Some may say it sounds a little bit like an Accept song “London Leather Boys”, 😉 but we never intended to sound like it, just a funny match! It is a great live song for the band and the audience!
RYR: There was one song that really surprised me how catchy and almost “pop” oriented it was. ‘Perfect Illusion’, what a fun song (with dark lyrics), it really showed a different side of the band.
You name it…it is really important to us to show “many faces” (great He-man character by the way 😉! The first album has an acoustic ballad “Inside the storm”, sounding very different as well. This time around we didn´t write a ballad because we are all fans of 80s rock and wanted to compose a song like that. But staying in the “dark metal theme” the lyrics aren´t happy, 😉
RYR: Finally, “Evil Lives Here”… My wife and I have literally been binge-watching a show with the same name that interviews family members of someone who did awful things. What’s the story behind this song?
Congrats to you!!! You are the first person (probably because you are American) who discovered the exact origin idea of the song. 😊 Cat has been watching the same show on the internet. She was very touched by the destinies of the family members of serial killers and their life after uncovering the truth of their own children. What a devistating show that motivated to write a song with all facets: creating a dark atmosphere, aggressive verses and breaks, but still beautiful and sad melodies in the bridge, chorus and in the end. When you know the show, you feel the song!
RYR: I would like to congratulate the band again on such a solid effort. The production was amazing, the songs were well-constructed and written, a very impressive release. What’s next for the band are you doing any touring and festivals this year?
Well, there have been already several shows confirmed, including our release show on Sat, 18th of March 2023, mainly in our region, but we hope for more to come when the album is released. Tour support? We are still waiting to get booked…😉
RYR: Finally, how can people find you online and is there anything else you would like to add today?
You can find and contact us via Bandcamp, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube! The songs/albums you can purchase via MDD Records Shop, all music platforms like Spotify, I-Tunes, Deezer Music etc.
We would like to thank all the fans and friends from Germany and all over world for your heavy support! It means so much to us and motivates us to make the third album (already in the making of). Lankester Merrin would love to travel across the big pond to rock the stages in the US. Stay tuned and rock on!!!