A few days before the release of "The Flood Inside", we took the chance to talk to one of the most interesting bands that emerged from the post-rock scene and in the end followed its own course, away from the boundaries that the genre suggests. The big change came with hiring a permanent singer, Martin Fischer. Fischer was eager to answer to our questions, revealing to us what he has been able to 'extract' from their band during their time together.
It’s been a year since my last interview with Long Distance Calling... Last January I talked to Janosch Rathmer. Would you like to sum-up what happened during this last year?
I joined the band last august or September... So, before that, the band was really busy writing songs, creating this album and I think they had so much songwriting to do that actual recordings were in September. From that day on we started photoshooting and all kind of stuff like that, deciding what music video we’d do, planning the tour, planning the whole promotion... All those things.
You are new in the band... How difficult is it to be member of a group which has its own rules, its own discography...
We’re gonna do our next tour in March, so up to that time it is quite easy, because I’ve known the guys for quite a while. We’ve been around together, I’ve been playing with them with my band, Pigeon Toe and I know the other guys from Misery Speaks (Janosch Rathmer, the drummer, plays in them)... So personally, it was really nice. Now, about the band structures, we had to find a way to integrate me into this whole thing, so I’m really looking forward to the tour, because that’s when we’ll first be on stage together. It’s really exciting for the others as well as it is for me.
Can you tell me what are your contributions in the album?
I sing three of the songs with vocals on them. The other one is sung by guests vocalists - they always have guest vocalists on their records... Now they have two for this one, Vincent and Peter. I also play keyboards on two songs.
As their permanent singer you will be asked to sing the songs with the guest vocalists, right?
We’ll see. Of course I’ll sing the three songs that I’m singing on the album and we’ll have to see if it’s a good idea to sing the other songs too or not to perform them at all. The singers they have chosen so far, Katatonia singer and John Bush from Anthrax, have very personal voices. I have my personal voice and I’m not really good at copying other singer’s styles so we’ll have to try that out. But I’m not really sure that’s a good idea to do all the vocal stuff. It’s still an instrumental band, they’ve got so many good songs, so I think it’s better to leave it with those three songs that I’m singing.
Have you asked them why they decided to have a permanent singer in their line-up? What changed?
Raymond, the electronic’s guy they had in the band, left the band last year, so that was one member gone. They took the chance to experiment a bit with this album because they were reduced to four members; two guitarists, a bass player and a drummer, so they had a lot of people from outside doing electronic stuff on their songs. I think they played with the thought to have a singer a little longer but now was the perfect timing to try out. There was going to be a change anyway, because of someone leaving the band and finding someone new, so why not trying out something totally different, like a new singer.
Your new album is called "The Flood Inside". What is this flood you are talking about?
It’s more or less the flood for being all the emotional things that make us a man and all the struggles that one has inside of him. Things that we have to struggle with in everyday life. Just being alone and thinking all kind of confrontations. The very human nature. There’s a part of us inside the struggles and has a lot of strength and power.
Long Distance Calling have been trying to change their sound. Even their previous album was less post-rock and more progressive or alternative. Is this change done by coincidence or on purpose?
I think that when you’re recording an album you try to make something new all the time. There are bands that have their style and they make a new record that doesn’t have many changes, but Long Distance Calling is a band that is always looking for something new. That will not only surprise others, but will try to surprise themselves. They didn’t plan it out before. They started songwriting and the result was more like this or more like that. Not with a real plan but just how they felt, or where they needed to go. It was a spontaneous development and, at the same time, what they needed to do.
I liked very much "The Flood Inside". The first thought that came to my mind was 'most post-rockers aren’t gonna like these new elements'...
We’ll see... People only know one song for the time being, and that is the instrumental ("Ductus"). So we have to wait until the second song is released (in the end they streamed the whole album) and then we’ll have some different reactions, because of the vocals and the change. Some people may like it, some will not like it. I’m actually expecting the worst.
Well, you shouldn’t. I think it’s an album that will bring a different kind of fanbase. New music fans...
Yeah, probably. I just expect the worst to be prepared for the worst. I’m totally happy to hear any good feedback. We’ll see. This record is about to come out and we’ll see what kind of people will start liking it. It’s different now, it’s got vocals on it so some people who were not into instrumental music now start listening to us and that may be the case. We have to wait.
Two out of three songs that I liked the most (apart from "Ductus") are "Tell The End" and "The Man Within", which proves that Long Distance Calling have a talent writing songs with vocals...
I guess so too. It is what they wanted, they seem to have a lot of fun with it. They are great songs. When I listened to "The Man Within" I said 'this sounds good without vocals'. Now that it has the vocals, I think that it also works. It’s a good thing, because they don’t have much experience writing songs for singers, but I think it works out great.
As a listener, which groups would you name as the main influences of "The Flood Inside"?
That’s really hard to say. The band’s been around with other bands and they’ve been also influenced by bands they know, bands they like… The thing is we all like many different bands. It’s hard to give names to two or three, because I think it’s a lot more that came together with this album. Especially because so many other people worked on the album, like the whole electronic section, or a guest blues guitarist that plays solo on one of the tracks. So, it’s a big mix of all the bands they like, but probably that’s too easy to say.
Yes but I understand you. There’s a lot of variety in there, I also tried to distinguish the album’s main influences but turned out to be quite difficult...
This album is where it is in the whole band history. It’s the perfect album to go all the way, doing all those experiments, because they have experimented a little with all those other records, they have a certain style now, they know what they can do and this album was meant to be experimental. That’s it.
What are we to wait from Long Distance Calling in the future? What are your plans?
Well, we are in the phase that we’re promoting this new album. The release is going to be the first of march and that’s also going to be the first tour date. We need to get together on this tour and find a way to be together. Hopefully we’ll have some time to jam around and write some new material and we’ll see where this whole trip is going. The other thing is we’ll play as much as necessary to promote the album and to be out there. So there’s going to be a lot of shows and some festivals this summer and …we’ll see!
Since you talked about touring, I’ve got to say that one of Long Distance Calling’s characteristics is that they do very passionate show with heavier sound than in the studio. How important is touring to make yourselves known to the world?
Now it is more important than ever because people don’t buy as much records. Getting your name out there means being on the road a lot. People will realize that you’re around when you’re playing in their cities. If you come again, they will remember you and that’s how you build the fanbase. I think, that’s the way to go.
The last words are for you to say to the fans in Greece.
Oh, ok. Fans in Greece, be aware, we’re going to be there soon. It’s too early to say something specific, but don’t forget us and keep your eyes and ears open because there’s a lot more to come.