The metal band Powerwolf released a new album. Matthew Greywolf reveals what is behind the pseudonyms of the band members.
Powerwolf has been delighting its fans for more than 15 years. Now they have created new heavy metal anthems with their album “Call Of The Wild”, which will be released on July 16th. The band is best known for their elaborate stage shows, the members appear under pseudonyms.
Guitarist Matthew Greywolf (43), bourgeois Benjamin Buss, reveals in an interview with the news agency spot on news why his private person does not fit on the stage and why the pseudonyms are “more than just names”. He also tells how long the band sits in the mask before shows and how much the members are already looking forward to concerts after the long lockdowns.
What stories do you tell on “Call Of The Wild”?
Matthew Greywolf: The album tells a lot of stories, some fictional, some with historical background, like the song “Beast of Gévaudan”, which is about a true event from the 18th century that happened in the south of France. At that time, more than 100 people fell victim to a mysterious and never-killed beast. The legends range from a particularly large wolf to the theological interpretation of God’s vengeance on the sinful rural population of the Gévaudan region. Such topics are predestined for a Powerwolf song, we love such legends.
Your texts are often connected with a wink, but sometimes you get very serious. In “Power of Faith”, for example, you refer to the abuse cases in the Catholic Church. Why did you want to write a song on this subject?
Greywolf: Because it literally left me speechless to learn that church law applies when dealing with these cases, not criminal law. To make it clear: For me, the topic has nothing to do with religion or belief. It is an abuse of power, a crime. It is unbelievable that the church will still be judged internally in 2021. Now there is the popular saying: Where the words are missing, art has to speak, and that’s exactly how it was: I felt compelled to write a cynical text about it.
You are not religious, but you still enjoy working with religious subjects. What do you love about it?
Greywolf: Personally, I have always been fascinated by the aesthetics of Catholicism, regardless of belief and content. I was socialized as a Catholic, so I’ve known the Catholic rite from childhood and it has always had a mysterious fascination for me, both solemn and morbid. It was no coincidence that the first instrument I learned was the church organ, long before I got into the guitar as a teenager. Church art still fascinates me today. The old woodcuts, the church windows or the architecture. All of this is an exciting cultural asset, regardless of questions of faith.
You were once a small band from Saarland, now you play as a headliner at festivals and land at the top of the charts with your albums. How do you deal with this success? How do you stay on the ground?
Greywolf: You learn to deal with it, success didn’t come overnight, it is hard work. In addition, we don’t surround ourselves privately with slaps on the back, but with people who don’t just see us as Powerwolf’s musicians. With increasing success, this becomes more and more important. We live and work this band 24/7, but of course there are also private individuals. Sometimes it is not easy to switch from the life on tour, the role you play there, and your private life at home.
How do you look back on your career? What were your biggest highs, what were your biggest lows?
Greywolf: I still feel too “right in the middle” to look back, but there were certainly immortal moments like the show in Wacken 2019 on the main stage at prime time or our first number one album in the charts, the first gold or platinum album . More is not possible. You never forget that. But of course life is not always easy, especially on tour, everyone has their hangover. In moments like this, I consider myself lucky that we are not just a band, but actually best friends. The band has basically existed in the same line-up for 15 years, we’ve already lived through many ups and downs, both privately and as a band, that welds together and outshines any commercial success.
You are part of the “Bullhead City” festival in September. How much are you looking forward to it after the Wacken Open Air was canceled again this year?
Greywolf: It will certainly be a very special moment to finally be headlining the stage again after this long forced break. In addition, in Wacken, this special place for every heavy metal fan, it will certainly be a celebratory moment.
How long do you sit in the mask before your performances?
Greywolf: About 90 minutes. It’s about much more than just putting on the make-up. It is in the truest sense of the word a transformation into the character of the stage. During these 90 minutes, no one except our tour manager has access to the dressing room. Everyone in the room is 100 percent focused on the upcoming show and we push each other. Without these ritual 90 minutes there would be no show.
Have you ever thought about giving up your aliases and using your real name?
Greywolf: No, because the pseudonyms are more than just names, it’s the characters that make Powerwolf what it is, that goes hand in hand with the music, the visual side of the show and the overall experience. All of this interlocks, one does not exist without the other. I am not the private person on stage, they would not fit in there.
Are the pseudonyms also a kind of self-protection for you?
Greywolf: No, they are part of the overall Powerwolf experience. Powerwolf are more than just music. We offer show, vision, escapism. Our audience also leaves part of their everyday life outside when the Powerwolf show starts. It’s all about this.
Some media outlets have taken the background stories of your pseudonyms at face value. How amused were you about that? How did you react within the band?
Greywolf: We don’t care. Alice Cooper is also Alice Cooper, nobody cares what the man is called when he picks up a package at the post office. I want to see Alice Cooper on stage and have some great entertainment. It’s the same with Powerwolf.
How did you as a band go through the lockdowns?
Greywolf: First and foremost, we worked on “Call Of The Wild” and we did it with an obsession we never experienced before. We put all passion, all emotion into the songwriting. Apart from that, I really enjoyed the deceleration in the first few months. In the last few years we have been constantly on the move, in the studio, touring, at festivals. I spent more time on tour buses and airplanes than at home, there was never any rest and life was racing. 2020 was something of a compulsory sabbatical. For some it was certainly good for you.
What can your fans expect in the next live shows?
Greywolf: I believe that through this shocking experience that things like festivals and live shows are not a matter of course, but can be dropped overnight, as happened now, such events will be experienced and savored much more intensely in the coming months and years. At least I will keep it that way as a musician, but also privately as a concert-goer. On our upcoming tour, the audience can look forward to the biggest and most varied Powerwolf show that has ever existed. We had a lot of time to work on the tour production, albeit initially on paper and on the computer for lockdown reasons, but I can already promise: It will be hot, it will be fiery and it will be wild!