German metal band Hammer King released their second album “King Is Rising” in November 2016, 18 months after their debut “Kingdom of the Hammer King”. We bring you an interview with Titan Fox, Hammer King singer/guitarist conducted via e-mail.
First of all I would like to thank you for your time.
Can you tell me, when did you form the band?
Titan: The legend says that the band was founded in 1978 by the Hammer King himself, while we actually started working in 2014. Our debut “Kingdom Of The Hammer King” was released in 2015 and we started playing shows in 2015.
Why Hammer King?
Titan: Of all Kings, the Hammer King has the biggest Hammer and we are devoted to the stories and myths that surround him.
Before Hammer King was formed, some of band mambers played together in band called Ivory Night for years? Why did you change your name and whole appearance?
Titan: The one thing has nothing to do with the other. When started being in the Hammer King’s band, we still had to fulfill some of the duties connected with Ivory Night, but we have our focus set on Hammer King totally. I regard Ivory Night as split up. We could gain a lot of experience hereby, but now we are on his majesty service.
Mostly people think your inspiration are hammers and battles. Me, presonally think it is all about kings. Am I right?
Titan: Absolutely, you are spot on! It is the King, all the way. But then again I think, the King has a big Hammer, so it is about Hammers as well. And quoting one of our newest songs – the King is the Hammer, the Hammer is the King, no King without a Hammer, forever we shall sing: The Hammer is the King – so is it really only about the King?
Your debut album “Kingdom of the Hammer King” was released in May 2015. How was the feedback?
Titan: The feedback was really great; we got many reviews – aside from the haters, of course. We also got quite a load of interviews. But to be honest, the reaction to “King Is Rising” has been better and more euphoric now.
After your first album, some critics, (as you said: haters), pointed that you are nothing more than Manowar clone. The only connection I see is the fact that you participated at Ross the Boss album “New Metal Leader” (2008) and “Hailstorm” (2010). Also you played with Carsten Kattering in Men of War, Manowar cover band. So, what do you say when people compare you with Manowar?
Titan: I can’t see the Manowar-clone thing, honestly. Yes, Hammer King and Manowar both are traditional Metal bands, but vocally, I am quite far from Manowar in Hammer King. I had to be closer to Manowar in Ross the Boss. Generally, I think that Hammer King play very straight and very native Heavy Metal. But honestly, I don’t even see us be very influenced by Manowar, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest or so – or maybe put it this way: We all were raised on their music, so our music is in the same tradition.
In November this year you released “King Is Rising”. On your first album you introduced us with Hammer King. At the second album you are telling us the war stories of Hammer King. Album is melodic with catchy choruses, anthemic lyrics… I would dare to say, new album is the bigger, wiser, mature brother. How do you see it now when it is released?
Titan: This is a fine summary! That’s exactly how I feel about the albums. They are brothers, but “King Is Rising” is a step further, a step upward. We are more experienced now, we have played many shows for “Kingdom Of The Hammer King”, we have worked with Charles Greywolf for the second time now, we exactly knew that we can rely on Cruz Del Sur Music. The sum of all that made us stronger and more confident.
As you already mentioned, album was recorded at “Studio Greywolf” and it seems you payed attention to every small detail?
Titan: Working with Charles is amazing! He is a great, very relaxed and positive producer and sound engineer. He likes when we know what we do. And as we were very, very well-prepared for this album, we really knew the King’s songs very well. Our pre-production demo was a great one this time. Charles made us find a relaxed and trusted way through the songs, so we could rise to the task!
When I was listening “King Is Rising”, I felt like I heard mixture of Running Wild, Judas Priest, Accept, Grave Digger. I know you are in metal for such a long time. Who were your inflences from the era when you were forming your personal music taste?
Titan: Well, I practically already answered this one above – we grew up listening to the great old legends. So their music is deep within of us. That’s why we play in the same tradition, it is a natural thing.
If anyone would ask me to describe your music, I would say: “Those guys are celebrating metal!” Some say this is pure metal, others power metal. What do you say?
Titan: I will take your words and keep them for future interviews! We celebrate Metal – that’s very good! I see us as a Heavy Metal band. I was raised musically in a time before someone called bands “True Metal” or “Power Metal”, it was Heavy Metal. Saxon are Heavy Metal, Iron Maiden are Heavy Metal, whatever Judas Priest have done – just compare “Stained Class” with “Screaming For Vengeance” and “Painkiller” and “Turbo” – whatever they have done is Heavy Metal. So we are Heavy Metal, period.
Both albums were released by Italian label Cruz del Sur Music. Official promotion of “King Is Rising” was in Rome at the Burn This Town Festival. How was there?
Titan: Yes, we played Rome! It was absolutely fabulous in Rome! We spent two days walking through the city, seeing as many historic places as we could. We loved being there and we cherished the impression Rome left on us. We met many old friends and we made new friends in Italy, the show was great, the Italian audience is emotional and passionate. We even got “Hammer King! Hammer King!” chants in between songs. It was equally great to meet Gerrit and the boys of Sacred Steel again and share the stage with the Wargods Of Metal!
King Is Rising tour will include only Germany. Any chance to see band in the rest of Europe?
Titan: Rome was the first show of the “King Is Rising” tour, we are constantly booking shows. So we are hopeful to play shows outside of Germany as well. We want to play the King’s songs to as many people as possible, to as many other countries as possible.
Timo Würz, talented comic book artist, signed cover art. Can you tell me something about that cooperation?
Titan: It was Enrico of Cruz Del Sur Music who made the connection with Timo. By that time, Timo had just made the cover art for the latest Steel Prophet album. We liked that cover and trusted Enrico’s suggestion – and it is an absolute joy to work with Timo! He is very professional, very positive and it is amazing how you can see the perfect cover even in his first sketches. “Kingdom Of The Hammer King” had a great cover, but “King Is Rising” is brilliant in my opinion! Like an oil painting.
You stage look is inspired with?
Titan: We have to wear the long black robes, the King deserves these royal robes. Now with “King Is Rising” being more of the war stories, the robes are more military. Timo Würz included the very robes we wear on stage into the cover art, so we do look like the soldiers on the cover.
Titan: All songs are like our children, but I won’t tell you! The highlights still keep changing at this moment. I love “For God And The King”, “Battle Gorse” is one of my faves, so is “Last Hellriders” and “Kill The Messenger”.
It seems you are very creative, two albums in less than one year. Do you already have a concept for the next album?
Titan: It has been 1.5 years in between “Kingdom” and “Rising” and we believe this is the perfect rhythm to release albums. So far the King has not given us new song to work on, but at the beginning of next year we certainly will start working on new songs and we are very curious where they will take us. It WILL be traditional Heavy Metal, no question!
What do you like to play the most live?
Titan: Did I mention that all songs are like our children? But maybe some children are more enjoyable than others – “Kingdom Of The Hammer King”, “Aderlass; The Blood Of Sacrifice”, “Chancellor Of Glory” and “I Am The Hammer King” of the first one and “King Is Rising”, “For God And The King”, “Battle Gorse”, “Kill The Messenger” and “Eternal Tower Of Woe” of the second one – at this moment.
Since Hammer King is still young band, you haven’t reached so many countries. Can you tell me do you have any stage concept? I have seen some live videos on You Tube, but being in front of stage is something different.
Titan: We have pedestals, we have lights, we have the huge Reichshammer onstage as well. The more shows – and the bigger shows we will get to play, the more we will be able to improve the stage look. We need ramps and stairwells as well!
How do you feel on stage?
Titan: Being onstage is one pillar of the holy trinity of Heavy Metal: Writing music – recording music – playing live! It is essential, it is a duty, it is a celebration – and it is where the band gets one with the fans. We love it!
Listening your last album, I have a feeling you are having a lot of fun in the studio and on the road, but you are serious band. What do you expect from the future?
Titan: Being in Charles Greywolf’s studio is pleasure. He has the right attitude; he is very concentrated, relaxed, he has a radical sense of humor just like us. He is organized and he is a great coffee trinker (read drinker) like me. So we could really let it loose and not just recreate the demo in the studio, but actually work and give the songs a vibe of pride and joy!
Is there any band you would like to share stage with?
Titan: Saxon, all the way! They are the purest living British legends! Hardworking and absolutely on top of their game. Morgana Lefay have always been criminally underrated, but certainly one of the tightest and most intense live bands of all times. Charles Rytkönen is a totally unique vocalist, by the way.
Some musicians I have been talking to always say that metal fans are the most loyal. So, I will ask you one question: can you recognize who is real and who is fake?
Titan: First of all, I believe that Metal fans are the most loyal fans – maybe as blues and jazz freaks equally are. Regarding the “real and fake” issue, I have a damn fine nose for that. So yes, I can sense that!
Who is your greatest support?
Titan: First of all the forceful Hammer King himself, furthermore each and every fan, every interview, every radio station, the booking agency, the great promo agencies Sure Shot and Clawhammer, Cruz Del Sur Music, Studio Greywolf, everybody is support.
Saint-Tropez or Kaiserslautern?
Titan: If you leave me the choice: Saint-Tropez. But Kaiserslautern is a beauty as well.
Any memorable moments in your career you could share with us?
Titan: That’s a tough question! But to make it simple: We don’t anything for granted; we cherish all the shows and all the interviews, all the fans and all of the music. In a way, this makes everything equally great. We are proud.
If you are not in the band, what would be your other profession?
Titan: No other choice, music is it and music it has to be!
Which period of history is your favorite and you could live in?
Titan: I am not really interested in history, but I am totally interested in freedom and liberty – so whatever period it is, it has to be one of maximum freedom. I am happy now and I will give my best to contribute to peace and freedom.
Once again, thank you for your time and cooperation. I hope soon I will see you live and we will talk face to face.
All the best!
Titan: Thank you very much for the great interview and for your support! I take you by the word, the day shall come and we will play to you face to face. God bless the King, may the King bless you!