Conducting an email interview can be very tricky. Sometimes it is the only option given to us. We’ve met most bands all over Europe over the years, have great memories and friendships behind us. But still, there are, and always will be those bands, those musicians, we have never met before and we are trying to give the best retrospective on their careers through the interviews. Yes, sometimes it is a pain in the ass, but at the end of the story the most important thing is everyone is happy in the end: musicians, journalists and most of all fans and readers. So, no matter how painful this epic interview might be, I hope you will enjoy reading it. Ladies and gentlemen, please, welcome Mr. Torsten Lang in front of Sceptor!
Hi! Welcome to Abaddon Magazine!
Thanks for having me, thank you for this interview I really appreciate!
Since this is your first interview for our magazine, let’s start from the beginning. Sceptor was formed in 2009. The story behind it is interesting, will you share it with us?
When Titan Steele my former band split up I moved to the south of Germany. I wanted to create new music and so it became pretty obvious to start something new. It happened in Heppenheim where I recorded our first output “Introducing…Sceptor“.
As I know you and Bob were great friends, obviously you still are, you formed the band, I would say the rest is history but… How does it look like working together since you don’t live on the same continent?
Yeah we still are since like over 20 years now. Living on the other side of the big lake means you have to spend more time writing an album. Sometimes you have to rearrange tracks. But in the end we all are on high professional level musically which makes it easier to record and understand the tracks.
Who came up with the name and why Sceptor?
It was my idea just simple said.
Your first single “Introducing… Sceptor” was released in 2010. How would you introduce your band to someone who have never hear of you before?
That’s a good question. I’m very often asked by people when they realize I’m in a band. I often describe as Savatage/ Accept or something like that. But that’s thinking in a box which I don’t prefer. Just listen and decide if its your kind of style.
Two years later, in 2012, Sceptor released debut album “Take Command! “. Almost a decade later, what can you tell about the album, its feedback, quality… Is there anything you would do differently today?
I would and did the new output so much different. The sound changed a lot because Robert Romagna he also worked with fantastic musicians in the past. Did a I’m grown older in the mean time even if I am still the fan when I was back then. But I’m more relaxed now and its kind of a better feeling now doing music. We as a band did so much great things in studio and the result a brilliant production with lots of METAL!
In January 2014 you broke up. Why did that happen?
It was not the time for the band. Too much lineup changes, too much personal reasons. So it was time to quit.
Luckily, you put yourself to pieces again and in 2019 the band was back. What were you doing in that period of 2012 till 2019?
I was traveling a lot and enjoyed it to be on the water a lot. I love to windsurf btw.
My job changed and there where things to be rearranged.
Sceptor faced some personal changes. In January Holger left the band. Due to professional reasons he’s not able to do the drummer’s job 100%. How did you find Florian Bodenheimer?
Yes, right. My good friend Holger couldn’t finish the job in our band. Flo I know a long time but it never came to a cooperation. Timo asked him, they are workmates and so it came along as a great solution for Sceptor.
In February one more lineup change. New bass guitar player is K.K. Basement. Since he was co-founder of Hammer King, I am curious, how did you “steal” him?
Oh, that’s a misunderstanding. I asked after Hammer King and he decided this step. I had to ask more than twice. That wasn’t easy but finally he is playing the bass in Sceptor which is fantastic because he is one of the best bass players known to me.
In June 2020, you signed the contract for the second full length record “Rise to the Light”. It will be released on September 24th. Reviews are coming, do you have time to read, to feel the pulse of fans and journalists and how does what you read reflect on the band?
When anyone of founds a new one he’s going to get that into our Chat. So yes we read them of course. There are fantastic reviews of “Rise to the Light”. Overall we’re very happy with most of them.
What does the creative process look like? I guess nothing much changed due Corona since you are scattered anyway.
I had most of the songs written already. They where support to be recorded but the the split up happened. I rearranged some track wrote some new in my home studio and gave it to the guys online. After the lockdown was over we got together here and lied down our tracks. It came along pretty good and we where able so send them to the USA where Nick Giannakos of Wretched recorded Bob. But they had to wait because of the pandemic.
What are the biggest challenges the band is facing during the creative process in general?
The ideas lol.
Let’s talk about the album. It will be released on 24th September. Any plans to promote it if it is possible, I heard you have some plans for a German tour.
Yes, we will do a special German/Austria and Switzerland Tour. Most of the dates are fixed and can be seen on our Facebook account.
“Rise to the Light” is focused on good old 80’s heavy metal. Songs are well balanced, what suits you the most, slow, mid or fast tempo?
I play guitar for a very long time in my life now. I started in the age go 6 I believe. So tempo in not challenging me much. For the album I think its the very right dosage of songs tempo as you mentioned actually.
Robert Romagna mastered the album, did you have any specific requests?
We wanted it to be pounding and live sounding. You know, an album should be able to played live. He did a tremendous good job and we are more than happy with this result. He is the man!
“Powerhouse“ is the song that is constant in each of your releases. What does the song mean to you?
This song is very special to us. It was the first song Bob recorded. So as a bonustrack its great and in the meantime it became a bit of a trademark for Sceptor.
Bob works for Pure Steel, so logic questions do you have any privileges?
No, we did not have any. He is an artist as we are. If we put out shit Pure Steel never gave us a chance to sign a contract. They are very professional. For us as a band it wouldn’t make any sense either. The label treats every band same.
Sangers Blade from Denmark has covered your song “Shadows in the Maze” which is the bonus on this album. How did you feel when you heard the cover version? I guess it is a huge honor.
Indeed it is, there were goosebumps going on listening to the cover version. I mean as a musician what a great honor if someone is going to cover one of your songs. He did a tremendous job. Thank you Strangers Blade for this one!
Portuguese artist Augusto Peixoto illustrated “Rise to the Light” cover. What can you tell me about that cooperation?
Pure Steel has a rooster of some fantastic artists, Timo Würz and of course Augusto is one of them. We’re very happy with the result, the conversation between him and us went along great and now we’re thrilled to see the cover on stage as a banner, on t-shirts and last but not least on the Vinyl which will be released later this year.
Bob changed his singing style over the years, maybe it is better question for him, but he kind of transferred from power high pitched vocals to heavy singer, maybe the best example is “Powerhouse”.
He as a performer and vocalist wanted to create something new. He is still able to do this no question. Maybe the next album will be some kind of a surprise, you never know.
Speaking of his vocals, I cannot resist saying that he pretty much reminds me of Warrel Dane, he has the same emotional delivery, but that is only my subjective feeling. What I want to ask you is which musicians inspire you to create your music?
I’m inspired in many ways and musical styles when it comes down to songwriting. But the biggest influences are Savatage and Jon Oliva for sure.
I have to get back to “Powerhouse”. In “Powerhouse” there is a verse: The metal flowing through my veins. When did you realize that, what was the crucial moment, riff, song, band?
I can’t really answer that question. Powerhouse was written long time ago. The lyrics are all written by Bob. Maybe only he can tell.
Bob is the lyricist, is there any pattern, do you have any direction as a band when you are writing, composing or you just let it flow?
Most of the time we just let it flow. But sometimes there are songs you have to rearrange a little bit. Due to the fact we cannot write songs in a live situation I have to do that in the studio.
What is the most important when you are working on the album?
Songs have to be catchy and must include the groove. I mean the bass is an underrated instrument. Together with drums and guitars the music would not pump.
What does the band mean to you?
Well, sometimes its love and hate. I cannot really tell you more. I want to push this forward but in a kind of relaxed way and not too dogged..
Bob is in the US, you, the rest of the band are in Germany, how does your rehearsals look like. Do you have any routines?
We we 4 guys rehearse without him. Its not necessary. We have all playback on our computer. Its important that the band plays tight. When he will come to Europe in 2022 to perform our tour, we will have a few rehearsals with him before we start off. That’s it.
Is there any difference in bands dynamic before Covid and now?
Not really, we recorded during the pandemic. I think the dynamic will evolve the first time we’re going to rehearse and finally hit the stage.
On the scale from 1 to 10 how much do you want to get on the stage and share the energy and music with fans?
How is the situation in Germany anyway if we are speaking about gigs? Is anything happening?
There are some festivals taking place. Smaller live gigs as well. Everybody has to sit and watch. Everything is a bit confusing at the moment.
How much do you give for music and how much do you get from it, emotionally, financially…
As most of the musicians you are investing more than you get back. Unfortunately people see you on stage and think you are settled. That’s not the truth. We all have day jobs beside the music. Emotionally no question, that’s why we play guitar, drums, bass or whatever. Financially sometimes its not easy. Remember I told you of the tour before in 2022. We have to calculate very, very precisely. You cannot say if it pays off. We have costs like flight tickets and hostels btw. Equipment, studio and all that stuff is not included. I cannot stand when someone asks me about getting on the guest list because we talk from time to time. Me as the guitarist for this band is not a one man show ok? Its all about the fans who let Sceptor roll and who realize that an album like “Rise to the Light” is not made in one day. If you want to have solid metal pay for it just simple said. I do that, all my bandmates collect and most of my closer friends already bought this record which means a lot to me.
You are so long on the metal scene, which prejudices you faced over the years?
Not very much I must honestly say. People sometimes are afraid to talk face to face.
From some of Bob’s interviews I realized he is kind of a modest guy who doesn’t see himself as a star, he is true, honest, passionate about what he is doing and that is all. How do you actually see the role of music in your life as well as working with a band, being famous, obviously, having a lot of fans…
Nothing changed to me. It’s just more work like answering 38 questions in one interview lol!
I’m grateful people like what they hear. There are some great reviews out there, some aren’t that good but you cannot reach everyone. That’s why we are unique and the decided to be.
How do your families accept your occupation with the band?
They are all fine with it and happy when I show results like a physical record to hold in hand.
Corona is merciless, a lot of bands released albums in the Corona period, what do you think are the good and bad sides of releasing albums during this period when you do not have proper promotion? At some point we will have a crowd when the bands finally hit the road and jump on stage.
Promotion has changed a lot. We for example released a video on YouTube. Every band member was filmed at home.
But its not the state a band has to be. Bands have to play live to promote their music.
In the end, when you formed the band, what were your expectations and did they change over the years?
My expectations where too high. After the split and several more years without Sceptor I expected not much. Fun fact, the more you want the less you get. That works for me very well.
Thank you so much for this interview, wish you all the best in the future to come. Hope we will see you on tour soon!
Thank you for this very well picked questions, that was a lot of work but nice to write the answers down. See you live soon, in the mean time enjoy our record, thank you so much!