Düsseldorf is a nursery garden of the finest metal acts. Not just the home town of Metal Queen, but also, I can freely say, legendary SuidAkra. The band will release their 15th studio album “Wolfbite” on June 25th, 2021, through MDD Records. As the perfect introduction to this interview, I could only quote the wise words of a wise man, Arkadius “Akki” Antonik: “I am a musician not a business man. Of course, that business is part of the band but I always tried to keep it as short as I could. Because in my opinion, dealing with all that business shit is the killing of creativity.”
Hallo Arkadius! Gleich vorweg schon einmal herzlichen Dank, dass du dir die Zeit für ein Interview genommen hast. (ENG: Hello Arkadius! First of all, thank you so much for your time for this interview.)
Oh you’re very welcome Ivona. It’s a pleasure…
Wie geht es dir? Was gibt es Neues bei dir? (ENG: How are you? What’s new?)
Thanks I’m fine and pretty busy at the moment hahaha. There are so many crazy things going on at the moment, with the new album and side projects etc. It never gets bored.
Now we will transfer to English since my German is a bit rusty, and to be honest, I am too lazy to translate the whole interview, so, English please.
Sure, here we go…
Your new album “Wolfbite” will be released on June 25th via MDD Records. After over two decades in business and 14 albums behind, do you still have goose bumps before official album release?
Oh you can be sure I am, otherwise I wouldn’t have a reason to continue with the band. So, I am as much excited as I was when we started back in the 90’s.
What can you tell us about the new album, how it differs from your previous work?
I would say the new record is one step back and two steps forward. Which means the step back to our own roots with the strength and heaviness of the first records and at the same time so many new things like the new sound and all our experience we’ve made in the past comes together on “Wolfbite”.
Thanks to your promoter, The Metallist PR, I have already heard your new album and have to say that my favorite song is the first one, “A Life in Chains”. Love at first sight! Can you tell me something more about it?
Most of the journalists I spoke with choose other songs as their favorites but “Life In Chains” is also one of my favorites. It tells the beginning of the story of the main character Alaric and his destiny as a slave. You can hear him hardly breathing at the beginning and hear the chains and so on… I think this is a pretty coll mid tempo opening song that dives directly into the concept of this album.
And that is what I like the most, an introduction to the song. Further, “Darcanian Slave” is the perfect combination of aggressive growl vocals and beautiful female vocals supported with great choir parts. When you are composing, writing lyrics, during the creative process, do you have any pattern or you are all working spontaneously till you finally can say-yes, that is it!
Oh no, I know the story even before one note is written. And I know how many songs we will have and which atmosphere every song shall have. That means for me as a composer that I write music into a specific direction. For “Darcanian Slave” I knew that I need female vocals because this song tells also the story of a female warrior. That was the main reason why I wrote the lines for Tina Stabel our female singer.
Falodath is a different werewolf, a protector of children and lost souls. What I want to ask you is how much research and learning it takes till you finalize your work?
Kris Verwimp who is also responsible for the artwork always creates the lyrical concept and he also writes all lyrics. I know that he made a lot of research in mythologies to come up with his own complex fantasy story that contains different tribes etc.
“Crossing Over” is another of my other favorites, it really surprised me, I thought it was an instrumental but again surprises the listener. What comes first when you are writing, music or lyrics?
Always the lyrics, cause like I mentioned before our albums are concept albums based on the “Odoric” sage created by Kris Verwimp!
The perfect place for this song, the middle of the album. When you are making an order of the songs, do you think an album with the wrong song order can annul a whole record?
It depends on the listener. I always listen to the entire albums no matter how good or bad the beginning of a record is. But I know some people give the first few songs a try and if they not blown away they don’t continue with the record, so in this case a wrong order of the songs might have a negative effect.
I am one of those who listen the entire albums, no matter how some songs I might do not like at all. So, as “Crossing Over” calms down, the next one “Vortex of Carnage” brings another twist. Actually, the album is full of twists and turns. To someone who has never listened to a band it might seem like a blend of the incompatible. How would you describe your music the best?
Our music is like a good story. There are so many different atmospheres and like you said, twists. Which make it for more interesting. I don’t know if our music is easy listening music. I mean it’s not complex but it always has a deeper level. But at the end of the day I would always say it’s a melodic death metal style combines with so many other influences.
The whole album has killer energy, but also it is melodic at the same time, with powerful lyrics, as I mentioned, full of twists and turns. In your opinion, what is the highlight of this album?
Hard to say because you cannot compare the songs to each other and sometimes I have a favorite song but it changes from week to week. But I think the song “Resurgence” represents the album very good cause it has all the guest musicians and all the styles that are on this record are combined in this song.
Already mentioned Kris Verwimp signed the album cover; tell me something more about cooperation with him and of course about the album cover.
Kris is a long-time friend and meanwhile a full member of the band. I mean he writes lyrical concepts for us since 2009 and creating our artworks since 1998. He even has a he effects on the music cause he forms our style with his story. I started with Kris the “Realms Of Odoric” orchestral project back in 2013. We’ve release 3 albums so far that divide the whole story into 3 chapters: 1st age, 2nd age and 3rd age. The idea was to tell the story of each age with SuidAkrA as well. So, in 2016 we’ve released the SuidAkrA album called “Realms Of Odoric”. This record told the 1st age story. With “Wolfbite” we tell the 2nd age story and the main character is Odoric’s son called Alaric. And it is him you see on the front artwork. The tribes in the story called him “Alaric Wolfbite” and that’s where the album title is from.
From what I hear and what I know about you and the band, you do not sail in the safe harbor. How difficult is it over two decades to deliver something new, fresh and creative?
I wouldn’t be able to write 15 albums, if I would write always the same material over and over again. At a certain point the story has been told and there is no need to continue. But all these musical excursions made it always interesting for me as a composer to work on my writing skills and add them to the typical SuidAkrA sound. And this kept the flame burning. But of course, it was harder at the beginning of our journey to come up with something new and fresh because as a young band you always try to walk the same path as your favorite bands. But after a while we’ve found our won style and from that point on it was easier to create some new and fresh.
A lot of people were involved in “Wolfbite”. How hard or better to say challenging was working in the era of Corona when we were not allowed to see each other and hang around?
To be honest, at the beginning of the songwriting I didn’t even plan to work on this album with all these musicians, because we din’t record it in a studio but my home studio so it would be impossible for everyone to be part of it. But then everyone somehow managed it to record their lines in their home studios and I was able to put everything together. And I’m so glad that it all worked out this way.
You are the only original member left in the band, how important for you is to each new member be involved in the creative process?
I never refused anything that was suggested by a member because I think the music is the most important part of the band and it has the most benefits when different musicians bring their ideas together. I mean everyone know how I work and everyone know that the result will be always sound great. We achieved a very professional way of working together also with the guest musicians and found the perfect recipe. The family atmosphere is super important for me, and I enjoy every note I can share with all these talented musicians.
The band was formed in 1994, as Gloryfication. After two demos and a few lineup changes, the band’s name was changed too. How would you describe your musical journey including Glorification/Suidakra, Realms of Odoric, Arkadius Antonik and Fall of Carthage?
Wow that is a hard question to answer because I think the answer would be way too long for this interview hahaha. But I can tell you that it was a roller-coaster ride for me. Challenging at the beginning with Gloryfication and SuidAkrA and the more I have achieved, the smoother and easier everything went from that point on. The more records I wrote the more new musical ideas I had and became more open minded which led me to some side projects like Fall Of Carthage, Realms Of Odoric etc. and I am super proud of every album I have released.
Being involved in several projects, where do you find motivation and inspiration, what keeps you going over the years?
To be honest? It is always the music itself. I listen to so many different styles of music, not only metal. And every time I got touched by a musical piece, it inspires me to try something new. I don’t like to limit myself because there is so much more to be experienced! It would be a waste of musical moments I think.
What is the key of Suidakra’s success?
Dedication, passion and the love for music. We all are friends not business partners which is also a very important aspect of the band!
You are a versatile artist, always searching for new opportunities, always learning and improving yourself. As I know you play mandolin and banjo, and the band also had bagpipes on previous albums… Is there any instrument you would like to learn to play?
Oh there are so many, too many… Don’t have that much time to learn them all hahaha. I would love to be able to play French horns, oboe, flute the violin and cello, just to name a few. So as you can see, time is a very precious thing hahaha…
From the beginning you experienced everything: working with “small” and “big” labels, financing albums on your own, what suits you the most?
After making all the experiences with different kind of labels, I feel this moment right now with MDD Records is the best. I am a musician not a business man. Of course, that business is part of the band but I always tried to keep it as short as a I could. Because in my opinion, dealing with all that business shit is the killing of creativity. And with the record labels in the past, I always had the feeling that we and our music were just a product. They didn’t even write me a feedback of how they like the album… Having Markus on board is the opposite. We work as a team and try to come up with the best SuidAkrA record we’ve ever done. He was also involved the pre-recording process; he always knew how the material would sound like. It’s a pleasure to work with him as a friend and a label boss.
Is there anything you would like to do with the band but simply you still have no opportunity or financial support to realize your ideas?
Yeah, the only thing that is left and undone is to perform in Australia. This is something I dream of for a long time. But hey who knows…
For so many times you explained why you decided to focus on Celtic mythology, but so far I have never heard why not German. Can you reveal the secret?
Because I simply for some reason never felt connected to the Germany mythology. I’ve read a few books but I was never caught by any of the stories. Can’t really explain why.
When, or better to say if you have free time since it seems to be a workaholic, how do you spend your days, what are your other interests?
Usually, I spent the time with playing video games. I love watching movies, have a huge Blu Ray collection and love to play games. But unfortunately, with all the projects etc. I don’t have any time to do that at the moment.
You have been playing around the world, so where did you enjoy the most? Were there any places you would come back again, and is there any place you would never return and why?
I truly enjoyed every show no matter which country. Of course there were countries like India, Brazil of China, Japan, Taiwan that were surely our highlights but to be honest there is not a single country we’ve visited where I wouldn’t return.
Of course, is there any country you have never played in but wish to someday? Maybe Serbia?
Oh yeah! Serbia is defiantly one of the countries on my list. And sure there are still so many places we haven’t be able to perform yet.
Arkadius, thank you so much for your time and cooperation. My interviews are mostly epic, but this time I had to control myself, if there is anything we did not mention, I challenge you for another round. Till then, as we began, so shall we end… Vielen Dank, dass du dir die Zeit genommen hast, meine Fragen zu beantworten (ENG: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions).
No, thank you for that cool interview, you’ve asked a lot so from my point of view there is nothing I can add. Thank you for supporting us and enjoy “Wolfbite”. Bitte schön und bis zum nächsten Mal. Viele Grüße. (ENG: You are welcome, till next time, best wishes).