Rock Overdose and Zisis Petkanas had the opportunity to talk to Matthew Greywolf, guitarist and main songwriter for Powerwolf.
Through their discussion, we learn everything surrounding their new album, "Call Of The Wild", the plans for the band's upcoming tour, as well as their memories from Greece.
Rock Overdose: Tonight on Rock Overdose we are hosting the guitarist of Powerwolf, mr. Greywolf. Hi Matthew and welcome.
Matthew Greywolf (POWERWOLF): Hello, pleasure is mine!
Rock Overdose: Did the pandemic affect the writing process of “Call Of The Wild”? And would you say that the songs are more of a result of teamwork or of individual writers?
Matthew Greywolf (POWERWOLF): The pandemic did not affect the songwriting at all. We decided to refuse to let the pandemic take over influence on our music. We were really happy that we were able to work on this album during the pandemic, to escape from what was happening around us. With the pandemic making touring impossible, it was easier to focus on writing an album, because in the past, there was always a festival or something that kept distracting us.
Rock Overdose: So you had plenty of time to focus on the writing process.
Matthew Greywolf (POWERWOLF): That’s right, it was definitely an advantage to have the time. As for the second part of the question, I have to say I am the main songwriter for the band and for the past couple of albums it’s always been like that, I’ve been preparing the songs and then presenting the songs to Attila, because it’s important that he can relate to the songs. Of course, with the pandemic it was a little more difficult, we couldn’t meet and rehearse, but it’s lucky that I have a pretty big house in the countryside, so we could set up room for Attila only and we got used to that pretty quick, so more or less we could work like we usually do.
Rock Overdose: Would you like to share a memory from the writing or recording process? Maybe something funny or something that made you proud to be a member of this band?
Matthew Greywolf (POWERWOLF): I’m particularly proud of the whole band that we made it and recorded the album through the course of the pandemic, with travel restrictions and everything. We decided to see it like an adventure, like a funny kind of thing, to see if the band member will make it to the studio. I’m really proud we pulled it off! I remember one very funny moment, when we went to record the classical choirs, usually we have like 20-30 classical singers in a big studio, but obviously with the pandemic situation this was not allowed. We didn’t want to cancel, we didn’t want to compromise, we wanted the album to be recorded as planned. So what we did was, instead of inviting a full choir for two days, we invited four singers each day and each singer was in one corner of the big recording hall, so they were separated. Finally, the recordings didn’t take two days, but two weeks, but we made it. We had 30 singers in the studio, and recorded each of them separately, which was an insane process to do and it took a long time and it was more expensive than usually, but I’m very proud we did this. We were like “fuck the pandemic, we go all the way and record a choir”, that’s the attitude it takes.
Rock Overdose: Your band has been very consistent with its releases, releasing a new album every 2-3 years, since the beginning. Is it challenging to stick to this schedule?
Matthew Greywolf (POWERWOLF): Sometimes yes. It’s not challenging in means of being inspired, we’re inspired all the time, it has become a little difficult in recent years, because we have increased touring a lot. For “Sacrament of Sin” we were touring like for two years. In the past it was easy to come up with an album in 2 years, because we didn’t tour that much. That’s what I told you about the good side of the pandemic, it made it easier to come up with the new album. But we don’t force ourselves, it always comes naturally to write the next album, it’s not like we have a fixed plan that says now it’s 2021, it’s time to write a new album.
Rock Overdose: Tell us a few words about the symbolism and concept behind the artwork of your new album. How does it tie with the songs?
Matthew Greywolf (POWERWOLF): I wouldn’t say that “Call Of The Wild” is a concept album, but there’s a couple of songs that refer to mythology about wild creatures. There’s basically three songs that stick to this concept, which are “Beast of Gévaudan”, “Varcolac” and “Blood For Blood”. All these songs deal with legends about wild animals, all three of them being, probably, wolves or werewolves and all three of them being historical legends. So, what we did on this album was have a storytelling approach, which we did not have in the past and I would say the focus is more on these legendary creatures, rather than religious topics, like we did in “Sacrament Of Sin”.
Rock Overdose: “Call Of The Wild” seems to follow your established style, one that your fans know and love from your previous work. Do you ever wonder if you should experiment more in your music or do you have what we call “a recipe for success”?
Matthew Greywolf (POWERWOLF): We do not have a recipe for success, I mean if we had, I would sleep way better, but I feel over the years we have established a very trademarked style of music, which I’m really proud of, I mean there is no other band that sounds like Powerwolf. Why try hard to change? It would not feel natural to me, the way the band sounds came up naturally, it wasn’t a master plan to sound exactly like that. To me it would feel not honest to try hard to change, just for the sake of surprising people. When we write a new album, we try to create new songs, it’s not like we try to sound like a jazz band, that’s how we sound! We are who we are and we have written a bunch of new songs. Writing a new album to me is like writing the next chapter to a book, so it’s gotta stick to the story that’s already written.
Rock Overdose: The first single you released for your new album is for “Beast Of Gévaudan”, but in French, as well as English. How did you decide to release it like this, is it to honor your French fans?
Matthew Greywolf (POWERWOLF): It certainly does, but that was not the thought about it. It was a little joking, so to say. We wrote the song in English, obviously, but Attila was recording the English lyrics and when the song was done, he just joked “well, we should do this in French”. For him it was a joke, but it got stuck in my head. Then, we asked a good friend from France if he could help with the lyrics and he did. A couple of days later, I confronted Attila with the idea and we tried it and it was so much fun to do! “That’s something nobody expects, so let’s do it, let’s see how it sounds!”. We had a lot of fun recording it and you know, using a new language gives a different atmosphere to the music. We liked the result and here we are, we have a French song!
Rock Overdose: So maybe you’ll think about using other languages in the future, maybe Greek!
Matthew Greywolf (POWERWOLF): It would probably be even harder, for a German, than speaking French, but why not? It’s artistic freedom to say “Let’s do a little adventure and see what happens”. One day we might end up creating something about Greek mythology or even Greek lyrics!
Rock Overdose: Your tour dates for 2021 do not include Greece. Was it your choice or was it coincidental?
Matthew Greywolf (POWERWOLF): No, that’s coincidence. If it was our choice, the tour dates would include all countries we’ve been to in the past. It was 2019 when we came to Greece for the first time and played in Athens and Thessaloniki, we had such a great time there, I can promise we will definitely come back to Greece. Once the pandemic is over, we will add a lot more dates, it’s coming up and I can definitely promise we’re coming back to Greece.
Rock Overdose: I think it’s a bad time to make touring plans, due to this pandemic. You never know when it will all go back to normal.
Matthew Greywolf (POWERWOLF): Definitely, there is not much of a choice, you either stick your head in the sand or you keep making music and make plans for a tour. If you gotta postpone, then you postpone, but it’s not an option not to make plans.
Rock Overdose: What about your cooperations for this album, especially with Alissa (White–Gluz)? How did this come up?
Matthew Greywolf (POWERWOLF): Spontaneously, this was also an idea that was not planned. We were touring in South America with Amon Amarth, right when the pandemic started. During this tour, after a few beers we had been joking with Johan Hegg, saying that his voice would sound great on one of the Powerwolf songs. He’s a very great and honest guy and he was like “yeah, let’s do that”. So when the tour was done and we were all staying home with the pandemic, we just came back to topic and we went to the studio and recorded “Nightside of Siberia” with his vocals. We heard it and it was a great outcome, so we thought to ask a few more singers. That was probably one of the positive aspects of the pandemic. If you tried to get such a project done, while all the bands are on tour, it would just not work.
Rock Overdose: And I have to admit that the song with Alissa has become one of my favorites.
Matthew Greywolf (POWERWOLF): When I heard it, I thought it was perfect, giving the song a totally different twist. It’s also unusual for Powerwolf fans, but it would not be that interesting, if the singers were to sing the same way as Attila. All of the singers we invited, we told them to take the song and make it their own, do whatever they think.
Rock Overdose: So what are your plans with the band? What are your next plans and your news?
Matthew Greywolf (POWERWOLF): First of all, we’re in the middle of preparing the tour, despite of the pandemic. It might get postponed, but we are prepared and ready. That’s what we are doing right now.
Rock Overdose: Would you like to leave a message to your fans, especially here in Greece?
Matthew Greywolf (POWERWOLF): I would like to thank the Greek fans for making these two shows such great, memorable nights, it was awesome and we really can’t wait to get back to Greece.
Rock Overdose: What are your memories from Greece?
Matthew Greywolf (POWERWOLF): There is one picture that I remember really really well, it’s when we went to play our show in Athens. We had a hotel at the middle of the city and I woke up very early, went to the rooftop of the hotel and I had this unbelievable view of the city of Athens and that was one of the moments, when I really felt “man, you’re a really lucky guy, you are able to travel to such wonderful places, because of the music you play”. I felt super thankful, I’ve never been to Athens before, but your music brings you to these places, it’s marvellous. I took the rest of the band to the rooftop like “come on, you have to see this”. It’s one of the moments I remember the most from that tour.
Rock Overdose: So, thank you very much for your time and for this interview.
Matthew Greywolf (POWERWOLF): Thank you very much, bye!
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