Metal-Rules.com Interview with Producer Sascha Paeth
Interviewed By EvilG
If you don't know the name Sascha Paeth, then you haven't been
listening to the same albums as me, or if you have, you haven't read the
album credits. The production team of Sascha and Miro is quickly
becoming legendary for producing such fine melodic and symphonic metal
albums by bands like Rhapsody, Angra, Kamelot and Luca
Turilli. Some of
you might also recognize Sascha's name from his time spent as lead
guitarist with the German band Heaven's Gate. The interesting thing I
learned about this is that this style of music is not even Sascha's
forte! I spoke to him about that and about how he manages to poll together
so much talent into an album. This is a fairly lengthy interview but I'm
sure anyone who is a fan of the aforementioned bands or anyone who is
interested in a behind the scenes look at what a producer's role is,
will find this quite interesting.
to the interview in MP3 format
(42mins long, 9.8mb)
lot of people see the name "producer" listed on a CD but they
donīt really know what a producer does, can you tell me in a nutshell
what your job as a producer entails?
You can see that basically like a director in a movie for example.
You basically try to keep the things together in a musical way, the
artistical overview, you have to keep an overview of all the things and
try to make one finished product out of it. So you are basically
directing the whole stuff and try to keep an eye on everything that is
going on but itīs basically about the artistical work.
When youīre working with a band can you describe what a
typical working day might be like for you?
It depends on recording. Iīm also an engineer. So usually we start
recording drums you know that means you set up the drums and place the
microphones...and start recording (laughs). That's the normal way these
days. People donīt record live anymore. Usually itīs not happening
like that. Sometimes we do pre-production before that, you know, so the
producer goes to maybe the rehearsal room or maybe he goes to small
studio. Rearrange a little bit...go in the studio and set up the drums
do the drum recording. And then you normally do bass later or maybe play
that together with the drums already. You do that with all the
instruments and then, of course, in the meantime you also always talk
about the arrangements to see what's been changed in the recording
because it comes out different. So itīs also varying a lot. Sometimes
can be very good artistically, sometimes can be very bad. Sometimes it
takes a week of sorting out stuff you can use or sometimes you just
decide this song is not good and we have to re-record everything. We
have to do it in a different key because the singer doesn't sound good
in that key...all these things, you know.
So is a typical day I donīt guess itīs 9-5 but itīs pretty
much when the band is ready I assume?
Yes and usually a lot of before and after. Also these days there is a
lot about editing and this modern sound that everybody wants to have. Itīs
not only like setting up drums. Thereīs a lot of work behind it that
sounds like it sounds today. From fifteen to twenty years ago you could
listen, you hear songs completely different. Usually weaker.
The older stuff is weaker?
Itīs not as rich or full maybe?
Yes. It is pretty modern to have a lot of things going. But that also
means you have to take a lot of care about the sound, work on it more to
the detail. Itīs a lot of work. So most of the time... for example if
you want to have a heavy sound you donīt get around with working with
samples. This is also for example part of this job.
Right. Do most of the bands you work with use Triggers on their
drums these days?
I decide that later. I never record triggers. If I need it. Usually I
use a trigger on a snare but only on top to fill it up with what it
needs. If I need some bottom from the trigger and the same goes for the
bass. I donīt like triggering everything (laughs) Itīs just a lot of
work. So thatīs really one thing. [They want the sound maybe]
Yes, they want the click and we just... actually really unnatural. Can't
have that punch anymore plain so this is one of the reasons.
read some people criticize RHAPSODY and say that their first album
"Legendary Tales" is a drum machine and not a drummer. Is that
true or is that just the way the drums sounded or maybe you donīt want
to comment on that?
(laughing) Listen and judge yourself.
It sounded like drums to me! (laughs)
Yeah... sometimes you have to work on that stuff (laughing). This
music, you canīt even tell if itīs through your drums, the way you
present it later on. Itīs so extreme sometimes because there's no space
left for the natural sound because itīs really full. It wouldn't really
matter if it's real drums or not. I think it also doesn't really make a
big difference for the fans because the result is what is counting. If
you can get the result with sampled drums then do it you know. JUDAS
PRIEST did that too, you know. But everybody should listen and judge for
himself. (both laughing) I donīt tell anything.
Yeah, thatīs ok. Your studio Gate Studios; Iīve read that itīs
out in the country located like in a farm area. Do you find this or do
the bands find it strange that they come there to create some of the
greatest metal recordings in the world.
First of all I donīt think they come because of the studio itself.
We just set up a studio there to record HEAVEN'S GATE. I just decided to
do something more there. We did a lot of recordings there. Itīs not
like the most convenient, nicest studio in the world. And the people
usually donīt care so much. Itīs just like if the atmosphere... If
they care, we can just go somewhere else.
So roughly how long have you been producing albums and did you
learn the art by doing or by taking specific training courses or working
Yes. I was actually never planning to do this job. I was only
recording records with my own band, and taking over some recordings here
and there. Starting out with machine handling and stuff. Ten years ago
in the old days...[Old days, ten years?!]. Yeah but the
time is running fast these days. When we started out with HEAVENīS GATE
there was no a-dat, there was no digital machines except the big Sony
ones or Mitsubishi ones like something out of space and not normal. So I
did some tape handling and learned it here and there. One day Charlie,
the producer at that time for HEAVENīS GATE, asked me to take over
production for him for a couple of days. And I was just jumping into
cold water (that's a German saying) and said "Ok Iīll do it".
I was like zero to a hundred and right away. So I was sitting in the big
studio with the whole sound studio, with fucking no clue what Iīm doing
and just doing it (laughing). From that point on, that day on, we worked
together because it worked out somehow and we just did productions
together. There was like one day and I did it alone and I donīt know, I
never planned it. I wanted to be a musician originally.
Your band HEAVENīS GATE was not known for having big symphonic
type productions so how did you end up becoming known as a producer for
these grand orchestrated productions by bands like RHAPSODY or KAMELOT?
I donīt know. (both laugh) Actually it started out I think with the
first ANGRA record. We did the... I was also doing a lot of keyboard
programming and orchestration at that time. We just had this idea for
the first ANGRA record to just put a lot of like symphonic stuff in this
music and thatīs what we did. It was really a big success, this record
with gold in Japan. Somehow bands like RHAPSODY came and they were fans
of ANGRA. So they listened to this stuff and they decided to do it. It
was just because we basically tried that with ANGRA and from that day on
the people were coming and asking for that because they liked it
somehow. I was also never planning this actually I come from a complete
different direction of music. I also donīt come from the Heavy Metal
field basically before I joined HEAVEN`S GATE. Also I joined HEAVEN`S
GATE because I was usually playing solos on the record. They asked me to
play solos, it was a hired position.
So what style of music would you say is your background?
It was a big variety. When I was young I basically played, I was in
almost starting to study jazz guitar. I didnīt do that then. I played
some jazz and fusion stuff, funky stuff, bluesy stuff also rock, always
rock music at the same time. I always liked that, you know, the dirty
stuff. But really heavy metal I basically didnīt play until I joined
HEAVEN`S GATE which was two months before the actual recording of the
first record. So then I stuck to that scene somehow. This is how it
happens. This symphonic stuff I was not doing that until the ANGRA
record with just this idea we tried that, I donīt know (laughter).
So you donīt only produce but on a number of albums you
contribute some guitar, bass and backing vocals. Is this usually the
case what happens with all the bands you work with?
Not with all the bands but Iīm invited kind of often to play on the
record. I did some RHAPSODY string stuff. I played Mandolin and what is
this Russian instrument. A lot of strange things. The Turkish
instruments, I try out a lot of stuff. People like it. When I have
something weird or something special I just try it myself if itīs
possible at all, if Iīm able to do it.
Many producers are just responsible for "producing"
but youīre known for also being able to bring in guest musicians like
choirs, opera singers, string musicians that the bands themselves might
not be able to track down. Does having this advantage make you more sought
after or more popular with bands who are looking for those elements in
donīt know, maybe it is. I was never thinking about that. I usually donīt
think about what Iīm doing, I just do it. I have a lot of contacts a
lot of friends of mine. This one friend who has appeared on the Rhapsody
record a couple of times. He was studying classical guitar and then
lute, classical lute / Baroque lute. So he did like both and he knows a
lot of people and I basically ask him a lot of times. You meet people
here and there and check it out and in the end of almost ten years you
know a lot of people. Itīs just, usually I get along with the people
fine, you know, so thereīs never a problem with working with people so
I can always ask them again and after awhile you have a pool of people.
And plus I have a couple of friends here in this area which are very
good musicians. For example Robert the bass player from HEAVENīS GATE,
but heīs a very good drummer as well. Basically heīs a drummer and a
guitar player. Heīs only playing bass because we didnīt have a bass
player for HEAVEN`S GATE. (both laugh) I use him a lot of times for
drums. Itīs just very nice. Miro does keyboards a lot of times. A little
bit of luck that you know good people.
I know youīve worked with a number of Metal bands like weīve
mentioned RHAPSODY, ANGRA and KAMELOT have you also done any work with
any non-metal bands?
Yes I do that quite often.
Can you give me some examples?
Yeah, thereīs this German band called WIDE MOUTH, you probably donīt
know itīs called HYPER CHILD. Their in the charts right now. Thatīs
more pop rock. I worked with SISTERīS OF MERCY for example and they had
some number one hits, actually in the eighties with this dark kind of
pop music, originally produced by Bruce Steedman. You know this guy? [Bruce
Steedman, you say?] He did the MEATLOAF stuff, all the MEATLOAF
recordings. I did some programming on this one and I also did Punk. I
did everything already. Having fun in basically every kind of music.
Do you prefer working on these orchestrated type symphonic
Theyīre more difficult I assume?
No, actually my personal taste is more, I like more this vintage kind
of recording. I tend to look for like natural sounds and if you go for
this extreme Heavy Metal you have to go down to sounds that aren't
natural anymore. I prefer to actually try around with more sounds,
guitar sounds, different drum sounds. You know when you listen to Heavy
Metal records you usually have one drum sound going all the way through,
you know what I mean? You have double guitars all the way. Itīs like a
different guitar song. So then of course if you try to do the symphonic
stuff because it needs something that changes the same. But basically Iīm
more into the vintage kind of recordings. If I choose between LED
ZEPPELIN and any modern speed metal band I would probably go for LED
ZEPPELIN, not because of the name but just talking about production and
how much I can put myself into there. Itīs also fun to do the other
stuff. Basically I work with these people because I like the people. If
I like the people I donīt have to really love the music. I can still go
into it and like it but it doesnīt have to be my passion.
So, you must like RHAPSODY a fair bit, or LUCA TURILLI , because you
played bass on his solo album, correct?
Thatīs true, yes.
Will you be playing on his next solo album again?
Probably, yes. Itīs just like you know he asked me "can you
play the bass" and I say "yes". Why not? Just do it and
Does the successes of bands like RHAPSODY that youīve seen
them obtain in the last couple of years made you ever think, "hey,
I should have my own symphonic metal band" or that is not your
"passion" as you would call it?
Not at all, no. Of course HEAVENīS GATE is kind of over.
Yeah, I was going to ask you about that too...
Itīs kind of over. Over the years we just basically split in a
natural way because it just didnīt meet anymore. I have a new band and
this is more Rock orientated. A little bit like in a QUEEN direction
maybe and this is what I want to do.
Whatīs the name of the band?
VIRGO. VIRGO like a virgin, Itīs together with André Matos
from ANGRA (Ed. Note: He's ex-Angra now and has his own band called
Shaman). Itīs more like a duet, duo.
What's your plans?
We just recorded an album. This is the one.. all together in one
room, anticipate recording. Our clique. Just like one, two, three, four
letīs go. Of course all this sounds different.
I assume you played guitar in that?
Yes. Also played bass on a couple of tracks because we have seven
songs recorded that way and four songs that were recorded here. On this
one I also played the bass.
So do you get more satisfaction from producing as opposed to
playing in a band or is it two completely different worlds?
No, itīs one world for me. Everything is really connected. So like
you already said it can also happen that I play some stuff in the
production so itīs really connected. I donīt prefer this or that. Itīs
just like when I am doing one thing for too long time I would like for
there to be other things. You know what I mean so Iīm always changing,
Iīm producing more than Iīm playing of course. I like both actually.
HEAVENīS GATE actually contribute a song to The
Keepers Of Jericho: A Tribute To HELLOWEEN you chose the song 'A
little Time'. [Yes] Was there any significance in why you chose that
It was leftover. (laughing)
The ones you wanted were taken??? (both laughing)
No, there was a couple of course for choosing. And you know I knew
this HELLOWEEN stuff from when I was 16, you know. It was actually the
only Heavy Metal album I had on tape. I liked this song. This was the
one song that I remembered and this ballad one and I just said I like
this song, "letīs do this one". And also Thomas, the singer,
liked the idea and we just did it. It was possible... we didnīt want to
have this speed song with extreme metal bass and extreme arrangements.
We just wanted to have like an easy song thatīs a little bit
So was that the last recording that HEAVEN`S GATE has done?
[Yes] Thatīll be it for the band now?
Seems like it.
Seems like it... (laughing) Would you like there to be
Yeah, maybe yes, but not now. I really want to do this other thing
now. I think itīs over. Weīll see. Actually, we still have a contract.
Actually, the record company doesnīt even know (both laughing) that weīre
going to split up basically. It just doesnīt make any sense if you
never meet and thereīs not this band feeling anymore. You donīt have
this idea together so why do it, it doesnīt make sense. Maybe if we
have the feeling like in three or four years again we think we have to
do this kind of music again we just do it but for now itīs over.
KAMELOT are one of the, in my opinion, better bands that have
come out of the United States in the past few years. Can you talk a
little bit about the band and how you came to produce them?
Ok. I think the same. First of all I really like the band because
they sound different. I like the way Roy sings for example. Itīs
completely different, totally atmosphere. This is one of the big points
for me that I like it and they are very open to influences. They would
just like try everything out, you know. Theyīre easy to work with and
very nice people so I just like the people. It was just happening that
Thomas (Ed. Note: Thomas
Youngblood - guitarist for Kamelot) was calling me, he was
listening to, I donīt know, LUCA TURILLI or RHAPSODY and he was just
calling me and asking to do the record. We decided I go over to America
so Iīve gone to Florida for two weeks. We did a kind of pre-production
there like nice pre-production in the sun on the balcony. (both laugh)
That was cool! We worked on the songs then they came over to Germany
with the recording and everything worked out fine. Thatīs it and then
they liked it and so we continued working together. Just the normal way.
So you are right, itīs something special with me. Same with RHAPSODY
actually. I really like the people. Itīs like we became friends, also
with KAMELOT. Itīs most important to me I would say.
Kahn, Sascha Paeth and Thomas
I noticed on KAMELOTīs
new CD "Karma" it runs for 55 minutes and 55 seconds. I
read that or heard on the KAMELOT web page that you did this kind of as
a joke for the idea of, the album is kind of like the fifth legacy?
(laughing) You know, I did a couple of interviews today already and
youīre the second person telling me this now. I didnīt know this was
my idea. (more laughing)
Well, what were you thinking when you extended the length of
the last track?
We were talking about that. Maybe Iīm wrong in telling you this but
it wasn't my idea. It was like somebody else's idea. I think Thomas
maybe. They just write it down on the web page to make me responsible or
irresponsible (laughing). Fooling the people for seven minutes. The
initial idea was actually started with the fifth album and thought itīs
funny to put it in at four times five this play. Thatīs all, you know.
Just had the idea in the very beginning. If it had been twenty seconds
more it would have also been 55 minutes. You talk about it...
So have you ever done anything like that on anyone else's
album? Have you been asked to do one of those tricks where the CD ends
or you think it ends?
We do these things not only when it ends but also in a song hidden
stuff. Miro and I, we like this kind of shit. (laughs) We did that with
HEAVENS GATE with the "Menergy" album. There was like this
vocal track that Thomas would sing, like our singer for example he was
doing, this is not funny for English people actually, because he was
doing this thing called lower Saxony accent. Which is like from the
Eastern part of Germany. Itīs a very extreme accent. Itīs like the
countryside of America, really extreme. But he was singing English with
this German Eastern accent only for fun in the recording. And we were
haha and laughing and we kept it. We just put it on the recording
without telling him, so he was listening to the record and heard him
singing this lower Saxony accent. You know sometimes we just do this.
is also getting all into this.
Here's a question that I guess applies to RHAPSODY more than
some of the other bands you have worked with. Iīd be interested to know
what in your opinion makes a band sound "epic". Is it their
style of writing or is it something that you can do with the production
sound that kind of makes the band sound a little more "epic"
Both I would say. Basically itīs the composition. You can hear that
with the melody. Basically, epic, first of all you have to define epic.
What is Epic for you? I think if it sounds big and mighty, [Yeah] no?
Yeah, well RHAPSODY defines epic in many aspects for me.
Epic for me would not be if you have this like, if you have this parts
that has this sound, this film score feeling. A soundtrack feeling, you
know? Not necessarily epic to me. Epic to me is like a chorus in every
song. [Right, an epic sounding chorus, yes] Also without
the big choir it would be epic because the melody is epic. Also the
rhythm should not be too complicated. It should be easy going. I think
itīs more of a matter of for example, the Italians, a couple of Italian
bands do this kind of music. Italian folk music is also kind of epic.
The roots of Italian music is very epic. They have this mentality. These
RHAPSODY people, they really have have this mentality. They sing for me
like very loud like a typical Italian. Itīs also a matter of mentality.
Right. I know RHAPSODY have expressed a kind of musical kinship
with big Hollywood epic productions like Braveheart and Gladiator. Have
they ever asked you to help them sound more like the way those movies
look and feel, and if they have, what kind of suggestions do you give to
Ok so first of all. They ask for a similar sound. It is very hard to
achieve because they also want to have like double bass that is blowing
your head away at the same time. Of course like this film score
soundtrack this lives for dynamics. Dynamics you donīt have in Heavy
Metal so they just ask me if there is any possibility to have everything
at the same time. And we try and work it in the songs here and there. I
think it needs more care still. It maybe is for the next production we
will do it a bit more extreme make it more dynamic and get everything
for the same time. They ask for big sounds, big things and big
everything. (both laughing) We just try to do it.
RIght. Do you feel these types of symphonic metal type
productions are breaking new ground and are possible attracting fans who
are not the typical Heavy Metal / Power metal fans?
Thereīs a very strange thing about this music that was already with
the first RHAPSODY that we did. Some people who didnīt listen to Heavy
Metal at all liked it. So itīs somehow opening the market a little for
other people. There are a couple normal people that would never listen
to this type of music and thatīs because of basically good melodies.
They care about the melodies in the first place. Melodies that you can
remember, sing along. This is opening also for other people. I forgot
the question (laughs).
Maybe a fan of Classical music can listen to a Rhapsody album,
even if they are not a metal fan?
I think a fan of Classical music would have a hard time because I
think they would miss the dynamics. Maybe itīs too saturated some how.
I think people listening to normal pop music find it interesting. Maybe
some people are seriously into Classical music will find that a little
bit too much. But they also wouldn't ever listen to heavy metal.
I guess the same goes for someone like me who listens to Heavy
Metal. Listening to RHAPSODY is almost like listening to Classical
music. I donīt listen to very much straight Classical music except for
some of the movie scores. Listening to RHAPSODY opens up doors for
people who only listen to metal to maybe get into something different.
I have a lot of contact with journalists when we do this presentation
for the RHAPSODY records. This is sort of a trend now of people
listening to film scores. I have to say that was not there before. I
think it ever started with this thing somehow. They were always talking
about film scores here and there and somehow it became popular. I think
they are a little bit pioneers with this direction. [Oh yeah! I
think so.] It also means they open up people's heads to
other things. For once you are open for more different sounds or more
atmospheres you might go ok, now I'm going to buy this record for
the soundtrack with only this type of music that RHAPSODY has included
in their music and suddenly they are open to other styles and would also
go for something else in the end. In the end variety of music people
listen to is going to be .. which is always good.
what are your plans or your working plans for the rest of this year and
what bands are you planning to be working with?
Right now Iīm doing work for this Dutch band called Helloise. At the
same time I am basically doing part of the mix for a Brazilian project.
I have one guy sitting next to me right now. [What band is
that?] It is a project of 15 bands. I can only say
itīs a classical theme. I donīt know ... already talking about it, I
just donīt know it. Like I said this Dutch band thatīs going to be
finished next week. Then next week, Thursday actually, RHAPSODY will
come here and weīre going to start the next record. Then I have to go
on a promotion tour with my own band, with VIRGO, which will be in the
middle of the RHAPSODY production. This I come back and
finish the RHAPSODY and work on LUCA TURILLI and work on, do the mix for
SHAMAN along with their vocal and guitar recording. SHAMAN is the other
new band with Andre Mateos (ex Angra). It's a heavy metal band. And a
lot of stuff you know. Alex
Staropoli from Rhapsody is planning to do a solo album. Iīm
basically booked until next year in April or I donīt know.
So I guess you are so booked you had to turn bands away or a
lot of times, do you?
Yeah, I did that a couple of times. Sometimes I take too much. That
would just happen to me these days. The reason these Brazilian people
are here and I just have to cancel at the last minute because I wasnīt
done mixing. It was a pity because they had booked their flights and everything.
Fortunately Miro took over the mixing they were happy with the solution.
Now I'm only doing two of their songs and Miro will do the rest. So this
happens often. I donīt know.
Where do you find time for a personal life amongst all this?
Basically I mix a lot of records. Itīs also about like doing
overdubs or vocals recordings. I do that in my small studio at home. I
do all the mixes at home and all the editing. Basically Iīm home all
the time. I work a lot but Iīm always there. My personal life, my life
is basically music. In my private life I do music as a hobby. It doesnīt
make a difference if I work all the time or follow my hobby. Iīm not
the type of person that can sit in front of the TV set and watch that TV
all night. Itīs impossible. Itīs just like driving me crazy. I can do
that for ten minutes when I eat something but thatīs it or go to bed
when Iīm totally wasted.
So is there any other things happening that youīd like me to
let people know about or have we covered just about everything?
I donīt know. Uhhmmm...
Maybe you can tell me a little bit more to end off about VIRGO
and when this will be available and things like that?
This is going to be released in the end of August beginning of
September and itīs going to be a simultaneous world wide release.
Do you have a label for it already?
Yes, itīs going to be released with SPV exclusively. Ok, in Japan
they did a deal that it was JVC. I think itīs set up for the whole
world already except like some small countries. I think South America
isnīt 100% set and also we wait for North America as well. We have a
possibility to release it there too but we want to wait a little bit.
Whole North America with this kind of music... well, actually itīs not
this kind of music because itīs not Heavy Metal this time but itīs not
so easy to get a release in North America. Before we do a very small
release we thought we'd just not release it at all. We try to find
someone who we can work this music a little bit better. This is a cross
over thing. It can be be marketed in the pop market as well. This is
what we planned to really work on this and make it happen. We'll also go
on tour in the Autumn. So we basically go on a world tour.. not really a
world tour but like South America, Japan and whole Europe.
Of course North America gets left out as usual...
Yeah... the problem is itīs a very big country and without big time
promotion you canīt also really play there. You have to find somebody
for doing that promotion. You canīt go over there to play for 10
people. It doesnīt make sense if you only pay for playing. We would
love to do it of course but things have to be prepared well. Weīll see
what the future brings. If you can arrange that for us?? (laughs)
(laughs) Yeah. Well I guess thatīs all the questions I have.
It was a pleasure to talk to you. [It was also a please to talk with
you.] All the best with VIRGO and all your work that you are very busy
Thank you very much!
Transcription kindly provided by Skyklad from
Thanks to The Swedish
Rhapsody page for some of the in the studio pictures.
Đ2001 Metal Rules!!