The latest album from the German gothic metal/rock band Lacrimas Profundere is How To Shroud Yourself With Night. The band’s founding guitarist Oliver Nikolas Schmid fills us in on the new record, tour plans, social media and more.
Chad Bowar: Even with numerous lineup changes over the years, you have released a new album every 2 or 3 years for nearly 3 decades. To what do you attribute this consistency?
Oliver Nikolas Schmid: Thanks, but actually we are slow. Other bands release a new single or an EP every one and a half years or so. Otherwise you lose attention, especially with the streaming services. But as you mentioned, with the lineup changing it takes time to find the right people. Additionally, I really hate the part of songwriting and always need a kick in the ass to start. When I begin writing songs it kind of opens the gates of hell to my inner self. It’s always a hard process to write songs for me, because if a melody is good, but does not break my heart into pieces I will not use it and this is always a hard process for my inner self. But on the other hand I‘m stubborn and it needs to be done.
After the success of Bleeding The Stars, how did you approach writing its follow-up?
This time it really robbed me of some sleep. Finally, we were back on track and able to build on old successes and suddenly there it was, the daily question: is today the day to write something special? However, you can’t force it and you end up in perfectionism and overthinking things. Every artist has to fight this battle. As one becomes more successful, success becomes a predator. It has a beautiful side – playing in full clubs, good billing, happy affiliates, but it also puts pressure on you. Sometimes you have to try hard not to lose the fun, or ask yourself why you’re putting all this stress on yourself. I almost got eaten by it,
Was there anything unique about the songwriting process for How To Shroud Yourself With Night compared to recent albums?
Yes. We already had a lot of song ideas ready that would have been a safe bet and we wouldn’t have risked scaring away even one buyer. But I didn’t want an album that wouldn’t surprise anyone, that wouldn’t completely live up to expectations and wouldn’t bother anyone. I wanted the exact opposite, it should surprise, it should disturb, it should thrill because it’s fucking art and art is brave! This album is the “change and break with rules“ record.
Every change needs courage and the will to evolve, I would say. Whether it’s quitting your job to find yourself, going abroad for a year, getting a full body tattoo, jumping off the 10 meter diving board for the first time, or just visiting the Penis Museum in Iceland. Then when you put all of that together, you get a feeling of how we felt in the studio when the puzzle slowly came together and developed into a total work of art. It somehow felt like we were sitting in the same beer garden for decades and now we finally tried the pub across the street.
Do you find it easier to write songs now because you’ve been doing it for so long, or is it more challenging to avoid repeating what you’ve done before?
No, songwriting is never easy for me and I have to say it gets harder from album to album. You learn a lot every production but you also have the fear to overthink things. This time, what helped was the pandemic and that we thought at first that this could be our last album and that we have to simply do whatever comes in our minds. On the other hand, I have a big family and a very modest home. So I had to clear my recording room for child number 3, and the only place for me to rest was in the bathroom in front of the tub. So I locked myself in there and crouched in front of the toilet with my iPad and guitar. I hope this information will not be my downfall for everybody who was interested in the interview and the band until I dropped this information! (laughs)
What led you to work with producer Kristian “Kohle” Kohlmmannslehner again on this album?
We chose to work with this studio again, because we recorded the last album there and really liked the result. We did drums and guitars in the summer of 2020 and wanted to continue with the vocal sessions a month later but Corona said no and we had to stop production for almost 9 months. However, this situation gave us the freedom to re-think everything, change arrangements and vocals and record two new songs. Finally in July 2021 Julian and I returned for two weeks. The studio is in the middle of nowhere.
So that meant 14 days of only us and our music. No pressure of release dates or confirmed touring dates. We just let ourselves drift and I can proudly say that we didn’t do things because they were easy – but because they were difficult. Now as the album is finished, it feels like we crossed the borders of genres, During. the recordings we had to face some rainy days and I like the description that was born out of this situation, that there are people that feel the rain and others only get wet and this album is for the feelers! (laughs)
With this the second album with much of the lineup, did that make the recording process smoother?
Yes it did. I love to be with the current members. Since these guys joined, I feel that this is not only a band or job – it’s like a family, just like way back when I started it all. The chemistry is great and that spark transfers over to the people and our work in the studio. We like each other and it feels like everybody is working towards the same goal: Lacrimas fucking Profundere and its new album.
How has the band’s sound evolved from Bleeding The Stars?
It all started during the sessions for the Bleeding The Stars album back in 2018. There, I heard what Julian can do with his voice. I was amazed because he can simply sing anything; high, deep, harsh, guttural. This opportunity gave me the freedom to write it as it was in my head, without thinking about whether the singer can handle it or not. We took what we envision modern music to be and made a hybrid of who we were, who we are, and who we want to be. Is gothcore already born? If not, some of the tracks could be the blueprint. I love to read all the descriptions these days, like HIM meets metalcore, Dimmu Borgir meets The Cure, gothic power metal and I would say the title track sounds like Paradise Lost is on holiday in the hotel next to The Doors. All in all it seems we‘ve created a very multilayered album.
What lyrical topics do you cover this time around?
There is a recurring theme between all the tracks. The main theme of the album is the desire to simply disappear, to be invisible and to not have to deal with yourself and the outside world anymore. It’s about shadows, about darkness and mystical objects, which combine the unique power of nothingness. Getting shrouded by the night is a very dark idea; but when darkness surrounds you for a long time, it becomes kind of a trait of you. It is no longer the unknown but part of who you are. When one sees the night as beauty, fear also vanishes.
How did you come to sign with Steamhammer for this album?
The last album was released under the banner of Oblivion, a sublabel of Steamhammer. As our former A&R Gero left to find a new label, we decided to stay and only change to the main company.
You recently released the video for “To Disappear In You.” How did you decide on the concept?
This was the last track that was written for the album, so we had no room for overthinking, and I believe this is one of the strengths of this track. I would say, the music itself even reminds me sometimes of “The Final Countdown.“ (laughs) The voice is what makes it so damn heavy. It brings this Arch Enemy/Dark Tranquillity vibe to the table. About the concept, it was clear that we wanted do something with water, but originally we didn’t have the right location as we filmed the band performance parts. Julian is a very good producer and had the idea to film the underwater scenes in his Finnish home. It was harder than expected and we didn’t want to cancel the idea. So he simply bought a swimming pool and wanted to build it up at his balcony, but there was not enough space, so he decided to build it up in his kitchen. For this effort alone the clip deserves 500k views, doesn’t it?
How important are videos in the promotion process these days?
No idea, mate. As music television doesn’t exist anymore I don’t know. We take it as paid holidays. For example Jules and me visited Iceland some years ago to shoot there. We love the country so much and only had to do what other tourists do, be amazed by the wonderful landscapes.
Social media has become essential for bands today. Do you enjoy the transparency and interaction, or would you prefer the mystique of the days before social media?
We live in a digital world, doesn’t matter if I hate it. I’m kind of an old school guy who wants to play guitar, go on stage, drink a beer and do my job. I don’t want to share all my time on the road with the world outside. These days you have to hide your ass on the toilet if you don’t want to find yourself on social media platforms, and still then it’s not for sure! (laughs) Anyways, you have to go with the flow, otherwise you are going down. We‘re still not good at it, but Julian helps us out a lot to understand the algorithm and all this bullshit. Computers are deciding what my followers get to read and what not, shitty pictures with dumb people get much more clicks, instead of a link to pre-order the new album. Stupid world. Where is Marty McFly when I need him the most?
What have been the highlights of your summer touring this year?
M‘era Luna Festival, because it was the biggest one this year. 25,000 people and we were not on the billing. One day before the festival started we got a phone call to jump in. Not to forget the Rock am Härtsfeldsee, because this was the best performance we did in my opinion and we had time to watch the headliner Accept and listen to songs of my youth like “Princess Of The Dawn“ or “Fast As A Shark“! And the Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig was great.
Have you ever toured in North America?
No, sadly not. We had an offer many years ago, the working visas were done and suddenly our former drummer got ill. But like Ronnie James Dio said, dreamers never die. So promoters out there, drop me a line.
Is there a Lacrimas Profundere album that was underrated or overlooked when released, but has held up well?
All of them are underrated bro! (laughs) Filthy Notes For Frozen Hearts because it was also overlooked, but with the help of Bam Margera who played every single song in his MTV show Bams Unholy Union it has held up well. Not to forget the ballad “And God’s Ocean“ that rose to fame because Alissa White-Gluz covered it together with him. All in all I‘m not satisfied with the success of every release because our former support bands park with the nightliner at the festivals, we’re still driving from show to show in our small van. But I don’t give a shit, you can’t force success and it seems that we were simply never in the right place at the right time or probably too drunk, or already in the fast food restaurant around the corner when there were any lucrative offers. (laughs)
I’ve read you’re a TV fan. What’s the best show you’ve binge watched lately?
Oh, a hard one. I‘m a romantic ninja, this is not cool, I know, but fuck, we’re here to tell the truth. Ok, here you go: I love This Is Us a lot. You have to know, my wife is not into metal or action movies, so she invited me to watch it and what can I say, love it!
What genre of music do you generally listen to for pleasure?
All of the metal music outside is a pleasure to listen. Right now I’m on holiday in Italy, sitting on the veranda, sunny weather and Dio on headphones.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Thank you so much for the great questions and please let me add, that this album is different. Even if you already know Lacrimas and say “I’ve never liked them,“ just give it a spin, you’ll be surprised, I promise.
(interview published August 26, 2022)
Watch Lacrimas Profundere – “To Disappear In You” Video