Veteran German power metallers Mob Rules are issuing their ninth studio album, Beast Reborn. Guitarist Sven Ludke fills us in on a new member, the new album, touring, the evolution of the music industry, his non-musical interests and more.
Chad Bowar: You’ve had a lineup change since the last album. How did guitarist Sonke Janssen come to join the band?
Sven Ludke: Sönke is a former guitar student of mine and a long-time friend. When we needed a new guitarist, he was my first choice. I knew he was an excellent guitarist and a nice, sociable person. He jumped in to play the tours and gigs. Now he is a permanent member of the band.
Was there anything unique about the songwriting process for Beast Reborn compared to previous albums?
Not really. We worked in my studio in my house like we did before. With Tales From Beyond we started to write songs more intuitively, not overthinking ideas over and over again. Faster decisions, and that is what we did with Beast Reborn as well. It is a very relieving experience to work like that, but it needs a lot of confidence.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
For me it was the recording of the guitar solos. In the past I had to write and record all the lead guitar stuff by myself. Now I had Sonke at my side, who contributed some great solos and that was quite inspiring to have another guitar player in the studio.
Did you struggle with song order at all?
A little bit. We had some discussions with the record label concerning the order of the songs. But in the end we found an order both sides were happy with.
What inspired the album title?
The title should make clear that there is a feeling of a new beginning in the band. Many things within the band and a lot of personal experiences and strokes of fate have shaped the last years of the members of this band. But we realized that this made us stronger and we tackled this album with strength and energy. This processing of various events is also reflected in the lyrics of many songs.
How has your sound evolved from Tales From Beyond?
Beast Reborn actually continues what we started with Tales From Beyond. A more spontaneous, intuitive approach than we used to have sometimes. The new album is even more influenced by the previously mentioned experiences and therefore perhaps even more personal. But the writing and production process was also more stressful. Which is good for the album overall.
What were some of the highlights of your summer festival shows?
Definitely the show at Bang Your Head festival. Great festival, nice people and a very good organization.
You have some German shows coming up. Any plans for a North American tour this album cycle?
Not yet, unfortunately. But we would very much like to come back to the USA to play there.
How was the video shoot for “Ghost Of A Chance”?
That was a lot of fun. That was the most elaborate and demanding video shoot we have done so far. Filming the whole day and night was really exhausting, but we are very satisfied with the result.
How important are videos these days?
Very important. Especially since younger people often listen to music on YouTube and a video has become part of it.
How much attention do you pay to reviews?
We read most of the reviews, especially since the promotion department of the record company sends us the reviews. But you have a certain distance to it and know when someone really has dealt with the music and the band and when someone just wants to nag. That happens, and you just check it off.
The industry has changed a lot in your 25 years as a band. What impact has the evolution from buying physical music to paying a monthly fee to services like Spotify and Apple Music had?
As you can imagine for sure, it has a very big influence. You just can’t make money in the music business anymore. And that happens on all levels, record companies and all others who have to live on sales are dealing with the same problems. It is expected that you deliver professional work, but you cannot live from what is generated by physical sales and streaming services. That’s why we all have regular work and do it in addition to everything else. 80 hour work weeks are not uncommon to us in certain production phases.
Looking back at your catalog, are there any albums that you think were overlooked or underrated when they were released, but have stood the test of time?
One album that I think is underrated and that I like very much is Cannibal Nation. There are really great songs on it and has a wide range of moods.
What are your non-musical interests and hobbies?
I love to do sports and to work out in the fitness studio. But with the workload you do during the week and even on weekends sometimes there is a lack of time and energy.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
The Firepower album by Judas Priest.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
First of all, thank you for the interesting questions. The most important thing you can tell people is to support the music scene and the bands. Go to concerts and buy the records so the bands can go on and new bands can have a future.
(interview published August 24, 2018)