By Jeb Wright
Mob Rules are a German power metal band that were formed nearly twenty years ago. They have just released their seventh album titled Cannibal Nation that is a smoking slap of melodic metal that should help the band increase their international footprint.
Unlike many other bands in the genre, Mob Rules does not mind leaning slightly to classic metal of the past and incorporates all things Maiden, Sabbath, and, of course, DIO into their sound.
Read on to discover more about this band, as we talked with lead guitarist Sven Luedke about the new album.
Jeb: This is your seventh album and still the USA does not know much about you. Does it frustrate you that the USA seems to not care as much about metal as other countries?
Mob Rules: We are not frustrated about the situation for Mob Rules in the USA. I can’t just think about the attention we get or not get. All I can do is write songs I like and hope the people out there will like them too. Of course, we would love to get more dates in the USA. Playing San Francisco Bay Area Rock Fest and Atlanta Prog Power USA was a blast. The fans were awesome and visiting the USA is absolutely overwhelming.
Jeb: Cannibal Nation smokes man, but what an odd title. What the hell does it mean?
Mob Rules: Thanks, man. Yes, the title is kind of odd. It was like fooling around with words, sort of wordplay. The song is about Jean Bedel Bokassa, the President of South Africa in the seventies, who did horrible things to his people. We came up with these two words and we thought it was a great sounding and cryptic title.
Jeb: “Close My Eyes” is a great old school heavy rock track. Tell me about the writing of that song?
Mob Rules: Writing it was quite easy. Sometimes songs come almost by themselves. I always collect ideas like melodies, riffs, beats or chord changes when I play guitar at home. We had a lot of ideas we could choose from as we started to write. I came up with some riffs from my collection. Klaus [Dirks, vocalist] tried some vocal lines and then we had all we needed. All we had to do was arrange the songs and that’s always fun.
Jeb: Tell me the story behind “Scream for the Sun.”
Mob Rules: It’s about Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay climbing Mount Everest in 1953. It’s kind of a story about man against nature and going beyond your own limitations.
Jeb: You guys play a great mix of your own sound, but also have a classic feel to you. How do you describe the sound of Mob Rules?
Mob Rules: There are a lot of influences within the band, from sixties/seventies hard rock to modern death metal. There are some styles that everyone in the band likes, like prog rock/metal and classic heavy metal, so it has a classic feel, like you said. Funny thing is, no matter what styles we combine, it always sounds like Mob Rules. It is important to us that it is strongly melodic and heavy. That’s why we call it melodic metal.
Jeb: Let’s talk influences… Dare I say DIO? I mean he was on the classic Sabbath album Mob Rules.
Mob Rules: Of course DIO is an influence that we can’t deny. Everybody within the band knows and loves his music. But there are a lot of bands like Iron Maiden, Queensryche and Black Sabbath that have an influence on our music. The older I get, the more I listen to the classic stuff I grew up with as a child. But, like I said before, no matter what we do, in the end, it sounds like Mob Rules.
Jeb: Being from Germany are you all Scorpions fans? Describe how important they are to German metal history?
Mob Rules: To be honest, I have never been a fan. I really liked Blackout and Love at First Sting as a child. I think they are very important to German metal history as the Scorpions are the only German metal band that is successful all over the world.
Jeb: How about Uli Jon Roth?
Mob Rules: As a guitar player you are influenced by Uli Jon Roth. Every guitar player knows about his impact on modern guitar playing, especially the classical stuff. He is a great Hendrix connoisseur.
Jeb: How does the band approach lead guitar solos? I love how you all mix balls to the wall solos with harmony solos and even really orchestrated fast runs. Tell me how you make it happen?
Mob Rules: This time I tried a different approach to the solos. Klaus and Matthias [Mineur, guitarist] asked if I could not work out my solos, but to try a more improvised approach. Having my own studio in my house, I had the chance to do so. It was fun.
I learned a lot about music theory, scales and all that stuff when I was young. It’s important and helpful for the songwriting process. When it comes to soloing, I love to extemporize. So, it was not that much writing solos, than playing whatever came to my mind. I think it worked out well.
Jeb: Have you thought of doing another DVD?
Mob Rules: Yes. We are thinking about bringing out the Atlanta Prog Power show on DVD.
Jeb: Back to the album, tell me about the song “Ice & Fire.”
Mob Rules: It’s about the abduction of Ingrid Betancourt and how this torment changed her; how she sees things differently today. The song evolved from a little idea I had while giving guitar lessons. It’s this little and simple melody that appears in the beginning of the song and appears again and again. It gave the song this kind of Celtic, folkloristic direction. One evening, Klaus and I sat together and worked on this idea and six hours later we had this strange song.
Jeb: What bands influence your sound that might surprise people? I hear some progressive rock influence underneath the power.
Mob Rules: That’s right. I listened to a lot of prog rock/metal bands like Dream Theater, Queensryche and also Pink Floyd, Marillion and even TOTO. Trying to do things differently is the most progressive aspect in our music. At the same time, it’s important for us not to sound apparently progressive. No showing-off stuff, if you know what I mean. I also listen a lot to death metal bands like Opeth and In Flames and I like Evergrey and Katatonia a lot.
Jeb: What does the future hold?
Mob Rules: If I knew I’d be a rich man! I hope that we can go on like we do now.
Jeb: You played Wacken… A lot of people in America do not even know about this festival. Lets tell them what it is and what it is like to play there.
Mob Rules: First of all it’s the biggest metal festival on our planet. It is like metal Mecca. As a metal head you have to be there. As a band, it is awesome to see your band’s name on the poster. Wacken has a worldwide reputation as the most important metal festival. I have been there for the last 16 years.
Jeb: If you cold go back in history and join any band then who would it be?
Mob Rules: That’s a tough one, man! I think it would be [Iron] Maiden. As I discovered The Number of the Beast as a kid it was like: “Oh my god, I want to become a musician.” It blew me away.
Jeb: Tell me about this band live as I have never seen you in person. How important is being able to pull all of this of in concert? Do you improvise live or keep it like the album?
Mob Rules: This band is a real live band. People are always surprised how strong this band is on stage. The live shows are very enjoyable because everyone within the band plays for the audience, not for himself. There’s a lot of interaction going on between the musicians and the audience. No shoe-gazing and introvert behavior. We always have fun on stage and you can see it in our faces.
Jeb: What would make 2013 a perfect year for Mob Rules?
Mob Rules: Selling a lot of records and playing as many shows as possible. It’s that simple. That’s what we love to do and what keeps this band alive.
Jeb: Last one: Share with me the band’s biggest accomplishment as well as the band’s biggest disappointment.
Mob Rules: Being where we are with the band is the biggest accomplishment. Being around for almost 18 years now is evidence that we are doing right. There were three shows booked with DIO and Mob Rules in Germany that had to be cancelled when he [Ronnie James Dio] got sick. We felt so sorry for him and were deeply sad, as we got the message that he died. You can imagine that we would have loved to share stage with him again.
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