German post-metal group LONG DISTANCE CALLING have made a welcome return to form on their latest album Boundless. It’s a heady mix of evocative atmosphere, thunderous riffs, and excellent music. It encourages listeners to push against their own boundaries, to let go and fall because, just maybe, they might fall up. We caught up with guitarist Florian Füntmann to ask just what goes into such an album?
On first listen, there’s an obvious difference between Boundless and your previous two albums, which is the lack of vocals. The fundamental sound is still there, but Boundless is more of a return to albums like Avoid The Light and Long Distance Calling…
Florian: Yes definitely!! I think the music on our last two albums The Flood Inside and Trips still sounded like Long Distance Calling. The vocals made the difference for me and I guess for our fans as well. And of course vocals or no vocals is a big difference which totally changes the way people perceive music. Beside that the music on Boundless is again a bit more atmospheric and jam based which means a bit more spontaneously like our first three albums. More heart and less brain [laughs].
What inspired you to include vocals on The Flood Inside and Trips, and why did you decide not to use them on Boundless?
Florian: When we started to write the songs for The Flood Inside we wanted to try something new. We had vocals on our previous albums and really liked them so we wanted to try to focus a bit more on that. The problem is that on Trips we didn’t have a singer who was a real member of LONG DISTANCE CALLING. Petter did a great job and it was really fun to work with him but on the other hand the whole process was really exhausting mentally and physically. Petter lives in Norway and has his own projects and because of that we had to plan everything like rehearsals, recordings and shows very long in advance. We weren’t able to keep the spontaneous feeling which I think is big part of the LONG DISTANCE CALLING sound. This time we wanted to get rid of unnecessary stress and write the album in a relaxed atmosphere. We wanted to return to the easy going feeling while writing the songs.
Given how divided the fans seemed to be over the use of vocals, would you consider using them in future?
Florian: At the moment I think we would use vocals again but not as a main thing. More like we did in the past on one or two songs maybe. When the right songs comes along it could happen.
The melodies on Boundless, particularly on Out There, seem to be more mournful than on previous albums. However, looking into the short story by Benedikt van der Spaans on your website, Boundless seems to be focused on moving beyond one’s comfort zones. Is there any kind of core concept or story to Boundless as a whole, or is each song its own story?
Florian: The idea behind Boundless is going back to basics, about us as a band and human beings going back to our origins. With questions like who are we? What is the origin? Where are we going? We are looking into the future while not knowing where the journey takes us and being free from external and internal boundaries and rules. Every song is a part of this journey and therefore its own little story. We tried to make the song titles and the music fit into that.
How has the composition process changed for you across your albums?
Florian: On our first two albums the whole process of composing was a bit naive because somehow we did not really know what we were doing. Of course you get a bit more focused and experienced with every new album. And sometimes you change the way you create music to try something new. That’s what we did on The Flood Inside and Trips where we thought a lot about the way how we wanted our album to sound like.
Was it any different for Boundless?
Florian: On Boundless we went back to this more naive way of writing. Just us four in the rehearsal room doing what came to our minds and trying to create songs out of that. The whole thing happened very naturally and felt really good while doing it.
Krautrock influences, particularly the synth instrumentation, are apparent on the album. Was that a conscious decision on anyone’s part?
Florian: No that didn’t happen on purpose. We just tried to add sounds that fit to the song without really thinking about it. The only thing we were sure about was that we wanted it to sound good and modern with a vintage touch. Maybe Germans are good in creating Kraut-like sounds even in 2018 [laughs]. It’s in our blood!
Who or what would you say had the most musical influence on this album, and who has influenced you – and the rest of the band – in general?
Florian: Everything we listen to influences us as a band. For example: Dave listened a lot to Jeff Beck over the last years and has developed his own style by trying new ways of playing guitar because of that. Of course this somehow mixes up with your familiar sounds. Our drummer listened to lots of black music and added some grooves to our LONG DISTANCE CALLING sound. When we started the band we were heavily influenced by PORCUPINE TREE, ISIS, TOOL, A PERFECT CIRCLE and PINK FLOYD. For me PINK FLOYD is still a big influence after all these years because they are still the masters and one of a few bands everyone in the band can identify with.
Have the band’s experiences mountaineering influenced the songwriting in any ways?
Florian: All of the songs had been written when we went up that mountain. It’s legit to say that the songs influenced us to go mountaineering [laughs].
Moving on to you personally, what inspired you to take up guitar originally?
Florian: My first own record was The Razors Edge by AC/DC. This album changed it all for me. Right after that I discovered GUNS N ROSES and immediately wanted to be as cool as Slash. I think he is the main reason why I started to take guitar lessons.
Lastly, if you had to name five bands, albums, or songs that defined you as person, helped shape who you are – if someone could see your soul and these musicians or pieces of music were what they saw – what would they be?
Florian: GUNS N ROSES – Appetite For Destruction, PINK FLOYD – Wish You Were Here, BLACK SABBATH – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath, TYPE O NEGATIVE – October Rust, PANTERA – Far Beyond Driven.
Boundless is set for release on February 2nd via InsideOut Music.
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