Ten Questions, Ten Minutes with Rook Road
It’s hard to believe that Rook Road have only been together since 2020, especially when you consider that that’s the year Covid 19 shook the world to its core. But despite the fact that they’re a relatively new band, Patrik Jost (vocals), Uwe Angel (guitars), Hannes Luy (keyboards), Sebastian (Hantz) Mitzel (bass) and Thomas Luther (drums) have crafted an extraordinarily good album. Gigs have obviously been in short supply but their self-titled debut album, due for release on 11 November is a traditional metal fan’s dream. There’s a lot of prep going into their album release show, but the guys still found time for a quick visit to the ‘Ten Questions, Ten Minutes’ hot seat…
Q1. What a great album – you must all be very pleased with it. Did it come together easily? Was it easy to write?
UWE: “Thank you very much. Glad you like it. Sure, we are a little proud of our firstborn ‘baby’. The formation process of this album went along with getting to know each other as musicians, as composers and as people, and in that way it really felt like a natural process. And although fate gave us a hard time in form of the rising Covid 19 crisis shortly after we formed as a band, we’ve made it against all odds.”
HANNES: “And we definitely achieved what we set out to do. Our main intention was to have fun writing and recording music and getting an album that satisfies ourselves in every manner, and I think we’ve certainly done that.”
Q2. It’s hard to believe that you guys have only been together since 2020. From the album it sounds like you’ve been working together forever. Can you give me a quick history of the band, please?
PATRIK: “Each and every single member of this band has been making music their whole lifetime. So we’d garnered a lot of experience before we got together in this line-up as a band. That made it easy for us to interact. At the end of 2019 we all got together for the first time, as we were actually hired musicians for another project. As it became obvious that this musical endeavour would never come to light we started to go our own way as a five-piece group, checking out own ideas, beginning to write songs and so on. That´s how it all started.”
UWE: “And as we found ourselves in the situation to give this project a name, everybody was coming along with a list full of ideas and I guess it was me who had something about ‘road’; and I think then Patrik was the one with something chess-related. And after a while we all liked the ambiguity of ‘rook’ and so it came together, as far as I remember. But my memories,” he chuckles, “are a bit hazy!”
Q3. You’ve got a really good Deep Purple-esque groove running through your songs – you’ve got a very classic sound. Isn’t that a bit unfashionable these days?
UWE: “Well, I wouldn´t say it’s all about Deep Purple. Right, we use a real Hammond Organ as one of the main harmonic and melodic instruments in most of our songs and I guess that´s why a lot of people may associate our sound with them. I mean, some of our songs are obviously influenced by Purple but Rook Road is far more than that. Maybe rock music has not the same significance than a few decades ago but I think our music is timeless and every genre has its own worthiness today.”
HANNES: “And to me I think every ear is different so everybody has to judge for himself whether our music is unfashionable or not. As I was showing “Kinda Glow” to an acquaintance he said, after hearing the song, ‘wow, that sounds like Frank Zappa wrote a Song for Mötley Crüe!’ This was not our intention while composing the tune and I don´t have this opinion of it at all. People always have to find out for themselves.”
Q4. Musically, what’s the core of Rook Road? What elements make a classic Rook Road song?
UWE: “There are no fast and hard rules. All band members are involved in the songwriting process and so at the starting point of any idea – a melody or riff someone brings up to a rehearsal – you never know what it´ll sound like in the end. Sometimes even we are surprised about the development a song undergoes.”
PATRIK: “Yeah, the only rule we have while working on new material is ‘no limits’. Though we quickly defined a unique sound as a band, every song is different. I guess the essential point about Rook Road is the passion and commitment we all put into our music. Our massive experience and the vast variety of musical backgrounds that make up this band leads to that ‘special something’ that sets us apart from other bands.”
HANTZ: “We all share the same enthusiasm for music in general and, like Patrik said, the enormous musical background that comes together in this band, as well as the internal organisation, is a real strength. You know, writing and playing music is just one side of the coin, while the other side is doing all the business stuff, and there as well we’re very focused to our goals.”
Q5. Where are you based? And is it an inspirational place, music-wise, to live in?
PATRIK: “We’re located in south-west of Germany, in a city called Saarbrücken. I´m not sure you’ll ever have heard of it before. It is very close to the border of France and Luxembourg, from where we also have a lot of cultural influences. Although our place isn´t the capital of the rock ‘n’ roll world we have a small but vivid music scene here which unfortunately is a little overseen by the rest of Germany and Europe, but we are working hard on changing that!”
Q6. What album (or albums) made you think “I want to be a musician; I want to do that”?
PATRIK: “KISS – ‘Dynasty’: I got it as a present from my cousin when I was six years old.”
HANNES: “Deep Purple – ‘In Rock’”
UWE: “Guns N’ Roses – ‘Appetite For Destruction’, AC/DC – ‘Back in Black’, Rolling Stones – ‘Exile On Main Street’, and many others!”
HANTZ: “BoySetsFire – ‘Tomorrow Come Today’”
TOMMY: “The Beatles – ‘Abbey Road’"
Q7. What’s next for Rook Road?
TOMMY: “Currently we are working on many different fronts. We are preparing ourselves for the upcoming album release party (on 11 November) where we’ll be playing a full set. We also started writing songs for our second album – a few of which are already in our live set. And we’re planning to go on tour in 2023 and playing as many shows as we can. It’s about time to hit the stage!”
HANTZ: “yes, unfortunately there haven’t been a lot of gigs in the past. Due to all Covid 19 restrictions we didn’t get any chance to play live shows in the first two years of our existence. We started playing live shows just a couple of months ago, in the summer, but they all had their own special moments.”
UWE: “Come back to us in about a year when we’ll hopefully have a lot more shows to talk about. The best,” he grins, “is yet to come.”
Q8. What film do you think ‘Rook Road’ could be the soundtrack to?
UWE: “I could imagine hearing our song ‘Paradox’ in a weird and offbeat Tim Burton movie.”
HANNES: “I think ‘Sometimes’ would really fit well into an epic fantasy movie like ‘Lord Of The Rings’.”
HANTZ: “As for me, ‘Sam Rogers’ could be great in a bloody Western movie directed by Quentin Tarantino.”
Q9. If you lived in the Marvel universe, what would your superpower be, and why?
HANTZ: “I’m not really familiar with the Marvel universe, but if I had a superpower it would be having a fridge that never runs out of beer!”
HANNES: “Maybe time travelling? Is there a Marvel character who can do that?”
PATRIK: “I’d like to be a vampire, or anyone who can eat as much as he wants without putting on weight!”
Q10. Finally, if you drove an ice cream van, what tune would it play?
HANTZ: “That’s easy. It would be ‘Ride Of The Valkyries,’ by Richard Wagner."
PATRIK, HANNES, UWE and TOMMY (all laughing): “Agreed!”
© John Tucker October 2022