ENVINYA – Mysterious No More
- by Matt Coe
- Posted on 05-02-2013
What more can be done in terms of metal infusion? 20 years ago as things were getting heavier and heavier from thrash to death to black metal, who would have figured that the next step in the evolution of the genre would be to take two or three sub-genres and create your own sound? Acts like Envinya embody this kitchen sink concept when listening to their debut album "Inner Silence"- melodic at heart, there is an infusion of gothic keyboards against a montage of thrash, power metal, and slight In Flames influences that wouldn’t seem like it could come together cohesively, yet does in spades.
After reviewing this album I knew that I needed to explore more behind the band- now going through a significant lineup change as a yet to be named female singer will replace Natalie Pereira dos Santos who announced her departure in late 2012. Rhythm guitarist Thomas Knauer answers my questions, providing insight into an act that is already gaining significant acclaim for their music.
Please let the readers know a little about yourself as a person: how was your childhood/ family life growing up? What were your first memories surrounding music, and how did you eventually make the move to discovering heavy metal/ hard rock music? What were some of the first bands/ albums you remember hearing and purchasing?
"I grew up in Munich and I had what you can consider a normal childhood. Since I was born in 1971 my time of growing up was very different as today’s growing up. We had no Internet, no hand held games, no CD’s- only discs. It was a great time. Heavy Metal was not mainstream and having long hair was equivalent to be an outsider (of society). But being considered as an outsider or a freak was responsible for the great unity we had within the Metal scene.
I was brought to Heavy Metal because of my two years older brother. One day he came home with the record of Iron Maiden’s "The number of the Beast". Due to the fact that we have to live together in one room I had to listen to this kind of music. In the beginning it was absolutely awful for me. What a horrible kind of noise. As time goes by I was able to identify some kind of melody within the refrain of the song "Run to the Hills". For me it went like this: ‘Rauweeeinkkkrrrr-Run to the hills, run for your lives -Rauweeenkrrrrâ’ As time goes by I was addicted to Heavy Metal especially Thrash.
My first albums where of course Iron Maiden, Kreator with "Pleasure To kill", Slayer’s "Show No Mercy", Helloween – "Walls of Jericho", Metal Church -"The Dark" and of course Metallica’s "Ride The Lightning"."
Envinya began in 2006- how long did it take to form the current six-piece lineup? Did you all have previous experience in original metal acts- and can you tell us how each member fits to make Envinya the special musical entity that it is?
"Before forming Envinya, every musician has played in other bands like for instance The Blue Season or Internal Decay and has different roots. In 2006 we founded Envinya and until Natalie left the band in the winter 2012 we had a stable line up. It is very interesting that we have a wide range within the band considering the age of the individual members. With my 42 years I am the ‘grandpa’ while our two youngsters are 25 years old. Maybe that is one reason for our special sound."
You received a killer response for your "Beyond The Dark" EP in 2010, especially from the German magazine and webzine marketplace. What can you tell us about the recording and outcome of this product- do you think you received decent response from the press as well as your fan base?
"Indeed "Beyond the Dark" has received only good reviews. But the problem was that there are a lot of other bands who are also very good. And if nobody knows you the fans don’t know how good you are. That is simply a fact. With Massacre as a partner I hope that this will now change. In the end the metal fan should decide if he likes our sound or not. But he should have the opportunity to check us out."
Massacre Records signed the band- were there other record labels interested in signing Envinya? What impressed you most about Massacre Records, and how do you feel about their efforts to date in regards to your debut album "Inner Silence"?
"Nuclear Blast was also interested in us. We had a good conversation with the label but we decided not to sign the contract because the conditions for us were too bad. I also was not sure if Nuclear Blast would give us the attention and the support we need especially in the beginning. Massacre Records is totally different. I know that they do their best to push us and to give us all the support we need. I have the feeling that Massacre believes in us and that we can trust each other. These are the things that for me count the most."
Your sound runs up and down the metal scale, incorporating elements of progressive metal, death metal, symphonic/ gothic elements, even straightforward heavy metal at times. How do you make all of these diverse elements work while trying to keep something cohesive to describe Envinya as a band?
"For me it is very interesting how you describe our sound. You are right we have different influences. For example Markus Herz (lead guitar) has a completely different musical background than I have. I am more the guy for ‘straight forward’ or the thrash and death parts. For me it is very important that our sound stays hard and heavy.
In spite of all the different influences the creation of a new song for us is very simple. Normally someone comes up with a new song idea (mainly Markus or I) and then the rest of us make the final arrangements.
Finally if everyone of us likes the final result of a new song AND we enjoy playing it, than it is a typical Envinya song."
Do you take the lyrics as serious as the music? Describe some of the topics in the lyrics on "Inner Silence"?
"For me the lyrics should fit to the spirit of the music. So I take the lyrics as seriously as the music. In the past Natalie wrote her words no matter what I wanted to express with my songs. I have a lot of ideas in my mind and with our new singer I want to put this into action. Unfortunately with Natalie this was not possible. That is the reason why I don’t want to answer the second part of this question because I simply don’t have the deep understanding of what Natalie wants to express."
Describe Envinya in a live setting, have you been able to play a lot of shows through the years as a support act- and if so tell us some of your favorite show moments?
"In the past we played a lot of gigs among other things with Pro Pain, Tanzwut, Stamina etc. For us it is great to play for our fans and give them some special moments. It is important that we have a good sound and that we try to deliver a good performance. I also like to interact with the audience so that at the end both the fans and the band had a great time together."
Has work already begun in terms of songwriting for the follow up album? If so, can the fans expect Envinya to change things up from album to album, adding in diverse elements as long as they work within the band’s established framework?
"At the moment we have to get our new singer into the old songs. Besides I am working on new songs that of course should be better than the current ones. It is not an easy job but this time I can work together with our new singer. This makes it easier for me to realize my ideas. I think that we will have our focus on more ear catching refrains and hook lines. But the main direction of Envinya won’t change."
Do you all have to have day jobs to support your music endeavors? How tough is it to balance a professional career with a music career- I would imagine you have to sometimes carve out time to make things happen in an orderly fashion?
"Yes, we all have regular jobs because life is expensive especially in Munich. We also need some money for the band. At the moment it’s no problem to get both the band and our jobs done. But I don’t know what will happen in the future. If Envinya becomes more time-consuming I will see how I could handle this. At my age I see things different than when I was younger. But I am a guy who is absolutely solutions oriented. There is always a way. In my opinion in the music business something goes absolute wrong. Why are there so many bands or musicians who could not live from their music? Even if they are more famous. Without us the music business wouldn’t exist."
What concerns you most about the world we live in today? What aspect do you think the leaders of the world need to work together on to make this a better planet for the next generation(s) to cherish?
"This is a very important question and I am glad that you give me the opportunity to tell you my opinion. For me the answer is very easy. Everybody, especially the so called leaders should have respect! Respect
for people, for the nature, for different kinds of religion etc. It is so simple. If I have respect for someone I would first take it seriously what he had to say or what kind of problems he had. If I had respect for other religions I wouldn’t say that only my belief counts. The result would be that we have no more wars because of different beliefs. If I have respect for other people I would treat them in a good way.Another example: If I am the boss of a big company and I have respect for the work of my employees I would never throw out the people only to earn more money or to satisfy the shareholder. Today you have different classes. The upper ones who are only a few people but holding all the power (but the power we, the rest of us, give them!) and the, I call it, ‘working class’. It is easy to see how the upper class is working. You just have to read or to hear the news. But don’t forget to use your brain. Have you noticed that during the soccer world championship there is always new political decisions to be made? Decisions that normally would lead to resistance within the people? But the people are distracted. Mainly Germany wins the championships. Just open your eyes."
Name your five favorite albums and artists: they can be metal or not? Also, can you tell us about your favorite live concert memory (one from a gig or festival you attended, not playing in a band)?
"Ok here I go:
Kalmah -"The Black Waltz"
Iron Maiden -From "The Number of the Beast" to "7th Son of a 7th Son".
Dark Angel – "Darkness Descends"
Death – "Leprosy"
Dio – "Holy Diver"
One great concert memory was a gig from Sepultura back in the early 1990’s. There was a small club near Munich where a lot of bands played. On this night Sepultura played so aggressive and tight and you had direct contact to the stage. Imagine Max standing one meter away from me! Due to no barrier we had a lot of stage divers, mosh pits etc. It was a great atmosphere."
Would you still consider Germany the metal mecca of Europe- given the number of media outlets, music magazines, small and large festivals, and sheer number of bands playing a variety of styles? Are there any special newcomers in your part of Germany that you think our readers need to investigate and check out?
"Yes I think we have in Germany a lot of opportunities other countries do not. Only if you see the vast number of Festivals we have all over Germany. But like in other countries it depends on how and if you use this opportunity. I have big respect for a band that doesn’t have all these possibilities or support but still continues fighting for their music. I can name two bands that are quite special: First: Red to Grey. They play a kind of an old school thrash metal on a high level and now they have a female singer. This makes it something special. Second is Stamina. This is a band from Italy. But Italy is not far away from Bavaria. We played some gigs with Stamina and they make a really good sound. Just check the two bands out."
What are the plans with Envinya over the next 12-18 months? Do any of the member(s) have any special outside music projects they will be working on or guest appearances on other albums?
"At the moment we are searching for some booking agencies and we will start the song writing process. In roughly one year we want to record our second CD. It is important that our new singer will be absolutely involved in our band as soon as possible. Because of the fact that I have no idea what will happen if our CD is released worldwide I have no further plans at the moment."