Rick Altzi - Masterplan - Uber Rock Interview Exclusive Print E-mail
Written by Mark Ashby   
Sunday, 21 July 2013 03:00



With a completely new line up, German power metal legends Masterplan recently returned to action with a new album, the aptly titled ‘Novum Initium’. Following on from his review of said opus, I tracked down vocalist Rick Altzi to share his thoughts on teaming up with Masterplan mastermind Roland Grapow and the first results of their collaboration…


How did you team up with Roland?


“Basically, I got contacted by Roland, asking if I was interested in an audition for Masterplan. I recorded one song as an audition and here we are.”


Were Jari and Martin already on board or did they join after you?


“Martin was already on board, yes… Jari and I were contacted a bit later…..”


Jari and Martin come from very different musical backgrounds – Jari having been in various power metal bands, such as Stratovarius, and Martin best known as a member of Cradle Of Filth: does this help bring a different dynamic to the sound and style of the band?


“Yes, of course, and it’s really refreshing…. Not only is there the difference in musical backgrounds but also in the playing style. Martin was also heavily involved in the writing process of the album.”


The album’s title, ‘Novum Initium’, translates into English as ‘a new beginning’: can we take that this is symbolic of where both the band and yourselves find yourselves at the moment – starting over again?


“Yes; we decided to start a-fresh, not changing the whole Masterplan trademark too much, but also not trying to think so much about the past. It was really more looking forward, into the future. I think it was a very important decision not trying to copy the old style, but look forward and make something really good.”


Are you pleased with the way the album has turned out then, in terms of representing this new beginning?


“Yes, I’m really pleased. Things can always be better but it’s also a learning process writing songs with new people, so we’re looking ahead to more and more.”


I mentioned in my review that, overall, the album is a lot darker and denser than many people might expect from a power metal band, with the emphasis very much on the songs and the more traditional aspects of song structures; with much of the over-orchestration which has plagued the genre stripped out, making it very much a ‘back to basics’ approach: was this a deliberate choice, to go in this direction for your ‘new beginning’?


“I'm not sure it was a deliberate choice. We just wanted to make an album that, first of all, we liked ourselves and not trying to think so much about how to make the new start, but just let the ideas flow and find their own position in the music. I think Roland felt that he could now do things that Jorn sometimes hadn't wanted to do and it of course affects the process of all the song writing.”




In terms of the writing process, is it very much Roland who is in control, or is it a group effort? Who brings what to the table and how do you decide what is included and what is binned?


“Roland is writing a lot of the stuff of course, but he's really interested in the opinions of the other members and always wants all of us to participate in the decisions. Because of that, I feel it has made for a really relaxed recording on this album.”


Could you talk us through a few of the songs on the album? Do they have any particular themes, or is there a theme that runs through the album as a whole?


“The theme that runs through the album and what we’re trying to deliver, is a positive feeling but of course there are songs about more specific subjects, such as in ‘Earth Is Going Down’, which has an environmental approach and is about the fact that most of us want to live very environmentally ‘well’, doing all the correct things, but are not willing to sacrifice any of the luxury in our lives. ‘No Escape’ is about when somebody else takes control over your life, at work or in a relationship; it can be hard to get out of it but you have to do it in order to survive.


But, as I said, the overall feeling of the album is a positive message.”


I assume there are touring plans?


“Yes, except for the festivals we are doing this summer, we’re also heading out on a headlining tour starting first of October. The dates are on the web site, www.masterplan-theband.com.”


When it comes to touring, you’ll obviously have to perform stuff from Masterplan’s back catalogue: given that you have quite a different singing style from Jorn Lande, for example, how will you go about choosing what earlier songs to play and will you adapt them to you own style? Do you think this will be a difficult task?


“No, not really! I loved Masterplan from the first album and I try to do the old songs justice by doing them as close to the original as I can. If I was going to the concert I would like to hear the old songs not too far from the originals…... It would be easier to do them in a different way, but they are good as they are :)”


Will any forthcoming tour include UK dates?


“I really don’t know, but I hope so!”


As Rick mentioned, all Masterplan’s forthcoming live dates can be found on their website, www.masterplan-theband.com and ‘Novum Initium’ is out now on AFM Records.


To pick up your copy of 'Novum Initium' (Limited Edition) - CLICK HERE