Beyond the Bridge is a progressive rock/metal band from Germany. The band consists of six professional musicians [amongst them is Herbie from Sinbreed/ex Seventh Avenue]. Musicians who wholeheartedly stand behind their exceptional and sophisticated music. Withal, the virtuosic mastery of their instruments is never the aim but the origin of their journey on which they always entrain their listeners. For Beyond the Bridge, the contents of their music, the story of every song, the compositions and arrangements, are always a part of something bigger – a total work of art shining over the borders of different genres and daring to defy conventions. A high ambition which they succeed to embrace on their debut album ‘The Old Man and the Spirit’. Below an Interview with guitarist & founder Peter Degenfeld-Schonburg.
TMR: The past few months have been very tough/hard for you all [the unexpected passing of Simon], how are things going nowadays?
To be honest things are tough! Simon played a big part in our musical and also our personal life. Everything I do for Beyond the Bridge reminds me of Simon. It is just not easy to get things done this way. But the most people show a lot of understanding, so I guess everything will work out and hopefully get back to normal in the far future.
TMR: Will you Introduce yourself and the line-up please.
Well, my name is Peter Degenfeld-Schonburg, I play the guitars. And the line-up is:
Herbie Langhans – Lead Vocals
Dilenya Mar – Lead Vocals
Christopher Tarnow – Keyboards
Dominik Stotzem – Bass
Fabian Maier – Drums
BtB started as a project. We wanted to finish the CD before we see how things develop further. As it turns out now we have found a great bunch of musicians working well together. We all love the finished album and it is great to be signed at Frontiers Records. All these things convinced us to do more than just a project. From now on Beyond the Bridge is a band planning to play live, go on a tour, release a second album and a third and so on. Hopefully, one day we will be playing in the Netherlands.
TMR: Tell us the brief history of ‘Beyond The Bridge’.
We started as a school band. Back then it was Dominik, Christopher and me. We where friends in high-school. After our graduation Christopher decided to become a recording engineer. The band was breaking apart as everybody left heading towards very different directions. But I knew that the three of us had to keep contact. First of all we are good friends and wanted to keep that up. But furthermore I thought that if Christopher goes for a life of recording music then we will certainly have the chance to record music in a professional studio. With this in mind I came up with the concept of the album. I convinced Christopher and we wrote the album. Five years later it turned out that my plan worked out just fine. Christopher met Simon during his studies and they became good friends. After finishing the University Simon went to the Gate Studios in Wolfsburg where he was a sound engineer and producer. He also recorded, mixed, mastered (together with Sascha Paeth) and produced our Debut album “The old Man and the Spirit”. Simon also brought Fabian (drums) and Herbie (vocals) to the band and I met Dilenya at a concert of hers in Munich, Germany.
TMR: Are you guys full time musicians? If not what kind of job or school do you do beside the band?
None of us is a full time musician except for Fabian. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Jazz Performance and now works as a professional drummer and teacher in Freiburg, Germany. Christopher is a sound engineer and composer in the field of classical music. Dominik plays bass in several successful bands and works at an event and concert agency in Frankfurt. Dilenya studies jazz performance at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Munich. Herbie appears as a singer in various professional bands, including Seventh Avenue or Sinbreed. But I do not know what he does for living. I am a PhD student in theoretical quantum optics (physics).
TMR: What is your musical background?
I started to play the guitar at the age of 9. My parents offered me to pick an instrument and take lessons. As my father loved the electric guitar and rock music in general, he convinced me to pick the guitar. But of course I could not just play the electric guitar, I rather had to take classical guitar lessons. Until the age of 14 I was not really motivated and did not practice apart from one hour a week during the lesson. I almost quit but my parents forced me to go on. Looking back I am proud of my parents. They really did the best for me! The next 5 to 6 six years I practiced a lot, both on the classical and the electric guitar. I only had lessons on classical guitar where I played tunes from Bach, Villa-Lobos, Albeniz and some more. Unfortunately, nowadays I do not find the time to play classical pieces. The most important thing I learned from my classical guitar teacher is to value accurate playing. The urge to play passionately with your heart has been in me ever since but I had to learn that virtuosity arises more from accurate playing than from fast tootling. That is why my all time favorite guitar player is Paul Gilbert. His playing is so accurate and perfectly accented and dynamical. Amazing guitarist! Moreover, there are bands like Dream Theater, Pain of Salvation, Ark, Yes, Jethro Tull, Spocks Beard, Masterplan, Porcupine Tree, Vanden Plas, Avantasia, Savatage, Steve Vai, Rush, Nevermore, Van Halen and many more who I admire and take my inspiration from.
TMR: Why the name ‘Beyond The Bridge’? Is there a story behind it?
We were actually walking in Budapest at the Danube promenade forcing us to speak English in order to come up with a band name. We were just planning the evening when we saw some nice spot on the other side of the river. We were wondering what it was when Dominik just said lets go “beyond the bridge”. In this moment we realized that this was it. “Beyond the Bridge” fits to the music, to our lyrics and to progressive music in general as it always tries to go “Beyond the Bridge”.
TMR: Who writes the music/lyrics in ‘Beyond The Bridge’? How do you get in the mood for writing music? And which bands/situations have influenced you for writing music and lyrics?
All the lyrics and music is written by Christopher and me. The two of us meet, buy a lot of chocolate or candy and start working. The working atmosphere is always great as we respect each other a lot. But even more important is that we laugh, make jokes and relax while writing music. It feels as if the creative process was something like a holiday from everyday life. Dominik sometimes joins in as well. He is very skeptical which helps us a lot to decide wether the music we wrote is boring or not. He is also a great inspiration.
TMR: How do you describe the music of ‘Beyond The Bridge’ the best?
At first sight the songs are written in a Progressive Rock/Metal style. They contain virtuosity in both the playing and the compositional design. But it is more important to say that the songs excite the listeners. The music is touching. It will even touch you in a different way each time you listen to it. The lyrics are inspiring and ambiguous. This encourages to dig deeper into the journey of the old man.
We try to keep away from topics like religion and politics. We think that we do not spend enough time to develop a profound opinion on topics like this. That is why our lyrics have not much to do with stuff like that.
TMR: For a lot of bands the lyrics are just a accidental circumstance, but for some bands they use them to communicate! Can you tell us how that is for ‘Beyond The Bridge’?
Our Debut album is a concept album. That is why we put a lot of effort into the lyrics. In fact, the story of the album was there before we wrote a single note. We use the music to underline the lyrics and we use the lyrics to intensify the meaning and the emotions of the music. Music and words go hand in hand on our album. However, it is not necessary to understand the lyrics in order to enjoy the music. The music still stands on its own. But in our case the lyrics are a lot more than just an accidental circumstance.
TMR: Is there a highlight you will always remember, since the beginning of ‘Beyond The Bridge’?
Standing on the center stage in Atlanta at the ProgPower Festival 2012 in front of a thousand screaming metal-heads was fantastic. Great show! Great people! I will never forget that!
TMR: And the worst thing were?
Simons passing. There could not have been anything worse.
TMR: The last album you bought?
“Nine” from “Circus Maximus”. Amazing work!
TMR: How do you promote your band and shows?
We will play live, keep up the work on the internet (www.beyondthebridge.net, Facebook, Youtube), do as many interviews as we can, contact radio station and so on. We might also do some extraordinary stuff like a lottery where the price is a visit at the Gate Studios or a nice trip with Dilenya in a hot-air balloon. Who knows what comes to our minds…
TMR: Name some of your favorite bands to play with live and tell us why ?
Well, if we wanted to play a show with our idols it would probably be Spocks Beard, Pain of Salvation or Dream Theater. Personally, I would love to play with Paul Gilbert some time. But again from a very different point of view, playing a show with Katy Perry or Pink could be awesome as well ; )
TMR: What is the dumbest question you have ever been asked?
I do not know what the dumbest question was but one guy asked me a really crazy question. He asked: what’s the best song to hear while you’re having sex?
TMR: What’s your outlook on the record industry today?
Well, I guess that the whole music industry is in kind of a crisis right now (but again I do not claim to have a profound opinion on this subject; it is more a felling). Apart from the really big fishes in the industry everyone has trouble to make money with this business. But its not only the bands and musicians that suffer from the modern technologies like internet and so on but also the record companies itself. And also everyone around a music product, like the music studios or the photographers who make the band pictures. There is simply not enough income gained by a record. I am not sure what the exact problem is but I guess that the internet has a big impact on the music industry. But of course there are two sides of the story. For newcomers the internet is a great opportunity to spread the music over youtube or Facebook. On the other hand there is the possibility of illegal downloads. But I guess that the most people that download our album illegally would not have bought the album anyways. With the download they at least help to spread the music. But all people who love the music of a band but still do an illegal download instead of legally purchasing the Cd, should be aware of the fact that they really harm the music which they love.
TMR: The album was released last year via ‘Frontier Records’. How did you get signed by them?
Actually, it took us around half a year to find Frontiers. We wanted to finish the whole album before we present it to a label. We were done in April 2011 with the masters of the Cd. With the music only, that means without the album cover or the booklet we applied to several labels. Finally in September/October of 2011 we got an email from Frontiers. We were glad that this happened. And we are really satisfied with them. When we applied to different labels, we put of course more effort into the labels that had connections to the Gate Studio. We are a lucky band, I have to say. At the end Sascha Paeth helped us a bit to get in touch with the labels. Then it worked. It is sad, but I have to conclude the obvious after some of the experiences I made with Beyond the Bridge. Good music is not all that matters in the music business. Your product has to be good and then you have to be lucky and then lucky and lucky.
TMR: What is your favorite ‘Beyond The Bridge’ song?
I really can not tell. All songs are great and it depends on my mood at a certain moment. When I feel tired or mad at the world I love to play “All a Man can do”. When I feel energetic and want to kick some ass I like to play “The Call” or “Doorway to Salvation”. But especially when I want to kick some ass I love the play the guitar solo on “The primal Demand” ; ) Sometimes something touches my heart and then I really need to express my feelings through “World of Wonders” or “Where the Earth and Sky meet”. When I am happy and feel like dancing I would prefer the first half of “The Struggle” or the arabic parts in “The Apparition”. After I had a successful day and feel like the greatest I desire to play the epic parts of the album like “Triumph of Irreality” or “The Difference is Human”.
TMR: What are your plans for the near future ?
Overall we will focus on more live playing and a new album. We want to become a real studio and touring band with all the things a band like this has to do. I am still looking forward to my first smelly tour bus.
TMR: What advice would you give to fellow bands?
Well, that is not easy to say. As I said we have been very lucky. I thing that there is no formula to be successful, unfortunately. Just keep on going on and believe in your luck. And every now and then put some energy into making good connections and use the internet as much as you can to your advantage.
TMR: Guys thanks for your time and the interview, we wishing you all the best for 2013 … Is there anything you wanna say at last?
Thanks to everybody for reading this interview. Keep on rocking and always go beyond the bridge…
Peter Degenfeld-Schonburg – Guitars
Herbie Langhans – Lead Vocals
Dilenya Mar – Lead Vocals
Christopher Tarnow – Keyboards
Dominik Stotzem – Bass
Fabian Maier – Drums
The Old Man And The Spirit [Jan. 2012]
Photo taken in Atlanta “Copyright 2012 Frank R. Serafine”
Song below: The Call.