Varus – Interview
Interview with KONSTANTIN RAAB (Lead Vocals, Keyboards, Flute) of Varus and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: What type of artist are you?
KR: I‘m Konstantin, the singer/screamer, flutist, keyboardist and mandolin-player for my Symphonic Folk Metal band „Varus“.
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
KR: Basically, I started to play the piano in 1998, when I was just five years old and it‘s been my main insturment since. In 2011 we started our half-cover/half-original group „Banjaxed“, which – two years later – evolved into the current all-original band „Varus“. After our old singer left in 2014, I took over the position as a frontman and lead singer, learning the whole techniques for guttural vocals. Searching for a more unique sound, I introduced folk instruments into the band by starting to use classical flute, as well as mandolins, acoustic guitars and many more. Most of these instruments are self-taught.
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
KR: Most musical ones come from a quite eclectic set of bands and artists. The origins where classic rock groups, like Deep Purple, Queen, Rush or Iron Maiden but it soon started to incorporate more extreme metal. Still, folk and slightly more progressive metal groups have a huge impact on my work: Ensiferum, Turisas, Ayreon, Bal Sagoth and Finsterforst. Currently, most influences are drawn from outside of the metal universe, being Jethro Tull, Planxty and classical music, especially Beethoven, Brahms and Dvorak.
Now I can‘t really say a lot of non-musical ones, as I‘m quite music-addicted to be honest. Nature, people around me and just life itself gives a lot of inspiration for musical works.
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
KR: First of all, I mostly write the music for myself. It just needs to get out of my head and into a finished song. However, my dreams is to spread it out to the world and get people to love it. I‘m not really looking to do this for a living and I assume, we all don‘t have any expectations like that. It would really mean a lot to me, if we build a loyal fanbase and people can get something out of our music, be it motivation, inspiration or just having a good time. Of course, playing at a huge open air festival with people singing along is the highest dream but also a goal for me.
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
KR: I do write most of it but we always consolidate the songs in the rehearsal room. Usually, I come up with the basic idea and a clear vision in my head but everybody contributes their part to it. The material is written in fragments and it takes some time until there‘s a finished structure.
There are quite a few themes involved for most of the current songs, with the main content being liberty, wanderlust, revolution and also raising up a tankard of ale every now and then.
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
KR: The promotion is mainly done by ourselves through social media, like Facebook and Instagram. We do most of the work and I‘d say we‘re all a bit geeky. So things like graphic and video editing is quite easy for us. We‘re very fine with doing most of our own. In recent times, we‘ve got our friend Markus from metalmessage.de, who does an astonishing work, spreading our word to webzines and magazines. He‘s a great support and really understands what we‘re all about. You can‘t know everybody in the business and have to rely on someone who‘s got some good contacts.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
KR: We‘re not really „against“ downloading music online. In fact, I for instance usually purchase albums off the iTunes store. I‘m not a big fan of streaming without downloading and I can‘t really explain why in detail.
However, offering your music through most well-known streaming services is a good way to get your music heard. Of course, it depends on if you‘re making a living from it or not. Streaming is not a efficient way to get you rich.
In the metal scene, we‘re quite happy to have such a strong community and most people want to buy the phyisical record. So unlinke lots of Indie/Electro artists, you should definitely bring some classic Compact Discs with you, at live shows.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
KR: If I were to choose, I‘d go for Turisas‘ „Miklagard Overture“, as it‘s not only a song but an 11-minute masterpiece, written extremely well. There‘s just a cinematic but also calming vibe to it, I totally adore. There‘s very rare musicians that can write such a progressive and complex piece that does sound simple. In my opinion, that‘s the highest goal, a songwriter can strive for.
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
KR: Badly mixed live bands – there‘s just something about it that really makes me angry. I don‘t get in the mood, even if it‘s one of my favourite bands if they sound terribly and are too quiet.
People clapping at live shows and getting faster – now I know, that not everybody is a musician, but this just gets out of hands sometimes. (Pun intended)
Narrow minded people – I guess, there‘s not a lot to say about that. It just makes me freak out.
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
KR: When there were a few hundred people screaming at us at our personal favourite part during a song. It just gave us goosebumps all over and we were so into it right from that moment.
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
KR: We‘re in the middle of promoting our upcoming album „A New Dawn“. So there‘s some video production and lots of interviews, reviews to be done. In the background, I‘m also noting lots of ideas for future material, mostly short snippets of music and lyrics. It‘s quite funny because the album, which is prone to be released on the 27th of June, is already long finished and done in my head. My mind wants to tell me: Write new stuff! It is time!
PD: What music have you available online and where can we buy it from?
KR: All of our material is available through common online services, like Spotify, iTunes/Apple Music, Deezer, Bandcamp and a few more. Also, there‘s a few songs and live footage on our YouTube channel. You can have a look onto our landing page where most known pages are linked: