There are many people who don’t like Facebook. My relationship to this service is also divided. But at least through it I often get to know new bands and musicians I didn’t know before. That’s what happened recently when I “discovered” the band Freakstorm hailing from Gummersbach, with singer Sinah Meier. The second member is drummer Olli Fuchs. Originally formed as a Halestorm tribute band, they soon wrote their own songs. The first studio recording was probably the Halestorm cover “Here’s To Us”. Speaking of studio work, the duo obviously got support from various session musicians. Thus, two EPs were recorded (“We Got The Fire” 2018, “From Zero” 2019). The dream of their first full-length album came true in August this year. For the production, they were able to get none other than Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69, Helloween) to produce. He also took over all bass parts during these recordings. In addition, Oliver Hartmann (Hartmann, Avantasia) plays the guitar work on three songs.
On their debut “Storm Inside My Heart” there are seven original songs and two cover versions, besides the already mentioned “Here’s To Us” also “Shot Down In Flames” (AC/DC). Personally, I like the Halestorm cover much better, it sounds more authentic. The lyrics of the original songs are written by the singer, who is also (co-)responsible for most of the compositions. The recordings were made at Kangaroo Studios. The result is nine timelessly beautiful Rock songs that spread good vibes. In the eighties, this sound easily filled big stadiums, which is why the collective term “Stadium Rock” was invented at the time.
This naturally raises the question of how this two-woman/man project will continue. That’s why I asked the two protagonists some curious questions.
MHF: Hi, I’m Rainer and I write for Keep on Rocking and the Metalheads Forever Magazine. Thank you very much for letting me do this interview with you. How are you?
Sinah: Hello Rainer, thank you, we’re fine. However, we are quite busy so soon after the release. Our album came out just three weeks ago.
MHF: I’m sure many rock fans feel the same way I do. Freakstorm was completely unknown to me until recently. Please introduce yourselves briefly.
Olli: I’m Olli and I play the drums at Freakstorm. Sinah is the singer and songwriter. We are the two permanent band members, while many other musicians help out or come and go in between, as they have time and depending on who we need most at the moment. So Freakstorm is a newcomer female fronted hard rock band.
MHF: What did you do before Freakstorm? Did you already have experience in other bands?
Sinah: Olli and I met 18 years ago when I introduced myself to him and his colleagues for a new band formation. Since then, we’ve both been making music together non-stop. However, it took a while until we found the right music style with Freakstorm. We have done everything from oldies to acoustic covers to Top 40 stuff. Mostly we played live. I also sang a lot at weddings.
Olli: I have always been a classic hard rock/heavy metal fan, but Sinah needed some time before she could imagine singing this style of music.
Sinah: Yes, I thought my voice was too good for hard rock. And I first had to really get into hard music. That started when we went to Halestorm concerts together and rocked out hard.
MHF: You started as a Halestorm tribute band. What impressed you about this band that you first covered their songs?
Sinah: Halestorm have somehow transported the classic hard rock in a new way into today’s time. The attitude is not new, but much more modern. Besides, Lzzy Hale is an incredibly cool singer and a great songwriter. I admire her rocking voice. The band is hardworking and plays their asses off all over the world and they’ve worked hard to build their fanbase. That impresses me.
Olli: The Halestorm songs are also very drum-heavy. Maybe that’s what singer and drummer have in common about their music. Sinah and I both had our fun at Halestorm concerts.
MHF: Have you had the chance to meet Lzzy Hale and her guys in person?
Sinah: Yes, many times. At some point, the opportunity arose to go to a meet-and-greet in Brussels. We had just left our cover band at that time and were musically free and looking for new goals. For the meet-and-greet, we went into the studio for fun and recorded “Here’s To Us”. We then presented Lzzy & Co with the version on CD at the meeting. On the way to Bochum they listened to it in the tour bus and in the evening they praised it in front of the whole hall and greeted us. That made us mega proud, and we hung out with them for a few more evenings. These experiences inspired me to write a song. That ended up being “We got the Fire”. When we recorded it, I started to get the feeling that I could write and sing rock songs. By the way, we presented the song to Halestorm in person at a concert in Hawaii.
MHF: In the meantime, you also write your own songs. What motivated you to do this?
Sinah: After “We got The Fire” and Olli’s encouragement, my self-confidence was big enough to write my own Rock songs. I have to say that since then there are no more Halestorm paralells either. They are simply my songs. A lot of people might think we’re a Halestorm copy, but that’s not true. Certainly, they inspired us and we will always love them. But as it is the same with artists, we have become Freakstorm. My voice sounds different, our sound is different. “Nothing” was then the first song we produced at Dennis Ward. It wasn’t about Halestorm for a long time.
MHF: How would you describe the sound of your songs?
Olli: I would say it’s Hard Rock. Sinah’s voice is just beautiful instead of dirty. She writes melodic choruses. Nevertheless, everything has a rock foundation. Maybe Stadium Rock fits it quite well. You just made me think of that.
MHF: Looking through the album credits, one notices that Sinah handles the main songwriting work. Can Olli as well as the other musicians involved in the production incorporate her ideas or is she the (almost) sole creative band mastermind?
Sinah: In the classical way, I am the songwriter. I write all the lyrics and almost always the main music as well. Olli is always the first to hear them and always gives me his opinion and little ideas spontaneously. Or he says what doesn’t sound good at all. In the studio we go through all the songs and lyrics again with Dennis. He does a lot of fine-tuning. I trust him very much. As a producer, he gets everything out of the songs. In the end, there is a lot of teamwork in the songs.
MHF: How difficult were the studio recordings in pandemic times?
Olli: At the beginning of Corona, everything was first brought down to zero. Everyone, including us, was totally unsettled and we just stayed at home. However, the song ideas had so much time to develop. At the beginning of this year we felt the need to give a sign of life from the band and went to Dennis with the aim of recording at least one song. We all tested ourselves and sort of holed up in the studio for three days. In the end we had more than just the one single and were hungry for more. Four weeks later we continued and when it was going really well again, we knew it was going to be an album.
Sinah: Once we got into the studio, we just didn’t notice Corona. It was a nice distraction.
MHF: And we are already on the subject of Freakstorm – project or band? Sinah and Olli are mentioned as band members, otherwise you use session musicians and your producer Dennis Ward (bass). Do you want to be a real (live) band in the future?
Olli: I would say that we are one band. Just with different line-ups in the studio or on stage. In the studio, the work with Dennis Ward on bass and Oliver Hartmann on guitar has been very successful. I can’t imagine better studio work at the moment. However, the freedom to work with changing musicians also offers many great possibilities.
Sinah: I’m curious to see with which musicians we might get something together in the near future. And for live performances we’ll have to find our own line-up, because Dennis Ward and Oliver Hartmann are busy with their own projects. I can also imagine the video line-up on stage.
MHF: Your debut album has been available since mid-August as an MP download and as a physical CD. How happy are you with it?
Sinah: We are really proud of the album. The feedback is really good, the numbers in the streaming area are clearly going up and the sales of the CDs in stores have also started well. I’m actually impressed by the sales or streams abroad, because we can’t exactly explain where people in Mexico or Chile know us from, for example.
MHF: How are the reactions of the press and fans to your debut?
Sinah: Well, first of all you have to say that it’s not our debut as such. But it is our first full-length album. Two years ago, we released the EP “From Zero”. That release opened the first doors for us. And some voices said back then that we had to make an album. Now it’s actually the case that there has been consistently positive feedback so far. The reviews are great and it’s fascinating for us how closely the critics look at the songs. They see all facets of the album. For example, that three songs from the EP were included on the album. But we decided that quite consciously. “Not the One” is the only rock ballad that provides variety, “Can’t keep me Down” is one of the strongest Freakstorm songs, to which we owe a lot, and “Nothing” was always somehow overshadowed by “Can’t keep me Down” on the EP, which was then released as a single with a video. So, we thought that “Nothing” deserved another chance and more attention because it’s a good rock song. For the people who know the EP, of course the new songs are more interesting. What totally surprises us is how well the bonus track “Here’s to Us” is received. It’s our very first recording, but it was remixed and remastered on the album by Dennis.
MHF: Most bands are eager to present their studio productions to a live audience. Do you already have plans for that when the pandemic restrictions are over?
Olli: No, we don’t have any plans yet. Let’s put it this way, we’ll wait and see what happens. It doesn’t make sense for us to plan concerts during the pandemic that are then cancelled three days before. Especially since we still have to rehearse the set with the live line-up. But when everything is back to normal on the concert stages, we’ll feel like doing live concerts again. Let’s see what festival requests come in soon.
MHF: Have you already planned a follow-up to “Storm Inside My Heart”?
Sinah: Making an album is very time-consuming. It’s not just the songwriting and the days in the studio, then there are photo sessions and artwork. Then promo and video shoots. When the album is released, we continue with interviews and so on. It’s a lot of fun and we’re always happy when one phase is over and we move on to the next. I think it’s also part of it that you’re empty at some point. In our case, we wait until the urge to start all over again is really strong. Like in spring, when we wanted to record a single with Dennis. But we’re still in the studio this month to record bonus material for singles and also a new song. But we’re not thinking about a new album yet, three weeks after the release of “Storm Inside My Heart”.
MHF: Thank you again for this interview. Do you want to say something to the fans at the end?
Sinah: We would also like to thank you very much for the interview. We can only say thank you to all the people who support us so incredibly well, and we hope that more and more new listeners will just turn on Spotify or YouTube.
Sinah Meier – Vocals
Olli Fuchs – Drums