Lacrimas Profundere is a gothic metal band from Germany, founded in 1993 by guitarist Oliver Nikolas Schmid. Their name means "to shed tears" in Latin. Their stylistic aesthetic has changed over time. Originally they started as a death doom rooted gothic metal band, but they have simplified their style to a more mainstream gothic rock style with the later albums. In 2019, after 26 years of their formation, they released “Bleeding the Stars” which takes them back to the band's roots with a more gothic sound and guttural voices. This is the first album featuring their new vocalist Julian Larre. Band’s founder and guitar player, Oliver Nikolas Schmid, had an intense, heartfelt, interesting and funny conversation with us.
First off, many thanks for taking the time to answer our questions.
You´re very welcome!
The band has been quite underrated but things are changing… do you think that after 27 years of existence, Lacrimas Profundere will finally get the attention they deserve?
To be honest? Yeah, I’m very disappointed about the fact that Lacrimas Profundere has always been an underrated band and still is to this day. We did so many great records already, but could not achieve the success these albums truly deserve. Anyway, I love this job and if I look back at it, it feels more like 26 years rather than 27! (laughs)
How much has your life changed ever since you formed the band? Did things work out the way you thought they would?
Yeah, it changes everything. You know, I met some of my idols like Type O’ Negative or Paradise Lost. Touring with Lacuna Coil or The 69 Eyes, playing in 30 countries so far, so it was worth every single day and as I begun I never ever thought that all this would happen to me. The risk, the adrenalin and to meet so many different people in different countries makes it so outstanding. To stand on that stage and know that there's a possibility of failure. It feels great when you succeed and fuck it, I´m almost there.
Oliver Nikolas Schmid is the only founding member that has been around ever since the beginning… you’ve been there through all the line-up changes, ups and downs… how much have all these changes/problems affected the band? How difficult is it finding the right musicians for the band?
Yeah, it really sucks, especially when a singer decided to leave the band. It was very hard as my brother Christopher left back in time and then, 10 years later, I´ve found myself in that same difficult situation again. I would be lying if I said I´ve never thought about quitting. It´s incredibly hard to find the perfect singer. When Rob decided to leave the band, I wanted to convince him to stay and I begged him for about half a year to think about it but, in the end, I knew that it made no sense to continue with him. It was clear that we had nothing more to say musically to each other. Sometimes decisions have to be made. So, in mid 2018, suddenly every former member said “goodbye” and I was standing there alone in this rehearsal room in front of a pile of shards that either could be left laying or wanted to be put together. Finding Julian was the best thing that could happen to Lacrimas Profundere and I can only hope that this lineup will last for another ten years, or better, even longer.
In the 3 years that separate “Hope is Here” and “Bleeding the Stars” a lot has happened in the Lacrimas Profundere’s camp… how do you adjust so fast? Some bands might have taken longer to release a new album…
Soon after the release of “Hope” I felt that I need to compose a doom dark record again. It was important for me to answer questions like: why did I become a musician, which bands influenced me 26 years ago and why nobody told me that my moustache back then looked so stupid. (Laughs). As the direction was clear, the songwriting process was very easy. It's always nice to come back to your roots, hunting for that intense, melancholic melody line that swallows your heart, touches your soul and stuck in your head forever - I think I´ve done some of those the last decade. To come to the point, “Bleeding the Stars” is a brief look back, kinda Lacrimas’ apple tree that I planted 27 years ago. How it looks like nowadays and what new apples grown on it. You can find a Primordial apple and over there a Dark Tranquility one, this yellow one tastes like the 69 Eyes and the neighbour like old Anathema. Now you kinda got the root of the Lacrimas’ tree. Some season it grows more into goth, next time darker, it depends on the weather. (Laughs).
“Bleeding the Stars” was nominated for Best Gothic Metal Album of 2019 and is your most successful album to date… I guess this doesn’t surprise you by now but do you still get excited when something like this happens? What’s so special about this album?
The album is the blueprint of everything I like in music. Something like the perfect doom dark metal album. And do not get me wrong, when I say “perfect”, I mean, "perfect for me". I wanted to combine all my influences and make the album I always wanted to hear. Julian was able to bring the harsh vocals back on the table, an element that was something like the core of our sound. You know, when I sit down to write a song, I do the song for myself. I write a song for myself because I need to come out with that particular song. It's for me, and then, after we've produced a record and put it out, it's just an unbelievable gift, if someone finds that song of mine important, but I never expected titles like “album of the month” all around the world. The reaction of the people at concerts and the reviews we´ve got left me back with my mouth open. We´re very proud and couldn´t be happier…
How did you come up with the title “Bleeding The Stars”? What inspired you?
“Bleeding the Stars” deals primarily with the theme of destiny, how it is fulfilled or how it is forced to fulfill it. For example, they say "it's in your blood" or "it's in the stars", which in the end makes up the album title, which is composed of fate analogies. Or the question: is there a life after death, what will stay if we leave and I always come to that point that you only can leave the biggest footsteps you can walk. That’s it. Back to the concept behind the title: when something huge was created, there was always blood involved somewhere in the process. So, we thought that as the universe was created, the stars had to spend their blood to create it. And voilà: the album’s title was born. On the other hand, I love this blood red colour, ‘cause I’ll never forget that my guitar endorser ESP guitars did a limited edition model for Gary Holt (Slayer, Exodus) and for the paintwork of his guitar he sent his own blood to mix it in. This really stuck in my head.
In the album “Hope is Here”, Rob Vittaca was the vocalist and now it’s Julian Larre. Had you already written many songs thinking of Rob and then had to adapt them to Julian’s vocal style?
Yeah, as most of the album was done, we had a rehearsal weekend in the studio together with Rob to check the new tunes. That was the day I knew that it was finally over. As he quit, I rearranged some of those tunes to fit to Julian’s voice and during that process I´ve got into this: “now or never” mood and composed 5 new ones in about 2 weeks. One “Like Screams In Empty Halls” together with Kohle in his Kohlekeller studio and the rest at home and, all of a sudden, the most varied album in my career was done.
“Bleeding the stars” is the first album featuring Julian Larre as vocalist. What changed vocally speaking? What’s the main difference between Rob’s and Julian’s vocal style? How did that contribute to Lacrimas Profundere?
Julian is more into the vocal-style of Christopher, Rob is a great singer, but he was never able to do screams and shouts and it hurts that I had to quit so many old classics out of our set, ‘cause Rob was not able to sing these tunes. So, I´m really happy that Julian can handle all that stuff from deep to high levels from grunts to screams, you can throw anything at his feet. (laughs).
Julian Larre is quite young… he is one year older than the band itself… how did you find him? What kind of experience does he have so that you thought him to be the right fit for the band?
This guy is born to act on stage and, with him in the front, we old bastards feel kinda younger and hungrier again. Everyone is on fire and we definitely have fun playing the music that means so much to us! But, that’s not the question, right? OK, here you go: I knew to find a new singer would be a hard job. You need the “right” person in many ways. Good voice, good looking, good performer and a new friend and you hope that people also accept him as follower. So, I called many friends and asked for help and besides that I started my searching on Youtube and watched about 2 weeks of material. There I met Julian’s performance clips and he was outstanding, so I decided to book a flight for him and we did a rehearsal in Munich. Fuck, I can tell you, I was more nervous than him, ‘cause I really hoped that he could bring that energy and voice, that I saw in his clips, onto the stage. He did - and the rest is history.
Your brother Christopher was one of the former vocalists, but still gives a hand in the songwriting and is an indispensable asset of the band. Why did he leave? Why didn’t he keep on singing then?
Being in a band with all these guys, everybody thinks it's a piece of cake is not easy. People change as they grow, and some wanna go in different directions and do different things. The music bizz is also not “your friend” every day and so he decided to stop his career in this kind of business.
Even though the material was already written when Julian joined in, he still managed to contribute with the lyrics to one song “The Reaper”… How many songs do you usually write when you’re preparing a new album? Which song was the hardest to write? And the easiest?
As he joined the band, the material was already written but, for the next album, we will work together like a band. “The Reaper” is kinda our “queen” meets goth song and as Benny Richter (Caliban, Emil Bulls) came up with the keyboards for that one, it brought this track to the next level and made it one of Julian’s favourite tracks on the album. His lyrics made it complete. Every song is hard to write, ‘cause you have to put out the best tunes you have inside and throw it on the table. After it I always feel like puked or not so dirty talking: sucked, äh mission failed (laughs). Normally I compose about 20 tracks for an album and as corona is everywhere and the normal life and tour life stopped, I think for the next one even more.
“I knew and will forever know” is the newest videoclip of the band but there are already a few videos available… you know you are getting big when you fly abroad, to Iceland in this case, in order to do a video shoot… how was the experience?
Yeah, we shoot “The Kingdom Solicitude” in Iceland soon after the recordings were done. It was mind blowing, an unforgotten adventure. Julian and I flew to Iceland outside the tourist season, ‘cause it makes no sense to stop the recordings every single second cause a tourist with his photo camera is walking into your shot. (laughs) So, we woke up at 4 o'clock in the morning, drove to the first place “the black beach” and finished everything till the first bus with tourists arrived about 9:00, then we went to the next location and during our way we stopped by at every place we´ve liked to shoot. It was funny cause Julian has always carrying an urn and forgot it 15 times out of 17 shots. (Laughs) After we´ve sent the final cut to our record company, they were asking for another clip, so we decided to shoot “Father of Fate” and I had the idea to use some of the parts we had already recorded in Iceland. Same for “Like Screams In Empty Halls”. The last one “I knew and will forever know” we did during our tour together with the 69 Eyes back in November at a club before soundcheck time and this one has the cold dark feeling this song needs. Every song is different and every clip, so you better watch them all.
The cover for “Bleeding the Stars” is quite self-explanatory… who’s responsible for it?
My brother came up with the idea and Elton Fernandes was responsible for the rest…
The band has some tours scheduled for this year and is looking for suggestions for the perfect setlist… how’s it going? Have you realized you’ll have all tracks included in there, right? Won’t it make the choice even more difficult?
Yeah, it really does. On the other hand, we wanted to know what people are looking for. For sure you can´t fulfill every wish, but we try to focus on the songs the most people vote for and wanted to hear.
Aside from the German tour, you’ll be playing worldwide this year… how busy will 2020 be? Do you enjoy being on tour almost permanently? How do you cope with it? Medicine? Yoga?
Believe me it´s always an adventure at the minute “one” as we leave our homes. Laughs. Cause we never fly business class and we never have enough space booked for all our stuff and it´s always a discussion with instruments and merchandise stuff at the airport. But we visited so many impressing cities like Seoul, Tokyo, Shang hai, Beijing, Dubai, Mexico, Moscow or St. Pete only to name a few. You know, we're not Metallica, let’s say we drive ourselves, build our own backline stuff and if it's run bad, we even carry our backline even on the fourth floor of the club in the backyard across the slaughterhouse. (Laughs) To stay healthy is very important, so I try to be sober as often as possible and go to bed soon after the shows. Ilker, our new bass player, former in the band “Freedom Call”, is the “medicine man” in the band, Julian is vegan, so we´ve got every day many fruits on the table and all of this let us stay alive, also on tour.
What was the best Lacrimas Profundere show? Why?
Oh, this is hard, I´ve played about 800 shows so far and there are, how can I describe, ähm, some…
Which are your favourite places to play at? Why? Have you ever gotten chills when playing live?
It depends, we really enjoyed the two times we´ve played Wacken in front of all these faces, or at M´era Luna is also a big one. Chills? I remember I had a bad flu including fever and chills during our show together with Wednesday 13 many years ago, yeah.
What was the highlight of the band’s career so far?
To sign our first label contract was something unforgotten and special.
With age comes maturity… is there anything you’d do differently now if you could change anything in Lacrimas Profundere? If so, what?
Puh, good question. Yeah, if I think back there were many failures: for example: we had the chance to sign a major label contract during the recordings to “Filthy Notes For Frozen Hearts” and we were so drunk at the meeting, that the label manager said “we call you, don´t call us”, but, as you know, they never did. (Laughs) Lesson learned: don´t enter a label meeting, drunk… One day in Luxembourg at a show, together with Septic Flesh and Moonspell, I was so drunk that I´ve lost my satin black guitar soon before the show started. The intro track was already running and I was jumping up and down the stage looking for it. Hey, it took me one and a half song till I´ve got it back! (laughs) It fell between the drum riser and the lightning stuff, the guitar coloured black, so I couldn´t see it. At the end, I could finish the show including my lovely guitar. What I´ve learned? always use a guitar stand…
How’s a regular day for you as a Lacrimas Profundere member?
Sleeping, eating, sleeping, play guitar, sleeping, social media, play guitar, do something with my 3 children. At the period the band is not touring, I work in a half time job in my hometown.
According to Oliver, Christopher and he are the “brothers of Dark metal”… do you think you would consider the idea of quitting if Christopher wasn’t able to help and assist you from now on?
No, I wouldn´t quit at all, but I would miss him and it would not sound the same anymore.
Throughout Lacrimas Profundere’s career a lot must have happened that made you consider everything you were doing. Do you see mistakes as stepping stones or as setbacks?
Hmmm, Tony, our former other guitar player, always said, if a manager did the most of the decisions in Lacrimas and not me, we would have been playing in the same league like Cradle of Filth, usually my answer was, “but we aren’t” (laughs)…
As a guy that’s been around ever since the first day, how would you describe the band’s journey so far?
You know, I get older, I grown up a little bit and learned more about everything, the bizz, the songwriting I´ve found my “style” and I´m not afraid of looking back to my influences so much anymore. In the past, it was always like we were trying to make stuff that we´ve never heard before, that didn't relate to any other band. I´m proud of every single album, of every single tattoo people were inspired by us, or the words they write to us on our social media. There’s always ups and downs but I met so many great people on that journey, so no regrets.
What’s the formula to create a perfect album? How should it sound?
Puh, the perfect album. There are some around, like “Vulgar display of Power”, “Master of Puppets”, “Turn loose the swans” or “Icon”. At the end, it´s simple, a record should catch me, also if I sit at home with my eyes closed and only let the music speak. That´s art. Not how good you look on stage or your social media campaign is. I really know that kind of bands who see that some other band is getting successful and try to do the same stuff and I really understand when a young kid starts playing music if he likes some band. For example, when I heard Metallica’s “Ride the Lightning” I wanted to be James Hetfield. Sometimes I still do. (laughs) But I think any art – music, poetry, literature – has to be self-expressing. You have to do it just the way you wanna do it. I give a shit to image, I don’t have one. I think as long as my hair is clean and I have clean clothes on, it should be enough. You know, I´m 48 years old now and kinda old school guy, I like vinyl and the hunt for the perfect album on and on.
Anything else you’d like to share with our readers? All the best!
Thanx for the interview. Guys, I really hope I could share some interest in our new output. Listen to it, I promise you will not regret it. See you when the corona shut down is finally over. Stay at home and stay healthy and listen to music.
All the best,
Oliver Nikolas Schmid, Guitar player, Life coach and beer drinker in LACRIMAS PROFUNDERE.
Interview by Sónia Fonseca