It's not very often that a band can come back from the dead and become stronger than ever before. Velvet Viper proves that it can be done. After commencing the band in 1993, 24 years later, in 2017, Jutta Weinhold came back around to the idea of making Velvet Viper a force that needs to be heard in Metal once again. With that comes the latest album, Respice Finem which is out through GMR Music. I recently got to ask Jutta a few questions about everything going on in the world of Velvet Viper. ENJOY!
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview! For those that may be new to the band. How did this band come to be and what brought the band back in 2017?
I founded Velvet Viper after my old band ZED YAGO broke apart in 1990. We released two albums but the music industry underwent big changes in the grunge era of the early nineties. The split of ZED YAGO was a heavy blow for me and I for many years I stayed away from dramatic metal. Around 2010 I began playing the old songs again with the JUTTA WEINHOLD BAND and after some time I felt the need to write a new album. 2018 brings the return album of Velvet Viper, Respice Finem.
How does it feel to have a new Velvet Viper out this year after all this time?
It is such a great and fresh feeling to go on stage with completely new songs, but it was a long way until we could finally release the album. Bubi the Schmied, the original drummer of ZED YAGO, who had also played on the second VELVET VIPER album “4th Quest for Fantasy”, passed away this January and now we have a brand new line up with extremely talented musicians to support me. With so much time between incarnations of the band, there’s a lot of influences that can take place.
When bringing back the band, what did you want Velvet Viper to accomplish musically?
I wrote the songs with our guitarist Holger Marx, who is in the band since 2015 and we had the intention to continue the musical journey of ZED YAGO and the old VELVET VIPER albums. The foundation for all the songs is my lyrical concept with elements of fantasy, myths and folklore. This evokes a certain atmosphere for my vocal lines and I think this leads to a certain style of music which is recognizable.
When did you start to feel like Velvet Viper was finally getting into the right direction in it’s new formation? Was there a particular song, or riff or moment that grabbed your attention?
I had ideas for new songs going around in my head for quite some time and when we finally decided to do it, it felt instantly right. Our producer Kai Hansen kicked straightened some elements in the songs that were a little too far away from classic heavy metal, but in general the final versions are still pretty close to the original ideas. I think I knew it would be really good when I heard Michael Ehrés drum tracks.
What went into the writing process of Respice Finem?
I had a lot of lyrics on a big pile with ideas for melodies and song structures at home and I sat together with Holger, our guitarist, who had a lot of riffs and ideas for solos and so on, and then we started making demos (still with Bubi on the drums). Kai joined us in the rehearsing room to arrange the songs and then we had the final concepts for recording. Explanation: „Respice Finem“ Quidquid Agis Prudenter Agas et Respice Finem Whatever You Do, Do It Wisely and Consider the End Was immer du tust, tue es klug und bedenke das Ende.
How did you approach your work on the songs and lyrical content on Respice Finem?
It always starts with lyrics about a certain topic like Lohengrin or some experiences of Zed Yago, the flying durchman’s daughter I invented. This sets the tone of the song and leads to all the other things that make up a song.
On Respice Finem, you got the legendary Kai Hansen to produce the album, what was it like to work with him?
Oh, he is such a great guy and he knows so much about heavy metal songwriting and choirs and all of that and also found Corvin Bahn for us, an exceptional keyboard player whose contribution to the final album cannot be overstated. Kai also was involved in the mix, which was done by Eike Freese. Kai is a real Master of Confusion (that is a song title from his last Gamma Ray album) when it comes to being somewhere right on time, but he is a genius when he sits down and starts to work. How does it feel to be able to get back on stage as Velvet Viper and play new and classic songs for a new audience? I just love it, the new songs combine so well with the old ones and it is such a great feeling to play some of the songs from the 80s at the end of the show with my new guys. I hope we can do more shows in the future.
What is next for Velvet Viper?
We are working hard to become established again as a real entertaining live band. We will play some festivals and more club shows this year and if all goes well, we would like to do another album with the line up that is playing together live so well.
How do you feel the Metal scene has changed since the original incarnation of Velvet Viper wrapped up in 1993? For the Better? The Worse?
It is definitively different today. There are so many bands and you can look at free videos on Youtube and everywhere. Even the larger bands don’t sell that many albums any more and have to play lots of shows to make a living of it. Somehow music has lost its value because you can get it for free everywhere. But on the other hand people still come to live shows and listen intensely to music and the metal fans are really loyal even when you take a 25-year break.
With that, is there any more modern bands that you enjoy?
I am afraid I really live in the past in this respect; a lot of newer bands I hear have a great sound but no real songs and ideas. So far I have not discovered a new Ronnie James Dio or Bruce Dickinson.
What do you like to do when you are not focused on music?
That is really not very often the case. We have three cats at home and I like to do a brisk walk every morning. But mostly it is music in one form or another that occupies my mind.
Thank you very much for taking the time to do this interview. I thoroughly enjoy what you have created with Respice Finem and I really hope this interview will inspire any and all people interested to check it out as well. Before we done, is there anything else you would like to mention that I haven’t brought up yet?
Thank you for doing this interview. Dear metal heads out there, go and watch your favorite band live on stage. That is the real deal! Rock 'n roll is bigger than all of us CAUSE THIS SONG IS NEVER ENDING All the best from Jutta of VELVET VIPER
Velvet Viper: Respice Finem is available through GMR Music