Interview with Stefan Schmidt – Van Canto, September 2011

Van Canto are due to release their fourth album, “Break the Silence” at the end of September  Planetmosh put some questions to Stefan from Van Canto about the album and the band.
You can read the Planetmosh review of the album here –

Planetmosh: On the new album you have Joakim Broden (Sabaton), and Marcus Siepen (Blind Guardian) as guests.  How did those collaborations come about?

Stefan: We very invited as a special guest on Sabston’s Rockstad:Falun festival in Sweden. We performed Primo Victoria together on the first festival day and had an own show on the second day. It felt great so we decided to record this song for the album. Joakim quickly agreed to join us.
We asked Marcus when we were on tour together with Blind Guardian. When we watched him doing the acoustic guitar soundcheck every evening, we thought it would be cool to ask him.

Planetmosh: On the album you have a mix of your own songs and cover versions.  Were you tempted to release the album with only original material?

Stefan: We always did covers on our albums, because they simply show what can be done with vocals. But the focus is always on own songs, that’s why we have 7 own songs and 3 covers.

Planetmosh: On the album you have used a piano on “Master of the wind” – why the departure from your usual style (only using drums and voices)?

Stefan: We wanted to try something “unplugged”, especially for a ballad this works great.

Planetmosh: How do you decide what cover versions to do?

Stefan: We have to like the songs and they have to be well done in terms of songwriting. Good songs work in what ever instrumentation you can think of.

Planetmosh: Do you ever get feedback from the bands you have covered to say what they think of your versions?  Do the bands you cover generally like your versions?

Stefan: Yes, apart from Metallica and Iron Maiden we had personal contact with all bands we have covered so far. I think they like what we are doing, at least they told us.

Planetmosh: Of the cover versions you’ve done so far, which is your favourite and why?

Stefan: Currently Bed of Nails, because although it’s a cover song, it sounds like an own composition.

Planetmosh: Have you ever found a song that you’d like to do but which didnt work A capella?

Stefan: No, not yet. We are quite sure what to sing and what not.

Planetmosh: How did the band start, and where did the idea to do things A Capella come from?

Stefan: After the split of my former regular metal band I wanted to do something vocal oriented. It was not planned to end up in an a cappella band, though. It was started as a studio project among friends and we were happy that it worked out so well.

Planetmosh: You’re due to take part in the “Out of the dark tour” in October which includes your first ever UK show.  Are you looking forwards to finally playing the UK?  Ross finally gets to do a show in his own country !

Stefan: Yes, although I don’t know what Scottish people say if you tell them that London is in their “own country”, haha. Just kidding, we are very happy that we finally get the chance to come over and bring some rakkatakka to UK.

Planetmosh: You have appeared on albums by Blind Guardian and Tarja Turunen and joined Grave Digger on stage at Wacken.  Did you ever expect to get such recognition from these kind of bands?

Stefan: No not at all. This is a good thing about van Canto, we expected nothing and yet so many great things happened to us. We love it.

Planetmosh: You’ve played a lot of festivals in Europe but none in the UK.  Are we likely to see you at a UK festival next year?

Stefan: To be honest you do not have to ask us but the festival chiefs ;-) We applied for bloodstock twice but It didn’t work out yet. If you know them, just tell them we’d love to come around.

Planetmosh: Which festival that you’ve played have you enjoyed the most?

Stefan: Wacken 2011.

Planetmosh: What is the biggest highlight of your career so far?

Stefan: Wacken 2011.

Planetmosh: What are your musical influences?

Stefan: For me it’s the bands we a covering: Metallica, Maiden, Manowar, Blind Guardian and so on…

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About Ant May

I spend half my life at gigs or festivals and the other half writing the reviews and editing photos, and somehow find time for a full time job too. Who needs sleep - I've got coffee.
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