PARAGON   POWER SPEED METAL FROM GERMANY Band Questions answer by JAN BÜNNING    
Please introduce yourself and the band members briefly? My name is Jan Bünning and I am the bassist as well as backing vocalist. The other members are Andreas Babuschkin (Vocals), Jan Bertram (Guitars/Backing Vocals), Günny Kruse (Guitars/Backing Vocals) and Sören Teckenburg (Drums/Backing Vocals).   What does the band name mean and how do you get it? To be honest I don´t know 100% as I am no founding member. As far as I remember Martin Christian (founding member) once told me he lived near a train station in the UK which was called Paragon. It has no real special meaning to be honest, so it´s up to everyone to have it´s own meaning.   Where and how was the band founded? Martin Christian already formed the band in 1990 and in 29 years of existence we had a lot of lineup changes. So I leave the rest out now, because I could write a dozen interviews about this topic alone and I am sure you can also check out our biography.   Have you played in other bands before? Yes of course: I joined my first Punk Band in 1983 which was called GWT. In 1985 I joined Black Laws which was very dark Metal Band a a short while later became the Metal/Hardcore hybrid Erosion. We released the Album “Mortal Agony” in 1988 played a lot of shows and after a three week Europe tour I split with them. Right after that I joined Asmodis. We also played a lot of shows and recorded one album. Then we changed the name to Stone Cold Black but when we recorded our final demo (at last with me), I left because a lot of members had massive alcohol and drugs issues and we I wanted to record albums and play live which was not really possible at that time with all this drug and alcohol problems at that time in SCB. So the same day I came hom e annoyed from a day in the studio where no one but me and the engineer showed up, Martin spoke on my answering machine if I want to join Paragon. This felt like destiny!   Was it hard to find suitable band members who fit musically and humanely with the band? Yes for sure. We had a lot of nice members, but also some assholes. Also even Hamburg is considered to be one of the main cities of Germany Heavy Metal, it´s also not easy to find members who can play our stuff. We are not a really a Prog band, but it´s also not easy to play our stuff with the necessary precision. Today it´s more important than ever, that we all get along well and that we can rely on each other. The spirit inside the band is better than ever these days and it doesn´t feel like we want to quit anytime soon.   What are the lyrics about and who of you is writing them ? Most times our singer Buschi writes the lyrics, but sometimes also Martin and and even I wrote one song once. Sometimes I gave him inspiration, when I read a good book or saw a good movie. A lot of them deal with standard Heavy Metal topics, but the last years we also had some songs about more serious subjects like the dangers of the internet, war atrocities, gene manipulation and so on.   Which bands inspired you and how would you describe your music to someone who has never heard a sound from you? One band all can agree on is for sure Judas Priest. They always make diversified albums on which not all songs sound the same, but you can always hear that it´s Judas Priest. Other influences are of course old Accept and Maiden, Mercyful Fate, Metal Church Overkill and even Slayer. It´s always hard to describe your own music. I would say we are a Heavy Metal band with major Speed and Thrash influences, great guitar work   and vocal lines which are melodic and epic but never cheesy.   Why should people listen to our music? To make us rich at last ha ha. No really good question. Maybe because even after 25 years we release first class Heavy Metal albums, with top- notch production and passion. We don´t need to live from the music, so the people can be sure we always give 100% on the recordings and live and we don´t play Heavy Metal because it´s the flavor of the month, but because we are true metalheads. For us it´s a passion and not a trend.   You were not on the first album The Final Command from 1998 in the line up I would still be interested in how you like the album and what is your favorite song on it? I guess you mean „World Of Sin“ from 1995. You should correct it. For the first time I saw Paragon with their first singer Chris Barena. They played a lot in Hamburg and I really liked them, but I lost track of them before Kay Carstens joined them. As far as I remember, I didn´t see them live with Kay and I also didn´t hear “World Of Sin” when it came out. But it´s a very good album and my favourite track is maybe “Into The Black” which we rerecorded as bonus track for “The Dark Legacy”.   Your debut is on the album The Final Command from the year 1998. what are your memories of that album and how proud were you of having it in your hands for the first time? As I answered in a previous question, Martin just called me in time when I was about to quit my previous band Stone Cold Black and as I liked the music and especially Martin, I didn´t hesitate one second and joined them. As far as I remember we only rehearsed about two or three months, before we entered the old Spiderhouse Studio of Harris Johns near Berlin. We recorded Drums, Bass and one guitar live just in a few days and did the same with “Chalice Of Steel”. Both albums don´t have such a very good sound. Especially “Chalice Of Steel” has a very dull sound undfortunately. Of course I was proud to have it in my hands and sales numbers were good. Looking back both albums didn´t have the best songs on it and we haven´t played any stuff from it in years. We will check soon, if we play stuff from it live again and if yes which songs.   Your third album Chalice of Steel also appeared on the label B.O. Records how was the cooperation with the label? The label was ok, especially Markus Wosgien, who I am still friends with, did a very good promotion job. I am not 100% sure, but as far as I know, they went bankrupt after we released “Chalice Of Steel”, so we had to look for a new label.   At Chalice of Steel, have you had some personalities such as Harris Johns and Piet Sielck, how have you come to the two and how did they work together? Martin had the idea to work with Harris. Martin was working as tour manager at the time, so maybe he met Harris at some tour. I guess we met Piet at the Headbanger´s Ballroom, where a lot people form the Hamburg music scene hung out at that time, like Gamma Ray, Iron Savior, Helloween etc. We knew he is a producer and were not really happy with the sound on TFC & COS and were also looking for a producer in Hamburg. As you know, by now, we recorded a lot of albums with Piet and we are always happy with his work.   Steelbound appeared in 2001 on the label Remedy Records why the change and how since you came to the label? As I already answered above, B.O. Records went bankrupt, so we had to look for a new label. I know Jörn the owner for a very long time and the label was expanding at that time. He saw us at the Headbanger´s Open Air and liked our performance. So he offered us a deal right after the show.   For Steelbound you are responsible for cover and artwork in addition to music. How satisfied are you with your work today? I learned how to do print layouts and webdesign. As we didn´t had too much money, we had to save money whereever we could, so I said I can do it. By that time Chris Barena did lessons for special 3D software and they had a huge scanner at his office. So he scanned the original artwork, which was done by Lars Paukstadt with a pen, in really high resolution and gave me the copy. I just thought it would be cool to have some kind of mascot, so I just reused the old “Paragon-Shield”. The layout is ok, considering the experience I had by then. Today I could do it better for sure though.   Law of the Blade was released in 2002 for the album and the following four releases have done the coverartwork of the already late Dirk Illing very good work. How have you come in contact with him and how proud and satisfied have you been with his work? Dirk was an old school friend of Jörn and had already done some stuff for Remedy. Like Lars Paukstadt, he used to be a sprayer before. We became good friends over the years and I miss him very much and often think about him. He was very much into our music and always had very good ideas for the artwork. He did a lot of kick ass covers for us and my fave is the last cover he has done for us “Force Of Destruction”.   The Dark Legacy was released in 2003 and was kept in green as you have come up with this idea? “Steelbound” was more or less red, “Law Of The Blade” was blue and so we wanted to keep this sepia concept also for “The Dark Legacy”. To be honest I didn´t made up my mind about it back then, but I guess Dirk did and asked me if green would be ok for the album.   For the album Revenge from the year 2005 you recorded a manowar song. You have some cover versions but why did you choose a manowar song here? Good question, but to be honest I don´t remember! I love the old Manowar albums up to “Kings Of Metal” though I don´t like the iimage too much and these days their albums are more comedy than a real Metal. Anyhow, they wrote a lot of good songs and to me invented Epic Metal. “The Gods Made Heavy Metal” is more a straight Heavy Metal Hymn, and we thought we could do at least a better guitar sound, what we did. We play it live a lot and there are a people, who say our version is better than the original, which of course honours us!   Forgotten Prophecies from the year 2007 was already your eighth album after the debut from the year 1995 you were a very productive and creative band at that time. Were the writing of songs very easy by the hand? Martin wrote most of the riffs and he just came into the rehearsal room with finished songs all the time, which we arranged with drums and bass then. Unfortunately I hate the sound of “Forgotten Prophecies” and I already realized while recording the album, the “producers” will fuck it up. So I spoke to Martin and Buschi and said we have to change the studio because the producers don´t know what hey are doing and we argued about it because they wanted to stick to them. I was so unsatisfied with the sound of the album, I didn´t wanted to be mentioned in the credits (even though I played) and I said I will leave because I don´t stand behind the album, what I did. The Songs are great though and I would really love to rerecord the whole album with a good producer some day.   Screenslaves from the years 2008 appeared without your participation. Why do not you get on board with this? See the previous question. I was not back into the band by then, but rejoined soon after the release.   At Force of Destruction in 2012, you were back on board. Which was good. The album was released by napalm records, how did you get the label and why did the collaboration only work for one album? Napalm Records was expanding a lot at that time and a friend of me recommended us to the label. They promised us a lot of promotion, but only did the standard stuff and less and we didn´t feel a lot of support from them, even though the reviews were the best we ever had. Sales numbers were good again, but unfortunately the distribution went from Edel to Universal at the time we signed and I guess Universal just wanted higher sales numbers from the bands on the rooster. So as we were not very satisfied with their promo work for us we agreed to go separate ways after just one album.   For Hell Beyond Hell from the years 2016 you have four years of use which is almost an eternity for you why did it take so long until the album was finished? “Force Of Destruction” was an album which every Paragon fan expected from us and it got a more positive reviews than any other Paragon release. It was some kind of blueprint for an Paragon album. We already had written two thirds or more of music for the next album very soon after the release of “Force Of Destruction”, but Buschi didn´t start to write lyrics for it. I have to explain, that we wrote “Force Of Destruction” more or less at home with the help of my Macbook Pro and Logic X. We didn´t started to rehearse the songs, just before we entered the studio. So after a while I wondered why Buschi hadn´t written any lyrics, even though we already had a lot of very good songs. So I asked him what´s wrong and why there are still no lyrics. So he told me, the songs are ok, but not good enough and he wanted to write the songs the old way, which meant meeting in the rehearsal room, drinking beer and writing songs together as a band. To be honest I was pissed at that time, as we already put a lot of time and energy in the new songs / demos and thought now we have to start from the scratch again. But in the end I agreed and we “only” took the stuff we already had as demos and arranged most of it new in the rehearsal room, played around with different tempos and changed some riffs. In the end it was good to do it that why, because it strengthened the band feeling and we added some new details to our style. It also took some time to find a new drummer as Chris Gripp left us and we also had to replace Wolle Tewes who just left us right before we started to record. And: three of us have kids now, so sometimes you have to put the focus on other things than music! ;-) Currently you have a contract with massacre records, what do you expect from the recent collaboration and why did you return to the label? Remedy a friends with us and they do a good job, but their possibilities are a little bit limited as they are a very small label and by now they also own a Metal bar in Hamburg. So when Thomas of Massacre Records offered us a deal right after our show at the Bang Your Head in 2017, we checked it and it was very good and it even had some points in it, we had missed all these years, like rereleasing our old stuff on vinyl and taking care of all the streaming platforms. Thomas is very nice and he even agreed to almost all changes we wanted to have in the contract.   What can we expect from the new album at the end of april and in what direction do the new songs go to us typical paragon nacken crushers? The album is not mixed yet and I even not heard all songs from start to finish with all guitars, vocals etc. as I am the first after drums who is recording. But of course I know the demos and also heard a few songs already. I would say that we put the focus on writing songs which are very much to the point, as we threw every part out which we thought is not 100% necessary for the song. So this time most songs are not longer as about 4-5 minutes, except for one epic 9 minute song. The songs are also faster and more aggressive than everything we have ever done. From 10 songs we recorded (plus one intro and a remake of an older song), only three are slower ones. The rest is straight in your face Speed and sometimes almost Thrash Metal. Buschi´s vocals are better and more diverse than ever and even though it´s more fast and aggressive, it´s still classic Paragon. I am sure our fans will dig it big time!     What is your favorite album and what is your favorite song and which cover version is your fave? Even though I didn´t hear the finished product yet, I would say the new one will be my fave soon. But it´s almost impossible to say which is my fave, as they are all my “children”. I can tell you my top five in no particular order though, which would be “Law Of The Blade”, “Revenge”, “Force Of Destruction”, “Hell Beyond Hell” and the new one. My favourite songs change from time to time. An alltime fave is “Masters Of The Sea” for sure, but just recently I liked “Rising Forces” and “Devil´s Waitingroom” a lot. I really love “To Hell And Back Again” as I think we made the song to our own in some way. Unfortunately we never did it live so far.   What can we expect next year for your 30th birthday? We didn´t made up our mind yet about that. We should do something, but don´t have plans yet as our focus was on the new album for the last half year. Hopefully a lot of shows of course!   What was your first concert as a fan? And what memory do you have of it? I guess it was Rainbow 1982 at the Messehalle in Hamburg and the think which always stuck in my mind, was that the drummer at that time, Bobby Rondinelli, “shot” drumsticks into the crowd during his drum solo! Great band and they had a lot of great singers!   What were your live highlights and with which bands did you play? Of course Wacken 2004 when we opened the festival day on Friday in front of about 50.000 Metahleads on the mainstage. And the party after that. ;-) The Gamma Ray Europe Tour was also great. And to be honest all shows we played the last years have been very good. The people always love us,  sing along and we made many friends the last years.   Have already resulted in friendship ? Yes of course! We have some real good friends in the Saarland, cool bands in Spain which opend for us and we are of course also friends with some other bands like Lonewolf, Wizard, Iron Savior, Gamma Ray and so on!   Which band would you like to play live with and why? Judas Priest! They are the definition of Heavy Metal for us!   With what do you earn your money except with the music? We all have standard jobs except our drummer who is a professional and is living from his music. So you can call Paragon a professional hobby!   How important are social media for you as a band? Very important. We use Facebook a lot to keep contact with fans and business partners. We also have YouTube, Instagram and Twitter accounts, but it´s very hard to feed them all with daytime jobs.   What would you (her) want to achieve with the band? It would be cool to play more shows but booking is the hardest parts these days as it seems most festivals either only book you when you have big booking agency which books you or they don´t want to pay a fair fee for your shows. So it would be great if we got more offers and maybe even have the chance to play in South America as we get a lot of feedback from there.   What do you think about the Germany Metal scene in general? Lots of good new bands the last years, but almost none which have the skills to really become big. The big ones seem to lose it the last years in my opinion. A lot of average to poor albums by many big German Metal bands the last years   Maybe you can recommend some bands from your area? Yes of course: Shadowbane is a real good band from Hamburg which plays classic US Metal, then there are Endseeker who play old school Swedish Death Metal and there are Funeral Fukk, who play good melodic Doom Metal.   PERSONAL QUESTIONS !
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