“We know that out of chaos there can be creativity and structure in anything” – interview with Hammer King

Author Benedetta Baldin - 4.3.2024

Kings, emperors, royalty, reality: when these elements mix together, we obtain the German heavy metal band, Hammer King. And since they are about to release an album, we chatted with lead singer Titan Fox V about their plans for this year, pizza toppings and obviously music.

Hello Titan Fox V, how are you doing? 

Titan Fox V: Hey, it’s wonderful to see you.

You are about to release the new album “König und Kaiser”, and I was wondering if any songs from the album have evolved significantly from your initial thought to the final result in the album?

Titan Fox V: Well, that’s a good question. I never heard that. I think, well, maybe not. Because we do the lyrics very late in the process, usually. So there are two ways that we can write lyrics. One is whenever we stand in the rehearsal room and we play together and I sing anything and frequently you end up having a good line here. I remember back in 2018 I sang “The King Is A Deadly Machine” just out of nowhere and we kept it, so that is one way of writing lyrics. The other way would be completing them at the very last moment. Actually, shortly before you record anything for the final stages of the demo, sometimes even later.

And so what we found out was, after a while, that we will probably have this song called “König und Kaiser”, roughly translated into “King and Emperor”. As we then found out that it would be the title song, because, we liked the music, it was different from the others. We had the guest vocalist, The Tribune, on it. We ended up having these fanfare horns on the song, so we knew we would like to have this song, as it’s a bit provocative. It’s different than the usual Hammer King stuff. And usually, Napalm Records is not very much into having an English singing band using a German album title, because it doesn’t make sense. So in that case, I thought, “Okay, the song is good, everybody likes it”. Meek [Michele Guaitoli, ed] is our product manager, and he’s very much been into the idea of having a German title.

Maybe it was helpful that he’s not German, so he liked the idea. And we wrote it to Peter Sallai he’s from Hungary, and he does the cover artwork, and Peter said, “Okay, it’s fantastic, I have an idea, I will give you an image from it”. Everything sort of fell into place by coincidence. So, as always, with good creative work, there is no plan about it. It’s happening, if it’s good. We knew that the album would be about the king being more powerful than before and the king reaching out to other countries in order to enlarge the kingdom maybe by conquering the countries.

You never know, but in our case, it was interesting because we had already known that we would be on the Warkings tour and therefore we will go to different countries and we conquer them by playing music and by talking to the people. So we thought that the idea is very good to have the link between the real world and the legend world.

From that point on, of course, we made sure that the songs mainly stayed in that territory of being the king and the emperor and enlarging the kingdom. 

Germans always think that people from other countries will probably not like it. And everybody from the other countries has so far always said it’s fantastic. Everybody really pronounces it right. I think it’s fantastic. Because I remember being, when I was the vocalist for Ross the Boss, we played in TempoRock. After the show, there was a DJ set and they played something from Rammstein, whatever it was. I mean, it’s been 15 years ago, Rammstein was not that gigantic already. But everybody stood up and all the Italian people were free on the dance floor and everybody was singing in German, I think it was “Du Hast”. I stood there, one of three Germans in the entire club, no, four, we had a friend of ours, so it was four Germans, and we stood there, and it’s unbelievable, nobody in Germany believes that Italians, or Turkish people, South American people, and so on, that they all would sing along to German lyrics, and it was unbelievable. One year later Rammstein would headline Sonisphere in Istanbul. So that was the first time that you could see Ross said, “What the fuck is happening? Why is Rammstein the headlining act and Nanowar is playing in front, before them?” And we said, well, now they’re gigantic, no question.

It is more difficult to sing in German. It is not the highest vocal line on the album, but whenever we play it and we rehearse it, it’s incredibly tricky to sing, because usually I do not sing König on a high line. English is so much easier to sing, so this is going to be a tricky song live, actually. Like many Germans in the 80s, I’ve been a fan of Gianna Nannini. Everybody loved her in Germany, and we still do. And, I mean, that’s such a melodic language to sing. Whenever she says anything, it almost sounds like music. And in German, I think it’s exactly the other way around. 

Can you share with us a funny moment that happened during the recording of König und Kaiser? 

Titan Fox V: We did “Kings of Arabia”, which is the strange song on the album. The Arabic song, I mean, the king, who is now emperor, comes to the Arabic countries, and he visits them and takes them over, not by war, because they wouldn’t like that, but by talking and by friendship. We have this arabesque sort of music, and we did these sort of funny vocals on it, and we played along with that strange instrument that we have, and it took more time to, to find out these small bits and pieces than recording the rest of the song, but it was absolutely worth it.

So that was nice. The sweet moment was when we had “König und Kaiser” and we wanted to have these fanfare trumpets on, on it. Charles Greywolf, who recorded the album, has always linked me with Joost Van de Broek, who works in the Netherlands for Arjen Lucassen. Nice guy. I told him, “We need trumpets that sound like Life of Brian from Monty Python“. And he did it. When he finished it, after some talking he sent them over and said, “It was a pleasure, all the best of success for your album“. And I said, “Thank you, but what do I get for your work?” He said, “No, no, it’s fine. I’m glad that I could help you and send my greetings to Charles“. And he gave them to me for free. When does this happen in real life? Not very often. 

You have a lot of live shows planned for this year. Do you prefer to perform indoors or outdoors? And why is that? 

Titan Fox V: Yeah, that’s a good question. I mean, usually the question is do we like small clubs or big stages? And in that case, you can always say it’s both fantastic for very different reasons. I think it might be the same for the outdoors. Outdoors are not very often, therefore, it is a bit like Christmas. That’s special. It doesn’t happen often, so it’s special, but honestly, I think a show indoors is much easier to do. And you have all the lights and everything. When you’re not the headlining act or the closing act at 3 o’clock in the night, usually everybody plays in broad daylight and it never looks that great actually. So actually the indoor shows are better, but as the outdoor shows are so special and the atmosphere at the festivals is so great, that’s something special too. I mean, I can’t choose.

König und Kaiser”, it’s obviously about kings and emperors, but has there been a real-life event that inspired any of the songs, perhaps?

Titan Fox V: I never had that one before. Oh! Yeah, of course. I remember that two songs are sort of linked to real-life things. Maybe three. The third one is not personal. It’s “Divided We Shall Fall”, meaning that people should try to be together and find out that together, that’s more than being alone.

So, old thing, but always current because it never works. And so that’s, of course, a real-life situation. Then somebody in the band had a private experience in the last years that was maybe a little bit less than pleasant. So there is there is at least one song, I remember it’s one song, but it’s the bonus track of the CDs called “The Last of the Seven Wars” where you pretty much have the information that this now is the last of the wars, seven is always a good number, kind of waving goodbye to things in your past.

Maybe not as negatively as you first thought, maybe it feels good after a while. So that is one of the songs where you totally have a real-life message. And then there is, “I Want Chaos”, which is totally an interesting thing, especially for me. Because some years ago I was listening to scientists who talked about chaos. They always said chaos seems to be threatening to human beings. But if you look at the caterpillar transforming into a butterfly, when they get into his cocoon, there is sheer chaos because the stomach, the brain, the heart, everything gets liquid and it forms anew and nobody of the human beings knows how this is done and it looks like chaos. Then he showed a picture very close up, and you could see no structure. It was only colors and schemes; you would say, this is chaotic, I don’t get it. When he puts the picture back, you see it was the wing of a butterfly, but it was only such a small part.

When you change perspective, chaos has structure, and chaos is something that we can find trust in, because we know that out of chaos, there can be creativity, there can be structure in anything. Therefore, “I Want Chaos”, was exactly that thing, leaving the old behind and getting into something new without knowing what happens. Finding the sort of trust that people take from spirituality, from God, from music, from whatever. I think it’s all the same. And finding that trust in life. Well, it’s one of the meanings of life, probably.

I’m Italian, so I have to ask you. What is your favorite pizza topping? 

Titan Fox V: Well, being a vegan, it’s tricky to say because basically everything that I like is not possible. Oh, I used to eat meat and everything until maybe five years ago. I don’t know what I will get on a pizza because I don’t really want to have this artificial cheese stuff all too much, vegan stuff that doesn’t taste well and you don’t know what it is. But when I think back of being still in the meat and dairy business, I would probably say, if you are in Italy and you really have a good pizza place, sometimes the very simple Margherita can really be absolutely fantastic.

It doesn’t work in Germany because they don’t know how to do it. But if you have a Margherita with wonderful cheese, maybe some mozzarella on it, and beautiful olive oil, not the cheap stuff that we have here, but the real deal, I think that might be my favorite actually. And some sausages, Italian sausages on top, maybe? Garlic? 

What kinds of questions don’t you like to answer?

Titan Fox V: Well, there are above all the questions that you’ve heard thousands of times. It’s okay if you got somebody in front of you, you’ve never spoken with, and this person has never heard of your band, which is absolutely fine.

And when these people say, “Can you tell us anything about the band for people who have never heard it?”, I really have a huge joy to answer these questions for the 500th time. It’s no problem. What I don’t like is when you feel that somebody always uses the same questions just CTRL C, CTRL V, and then you get the same questions and you feel there’s not his heart in the questions.

Then it’s tricky to answer them because, well, I would like to do CTRL C and V myself and I never do that. So, that is tricky, and well, politics are tricky and I must say, I don’t find it tricky talking about politics with people from outside of Germany. But I shy away from talking about politics with people from Germany. I think that’s too close, and I might differ from basically what the newspapers might tell you, so. When you come from Germany, whenever you say anything, there is always a 30 percent chance that somebody says, “Oh, you’re a Nazi”. I mean, I’m far away from being a Nazi. I don’t care about what Hitler thought it was. We don’t have to talk about that. Everybody knows it. But we have the problem in Germany that, I think, out of guilt, the people have stagnated keeping up this attitude of feeling guilty for something that not even their fathers have experienced.

And I think that has to go away. It has to heal and be regular, moving, and flexible. And when you say that in Germany, there are always people who say that’s not okay. And if you do that, you support the right wing. And even the right wing is not Nazi. That’s the next problem that we have. You can say, I don’t want any other people than Germans in Germany. It’s not my opinion, but it’s okay. As long as you don’t go to my Turkish friend in his restaurant and tell him to get the heck out of here. Because he does more for this community than I do. So, as long as you leave that, your opinion is fine. You can also say we need everybody to come to this country. It’s fine. That’s what I hate about Germany. People, newspapers, and so on, politics, that they are so afraid of anything, that they can’t find what’s good. And that’s a problem. 

What was the last picture that you took with your phone? 

Titan Fox V: I will show you my phone. I don’t take pictures with a phone. But the last picture that somebody else took of me. I signed a contract today for cultural money that they give us to support us going on tour, which is a good thing about Germany. I did not know that. And the guy who told me is not German, but he lives in Germany. They needed me to sign it. And then therefore I got this additional camera up there, which I usually don’t use. And they took pictures of me with the ID card. Those were the last pictures that got taken of me. So, otherwise, I don’t, I never take pictures. I take pictures with the heart.

I wanted to play a little game with you, if that’s alright. If you had to rename “König und Kaiser” with only objects that are within your arms reach, what would you name it?

Titan Fox V: The album absolutely would be called Cola and Pretzels. But sadly I don’t have anything more interesting here around me. Yeah, Cola and Pretzels. Why not? It could have been coffee and water. That’s not bad as well, because this keeps you awake, and this is the most important drink in the world. More important than cola. 

Thank you very much. for taking the time to do this interview with me! Is there anything else you would like to add to our readers?

Titan Fox V: Yes. I really enjoyed this interview. It was very much off the usual topics, which I totally enjoyed. Thank you. And it was wonderful, very wonderful talking to you. And therefore, I always thank everybody for the interviews, but this one has been very especially enjoyable today. Wonderful time. Thank you for your work for the support and for sharing the belief that music and arts are way more than just wasting your time or pastime. It’s very essentially important for people. Thank you for this wonderful time.