Former Chimaira/Dååth guitarist Emil Werstler has been pretty quiet since Chimaira disbanded back in 2014, but he has returned with an exciting new project. According to Emil, Verlorener “is a musical and visual identity created to facilitate my need to record and perform without compromise. This project is intended to be an ongoing effort to create a sound that is closer to what I intend to convey to the world.”
I recently had the chance to speak with Emil in detail about the inspiration and sound of Verlorener, and you can read the exclusive chat below!
Metal Mark: Emil, it’s always a pleasure to hear from ya my friend. I’m super excited to learn more about your exciting new venture. When exactly did you start working on what would become Verlorener?
Emil Werstler: The whole idea behind it actually started back in 2012. I wanted to do something fresh. It’s not that I wanted to quit playing metal, because I will always love playing metal, but I wanted to challenge myself in a new way. This was around the time I started filling in for Chimaira, so I had a lot of time on the road to kind of put things together here or there. I had this sound in my head, and when I finally wrote the first song, I was pumped ya know. It was so different from anything I’ve ever done in my career, so I wanted to keep it going. I’m usually a fast songwriter, but this stuff takes time. I think the next song took me six to eight months to put together, until I was finally happy with it. As the next songs came together, I really started to hear the sound of this project come together man, and it’s finally done. Years later, but it’s done (laughs).
MM: Did you have an initial direction you wanted this to go musically, or did it kind of just come out as you continued to write the songs?
EW: I think it’s a little bit of both. I knew I wanted it to be innovative, uncompromising, and fresh. When you’re writing for a band, you’re writing for that identity. It’s a blast doing that, but I also had this sound in my head that didn’t fit the bands I’ve worked with. That’s what this is. This is all me.
MM: Was that intimidating at all, or did you embrace that challenge head on?
EW: As you know, I’ve always been a primary songwriter in the bands I’ve worked with, so I wouldn’t say it was intimidating. It was a lot of work (laughs), but I knew it would be. I’ve worked with some of the best producers in the world over my career, and I’ve got to see the little things they do in the studio to get their sound, and I wanted to take what I’ve learned and make something of my own. I’ve played in so many projects over the years, from metal to country to whatever, that I’ve gained friendships with incredible musicians all over the world, and I wanted to kind of cross genres and make something truly unique and fun, and I think I did.
MM: The freedom to do whatever you want must be a welcomed change. More freedom means more fun, and it sounds like you had a ton of fun working on this project.
EW: It’s been a blast man. I’m in no way saying that I didn’t have fun in my other bands, because I definitely did, but watching the state of the industry just go in limbo, and seeing how things were changing, Lars was right (laughs). He may still get crap for going after illegal downloading back in the day, but he was absolutely right. The industry is like the wild west right now, and I was starting to lose interest. Music has always been my passion, so when it became less fun, or more work, I knew I had to try something new. I didn’t want to go through the motions, just because I had to ya know. This is my love, and I needed something to spark that love again, and that’s what this is. It’s a huge risk (laughs), but it’s definitely been fun as hell.
MM: We’ve seen artists like David Vincent and Nergal put out outlaw country records, and you read in interviews how it’s reignited their passion for music, and it sounds like this did the same for you.
EW: Definitely. I know, in the metal world, that it’s blasphemous to go outside of the genre, and try something new, but why is it? Most metal musicians listen to stuff other than metal. I know you know that, but some people still don’t want to believe it (laughs). If they want to try something new, and have the income to do it, what’s stopping them? Music is supposed to be fun. It’s supposed to open your mind, so I applaud them for doing that.
Personally, I needed to do this for me. It wasn’t that I was sick of metal, or anything like that, I just wanted to do something with no limits, no genres, no boundaries, and I did it.
MM: I know that, obviously the music was number one, but you also put a ton of emphasis on the artwork for this project as well. Now that digital sales are everything, the artwork is a small jpg (laughs), so I think it’s cool that you still find the artwork to be an important thing.
EW: Artwork has always has been a big deal for me. I remember back in the day, to sound like an old man, that I would buy a record because I liked the artwork. You think of bands like Slayer and Iron Maiden, their covers were just as intense as their music, and it made the whole experience of the record that much more special. That’s what I wanted with Verlorener.
As I said earlier, I’ve made friends with many musicians of all genres over my career, and I’ve also made friends with incredible people in art, video, and film too. Nafis Azad, who did the artwork for this project, is one of those people. He’s the real deal in his industry, and I never thought it’d be possible to get him involved on this, but once he heard some of the music, he was like “I want to do this. Let me do this.” Of course I said yes right away (laughs). So we’ve been going back and forth on ideas, and he’s come up with some incredible stuff. Unlike a normal album with lyrics, this is strictly instrumental, so it’s more difficult to convey a message, but he’s done it. It adds a whole new dimension to Verlorener, which is exactly what I wanted, so I’m stoked for people to see it, as well as hear it.
MM: Verlorener’s IndieGoGo campaign page has already raised over $10,000, which is awesome. What was the reasoning behind doing the campaign?
EW: Honestly, I did not want to do the campaign thing initially. I talked to several people who’ve had issues with it, but then I talked to others who really loved it. I’m blown away by the support so far, and the money is really going to help out. I paid for this entire project out of pocket, and I didn’t spare any expense. As I’ve said before, this is the most important record I’ve done in my career so far. I didn’t want to come back after my “hiatus” with something trivial or predictable. This is something no one expects, and something people have never heard before. If people dig it, awesome. If they don’t, I still did it ya know. I’m happy either way.
MM: As we’ve seen on the IndieGoGo account, you work with a ton of artists, so is a live show even possible? Do you have plans to tour?
EW: That’s the next obstacle (laughs). One good thing is that I’m not locked down to label or contract to where I have to play no matter what. We do plan on touring, but I don’t know exactly how it’s going to work right now. We could pull it off with five people I think, but more would be better to get the full effect. We may do some small shows, here or there, just to see how it sounds, and then go from there. Honestly, this music can flow with bands of numerous genres, to the sky is the limit with what we can do. I definitely want to get back out there though. I may not miss the industry that much, but I do miss the stage. I’ve still been playing special shows over the past few years, but nothing substantial, and I’d like that to change if it’s productive for all involved. So we’ll see man! Hopefully!
MM: I’d love to see it! Thanks for taking out the time today Emil. For the last question, I got to ask what would define success in your mind with this project. A record deal, big tours, what?
EW: Honestly, I went into this with the idea that it would fail. Even though I did start a campaign page, this isn’t about the money, or getting a deal. This is about getting that sound I had back in 2012 out there, and doing it on my terms. This is about continuing to move forward as an artist. With the help of some of the best musicians in the world, in my opinion, I was able to accomplish that, so it’s already a success in my mind. The sound is now a reality, and I couldn’t be happier.
— Emil Werstler (@EmilWerstler) August 14, 2017
For more information, head to Verlorener’s IndieGoGo campaign page today!