Mastered by Patrick W. Engel at TEMPLE OF DISHARMONY in May 2020.
Interview with Heimi “Heinrich“ Mikus (vocals, guitar) for »Skol« (1985):
I saw you quite regularly at the Quartier Latin club in Berlin during the 1980s. Can you remember this club? These were legendary gigs...
Heimi: “Of course I can remember our shows at the Quartier Latin. We played there quite often and always had a blast. We were friends with the owner of the club. A lot of our friends had moved to Berlin to escape from national service, so we always met up at our gigs at the Quartier Latin. For some reason we used to play Berlin in winter time only. It was very cold. The run-down buildings, the Berlin Wall and the Brandenburg Gate looked even more depressing than usual. That’s why I have a special connection to Berlin.”
1985’s »Skol« was the follow-up album to »Gold ‘N’ Glory«. How did you approach the album, did you have a master plan at all?
Heimi: “The original plan was for Michael Wagener to once again handle the production of the record. But this proved to be difficult. He had moved to the US and was doing one production after the other. The timing just didn’t work. So we recorded the album with Gert Rautenbach at Dierks Studios near Cologne. But we had problems within the band. Our second guitarist Bubi wanted to leave. He had received a tempting offer from another band. He did finish recording »Skol« with us but somehow the chemistry inside the band had gone for good. Thilo Herrmann later replaced Bubi.”
The title of the record »Skol« neatly tied in with your Viking image. Nobody had this kind of image at the time, it was after Heavy Load and way before bands like Amon Amarth. Very unique...
Heimi: “Yes, we did stick with our Viking image. We had so many ideas for our stage show. If any other band had used this Viking image at the time, they would have been mere copycats of Faithful Breath.”
The song “Backstreet Heroes” was another stage favourite, wasn’t it? And “Rock Rebels” also was very typical of Faithful Breath. You had clearly forged your own niche. Why wasn’t that enough to break through?
Heimi: “Mausoleum were getting bust. Alfi Falkenbach and Stonne Holmgren went on to form a new label in Ambush Records. And »Skol« was released on Ambush Records.”
Most Faithful Breath songs from this period have this kind of live feel. How comes? Did you road test the new material before recording it in the studio?
Heimi: “We did play all the new songs live before we recorded them. We wanted to know how the audience reacts to them. We skipped songs or re-arranged numbers if we thought that they did not go down well on stage.”
One number on »Skol« is called “Lady M.”. Who is this mysterious “Lady M.”?
Heimi: “I really can’t remember. Honestly.”
“Crazy In Metal” marked the fact that you had arrived in the metal scene for good, right?
Heimi: “Yes, Faithful Breath had arrived in the metal scene but somehow it went downhill for us after »Skol« . I can’t really explain why but things were not looking good. After »Skol« Ambush Records closed the chapter of Faithful Breath.”
After »Skol« a live album was released on Noise Records (of all labels...). This was the swan song for Faithful Breath and you morphed into Risk a short while after.
Heimi: “We decided to record a live album first of all to buy us some time to think about new material and our future direction. The live album was issued by Noise Records, that’s true. We added guitarist Roman Keymer from Angel Dust and recorded lots of new demos. But we soon realized that our style had changed so drastically, that it wouldn’t have been fitting to still call it Faithful Breath. So we opted for a name change. This was an immense risk (no pun intended). Luckily, the demos almost immediately got us a deal with Steamhammer/SPV, so we were able to start anew. That’s how it was.”