13 years of High Roller Records. What better way to celebrate than with a brand new studio album by the most promising heavy metal band of the current decade? »Motivator« by High Spirits is going to be catalogue number 500 on High Roller Records!
Following their self-titled debut album and follow-up »Another Night« High Spirits have already put their “difficult third album” behind them. »You Are Here« has been widely regarded as the band’s most accomplished work to date. So after four albums are High Spirits a “mature” band now? Chris “The Professor” Black reflects: “We’re all in our 30s, so I’d say that’s very mature indeed to be having these kind of rock and roll dreams, ha, ha, ha! Some might say that’s too old! But that doesn’t matter at all, because what we do is for all ages. By the way, I think most people will count »Another Night« as the debut album, whereas the self-titled was actually a demos collection.”
After three albums, or two according to Chris’ way of counting, it surely must have been extremely difficult to keep that "naivety" of the early days? “Definitely, and it’s not something you can fake,” he remarks. “»Another Night« was a bit of a surprise, and that goes for me too! I put way too much pressure on myself for »You Are Here«, but I couldn’t help it. There were other aggravating factors besides the pressure. Some were under my control and some were not. For example it was recorded during the harshest winter in Chicago in 40 years. I had a blanket over my legs while playing the guitar tracks. But the pressure to follow »Another Night« was immense, yes. By comparison, »You Are Here« felt very easy to follow.”
According to main man Chris “The Professor” Black the motivation behind »Motivator« was a different one this time around: “The challenge was to not work too fast, because believe me, the inspiration hit me hard! It was only a few months after I had finished »You Are Here« that I had a complete vision for the music, lyrics, title, and album cover, for »Motivator«, and it was very hard to be patient and let things breathe. I was so excited about the new songs that I almost released a demo in the summer of 2014.”
One of the catchiest songs on the new album, “This Is The Night”, might sound familiar to die-hard fans of the band. It has been a constant in the live set since May 2014 and also appeared on the »Official Bootleg«. The rest of the nine songs, including the intro “Up And Overture”, is brand new though.
Songs like the memorable “Reach For The Glory” or the upbeat “Do You Wanna Be Famous” carry on where »You Are Here« has left off. “Haunted By Love” may sound like a ballad, but it’s surely been done the way it has to be done: the High Spirits way.
The mentioned "Reach For The Glory" turns out to be one of the more melodic and accessible tunes on the new album. A sure winner without the shadow of a
doubt... “Someone told me it sounds ‘athletic’,” reveals Chris. “I like that! This one went through a lot of revisions, there’s kind of a lot going on so it’s a ‘maybe’ for the live set.”
Another sure highlight of »Motivator« is a little number entitled "Do you Wanna Be Famous". Are the lyrics of the song open to interpretation at all? I could well imagine that it refers to a certain kind of band (no names mentioned) playing music just for the sake of becoming famous, and not for the art itself. So the total opposite of High Spirits, actually... “It might be hard to explain,” states “The Professor”, “but I think this song asks the question: how big is your ambition? Once you’ve had some success, once you’ve reached an initial goal, where do you go from there? How big do you dare to dream, versus being satisfied with what you’ve already accomplished? These are questions that any band will ask themselves and I’m sure it can apply to many other situations.”
The last song on »Motivator« is called “Thank You”. The obvious question is: Who is this number called “Thank You” dedicated to? “Surely you are included Matthias,” jokes Chris. “Actually, I thought about making a list for the liner notes this time! ‘Thank You’ is dedicated to… and then a huge long list but of course the fear is that you forget someone very important and I can’t take that chance. We have encountered so many outstanding people who have given us such great memories during our short time as a band, it’s really overwhelming to think about it all. That’s why I made the song! It was actually written and partially recorded for »You Are Here«, but it didn’t fit the mood. But it’s the perfect ending to »Motivator«, and we’re looking forward to doing it live!”
Talking of playing live, High Spirits are one of the very few American bands to have appeared at the legendary Brofest in Newcastle. So how was it like playing amongst all those semi-legendary N.W.O.B.H.M. bands? “It was great,” beams Chris. “And a bit chilling to see our logo on the poster with so many legendary acts. I saw lots of great bands that weekend. The venue and organization were also excellent. We will play at Brofest again, next time with the full five-piece band.”