Husband and wife Tobias and Jule Dahs formed melodic heavy metal band KINGS WINTER in 2018. Although formally it was still a duo then, with Jule on vocals and Tobias doing all the instruments. Now, six years later and with the latest additions Christian Schmitz on guitar/growls and Hendrik Franke on bass, KINGS WINTER have almost grown into a full band. They will announce the name of the drummer soon to complete the process. Meanwhile, Tobias, Jule and Christian have been busy writing KINGS WINTER’s second album “The Other Side Of Fear”, that will be out on January 28th. We had a nice conversation with singer and mother Jule Dahs
Interview: Henk van Nieuwenhoven
Finding an adequate and suitable name for a band is one of the first obstacles that you run into when you decide to step into the music business. But since you come from Königswinter in Germany, that decision was easily made.
When we were trying to find a new band name in the beginning, we were playing around with different ideas based on the area we are living in. One day we were basically driving past the welcome sign of our hometown, when we finally got the idea to just use a translated version of “Königswinter”. It is a very catchy name, it ties to our home and also is unique, which basically made it an easy call and the perfect name in the end.
For your debut album “Edge Of Existence” (2021) you and Tobias did pretty much everything yourself. That evoked merely warm reactions from the press and fans.
The reactions were absolutely great, even better than for the debut EP “Forging The Cataclysm”. Especially the amount of fans asking for us to play concerts was great and it lead us to really start working on setting up a full lineup for KINGS WINTER. So in essence “Edge Of Existence” was really the point where we decided to turn this project into a fully fledge band and take it to the next level.
And then Covid-19 shut down the entire planet. KINGS WINTER used the situation to record the “Sonic Silence – The Unplugged Sessions Vol.1”. But the virus had another nasty taste for you personally. You suffered severe damage to your vocal chords.
That is right. I had to deal with an extreme cough for eight weeks after the infection, had problems with my lungs and ultimately all that damages my vocal cords. To be able to sing again, I had to do vocal therapy for a full year. It really was a long and hard way to recovery, but I am finally able to sing again. My voice has changed though, as my vocal range resides pretty much a whole note lower than before.
With Christian Schmitz and Hendrik Franke, KINGS WINTER transformed from a duo into an almost complete band. Only a drummer is still missing. But there’s good news on that as well.
Yes, we have already rehearsed as a five-piece band, but we will have to wait a bit, to finally announce the drummer officially. But the search is finally over and we have a great group of musicians now. I really can’t wait to see what we will be able to do with this group of people in the future.
As most bands do, KINGS WINTER also released some singles and videos first before the album drops on the market. You started with the title track of the new album, “The Other Side Of Fear”. Is there anything that you personally fear most? And what would be the other side of that fear, how do you turn it into something positive?
Well, I think fear is a natural part of all of us. It’s hard to answer what I fear the most, but since becoming a mother, the fear for my child’s safety and future has been added to the list of my personal fears. For me, the other side of fear is doing my best for my family and the people I love every day. Just finding a solution for every problem and staying positive.
Then the second single with a video came out, “When Tyrants Fall”. The lyrics are clear, a madman has pressed the red button and it is raining missiles. We are in the killing zone. A realistic scenario for WWIII that seems to get closer and closer.
We weren’t really thinking of WWIII in that case, as the lyrics are rather an observation of the situation that people in war zones all across the world find themselves in. Obviously the war in Ukraine was the initial inspiration, but sadly the lyrics are valid for so many regions of the world right now. But still the lyrics and especially the chorus are not meant to promote a dystopian idea of the future, but rather the hope that we can overcome everything, if we stand together with our brothers and sisters all over the world and hold on to the basic principles of humanity, compassion and democracy.
On the cover art of “The Other Side Of Fear” there’s a lot to see. It was created by Gogo Melone, AEONIAN SORROW’s vocalist. We could ask her, but we’d like to hear it from you. Wat is it you see?
We actually never go to an artist with a specific vision, but rather take an existing piece and get inspired by the art. We had Gogo on our mind for quite some time now, as she is a very talented artist and singer as well. So we kept an eye on her social media accounts and when this artwork popped up, it just fit perfectly to the tone and direction of the album. It even inspired the lyrics for the title track “The Other Side Of Fear”. Me personally, I see a person on the adventurous trip that is life, fearing the next step as you cannot see what’s on the other side of the mountain range. But at the same time everything is flooded with the warm light of hope.
Seven of the eight tracks on the new album were written by Tobias. Only “Sonic Thunderstorm” was done by Christian Schmitz. No doubt we will hear more of his artistic creations… and maybe some lyrics from your hands as well.
Christian is a great and creative songwriter, so we really hope that he’ll be contributing even more songs in the future. Especially since he is adding a bit of a new dimension to our sound with his way of writing. For me, I’m not really planning on writing any lyrics in the future. Writing music on a finished instrumental track has never worked great. I did that in my former band and it really proved difficult to find space for great vocal melodies. For us this current system works a lot better as Tobias has lyrics and melodies in mind while he is writing the guitar parts, so he’s already leaving a lot of space for vocals in the right places. Afterwards I can take the lyrics and give it my own twist in terms of delivery and melody, once we get to the recording stage.
The fastest song on “The Other Side Of Fear” is probably “Destroyer Of Worlds”, where at 3:50 the tempo is inflated drastically and Tobias serves a sizzling guitar solo. It sounds like an Iron Maiden original and the same goes for “Revolution’s Name”. It feeds Tobias’ ego, being able to write these kind of songs?
Tobias is not really that kind of guy who needs to feed his ego on something like that. I think it’s more a testament to the fact that he’s just feeling more and more comfortable as a songwriter, which allows him to venture into these more epic and complex tracks and arrangements. And he’ll be very happy to hear the Iron Maiden comparison, as he is a huge fan of Maiden.
Tobias did the recording and mixing for “The Other Side Of Fear”. The mastering was again done by Michael ‘Freio’ Haas. He has a lot of experience in that area, so why bother asking somebody else to do the job – unless Tobias wants to do it himself as well.
Tobias has been working with Michael since 2009, first on projects with his former band, and he’s been mastering our releases since the first EP. By now he just really gets what we are going for, so the whole mastering process is very easy and straight forward. Not a lot of revisions are ever needed, instead it’s mostly the first version of the mastering that makes it onto the finished record, which makes working with Michael a real pleasure.
The semi-ballad “The Darkness Within” is a beautiful way to close the album, and maybe also to end live gigs with. The title suggests an autobiographical basis.
No, it’s luckily not autobiographical, but rather inspired by members of our friends and family, who have been dealing with depression in the past. Also with the death of Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell the topic was very present again, especially on Tobias’ mind, which in turn inspired the lyrics.
Isn’t it time for KINGS WINTER to travel the roads of Europe as a full band after the release of “The Other Side Of Fear”?
A whole tour across Europe is definitely not planned, at least not for the near future. With our little daughter we simply don’t want to travel and spend that much time away from home, so for now we’ll be just playing very selected gigs. The first one is happening in September near our hometown in Troisdorf, Germany. Afterwards we’ll take it from there and see what the future holds.