We set up our equipment, drums, amps, etc., in a loft area that overlooked the livingroom. There we
would come together to work on the songs. Sometimes we'd have lots of ideas and other times nothing so we'd just take a break for a little while. The house was fairly secluded in the woods so there were no neighbors to
At that time we used to use a little 4-track cassette recorder to capture our ideas. Just a simple, little thing with none of the features you'd find today. We'd get the main song ideas down playing
live onto a track or two and then Udo and Stefan would usually work on the vocal ideas later. It's funny. I remember that they would work in the basement usually late at night. Since they were wearing headphones to
listen to the music all you'd hear as you lay in bed was Udo's voice piercing through the night!
From there we went to Dierks' studios to do some real preproduction in 24 tracks. We always had a full-time engineer and
Dieter would also come in and help with this phase of the album. After this preproduction we began to record the real album. That's when the real fun began!
Dieter is a very demanding producer. This is especially true when it comes to the phrasing of guitar riffs and timing. We
would do some pieces several dozen times trying to capture what he had in his mind for a specific section. He taught us a lot about playing on the beat, behind the beat, ahead of the beat, around the beat, in the
same general location of the beat and on and on… He was tough but the results were great.
As detailed as he was about playing he also was a real stickler for sound.
We literally tried every guitar we had during the recordings. Each song we tried different combinations of guitars, mic'ing and even strings!
Recording was pretty straightforward. We usually played along with a click track and tried to keep as live of a flavor as possible.
The drums were finished first and then we'd layer on the rest. Usually we'd do 4 total rhythm guitar tracks, doubling each left and right. This was also the first album that we recorded digitally.
Although it was not the same as digital today. The digital information was still written to the big tape reels instead of analog sounds. No hard disk recording back then!
Okay, let's talk about the songs.
Metal Heart – Stefan and Jorge came up with the majority of this song if I remember correctly. The Intro is Tchaikovsky and the solo includes the
melody from Beethoven's Fur Elise. It was the first time I put a classical piece into a song like this. I had noodled around with a few other classical
melodies but this one just seemed to work best. I had no idea it would become as popular as it did.
Midnight Mover – From what Gaby recalls the lyrics are about a drug
dealer. This song was one of a couple on the album that were hopefully going to find a little more commercial success. Of course the thing that many
people remember about this song is the video. The record company wanted to use this hot-shot Polish filmmaker. The video (film actually) was shot at
Silver Cup Studios in NY City. The director had this idea to do a circle of cameras that would all roll simultaneously and then be edited together
frame-by-frame for the spinning effect. We were there all day and spent most of the time waiting around as they got this rig into different positions.
Naturally we had to lip sync the song dozens of times. It was a long day to say the least. Back then the end result usually made people dizzy. These
days it would be cutting edge. They actually use that technique correctly now when they freeze people and the camera appears to move around them. Just ahead of our time again!
Up to the Limit
– This is a fun song to play. We really worked hard on getting that feeling on tape. Naturally, Dieter tortured us with the phrasing!
Wrong is Right – I like this song but for some reason I'm not crazy about
Screaming for a Love Bite – This is pretty much a pop tune. It's really a fun song to play live. Dieter loved the way the chorus lyrical phrase sounded. We didn't even consider what the words meant.
Too High to Get It Right – Kind of an AC/DC influence here I guess. I've always enjoyed their straight-ahead approach to rock.
Dogs on Leads – I think we got this song title from a sign we saw while
walking in a park one day. ``Keep all dogs on leads" or something like that. Gaby kept a book of ideas and phrases that sounded cool. Many of the ideas ended up being used over time.
Teach Us to Survive
– This song was actually written for a movie soundtrack. For some reason it didn't get used but we liked it. It was written in Vermont. I can remember specifically when the riff was written. I
am usually very focused when I write. I will commit and sit down to work. At the end of the day I usually have something to show for it.
Living for Tonight – This was another one that was mainly written by
Stefan and Jorge. Stefan had played guitar for several years and was always a very good guitarist. Often he would jump up from behind the kit to play a riff.
Bound to Fail
– I'll tell you. Dieter and I worked on that solo until I nearly dropped dead. It's actually two different songs. Bound to Fail was one song and the ending part was another song's main melody. With the gang vocals
at the end, like in the intro before Metal Heart, we would record dozens of tracks of multiple voices. Usually we'd do most in a harmonic fashion and
then do a few that were basically like druken beer hall singers to make it a little rougher around the edges. I had the lowest voice of the band so I'd
usually fatten out some of these tracks like the choruses on Balls and Princess of the Dawn for example.
The album was originally supposed to be a hologram of the metal heart that
we had made specifically for this album. Unfortunately it would have cost a fortune at the time and would have had to have been put together by hand by some house frau in Germany! So the idea was dropped and we used a
picture of the piece instead.
Well, that's about it for Metal Heart. If you have any specific questions feel free to ask me via the Feedback Form. Thanks for listening!