Interview with Jan Bünning [Paragon]

This year marks the 22nd anniversary since the formation of the German heavy metal powerhouse that is Paragon. Iza caught up with bassist Jan Bünning to discuss their latest album ‘Force of Destruction’ and find out more about the band’s long history.

Iza: Hi there!
Jan: Hello!

Iza. It’s been 22 years since the birth of Paragon. How do you think the band has evolved since the early 90s?
Jan: Before I joined Paragon in 1997 the band almost split up and Martin Christian the founding member hired our singer Buschi and me as new members. About half a year later we already entered the studio and put out two albums in a very short time. To be honest looking back now I consider “Final Command“ and “Chalice Of Steel“ more as demos and would say “Steelbound“ is our debut. “Law Of The Blade” is the album on which we found our style and the next milestone was “Revenge“ where sound and songs are in perfect harmony considering our playing abilities we had at that time. “Forgotten Prophecies“ in my opinion had good songs but they are not arranged very well and the sound is terrible. I didn´t play on “Screenslaves” but the sound is better as on “Forgotten Prophecies”and it had some good songs on it like “Screenslaves” and “Hellgore” but also some average stuff.

We worked a lot on “Force Of Destruction” e.g. Wolle had riffs for about 25 songs and I then collected the most fitting and arranged them for Buschi to write lyrics and vocal lines. So we had a full pre-production, something we have never done before. We also evolved as players so we were well prepared when we entered the studio and we need less time for the recordings of “FoD” than for other albums. I would say “FoD“ has everything a Paragon album should have and also some new influences from our new guitar players Wolfgang Tewes and Jan Bertram.

I. What have been the biggest highlights of your career to date?
J: There are many highlights like playing the main stage in Wacken 2004 in front of 40000 Metalheads, opening for Gamma Ray on their tour and of course the very good reviews we get for “Force of Destruction“.

I. Where do you see yourselves in the world of power metal? Which bands would you compare yourselves to?
J: I would not say we are Power Metal. When we started with Paragon, Power Metal was something like Overkill – a cross between classic Heavy Metal/Speed & Thrash Metal. Today stuff like Sonata Arctica are called Power Metal and that is something totally different.

I: Your style is an interesting mix of power and speed metal. I can also detect elements of thrash metal in some of your songs. Which of these genres, would you say is the most applicable to Paragon? How would you describe your sound?
J: I would say we play Heavy Metal with some Thrash & Speed Influences. We try not to have the same song over and over on our albums so we have fast stuff like “Iron Will” & “Rising From The Black“, doom songs like “Blood & Iron“, stompers like “Gods Of Thunder” and even ballads like “Demon´s Lair”. So in the end it´s all Heavy Metal only that one song is more Thrash Metal like “Rising From The Black” and the other Song is more Heavy Metal like “Gods Of Thunder“.

I: Have your influences changed since the formation of the band or are they still the same as they were all those years ago?
J: Our Influences are still bands like: Judas Priest, Accept, (old) Iron Maiden, Overkill, Metal Church, Mercyful Fate, Vicious Rumors, Candlemass, Agent Steel and even some Slayer. They have not changed too much and I guess we will even try to get more back to the roots on our next album.

I: If you were to pick one song from the new album ‘Force of Destruction’ to act as a teaser for all those new to Paragon, which one would it be & why?
J: Really hard to say because it´s our first album where I like each and every song. But if I had to chose it would be “Iron Will“. It´s the last song we wrote just before we entered the studio and we did not have time to do a vocal demo with it but when I heard it for the first time I knew it´s already a Paragon classic. When you hear it for the first time you can sing along the chorus when we play it the second time and that how a good song should be. In the lead section you hear first Wolle´s more melodic leads and after that Jan Bertram´s more technical lead guitars.

I: In the past you have paid tribute to other German metal bands such as Tankard and Helloween. Have these bands had any influence on your music?
J: No. the only German band which has influenced us is Accept.

I: Are there any plans to compile a ‘Best of Paragon’ album to celebrate your long career?
J: That would be a question for our old record company Remedy Records because they have the rights for our older stuff. But the only thing I know that they will re-release “Steelbound” very soon with a bonus disc full of all our tribute songs because I made the new layout for the re-release.

I: What are your plans for the future?
J: Getting tighter as a band, writing and recording another killer album and doing a lot of shows.
I: Ok. That’s great. Thanks!
J: Thank you!

 

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