Iron Knights are Lords of the Undead, bringing us tales of the Underworld in the form of Heavy Metal… Formerly known as Stuka Squadron, but changing their name at the end of last year, Iron Knights have recently released a follow-up album to the brilliant ‘Tales of the Ost‘ called ‘New Sound of War‘, and they are about to embark on their ‘New Tour of War‘ – kicking off at Hammerfest on 15th March. We caught up with Fang, Gravedigger, Baron von Hammerstein & Bomber Beam to find out how life as Iron Knights is treating them…
It’s been about 5 months since changing your name from Stuka Squadron to Iron Knights. Has everything settled down yet?
Gravedigger Cox: Kind of…
Bomber Beam: Yes. And in many ways the new name better describes our historical roots.
Baron von Hammerstein: Yes it has. It was never unsettled within the band anyway -we all knew what we were going to do and why we were doing it. As far as the Legionnaires out there, they took to the new name with gusto. I think most sane people realise there is more to a band than just a name and that the identity of the band hasn’t changed in any way other than for the better.
Fang: Absolutely. Really it has made us a much stronger band. We are fortunate to have the mightiest fans on the planet who that have helped us to carry on and one day we will look back on that turbulent time and chuckle. Now we have even more songwriting fodder for the future, ho ho ho.
How did you find out about the name Stuka Squadron being trademarked by your former bass player and what effect has it had on the band?
Gravedigger: By Accident. It did affect us but we picked ourselves up and carried on.
Hammerstein: Yes, it was purely by accident. I actually found it while browsing the internet. Like I said before, the effect on the creative side of the band has been actually nothing but positive! There have obviously been things on the business side that needed sorting out, but that’s just what you have to go ahead and do.
Beam: I was on a secret mission in East Africa at the time, so had to put the pieces of the story together as it came through.
Can you give us a brief synopsis of your first album and tell us how the tale has evolved into the second. Has the original storyline changed since the line-up change?
Gravedigger: The tale continues on from the first album to the second with no deviation; except where we changed things!
Hammerstein: Personally, I don’t think that it should ever have been a single storyline that limits the experiences we can tell of. Aspects of it needed to evolve anyway as some conceptual ideas were formed which proved the saying that a little knowledge was a dangerous thing. I like the way the tale of the Knights has grown to encompass our place in all of history’s conflicts. Vampires are indeed an almost timeless breed. We didn’t feel the need to limit ourselves on the New Sound Of War purely to our experiences in the desert. In fact, in one way it can be seen as a public apology; in the course of fighting over the North African sands we awoke a Messenger from another place – and there has never been peace in the region since that day…
Beam: I think the new line-up reflects the more unified and focused nature of the band.
How did you find new bassist bomber beam?
Gravedigger: Wandering about in New Zealand…
Hammerstein: He and I stormed the same hill forts in New Zealand aeons ago.
Beam: Yes, von Hammerstein and I first met on the Wairau Plains while we wereseparately following a group of settlers who were trying to capture Te Rauparaha. Damn fools!
Fang: And I believe there is photographic evidence to prove that.
Can you give us some background on the new name Iron Knights?
Gravedigger: It’s a better name. Easier to say.
Beam: It describes what we have always been.
Hammerstein: It’s promotion. When a squadron particularly distinguishes itself, it is given a title, rather than a simple Squadron designation. Like the ‘Flying Circus’ of the First World War.
Fang: We deserve to be called the Iron Knights!!!
Your new album ‘New Sound of War’ under your new name was released late last year.How well has this done?
Hammerstein: Very well 🙂 We are very proud of the achievement as it was made amid some extreme turbulence. All the playing is live with no triggers or pro-tools tomfoolery; a situation that I, for one, believe is how metal should be. Beam arrived while we were working on it; he was given one week to write and record the bass lines. All the drums were played from memory with no backing, for reasons I won’t bore you with. So we are very pleased – and it actually is a great signpost for where we are going next. Some have commented that it has the feel of a ‘transitional’ album and I think that is a totally fair comment.
Fang: Extremely well considering the most un-metal stuff that was going on at the time. It actually pushed us to work harder creatively and musically in a short space of time and while under extreme pressure. It is now another mighty chapter in our histories blackened page!!!
Beam: It has done very well. People are really enjoying the stripped down,in-your-face vibe.
New Tour of War starts soon, kicking off at Hammerfest this month and finishing up at the Swordbrothers festival in Andernach, Germany… Which date are you looking forward to most?
Gravedigger: At the moment Hammerfest. When Hammerfest is done, I’ll be looking forward to Swordbrothers.
Beam: Hammerfest is nearer to home and lots of our UK based fans are travelling to see us play, so that makes it a big deal for us. Swordbrothers will give us the chance to make some new fans in Europe.
Hammerstein: The date I’m always looking forward to most is the next one!
Fang: Every show is as important as the next but Hammerfest will be something special as we have been shooting for this for years!!!
When are you next in the studio recording? Have you got anything new written yet?
Gravedigger: We will be back in the studio next time we book it…have we anything new? Yes – yes we have!
Beam: Hope to be in the studio early next year, and the new material is already sounding brilliant.
Hammerstein: We have and we may well be doing something shortly. At Hammerfest we will be recording the set for a live EP release and we are toying with the idea of adding a little something to that as well. After that you can expect us in the studio at the end of the year. The Iron Knights are riding on….
Fang: Look out Legionnaires!!! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhh!
Iron Knights are: Fang, Gravedigger, Baron von Hammerstein, Bomber Beam, Carlos Montoya el Foxico.
Photography by CATBIRD