About Me

Interview with Lonewolf

Lonewolf, are one of the veteran bands in French metal. They released the first demo, The Dark Throne, in 1992, however, the first full-length, only appeared in 2001, with March Into the Arenas. Always faithful to its origins, it is one of those bands that we always know what to expect - hard metal, fast and traditional.
This year, they release Division Hades, their 10th album, a double CD, consisting of 10 originals and 10 remastered old songs. We spoke with Jens Borner (vocals and guitar), the always good-spirit founder of the band, about this new album that he considers one of the best of the band.

M.I. - Hi! Thank you for your time in answering our questions! And congratulations on the new album!

Hello! You’re welcome. Thanx a lot, happy you like it!

M.I. - Speaking of this album... What has been the reaction to Division Hades?

So far it is rather very good, I am even surprised‚ cause I am not used seeing so many good reviews when we release an album, (laughts). Of course, there are also not so good reviews but‚ til now they’re really a minority. Of course, I am really happy with that but, most important of all, for me, is the warm welcome the fans give to Division Hades. If the majority of fans are happy, I am happy. The fans make what we’re still here after all those years, releasing a 10th album, so the focus is allways to give the fans what they expect.

M.I. - Is this a commemorative album? Why did you choose a double album, with one part composed of old songs (remastered)?

Somehow yes, you can say that it’s a commemorative album, because 10 albums, that’s rather symbolic , and that’s why we wanted it to be special for the fans. 10 albums means many years in the underground and if we’re still alive today, released all those albums and toured through europe, we owe it to the fans who support us that much. As I said, our fans are very important for us. And, in a way, you’re right, this 10th album is a bit like a commemoration with the fans, from the early days ‘til now. The circle is closed so to speak. The question was: “What can we do to make the new album special for our fans?“. We choosed to re-record those old to very, very old songs and I’m pretty sure that our fans are really happy with it, judging by the reactions I saw ‘til now. Some of the songs on the bonus cd are so old and rare (even not findable on youtube) that many, even didn’t know this old stuff. So, of course, it’s very interresting for them to discover our “prehistoric age“ in good conditions with the actual sound. The oldest songs we re-recorded are originally from our first demotape released in…1992, recorded on a 4-track Fostex in a time where  we even couldn’t really play our instruments, (laughts)…You can imagine how horrible it was. But “into the past we ride“, the bonus cd, gives them a second youth and I am happy with it…like a fan, (laughts).

M.I. - What is the meaning of the album title? Taking its structure into account (10 new songs and 10 old songs remastered), is it a division that you are doing between two ages?

Ah, you can see it so, of course, why not . For me it‘s a very strong title, which fits perfectly to the album. The title is powerfull, in my opinion, and that’s very good for a true metal album.
The lyrics deal about what I personnaly think of our current society, what I think is going wrong and the fact that we’re loosing more and more freedom despite what we are told.

M.I. - What are the lyrics about? This album really looks like a break from the past and a change taking place (“The Last Goodbye“, “The Fallen Angel“, “Division Hades“…).

Interesting question, because I didn’t see it that way but finally thinking about it, you can interpret it that way, that’s true. The three songs you named, are eventually about a past and an after, right. “The last good bye“ is about the loss of my mom, “The fallen angel“ is about the fact that at one point, you have the right to say “no“, that you have to learn it ‘cause it’s sometimes not that easy to say “no“, shall it be to friends, in your daily job, etc… And when you learn that things can change in a better way for you. And “Division hades“ is where, in my opinion, our society is going, values we loose, the “good living“ we used to have is now ruled by standards, we’re pushed into forms where we’re told what is right and what is not. In fact we lost a lot of freedom in the last 15 or 20 years, in my eyes.This three songs are , like you say, about changes taking place and I never realised this ‘til your question. It’s funny how each one can interpret lyrics and music, and that’s also one of the cool things about music! You could also put in this section “Manilla shark“, a tribute to Mark Shelton, as the scene will no more be the same without him and Manilla Road, as well as “Silent Rage“ (Lyrics written by our new guitarist Damien, dealing with turning the page of a past that haunted you) and “Drowned in Black“, another song about the loss of my mom and each one can easily understand the before and the after.

M.I. - What was the criteria for choosing the remastered songs? Was there a lot of struggle for the selection?

As I chose all the songs, I only had to struggle with myself, (laughts). But it was not that easy, of course. The criteria was that at least 50% of the cd, had to be from our two demo tapes from 1992 and 1994, because those tracks are very old and rare, which means, of course, could be very interesting for the fans. And that’s the whole story behind the bonus cd, we wanted something special for the fans, because a 10th album is rather symbolic, and if we are still here after all those years, we owe it to our loyal fans. So, this bonus cd is kinda like a “thank you“ to them. The rest of the cd are four songs from our two first albums. Here, it is also interesting, because to hear it with actual sound and actual music skills gives them a lot of power. To chose those four songs, I simply took some fan faves. Of course, it’s impossible to please everyone and some old fans would have prefered this or that song – what I understand of course, it’s a matter of taste. But all in all, I guess that this bonus cd has a very warm welcome and that’s what matters.

M.I. - Looking at the two CDs that make up Divison Hades, what do you think is the band´s best work - the oldest or what you are doing now?

Hard to say. I guess that Division Hades is one of the 3 best albums we ever released, so I will say that the official album is maybe the better work. But “Into the past we ride“ is really not far away and showes that allready in the first half of the 90’s, we had the same influences and that’s something I am really proud of. That’s also why those two works are so homogenous – it’s because we never left our path, never forgot our roots. There is something like 25 years beetween the songs of the 2 cd’s, but it works perfectly together. We always stayed true to ourselves.

M.I. - With the state of the world due to the pandemic, how will you promote the album?

We hope, of course, being able to defend it live next year, we hope that the canceled shows and festivals will take place in 2021 as planed. Otherwise, we’ll try to promote it the best we can through internet, etc, I guess. But I stay optimistic and really hope that we’ll soon defend the faith live!

M.I. - Lonewolf had several line-ups over the years. But your music, style and characteristics have been consistent. Does this mean that the band is bigger than the parts that add it up? Or, in other words, does each element have the opportunity to express itself and give its stamp to the music?

I am the last “survivor“ from the first line up and I know where I want to go with Lonewolf. I branded this band with my (teutonic) ideas and branded the band with my horror of futile experimentations and the fact that Lonewolf should never go to far away from it’s original roots. When a new member joins Lonewolf, he knows that. When this is said, each member hast he possibility to express himself without problem. If it’s a great true metal riff, we’ll work on it. If it’s a great riff but, for example, too thrashy, I will “lonewolfise“ it before working on it. I guess the best proof to show how others can express themselves without problem is Division Hades, as Damien wrote –with just one exception – the whole album with me. I am no tyrant, I just know what fits to Lonewolf and what doesn’t. And those things are allways immediatly clear in the band. After this, we’re a true democracy, (laughts).

M.I. - Most bands, always end up trying new sounds, mixing different styles and getting out of their comfort zone a little. Lonewolf is never too far from its roots. Sometimes you venture a little into doom (influences from Bathory?). That consistent sound that you have maintained over the years ... Is it a rule of yours? You don`t want to change? Or does it have to do with the fact that you are an underground band?

Yeah, like i said in the former answer, staying true to ourselves, has ALWAYS been a quote, a rule I wanted to follow. Like I said before, the bonus cd, “Into the past we ride“ contains songs that are something like 25 years old. Nethertheless, they fit perfectly with Division Hades and this shows me that I was right all those years. I don’t want to leave my roots because the fans should get what they expect and deserve –true heavy metal. And that’s very important, because if the fans are not here, the band dies quickly. So I don’t want Lonewolf to deceive them. After all, they do for us – coming to  the shows, supporting the band, bying our merchandise… I guess we’ll never change. Of course, sometimes a new release will be more speedy, another time it will be more epic, the other one may be darker and so on. Or, for example, yes like you said, some riffs may be inspired by Bathory (I am a die hard Fan of the 5 first albums). It will never be the same album, but it will never be far away from our roots either.

M.I. - 10 years ago, Damien left because he was a little “less metal” and had a different style than the rest of the band members. But he´s back now. Did he miss you guys? Has he adapted to the metal foundations of the rest of the band?

You are right. We had some musical differences, for sure. But Damien also had personal problems he had to resolve. In all those years, Damien and I always stayed very close. I guess that in the first years after the split, he didn’t miss the music and Lonewolf. But since a few years yes, the passion for music came again. He released a very good solo album, Burning the past, one year and a half ago, and that gave him a new step in music – the rest is history, (laughts). I am not sure he “adapted“ himself to Lonewolf, he still has his own style, but what I think is that today he « understood » Lonewolf even more than back in the days. He knows much more what fits to Lonewolf, what has to be “lonewolfised“ and what wouldn’t fit at all. He did a monster work on the album, brought some really amazing riffs, that could never have been brought through “adaptation“ but only through his heart.

M.I. - Who is the biggest contributor in writing Lonewolf’s songs?

I am the main composer and contributor but, for example, on the last album, there is only one song that I wrote totally alone (“Underground warriors“), all the rest was written together with Damien. Of course, it makes things easier when you understand yourself so well with the other guitar player.

M.I. - Your first albums were distributed by a Spanish publisher. Was it lack of support from French or even German publishers that are the ones that bet more on this style and that would be the most natural choice?

Back in the days, March into the Arena was a demo cd. We sent it to labels, of course, and many fanzines. A  guy who run a spanish fanzine gave the demo to a spanish label and this label showed interest. We didn’t search longer, as we hadn`t no other contact with other labels anyway and signed. So they repressed March into the Arena, which became our first album, with a bonus track. The rest was exactly the same as on the demo, including the cover.

M.I. - How do French metal compare with that of the rest of Europe, namely, German, Scandinavian or English?

We were always behing the scenes of Germany or Greece, for example. Metal was never accepted by the masses and still, sometimes, is seen like something bizarre. But, honestly, things are much better in the last 10 or 15 years (after being totally dead in the ’90s, after very good decade of `80). We have more promoters, organisations, great festivals, a real public comming to the shows, maybe better bands, also. All this together, makes that our scene is growing and we don’t have to hide behind some other countries. Of course, metal isn’t as big here as in other countries, but at least the scene is alive and struggles – what is a good sign!!

M.I. - When you guys are not working in the band, what do you do? How have you been this year, with all the restrictions that have been there?

We all have daily jobs. Things didn’t go too bad for all of us, as everyone of us is still working and earning enough money for food and beer, (laughts). It could be worse, I have friends running bars and restaurants or working in gigs (promoters and organisators, etc…) and it really becomes more than difficult to survive for them. It’s really sad because they won’t come through this without being hurt.

M.I. - In these 20 years, what is the biggest name you have shared the stage with?

I would say WASP. There have also been Blind Guardian or Megadeth, but it’s always a question of perception. I understand what you mean of course, but if my heart talked, the biggest names would be Grave Digger, Manilla Road, Pretty Maids, Sodom and so on... Bands with whom I grew up and sharing their stage, was always something very strong for me. Or sharing stage with younger bands of whom I am a die-hard fan like Paragon, Stormwarrior or Wizard. Most are friends today and THAT is big for me. Magic like only the music can bring you!

M.I. - In these 20 years, what is the biggest lesson that the music world has given you?

Don’t take bad reviews, even if the journalist takes pleasure in “attacking“ you, too personally. Let them say what they want. If you are here, that means that other people like what you do and support you. THAT’s what matters. The rest must go in one ear and escape directly from the other. Of course I don’t talk of respectful constructive negative critic – which can be very helpfull. I`m talking of those reviewers where you have the impression that they want to hurt you and take pleasure to say always the same shit – thinking that their pen or their computer gives them some little power. Often frustrated musicians who achieved nothing.

M.I. - You are very connected to the names that influence you - Running Wild, Grave Digger, Helloween... But do you listen to / like the metal of today? Which current bands do you find most interesting?

Yeah, I listen to the golden ‘80s stuff as well as current bands like Visigoth, Attic, Electric shock (Hard rock’n’roll from my hometown, Grenoble), Elvenpath and bands in beetween like the formentioned Paragon, Wizard, Stormwarrior.

M.I. - Do you do many shows outside France? When can we expect a concert in Portugal?

We MOSTLY play outside of France (laughts). Germany, Greece, Spain are, for example, countries were we play almost for each album - Germany being the country where we play the most.
We’d love coming to Portugal !! I have a very good Portuguese friend who often tells me of your country, your bars, your food, your cities etc… I ‘d love so much to discover all this!! 

M.I. - Do you know any Portuguese metal bands?

I am a die-hard fan of Ironsword! I like Tarantula and Alkateya and, of course, I know Moonspell. And in my 7“ collection, I have an old single of Decayed, who is also Portuguese if I’m not wrong.
I surely know some more but right in the moment I forget them, sorry.

M.I. - Almost finished ... Last words for our readers?

Thank you for taking the time to read this interview and I’ll like to say a big hail and cheers to our fans there! For everyone else, If you like true metal a la Running Wild and Grave Digger, give Lonewolf a try… Maybe you’ll like it, Hellbent for the division

M.I. - Again, thanks for your answers and I hope to see you on stage soon! Preferably in Portugal!

It’s me who has to thank you, for this cool interview. I had fun answering it!!
And hell  yeah… I hope that we’ll come soon to Portugal and raise some hell there!!

For Portuguese version, click here

Questions by Ivan Santos