After launching a high-acclaimed debut album, As Daylight Breaks, in 2015, Serious Black returns it’s arguably more impressive sophomore effort, Mirrorworld. The new album is both an extension and a departure of the first record, showcasing different aspects of the band’s dynamic. This week we caught up with vocalist Urban breed to talk about Mirrorworld, line-up changes, his recent vocal health issues, and even get an update on the band’s third record.
Serious Black formed in 2014 when bassist Mario Lochert and former guitarist Roland Grapow (Masterplan, Level 10, ex-Helloween) began piecing the band together. They were joined by Edenbridge guitarist Dominik Sebastian, keyboardist Jan Vacik, and former Blind Guardian drummer Thomen Stauch. They enlisted the amazing voice of Urban breed to bring the band’s music to life. Grapow and Stauch departed after As Daylight Breaks was released. They were replaced Firewind guitarist Bob Katsionis and Rhapsody of Fire drummer Alex Holzwarth.
Mirrorworld maintain’s the Serious Black signature while also delving into new territories, something some fans applaud, while others have been critical of. Urban is happy to see that people have differing opinions of the new album.
“I think it’s a good thing,” breed offered. “I did so enjoy reading the reviews for this album. Some people are going, ‘This is really, really bad, and the rest of the guys are going, ‘We love it.’ This is exactly what I wanted. I think it speaks to the fact that we have really good songs that are talking to our audience. It just happens that if you don’t like it, it’s simply not made for you. That’s how I want it. This means this album will find its audience, and it will love it. That’s what we want.”
One of the dynamic elements that changed for Mirrorworld is having Bob Katsionis and Alex Holzwarth in the band. Both are renowned for their virtuoso talents, and each brought his unique pedigree to Serious Black and the new record.
“Bob brought a lot of writing to the table,” Urban said of his new bandmate’s contribution to the record. “Good ideas; good guitar playing and a good songwriting partner for me. The biggest difference on this album is that I had Bob as a songwriting partner. That helped a lot. Alex brought reliability and his own style of drumming. Take the title track for instance. I absolutely love his drumming on it. I told him, ‘Man, that’s fantastic,’ and he said ‘Oh, thank you so much’ (laughs). We keep forgetting to tell each other, the people that are near to us, that we work with…We keep forgetting to tell them that, ‘Man, you did great work here.’ We take it for granted that they know they are doing great work and that we’re grateful. You’ve gotta say or otherwise they don’t know.”
While recording the album Urban struggled with some vocal health issues. This impacted, to some degree, how the album rolled and why there are nine tracks on the basic release, and 16 on the deluxe edition. Though breed is quick to point out that he and the band view the 16-track version as the actual album, and not the shorter 9-track edition.
“I got sick during the recording. That was a little bit of the delay that came along from my part. It was really serious. I sort of had to learn to sing again. Our vocals folds and the whole voice box actually changes; ligaments harden, other parts soften. It’s normally a slow process in everybody’s lives, so you don’t really think of it. It’s gradual. Apparently I had a very rapid change that meant when I thought I was gonna sing a C-sharp it was a C, so I couldn’t rely on kinetics anymore. That made it a little tricky. So I had to learn to sing again, and that delayed some of the album. However, I will say this should give hope to anyone with any sort of vocal problem. You can work it through if you want to, and you can do so in record time if you have to.”
Check out the full interview with Urban below, where he also talks about why the band is already writing and in pre-production on album number three for which they already have a title and release date picked out. You can get the story behind some of the album’s songs including the first two singles, “As Long as I’m Alive” and “Castor Skies”.