Chris “The Lord” Harms, leader, vocalist and sometimes guitarist of the band Lord Of The Lost, answered my questions about Judas, the band’s new album.
Hello Chris and first of all, thank you very much for your time! How would you introduce Lord Of The Lost with your own words to someone who never heard about the band?
Chris “The Lord” Harms (vocals/guitar): I wouldn’t. I don’t like to try to promote myself with someone who does not know it, it feels weird and self-praising. I’d rather come up with a fake story about me being a plumber or some other normal job.
Judas, the band’s tenth album (considering all Swansongs as full-lengths), is about to be released. How do you feel about it? How did you get the inspiration for this album?
Chris: I am, we are, super super proud. We have put all our hearts, time and money in it. And it tuned out to be exactly as we wanted it to be, just bigger and better. We are super happy. The main inspiration hails from the character of Judas Iscariot himself. One of the most misunderstood and one-sidedly seen characters in religious history. But: don’t judge a book by it’s cover! If you look further, think a bit, and start to re-interpret what might have happened, the part that Judas played here becomes something else. If you carry it to extremes Judas becomes the actual saviour. Without Judas, no crucifixion, no „saviour“, no cross as a symbol for Christianity, not even Christianity itself, no churches, nothing like that. This area of tension between being a victim, a scapegoat, a traitor, a saviour, a sinner, a saint? The keyword here is the so-called “salvific treason”. And what was the intention here? God? Did God go to Judas to tell him to cause this chain reaction? Was it Judas’ idea as the one pure friendly turn towards Jesus Christ? Did Jesus ask him? Did they switch places and Judas died on the cross? All these things are common interpretations. There are way more though. If you believe in all of that, “fact” is, that Judas went to hell for his deed, even if this was not treason without reason but absolute martyrdom! And Jesus went to heaven. Unbelievably interesting. The album Judas is not telling just one story though, that’d be super boring. It’s more about these different thoughts and emotions on Judas and how his character is being reflected in each single one of us. It’s neither an album against religion, nor is it a religious record, which would be weird for agnostics like us anyway. We divided the album into two parts because of the medium “CD”. That’s basically it. To give this some kind of sense, we put the songs that felt a little darker on Damnation and the ones that were a little more “80’s” we put on Salvation. Plus that way we had the chance to create two arcs of suspense with a short “I need to pee”-break in the middle. Like in a long Director’s Cut edition of a blockbuster movie.
On this album, the atmosphere is both majestic and dark as always, how do you manage to create such a balanced universe for 24 songs?
Chris: Does it sound arrogant if I say, that myself, as a professional music producer, and my studio team, must be able to manage something like this? That’s our daily bread.
How do you manage to place your voice on each song? How do you decide how deep, aggressive or soft you have to be?
Chris: This is something that cannot be planned, conceived or constructed. This is only a matter of feeling. The vocal lines and the way to interpret them are a natural process. These things come from the heart.
This album also has some bonus content, called LOTL+. How did you have the idea to give life to this project? How did you pick musicians and bands to participate in?
Chris: I wanted to do an experiment like this since I have studied audio engineering, like 20 years ago. So it was about time. I have asked about 35 artists, which I thought of first, and most of them said yes, obviously. It’s an unbelievable experiment. None of the other artists knew our vocal melodies or lyrics. Not even the song title. And they did not know about the album concept. So they were 100% free in finding their own stuff on top of it, without being influenced. And the experiment shows how much a voice can lead one single song into 32 very, very different directions. Also the entire perception of the genre can change, just because of the vocal and lyrical interpretation.
You experienced several sketches to create Judas’ trademark, what led you to this visual style? What about the band’s visual identity?
Chris: Again, feeling. Creative ideas are still just ideas. They come. Uncontrollably. About our visual style, we never had just one visual style. We always changed and we always will change.
There were some line-up changes over the years since the creation of Lord Of The Lost, how did you manage to keep the band alive and motivated?
Chris: We kept the band alive and motivated BECAUSE we allowed ourselves to do these line up changes. If one person needs to leave for personal or work-related reasons, there is no need to try to stick together even if it does not work. That’s building on sand. So it’s better to make changes, BEFORE shit hits the fan, so everyone is happy and stays happy, inside and outside the band.
The first songs to be unveiled to promote the album were Priest and For They Know Not What They Do. Why did you pick those ones? Do you have a “favorite song” on the album? Or at least one song you prefer to play?
Chris: We picked them because they felt right to dive into the Judas soundscape. I never have something like “one favourite“. This can change at any second. Right now, it might be The Heartbeat Of The Devil. In one hour it might be a different one.
Can you please tell us about the artistic direction of those two video clips?
Chris: No. The artistic direction reaches the viewer by watching the clips. Talking about it this way does not make any sense to me, if the internet is in everyone’s pocket and just one swipe away.
Unfortunately, Covid-19 striked the world at the beginning of 2020 and affected a lot of people and domains. Was Judas affected by the pandemic? How did you manage to deal with it as a band?
Chris: Yes, it was, in a positive way. Without Covid, Judas would have been a 12-song-album. Due to Covid we had much more time than planned. So in the beginning of the production we decided to just double up, EVERYTHING. As a band, we do not want to complain. We have the greatest fans in the world, that have understood that buying merch really helps bands. Thanks to them, we are forever grateful!
What drove you to create the band at the beginning? What were your influences, and did they change with time?
Chris: I began writing songs that did not fit in any other band that I had back then. I just wrote and produced them for myself until my friends persuaded me to start a full band and release them. The rest is history… I do not have things that I am allowing myself to be actively influenced by. Passively I am influenced by everything I have ever experienced.
Do you remember what led you to the Gothic/Metal universe?
Chris: No, because I’m still not there yet. I feel zero identification with any kind of “scene“. The music we do is just what we like, and it does seem to fit, partwise, in the Metal and Goth universe. Until today, except for the Wikipedia definition, I have not understood what “being goth“ even means. I just love sinister sounds mixed with make up.
Do you remember the first time you tried to sing? When and how was it?
Chris: No, I don’t because I am sure that I have already sung as a kid, as any other kid. But I remember singing, alone, not in a school’s choir, on stage, for the first time. It was for Brecht’s so-called “Dreigroschenoper“, at school, in 12th grade. 1998…
What do you love about your music that you cannot find in other band’s music?
Chris: Every musician creates his own music, because it’s the ultimate thing he likes. But I never felt the need to define why all of this is the optimum for me. Or what I like about it in particular. I do not analyze things if I do not see a reason for it. If I love something or someone, I do not need to understand why.
Do you have hobbies aside from music? Do you also have a job, or does your music income allow you to live?
Chris: I love sports. Martial arts and the regular gym stuff. Apart from that, all my free time is for my son. I live from Lord Of The Lost and from my other jobs as a songwriter and music producer.
What is your best and your worst experience as a musician ever?
Chris: Again, hard to say for me, I do not categorize things that way. The best about it might be the general fact that I have this job. And I am most thankful for it! One of the worst things was the end of last year’s European Tour, I had to cancel the show in London after 3 songs, with nearly 40 degrees a fever and being really sick. One of the most embarrassing and cruel things I had to do as a musician. Everyone in the crowd did support me in this. But still it felt like I was doing something wrong. But I could not do it any other way…
I was unfortunately able to see you once on stage, it was in Paris, France, during the tour with Equilibrium. Do you have a special memory of this night?
Chris: Unfortunately? Was it that bad? (No it was amazing, I say “unfortunately” because I’d love to see the band again!, Ed.) Yes, I have one special memory, it was the day before my 40th birthday. So at midnight, after the show, exactly the second as the tour bus started rolling to Toulouse, it was my birthday.
What if I ask you to compare Lord Of The Lost’s music with a german dish? Which one and why?
Chris: You guess my answer by now. I can’t do things like that.
Last question: which bands would you love to tour with? I let you create a tour with Lord Of The Lost and three other bands.
Chris: I don’t wanna make up my dream tour here and see it being cancelled due to Covid.
It was my last question, so once again thank you very much for your time and your music. Maybe you have some last words for your french fans to end this interview?
Chris: I have just received a message that we will be back soon… if things work out fine, which is questionable at the moment, for well-known reasons.