VELVET VIPER - Jutta Weinhold & Holger Marx 2021 interview

JUTTA WEINHOLD - 'Yes I Can !!!'

Singer Jutta Weinhold emerges in 1988 as if by storm with her band Zed Yago. The 1989 album 'Pilgrimage' is one of the milestones in German metal history, but it goes wrong shortly afterwards. Jutta leaves the group and starts Velvet Viper, a story that also ends after two albums. She continues as Weinhold until she revives Velvet Viper in 2018. We are talking with Jutta (JW) and guitarist Holger Marx (HM) about 'Cosmic Healer', the third album since the reboot.

On the two previous albums 'Respice Finem' (2018) and 'The Pale Man Is Holding A Broken Heart' (2019), Jutta develops her typical style: dramatically slow sounding metal supported by heavy guitars and ditto rhythm section; lyrics based on mythology and fantastic stories. However, on 'Cosmic Healer' there is a step up. HM: 'We deliberately avoided the slow songs. We got stuck in that style and chose to go more in the direction of power metal. What certainly also played a role is that we recorded the record almost live. '

The group feeling
There are indeed many more up-tempo songs on 'Cosmic Healer'. JW: 'Anyone who knows me well knows that I tend to choose slower songs, but I think it's good that we have taken this path. I owe that to Holger who is still a young guy (laughs). When I listen to this record I tell myself that it is not bad for a 70 year old rock 'n' roll Indian (laughs). Music has nothing to do with age, as long as the power and passion are present you can keep going. I surround myself with the right people. In metal you first and foremost need a band, that's what it's all about. Only with a close bond can you go back to those old rock 'n' roll roots. Those guys give me a boost and I work hard to keep up with them and I succeed! Another important element in the sound of the record is the fact that Ralf Basten, the co-producer of the Zed Yago albums, has worked with us again. He also does our live show, so he has a good idea of ​​what we sound like.' HM: 'On the previous record a lot of production changes were made with editing and computer stuff; we omitted all of that this time.' JW: 'The fact that we were all in the studio at the same time created a real group feeling'. HM: 'The recordings were made at a time when there were very few corona cases in Germany and that gave us the opportunity to record together, with the necessary precautions, such as open windows and as much distance as possible.' JW: 'I listen to this record almost every day and that has not always been the case with other albums. It's a good sign; I am really very satisfied with it. I think we have found the right spirit with this third record since the reboot. That takes time, you have to get to know each other better. This third throw is clearly the right one (laughs). '

Lyrics and music
In Velvet Viper, Jutta is the lyricist and Holger the musical director. How do they practice the art of merging text and music together? HM: 'Jutta's lyrics are usually the starting point. In fact she writes without having a specific song in mind. I think this is quite unique (laughs). Then she comes up with some vocal lines and we glean some ideas to make a song out of it. Then I get to work at home to play a demo. Finally, the entire band comes together in a large rehearsal room to make live recordings. Afterwards we recreate that in the studio.' JW: 'I love to tell stories and that's what my lyrics do. I am firmly restrained with the message that we are not writing an opera (laughs it out). Holger always wants to use the scissors to make a compact song lyrics. I have a hard time with that at first, but afterwards I have to admit that he is right.'

Myths and statements
Jutta's lyrics can be divided into two categories, some are based on ancient literature and mythology and some are personal statements. In the first category we place songs like 'Holy Snake Mother', 'Sassanach' or 'Osiris' and in the second we hear songs like 'Let Metal Be Your Master', 'Voice Of An Anarchist', 'On The Prowl' and the title track. HM: 'The songs that deal with Egyptian mythology fit well with what we do because we love Arabic influences.' JW: 'Cosmic Healer' is basically about Isis, but it's a delicate topic that's why we gave it that title. ‘Holy Snake Mother’ is the story of Cleopatra and the Velvet Viper. 'Let Metal Be Your Master' is a pure tribute to music. In 1985 I decided that I only wanted to make heavy metal and I haven't regretted it for a day. So many years later that eventually led to the meeting with Holger and he is the perfect man for me. With him I was able to get back to work and that was the restart of Velvet Viper. 'Voice Of An Anarchist' has to do with the fact that I read a lot. As a result, I also think a lot about anything and everything. One of those thoughts was about what life and society would be like in anarchy, whether such a form of living together would be possible? 'On The Prowl' is a song by an old rock 'n roll singer who wonders how far you can go with that life. I ask myself that question every now and then and the answer is always “Yes I can!” (Laughs).

Jutta started her singing career in the seventies in the German cast of the musical 'Hair', then released some solo albums, worked with Udo Lindenberg and many others, until she decidedly chose metal without compromise. JW: 'My motto is never to look left or right, I want to go straight ahead and I have always done that. Life for Zed Yago was good, it was sex, drugs & Rock 'n' roll, it was partying 'til we dropped, but in the eighties I thought there had to be more than that. I started writing lyrics about themes that fascinated me and one thing led to another. It's a great trip! ' At seventy-three years old, this lady is far from finished and certainly not quenched. We were able to experience this with our own eyes and ears a year ago during a pre-corona concert in Dortmund. In the meantime, both Zed Yago albums were re-released under the name Velvet Viper. Besides Velvet Viper she also has a gospel rock choir. When the corona fog has cleared, we hope to see Velvet Viper outside the German borders.

(Geert Ryssen)