Earlier this year in April, shooting stars Ad Infinitum spearheaded by Melissa Bonny released their majestic debut album “Chapter I: Monarchy”. The big plans to promote the album on the road were, unfortunately, wrecked by the ongoing global pandemic. However, this didn’t stop the band from surprising their fans with a new record. Ad Infinitum didn’t hesitate, rewrote the debut’s original material with acoustic arrangements, headed to the studio and now they’re dropping it for the world to hear under the title “Chapter I: Revisited” on December 4. Find out more about the acoustic album in the following chat with Melissa Bonny herself.
MG: The reason why we’re talking is your band Ad Infinitum and its new album “Chapter I: Revisited”. The whole idea to re-release your debut album with a new twist sprang from the fact that you’re not being able to tour and promote the album at the moment. I have listened to the acoustic album and it’s very dynamic, passionate, playful with almost Mediterranean guitar sounds like you would hear in Andalusia.
Melissa: Yes. (laughs)
MG: A completely new experience with a more uplifting approach than the darker one on the original album. What gave the direction to the whole album? What was the goal you wanted to reach soundwise?
Melissa: The goal was to create something completely new. I mean, it’s almost completely new. We didn’t want people to think: “Oh, they just took the guitar and did exactly the same thing.” We really wanted to create something where people have the feeling they’re hearing something new. But still something they already like. You know what I mean. We really wanted to put some effort into creating a new atmosphere, a new mood. So people who already know the original album can also discover something.
MG: What’s harder? Writing and working on songs from scratch or reinventing those that were already written? For you as a singer, there aren’t such drastic changes but what about the rest of the band?
Melissa: I think most of the work was for Adrian. Because he was the first one taking the songs and changing everything. Rewriting the orchestrations with the guitars. Rewriting everything actually. And then the rest of the band worked after him. So for Adrian, it was definitely harder. Now I don’t know, it’s a good question. I don’t know if it’s harder to write an original song or to revisit an existing song.
MG: Which of the songs was the most challenging to re-arrange?
Melissa: Erm…. I would say “Infected Monarchy”.
MG: One of the pieces that really caught my attention is “Maleficent” and the growls in the second half of the song. Really interesting and original idea to implement a bit of growling to an acoustic track. Actually, I cannot remember if I have heard this before. Who came up with the idea? What were the reactions of your surroundings like when they first heard it?
Melissa: I wanted to keep some growls because I wanted to try something that I haven*t heard before. And to surprise people with something that is not usual for an acoustic track. And I thought: “Let’s try it and see if people like it or if they’re shocked.”. I am just looking forward to reactions, to be honest.
MG: How much of a challenge was it to rewrite and reorganize the orchestration and to adapt the vocals? Also, my personal impression is that your voice partially appears a little more mellow in the acoustic versions. How difficult is it for you to switch between powerful metal vocals and other techniques?
Melissa: It is a bit difficult to answer the first part of your question regarding the orchestrations because Adrian took care of that part. For me, it is actually a very interesting work to adapt my voice to the instruments. It’s not that difficult. You just need to pay attention to what’s going on. To record and if something doesn’t fit because… I don’t know… you’re used to electric track so you record the same way and then you hear: “Oh, no! It doesn’t fit with the new track anymore.”. You really have to pay attention to the energy that is transmitted with the other instruments and fit this energy.
MG: Do you think you would be releasing this acoustic version of the album or any acoustic album at some point if it weren’t for the coronavirus?
Melissa: I don’t think we would have done that, to be honest. Because we were supposed to have two tours at the end of the year.
MG: I know. I have a ticket for one of the shows.
Melissa: Oh, ok. (laughs) And we would have not done this. It’s been when we realized that we will not be able to tour. At that point, it was still not very certain, but we saw it coming so to say. We decided to do something. So we stay connected to people.
MG: Your debut album and now it’s acoustic sibling comes out with such a short break in between. Now, that’s a lot of time spent writing, recording, producing, finalizing the whole product in a short period of time… Do you enjoy the process of recording and all that goes with it or is it more like a formality for you and you’re anxious to present the tracks to people?
Melissa: Erm… I enjoy it and I am anxious. I mean, it’s always nice to record something new and to have something to present but it’s always a little bit stressful because I never take the great reactions for granted, you know? I always wonder, how people will welcome the new material?
MG: Speaking of new material… I believe you’re already working on the second album. What keeps you focused, determined and most importantly inspired to keep going and creating new stuff? Can we expect Chapter II next year?
Melissa: Probably some time next year, yes! We are writing right now and the plan is to not waste time. Especially because we haven’t been able to tour this year. Now we’re releasing this acoustic album but it’s not new tracks. It’s new versions of existing tracks. And we really want to offer something new as soon as possible. So we want to keep this train going.
MG: Prior to this acoustic album, there was a stream of your Cologne show -which was absolutely fantastic, by the way – to keep your fans entertained during the lockdown. Hopefully, the touring situation gets back to normal as soon as possible cause we all miss live shows but in case the trend of 2020 continues in 2021, do you have already some backup plans for the band? Anything special in the making, besides working on new material?
Melissa: To be honest, we didn’t yet prepare alternative plans for this kind of situation, because we are writing the album. So I guess the plan would be to release that album as soon as possible and to release some content that we can share online with the entire world. And continue the same way we did this year. I don’t know actually. I hope that we will be able to be on the road. Hopefully by the end of summer.
MG: Now, let’s travel back in time a bit. Ad Infinitum was originally intended as your solo project but it quickly turned into something bigger. You’re a full band now with a very successful debut album and acoustic album… Your popularity among fans is rising and I have to say, you’re kind of a breakthrough band in your genre for 2020. Have you imagined such success when you first set out for this journey?
Melissa: Never! Like you said: it was just supposed to be like a solo project. And it was not even supposed to be an entire album. It was supposed to be an EP. Very simple with like… homemade instruments and…. Yeah, nothing ambitious. And because I started to work with Oliver Phillips and we invested more and more time and energy into it. And in parallel, I started to like the songs more and more. I didn’t want it to be just an internet release of… I don’t know… just five songs. I really wanted it to be a live project, as well. Then, of course, there was the question: “Do I want this to be sort of a project with guest musicians or do I want it to be a band?” And the answer was pretty easy. I just enjoy having bandmates who also have their opinions to say and their energy to put into the project.
MG: And bandmates you share similar interests with, right?
Melissa: Oh, yes!
MG: If I am not wrong Ad Infinitum is now even more popular than Rage of Light, right?
Melissa: I don’t know. We’re very different and not the same because Rage of Light started a long time ago compared to Ad Infinitum and has quite a lot of content online. While with Ad Infinitum we’re more like a live band. We started with an album compared to the EP of Rage of Light and the few singles that followed. So it takes very different ways to see things. With the response also being different. The fanbase is responding in a different way.
MG: I see. Now that we are done with the serious stuff, I would like to end the interview with some fun questions.
Melissa: Oh yes! I like that!
MG: If you had to compare the music of Ad Infinitum to an animal, which one would it be?
Melissa: A phoenix.
MG: Rising from the ashes?
Melissa: Yes, and burning.
MG: If I were to look at the artists you listen to, who would be on your playlist?
Melissa: Battle Beast, Myrath, Dynasty, Amaranthe, Kamelot, maybe Delain, Trivium… many bands, actually.
MG: This leads us to the next question: Do you sing in a shower or car?
Melissa: (laughs) Both. Actually, I don’t have a car anymore.
MG: What’s your go-to karaoke song?
Melissa: “Living On A Prayer”.
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