If Melodic Rock aficionados had been choosing their own “word of the year” each twelve months, it certainly would have been “abundant” for 2019. And what is probably even more important, it wasn’t only that huge, unrelenting wave of nostalgia sweeping through the hearts, souls and pockets of album collectors and concert goers. Among the best debutants of the year were the Swiss Melodic Rock ensemble Fighter V… but was it really a debut? Those who remember them under the moniker of Haïrdrÿer certainly get the point. That was one of the things that just had to be discussed with the band frontman David Niederberger – and their Fighter Tour scheduled for 2020 was what we were supposed to start from…
Alexandra Mrozowska: Now I suppose we should start from what might have been going on in the band’s camp if it hadn’t been for the pandemic.
David Niederberger: Yes. The tour was going very well. We played a few shows in Germany with The New Roses and were planning to play some more shows with them until the end of April. In May, we were announced to support Axel Rudi Pell on their European Tour. 18 dates in 22 days. But unfortunately it didn’t happen because a certain virus is keeping the world in suspense at the moment. That is of course a real shame and we are disappointed. But compared to other people (affected people, doctors, etc.) we are doing very well, I do not want to complain.
AM: Hopefully it will be back to normal sooner than we think… But let’s focus elsewhere then. Not everyone knows that before Fighter V, there was actually a different band moniker and an album…
DN: That’s right, in the beginning we named our band Hairdryer. We were more of a Glam Metal project and used to play a lot of cover songs as well. At a certain point we realised it’s all or nothing now. Either we’re gone get a step further with our next record or we’re going to quit the band. Make it or break it. Also, the sound changed quite obviously during the last 3 to 4 years. We wanted to go more in a Stadium Rock direction. Away from a kind of fun project to a serious band. And that’s why we changed the name of the band.
AM: Yet before all those changes you gained some popularity in your native Switzerland and also Germany. How are things in this part of Europe, if we talk popularity of Melodic Rock, the venues, the promotional aspects, the audience etc?
DN: There is definitely a solid fan base in Germany for Melodic Rock. Switzerland is the much smaller market. Not only because there are about 10 times fewer people, but also because the scene itself is not so big in this country. Of course we want to build up our fan base everywhere, but I think Germany is certainly an interesting market for us alongside our home country.
AM: With all that Haïrdrÿer-morphing-into-Fighter V kind of thing, do you consider Fighter (2019) it to be your proper debut?
DN: I would call Fighter the debut of our new Fighter V project. Things change and sometimes you have to end with some part of the past.
AM: What was the process of working on the album like? What kind of impact did the producer – no one else but Jona Tee of H.E.A.T – exert over the recordings?
DN: We started songwriting in early 2018. By summer we had some demos with which we approached a few producers. Jona made the best impression on us and so we decided on it. Not much happened in exchange until just before the studio. We continued to write songs. In the studio, things really got going. Jona did an amazing job. He really brought those
songs to another level and gave the perfect inputs. Some parts on certain songs were directly written in the studio together with him. For me personally, the funniest moment was, when he came up with the idea for a saxophone solo in “Headlines” . I was warming up my voice and focusing in a small room when he suddenly opened the door and shouted at me: “Let’s do a saxophone solo”.
On the one hand, I was totally terrified by his unexpected shouting and on the other hand, I didn’t even know what it was about. To be honest, I thought at first that it wasn’t a good idea. But then he showed me his rehearsed saxophone solo for “Headlines” and all I had to do was laugh out loud. In a good way! I found it really cool and uplifting! He is a great guy for sure!
For all of us, this whole thing was a very valuable experience and something to build on in the future.
AM: From a songwriter’s perspective, what’s the most important part of the song that you pay the most attention to?
DN: Personally it’s hooks and whether I can convey an emotion with the song and the lyrics.
AM: Which of the three videos you’ve released so far in support of your album is actually your favourite, and why?
DN: For me it is “Fighter”, the title track. The story of an underdog, equipped with nothing but an unbreakable will. Although the future looks anything but rosy, he believes in his dream and is ready to fight for it. This is a story I like to tell. Also it is my favourite music video in terms of picture. On the one hand, this song is influenced by the story of a friend of mine personally, whose path has not always gone exactly as he wished. On the other hand, “Fighter” pays homage to the protagonists from the films Rocky (1976) and The Wrestler (2008).
AM: Speaking of videos, some artists don’t mind shooting them but the majority hates doing that. What kind of experience was it for you?
DN: I like it. Spending time with the boys, trying to create something, being around motivated people, giving it your best shot, do something to transport your music… how can you not like that?
AM: All your concert experience taken into consideration, which band was the best to share the stage with so far – and why?
DN: No doubt it’s The New Roses. They’re humble, uncompiled, friendly, courteous, down to earth… Just a bunch of great guys!
AM: Your ’80s influences are quite obvious – personally I can’t help but hear some Bon Jovi here and there…
DN: I personally like a lot of bands and frankly a lot of music styles, but to name my main influences: Iron Maiden, Bon Jovi and Quiet Riot. And of course lots of bands from the ’80s. Also, I really like Glenn Frey. Great songwriter and lyricist.
AM: Every artist hates labels, but the reviewers keep on producing them anyway. And well, there’s this infamous term “Hair Metal” people sometimes find a mockery, and the idea of ’80s music being cheesy and shallow…
DN: To be honest, I don’t really care what people call our sound. Everything is actually fine for me. Melodic Rock, Hard Rock, Hair Metal etc. We do what we enjoy most and what we have a passion for. If you ask me, it’s just fucking rock music. And yes, with a proper ’80s touch. I think the bands from that time… you can tell that what they did, they did with a lot of dedication. I think dedication is not a bad basis for whatever you do.
AM: Imagine that you were given a chance to go back in time and witness one event from history of music, be it recording a classic album or a live gig. What’s your choice and why?
DN: Being in the studio while Iron Maiden was recording Somewhere In Time. It’s my favourite record along with Bon Jovi’s debut and Quiet Riot’s Metal Health.
AM: Do you think this kind of music still has potential to appeal to contemporary teenagers or young adults?
DN: Can’t really answer that one. But I think there are still teenagers out there that are totally into ’80s music. At least they tell us so after the show (laughs)
AM: Do you think the next album of Fighter V will be more or less a continuity of your debut, or is the evolution inevitable?
DN: Melodic Rock is our common denominator. We will stick with it I guess. But in songwriting, for example, we still have a lot of room for improvement.
AM: What does the future hold in store for the band?
DN: A worthy successor, better songs and a headliner tour through Europe within the next few years. That is the stated goal. But as for now, stay healthy and watch out – these are troubled times.