Interview with Lars König of She Bites and Lioncage

It’s funny how the human brain works in terms of associations. You come across an album called Joyride, and you discover it to be a handful of ’80s infused, infectiously catchy Melodic Hard Rock with female vocals. It just so happens that you can’t help but think of a very certain Swedish duo who, despite being actually closer to mainstream Pop than Rock, produced a couple of hits we all love. Was really Roxette that much of an inspiration for the newly founded German four-piece She Bites who released the aforementioned album just a while ago..? It was a question I obviously had to ask the group’s mastermind Lars König, but surely not the only one we discussed. And as we happened to have already talked before, we kind of picked up where we left off five years ago…

She Bites

Alexandra Mrozowska: The last time we talked – if I remember it well, it was back in 2015 for Fireworks Magazine – your band Lioncage had only their debut album under their belt. A few years and two albums later, are you satsified with the band’s development and the direction of your career?

Lars König: Yes, it worked fine for us. We released three albums in five years and I had a great time with the band. We played nice gigs and my songwrting and production work on these three albums were recognized all over the world. We had a good time.

AM: What are the further plans for Lioncage?

LK: To be honest, we have no plans for album #4 at the moment. I think the guys are fine, but we are not in contact right now. After three albums in five years I needed a break. Most of the Lioncage songs are written by me and I needed a creative change as I simply don’t want to repeat myself. But who knows, maybe we will find ourselves together again in the future…?

AM: 2020 is, however, the year of She Bites rather than Lioncage… How did the former – the female-fronted AOR project – start?

LK: Well, the drummer Carsten Kohl and I had the idea for something new. I know him for about twenty years, but we never played together. We wanted to put together the best from the Rock and Pop music. Great melodies with strong guitars and huge drums. The best of both worlds. The songs are the most important. They have to be catchy. Nothing unnecessary.

AM: I’ve just referred to She Bites as a ‘project’, but actually – do you treat it like a side project only, or a regular band?

LK: It’s a band for sure and not a project. I don’t like these projects with musicians together for just one album. The audience reacts to us really great so far, so we are planning a second album for 2021 and we want to play live, even though it’s something that’s not possible at the moment. Still, Melanie (Stahlkopf, She Bites’ lead singer) is such a great singer and we want to show that on stage as soon as possible.

AM: I can’t help but think of Roxette with the album’s title being Joyride and the band sounding actually like Roxette on steroids. Was the Swedish duo really that much of an inspiration for the band?

LK: Melanie is a big fan of Roxette and other Swedish bands. Our album Joyride is a kind of a tribute to them. But you are right, we are more like Roxette on steroids, because we are more of a Rock band than a Pop act really. Still, just as I said before, the songs are the most important piece of the puzzle and it’s exactly the same with Roxette. We even tried to get in contact with Per Gessle to ask if he likes our album, but he has not answered so far.

AM: Let’s hope he will! He should certainly like the vibe. Back to Joyride, I was actually surprised to find out you’ve done a cover of a 2005 Pop hit I remember to be very popular when I was a teenager… Do you actually find anything inspirational about modern Pop music?

LK: Our drummer Carsten likes the original (“Push The Button” by Sugababes) very much, but he wanted it in a Rock style. That’s why we tried it, and if you have a singer like Melanie, you can do this, because she can really sing anything. And well, obviously people like the music of their youth the most. They attach emotions and memories to it and it’s the same with me. I’m a child of the Eighties and my music sounds a bit like that but with a modern sound. I’ve never been a real Pop fan, but I like melodies in these songs and that’s why we tried to combine this. Putting together my ’80s Rock style with Pop melodies was a risk because we weren’t sure if the people tolerate this mixture. The most of them, still, really love it and thanks to it our sound is not like a band A or B.

AM: Another song off the album, “Rock The Night”, features a duo with Olaf Senkbeil (Dreamtide) whom you’ve already worked with him while recording Lioncage albums, Why did you renew this collaboration?

LK: This is simply because he’s one of the best voices here in Germany and such a nice guy. The song “Rock This Night” was previously planned as a duet with Steve Overland from FM. But Olaf‘s performance on this one is so great that it was clear that he will be on our album.

AM: She Bites being a female-fronted band, is there any difference when it comes to songwriting process especially in comparison to male-fronted act that is Lioncage?

LK: It’s not a difference for me to write for a female or male singer – it’s a matter of style. Melanie has a special style and I wanted to write songs for her so that she can shine. She is very good in creating melodies and phrases. I have also written some couple of songs with Krissie, the daughter of our drummer. She has a more modern style and that helps us with our album too.

She Bites

AM: Modern vibe aside, Joyride is an album filled with the ‘80s nostalgia; why do you find it so inspirational?

LK: As I said before, I’m a child of the Eighties. As David Lee Roth said, “spread my ashes over the Eighties…” (laughs) This is maybe a good idea for me too. But some of the memories are better than the decade really was. I still love the music of that time, but not the sound – not the way it was produced back then. So, She Bites has an ’80s flavor with a modern sound and that is what I like most.

AM: Given a choice, would you as a musician stay in the 2020s with tools such as streaming services, YouTube and Facebook available, or travel back to the decade that inspires you the most?

LK: Oh, I would travel back, just because of the payment for your work as a musician (laughs) I met the manager of Iron Maiden one year ago and he told me that his band earns no real money with streaming and YouTube and so on – even though they are not poor… (laughs) But I think we have to pay for music. I still want great productions and this is hardly possible if you need millions of streams before you earn some money.

AM: Coming back once more to the topic of She Bites we’ve been discussing, you’ve mentioned you intend to bring Joyride to the live setting…

LK: We definitely want to play live. We planned a big release gig in June here in Hamburg, but it wasn’t possible because of Covid-19. I’m sure that we will play live because we want to show how good this band is. Arvid and Carsten are a really strong groove department and they really stick together. I loved to record them. And Melanie can really sing all this stuff; she is not that kind of a studio singer who needs tricks. We want to show this and entertain people.

AM: Speaking about the pandemic, how is the situation of the German music industry in Germany in the middle of it?

LK: It’s really sad that a lot of friends of mine have no income as it’s not possible to play live. We all just hope that this pandemic will have an end soon, but nobody knows how it’s gonna be… Maybe next year? To be honest, I don’t think that we will play live with Lioncage soon in the future, but you will be able to see She Bites as soon as possible. Maybe near you!

AM: Let’s hope so! So, is there anything you’d like to add in the end?

LK: I would like to thank you for this interview and hope you all stay healthy. This is most important. And to all your readers – watch out for She Bites live and take your Joyride with us.

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Be sure to check out She Bites’ official video to the title song of their new album: