VOLKER WALSEMAN (POVERTY’S NO CRIME): “Without The Lockdown, It Would Probably Have Taken Us Longer To Finish The Album”

Poverty's No Crime

Secrets Revealed

German ProgRock act Poverty’s No Crime is celebrating their 30th Anniversary. It was 1991 when the band formed, and it wasn’t long before labels took notice. In 1995 Poverty’s No Crime signed to Inside Out Music for the release of their debut album Symbiosis. From there PNC went on to release 6 studio albums under the Inside Out label before moving to Metaville Records for their 2016 release Spiral of Fear. A Secret to Hide [review] is the latest release by Poverty’s No Crime. I had the chance to speak with guitarist/vocalist Volker Walseman about the new album.

Metal Express Radio: If I knew absolutely nothing about Poverty’s No Crime, how would you describe the band’s music to me?

Volker Walseman: That is always difficult to answer from one’s own perspective. We all love the music of Iron Maiden, Rush, Dream Theater and Fates Warning. If you mix all that with your individual influences, the Poverty’s No Crime sound comes out. We are melodic, but also heavy and never overly progressive.

MER: Your latest album A Secret to Hide is set to be released on May 14, 2021 through Metalville Records. Was this album born out of being locked down from the pandemic or was it delayed to this point because of it?

VW: Neither. We actually write new songs all the time. But after the tour with Psychotic Waltz, we tasted blood again. We looked through the existing material and wrote new songs. In the time before Corona we also rehearsed. Of course, that was no longer possible. Without the lockdown, it would probably have taken us longer to finish the album. So it turned out that we all had more time for music.

MER: Can you tell us a little bit about each song?

“Supernatural” – The song describes the conflict of a person who wants to believe in God but cannot because of a lack of evidence. He can only believe in what he sees with his own eyes.

One part of him wants to understand why so many people believe in a higher being, another part thinks everything is irrational superstition.

Whoever wants to believe in God must throw rational, logical thinking overboard and be ready to face the supernatural.

“Hollow Phrases” – Nowadays so much is said, written or posted – most of it has little substance and meaning. I myself sometimes doubt whether what I write, especially in my texts, has real depth or are just hollow phrases. Basically, you should always choose your words carefully or better keep silent. The song is a plea for more truthfulness and honesty in communication between people.

“Flesh and Bone” –This is about the question of what happens to my body after my death. I see my body as a gift from nature, it is only useful for as long as I live, after which I no longer need it.

Personally, I have no problem at all with donating parts of my body to other people in order to save their lives. How can I deny my organs to a terminally ill person when they will rot in my grave anyway?

I find the idea very comforting that a part of me lives on in another person.

“Grey to Green” – Everyone who dreams of a better world tries to make it come true in their own way. This is about the dream of turning deserts into forests, creating habitats and making up for the ecological mistakes of the past.

I am fascinated by the idea that you can someday serve the tree you have planted yourself as food. For me, an afterlife does not mean that my soul rises into a heavenly paradise, but that I will someday become one with nature again, in order to pass into the eternal cycle.

“Within the Veil” – All the doubts as to whether you have gone the right way, set the right course or made the right decisions in your life are completely meaningless in the end, because you cannot turn back time. Man should be grateful for life itself, accept it as it is and not mourn the other life, the missed opportunities.

“The Great Escape” – It has become a certain PNC tradition that our instrumental songs are based on movies or are inspired by movies. One of my all-time favorite films from the 60s (The Great Escape is about the breakout from a German prisoner of war camp in World War II) provides the thematic reference and is also quoted in short dialogues in the song.

“Schizophrenic” – A song about a split personality. Inspired by a man who suffered from schizophrenia for a long time. He described the disease as very ambivalent: on the one hand, he could no longer lead a normal life, on the other hand, this time was the most exciting and varied in his life because he considered himself a secret agent.

“In the Shade” – Throughout our lives we have worked hard to think and act for ourselves. And yet we are permanently under the influence of certain people who have shaped us or try to meet their demands, especially our parents. Even if they haven’t been with us for a long time, we sense their closeness and listen to what they might tell us.

Can one ever break away from them at all? When are these really our own decisions and when do we unconsciously act on behalf of others? You should always question your decisions and check for independence.

MER: DGM guitarist Simone Mularoni produced Poverty’s No Crime’s last album Spiral of Fear (2016) and returns for A Secret to Hide. What does Simone bring to the table?

VW: Simone is a brilliant guitar player and sound engineer. He did not produce the album in the classical sense like having an influence on the songwriting or the arrangements. But mixing and mastering is an art of its own. For A Secret to Hide we recorded everything at home and sent all those files to Simone. He then turned everything into this beautiful sounding record. Somehow he knows exactly what our music needs to sound great.

MER: There was a long break in studio releases for Poverty’s No Crime. It was nearly 10 years between 2007’s Save My Soul and 2016’s Spiral of Fear. What happened?

VW: After Save My Soul the cooperation with our former label Inside Out, where we were signed for 7 years, ended. To be honest, this frustrated us quite a bit – we were once again without a record company. Since we rehearsed only seldom, vocal problems came at some point during the few live concerts. At that time I wanted to retire as singer and front man and only play guitar.

The search for a new singer finally led us to Pepe Pierez from Ancient Curse, an old acquaintance. However, after a few shows together, he left the band for another project. Marco formed Level Fields in 2013 together with Alan Teccio and Theo has always played in various other bands anyway.

Nevertheless, at some point we got together and wrote new songs and started recording the new material on our own in 2014. Fortunately, we found a great label in Metalville, which we have remained loyal to until today and with which we are very satisfied.

MER: It’s been 30 years since the band formed and a little over 25 years since your first studio album Symbiosis (1995). What do you remember about recording that album and the touring cycle that followed?

VW: It was a very exciting time for all of us. The first professional production with a record company behind us. We had never worked with a producer (John McGowan) before. John also produced the follow-up The Autumn Years. I remember a few funny anecdotes from the studio time: e.g. on the day when the recordings were supposed to start, the studio boss didn’t want to let us in because Noise Records had forgotten to send the check with the advance. After a few phone calls he was persuaded and we were allowed to get in.

I also remember the nerdy intern who kept complaining about the “loud music!” A less good memory I have about the song “My Favorite Delusion,” which Noise Records wanted to release as a promo single. John made me sing the song over and over again until I was finally hoarse. The purest torture!

After the release, unfortunately, we were not sent on tour as usual, because our record company thought we were not ready for it yet. After The Autumn Years they changed their mind and we went on tour in 1996 with Virgin Steele and Angra in Europe. But that’s another story….

MER: What inspired the band’s name?

VW: Until 1991 we were called Dark Order, but that somehow sounded very much like dark-wave music . When our bass player at that time Ian Scheele joined the band, we finally wanted to change our name. I looked in a dictionary of idioms for suitable band names, and “poverty’s no crime” appealed to everyone spontaneously. It’s just a statement that no one can deny.

MER: What is the 2021-2022 touring situation looking like for Poverty’s No Crime?

VW: To be honest, there in nothing really planned at the moment. Marco and Jörg are teachers, so they are only able to tour during the holidays. We all are fathers and have our family business and our day jobs. So, time is short. But you never know. The tour with Psychotic Waltz was so much fun, that we are all eager to do it again.

MER: Have you been working on any other projects while in lockdown?

VW: Yes, we did. Heiko played all the bass parts for Assignment’s current recordings Reflections and Assimilation. Andreas played drums for Scythe Beast’s Indicted For Misconception which was released in March, and Marco started writing new songs for Level Fields with Alan Tecchio. We all love music, writing and recording and it’s fun to do different things sometimes.

Poverty’s No Crime is:

Volker Walsemann – Vocals/Guitars
Marco Ahrens – Guitars
Heiko Spaarmann – Bass
Jörg Springub – Keyboards
Andreas Tegeler – Drums


  • George Dionne

    George was a contributor here at Metal Express Radio, reviewing albums and conducting interviews, out of Massachusetts, USA. George has contributed to numerous music related websites and blogs, and even managed his own from 2004-2009. George's first assignment was covering a live show by the mighty GWAR. By contrast his later assignments featured Judas Priest, Van Halen, and Bon Jovi. George was also the front man for the South Eastern Massachusetts cover band Sound Tower from 2009-2015.  Sound Tower played 300+ shows across MA and had two original songs on the Cape Cod radio station PIXY 103. George enjoys a good whiskey, scotch, and/or bourbon and fights crime in his spare time.

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