JAN BÜNNING: "I just do what I want to do without any compromises"


The passion for creativity is something that has always marked your life, what do you think is due to that need you have to express what one feels and thinks with music?

Just recently I spoke with a friend of mine about musicians / artists and she called creative people “Getriebene”, which you could maybe call “driven people” in English. I won´t say all creative people have mental issues, but I guess many do, me included. So creating music or art is something I need / I have to do. I even would say that creating music and art helped me over the years to stay alive and without it I would maybe already be dead.

When you compose music, or write prose for a song or take photographic shots, what do you look for in each phase?

It really depends. When I have an idea and later work on an idea / riff for a Paragon song, mostly with Paragon founder Martin, I always keep in mind what Paragon is about: Pure classic Heavy / Speed Metal. So When I write or arrange stuff for Paragon I always stick to this formula and think about what kind of songs our fans want to hear from us. I am the biggest and most critical Paragon fan in the world! It´s not much different when I write songs for other bands (which I recently did), there I also try to adopt to their style. It´s different though when I do things own my own, like photography. I don´t have to fulfill any expectations when I do this, so I just do what I want to do without any compromises. I just started to learn a little bit of acoustic guitar, so maybe I will also do some of my “own” songs in the future.

Are those different artistic fields for you, or it is something that is part of a whole or a search between the artistic and the dreamlike of the mind.

Yes, as I stated in the answer of the last question – there are projects where I have to fulfill certain expectations to e.g. fans and then there is the more personal stuff, where I don´t have to do it. Though I have to admit – I don´t have to make too much compromises when writing for Paragon anyway, because it´s the kind of Heavy Metal I would buy myself if it is not written by us!


Do you think that intuitive power is innate or is it something that can be learned?

Good question! I never really “learned” how to play bass or take photographs. I taught everything I know about it myself. Maybe you have to have this need and passion inside yourself to be really creative. The thing is, when I do create art I do it with all passion I have, no half-assed stuff. I put a lot of energy, blood and sweat into the stuff I create and try to be a perfect as I can. Sometimes there are fights inside the band or with our producer, because I am not only see the single song, a certain song mix, but I already have in mind what artwork I want fitting the music, I make up my mind about the album title, about the song order and so on. I see the “whole” project and I guess I am maybe the only guy on earth who sees this, ha ha!

Beyond music you are a great fan of fantastic and surreal art, why do you think that these types of themes are so prevalent in the human mind?

I don´t think that fantastic / surreal art is in general important to all human minds. I would say this kind of dark art is something only certain kinds of people feel attracted to. Even I like to make jokes all the time, don´t take everything too seriously I am not really a human loving human being. Especially the last two years showed me, how easy you can manipulate and lie to the masses, but the same people will still vote for the liars and deceivers. I don´t hate people, but I like to keep my circle of friends small and very close. So I would say most people who are interested in dark art are to a certain degree misanthropist, who prefer the darkness to the light in this world.

Is there a historical period with which you feel more identified?

I was pretty lucky to grow up when Heavy Metal became big, Thrash/Speed/Black Death etc. Metal was invented etc. So I would say I grew up in a very interesting time for “my” music. Maybe I would have liked to grow up about ten years earlier, so I could have seen early shows of Judas Priest, Black Sabbath or Queen, but all in all I am happy for the time in which I grew up.

We have talked before about the assets and manifestations of art and music, and how the essence of them can condition the artist to be alienated from the world, why do you think this is so? Have you experienced that feeling?

As I stated in one of the previous answers: I would say creating music saved my life. I really need to create something like music or photos to stay alive and “function”. When I am creating something it feels to me like living in my own little world where only I is making the rules. So it helps me to forget all the shit which is going on these days and it also makes me feel good I maybe create something which makes people feel good. I am always happy when a fan contacts me on Facebook or after a show and tells me how much our music means to him or how it helped him through a dark time in his life. This maybe the best part about creating art.

Are you reading any special book?

When I was younger I used to read a lot of fantasy and horror stuff like Lovecraft, Howard, Moorcock, Stephen King etc. Over the years this changed a lot. I still like these authors, but today I am more into dark crime/hardboiled stuff from James Lee Burke, David Peace and James Ellroy. You can imagine most of this stuff is a little bit like the TV show “True Detective”. Some of my favorite books are “American Psycho” by Brett Easton Ellis, “Hollywood Animal” by Joe Eszterhas, “Der Minus-Mann” by Heinz Sobota, “Der Todestrieb” by Jaques Mesrine, “High Life” by Matthew Stokoe, the Robiecheaux series by James Lee Burke, the Red Riding Hood Trilogy by David Peace and the LA-Quartett books by James Ellroy. I also like biographies about musicians, artist etc. a lot.

If you had to compare your instrument, in your case the bass, with a weapon, what would it be?

Ha Ha good question. Usually many Metal fans think “Bass” is not such an important instrument for Metal, but I don´t think so. Bass is the connection between the groove/beat of the drums and the melodies of the guitars. So it´s an important part to keep the music “together” and it also fills the tonal gaps between guitars and drums. In the end of course all instruments of a band are important! As a weapon it would maybe be a bazooka as it not only pierces the eardrums of the listener, but attacks the whole body with the low frequencies.


Name two or three albums that are not of the metal genre but have an importance for you, and give us a reason.

OK – my first love when it comes to music are Soundtracks. So of course I have to mention BASIL POLEDOURIS – “Conan The Barbarian”. This is maybe the most “Metal” classic album ever. We used “Anvil Of Crom” for years as intro for our Paragon Shows.
I was never a fan of Country and Folk ever, but the last years there are a lot of so called “Murder Folk” bands and one of these bands (or in this case better single artist) who caught my attention is AMIGO THE DEVIL. You can imagine this as a very dark version of Johnny Cash with lyrics about serial killers mixed with lyrics about depression, anxiety etc. His album “Everything Is Fine” touched me on so many levels and I listend to it so many times I can´t count it anymore. It´s like he wrote the lyrics I always wanted to write.
The third one is “Sister” by IN SOLITUDE. They started as Heavy Metal band which played Mercyful Fate inspired classic Metal, but this unfortunately last album they did is something which would be called Post Punk. There are lots of great bands in this genere old and new like Killing Joke, Swans, Bahaus, Beastmilk, Dool , Gggolddd, Death In June, Foetus, Horror Vacui, The Comes Silence, Grave Pleasures, King Dude, Me And That Man, Maggot Heart, Henrik Palm, Rope Sect, Unto Others, The Devil´s Trade, Black Totem and so on. The last years I listen a lot to the this kind of stuff because it often fits my mood more than classic Heavy Metal.

Can you still go back to the classic albums of bands that have become conceptual and musical parodies of themselves?

I think you can´t say that in general. Manowar of course a good negative example as they not released a good album in decades, but e.g. Exodus, Flotsam & Jetsam, U.D.O./Accept, Saxon and to me especially Judas Priest are still release very good albums. “Firepower” to me is maybe the best classic Heavy Metal album of the decade and among the top five JP albums.

Has the rise of digital music technology changed the way that you personally think about composing albums?

At first we have been against releasing our albums on digital platforms, but I guess today this is a must because you will reach a lot more people with your stuff than without putting it up on Spotify or Apple Music even though we don´t make much money from this. If only a few people buy a CD or LP of our stuff than it´s already good than if they never heard about you.
I didn´t change the way we write our albums though. We are not the band that will release a single each few months, but we still have a whole album with some kind of concept in mind that we will release as a whole album and not only parts of it. Some of bands I like did release single songs and I found myself not listening to these songs at all…

Do you use anger to write music?

Not really. As I write mostly stuff for Paragon and we are not know to be an aggressive super heavy Metal band, I don´t need to use anger. This is different to when I play though. I would say I have very aggressive stage presence and let out a lot of anger on stage when we play, but in the end it´s positive because I am relaxed after a show and the crowed as well.

When did you realize the creative possibilities that music could offer you?

To be honest I don´t really can fix that. I already wrote riffs and lyrics for my first professional band EROSION in 1985, but back then I just did it and not really thought about it too much. These days I write music with much more confidence and I know what I do and what I want to create.


In the end was it difficult to make that dream a reality?

As I wrote in a previous answer: I need music to stay alive. So it´s something I have to do no matter what, but it really became much more difficult from the business side of the music industry. All money we make with Paragon we put back into the band for recordings, artwork, photos and so on. There are thousand bands out there and we always did “our” thing without compromise and we are not really the flavor of the month, so it´s often frustrating not getting too many gigs. But we still love what we do and I guess we will still be around for a few years to crush some posers.


Name: Jan Bünning
DOB: 14th of June
Place of birth: Hamburg, Germany
Occupation: Musician