In a rare moment, Simon Faulkner catches up with the band for a chat.

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Wishmasters are a Czech Symphonic Metal band founded in 2007, originally as a Nightwish tribute and take their name from a track by the same band they started out covering. In 2014 they released their debut album ‘Beatrice’ which earned them excellent reviews but due to the manner in which the band came into existence, it has taken them sometime to lose the Nightwish association. The band is comprised of five members who are:

Shirley Tracanna - Vocals 

Martin Havel - Guitar 

Petr Kořínek - Bass Guitar 

Pepa Hübner - Keyboards 

Jakub Nývlt – Drums

In November, the band will release their next album, ‘Afterworld’ and in advance of this I had the chance to speak to the band about their tribute days. First up was finding out how long they performed as a tribute act before going down the original material route and if they had, in actual fact, met the band themselves.

 “Our band used to play Nightwish’s songs for about five years until, in 2014, we released ‘Beatrice.’

“No, we haven't met them yet. We were going to at the Masters of Rock Festival, but at the last minute their management decided to cancel our meeting.”

Hearing that they had spent five years playing as a tribute band was quite the eye opener but in that time they have had ample opportunity to hone their craft, so I asked Martin what it was that prompted the change in direction and the desire to follow their own path.

 “We decided to follow our own path when we started to feel that we were living on the back of someone else’s success. We came to a point where it was kind of awkward to see all those fans that were not enjoying our work but someone else’s. That was the moment when we started to create something for ourselves. Adding our new songs to the setlist, we began, step by step, to build up our own identity.”

What was very interesting was the fans reaction to the new direction.

“The passage was gradual, so our audience “grew” with us, and I have to say that many people appreciated us more as an original band than as a tribute band.” 

All the members of the band get on really well, so I was keen to know if they were all friends from the beginning or if everyone had to audition for their slot and whose idea it was to put the band together.

“, our group of friends was created through the years, because the members joined the band progressively. So, we created a group of diversified musical-tasted people, so that the original 'Nightwishy' intentions began to drift away. As for the founder, it was the original Wishmasters drummer who put the tribute band together, but he has moved on to pastures new.”

With one of the biggest bands in the symphonic genre, and in fact the world as a major influence it was no surprise to hear the names of other bands when I asked Martin who their other main influences were.

“Our other influences are bands like Within Temptation, Xandria, Sirenia or Epica, but we like to preserve our own sound.

And so it came to pass that I made a mistake as sometimes happens but unfortunately my mouth let the words come out before I actually thought about what I was saying resulting in the whole band jumping in! And what you may ask was the question? Like an idiot, What is your favourite Nightwish song?

Shirley: “I’m not a huge fan of Nightwish, but my favourite song would be ‘Nemo.’”

Joe: “I don’t listen to Nightwish as much as I used to, but my favourite is ‘Turn Loose the Mermaids.’”

Martin: “I have two favourites, ‘While your lips are still red’ and ‘Is an empty Hope.’”

Petr: “My favourite song comes from the Nightwish’s album Once, and it is ‘Ghost love score.’” 

Jakub: “It’s difficult to choose one... but my absolutely favourite would be ‘Deep silent Complete.’”

Moving quickly away from that my brain was fully engaged so I thought it best not to ask about the original vocalist but concentrate on Italian songstress Shirley Tracanna whose vocals are amazing, so I needed to find out how they found her and if she had been classically trained.

“Well, she had her fan base on the various social media and she used to put her cover versions of some popular songs on the internet. When we were in trouble, we found an advertisement of a soprano searching for a band, so we contacted her, and our adventure started.”

“She studied for 5 years in the “Musical and Opera technique” at the “Liceo Musicale Toscanini” in her hometown Porto Sant’ Elpidio (FM) in eastern Italy. Her influences are a mixture of Jazzy-pop artists and an Epica style.”

In the course of research, I came across a well documented story about the filming of one of Wishmasters videos for their social media page about an accident that had befallen one of the band members. I asked for a little clarity on the subject.

“Yes, well nothing terrible but not pleasant. During the shooting of the last scenes of the day, Shirley was running barefooted throughout the desert and a sharp shard cut her foot. It was a deep wound, but she bit the bullet and filmed the rest of the video with courage. Then we took her to the ER to treat the wound and luckily everything went well.”

We were coming towards the end of my allotted time, so I pushed for an exact date for the new album.

“The new album called ‘Afterworld’ is going to be released on the 15th November, the same date that we are planning our release party in Prague. The CD will be distributed all over the world at sheer-music.cz.  The new site will be launched on the 15th of November also.

All that remained was to find out if we could expect to see the guys in the UK anytime soon.

“We have already played in Germany, Poland and Slovakia but with the new album “Afterworld”, we are planning more European concerts and we hope that UK will be also one of our destinations.”

It’s been a real pleasure spending time talking to Martin and I feel confident that their new album will build on the success of what has gone before. I have to say I am a fan and when they finally get here yours truly will be first in line for a ticket.