„At that time there was a lot of “fast metal” and I really didn’t want to follow the trend.”


Interview with singer Jutta Weinhold, who was the lead singer of the band Zed Yago during the making of the album Pilgrimage

Jutta, while From Over Yonder was released by Steamhammer, Pilgrimage came out through RCA, what happened?

It’s quite difficult to get a deal at all. Only because the English BMG-RCA liked the from over Yonder record did RCA Germany give us the contract for the second Zed Yago album -Pilgrimage-.

Was it a bigger label and more supportive of the band compared to Steamhammer?

Of course, a major label has completely different financial opportunities to promote and support an artist. That is undisputed. Steamhammer is also a good label and has taken care of bands. But at some point there are limits.

When did you start working on Pilgrimage?

I’m always full of ideas and melody suggestions…And so we started composing at the beginning of 1988.

Did the label perhaps ask you to hear new material? From what I know, you released a four tracks Promo Ep…

I don’t know exactly anymore today. I don’t think we had a four track promo EP. We created demos in the rehearsal room before every studio appointment.

What about the Black Bone Song Ep and the Black Bone Song/Zed Yago single? Were they also released, before the second album saw the light?

I think everything came out at the same time. We were on tour with WASP and played at festivals in Germany and the release was linked to that.

How did the recording sessions go?

Haha. Good times. We were in the studio together for 4 weeks. The whole band then worked on it.

Did the band have some actual money to put into its production?

No, the BMG/RCA took care of everything. I financed the first LP -From over yonder- with Ralf Basten, our producer.

Are the compositions carefully crafted with lots of texture?

Yes, I love stories and so sometimes I have to part with too specific text because it’s about the music and not a novel.

Would you say, that Pilgrimage is your very best work, what ever put your stamp on, with an unforgettable, epic vocal?

I love Pilgrimage and I had developed very well, and of course the band too. We were at a very good level and it’s a shame that we couldn’t keep it together.

Is this one of the best German metal albums of its type with a wholly consistent set of breathtaking tunes that carry conventional but catchy melodies, strong guitar rhythms and the precise drumming of Bubi?ű

At that time there was a lot of “fast metal” and I really didn’t want to follow the trend. Our music should be heavy and slow and my friend Bubi absolutely agreed with me. He implemented everything brilliantly.

Is/Was Zed Yago with a flair for the epic?

Yes definitely…without imagination the soul dies and without a soul the human being dies.

Is the album also the best example of pirate metal?

I can not say that. There are definitely good other bands in the field, but we are definitely one of them and the first.

1989 Pilgrimage – Zed Yago (L.P Alemania RCA PL71949)

You presented your concept of Zed Yago, the fictional daughter of the Flying Dutchman’s captain, who roams a world embroiled in both adventure and folklore, can you give us any details about it?

As I’ve already said it. In short words. Zed Yago sails across the sea and meets God and the Devil both in the same boat. You have a big problem. People have lost imagination and without imagination the soul dies and without a soul man dies. Their existence is also threatened. Zed Yago gets a human body from both of them and she promises to go to earth to bring back the lost fantasy and give it back to good and evil…….She finds fantasy in the mythologies, in the legends and legends, in the fairy tales and stories that the ancients tell…

Did you always express a desire to translate famous literary works into the metal realm?

Yes, always and still today. It’s good to deal with words that have already been written and make them accessible to people who are interested.

It can be seen how important the literary influence was to you and the band, correct?

Yes! It stays that way.

Do The Pale Man, The Fear Of Death and Black Bone Song reach epic levels of awesome?

I can’t say that, but when others say it, I’m happy.

Is Pilgrimage the best Zed Yago album in every category?

Definitely our highlight. Were Zed Yago quite unique and steered clear of most metal clichés?Yes absolutely. I paid a lot of attention to it. Because I know: the world needs originals and not copies.

1989 Pilgrimage – Zed Yago (L.P Alemania RCA PL71949)

If I’m correct, the shows/tour in support of the record was with Leatherwolf, what kind of memories do you have and how did it go as a whole?

A good time with W.A.S.P in England and with Leatherwolf in Germany. Not to forget our promotional trip to the USA to New York and LA.

Is it true, that after the two albums you and the record label decided to dissolve the band in 1990 and start all over again? An entire new lineup was found and they changed their name to Velvet Viper…

That is the tragedy. One person in the band had poisoned the atmosphere in the band and I wanted to produce the third album with other musicians. We were on tour in Germany when I got an injunction…….unfortunately we had a GBR with Zed Yago and the rights always belong to the majority. Since I didn’t have a private copyright for my name Zed Yago (although I invented the name), I was no longer allowed to appear under Zed Yago. He remained in the majority and I was in the minority. What a drama. The sky fell on me and I lost my musical baby. That’s why I continued with Velvet Viper. At that time there was already an idea for lyrics for a Velvet Viper song and so I adopted the title as the band name.A small consolation: I have all rights as the author of the songs on the two albums. So 3 years ago I was able to release remasters of -From or yonder- and -Pilgrimage-, with short live recordings of our concerts in England and Germany.In order to get through this terrible time, I wrote a book about Zed Yago’s songs in 1990/1991 with the title: The Flying Dutchman’s Daughter in Search of the Lost Imagination. This creative work saved me from resorting to drugs. A sign of how important it actually is for all of us to be creative and not just consume. I can only recommend this in passing.Also today I have my Zed Yago songs in our Velvet Viper live set.

Unfortunately Bubi passed away six years ago, how do you want him to be remembered?

Bubi stopped breathing on the night of January 2end, 2018. Otherwise he would have become our drummer for the new Velvet Viper. I’m still very sad about it and when I sing the Zed Yago songs I always hear his snare and his bright voice in the choirs. R.I.P. My dear friend Bubi.

Are you perhaps still in touch the former Zed Yago members with?

I’m still in contact with the bassist Tatch and the solo guitarist Gunnar Heyse.

Jutta, thanks a lot for your answers, any closing words to end of this interview?

An artist is always on a rollercoaster, often it goes down, sometimes it goes up. The few times it goes up weighs much heavier than the many times it goes down. That’s why you stay true to yourself and the music.-NOTHING COMPARES TO METAL- the title of the new Velvet Viper album released 2023.

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