Austrian band teams up with Dayton record label

Rock bands are a rare commodity in Austria, so it’s no surprise Cornerstone, a quartet from Modeling, Niederösterreich, was influenced primarily by English-speaking bands.The group — Carina Sethaler (vocals, guitar), Michael Wachelhofer (bass, keyboards, vocals), Steve Wachelhofer (guitar, vocals) and Martin Key (drums) — is currently on its first United States tour in support of its latest LP, “Head Over Heels,” which was released by Dayton-based Atom Records. Before beginning the tour, Sethaler and Michael Wachelhofer took part in an e-mail interview for The Dayton Daily News. Here’s an excerpt from that digital Q&A session.

Q How did a band from Austria end up on a label from Dayton?

M: “Originally we were signed by a U.S. label from Arizona, but they screwed us with sales and so on, so we started to search for another label. As always, a friend of mine knew this ‘guy with the label in Ohio,’ etc. ... and this was it then. We searched for an honest and down-to-earth cooperation partner, and Atom is honest and down-to-earth. Easy choose!”

Q What’s the music scene like in Austria?

M: “People told us from the very beginning that our music doesn’t fit in the Austrian music scene. Here, you have just German-singing pop, kind of Austrian Britney Spears, and folk music — the yodels and leather trousers. And there’s a very, very heavy scene — death metal, trash metal, etc. For us, it was clear — we had to go abroad if we wanted to make it.”

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Q Was Cornerstone inspired by any Austrian acts?

C: “Being inspired by a rock band from Austria wouldn’t lead us to the U.S. or U.K. Austria is more famous for rock with German lyrics. And the audience in the U.S. and UK is certainly not waiting for German singing bands. So I think we’re more influenced by bands like Toto and Queen — the big ones, you know.”

M: “I come from the AOR-side of the street. Journey, Toto, Survivor and REM are the bands I grew up with. Steve is from the harder edge — Guns N’ Roses, Nightwish and Metallica. Carina brought in the pop feeling, so all of this mixed is the sound.”

Q What are you looking forward to most on your first tour of the U.S.?

C: “Personally, I’m looking forward that we’ll enjoy ourselves on stage and behind stage. Spending three weeks with the boys will be a funny challenge I like to accept. And certainly being in U.S., although for me it’s not the first time, is something I’m looking forward to.”

Rock Insider, by contributing writer Don Thrasher, appears weekly and gives a behind-the-scenes view of the Dayton music scene. Contact Thrasher by e-mail at

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