“We came as ambassadors for heavy music, so we did our job”: How butt-plugs, sold out shows and Iron Maiden helped Lord Of The Lost laugh off their Eurovision loss

Lord Of The Lost Eurovision 2023
(Image credit: Corinne Cumming)

Somewhere in The Vatican is a butt plug with Lord Of The Lost frontman Chris Harms’s face on it. He knows this because he sent it. “We sell them as ‘paperweights’ because you can’t sell sex toys without a different kind of merch store,” explains Chris. “But we didn’t sell them to the Pope – we sent them. I wanted the guys in The Vatican to – pun intended – open up. We sent them with tracking numbers and insurance. We know they got there, we just don’t know what happened with them.”

Lord Of The Lost are very much the kind of band you’d expect to send sex toys to the home of the Catholic Church. The German band’s industrial/goth metal hybrid sound and flamboyant, fetish-adjacent imagery is designed to get them noticed. It’s worked – they’re stars in their homeland and across the rest of Europe, while the UK and USA is catching up. They’ve caught the attention of Iron Maiden’s Steve Harris, who invited them to support his band, and even met the recently crowned King Charles III. And then there’s Eurovision. 

In what could be the weirdest moment of the year so far, Lord Of The Lost were picked to be Germany’s official entry in the final of the 2023 edition of the long-running pop contest. Their song, the electro-glam stomp of Blood & Glitter, stood out like, well, a butt plug in the Vatican. It begs the question: how the hell does a bunch of feather-sporting, PVC-clad Germans go from opening for Iron Maiden to appearing at Eurovision? “It’s a long story,” says Chris with a chuckle.

It’s a few days before the Eurovision final when Hammer meets Lord Of The Lost in Liverpool. Just over a week ago, they were touring South America. Last night, they rehearsed in front of a sold-out audience at the M&S Bank Arena, where the finals are being held in a few days’ time. The band have been fielding interviews almost nonstop for months. They’d done 500 before they even arrived in Liverpool. “It must be around 666 by this point,” jokes Chris. 

The band are understandably knackered, though they aren’t letting it show as they sit in a boardroom in the Aloft hotel. Chris has swapped his stage regalia for a tracksuit top and jeans, though the flicks of eyeliner and neon-bright knee-high rainbow legwarmers betray the sense of flair he’s had since his days working as a barman in Hamburg gay club ABSOLUT as an 18-year-old in the late 1990s. 

“I was the only heterosexual working there, but it was completely my world because I could work topless with blue hair and no eyebrows, lots of make-up,” he says. 

That sense of flamboyance was in place when Chris formed Lord Of The Lost in 2007 at the age of 27. He’d already played in a series of bands ranging from industrial rock outfit Philae to glam metallers The Pleasures, but he wanted his own project. He began working on songs at home in Hamburg’s vibrant St Pauli district. These demos were released on MySpace under the name LORD, a nickname other kids at school had for him. 

After signing with German label Out Of Line, he assembled a band and rechristened the project Lord Of The Lost to avoid confusion with other bands who had Lord in their name. Lord Of The Lost released their debut album, Fears, in 2010. Since then, their music has taken onboard everything from disco to the glam edge of 2022’s Blood & Glitter (their eighth studio album). Similarly, their image has gone from standard-issue black jeans and white vests, through to post-apocalyptic vampire chic circa 2016’s Empyrean, to the ‘albino Satanic monks’ look of 2021’s Judas, up to today’s peacocks-let-loose-in-an-S&M-club clobber. 

“Our only constant has been change,” says Chris of the band’s musical and visual approach. He lists the artists that have influenced him: David Bowie, Rammstein, Abba, Cradle Of Filth, 90s Swedish pop-rockers Roxette. “I still listen to Lady Gaga and Cradle Of Filth back to back in my car.” 

Predictably, metal and goth gatekeepers haven’t always embraced their look or their sound. “It doesn’t hurt me anymore when somebody goes ‘You look too gay’ or ‘You’re too colourful’,” Chris adds. “There must be a reason it bothers them so much. Yes, we are different and proud of the fact.” 

In any case, Lord Of The Lost’s detractors are outweighed by the people who do like them. Every album they’ve released since Empyrean has reached the Top 10 in Germany, with Blood & Glitter hitting No.1. In 2022, they were handpicked by Steve Harris to open for Iron Maiden in Europe after he saw the videos for their songs Black Halo and On This Rock I Will Build My Church

“Nearly every night we spent some time with him just chatting,” Chris says of the Maiden bassist. “He’s such an inspiration and so humble; just there with his cargo shorts, metal shirts and trekking shoes. This man helped invent heavy metal as we know it. He’s always polite, giving you great advice then always adding, ‘But what do I know?’ It’s like ‘Yes, Steve, what do you know?!’ If anyone knows how things work in metal, I think it’s Steve Harris.” 

It’s unlikely that ’Arry could have foreseen just how weird their journey to Eurovision would be. They spent a decade unsuccessfully trying to enter the competition to represent Germany at the finals. This time around, the rules were changed to include a broader range of genres and, earlier this year, Lord Of The Lost finally got their shot. Unexpectedly, Blood & Glitter trounced various schmaltzy ballads and slick R’n’B tunes to win Unser Lied für Liverpool (‘A Song For Liverpool’). 

Shortly afterwards, as Germany’s official Eurovision entry, they got to meet King Charles during his first state visit to Germany as British monarch. Chris and his bandmates were in full stage gear at the time. “He wanted to know where we got our costumes from,” recalls the singer. Sadly, he doesn’t add if he sent a butt plug with his face on it to Buckingham Palace.

Lord Of The Lost

(Image credit: Press)

It’s barely 8am when Hammer arrives at The Cavern Club, but a queue is already snaking down the street. This iconic venue is where The Beatles played their earliest gigs. Today, it’s hosting a Lord Of The Lost acoustic set. At the front of the queue is Laurence. He won’t say exactly what time he arrived, only that it was “stupid early”. Behind him, fellow devotees Hannah and Matt reveal that they arrived at 6.20am. Further back, we spot somebody dressed in a homemade version Chris’s current stage outfit. This is Jerome. Surprisingly, he’s not a hardcore fan. 

“I’d never heard of them before Eurovision,” admits Jerome, who travels from his native Germany to watch Eurovision every year. “But I really like their message, to be there for the lost people, the ones who feel like they don’t have a place.” 

Inside, The Cavern is packed with a mixture of black-clad metalheads and neon-sporting Eurovision fans. Even without their costumes and pyro, Lord Of The Lost are hugely entertaining. Chris cracks jokes and leads the crowd through singalongs. Danny Estrin, vocalist in Australia’s Eurovision finalists Voyager, makes a surprise appearance. “Heavy music at Eurovision this year… it’s gonna be big!” he proclaims to cheers of approval. 

The next time we see the band it’s the day before the Eurovision final. They’re being ushered onstage at the M&S Bank Arena as part of a six-hour rehearsal ahead of the big night. It’s a gruelling and meticulously planned operation, but for the three minutes Lord Of The Lost are on the stage, still dressed down but with jets of flame spouting around them, it feels like they’re in with a chance of winning. 

“We often get the question: ‘Why do you guys need Eurovision when you can tour with Iron Maiden?’” says Chris when we catch up with the band later. “And the answer is… they’re very different audiences. Just because you have one, doesn’t mean you don’t need the other.” 

Not only are they very different audiences, they’re very different experiences. “With Eurovision, everything is marked down to the second,” Chris says. “We had to go frame by frame through the show before the rehearsals, checking every camera position, everything. It’s like a live music video shoot in front of 160 million viewers.”

At the same time, the singer admits he has few complaints about being here. “I remember watching with my parents every year, being blown away by everything that was happening onstage,” he says. “I knew I wanted to be on that stage. So for me, this is fulfilling a childhood dream.”

Two weeks later, we catch up with Chris on Zoom. Sadly, despite an eye-catching performance, Lord Of The Lost weren’t able to reverse Germany’s dire recent Eurovision showings. They finished last with just 18 points, though at least they improved on the six points last year’s entrant, Malik Harris, received. Yet Chris insists he isn’t disheartened by the result. 

“Everyone’s expecting us to grieve the outcome, but we came as ambassadors for heavy music at Eurovision, so we did our job,” he says. Still, he does concede that the post-show press conference in front of the German media was tough. “Nobody was mad, but they all looked so sad. You have to explain to them: ‘It is what it is, thank you for all the support.’ After that, nobody was in the party mood, so we went back to the hotel.” 

That Eurovision-shaped cloud has a sizable silver lining. Lord Of The Lost’s streaming stats have exploded since they were announced as Germany’s entrants earlier this year, rocketing from 300,000 monthly Spotify listeners in March to 1.8 million in the days after the final. The band have plenty to keep themselves occupied in the coming months, too. 

There’s a run of European festival appearances in the summer, and they’ll once again be supporting Iron Maiden at the latter’s UK gigs in June and July, before returning to this side of the English Channel for their own headlining shows in September. However, it does mean the singer won’t have as much time to spend at home with the orphaned kittens he and his family adopted from Poland during the pandemic. “Their mother had been run over,” he says. “We called one Piwo, which is Polish for beer.” 

And beyond that? According to Chris, the Eurovision adventure was just the latest step on the never-knowingly uneventful journey that is Lord Of The Lost’s career – a journey that could take them literally anywhere. “I don’t know what the future looks like, because we’ve got so much still to do,” Chris says. “But we’re not an act that was built for Eurovision that will just vanish afterwards, we’ll just keep going. Besides, I loved the experience. Even if I knew we would come last, we’d take part again.” 

Sure enough, the band are confirmed to return to Eurovision - of a sort - in 2024, when they will play in the Swedish city of Malmö the day before that year's Eurovision final. In the meantime, there are shows to play, PVC costumes to wipe down and butt plugs to post.

Lord Of The Lost tour the UK in September.

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.