Asphyx - Interview
Asphyx have recently released their new album "Necroceros" where, as always, you can find the well-known trademarks of the band, but one or two small changes have crept into the songwriting. What could be better than having a nice phone conversation with their drummer Stefan "Husky" Hüskens on an uncomfortable Friday evening in March to talk about this and the German-Dutch relationship among other things?
Hi Husky, everything okay?
Your new album has been reviewed very well everywhere (with a few exceptions) and also landed in the album charts at number 3. That is definitely an increase to the predecessors, which in Germany "only" landed on number 67 - "Deathhammer" and 30 - "Incoming Death". Did you expect such a success?
First of all, I don't care what ranking the album makes, because the album has to please us first of all. But of course, it's a proof of all the hard work that went into it. We were totally surprised that we ended up at number 3 because we are a death metal band and that's actually quite difficult to get such a position. Unless your name is Cannibal Corpse. We were also in the vinyl charts and there are about 1000 subcategories. It was definitely cool to be behind some stupid rapper, haha!!!
Lyrically it's again about WW2 and sci-fi / horror. Where do you get your inspiration from regarding the topics?
Martin writes the lyrics for us, so I can't say too much about that. Martin is very well read, and he really devours books and gets his inspiration from them. I think his lyrics are great because they are all very profound and for me Martin is one of the best lyricists there is in metal. He knows what he's doing, but unfortunately I can't go into detail.
One song in particular stands out, 'Three Years Of Famine', which deals with the famine under Mao in China in the 50s. I guess you either don't want to conquer the Chinese market for yourselves or there is a special version for China?
Haha, no there is no special Chinese version. Martin will probably have read something and then written it as lyrics. On the last album he also picked up two or three things like that. I think these are topics that interest him. But I think that when our CDs are distributed in China, it's through mini mail order and there it's all a bit different.
Hm, if you ever hear something about that, you'll have to let me know, haha!
Yes, I will, haha!!!
The song is pretty slow and almost epic by your standards. I know that Martin is really excited about it, but how is it as a drummer to play a song like that. Isn't it a bit boring to play such a lame song?
Since I've been with Asphyx, I've discovered slowness for myself. I switched from Desaster to Asphyx, or rather I played with both of them in parallel for a while and that was quite a change. I had to get used to it first. Meanwhile I like these sluggish songs, because you can put a lot of energy into them. Every beat has to be right and I like to play that. It's also pretty cool live. When Paul (Baayens; M.) plays his guitar, I get goose bumps behind the drums. The melodies are really cool.
To stay with the song, the beginning sounds quite like 'Skullcrusher', which reminds me of Black Sabbath. I listened to your older albums again and I think that you can recognize Overkill riffs or Black Sabbath influences more often. To what extent are you influenced by these bands?
I asked Paul once about Overkill and he was grinning, but he said that if anything everything would be somewhat Black Sabbath influenced. I mean, if you play doom, you can't avoid being confronted with Black Sabbath. It's like when you play thrash, you can't get past a Slayer riff. In any case, there are always things that remind you of other bands, but the fretboard of a guitar has only 12 notes. I also think that you shouldn't hide your influences.
I think your drumming brings a lot more flexibility to the songs than your predecessor did.
I actually consider myself to be a band-friendly drummer. I don't have to prove my skills and on top of that, I'm not really that good of a drummer. I know my 3 or 4 rhythms; I know how to use them and that's it. I make more music because I am a fan and have fun making music with the guys. That's why I don't have any compulsion there to do anything special, but what I do, I like to do. I was always influenced by Bob (Bagchus, M.), my predecessor, because I always liked his drumming. I don't know notes, I'm also very limited in what I do, but I enjoy it and that's enough for me.
The production of "Necroceros" is, in my opinion, a bit more powerful and clear than that of "Incoming Death". What did you do differently this time?
In retrospect, I'm not quite as happy with the drum sound from Incoming Death. We changed producers for the new album. First of all, Seeb (Sebastian Levermann; M.) is a real Asphyx fan and secondly, he managed to make my drums always sound dynamic and a bit more powerful. He also managed to do that with the other instruments. We weren't sure at the beginning if we wanted to switch or go with Dan (Swano; M.) and finally decided to give it a try. He sent us a rehearsal mix, which was already great, and Alvin and Paul were mainly responsible for the sound. We made some changes to it but in the end we are all very happy and I think it's the best album ever released with me as the drummer, just from the drums.
When your album was released, you did a live stream concert for it. How was that and how did it work?
We thought about it for a long time because we wanted to do a release party, but of course we couldn't because of Corona. Then someone had the idea that we do a stream as an exception. We were actually against doing something like that, because we are a band that needs the smell of sweat and stale beer. But in the end we decided to do it and we got a request from Metropol in Hengelo and the good thing was that they already had experience with smaller bands. They have Metro TV and bands have been streamed there, it's supported by the Dutch government and they have everything for it there. In the end, all we had to do was set up the stage, do a sound check and get going. Century Media helped us with the internet stuff, because the bands that usually stream there have maybe 1000 views and we were expecting a bit more, so the server had to be modulated. But no idea what exactly, I don't really know anything about it either. Until the first song, everything was like performing live, but when the first three songs were over and no one in the audience was yelling, it was a bit weird. But you get used to it relatively quickly and if you read the comments, the audience liked it too. It was all live, nothing was cut, and it was just like you perform it on stage in real life.
Yes, you're right, you get used to it. It's just like soccer games. A year ago, I found these ghost games to be disgusting, but by now you've gotten so used to it that there are no spectators anymore. It's definitely sad.
I have to admit, I haven't watched a streaming show yet either, but I hardly have the time. But then I would rather watch an old Priest concert from the 80s. You can never get that feeling you get live over a stream. Another cool side thing is that Asphyx got a lot of media attention in the Netherlands because of the stream. I live right on the Dutch-German border and there's a regional newspaper here and they did an interview with us and Martin was also asked again if he would talk about his life. Especially in the Netherlands, which is a bit more conservative, that was quite remarkable.
Yes, I have to confess that I didn't see your show either, but only heard that from Felix from Idiots Records (a metal store in Dortmund; M.) that it was supposed to have been great. During the Corona pandemic, when the infection numbers allowed it, you played in Essen in the Kreuzeskirche. Among others, Marduk was supposed to celebrate their 30th Anniversary Tour there. Isn't that kind of strange to perform there?
It was a bit strange, but it was also kind of cool. The people who own the church were pretty open-minded and the sound in a church is insane, just the reverb alone. People were all having fun and thought it was interesting to see a death metal concert in a church.
Yeah, I think so. Was it a catholic or a protestant church?
It's a Lutheran church...
Ah, that explains a lot, haha
Haha...and the funny thing is that it was sold to an investor years ago and then they turned it into an event location and if the Protestant community wants to hold their services there, they have to pay rent (laughs). But it was really great, even if you had to make some sacrifices. There was no backstage room, we had to go to another building to eat, but in general it was a great experience just to play in such a location.
Are you actually responsible for all the merchandise at Asphyx? Is it noticeable that people invest more money in shirts etc. at the moment, because they can't spend the money on concerts or festivals? Bernd from Slaughterday made this thesis.
Nah, when it comes to merchandise, Alvin does it all. But we don't have a store, we only sell at concerts. I can see that with the sales in my own wallet (laughs). Since the beginning of the pandemic my vinyl stock has grown a lot. But that's normal, because people are all sitting at home, buying a crate of beer for 15 Euros and where are they supposed to leave the money if they can't go to concerts? Then you have to order records and T-shirts.
Do you have some special plans for the future?
We have our 30th "The Rack" anniversary this year and we hope we can at least do corona compliant concerts, otherwise we might do another livestream. There are a few small shows planned, but seated concerts, but in the end it's better than nothing. A couple of shows are confirmed, one for July and one each for September, October and November.
You are the only German member of Asphyx. How does it work with the communication and are there sometimes problems? The German-Dutch relationship was not always without problems....
No, it's always totally funny. When we are on the road, we always speak a mixture of German, English and Dutch (laughs). Alwin and Martin speak almost perfect German because they also live right on the border. Paul understands a lot but doesn't dare to speak German that often. But when we are on the road, we usually speak English with each other. It's really like brothers now. Martin also helped me renovate my house, it's really like a family. But I also remember the second time we played with Desaster in the Netherlands. We drove a van over there and parked it at the venue at night and went to sleep. When we went to the van the next morning, both side mirrors were off and there was a big "Mof" (Dutch swear word for German; M.) written on the back of the window. But that doesn't even exist anymore these days. And here at the border, Dutch license plates are just as common as German ones. Also, from the kind the Dutch are a nice and open people.
By the way, what I find remarkable about the Dutch is that they eat fried stuff all the time - but have you ever seen anyone really fat there?
(Laughs) That's because they ride bikes so much there.
Yeah, the bike paths there are great. And you're right about the food. Have you ever bought healthy food in Holland? I only ever buy unhealthy stuff there like chips and stuff. And it's a lot cheaper than the healthy stuff, too.
No, I never have.
Until two years ago you played drums with Sodom, until 2018 you were the drummer with Desaster for a long time and you were also with the Portuguese Decayed for a while. Why did you drop out of that band?
In the end, I left Desaster because I couldn't manage the distance anymore and also timewise it was a problem and at that time I was also with Sodom and Asphyx, which was all a bit much. With Decayed I only ever recorded albums and only played two shows with them. They always sent me the songs and I recorded them with a click and then they added the drums. That's what I'm doing at the moment with Trinitas, that's a project of mine with Vargher (Marcus Norman; M.) from Naglfar and Bewitched and the former Dark Fortress singer (Matthias "Azagthoth" Jell; M.), I'm recording the stuff in four weeks. I got the guitars and the bass now and then I'll record my drum part.
Recommend me some cool albums.
Slaughterday - "Ancient Death Triumph"
Nuclear - "Murder of Crows
Amored Saint - "Punchig the Sky"
Do you have any words for our readers?
Thanks for the support and check out our album if you haven't heard it yet!!!
Alright, thank you very much for the interview!!!
Reign Of The Brute
Imperial Anthems (Thanatos / Asphyx)
Boxed Set (2010)
Live Death Doom
Live Death Doom
Death... The Brutal Way
Depths Of Eternity
Death The Brutal Way
On The Wings Of Inferno
Embrace The Death
Crush The Cenotaph
Last One On Earth
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- Eastern High - Halo - Jul 30
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- Ingested - The Surreption II - Jul 30
- BlackSword - Alive Again - Jul 30
- Shrieking Demons - Diabolical Regurgitations - Jul 30
- Black Mass Pervertor - Lex Sodomiticum - Jul 30
- Moon Reaper - Descent - Jul 30
- Swallow The Sun - 20 Years Of Gloom, Beauty And Despair: Live In Helsinki - Jul 30
- Covered In Sores - Civilian Casualties - Jul 30
- Procez - Jeden - Jul 30
- Ondfødt - Norden - Jul 30