Desaster - Interview
The Teutonic black-thrash institution Desaster has recently released their (according to my opinion very good) new album "Churches Without Saints" and has met with sheer enthusiasm from all fans. I asked guitarist Infernal via Skype about it, about their new drummer, the mysterious album title, the good old times and much more. The result is a very entertaining interview and Infernal turned out to be a very likeable person! Big thanks for your time!!!
Hello Markus, how are you?
According to the circumstances, I'm doing relatively well. We Germans have a habit of always complaining about everything at a high level, but I think we all got off easy in the whole Corona thing. If you look in other countries, what happens there, and their systems collapse. Sure, you wonder if it all makes sense what's being done in this country, but on the whole we're doing fine. You have to take it as it is, we can't change it anyway. But of course, everyone hopes that the spook will soon be over, and that normality will be restored and, above all, that we will be able to go to pubs and concerts again. But if these are the biggest problems we have, then, as I said, the bottom line is that we are doing well.
In June your new album "Churches Without Saints" was released, why did it take so long?
Yes, this is normal by now. The rotation is getting bigger and bigger, before when we were young and pretty, we managed to release a record every two years, but now with all the commitments you have.... we still do it on a non-professional basis (laughs) and before when you were a student you could sit in the rehearsal room three or four times a week and tinker with the songs. Of course, everything was faster back then. Today it takes everything, and we rehearse so on average twice a month, because the band members from the Eifel also live 100 km away from us and there you do not drive three times a week this distance. You have other commitments and other priorities, but on the other hand I always say that's what kept us fresh and powerful. The fire is still burning because we just don't do it professionally. We don't have to release a record every two years, we don't have to go on tour for at least three months. We can decide everything ourselves and do what we feel like doing. A lot of people have already told us that you can hear that on the new album, that we still have fire in our wrinkled old asses (laughs) and it's probably still fun to listen to us. That makes us proud and very happy!
"Churches Without Saints" can either be taken as a somewhat anti-Christian album title, but I'm assuming you had some more in mind. If you look at the cover, everything burned and dead.... I interpret it so that there is nothing or very little in today's time, what can still give you hope, not even faith...
You are not wrong, but basically the intention, since we are a black metal band, or black thrash or however you may categorize us there, was criticism of religion. That's always been our concern and it's more relevant than ever right now. I still find it amazing that in the year 2021 an institution like the Catholic Church has such power and when, for example, studies are made about abuse cases like in Cologne, a bishop first says that this study should be dropped under the table and not published. It could be that one or the other does not do a favor with it. Even if one sees what happens in Poland, I find it really admirable, how Nergal of Behemoth shows their flag. He had to go through some trials because of that, but he doesn't let it get him down and he fights against this power that this institution church has there. Here it subsides, after all these abuse cases in Cologne became known, the server (of the district court; M.) collapsed, because so many people wanted to leave at the same time. I think that's a good thing and that's where Desaster wants to make a little bit of a contribution (laughs). Everybody can have his beliefs of course, we have nothing against it. But these saints, by which we mean the clerics, who really often think that they have eaten wisdom with spoons, have everything for themselves and represent the only true faith, that is a red rag for us and against that we also want to criticize. That's what I call it now benevolently. In the past we did that in songs like 'Sacrilege' (on the Stormbringer -EP; M.), there it was a bit plainer, there we sang "piss on a Bible" or something similar ("And piss on the book of lies"; M.), today there are the Churches Without Saints. Connected with it the call, throw the hypocrites out and do faith-wise what you mean. Everyone can do what he wants, but as long as there is so much abuse of power - I have two children myself and I don't want them to be touched by such an antisocial during communion classes - it's not right.
Tell us a little bit about the development history of "Churches Without Saints" and the lyrics you wrote for it.
The theme of faith is indeed present, even the opener 'Learn To Love The Void' is about it. Our singer Sataniac thought that maybe it wouldn't be bad if everybody would accept that there is nothing after death, that there is only emptiness, that then there wouldn't be any more religious wars and nobody would hit the other one on the face, because he thinks that he has the true faith for himself. 'Learn To Love The Void' means therefore, if one accepts that there is nothing after death, neither Valhalla nor any paradise or anything with virgins, but that simply nothing exists - this can be sad for one or the other, but on the other hand this can also be liberating. If you accept that after death it's over - enjoy the short time on this shitty planet (laughs), although the planet is wonderful, only the people who populate it are often shitty, then you could simply get rid of a lot of problems.
Well, that's very fatalistic....
Yeah, sure. But look at the world....
No, that's right. I also often say that faith is poison. Karl Marx already stated that. 'Hellputa' ...is this the sequel to 'Angelwhore' and 'Queens Of Sodomy'?
Exactly! The lyrics were actually written by me, I was in a writing mood again (laughs). The song came about in the following way. At the beginning of the year, we were allowed to play a concert in Spain before all the shit and "puta" is a bit of a swear word, means "whore" or "hooker", and we were playing with a band and the singer, like the English use "fuck" as every second word, kept saying "puta". Sometimes he also said "hellputa" and we thought "hellputa" was so cool (laughs) that we said that if there is no song with that title yet, we have to write it (laughs). By the way, the band was called Omission, a thrash band from Madrid. That inspired me to write the lyrics for 'Hellputa'. The title is actually based on our feminist song titles 'Angelwhore' and 'Queens Of Sodomy' (laughs), of course with a wink. We are all feminists and honor femininity, but 'Hellputa' for example is about the fact that there are also women who are into something harder and want to be a little submissive and so...that's what the lyrics are about (laughs).
Haha, does your wife know the lyrics?
No, hahaha, she is not so interested in my music anymore.
On the new record you have brought in many influences that you couldn't hear before. Motörhead, Black Sabbath or also AC/DC. How does it come to that?
We are classic heavy metal fans and AC/DC and Motörhead are in our blood, there is no way around it and I think it's great that you can hear that a little bit more on our new record. That's never planned, we don't do a song where we think we're doing it as a tribute to Lemmy or something like that. That comes automatically and one or the other hears that out of the songs. I was really surprised that I've heard twice now that the beginning of Churches Without Saints, the one with the bell, is supposed to sound a lot like "Hells Bells". Then I thought in retrospect that this is actually true (laughs). I also learned to play guitar with AC/DC at that time, mainly I got lessons from James Hetfield by playing Metallica songs, but AC/DC was also there, "Hells Bells" too. I'm not the virtuoso on the guitar, what I play is also repeated relatively often with me and then it happens sometimes that you can hear certain similarities. But I would never steal something 1:1.
I find that "Churches Without Saints" has become a bit unwieldy, not least because of the somewhat convoluted songwriting. The sound is also not exactly something for spoiled ears.
That was intended as well, (laughs) because the last two discs didn't quite match my understanding of sound. That's why I wanted to have a little change there and we completely reoriented and hired a whole new mixer, who also doesn't have that much experience with bigger productions yet. This is our live mixer, Jan Gensheimer is his name, he also mixes Asphyx live, and he also produced the last Metal Inquisitor record ("Panopticon"; M.), which in my opinion also has a good sound. I thought that with him we dare a little experiment and get away from the standard sound of the last years. I think we succeeded very well and it will definitely cause some discussions, because it's not the sound you're used to the last time. But I wanted to get away from that, nowadays everybody records with the same mics and computer programs and it's all such a one-size-fits-all and so clinical that sound. I wanted something more old-school and a warmer sound, not such high mids in the sound and for that I took our Tyrants Of The Netherworld album as a model, because the album was not perfect in sound, but it was something special, dark, dull, boggy. And I wanted to go in that direction again. Whether the average listener, who only listens to such new stuff, will like it, I dare to doubt, but music is a matter of taste, and I don't force anyone to buy our albums. People should buy the albums of bands that need the money to survive at the moment anyway. But I think we have accomplished our mission. Regarding the songs - you said that they are not so catchy. I noticed that in retrospect - we've had more songs that had a catchier chorus, for example. I'm a fan of that too, but our singer Sataniac doesn't like that at all. Take for example the Iron Maiden albums with Blaze Bayley, where he sings the same chorus 1000 times, it annoys him to death, but I have nothing against a catchy chorus, if it's good, it can be repeated 1000 times (laughs), but maybe we have to find a compromise in the future. I also miss a bit the catchy choruses,'Hellputa' and 'Churches Without Saints' have something like that, but otherwise the songs are actually just from the singing not quite so catchy. But that is also a bit intentional, especially from the singer, who is also not into this easy listening music.
You have a new drummer since 2018, Hont. How has he settled into band life? After all, he has a difficult legacy to take over from Stefan.
Exactly. It wasn't easy for us to part with Tormentor /Husky (Stefan Hüskens; M.) back then either, we grew up together and I've known him since he was 15. I raised him with Sodom's mother's milk and then all of a sudden, he plays drums with them. That made me proud too! It wasn't possible to rehearse anymore and Desaster is a band that lives in the rehearsal room. We can't send sound files around and tinker with the songs in Cubase. We have to drink a beer together, talk stupid stuff and that's how the songs are created. Unfortunately, that was no longer feasible. Stefan moved further away for work, and he would have liked to continue and get a session live drummer, which we also found with Hont. Sataniac already knew him from his old band Divine Genocide, where the two had played together back in the early 90s, and so we had Hont. It was Husky's own suggestion, because he couldn't play every Desaster concert anymore. But then we realized that it can't go on like this if you can't rehearse with the actual drummer anymore and it worked out very well with Hont musically and humanly, so at some point we said that our ways have to part. We also shed a few tears and are of course still very good friends with Husky. But your original question was how Hont settled in. He's settled in very well and he's studied Husky's style very well based on the live songs he played with us initially and he knows what rhythms go best with my riffs and still brings in his own elements. He's really a super drummer and can't show everything he's got in Desaster. He didn't get an Echo for nothing with his pop band Jupiter Jones (which was a big German music award; M.). I asked him last if he still has it and uses it as a doorstop like Dave Grohl and he told me he gave it away (laughs)!!! A friend wanted it and he doesn't care about anything like that. That speaks to his character, he's totally down to earth and a cool guy, good hearted and he fits in well.
Meanwhile you see some light at the end of the tunnel of the corona pandemic. Do you already have some concrete plans for next year?
Yes, also for this year already. The next concert, which is planned, is in August. Let's see if it can take place. Last summer they were also a bit more relaxed, and we were able to play a Corona concert in a church in Essen together with Moontowers, my other band and Asphyx, that was pretty awesome. I hope that this year is still possible and next year at the latest all the festivals and concerts should be made up for and there are of course already booked.
If you compare the scene of today with the scene of about 25 years ago, what would you say is the biggest difference?
Good question. I would say that nowadays it seems to be popular to be rather diversified musically, people listen to everything from 70s occult rock to vegan black metal. On the one hand I think it's good when people are tolerant, on the other hand, as a young person I just wasn't (laughs). I only listened to the hardest of the hardest, everything that was softer than Slayer was poser shit, and I wouldn't have touched it with a pair of pliers. For example, something like Scorpions - today I find the old records cool. I'm also going further and further back in time now and would never have dreamed that I now find some things really good even from the Beatles. I'll probably listen to Elvis soon (laughs)!!!
But to come back to the question, I think it's cool on the one hand, on the other hand no one wants to have trouble with anybody anymore. Everyone wants to swim with the mainstream and not piss on anyone's leg and then they just listen to everything. I find that a bit strange, we were structured differently, and the value of music has also changed. You used to idolize albums and listen to them every day. If you didn't like albums, they were listened to until you liked them, and nobody does that anymore. At a party, you didn't have mix stuff, you listened to the whole album and banged through it. That was normal. With "Kill 'em All" or "Reign In Blood" the whole album was played, and nobody complained.
Yeah, Slayer contest singing with buddies!!!
What do you think is better today, what was better back then?
I'm not someone who says that everything was better in the past. One develops further. Of course, I also use modern media and find it interesting. If I read a magazine nowadays and there is a review of a band or I read an interview, I can listen to the music directly on YouTube. This is of course a huge advantage, but on the other hand it also destroys a bit of the mystique that used to surround the bands. As an example: Bathory. There used to be a few promo photos and otherwise you didn't see, hear or read anything about this band. There were a few individual interviews and otherwise nobody knew who this guy is or who this Boss is who produces all of their records. It all came out after the fact that that's the father and he runs the label and so on, we all know the story. But it was all a mystery before, this band Bathory and we idolized the "Blood, Fire, Death" back then. We opened up the gatefold and there was this picture of these guys posing in leather suspenders and swords in their hands and we were very impressed by all that. Just like old Manowar! Awesome guys and then the music - "Odens Ride Over Northland" and so on, we really imagined them running through the Swedish forests and slaughtering some Christians or something like that (laughs)! You don't have that anymore. Today you can see private booze pictures and whatever from every band on Facebook. I think that's too much and that's one of the disadvantages.
How much do you use the internet as a medium for Desaster?
We have a Facebook account and Instagram and stuff like that and of course we use it for promotion, but I'm not someone who spends his free time there all the time to see what people post. Of course, I look at some comments again, but I also do not start crying when someone writes that the new Desaster is shit (laughs)!!! I also sit professionally far too often in front of the crappy screen and that's why I try to avoid that in my spare time and rather go out into nature or sit in front of the record player, I find that more sensibly invested time. In the Corona time you look out of boredom but more often in the social media channels, but I have long resisted to create an account on Facebook. I owe that to Vomitor, who was still playing with Nocturnal that days (now Old, Cruel Force, Nocturnal Witch and Possession; M.). We had planned a Hellbangers concert, and I asked who would make the flyers. He just said: "Flyers! Kuschke, who makes flyers anymore? You have to plan an event on Facebook, you have to advertise there!!!" As a result, I signed up once, even though I resisted that shit for years. I don't have to post every beer I drink or every schnitzel I eat or what I'm doing. I don't care about that with other people either.
Last but not least, what CDs do you have that have found their way into your home lately?
I have to say, I don't buy CDs at all on principle, if I do, it's vinyl. What I found cool is the band Castle, just because of the name. I'm an old Castle fan, but the music also flashed me. Female vocals, but not like a siren song, I liked that. Ambush from Sweden, they played at a festival with us, they have a great song called "Natural Born Killers" and a few other good songs on the new record. And another band I also have on vinyl. You'll laugh now because it's a Christian band, but the singer is really unique and has an awesome voice - Wytch Hazel from England.
The last words are yours!
If you are interested in our new album, you are welcome to listen to it, otherwise you better support with your money the bands that need it and live from it. Otherwise, I hope that we can play live again, we have been to the USA before and that was pretty cool. Maybe we will see each other sometime!
Churches Without Saints
Decayed / Desaster
The Oath Of An Iron Ritual
The Arts Of Destruction
666 - Satan's Soldiers Syndicate
Brazilian Blitzkrieg Blasphemies
Tyrants Of The Netherworld
A Touch Of Medieval Darkness
- Stygian Crown - Funeral For A King - Feb 23
- Smorrah - Welcome To Your Nightmare - Feb 23
- Vincent Crowley - Anthology Of Horror - Feb 23
- Karkosa - Esoterrorcult - Feb 23
- Toxikull - Under The Southern Light - Feb 23
- Anubis - Dark Paradise - Feb 23
- Iron Curtain - Savage Dawn - Feb 23
- Theragon - Lumina - Feb 23
- Dust Bolt - Sound & Fury - Feb 23
- Thorndale - Lightning Spawn - Feb 23
- Stiriah - Portal - Feb 23
- Keres - Homo Homini Lupus - Feb 23
- Fange - Perdition - Feb 23
- They Came From Visions - The Twilight Robes - Feb 23
- Hypoxia - Defiance - Feb 23
- Slaughterror - Endless Lust For Gore - Feb 23
- Borknagar - Fall - Feb 24
- Drain Down - Toxic Society - Feb 29
- Lilla Veneda - Primordial Movements - Feb 29
- Beyrevra - Echoes: Vanished Lore Of Fire - Feb 29