Crematory - Interview
Who would think that after their two most successful albums "Act Seven" and "Believe" Crematory would call it a day and split up? After 10 albums in 10 years and hundreds of concerts, in 4 weeks one of the greatest gothic bands will become history. Yesterday I had the pleasure to talk to Harald (bass) and Markus (drums) about the reasons, band's history and what's in store for the future. Having the last chance for chatting with these guys I even straightened out the copyrights on Crematory's 'The Fallen' and Century's 'High and Low', finally. So, here it is for the last time, Crematory, undeniably already a legend in metal gothic circles that forever will be remembered and never forgotten.
Why we decided to split up? Well... I mean there are several reasons for us to finish with Crematory. One reason is that we have to look after our private lives. We are like thirty something right now and we just did Crematory for 100% in the last 10 years and Crematory is the band that you can't do by 50% or 60%. We just thought that now is the time to manage our private lives and we don't want to live on social security by the age of forty so it's just the time to rearrange our lives. Another reason is that some of our members have some health problems like I have problems with my right arm and if I don't take care of that, it's possible that I can't even touch a bass anymore. Those are the main reasons that we split up but there are several others like, actually we got with Crematory much further than we expected when we started the band. It's a pity to say, but we don't get much acceptance by MTV or our national radio channels and major media. And we think that without the support from big businesses it's very hard to succeed in the current market. We also think that there are no goals for us to achieve for us in the future and we've gone as far as we could. So, when I look back we've made little by little steps, always sold more records, did more touring and now we want to leave on a high point of our careers. We wanted to leave in dignity and grace.
But when I found out about it I had really mixed feelings... On one side I can agree with you on some points you mentioned but on the other hand your last two records are the best selling albums in your discography and you even entered the music charts on unusually high positions for a metal band. Basically I can't understand why you would quit at your best?
Yeah, you're right but we think it's the best point to quit. It doesn't make sense to go on the tour and play in front of 400 people cause that's ungrateful, that has no dignity. So, we thought it would be the best time to say good-bye when we are at the top of our careers. Crematory in a way is cult and we want to stay cult for our fans. They should remember Crematory as it was, not as a bunch of old farts going out and playing old shit. [laughs]
You parted ways with fans with few big festivals like With Full Force and Wacken Open Air. What was the fan reaction to your last shows?
It was great. Of course our fans are sad that we're leaving but I think in some ways they understand our reasons for that decision. Those were a hell of a live show and the crowd was just gorgeous and that's the way I think it should be. I mean I don't want to see any sad faces on our last shows I just want some kicking ass shows and those two festivals were just great. Actually we said we can't do a farewell tour cause that would be a complete rip off of our fans. It would be like "all right, we leave but we'll do 30 shows tour throughout Germany" that would be a rip off. But then a lot of people said "we want to see you one last time" and then we made the decision that by the release of "Remind" we'll do 10 big shows, festivals. The crowd is just great going out for the last time.
How did you feel walking down the stage? Did you have any second thoughts about quitting?
Well...[big pause] that's a good question... OK, when we said we'd leave, it was just like a big relief. But when you see this huge crowd, they are cheering you out and they want you to keep performing it will make you feel in a saddest ways... but in a certain ways it's a good feeling having that recognition on that what you're doing... We just tried to enjoy those show the best way we could.
Anyway, I don't believe you won't be doing any music from now on. What are your future plans?
We all have something in our spare time. Markus is doing Century, which is more wave-gothic style and Felix is doing a bit of grind-core and death metal style and I'm thinking about doing some stuff with my old guy. We'll see what the future turns out to be. Actually, there is no anger about splitting up, we were close friends, we are close friends and we'll stay close friends in the future. Maybe we'll meet in a rehearsal room some day in a next few months and just jam some Crematory tunes, walking a bit a memory lane for ourselves, but to destroy all rumors there are no reunion plans as of now. But never say never, maybe in two, three, four or five years, I don't know, maybe we'll say the time is right to put out a new record but right know we don't know what will future bring.
Speaking of Century, have you heard their latest album "Melancholia"?
Yeah, sure. ... because I have one question... There is a song 'High and Low' and it's a total rip off of Crematory's 'The Fallen' and there are no credits to Crematory, it even has it's own lyrics... I know Markus plays there... Can someone tell me what is going on here?
[laughs] OK, I'll hand the phone to Markus cause he's a part of Century and he'll probably explain it better. [laughs]
Markus: Hello, it's Markus. How are you? Nice hearing from you...
Hi, this is Chris from metalbite.com. I'm great. Thank you. I have a question about Century, the band you play in.
You know them? Yes, I'm holding a CD in my hand and there is a song called 'High and Low' and it's a complete rip off of Crematory's 'The Fallen'. What can you tell me about this?
[laughs really hard] You are the first man that noticed this. I did over 500 interviews for Century and Crematory and you are the first person that found out that it's the same song. Yes, it is the same song. OK, after Lotte left the band we replaced him with Matthias, our new guitar player and we were looking for a new songwriter. We found one in Gernot, the keyboard player of Century. Gernot and me, we worked together since the "Act Seven" album and we wrote all the songs for Crematory and Century. We wrote 'High and Low' and at first it was for Century but I said I also would like to do this song with Crematory and that's what we did. Felix wrote vocals for Crematory and Michael put on his vocals for Century and it's definitely this same song and you are the first guy who noticed that and brought it up. [laughs] Funny thing... over 500 interviews and no one ever asked me about it. I was waiting for this. [laughs]
Since we are on the Century topic what are the future plans? New record, promo tour...
At the moment it's a little bit difficult because our record company (Drakkar) has some problems with distributor (BMG) here in Germany and they are looking for a new distribution deal. In four weeks we'll start writing a new material and new album should be released around January 2003 but everything depends on the situation with our record company.
Officially, this is the last time we'll speak so I'd like to take the moment and go through Crematory's history a little. It's 1995, you record 'Tears Of Time' I guess it's the most important point in band's career...
Yes, I agree with you. I think the 'Tears Of Time' was the most important song we ever wrote because "Illusions" and especially 'Tears Of Time' was the big break for us. This track made hundreds of gothic, wave, and samplers' compilations all over the world.
Than few months later you follow up with the German only self-titled "Crematory" which gets a lot of bad press...
The main idea behind the German album, now I can tell you the truth [laughs], was that at this time we had problems with Massacre Records and we wanted to break the contract. So we went to the studio without any idea what to record and within four weeks we wrote the whole material and gave it to them being sure that they won't ever release it and hoping they'd let us go because we already had much better offers from other labels. And they released it. The press was a total disaster but album sold very well and we reached a lot of new fans, especially in German speaking countries.
It seems that German music press doesn't treat its local bands with much respect...
That's true. When you're from Germany you are a second-class band here. For a death or gothic metal band everyone is looking to Scandinavia. When you play some pop-orientated music everyone is looking to England or America. I hated the press here at the time when we released our German album but we said fuck it, fans like it, fans buy it and fans are much more important to us. They are the ones who support the band and come to our concerts not the press who sits at the backstage and drinks our beer. [laughs]
I've heard that last year the best German hard'n'heavy groups were Sweden's Hammerfall, Finland's Nightwish and Brazilian's Soulfly. Unless I missed something not a single member of those bands was even born in Germany...
Yeah. That shows you the exact situation here. We can't understand why being very big in Germany and Europe we don't get any support from the media. Stations only play American or Scandinavian stuff and this was also one of the reasons to quit playing.
End of 1997, Lotte leaves the band... you didn't quit then... I say even more, your next two albums are the best sellers in Crematory's career...
I guess we didn't know we could do better [laughs]. Yeah, he was the main man and author of our music and when we split it was a very hard situation for us because we lost our guitar player and main songwriter. I have a lot of very good contacts here and we tried to look for a guitar player, a man who could sing and who had some songwriting experience. I found Gernot from Century and together we did all songwriting and Matthias' guitar playing brought new influences into the band. I think it was the best that could happen to Crematory.
10 years and you've never toured the US, why?
It's another very disappointing thing. It's a dream of every European band to tour the States and Japan and until now we never got a good offer. We tried many times to get a support tour in the past but unfortunately we never got the chance to do that. Every year with every record we tried to get a tour... it was a big dream of each member but we never got a chance.
Would you do it if you could start Crematory all over again?
Yeah, but a lot of things I would do much better. When I started I was 20 years old and didn't have any idea about music business. Right now I'm doing a lot of management for different bands in Germany and if I knew what I know now ten years ago, we would be much better as a band. If I could turn back the time we would tour the states after our third album cause now I have the contacts... but it's too late now.
Do you regret anything you've done during your last 10 years with the band?
No, not really. Four weeks ago when we played Wacken Open Air in front of 35000 people we saw the tears of our fans when Matthias sang the outro 'Perils of the Winds', even tears of the band's members... It's an unbelievable feeling... It's hard for us too to know that it will be over in four weeks but it's impossible to continue what we did in the last 10 years.
Is there anything special that you the most proud of during those years?
I'm proud of the name Crematory and what we accomplished through those 10 years because there are not many bands that existed for 10 years and had so much success as we had. There are so many bands that rose from underground, released one or two albums and you've never heard of them again. We developed our style with each album, we sold more records with every release and we grow up every year. That's what I'm the most proud of.
And finally, when can we expect an album called "Return"?
Never... it's a shitty title. [laughs] At this time there are no plans for the reunion. We made an agreement with all the members that we'll meet once a month in a practice room and make some jam sessions and play some old tunes. It's possible that during those sessions we'll write some good material and maybe record a new album but at this time I can't promise anything.
We haven't broken the band yet and you are asking for reunion? [laughs] Unbelievable! [laughs] The batteries are empty now and we need to recharge them. We'll see what happen in the future...
Live... At The Out Of The Dark Festivals
- Engulfed - Vengeance Of The Fallen - Dec 07
- Mortiferum - Hyperdontia / Mortiferum - Dec 07
- Hyperdontia - Mortiferum / Hyperdontia - Dec 07
- Horna - Kuoleman Kirjo - Dec 08
- Airborn - Lizard Secrets - Part Two - Age Of Wonder - Dec 10
- Grimgotts - Legends - Dec 11
- The Fallen Prophets - No End In Sight - Dec 11
- Inhalement - Live Resin - Dec 11
- Heretical Sect - Rapturous Flesh Consumed - Dec 11
- The Magik Way - Il Rinato - Dec 11
- Demoniac - So It Goes - Dec 11
- Heads For The Dead - Into The Red - Dec 11
- Fortíð - World Serpent - Dec 11
- Focal Dystonia - Descending (In)Human Flesh - Dec 11
- Fullminator - Omniplasm - Dec 11
- Demonstealer - And This Too Shall Pass - Dec 11
- Folterkammer - Die Lederpredigt - Dec 11
- Wayward Dawn - House Of Mirrors - Dec 11
- Satan's Fall - Final Day - Dec 11
- Mud Factory - The Sins Of Our Fathers - Dec 11