KETZER (EN)

– Hello, thanks for taking your time. How is everything doing right now into the KETZER’s camp? What’s keeping you guys busy?
Chris: Hey Tania! As I am writing these words there are two weeks left until the release of our new album STARLESS, so besides our normal everyday sloth we are really excited for the release and to hold the final result in our hands, also being able to bring it to everyone else. There’s enough to do until then, promoting the album, ordering designs for new merchandise, rehearsing for upcoming gigs and answering interviews, like this one!

 

– You will soon release your new album, “Starless”, which I think is a big step away from your two previous records, in fact the cover artwork already gives a clue on this. Would you mind to elaborate a little bit on its meaning and the link it holds with the album title?
David: The cover represents many aspects of the different lyrics to each song. When you read the lyrics of „Earthborn“ and „When milk runs dry“ you will understand why there could be a woman on the cover. The white cloth wrapped around her head represents the blindness of humanity, may it be voluntary or not. This blindness is depicted in the lyrics to the song “Starless”. We’re not very keen on giving people any one-way interpretations though. Therefore, that piece of white cloth is also a projection surface for everyone who looks at it.

 

– When we interviewed you in support of “Endzeit Metropolis” you stated your music was “very straight and fucking fast heavy metal”, which I think doesn’t apply to “Starless”. So, how could you define now KETZER’s music?
Chris: Many songs on STARLESS are a lot straighter than the songs on ENDZEIT METROPOLIS, if you ask me! Nevertheless, you might be right. However, I don’t think any artist should have to describe his own work, because he views it from an angle that might not be shared by the audience. In other words, maybe we hear the album in a whole other way than many listeners. Having received the first reviews and reactions from fans for an album like this, that doesn’t fully fit into a category (I guess some people would even be offended by calling STARLESS a “black/thrash” album), I realise more and more how different people listen to music and how different they perceive it and value it. So, I don’t want to give an absolute definiton. It still is Heavy Metal though, without a doubt.

 
– The biggest difference compared to your previos album I think are the slower tempos, the tempo changes and more of a Death Metal influence to all the songs. But what do you think differentiates “Starless” from your previous releases?
Marius: I’d say the main difference comes from the musical inspiration we got from jamming as a band together in the rehearsal room a lot. After ENDZEIT METROPOLIS, our focus was playing live. We kinda let the album “breathe”. That time we jammed around as a warmup before rehearsaling a setlist for upcoming concerts. Someone started with a musical idea – or more precisely „musical feeling“, because it was not planned in the forefront – and one by one joined. Sometimes there where these moments where we suddenly looked at each other because of a special atmosphere the music just created. That influenced our way of writing music together. At the same time we forbid us to create songs where we get lost in exhausting jam parts. Therefore we only took the quintessence and worked hard to make the songs on Starless not only atmospheric but accessible and easy to grasp too. You will find some classical Rock-Song structures on our new album.

 

– I found it quite similar to the newest work by Swedes TRIBULATION. Have you embraced newer inspirations?
Chris: Well, you have to keep in mind that the album was years of work, years of experiences and years of ideas. So, having to name the own influences is not an easy task, as there were certainly not any artists in particular we tried to emulate, as we also never did in the past with our first two albums. We listened to a lot of different music, as we always do, and it can’t be denied that anybody who is making music gets influenced in an unconsious way. This includes old music and new music. But, to be honest, I have heard thie comparison to Tribulation for the first time when we released the first song and this connection did not even cross my mind before. So was it a direct influence? Certainly not. But I think there are parallels that are rooted in the fact that we are both bands who don’t limit themselves and we come from a similar background, and thus walked a path that is without a doubt related. But if you really listen to the music you will notice that despite the external parallels the sound and the expression of both bands is essentially different.

 

ketzer– Anyway there’s still really thrashy riffs, Black Metal atmospheres, even certain 70’s Rock and Heavy Metal influences, though they have always been part of your sound I think. So all in all “Starless” is a really diverse album. How important is diversity for you both as interpreters and songrwiters?
Chris: It is not like we would try to implement elements of different genres into our music, but of course your impression is true, as these elements you’re talking about are all part of our identity as fans of music as well as our identity as musicians. After all, our main influences have stayed the same as they always were. Nevertheless, diversity is of course an essential part of the quality of music. You could see varied, diverse music as the opposite of boring music. And who wants to play boring music?

 

– Atmosphere also seems to play an important role on the album. What did you want to convey with it?
Chris: That’s true. We tried to capture the feeling we have in the rehearsal room and live on stage, when we lose ourselves in the moment — playing music together is what we like to do most. During the recording there’s always a risk of a loss of this live atmosphere through all the technical steps. So we simply said, if the feeling of playing live is what we want to have on the album, let’s just play live! First we recorded a demo in late 2014 (from which two songs have been released on 7” EP) live in our rehearsal room. Then we tried to do it just like that when recording STARLESS. We wanted it to sound as alive and authentic as possible, without a fat, compressed sound, samples or even without click tracks. It’s just so much more authentic this way, as you are more likely to hear what we heard when we played it. That’s all.

 

– There’s also two instrumental tracks on the album, which I think they somehow help setting/unheacing the overall ambience on the album. Was this your purpose? It also feels like they are in that exact place on the tracklist for a reason, am I wrong? As they flow really naturally.
Chris: Well, we certainly felt that they fit really well with the other songs, at least we hoped so when they started to emerge. But actually, no, we did not plan to write a certain number of instrumentals to also add something calm. Marius actually came up with the main parts of those instrumentals some time ago, apart from each other, and we all thought that this might fit well into an album context, but it wasn’t clear yet if they would really get included, as a big part of the album wasn’t even written yet. Also, we finished “Limbo” not until we were in the studio. So it also was some kind of luck that everything fit together in the end so well. But somehow this is how it always worked with our albums. When we have the feeling to have all the songs together to complete an album, we know it! Then all we have to do is book the studio, and the last touch happens when we are recording.

 
– “Starless” is not background music, it’s an album with a lot of details, therefor you really need to pay full attention to it. Nowadays, with easy access to all kind of bands an albums, do you think most people still take their time to listen to a release?
Chris: I really don’t know. It seems that STARLESS is neither an album for the fan that is strictly into old school blackened Thrash Metal, nor for the average Metal guy that wants something brutal and something to headbang to from start to finish. So our new album might first have to find the kind of people that “get” our music and would actually would want to buy the album. That’s the one thing. On the other hand, we always sold our releases through our online-shop and experienced that there were always dedicated people who wanted to support the band by buying their albums and their merch. So, while of course there might be less people in general who buy music, as they can find everything on Spotify, there is still hope, haha!

 

– The album hasn’t been out yet, but the single has been for a while, and I have seen mixed opinions on it. Could you say the overall response is somehow balanced?
Chris: Well, the first rush of feedback mainly consisted of disappointed fans who expected a certain sound which we didn’t seem to deliver, so some of them somehow felt betrayed. We’ve been accused for a lot of hilarious things and even insulted in a very personal way, but somehow that also had a kind of relieving effect. It seems that there was a certain kind of people that saw something in us we never were or never identified with. One should think this must’ve been clear when we released our second album but oh well, I guess now even the last one got it, haha! In contrast to these people, there now comes in a lot of very personal feedback from people who seem to really hear what we wanted to create, and even some of our old fans. That is an especially great thing, as we still stand a 100% behind our first two albums and are proud of everything we have done, so when someone really gets the development we’ve been through and is able to appreciate that, that’s the perfect deal.

 
– As I said earlier, you have been through an obvious musical evolution. Have you gone for a specifical vision you had in mind or has it been something more spontaneous?
C: Marius already described the change in songwriting. This really is the main element that influenced the whole direction of the album, and it really was a pretty spontaneous way of writing music. We did not have any kind of vision before starting the songwriting three years ago. The first song that emerged, “Shaman’s Dance”, was first outlined by Marius, but had a completely different structure and was a completely different song really. By just playing and trying things out spontaneously the whole song changed bit for bit, and really was completely different in the end, or more, it was complete. We quickly noticed how well this way of making music worked, so it was clear that we wrote and completed all the other songs that way. This is another thing, apart from the recording technique, that in our eyes makes STARLESS an unusually authentic piece of music, and maybe you could say that THAT was the vision behind it.

 

– So having crafted such an album, could you say what we hear on “Starless” is your ultimate musical personality? Or is there always room for evolution?
C: No, we would never say that, like we would never have said that after SATAN’S BOUNDARIES UNCHAINED or ENDZEIT METROPOLIS. I think the truth is that these two albums, even our demos before that, now STARLESS, and then everything we will ever do together in the futere, combined, are our ultimate musical personality. And I have no idea how the next album will sound. The essence is that we have always been the same people, the same family, and as long as that’s the case, we will be KETZER and we will make the music we want to do.

 

– In fact this album is coming out almost 4 years after your previous “Endzeit Metropolis” was released. Has this gap of time helped mature the album? When did you start to work on it?
C: Yes, of course it has. There were three years between the first twoo albums and now it’s again been four years. We really didn’t feel the need to rush anything, we would never “force” anything to happen. The songs for a new album come to life when they do. After ENDZEIT METROPOLIS we spent like a year mostly playing life, letting the album breathe, playing the songs live, writing absolutely nothing. We started the songwriting with “Shaman’s Dance”, like I said, in 2013, had maybe the most productive phase in the second half of 2014 and recorded the album in the summer of 2015.

 

– Now there’s a few bands playing a similar style to yours, as TRIBULATION or HORRENDOUS, or the now difunct MORBUS CHRON but; what could you say sets KETZER apart?
C: I think what’s interesting from our perspective is that although all our albums are so different and especially STARLESS has a really different pace and uses different, kinds of “musical tools”, all the songs from all three different albums are fitting so well together. There is a parallel in expression, a vibe or atmosphere that connects all our songs. It’s our identity somehow. When we play live and there is a new song between two songs from 2008 and 2011 it’s like one stream for me and I like that very much. So, come to our shows and see for yourselves!

 

– All this about “Starless” being said; how could you describe it in just 3 words?
Chris: Silence and Sound

 

– Now before we wrap this interview up, and we just got into 2016 , I would like you to tell us what have been your 3 favourite albums of 2015 as well as the worst one.
C: I was really impressed by the young Danish band REVERIE’s debut album called „Bliss“. This record is really something you don’t hear everyday. Of course, because it’s labelled Death Metal and sounds different, it is being compared to TRIBULATION and MORBUS CHRON, but to my ears „Bliss“ stands absolutely by itself. The ketzer 2band’s style is very energetic and wild, with a weird sound and vocals that to me sound like a rabid mixture of VENOM, POSSESSED and THE SEX PISTOLS. Also our good friends from CHAPEL OF DISEASE released their great second album in early 2015, “The Mysterious Ways of Repetetive Art”, old school Death Metal with a very own touch and atmosphere. I also liked the new albums of SULPHUR AEON and GRAVEYARD. As for the worst one, I really don’t know, as I don’t care for bad music.

 

– And finally, what are now your near-future plans?
C: First of all: Release STARLESS! And then, make music, travel around, meet people. That’s of course what it’s all about, to try to bring what the album means to us to the people. “To sing songs of the universe and to play tunes of the spheres”.

 

– That’s all, thank you once more for answering our questions. If you want to add some final words; feel free to do it.
C: Everybody in Spain, we hope to see you again very soon! WE BURN FOREVER!

Tania Giménez
tania@queensofsteel.com

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