-Hello, thanks for taking your time, how are you holding up during this pandemic, almost dystopian times? Did this affect the release of your newest album in any way?
We’re all doing as well as we can, we’re all still able to keep our jobs and sanity for the most part, so things could be worse. It’s hard times for everyone and it’s a weird situation to be in, but we’re all in this together. The pandemic did push back the release of “Aldrig i livet” as it was originally intended to have been released in July, where we had scheduled a small US East Coast tour to promote it as well, alongside our fiends in Pissgrave and Mephitic Corpse. Everything got pushed back further and further and eventually it became a December release and almost felt like old news for us once it was out, haha.
-In fact you have even played some shows during this pandemic. How did everything go?
Denmark tightened the grip around the pandemic quite early on when the seriousness of the virus showed its face, so it was already in March that everything closed down and people were send home to work, so it was rather contained in a small manner early on. At least in a way where our hospital system could keep up with everything, not to say that things were great, but the country was able to keep the numbers at a level where the healthcare system could attend those needing help, at least with the information given to the public. Because of that, in summer it was then again possible for live events to take place, at least in various degrees with restrictions, so I got contacted by a venue called Pumpehuset, who I have a work relationship with through my label and concert activities with Extremely Rotten Productions, and they offered me to do a show in July at their outdoor stage. So that was the first of the restricted Corona shows we did with Undergang, at this gig I set up their alongside our fiends in Deiquisitor. The show had sitting audience and a limit of 200 people attending, so there would be the recommended space between all people there. It worked out fine and fun and once you got passed that the audience were sitting a tables in front of the stage and around the area, it wasn’t all that weird, honestly. But that’s just to me. A lot of the time the Danish audience we have a live shows aren’t necessarily moshing around all the time either, so instead of having people standing up to the side with crossed arms, they were now sitting down in front of the stage with a beer in hand instead, haha. In late September we then also had a live show at a suburban library, which originally should have taken place back in April, but got moved due to the virus and the restrictions at that time, and at that show I had set up a billing consisting of Ascendency, Chaotian and Undergang. Only 50 people were allowed to attend their, due the restrictions for live event having gotten a bit tighter by that point, so it was a fairly intimate show. And in a library setting, haha. Then moving on to November, I had gotten the option of making a bit of a Copenhagen death metal showcase and we made a road trip with a handful of our bands from here going over to the western part of the country in Aarhus, to do a show at the venue Atlas where there was a capacity around the restrictions for maybe 100-150 people in the audience, all sitting down at chairs in front of the stage in the big hall, with shows from Deiquisitor, Strychnos, Chaotian and Undergang. In a time where we can’t travel and play shows, this was a fun experience to go back to a little bit of what we usually do every month, even if it was only a few hours’ drive each way.
Finally we had our release party for “Aldrig i livet” on the official release date for the album on December 4th taking place at the same local venue Pumpehuset, where we also had local bands Dead Void and Septage playing. There was a 150 people capacity at that show and the venue had made long tables and benches through the hall, must like what you’d see at a beer festival, and then a couple of rows of chairs in front of the stage for those in attendance that wanted to be a bit closer to the stage. It was a fun time and we had a second date arranged on December 19th, as the show on the 4th had sold out and there was a growing interest in it, but due to the restrictions changing as the numbers of people catching the virus in Denmark increased in the beginning of December, that show had to be cancelled and currently we’re not longer in position to do live shows in Denmark during the pandemic for now.
-5 albums in and, still keeping your core, each one of them is pretty distinct so, how would you compare “Aldrig I Livet” to your previous releases?
As a natural progression from “Misantropologi” in a lot of ways. The obvious change is the new line-up since our last album and the extra playful guitars now that we had a second guitar player in the band, who is not afraid to arrange harmonies and do leads. Both our newer members Mads Haarløv (lead guitar and backing vocals) and Martin Leth Andersen (bass and backing vocals) have brought a lot of positive things to the band with them and I feel like our 4 piece unit now makes the band a bit more whole than we’ve been before, with everything helping out with things, which is a lot more fun for me too, having been the one mainly carrying the weight of the band in the past.
Besides that “Aldrig i livet” brings more of what you expect from Undergang to the table, trying to make it a fun listening experience with a bit of varied death metal offering both shorter grinding songs, the mid tempo melters and the gloomier doomy songs and sections too. All the things I like playing in death metal.
-What did the addition of having new members bring to this album? Is it easy to keep your trademarks with new blood on board?
Both Mads and Martin have been very respectful and embracing of what Undergang is and already was when they joined and I think what they bring to the table of both music, lyrics and personality is very fitting and it’s a good little group of people we are now. About half of the songs on “Aldrig i livet” has the base of the music written by Mads and I think it all sounds perfectly natural for Undergang in its 12th year of existence.
-Was everyone part of the songwriting? How did you work on this process?
The songs for the album were written between 2018 and 2019 and we started the recordings in October 2019. Usually either Mads or I will have riffs and an idea to the structure of a song ready and present it at rehearsal, where we then together patch it up and make a song out of it. Sometimes songs are created in the rehearsal room and it’s open for everyone to join in with ideas, though the one with the foundation of the song usually has a bit more of a say as to what works the best for the basic vision of the song. Besides the music then both Martin and Mads wrote lyrics for some of the songs too and they both do a bit of vocals on various songs throughout the album, something I hope to be a bit better and arranging and embracing better on future releases, as I didn’t manage to give them as much room for doing their vocals on the album, more backing vocals except for a few places. Both of them have been singing in their other bands in the past and present and are brutal vocalists, so it would be a shame not to try to include that in Undergang as well.
-Once more you did the art yourself. The cover artwork this time reminded me to a scene in “Evil Dead 2”. Was this an inspiration?
Absolutely, pretty much the sole centre of the portrayal in the scenario unfolding in the cover is based on a certain scene from Evil Dead too. When we settled on the name for the album, already having that as the song title for the instrumental track “Aldrig i livet” before deciding finally to use that for the album title too, we were discussing what could make sense for the visuals to go with that. “Aldrig i livet” is a Danish saying which roughly is similar to the English “Over my dead body”, so we wanted it to be a bit of the familiar Undergang take on things with death being the escape of pain/depression/life. Anders suggested basing it on the scene in Evil Dead 2 where Ash’s reflection comes to lfie and grabs him, but instead having the reflection cut his own throat. So I went with that and eventually added some extra elements in the mirror around the character in centre, to show a bit of the demos torturing him, which is also portrayed rather similar to the art seen on our debut album “Indhentet af døden”, created by our late friend Jonas Bjerg (R.I.P.). I didn’t try to cover the Evil Dead inspiration for it either and painted up his shirt blue and the hair black as well, thinking it might be something horror fiends alike would appreciate.
-And what does the cover represent in the context of the album? What’s the link to some of the lyrics/themes on the record?
As I already moved in on above, the album title is shared with the instrumental song off the album. Not that that song meant anything above the rest, it just had gotten a name that we collectively decided was the most fitting for the album too, when we were trying to come up with a suitable title. Besides its tongue in cheek nature of it, it’s also a nod to our “Døden” trilogy as this album has the word for “life” in it over death. But don’t expect a new trilogy based on life instead, haha.
The lyrics over all are the same as usual and I do take a bit of pride in writing decent lyrics that are a bit entertaining with it’s over the top violence and morbidity. Something which of course gets lost on the international listeners, but an important factor to us none the less. I always loved the extreme and almost teasing nature of the brutality covered in dark humour from band such as Carcass and Autopsy, so I always wanted a bit of that included too. Making over the top gory and morbid lyrics without any kind of humour to it too also would seem weird, as it’s not like it’s in any way attempted glorified or whatever. Just a disgusting and extreme lyrical packaging around the swollen mass of sonic putridity.
-Talking about this, what are your non-musical influences?
A curious, unhealthy interest in all things macabre, horror movies/comics and the brutal reality of the world we live in. Lots of things surrounding us can be an influence.
-Death (as a topic) is very present on the album. What is “death” in the universe of UNDERGANG?
Pretty much everything when it comes to Undergang, I’d say. The darkness surrounding death, the uncertainty of what comes with it, or doesn’t, is all interesting factors that is attempted brought into both the lyrics and music to some degree. I want death metal to be about and around death and most of it is a packaging to the music. But most of all, deep down we’re a rock band. A very extreme and brutal kind of rock band, but none the less still following the basics of the foundation of a rock band both in practical ways and in ways of composing. We just present it with lower tuned instruments, gross vocals and a more extreme delivery.
-All this about “Aldrig I Livet” being said; how would you describe it in just 3 words?
Fæl rådden død.
-Besides playing in several bands you make art, have a shop and record label, you have organised shows… As a real “insider”, what are the pros and cons of this general interest there’s now for traditional Death Metal?
The current higher interest and support of underground death metal is hard to not appreciate, as both my bands and my label work and concerts all benefit from it, but at the same time it has also brought a lot of newcomers with it that for some reason act like some weird elitists and want to introduce their own outside perspective and changes to death metal, which I am not very fond of. But for the most part you can choose to ignore those people or bands and just not really deal with it that way and then its fine. Death metal has been popular on and off for as long as I have been into it and you know that is keeps coming in waves, with both good and bad things coming along. The genre is what I love and spend most of my time dedicated to and I will continue doing so no matter what support there are to it. Those who enjoy it will be a part of it and those that don’t will eventually move on anyway. The ones shouting the loudest are usually the ones that have the last to show and contribute with and they’ll eventually disappear.
But for now it has also meant that we can play more and bigger shows and for bigger audiences, which is what most musicians want and we’re no different than that. So nothing is worse than it’s good for something.
-As other bands from Copenhagen, you’re using the “Kill Town Death Metal” tagline, I guess it was born derived from K-Town. Are the Punk and Metal scenes in Copenhagen somehow “mixed”?
The tag Kill-Town Death Metal was created by Undergang and is indeed a play on the local punk scene describing their Copenhagen origin as K-Town. All of us original 3 members of Undergang had been involved in the local punk scene in various degrees prior to starting the band, Anders still playing in a punk band besides Undergang these years too, so when we started out playing with Undergang, the metal scene didn’t really like what we did, so we also mainly played with punk bands and at punk venues for the most part of the first years we were active. Anders was the one that came up with Kill-Town, when we were trying to come up with some moniker for the geographical origin on the band and I then started calling what we played for Kill-Town Death Metal, much inspired by Mortician and the New York Death Metal tag they created. In the beginning I hoped for more bands to rise and that we could make our own little scene, but besides Mold (which only existed for a few years around 2011-13 or so) it never really took off. I did come up with the name to the festival Kill-Town Death Fest too, when I was a part of founding that and a part of its activities between 2010-14 + 18, but I will not be associated with that and their backstabbing ways anymore.
The punk and metal scene isn’t really that much mixed here, but there are people into both genres and playing in bands of both genres and attending shows of the other genre, but I don’t think the overall “scene” as such is very mixed. There aren’t really much or a scene either, more just individual cliques it seems to me. Which is fine, I try to just deal with what is around me and what my friends are doing and for that there is plenty of fun going on too.
-In fact in your city seems to have a pretty strong underground scene. Are there any Metal bands we could have missed on that you’d recommend?
I tend to just deal with death metal and for that we do have a good amount of interesting bands. I’d recommend checking out death metal bands such as Deiquisitor, Chaotian, Taphos, Strychnos, Ascendency, Septage, Dead Void and Phrenelith.
-And before we wrap this interview up; what are now your near-future plans? Even though I know these are very uncertain times.
It’s hard to say much on the live front, but we’ll have some various new releases out in 2021, if all goes well. We’ve already recorded for 2 split LP’s with some friends bands and we have a new exclusive song for an international death metal compilation LP/CD coming out sometime this year too. The splits should hopefully come out on either side of the summer and we’ll announce more about both from our social media pages, when the time is right.
Other than that we’ll work on some more music which will likely be for 2022, as I don’t want to release too much in one year, but rather give each release time to breathe and stand on its own.
Once the temporary end of the world is over, we look forward to travelling and playing in other countries again and finally be able to play some more songs off “Aldrig i livet” to people interested.
-That’s all from our side, thanks again for your time. If you’d like to add some final words, feel free to do it.
Thank you for writing this interview and for the interest in our band, I guess a lot has happened since our last interview with the Queens of Steel. Thanks for helping to spread the word of Undergang and thank you to the readers for making it this far, hopefully you found out something new about our band and if not already familiar, found interest in trying to check out what we do. For now all of our music can be found and heard on our Bandcamp.
Support underground death metal, read zines and buy the releases and merch off the bands and label you like, during the pandemic it’s the only way to help the artists who can’t otherwise promote and share their craft with you.
Floating in mucous,
- DM / UG