Let the Mayhem Begin.... Sami Speaks out
Kreator are no strangers to the metal scene, having been around since the early 80's and having successfully released 14 albums to date, this band from Essen Germany have become the Demi-Gods of German metal, along side Destruction and Sodom, have created some of the must influential metal music around. Since the beginning of the bands career with 'Endless Pain' in 85, the band have gone from strength to strength and have also experimented with such albums as 'Renewal', before heading back to their brutal ways that we have come to love.
When you think of Kreator you automatically think of brutal Thrash metal and this is what you get with Kreator, Millie and Ventor are the only 2 original members but have been joined by guitarist Sami Yli Sirnio and bassist Christian Giesler in the last decade or more. With the band just released their new stunnign and must brutal albums since 'Pleasure to Kill' entitled 'Gods of Violence' through Nuclear Blast this is one hell of a great album.
I managed to catch up with them in Manchester a couple of weeks ago and I met up with Sami about the new album and how the tour is going. Here is what he had to say.
Looking back at you're career with Kreator which would you say is you're favourite album with the band?
"Well you know how it is, as a musician the new one always feels the best because it is fresh and exciting and this is how it is this time around and the tour for this album has been going really well so far. Well as far as a favourite, it is always difficult to analyze because you are always very close to the music and there are tones of demos you always record so it is difficult to analyze it until you get the final mix of the album. The new album I have listened too it for a couple of weeks and after that no more.
I like the debut album 'Endless Pain' because it has a raw energy and you can hear that the guys are really trying on that record, and there are some cool songs on that record. I also like the album 'Coma of Souls', as we still play some of those songs live. As for the albums I play on I don't have a favourite."
I remember last time I interviewed you we talked about you're old band 'Waltari', are they still going?
"Well I am not with the live line-up anymore, and last October 2016 we had a 30th anniversary gig in Helsinki (Finland) at a club show with old members and it was fun. The singer has a solo career and singings in Finnish. I still live in Helsinki."
Do you find it hard to rehearse with Kreator when you live in Finland? W
"No it's not difficult, there's plenty of slight to Dussuldorf ever day and the band are based in Essen (Germany) and they still have the same rehearsal room when they 1st started out. It is small and shitty but it's got the vibe. I think it's also laziness to move to new rehearsal studio. For the last album before this I spent 2 wks in the studio working stuff out and then I flew home, this went on for a period of time."
Do you have any side projects besides Kreator?
"I have a band called 'Barron Earth', it is the band that features the old Amorphis bassist and Moon Sorrow drummer and guitarist and we play Progressive Death Metal, it has that 70's influence and we have recorded 4 albums so far. They were released on Peaceville Records and the new album is released on Century Media.
There is another band called 'Jimson Weed' back from the 90's and we have recorded an album that we recorded 15 yrs ago, but the singer back then disappeared and now he has come back to the band. It is Stoner Rock before the word was invented (laughing)."
Just how long have you been with Kreator now?
"Well long enough, about 16yrs so far and in the 90's I lived in Germany for a little while and Tommy Vetterli who was in the band at one time had hurt his hand and the band asked me to fill in for a few festival in 97 and at some point he decided to quit the band and I don't know why? They asked me because they knew I could play a set list. I love that kind of music."
How do you see Kreator as a band before you joined them? I always see them and the German Demi-Gods of Thrash.
"When you think about the albums like 'Renewal', the guys wanted to do something different and they didn't want to keep on repeating themselves and with the band releasing so many albums in the past they just wanted to keep it fresh."
Moving on let's talk about the new album 'Gods of Violence', who came up with the album title and what other ideas did you have for the title?
"Well that was the 1st song on the new album were Millie sent the 1st demo to us back in 2014 and he came up with the title and after that demos were going back and forth with different ideas to each other and so did everybody else in the band. Millie did demos with his friend were the drums were programmed already and the structures were more clear. It is always very difficult to make a new album as you may know because they come out of nothing.
(Ed: Do you come up with any ideas on tour for new songs?) Well on tour there is not a lot of writing going on but we do have a rehearsal going on as we have a electric drum kit in our dressing room, but it's more for Ventor to warm up. We had no other titles for the album."
Tell me a little bit abut the album cover please.
"Well the album cover was done by Jan Meininghaus and I wasn't really in contact with him, but I do know that he heard the demos so it became an inspiration for him. He came up with 2 ideas for the album which we both ended up using and there were 2 piece of artwork that the U.S. office thought would be repercussions so we didn't use them. I feel the artwork for the album is great, we are very happy with the end results and it is very Kreator like and very metal."
How long did it take to record the new album with Jens Borgen?
"Well I wouldn't know where to start counting to be honest. If you think of demos, there were rough demos from Millie some from other members of the band and rehearsing and then making a demo in Essen (Germany) with our friend Parris who does out monitors. I think been in the studio with Jens must of been 5-6 weeks. We are totally happy with the end results of the album, that is why we went back to him after the last album and now we know him a little better we feel more comfortable working with him. I think he has started to become a member of the Kreator family."
Did the album feature any guest musicians on the album?
"Yes there were some guest spots on the album, we had this Italian guy helping us out forma band called 'Godflesh Apocalypse' , he did the programming on the intros for the album with the orchestral parts for the record. They are samples but very real and as they turned out so good they became intros for the album.
We have one song called 'Hail to the Hordes' which kind of sound Scottish so we had the idea that we should have somebody play bag pipes on it. We had a friend of our from the band 'In Extremo' who played the bag pipes and I think it would of been louder in the end mix."
Have you approached other producers like Andy Sneap?
"Well we have worked with Andy in the past, we did 2 albums with him and they were great, he is a great producer too. We decided to work with Jens as we thought he might being in some fresh ideas and it made the attitude somewhat different."
I guess Millie writes all the lyrics, do you have any idea what the songs on the new album are about?
"Yes I have some ideas (laughing), if you take the song 'Satan in Real' for instance, the producer was like 'You can't call a song that!' It's like living in 2017 and you go back to your youth in the 90's you would of never of thought that religion would still be so important to some people in 2017. In medieval times people thought Satan was real. There are a bunch of themes on this record like 'World War Now', which is about questioning if we are actually living in a war world now, when you think of terrorist attacks in Europe and stuff like that. Two days about we played in Paris where that attack took place and we had to play as you can't let these type of people ruin your life, you must go on!!"
Moving on, let's talk about the new video 'Totalitarian Terror', how the hell did you get away with the making of this video, it's kind of set around WW2 and it's pretty gruesome."
"Well it is only shown on You Tube anyway and it is not very likely that it will be shown anywhere else. (Ed: It kind of reminds me of a Slayer video). There done by a group in Poland called 'Group 13' and there are not many companies that make metal videos but they still do and they did a great job. We started talking about the concept for the video and we haven't received any hate mail yet with regards to the video. I think the videos from this new album explain themselves. When that video was made I was concerned that somebody may misunderstand it especially with it been a German band, but I don't think anybody did because most people that have followed the band will know that they are not nazi's.
Millie does watch a lot of horror films so he gets his inspirations from watching them and after watching them they kind of speak to him and so he gets ideas form the films. It's like the song 'Death becomes my Light' is about a near death experience and maybe not see in it as a positive thing but a natural cycle of life and accepting it and it is a common theme in metal (laughing)."
Are you releasing any more promo videos for this album?
"Well we did one for 'Fallen Brother' for fallen brothers as musicians."
Do you have any favourite songs form the new album?
"Well I don't really, but we are doing 6 songs live from the new album."
How well is the tour going so far with 3 support bands?
"So far it has been excellent, we were in the German charts at #1 so we have moved some of the shows to bigger venues. We have 7 more shows here then a show in Moscow and then a week off, after which we will be in the U.S. with Obituary."
Do you have any plans to record yet another live DVD during this tour?
"I am not sure, I think with the release of the new album with the live Wacken DVD it might be some time before we think about a new DVD."
I guess the band are happy with Nuclear Blast?
"Yes we are very happy with them. They know how to promote a band."
Well thanks for the interview Sami, best of luck with the tour and the album sales. Do you have anything to say to the fans reading this?
"Yes thank you for the interview, I hope you all like the album and come and see us live."
Thanx to Nuclear Blast UK for their support and interview set up.