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For decades I never really got into death metal, never could endure death metal vocals for a whole CD. In the past year or two I've somehow started to crave brutal vocals a lot more and so I'm discovering a lot of bands (esp. more technical ones) in a genre I know way too little about. Decapitated is a talented band from Poland that caught my attention recently and I was very happy when Dana of Gordeon Music hooked me up with an interview with bassist Martin! After I explained my recent love for some death metal bands and excused myself upfront for any silly questions I might have, we talked about their newest release on Earache, "The Negation", playing death metal on accordeon and I found it extremely interesting to hear a lot about how in Poland music is integrated in their schools and how much they learned about it from age 7!
The new album, "The Negation", is going to be released in a few days, how are the reactions so far?
We've only had reactions from journalists and people from the record label so far, not too much. And I know that a couple of people have downloaded some songs from the internet, because someone has shared our songs on the internet, but you know, all of the reactions were pretty good and people are into it.
I love the album too, but I've just discovered Decapitated and I haven't had a chance to check out your previous albums yet. How would you describe the album compared to your earlier work?
In comparison with the previous one, called "Nihility", it seems more simple, less technical, but that was just how things went and we've created songs in a different way than in the past. The first album called "Winds Of Creation" actually contained a lot of songs from our demo tapes which were not released at all, so that was a really really diverse album. The music is different on every album, we don't want to copy our albums at all and we try to an as different album as possible. But we always try to create a death metal album, that's the most important thing.
So in general it's getting less progressive, less technical?
No, no no, it's not less technical, but we felt that being technical was not the most important element in death metal. The most important thing is music...
To write a good song...
Yeah, that's the most important. A good song is not a song with really fucked stuff and sounds and full of blastbeats, sometimes just single sounds played pretty good can kick ass.
How did the recording of the album go? Did you feel a lot of pressure after the good reviews on the last album?
We felt pressure, but not because of reviews, just because of ourselves. We had to create a better album than the previous ones, so it was that kind of pressure.
Isn't 30 minutes a bit short for a CD nowadays?
Half an hour is pretty normal in death metal, many last half an hour or even less. It's really intense music, so it would be hard for the listener to 70 minutes of such fast, intense music.
I don't have a problem with lengthier albums because I play the albums for like 2 or 3 times in a row ;)
How do you write songs? Do you all participate?
The main composer is our gitarist, Vogg, so he's responsible for the whole material, it's his job, you'd have to ask him ;) What I think about this album: it's quite diverse, we didn't want to do only fast songs, also slow ones as well. I think that's more interesting for the regular listener of metal. An album of only fast songs is just a little boring you know, you can listen to only one of two fasts songs and then you don't need anymore. That's a difference between this album and previous ones: "Nihility" was full of fast songs, there was only one slow one, called "Spheres of Madness".
The lyrics, are they written by Sauron and do you know what his inspiration is?
Yeah. He takes inspiration from many different sources. A little bit of mythology, a little bit of religion, of normal life, what he's seen on television... I don't know what his main inspiration is, but the main concept of the album is, as the title says, "The Negation", It can be understood in many different ways. It depends on the listener, how people read the lyrics you know. In death metal, lyrics are not so important, the music is more important, the vocalist uses his voice as an instrument.
What are your influences in general and what kind of CDs have you been listening to lately?
We are into music for more than 14 years, all of us attended musical schools since we were 7 years old. So we are influenced by many kinds of music, not only metal. We listen to a lot of classical music, jazz, not only metal, not only rock. I personally love Björk, one of the best singers in the world (at least for me hehe!). We are different and even strange beings you know, we are not normal for regular metalfans. Listening to only metal would be boring and we like to be more open-minded.
You said you've been in music schools since you were 7 years old, is that integrated in the Polish elementary schools? Or was it more taking lessons in your spare time?
No, it was normal school and musical school in the same building, we also had mathemetics and all. It was part of the normal elementary school.
Wow, we don't have that here.. (maybe just an hour or so per week).
We had many different classes. We had to sing in a choir, we had to play in jazz bands, we had to play classical instruments. It gave us a lot of experience in music.
A very solid base of well, any knowledge in music...
We played many different instruments. I played piano and classical guitar at school, I've been learning bass by myself, but first I started to learn classical guitar so it was pretty easy for me to start learning bass by myself. Our guitarist never learned guitar at school, he is still doing accordeon now he's studying at the music acadamy! Such a different instrument from a guitar. Our drummer played piano, so he never learned drums at school but it still gave us a lot of experience. We also learned the theory and history of music and many other things. It was all really important for us. We didn't just improve as musicians, we also improved our knowledge of music.
And what do you do with all those skills that you can't use for Decapitated? Other sides projects or any plans for the future for other music?
Death metal is the one kind of music we want to play. We want to be death metal guys, haha! Even when we have side projects it's strictly connected to metal. Except for Vogg, our guitarist, because he's still at the music academy, he has to play classical music on the accordeon. The other guys play death metal and that's what we want to do in the future.
What's the purpose for Vogg to learn accordeon if...
Oh it will be pretty hard to remember why he chose it, because 14 or 15 years ago, I don't know, he was a child then hehe! So I don't know what the reason was.
So you don't know what he specifically wants to do with it?
He could play concerts as a solo musician, he could also become a teacher of accordeon music. But he can't play death metal on the accordeon for sure, haha!
You can try haha! I mean after Apocalyptica anything is possible!
He tried hehe.. but one Apocalytica is enough ;)
But accordeon is very different from cello.
He played some death metal songs on the accordeon, but it sounded at least funny ;)
So that's only something to do in your rehearsal room, not for other people to listen. ;)
No, we don't want him to play death metal on the accordeon, not even in our rehearsal room haha!
Do you rehearse a lot? I believe you guys live in different cities?
Three of our permanent line-up live in the same city, Krakow. It's a pretty old city, lots of old buildings and stuff. Just our drummer lives in our hometown where we all were born.
You moved to Krakow because of the schooling or a better scene?
We all studied in Krakow so we had to move there. I'm going to stay, because it's much more interesting than our small little poor town hehe.
I believe you guys have had the same line-up since the band started? What's your secret?
Yeah, that's true. I don't know, maybe because we've known each other since we were children. Now the band is like 7, 8 years old, but we've known each other for 15, 16 years, pretty long time. We all grew up with the music, going out on concerts, hanging out together, even before we founded the band.
Always interested in the same things.
I don't suppose you can live off the band yet? Can you live off music in general?
If I played disco? Or hip-hop? Perhaps I could, but not from playing death metal. If you start a band and you want to make money then it's just bye-bye. It's not such popular kind of music. If we'd play for most of the year, like 200 shows per year, then we probably could. But now it's impossible. We would like to, we'd like death metal to be the one thing we have to do in life, but now we also have to do other things, like studying.
Do you also give lessons?
I used to give lessons of classical guitar, but now I'm too busy. I'm the only person in the band who has to care about the promotion like doing interviews. And I have to study, I have to go to the concerts, I have to go to rehearsals, so I don't have time for giving lessons.
Are you the only one who does interviews?
Yes, because I'm the only one who can speak english pretty... quite good, haha!
Then it comes in handy to talk to you otherwise I would have a problem! My Polish is non-existing ;)
It's a pretty difficult language for other people. When we started touring and when we were in the Earache office for the first time, we didn't speak English at all and they said, "don't worry, we don't speak Polish as well, so it's OK! ;)", hahaha!
Hehehe! But when you're on tour you learn fast I think.
Of course I learned some English in school, but while touring, being in the States and the UK is the best way to learn English.
About the Polish metal scene: Vader is probably the best known metal band and I guess they opened many doors for the Polish metal scene. How does it feel to be in their shadow, or don't you feel like that at all?
I don't feel that our band is the shadow of Vader, because we try to do something different and have our own way. Of course vader was the first band to open the gate you know, but now we have a lot of bands that deal with record labels - not Polish, but foreign labels - so as the years go by, things are getting better and better. Vader was the pioneer, the first one, but it's pretty normal.
How is the Polish metal scene in general, do you play a lot in your own country?
Actually, we've played more in the UK, than in any town in Poland hehe! We've played in London like 8 or 9 times. The most times we've played in any town in Poland was like 5! But we try to play in Poland as often as possible. We often play single, local shows with local bands, that's great fun.
And you've got another UK tour coming up.
Yeah! In a couple of weeks.
Is the UK a good market for death metal?
I don't know... it is a good market for us, because Earache Records is from the UK. It's the easiest for them to do good promotion in their own country. I think that's why we've toured the UK so often.
Weren't you supposed to tour again in the States with Cannibal Corpse?
Yeah, but we had to cancel, because they didn't release our album in the States until March and the tour was supposed to be in February, so it would've been nonsense to go out to the States before the album was released. We want to go there, but we just have to wait. We will go around July, Alex Webster from Cannibal Corpse emailed me a couple of days ago and said that they're going to tour the States again in July and he would like to play with us.
Very cool! You've already played with a lot of big names, with which bands would you still want to play the most?
Well, we haven't played with Morbid Angel yet, but it's gonna change in a couple of weeks, because we'll play with them in Poland at a Polish metal festival called "Metalmania". We've always wanted to play with Morbid Angel. And, well.. we've played with Slayer, with Ozzy Osbourne, Tool, Nile, Krisiun (we would like to tour with them again) and many many other great bands. When we can play as often as possible, it's not so important with whom we play. We haven't played with Cannibal Corpse yet, but that's going to happen around the summer.
How do fans of the bigger bands react to you, I'm sure that you guys blow a lot of those bands right off the stage!
I don't know what to say haha! We're just trying to play as good as we can and do our best, that's all. We always try to be prepared 100% when we go on tour, or play any show, or go into the studio. Practising is the secret!
I wish you lots of success with the album and the upcoming tour. Do you have any last message for our readers?
I hope we'll play in Germany soon, we've played in your country many times, next time I hope you're gonna be more crazy!
(Actually, I'm from Holland and we have readers from everywhere, but I'll be there with flying colors first chance I have :))
submitted by Marlies 20.04.2004