Kreator Ready for First-Ever India Show
German thrash metallers also release their 13th studio album on June 1st
It’s been a long day of interviews for Kreator frontman Miland “Mille” Petrozza as the band get ready to release their 13th studio album Phantom Antichrist. “I’ve done about five interviews and I have about 10 more to go, and about three more days of this,” he says when he comes on the phone. As part of their album promotion tour, the band will play their first show in India. Kreator, along with fellow Germans Suidakra (who replaced IcedÂ Earth after they dropped out of the festival citing visa issues) headline the first-ever Bangalore Open Air festival on June 16th. Here Petrozza talks about their new album, their setlist for theIndia gig and growing comfortable in their skin as a thrash metal band.
Your new album was in writing and recording for almost a year, hasn’t it?
Yes, we’ve been working on this album for a long time. We started working at the beginning of 2011 and went into the studio at the beginning of 2012. It’s been a while writing and recording this album.
Was any of this written on the road or did you just take a year off to write it?
We basically took a year off. We played a couple of festivals in the summer but we went straight from the festivals back toGermanyand back into our rehearsal space. We only played 10 festivals or something last year and for us, that’s not much. We haven’t toured, we’ve just had weekend shows and festivals.
You recorded your last album Hordes of Chaos pretty organically, on analog tapes and vintage equipment. Did you do something similar with Phantom Antichrist?
Yes, we did. We used Seventies vintage equipment for the recording, stuff like ancient outboard gear. And we recorded the music in a live situation. But the difference between this and Hordes is that for the Hordes of Chaos sessions we kept everything that we recorded when we did the basic tracks. We only added melodies and solo guitar and vocals. For Phantom Antichrist, we only kept the drums and the bass so the foundation is very much like a live band, with overdubs of course. But even for that, we used a lot of vintage equipment. We used a lot of guitars from the Seventies and even older amps. It was really good.
What was the idea behind going back to vintage equipment?
I think it sounds better and no matter what, you cannot replace that sound, especially guitars. If you have guitars that are 20-30 years old or even older than that, it has history. The wood sounds different and there’s a certain soul in those instruments. We wanted to make it a real record in an old-fashioned sense. For that we needed something unique and different from other thrash metal bands. We wanted to go down that path and not compromise on the sound. Sometimes you hear up to four to five different guitar sounds and different guitars on one song and that legends.
What were some of the themes that went into Phantom Antichrist? A lot of the songs, like “Dead to the World,” “From Flood into Fire,” “Civilisations Collapse,” seem to indicate more of an apocalyptic bent than your older albums. Is the apocalypse on your mind a lot?
It is, yes. Well, in a way. We’re in the year 2012; the year the Mayan Calendar ends [laughs]. I’m not a believer of that. I think we’ve always had this in our music. We’ve always had this in our lyrics, we more or less always wrote about the dark side of life and it’s just obvious that in the year 2012 you hear a Kreator album that talks about the apocalypse a lot. But, if you check out the new video that we put out for Phantom Antichrist, it takes place in the middle of nuclear war or something and people are waiting for the arrival of the antichrist. In the end, you can see the little children taking off their gas masks. For us it’s simple, it’s a metaphor for hope. The world is in a bad condition, but I think what we should do as members of the human race, we should try to make things better. Rather than sitting at home and crying about how bad the world is let’s try and change it and make it better and raise awareness and move towards things that are right.
It sounds very positive, as opposed to what the imagery and the album theme indicates.
Well, yes. I really like to do that because I like the inherent contradictions. That is what it’s all about. It’s about metaphors and things not being what they seem to be. That’s always been a huge part in Kreator. People will only see the title Phantom Antichrist and think, “Oh this has to be a satanic record or something.” But we’re very far away from being satanic; we’re not a religious band at all. We talk about religion, but I don’t care what anyone believes in. To me, I have my own belief and my own viewpoint. I’m talking about how I see the world and it’s just an offer for people to check it out. You can enjoy it by taking a close look at the lyrics or you can just enjoy the music and whatever you’re happy with. We don’t want to be in a position where we tell people what to think, we just tell people what we think.
Over your career, you’ve experimented considerably with your sound. You’ve done everything from industrial to ambient to straight-up thrash. What was the mindset in the band when you came back to your thrash roots on Violent Revolution?
We started this band as teenagers. We’d never had the chance to expand or find our own position in music in general. Being a genre band sometimes is really limiting. It’s like a dogma put on the music ”“ you have to be thrash, you have to be this, you have to be that. We just wanted to break away from that. When we wrote Renewal , we were hundred percent convinced that this is how we should have sounded at that time. And when I go back to these albums ”“ especially Renewal and Endorama , which are the two albums that people would go: “This is so different, I can’t listen to this anymore” ”“ I mean, it’s never in your hands. You can write the best thrash metal album and nobody gives a shit and you can write an album like this and suddenly everyone cares. You just have to try to be yourself. And I think the mindset at the time that we wrote these albums was we wanted to be ourselves. This is how we sound in ’92 and ’99. For that matter I’m really happy with those albums.
Are you comfortable in your skin now as a thrash metal band? Would you consider experimenting again?
When you hear the new album you’ll see. I mean there’s a lot of experimental stuff on the album without being experimental, if you know what I mean. A lot of people have this thing that as soon you add a different instrument to the band’s sound, that’s when you start experimenting. For example when the Beatles did the White Album back in the day, they were doing all kinds of orchestral stuff, like whatever they felt happy with. And this is to me like the ultimate experiment ”“ with Kreator we’ve found a niche for ourselves where we can definitely experiment without being experimental and without removing our identities. And this is very important to me.
The thing is, there was a time when being in a band for more than five years made you an old band. Nowadays, when you’re around for more than 10 years, you’re a classic band, but that turns into something positive to some people. A lot of our fans weren’t even born when we started and that we’ve crossed over is great, because, when we started the band, most of our audience was older than us, Â like I said we were teenagers, and nowadays lot of our audience is younger than us, which is great. For that matter, I couldn’t be happier with the way things are going with this band.
You make your first trip to India this month. Was India on your tour map at all?
We know that we have a lot of fans there and we were waiting for the right moment to play our first show there and we had to find the right people to work with, because we wanted to make this a special event for everyone who comes to the show. So it took us a while but we finally get to go there, which is great.
So you were offered shows in India before this?
Many times. But it’s always like a little tricky, everything has to be right. We want people inIndiato get the same show as the people in Europe. We don’t want to compromise on the sound, we don’t want to compromise on the lights so everything has to be right.Â
And what kind of setlist can fans expect?
For India, we’ll do a special more old-school setlist because we’ve never played there. We’ll play some new songs because our album will be out for a couple of weeks then when we come toIndia, so we’ll play one or two new songs. But yeah, we’re looking forward to it.Â