Mille Petrozza of Kreator
Interview and live pictures by Luxi Lahtinen
The German Thrash Metal pioneers Kreator arrived in Finland on the 7th of March, 2005 to do ?Tuska Winter War?. Along for the tour was the Swedish Dark Tranquillity and the headliners Cradle of Filth. That was also the last date of the European leg for Kreator, which the band had already started in the beginning of February 2005. Kreator was about to head to South America to do a bunch of dates there. The ?Enemy of God? tour has been the most successful Kreator tour for them for many years and they have had sold out shows all over Europe. Kreator?s latest album ENEMY OF GOD has also been doing very well in many countries worldwide, climbing up on several album charts lists, so the fans have really appreciated the band?s latest effort.
I met the always friendly Mille from Kreator just 2 hours before the showtime and we basically focused on talking about their ongoing tour, the band?s well-received ENEMY OF GOD album, Thrash Metal revival in todays?s scene as its own single yet strong phenomenon and tried to spell the band?s Finnish quitarist?s, Sami?s last name correctly… ;=)
“HORNS UP…”!! ( Mille / KREATOR )
How?s the tour been going on for you this far? I?ve been reading that quite many of these ?Enemy of God? tour dates have been sold out, so you must be happy that so many people have come to see this tour?
Very good…!! I mean, this has definitely been one of the best tours we have ever played. I?m just getting a little tired right now, but luckily this is the end of the tour and we are going to play our last show tonight, so in that sense I?m doing alright. You know, I got pretty fed up by waiting and just hanging around, but other than that it?s been a great experience for all of us. We have got some really big audiences on this tour and that?s been really great, man. I mean, you get something back, no matter what, y?know, even if touring can be sometimes very hard. But I?m not complaining… I?m just saying it has been a great tour and that?s all that matters, y?know. A lot of people came to our shows and we are really about that.
You have been touring together with Ektomorf, Dark Tranquillity and Hatesphere. How have all 3 these bands been for you as the touring mates anyway?
I like them all. I mean, I think Dark Tranquillity is a real special band, very unique, I?d say. Then we had Ektomorf who, in my opinion, are the most energetic band onstage. And Hatesphere from Denmark, y?know, a very young and new band with just lots of energy. All the bands were good in their own way, so it was definitely great to tour with them.
So you would consider this line-up on the tour kind of an ideal touring package for Kreator?
Yeah, the whole package worked out really good. We had some really great time together.
Last Saturday you played at Klubben in Stockholm? How was the response from your Swedish Kreator ?fans? Was that show sold out as well?
It was alright, it was good… I mean, it was a sold-out show, too. I have to say that the Swedish audience was a little bit distant toward us though. They appreciated the show, but they didn?t really show it, y?know what I?m saying.
Hmm… that?s strange. What?s ?wrong? with those guys anyway?
I don?t know. They were all there, going crazy for a while, but… well, it was somehow very distant toward us. I don?t know what it was. But it was good, but not as good as it was, let?s say, well, you cannot compare it to Barcelona, Spain for example. But the one we did in Stockholm, was still a good show after all.
TUSKA WINTER WAR, Helsinki, Finland 7th of March 2005
Today you are going to have a bit different line-up of bands here in Helsinki. This particular event here in Helsinki has been blessed by such a lovely name as ?Tuska Winter War?, so I guess it?s a bit more ?special? gig for you guys as it?s actually Cradle of Filth that has been booked to be the main headlining act here at Helsinki Ice Hall. How do you feel about the fact you won?t headline tonight, but Cradle of Filth instead?
To me it doesn?t matter personally at all. You know, for me it?s not like with whom we are playing and in which order – it?s always about ?us?. When we go to the stage, it?s what matters to us and it doesn?t matter who is playing after us, man. It just doesn?t matter… at all! And it shouldn?t be like this way. To me it?s always like a matter of like ?the moment?. When you go to the stage, either your band destroys the place ? or leave it for the headlining act to do, y?know. It really depends on you and how do you feel when you go out and play for your audience.
Because you are not headlining today, I bet you guys were obviously forced to shorten you own set list a bit?
Yes, but only like a half hour. We were playing like 1,25 hour sets during our headline tour, so we have like a half hour less now which is still like 55-60 minutes which to me is an ideal length to play. I?m getting old, I guess, ha-ha!
What songs did you have to drop off from your set list because of this arrangement then?
We dropped a few of our older songs from our set for tonight?s set. There won?t be any ?Riot of Violence? in our set tonight…
What about the songs off your latest album ENEMY OF GOD? What songs have you planned to play from that album for us tonight?
Well, we are going to play a lot of new songs from out latest record like 4-5 news altogether and a couple of old songs from our previous albums. It?s gonna a pretty nice mix of songs all in all.
Let?s have a few words about your latest album ENEMY OF GOD which was released a couple of months ago. In my opinion, it?s kind of back to the roots type of album from you, having lots of aggression and brutality in it, but at the same time, you have nicely spiced it up with some more melodic elements that create a successful balance between both more brutal and aggressive and melodic parts. Was that something you basically were after for all the time while you were building up songs for it, I mean, trying to make a brutal, but still a melodic Thrash Metal album?
What we wanted to do with this album actually, was first of all, top VIOLENT REVOLUTION. We knew that all the expectations toward ENEMY OF GOD, were really high. The fans really wanted to get a new Kreator album that could have been even heavier, faster and even more brutal than VIOLENT REVOLUTION. And that?s exactly what we wanted to give to them. It took some time to find and get into that groove and just to find the songs that were stronger than on VIOLENT REVOLUTION. Yeah, it took some time to do the songs for this album and it was hard work, but it was worth it. I mean, we waited long, very long ? almost 4 years ?til we came this far with this new album.
You have said that most of these melody parts for the songs on ENEMY OF GOD have mainly been brought in there by Sami, your Finnish guitarist. Would you say he has a special ear for this more melodic stuff, kind of knowing the fact he?s originally from Finland and the Finns are commonly known as very melancholic people all over the world who actually can come up with some great melodies in music in a very natural way indeed?
I don?t think Sami is a very melancholic as a person. He doesn?t talk much sometimes, but I don?t talk either, so we get along very well, heh! To me it? s perfect because you can be in a one room with Sami, and he may not say anything which is great. I don?t like people who talk too much, ha-ha!! So Sami fits in the band very well. As for the song writing, actually I bring a song to Sami and tell him that this song needs a solo part here and there. I also tell him to come up with some melodies for a song, whatever. Sometimes it?s me who comes up with some basic melodies for our songs, but he comes up with more… hmm, how could I say this… well, he puts lots of ?soul? into the songs, y?know. I am more like the guy that comes up with certain ideas and he gives a soul to my ideas and songs really.
And you obviously have come up with most of the album?s brutal and thrashing riffs for ENEMY OF GOD, right?
Yeah, I did.
Seems like you were in a great ?riff mood? while you were composing stuff for this album as there?s a plenty of really strong and catchy riffs present in every song, so how easy it was for you to churn those certain riffs and rhythms for this album?
It?s was very important for me to come up with really catchy and heavy riffs and rhythms for this album because writing ?the ultimate Metal record? to me should always be about riffs and stuff in my opinion. You know, you have an album and you have a Metal song and it should have good riffs in it. That?s what I liked when I was a kid. When I listened to Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and stuff like that, those bands always had some great riffs in their songs. This is what matters mostly to me and it makes the whole thing more exciting, y?know.
So are you roughly saying that well-done and catchy riffs and rhythms matter more to you than let?s say melody parts in songs?
No, it has be a mix between both of them. Y?know, riffs can get boring and melodies can get boring as well. You just have to find a balance between both of them, y?know – and it?s a very emotional thing to find those things for a song, too. To me a song is perfect when it makes you feel something.
Also you vocals sound very pissed-off thoroughly the songs on ENEMY OF GOD. Is there some special reason behind it why your vocal parts indeed sound so pissed-off on this particular album?
Well, when you read the lyrics on the album and… writing those lyrics and performing those lyrics and really being able to get your message through the lyrics, takes some time. What I?m trying to say here is that you cannot sing about the ?Enemy of God? or ?Impossible Brutality? just singing a very melodic way, y?know. It has to be convincing right from the start the way people know right away that this or that song isn?t any ballad kind of thing, with a happy feeling ? whatsoever! Singing aggressive and brutal lyrics with an aggressive and brutal way is the only thing that matters to me.
So it?s like a performing type of thing. Lyrics are like stories and you should be able to act the way lyrics are told through songs, being able to perform with your voice as well as possible in order to get ?the right message? through the songs…
Yeah, yeah… exactly!! It?s really almost like a performance, it?s almost like an act like you just said.
How many songs did you write for this particular album in question all in all? Did you have any leftover material from those E.O.G. ?sessions that you even might consider using in the future f.ex. for some special editions of ENEMY OR GOD as bonuses or for some compilations albums?
I wrote 15 songs for this album and 3 of them didn?t get finished completely for this record. So I used some parts out from these three unfinished songs for some of the songs on the record. We have no leftovers out of the sessions of ENEMY OF GOD that we could possibly use for any special editions or anything. The songs we have on this record, is all we got finished, so…
How highly would you rate your latest album amongst all Kreator albums you have done during your whole career thus far? Obviously this new album is one of your personal favorites out of all Kreator albums, am I right by saying that?
It?s definitely sort of a highlight album for me personally; actually one of the best ones we have ever done, I think. And to me it?s up there with albums like EXTREME AGGRESSION, COMA OF SOULS and PLEASURE TO KILL ? not forgetting our previous album VIOLENT REVOLUTION either. I think ENEMY OF GOD is a very smooth album. It may sound maybe a bit weird to you, but it?s a very smooth record to me. It kind of makes sense, if you know what I mean.
Do you personally feel like Kreator has gone through a full circle as far as Metal music?s whole spectrum is concerned, returning to Thrash Metal for good? I mean, f.ex. on an album like ENDORAMA many actually thought you had lost your spark for an aggressive and brutal Thrash Metal, but on the VIOLENT REVOLUTION album already you proved all these accusations absolutely wrong and returned back to that particular area of Metal music where you have always been very good at: Creating brutal and aggressive Thrash Metal!
In a way yes, I feel like we indeed have gone a full circle musically even if this ?back-to-the-roots? type of thing doesn?t mean anything that specific for me on this album.
Well, for many it means quite much actually as there wouldn?t be this recent sort of ?Thrash Metal revival? in the Metal scene these days without comebacks of such old names as Exodus, Death Angel, Heathen, Destruction, Assassin, etc.
To me it?s always more important if you only work with some of the influences from the past, you should not sound outdated. This is what the trick really is. I mean, I don?t care for any of those so-called ?back-to-the-roots? albums when they sound like fuckin? eighties and that sounds lame, at least to me. It?s been done better in the past anyway, so why trying to repeat it? What?s the whole point for doing so because we are not in the eighties any longer? Sorry, I don?t get it. ENEMY OF GOD surely isn?t any ?back-to-the-roots? type of album because we don?t try to sound on that album like the album could have been recorded in the ?80s. We wanted to have the best possible sound for this record; the sound of the present time – and not the sound of the eighties. But WITH the influences from the eighties.
Besides that recording studios have naturally become better over the years, producers are more skilled and overall more professional nowadays, so in sense that it would be kind of stupid to not use all the latest technology and know-how around you…
Yes, exactly. It?s just the attitude… maybe the eighties attitude. But I mean any Metal band should have that. Any Metal band should have the eighties attitude, no matter whether it?s a new band or old band. To me Metal music is from the eighties, y?know.
THRASH METAL REVIVAL ? OR NO REVIVAL AT ALL?
So what?s your take overall about this recent Thrash Metal revival as it seems like Thrash Metal is making its strong comeback again all over the world – with bands like I just mentioned recently? Do you believe that Thrash Metal as its own single well-respected genre of Metal music, could actually become nearly as strong and popular amongst metalheads as it was in the ?80s which was the golden era for this particular genre in question?
It depends. I have always seen it more from a certain distance because there?s Thrash Metal revival and we do albums, but top be honest with you, I don?t see the actual ?revival? if you know what I mean? There?s not like tons of Thrash Metal bands all of a sudden popping up. I mean there?s bands from the States that are supposed to be Thrash Metal, but they call themselves ?metalcore?, y?know. And there?s a bunch of old bands that come up with their new albums that are ?ok?; sometimes good – sometimes mediocre. And this is not to me a revival, y?know. There?s still some new young bands that, y?know, play this style. And this is where the revival starts from. I mean, those new bands that have like 18-20 old members in them. This is the real revival for me which also has to develop.
What about some of these pioneers of Thrash Metal then like Exodus and Death Angel from the States – and bands Destruction and Assassin from Germany that have all made quite an impact on people with their latest albums? How do you feel about them?
I think Exodus came up with a really good album. Anyway, it?s always a matter of surviving, too. Now Exodus already has a new singer in the band again, so I?m just wondering what?s up with that, y?know? Coming up with such a great album and then firing their singer. Pretty lame if you ask from me.
Yeah, that was pretty unexpected from them after all. A new unknown singer from somewhere who nobody knows at all…
Yeah, exactly. I hope it?s gonna good and wish them all the best.
Thinking of comebacks with a bit wider perspective, what do you personally think of some of these bands that split up for an unknown period of time – or simply loose their original vocalists for a while and then come back with a massive media?s attention behind them and are getting hyped as ?return of Metal messiahs? or some sorts?
Ha-ha… I think I know where you are referring to with your question. But to be really honest with you, I?m not really interested or thrilled about these ?comebacks? because I think it?s basically all about a spirit of the time when it first started. Like I just said Exodus has been drawing away from me since they lost Souza. Like a couple of years ago when Testament came up with THE GATHERING, that was a fuckin? great record. But those kinds of albums are among like a few that I think really matter ? and now it?s up to the bands to come up with a great, new stuff. And it?s there, man ? it?s like people really do appreciate it. If you were able to create a good album, people will definitely be there for you. I have to say that I personally was really disappointed with the comeback of Judas Priest. I?m a big Priest ?fan myself. I heard their new album and they have got like one great song, the first song (?Judas Rising?) off that new Priest album and then a couple of ?ok songs?, so I don?t think it?s a great album at all the way I originally expected it to be in the very first place. You cannot say it?s a bad album from them, but it?s not a great ?comeback? from them either, I think. If they had got the power of ?Judas Rising? throughout the whole record, it would have been an amazing album in my opinion.
Last time when you played here in Finland was actually as long time ago 3 years ago when you came here together with Sodom and Destruction on ?Hell Comes to Your Town? -tour. Do you miss tours like that, I mean, having touring mates from the same country, y?know, kind of gathering of the true pioneers of German Thrash Metal together and going on road with them again?
Not really. I mean, when we were doing this tour, it was a very special thing for all of us for sure. And after that lots of people have asked from me why we couldn?t go on tour with the same package all over again. Well, it would be the same any longer in my opinion, y?know. We had a great time with the members of Destruction and Sodom ? and it was pretty much like long-time friends going on tour at the same time type of thing for us, y?know. It was a great tour to do and we really enjoyed that tour and it left good memories for each of us, but that was then and this is now. I mean, we have some really good bands on this current tour, so I don?t miss too much those particular times to be honest with you. For the fans it surely was kind of unique and exceptional tour without doubts.
CRISSCROSSING FROM ONE CONTINENT TO ANOTHER…
Right after the European leg of the tour, you?ll head your way to some of the South-American countries, starting from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. What kind of expectations do you actually have from that tour? You have played gigs there before?
Yes, we have and it was great to play for all those people over there. They can be such a disastrous audience in the South American countries from time to time. They have got lots of energy and they basically go insane in every gig.
And that doesn?t scare you a bit at all…?
No. It?s always great to see them acting like that way, it?s just amazing. I mean, you get easily spoiled when you go on tout to the South American countries. They have such great audiences that are very fanatic and they really show it in gigs.
What about your support acts on that South American tour?
They are gonna be Krisiun and Tristiania, I think. I like Krisiun and I also like some of the Tristiania stuff as well. It?s good music, definitely.
And in the beginning of April?05, you will continue touring in the North America together with Vader, Pro-Pain and Autumn Offering, playing your 1st show of the American leg in New York City? The venue will be BB Kings? have you played there before, by the way? What kind of place is it? Is it a club or theatre?
Yes, we have played there before. It?s actually quite ?clean? place. It?s a club and it belongs to BB Kings, so what else would you really expect, ha-ha!! It?s quite big place as about 1000 people get fit in there. I think it?s probably a sold-out show by now, so it?s gonna be good. BB Kings is located right on the Broadway, so that?s nice, too.
Do you have any idea how ENEMY OF GOD has been selling in the States thus far?
Right now we are close to 20.000 sold copies ort something, so I?m quite pleased I have to say so. We have a good feeling inside the band to go and tour in the States. Our last album VIOLENT REVOLUTION didn?t do so well over there, but I?m glad this has.
I suppose after working with a new album and being at a studio for some weeks, it?s always nice to get out from there and start touring again because it?s naturally a lot of more fun to be on road than spend time between 4 walls and trying to figure out how a new album is going to be sound like. Do you basically agree with me?
Yes, I do agree with you. Like I said I feel very good about being on tour with this album. It?s a good album and the fans appreciate the fact that we came back with such a heavy and brutal album. And it?s just lots of fun to play these songs off ENEMY OF GOD live as well.
Just a couple of question more for you and I let you go. Last time when we talked at Nosturi, Helsinki 3 years ago, you asked how to pronounce your Finnish guitarist?s, Sami?s last name. Have you learnt by now how to pronounce it correctly?
?Ylisirn…?! ?Yli-Sirn-o…?? ?Yli-Sirnio?!? Did I get it right this time around…?!
Now it sounds like it… correct!
You have obviously learnt your home lessons quite well, I see…
Have you heard the latest album from this Finnish band called Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus titled HARTES LAND which was released by a German label Cyclone Empire in the later half of last year? Do you think these guys have learnt how to pronounce their German or do you still think they are as bad at it as they have always been?
I have heard it, but I don?t think it?s as good as the one before that, but it?s still good though. It?s still fun to listen to these guys, it?s lots of fun actually to listen to their albums.
Yes, I remember you saying that you collect ?bad albums…?
I have respect for this band, but it sounds funny to me how they try to pronounce German, ?the Finnish way?, ha-ha!!
Have you ever seen them playing live, by the way?
No, I haven?t seen them yet, but it would be cool to see them playing live sometimes, tho.
OK, our time is up. Thank you Mille for this chat with me. It was nice talking to you again.
Thanks to yourself. It was my pleasure to do it.