Interview with Psychotron Drummer Gert Kopf
Interview by Lord of the Wasteland
All Pics are courtesy of Psychotron.de
Earlier this year, I was sent a CD by a German band called Psychotron who touted themselves as playing ?powerthrash from Germany.? That description intrigued me almost as much as the comparison to the bands mentioned?Testament and Nevermore?in their press kit. Psychotron?s second CD, OPEN THE GATE, was released independently by the band and delivers a solid dose of, well, powerthrash!
I conducted an e-mail interview with drummer Gert Kopf in which he gave a brief history of the band, the origin of the band?s name, its label and guitarist woes and some other interesting stuff.
OPEN THE GATE was recorded in 2002, but was shelved. What was the band doing in that time?
After the OPEN THE GATE CD was shelved, we did many concerts. At that time, we had been negotiating with Generation Records to get our deal done and took us a long time. Meanwhile we are in the songwriting process for our next CD, titled PRAY FOR SALVATION.
Generation Records was supposed to release OPEN THE GATE, but you left the label after only seven months and without the CD ever getting released. What happened?
We left the label under the condition to keep quiet about the circumstances. Our CD was completed before we signed the contract?there?s nothing more to say about.
What made Psychotron decide to release OPEN THE GATE independently?
We just wanted to have full control over the release of OPEN THE GATE.
Because of the contract negotiations with the record company and the lost time as a result of it, we decided to release the CD by ourselves immediately.
How does the band handle worldwide distribution?
Metalheads can order the CDs at our homepage or at several distributors like Hellion Records.
How have the reviews been so far for OPEN THE GATE?
Although we?re not really happy with the sound of our album, reviews have been surprisingly good so far. Positively mentioned were the song ideas, our peculiarity, variety and our musical level.
The cover art and packaging is quite remarkable for an independent release. Who designed the cover and booklet art?
Mike Schindler from Dragon Design was responsible for the cover and booklet. He comes from somewhere around Munich and designed covers for many bands. We told him about our idea of how the cover had to look and he did very well. Very talented guy.
What is the robot on the front cover holding that glows?
He?s holding the souls of human beings in his hands. The robot symbolizes our meaning of what Psychotron is supposed to be.
In the ?thank you? section of the CD booklet, you write, ?A big FUCK YOU to all AKs [and] to the full moon.? What are ?AKs? and what do you have against a full moon ha?
AKs means ?asshole kids.? It?s a long story, but in short, it describes men who do a lot of shit and say that they do that because of their bad childhood. The full moon? Well, I can?t sleep when the moon shines brightly.
The band has been a unit since 1995, yet OPEN THE GATE is only your second release. Why so long between albums?
We had several problems with our guitarists in the past. It took us a long time to find an adequate musician who fits perfectly in a personal and, of course, musical way.
Have you had any label interest since the release of OPEN THE GATE?
Not yet, but after completing the new album we will look for a new label.
?Meine Holle? is a spoken word track that precedes ?Private Hell,? which I believe is the English translation of ?Meine Holle.? Since I do not speak German, what is ?Meine Holle? about and how does it relate to ?Private Hell??
The English translation of ?Meine H?lle? is ?my hell?. It?s a game of words?
?Meine H?lle? belongs to ?Private Hell? and is a poem with the same context as ?Private Hell?.
What is happening in the ?hidden track? at the end of the CD?
That was our singer at soundcheck in the studio. He sings children?s songs and we recorded it without him noticing it. We have placed the hidden track on our CD as a surprise for him. He just wanted to kill us. HAHA
Metal Rules reviewed your debut CD, CHAOS COSMIC TIME, back in 1999 and now OPEN THE GATE in 2004. How has the band?s musical outlook changed since CHAOS COSMIC TIME? Do you feel that you are you much better songwriters and musicians?
Everything has progressed. Our guitarist, Matze, tries to reach a new level with each new song and therefore the band has to reach a higher level, as well. It was difficult because we got a new guitarist, Kai, and he had to study all the old stuff and learn the new songs at the same time.
The songs on OPEN THE GATE seem to bridge the gap between melodic power metal and in-your-face aggressive thrash. Does the band plan to continue this hybrid on future releases or will you stray from that style?
We don?t plan our music to sound in a special way. That?s the natural progress in which a song is built. We?ve got our musical influences and therefore we will sound familiar. Also, our guitarist has his own unique style of playing.
While it is still underground, metal is SO much bigger in Europe than in North America. How does Psychotron manage to get noticed among so many bands over there?
The only chance that you have as a band is to play many concerts, to leave good impressions on the audiences, promotion on the internet and record a good CD.
Germany has given the metal world so many great bands?Scorpions, Blind
Guardian, etc. How big a name is Psychotron in your home country?
That?s a good question but the next time you should ask, ?How small is the name Psychotron?? 🙂
Being a relatively unknown band, how important do you feel the Internet is in getting Psychotron?s music out there for people to hear? Is it a tool the band embraces or rejects?
The internet is an impressive tool for unknown bands like us to provide their material
for anybody. We are thankful for such a platform.
What is the band?s touring schedule like?
At the moment we have no concerts. We decided that we won?t play any concerts during our recording sessions, but we?re going to plan our concert activities for next year.
Out of all the band?s that Psychotron has toured with, who has been the nicest to you or taught you the most?
Well, there are many bands who have been nice to us and a few who haven?t.
There?s one band that we like very much. We played some shows together and a very close friendship has evolved. Every time we see each other it?s like a family meeting. The band?s name is Madog and they come from Austria. They are really MAD DOGS?
Have you finished recording your third CD, PRAY FOR SALVATION, yet? How did the band approach the songwriting for this new CD as opposed to OPEN THE GATE or CHAOS COSMIC TIME?
We have almost finished the CD. We have to record the lead guitars and acoustic guitars. When the recording is finished, the mix and mastering will be done by R.D.Liapakis of MYSTIC PROPHECY. All I can say about this new CD is it sounds way better in the rough mix than the previous CD. The songwriting process was very interesting because the songs where composed to the click. It is really a big difference between the older and the newer stuff because of the feeling. I think everybody who listens to it will notice that.
Psychotron have their own studio called Psychodome. How does a small band finance a recording studio and where is it located? Do you record other bands there, too, or is it just for Psychotron?s music right now?
Well, it is a very little one and is located in our rehearsal room. We bought the tools that we needed when we had the money. That was a longer process. Right now, the recording equipment has only been used by us. At the moment we don?t have the time to produce other bands. Sad but true?
?The Ticket (To Insanity)? features some killer power metal galloping rhythms. It actually reminded me a lot of Iced Earth?s ?Stormrider.? Matze?s voice on ?Private Hell? really reminds me a lot of Chuck Billy?s from Testament. Since the band uses references to Iced Earth, Nevermore and Testament in the promo package, are these bands your main source of musical inspiration, as well?
Oh, thanks for the compliment. We have so many bands that we like and love to listen to. We used these names in our reference because we heard that people compared us to these bands so often. We don?t say, ?Hey lets play a song in the style of Testament!? We are five crazy metalheads and everyone of us favors a different kind of metal. That?s the result of it.
Your double-kick work on songs like ?The Ticket (To Insanity)? is amazing! As the drummer of the band, who are your drumming influences?
I have no special influence. When I started to play drums in 1989, I looked up to people like Dave Lombardo (SLAYER), Igor Cavalera (SEPULTURA) or Ventor (KREATOR). But now, I try to do my best without being influenced by other drummers.
Did you take your band?s name from the Megadeth song?
A lot of people think that but no, we didn?t. The name contains the word ?psyche,? which describes the human being in its metaphysical existence. The ?tron? symbolizes the progression of mechanization and also anonymity in our society and interpersonal relationships. The human being is in a constant conflict between his emotions and the often cold reality, in which he is living and so he is falling in a lot of inner problems.
Psychotron is now on its third guitarist with Kai Huissel. Why did Andi Konstandaras and Stefano Zanolli leave the band? Are you still in contact with them? What are they doing now?
We separated from Andi due to personal problems he had with himself and we with him. We see him often in the Rockfabrik disco and talk to each other. He is a guy with a lot of problems. Stefano left the band because he wasn?t able to play in two bands. In the meantime he works in a music shop and sells guitars. A very talented, friendly and stoned-by-nature guy.
Who handles the band?s website updates and design?
The responsibility for the updates and the design lies in my hands.
What do you all do for ?regular? jobs?
Matze, our guitarist, works at IBM. Matze, our singer, is a social worker in a youth club. Mampf, who plays the bass, works at a telephone company called Vodafone. Kai, our other guitarist, works at an automotive work garage and I work as a social worker with difficult children.
What can we expect from Psychotron in 2005?
I hope a new CD under the banner of a good label, a lot of shows and pure fuckin? Powerthrash!!!
Is there anything that I did not ask that you would like to add or say to the readers of Metal Rules?
If someone is interested in the music of Psychotron, then check out our website with tons of actual reviews, mp3, etc. Also you can order our CDs (CHAOS COSMIC TIME and OPEN THE GATE), shirts, girlies and patches in the website shop. Greetings to all crazy metalheads out there, especially overseas ? hope to play someday a few shows there!! And thanx to you Sean, you rock!!
Visit Psychotron?s official site
Read all the reviews of Psychotron CDs here at Metal Rules