Intro and interview by Luxi Lahtinen
“Lovecraftian Death Metal…” – sounds like a fascinating title, doesn?t it? The German foursome, Alex, Mike, Christoph and Tobias call Philosopher a ?Lovecraftian Death Metal? band due to band?s strong interest in H.P. Lovecraft?s creations as far as the band?s lyrical approach is concerned. Musically, the Philosopher camp has a certain attraction to old school ?90s Death Metal in which people can associate them with bands like Death, Morgoth or even Morbid Angel. Plain copycatting has, however, luckily been avoided in Philosopher?s heavy and slowly creeping Death Metal approach and the band has already proved to stand out in its own, especially on the band?s debut album THOUGHTS which really shows what this talented German bunch is all about.
I talked to Alex ?Snakes?, the band?s guitarist, just recently and tried to gather together sort of an info kit what Philosopher is really all about as far as the band?s musical journey through the current Death Metal territory goes; basically finding out how they have been received by extreme Metal diggers and wanting to know a bit more what kinds of thoughts Alex has about Philosopher?s position amongst a countless amount of extreme Metal bands these days.
Uh, enough said for an introduction, now let?s get to the point finally?
The Lovecraftian Death metallers… PHILOSOPHER
IN THE BEGINNING
First off, could you enlighten our readers, when Philosopher was started actually and what were your main goals back then and have they changed during these past years since the band was formed?
Well, the whole thing started in 2004 with the current line-up though Philosopher has existed since 2003. Back then we were a little bit more into Thrash Metal and the likes, I guess.
“LOVECRAFTIAN DEATH METAL”
You decided to call your music ?Lovecraftian Death Metal?, based on the fact his works have had a pretty tremendous influence on your lyrical approach. Have you always found H.P. Lovecraft?s works fascinating and interesting for you and do you think the rest of the guys in the band are as inspired by his art of horror as you are?
I am a Lovecraft -fanatic ever since I was a kid and even before I started playing guitar as an instument for expressing my thoughts within the balance of the cosmic spheres. Funny thing is as I brought up the idea of the whole Lovecraftian/Mythos, we found out every band member was in its own way influenced by Lovecraft and/or Lovecraftian writers. Now call that fate if you want to…
Have you kept any track on things how he has inspired many other (Death) Metal bands for many years already; even band?s are named by his books and other writings (?The Necronomicon?)?
As a hobby I collect things (movies, artefacts, books,…) that are somehow connected to the great genius himself, in a way it’s interesting to see how others worship his work and get inspired by it – so, naturally I own some Lovecraftian -related musical works, too. King Diamond, Morbid Angel, Nile and H.P. Lovecraft (the ?60s psychedelic band) are among my favorites on this field. Did you ever recognize Yngwie Malmsteen thanking and crediting H.P. Lovecraft on one of his albums, too ? ;=)
Are there some other remarkable and worth-mentioning men of letters that you have been fascinated by at some point of your life?
Due to H.P. Lovecraft as my main field of study, I follow the tracks of his inspiration by reading also lots of writers his work inspired so very much, but I also read the works of his friends and collegues, and the people who were so great as writers that they impressed Lovecraft himself, take Poe or Chambers for an example.
So I assume it?s safe to say we don?t have to be worried of seeing Philosopher writing either socially – or politically aware of lyrics, ever…?
No doubt about that, we’re not interested in human ways and belongings, so it’s not for us to write about politics or your typical all-day present life.
Your demo-CD titled WHAT DWELLS BEYOND that you released last year, gained many good yet even flattering reviews in the international Metal -orientated media. Would you even say that you were quite surprised to find out that there?s still quite a lot interest out there toward your kind of ?old school sounding? Death Metal although most of major labels tend to catch their own ?fishes? from those waters that seem to be in the biggest fashion amongst the kids these days (?nu-metal?, ?metalcore?, ?mallcore? – what-fucking-ever?)?
Though I wouldn’t say we were surprised, we definitely ARE very happy about all the attention and positive reaction both the E.P. WHAT DWELLS BEYOND and our album THOUGHTS gained from the public yet. As for the whole trend thing, we’re not concerned about any of these trends, our music evolves from the spheres and time through our whole hearts and hands right into the minds of the people who know and to whom our musical message speaks beyond any of these trends. For us, “the trend is dead” yet, so to speak.
Musically you swear heavily in the name of old school Death Metal, early ?90s ?tinged Death Metal sound that relatively strongly reminds me of such bands as Death and Morgoth in a familiar way, so do you subscribe at least those two aforementioned bands as some of the biggest influences for Philosopher?
Although we are listening to other musical artists and thus might be inspired by them, we feel this music expresses itself mostly in the way it is mixed by the people we trust musically and in the way it is performed by us. We don’t care so much if you call it ?old school? or something else as long as it fits our musical belongings. I personally am very happy to state that the music on THOUGHTS sounds just the way we wanted it to sound like.
I guess you feel safe to say your heart belongs somewhat 100% to both ?80s ? and ?90s periods of Metal music in general; to those times when bands had more identity and personality than most of the bands tend to have days these. Do you agree, at least partly?
You’re right I somewhat belong to the ?80/?90s Death Metal music mostly, we’re all great fans of Morbid Angel, Nile, Death and such even if we’re listening to the newer and non-Metal stuff, too – as long as it contains a musical message to your heart and to your mind. There’s a lot of cool bands out there right now!
What do you think of some of these hyper-speed Death Metal bands nowadays that use a lot of blast-beat in their songs, sounding like they are determined to, metaphorically speaking, mangle and mutilate you without the first sign of warning even?
As already stated my mind is open to any kind of music, though some of those hyper-fast blastbeat-ridden stuff lacks on song writing that really touches you in my opinion. Playing fast can be a very effective weapon, it’s not all about speed only, you know.
Eventually you decided to sign a record contract with a relatively small, independent Ruptured Silence Records from Germany. What were those most important and essential aspects why you finally ended up signing a deal with them? I guess since it?s a German label it had something to do with it why Philosopher got signed to Ruptured Silence, correct?
Several European labels showed interest toward Philosopher after we released the E.P. WHAT DWELLS BEYOND. We decided to sign a deal with our current label Ruptured Silence Records where we thought our music was understood and dealt with in the best possible way.
Are you pleased how your label has been promoting and spreading your name thus far, or is there something that you wish they could do more fore you in order to get Philosopher?s name out for people even a bit more?
Our label certainly does the best it can possibly do for us with the capacities it has nowadays.
Do you overall feel small labels like Ruptured Silence pretty obviously is, with only a fistful of bands on their roster, are better able to take care of their bands than, let?s say big major labels like Century Media or Nuclear Blast where you may only be one tiny band amongst many other bands, without a true identity or anything really ? and without any that potential chance to stand out unless your band isn?t a big and known name worldwide?
That was one major reason why we signed to Ruptured Silence. Namely we don’t want to be one band among many others, waiting for the next hype to jump on. We believe our music has earned all that effort our label can possibly give.
How much has the Internet overall helped to get Philosopher?s name on people?s lips? Do you think that without the Internet you would hardly be known outside of your own hometown; or has the power of good?n? old flyers also done their own share as a message bringer of Philosopher?s jolly-good old school Death Metal?
In our opinion the www. can be used as a very effective way to ?spread the word? as well as keeping personal contact to fans worldwide. By the way, everybody should check out our new homepage. We got free gifts and stuff, so go check it out at: www.philosopher-music.de
Are there some specific countries where you receive requests for Philosopher?s stuff mostly from?
Actually I guess we?re selling most of our stuff to our German fans, but we deliver worldwide as well, and PayPal can be accepted!
DOING GIGS IS FUN
What kind of touring plans do you have for this summer? Any extensive tours in sight across Europe or anything?
We will play several club gigs and festivals and are currently planning on a little Germany -tour with other label bands, so keep your eyes on our website for more info! ;=)
You played a gig with the Finnish Amoral and Finntroll, the Swedish Nalgfar and a couple of other bands at I-Park, Giebelstadt 5th of April this year. How was your band received at that night? Did you consider that particular gig quite a success from your band based on all the feedback you possibly received from the crowd afterwards?
The crowd was great, we received a lot of enthusiastic feedback after the show. You know in a way we polarize, there?s always a few people to whom our music doesn?t make an effect, but the others seem to be touched by it just the more thus becoming fanatics, spreading the Cult! Hail to those who thus help keeping the Mythos alive!!!
Tobias of PHILOSOPHER in action
How were the rest of the bands on the bill? Did you manage to follow them at all?
We were a bit tired after the show thus we didn?t watch the Finntroll -show that much, but we watched Amoral, they were just great, man!
It?s being said and heard many times before that most of the Finns are quite heavy drinkers wherever they may go and start having some fun with ?The King Alcohol?. And this particular reputation in question lives on. Was that the case with both the guys from Amoral and Finntroll as well? And worry not, they won?t kill you if you spit out the ugly truth about them as heavy consumers of that tasty golden liquid? ;=)
I don?t know about Finntroll because they didn?t leave the nightliner most of the time, but the guys of Amoral didn?t drink at all but were really cool despite of a lack of alcohol! They just focused completely on the music just like we did.
From L to R: Mike & “Snakes” from PHILOSOPHER
What about some possibilities to play gigs in your own hometown where you live? What are some of the coolest yet warmly recommended venues in your area that have gained a reputation as good places to pull your gigs through?
Though we live in a bit of a quiet place in our town, we have played all the interesting venues there in 2004 and have planned to continue to come back every once in a while for a local support or such, you know. After all there?s no other place like your own home town!
When you go onstage, how do you prepare yourself beforehand for a gig? Do you have some kind of certain methods of concentration and pre-preparation that you usually go through before you are about to walk onto the stage and try to give the very best shot out of yourself for your audience?
Before the warm-up I perform several methods of concentration and meditation resulting in an inner balance while playing and contacting our sources of inspiration thus touching the way the performance goes, especially during guitar solos and such.
What about the rest of your band mates? Do they have any ?special habits? to be done before the actual showtime?
They certainly have, but it?s not for me to talk about other people?s habits and personal belongings.
Any ?juicy? road stories to be revealed from your past gig experiences…? ;=)
Surely not ? though there are several occasions where certain people tend to search equilibrium in overgiving their bodys willingly to personalities they think stronger as themselves, but that?s not for us. We?re focused on music, and not on human weaknesses. Besides these are ?private matters?, you know… ;=P
If you got a chance to go on tour with some band ? or some bands, what would be kind of an ideal tour package for Philosopher? Are there some places/countries that tickle your imagination as ?must-see-and-experience? countries where you?d like to bring this band at least once in your lifetime?
It?s always great to share the stage with other cool bands although there are certain bands demanding our fullest respect, and touring with Morbid Angel, Nile and such would be a great thing to do for sure. As for the country, there?s no faves to me because my home is the music and the spirit equal to where the body rests.
Christoph behind his drum artillery
What do you think of your rest of the band mates as a part of touring line-up anyway? Is it easy to come along with all of them even if you wouldn?t agree about certain things all the time when being on the road? What kind of things mostly put your blood boiling between each of you from time to time when you have some argument going on inside the band?
Mike, Tobias and Christoph are great people personally and musically - and I?m very happy to be on my mission with them on my side!
Do you have any ?boss? or ?leader? in the band who always tells to the other band mates how f.ex. the band should sound like ? or what kind of lyrics can only be used for your songs and so on? Or would you rather like to see Philosopher more or less as a very democratic unit after all?
Though I?m writing the riffs, which the songs are based on, the result is very democratic and certain bits and pieces are thrown in by all band mates in order to create a certain song and to help getting the message expressed musically. Song arrangements are a very important part of Philosopher?s music, of course!
Tobias of PHILOSOPHER
When you guys come up with a new song for the band, what types of things do you try to focus on for a song so that it could structurally reach sort of a ?trademark?ish? Philosopher touch eventually?
We focus on the spiritual message and the atmosphere within a song thus creating our unique sound. We?re not trying to copy our own music in order to sound unique.
The German Metal scene has always been very strong force amongst any Metal scenes in the whole world with nearly a countless amount of bands that have really made their own breakthrough globally (Helloween, Destruction, Gamma Ray, Sodom, Kreator, Morgoth, etc. ? just to name only a few!). What?s overall your view about the German Metal scene in general why you have always had so many good bands coming out from your country – being it Thrash Metal, Death Metal, Power Metal, Traditional Metal or whatever really. Your country has always had something to offer for the international Metal markets genre-wise, so be honest now and reveal to all our readers what?s actually that thing in the German beer that always seems to create a winner?s formula for the Metal bands out from your country? ;=P
I think the secret recipe of the old German Metal bands is their honesty and that their music always came from the heart back then ? you see, you couldn?t make any money with Death Metal in Germany at that time, so what sense would it make to fake things?
What are some of those new upcoming German Metal bands we should try to keep our eyes tightly on in the near future? Any suggestions Alex?
To name just a few, there?s Soul Demise, Abbarogation, Profanity, Final Breath and many, many others. Everyone of you should keep your eyes on the German Metal scene these days!!!
Alex ”Snakes” giving a shredding lesson – PT. 1.
What could be possibly your personal ?TOP 5? Death Metal albums of all time and could you also state some reasons why these particular 5 albums have reached your ?TOP 5? list?
Morbid Angel ? Albums from COVENANT up to HERETIC; They surely are the manifestations of the Lava thus being one of the most creative bands ever!! How can anybody not like MA?!
Nile ? IN THEIR DARKENED SHRINES; I just love this album, those guys play really complex pieces of great emotional music - and at top speed! I?m looking forward to their next album ANNIHILATION OF THE WICKED released this May!!!
Karl Sanders ? SAURIAN MEDITATION; The guitarist and main songwriter of Nile?s solo album featuring great instrumental kind of ?relaxation music?, very epic-like, too…!!
Death ? SYMBOLIC; my personal favourite Death album, only great songs on this album!!
Cynic ? FOCUS; probably the best Death Metal album of all times…!!!
If you described Philosopher by a few sentences to all those people who have never got a chance to hear Philosopher before, but are curious to hear your band, what would be your well-selected words be then for them? Now you got an ultimate opportunity to advertise Philosopher… and absolutely FOR FREE!! Now how cool is that, heh! ;=)
Ok, THX again for the space, mate! Philosopher is the ultimate musical brewery of original Lovecraftian atmosphere!! Imagine slower Morbid Angel and Death mixed musically and expect some bloodcurling tales of terror from beyond human imagination!!
So, what are your personal yet even realistic expectations for 2005/2006 as far as Philosopher goes?
We and our management have got a lot of work ahead of us to promote the album, organizing tours and such yet we?re writing new songs for our next output!
Alright, I guess I pretty much covered everything for this interview I wanted to know about Philosopher, so I wanna sincerely thank YOU Alex for the spent time for my questions and wish all the best for you and for your band in the future. Feel free to add your closing words/comments if you so wish?
Thanks again for your wishes and great support, Luxi!!! The Metal underground wouldn?t exist without people like you! On behalf of Philosopher I might take a chance to hail all your readers in Finland and elsewhere… Let the Metal flow!! At last I want to command all of you to check our new album THOUGHTS out and finally leave with these wise words of the master himself: ?That is not dead, which can eternal lie and with strange aeons even death may die…!?.