Guitarist Jakob Batten
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Tom Hack at Massacre Records for setting up this interview
Thanks to Massacre Records for the promo pictures of the band.
Jakob Batten is the guitarist in the legendary Danish death metal band Illdisposed that recently released a new studio album called TO THOSE WHO WALK BEHIND US. Illdisposed is also currently with the re-release of two earlier album called 1-800 VINDICATION and BURN ME WICKED. Jacob talks about the new album, the new re-released albums, their new label, touring and much, much more.
Your new album is called TO THOSE WHO WALK BEHIND US, can you tell us about the album? How long have you worked on the album and where did you record it?
All in all it’s more melodic than the former few albums I would say. And more dynamic. I tried to experiment a lot with dynamics in the guitars. We recorded it partly at AB Studio in Aarhus, and partly at my home studio.
Illdisposed is a fast and hard working band for sure, your previous album came out 2008 and now barely 2 years later is your new disc out. How come it took you so fast to release a new album?
The songs just came floating out of my mind this time. Suddenly I had plenty of songs for a new album. We skipped the 5 weakest songs and started recording.
Who writes the music and lyrics? And what are the lyrics about?
I write all music and Bo is writing all the lyrics. The lyrics deal with Love, hate, depression… The personal ups and downs you have in life!
Where does the title TO THOSE WHO WALK BEHIND US from? Does the title have any special meaning to you?
The title is a dedication to all the people who followed us through all these years. Fans, friends, families, partners. The people who stand behind us.
This new disc is Illdisposed’s 11th one. How do you think that the bands music hs developed over the years?
I think our music has been keeping track of time without losing it’s roots.
Have you shot any videos for any of the songs? If so to which song?
No, it’s 5 years ago we shot a video. In my opinion it’s waste of time and money. People just go on YouTube and watch it one time and then it’s forgotten again.
Did you threw a release party at the time of the release?
Yes, one in Copenhagen and one in Berlin.
Who has done the cover art work of the album and what do you think of it?
A local guy did it, René Asmussen. He’s a very talented photographer, won a lot of prices and stuff.
Are you happy with the outcome of the new album?
Yes very happy. It’s just the way we wanted it to be.
Have you read any reviews of the disc in the media so far? What do the reviewers think of it?
I don’t read reviews anymore. Most reviews are just personal opinions about the album and I get enough of that when I talk to people around the world.
Who plays the keyboards on the album? No one is listed on keys?
Actually he is listed in the booklet, his name is Jonas and he played with bands like Pretty Maids before. He also did some of the keys for the “1-800 vindication” album.
The last song on the album is called “Nu Gik Det Lige So Godt…” and is a song on Danish, how did you come up to feature that song?
To begin with we were talking about making the whole album in Danish but fortunately we skipped that idea.
Do you think that you’re gonna feature songs on Danish on any of your future albums as well?
Not really. The language doesn’t sound that good when you sing. Swedish sounds way better, who doesn’t get a hard-on when Lisa Ekdahl is singing?
There’s a limited digipack version of the album with a bonus CD featured. What’s on the bonus CD?
There’s a remix of our 2004 song “When you scream”. We used to use that song as an outro at our shows and lots of people were interested in it. So we decided to give it to them as a bonus track. There’s also a live song
You have also launched a strictly limited box set that’s only avaliable in 1000 copies. What does that set include?
The box includes a t-shirt, lanyard and an autograph card. And the new album of course.
Besides a new album, your label also released a re-make of the two albums BURN ME WICKED and 1-800 VINDICATION that were originally released in 2004 and 2006. Why are they released again?
Because the albums were sold out and Roadrunner Records didn’t want to print more copies since we’re not signed to them anymore. So we made a license deal to get the albums out again, otherwise they wouldn’t be available anymore.
Who’s done the re-mastering of the two albums?
Our long time friend Ziggy. He’s quite good at mastering.
On both of the album are there two bonus tracks added. Where were they recorded?
It’s live recordings from the With Full Force- festival in Germany.
Does the re-releases includes any more bonus material?
No there is not any more.
Who did release the original versions of the albums?
That was Roadrunner Records how did that.
What do you think of the re-release of the two albums?
Well, they are only re-released to make them available in the stores again. It’s 2 of our best albums so it would be a shame if they wouldn’t be available anymore.
Does your current label have any thoughts of re-release any of your other older albums?
No, but we’ve sold the license to Cyclone Empire. They’ll begin with the re-release of THERE’S SOMETHING ROTTEN.. this year. It will have a bonus DVD with some live videos.
The song “Dark” from 1-800 VINDICATION ended up at the soundtrack to one of the Saw movies, how did that feel?
That was great of course. SAW was an important movie when it came out. The movie was also sold with a bonus DVD full of music videos, including our video. It was sold in half a million copies or something like that.
You have once again recorded an album in the AB Studio, where is the studio located and how come you chose to work there again?
It’s located in Aarhus, close to where we live. We know the owner so we can come and go at any time of day we want. That’s the main reason why we use it.
You have produced the new album yourself, how was that? Was it hard to produce your band mates?
I also co-produced the last few albums with Ziggy so I’m familiar with it. No problem there. I have my own home studio where I record the guitars and bass. Also for “The Prestige”.
What do you think is your strongest feature as producer?
Patience. And the ability to hear more in the songs than what already is.
Do you enjoy producing and have you produced any other act besides Illdisposed?
Yeah I’ve produced a German band called Diary About My Nightmares. Their new album “Forbidden Anger” is just released on a Swedish label actually.
Earlier in your career you worked with producer Ziggy, why didn’t you work with him this time?
Ziggy is busy with a lot of other things in his life now. But he did master the new album though.
What’s the main difference between how you and Ziggy work?
I’m against making the drums tight like a clockwork with Beat Detective. I like when you can hear that music is played by humans. It adds personality to the music. We had some big discussions about that.
Fredrik Nordstrom did the mixing, what’s it like to work with him? I know you have worked with him before?
He’s got the same sense of humour as we do. We need that to be able to relax.
Do you think that you’re gonna work with Nordstrom in the future?
Yes I think so definitely.
The band was previous signed to AFM Records but not anymore. Why did you end that co-operation?
Because they didn’t understand how to treat a band like us. I warned them 3 times to change their behaviour or we would leave. They didn’t change so we had to go.
You are now signed to Massacre Records, how come you ended up there and for how many albums are you signed for?
Massacre were also very interested in us when we signed the deal with AFM. So it was obvious to talk to them. And I’m happy about that, things are much better now.
What’s the main difference between the way AFM Records and Massacre Records works in term of promotion etc?
I don’t know… there’s not a big difference at that point I guess.
You have also signed on with the booking agency Thunderdome Touring in USA, how is it to work with them?
Yeah we’ll see about that. So far we just got one tour offer in USA but we said no. We had to pay – and we don’t pay to play.
Illdisposed is touring quite heavily. What’s the most fun with being on tour?
It’s pretty boring actually. Most of the time you’re just in the stinking bus driving to the next location. All you can do is getting drunk, but that also gets boring after 2 weeks.
How did you find the time to record the new album last year? I mean with your busy schedule?
I guess it’s because we don’t rehearse that much. That gives me more time to mess around with the recordings and the songwriting. I don’t have to argue with 4 other people at the rehearsal room.
You did a Danish tour as headline act on the MTV Headbangers Ball Tour and the end of last year, how was that?
It was a huge success. But it was also a pretty good package I think. Pure death metal and thrash. That’s what’s popular here.
You ended last year with a tour through Germany together with Six Feet Under called Christmas Metal Meeting Tour. How was it to tour with Six Feet Under?
Pretty relaxing. They are even older than we are. Calm and nice guys. We go on tour with them again in Europe this spring and in Scandinavia during summer.
From what I can read you only tour in Denmark and out in Europe, why not in the rest of Scandinavia? I know there’s a lot of people who’d like to see you on stage in Sweden for example.
We will come to Sweden and Norway this summer!
Illdisposed was founded during the early 90’s, could you ever imagine that the band would be alive and active for so long?
No not really. But we have a more relaxed view on that now. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re still around in 10 years.
You come from Arhus, does all of the members live there?
None of us lives directly in Aarhus anymore. Franz lives in Copenhagen, the rest of us live close to Aarhus. We just have our base in Aarhus, that’s where we rehearse.
Which one of your older albums is your favourite one? And do you have one that you’re not so fond of?
Right now it’s 1-800 VINDICATION. I think that “Retro” sucks. It shouldn’t have been made.
Illdisposed are one of the leading death metal acts in Denmark at the moment and have been for quite a while now. How does it feel to be considered an icon for many fans?
It’s nothing I ever think of. We’re doing it for the fun. Because it’s fulfilling what our normal lives don’t give us.
The death metal scene in Denmark have gone through a major explosion during these past years,. How’s the climate for harder music in Denmark at the moment?
I don’t know, I think a lot of it is just bullshit. People are talking about how things are exploding here but in reality nothing happens. We have a few bands with success and those are the same bands that had success 10 years ago. So from my point of view nothing is happening here.
Do you have any favourite metal acts amongst any of the new ones from Denmark?
No. They all suck.
Why do think the Danish metal market has become so explosive right now?
It hasn’t. It’s just because people try to make their bands something they’re not you hear about it. They don’t do anything about it. And soon they are forgotten.
Do you have any idea on how many copies Illdisposed’s albums have sold so far?
Between 150.000 and 200.000 when you include all albums.
Illdisposed is gonna out during April/May as a headline act through Denmark, are you exited?
It’s always exciting to go out and play of course. But I’m not excited the way I was when I was 18!
I also read that you’re gonna do a very special show with only 100 fans in the audience, when and where is that gonna happen?
In Copenhagen on the 28. Of May. It’s the first time we do an intimate show like that.
You are also heading out on tour as co-headline later this year, could you reveal who you’re gonna tour with and where?
That one is with Six Feet Under again and will go through Germany, Austria, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Czech Republic.
Do you have any festival shows booked so far for the summer?
We have a few but not that many. It was difficult this year because everybody wanted to go on vacation at different times.
Illdisposed has got a great website as well as a brilliant MySpace and Facebook site, who’s the webmaster?
I’m doing it all except for Facebook. So thank you!
What’s the most common question you get from the fans?
“Can I come backstage and have some beers with you?” or “Can you put me on the guest-list?”
I know that your albums have been released in America, but have they been released in Asia yet?
Yes. I’m not sure if all of them have, but some of them.
Do you have any plans on taking on the American and the Asian market anytime soon?
If a good offer will show up!
When do you think that Illdisposed is gonna do a proper Scandinavian tour?
Also when a good offer shows up. We never really got any specific offers from Sweden, I guess you have too many good bands up there!
When can the fans expect to find the 12th Illdisposed album avaliable?
Around spring 2011.
Besides touring what are the plans for Illdisposed for the rest of 2010?
I gotta write a bunch of songs for the next album and make a demo recording of these songs. That’s all I think. 2010 will be a touring and song writing year.
Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy TO THOSE WHO WALK BEHIND US?
1. It’s groovy.
2. It’s got personality.
3. It’s not trying to prove anything, just plain good songs.
And for the poor bastards who haven’t discovered the band yet, what do you have to say to them?
I just have one word to say to them: ILLDISPOSED
That was all for me, thanks a lot for taking the time to making this interview with me and metal-rules.com I wish you and the band all the best in the future, do you have any final words of wisdom to the fans and readers?
I-L-L-D-I-S-P-O-S-E-D! See you on tour, cheers!