INTERVIEW BY MARKO SYRJALA AND ARTO LEHTINEN
PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJALA
PHANTOM ANTICHRIST being the 13th album of Kreator shows the German Teutonic thrash metal legends are as aggressive and relevant as in the heyday of the 80’s metal. The band’s front man Mille Petrozza is the wanted person for interviews. Metal-Rules.Com got once again a great opportunity of chatting with the German thrash icon about the new album, cover art, producers etc. in the short, but informative interview. But above all Marko found something common to talk about with Mille, namely Kiss, what else?
How many times have you been to Finland since ’89?
I can try, but it’s going to be hard to remember but it’s probably been more than 10 times.
Now you’re here as a part of touring package with Morbid Angel and Nile. Some years ago you were in Helsinki with Celtic Frost, Watain, Caliban and Eluveite. Do you think this kind of package thing is getting more and more important thing to do because then you can have more audience at shows?
I don’t know it’s hard to say. I’ve just had this discussion with my management in America just before I got here. It’s hard to say. Really sometimes on the recent Accept Tour, for example, we did some off-date shows and we had just as many people at the shows just by ourselves as when we would play with Accept. So you never know. Sometimes people are little lazy because of some many package touring going on and so if you’re not coming with a package, they wouldn’t show up sometimes. Sometimes they do because they don’t want to see a package. So you never know is what’s happening. I think touring with this package now, it makes total sense because it’s the best of the death metal of the world and the best of the thrash metal in the world hopefully, and I think a lot of people like that concept.
The tour with Accept in the States, it was funnily called as “Teutonic Terror Attack tour, and…
Hahah, Sorry about that name. It wasn’t my idea.
So how that package worked out in your opinion and how your fans liked it?
It worked somehow, yeah. It worked quite well in some places. Sometimes it worked okay. It’s a different era, man. Accept as one of the bands that has influenced Kreator and we were looking upward on them when were kids. So for me playing with these people was a great, great experience, and it was definitely like the idea was to have a German package. That didn’t happen because there was a Finnish band Swallow The Sun and… So it was a good tour. I liked going out with Accept. It was good. But the thing that – the only complaint that I would have , would be that some of their fans are a little older and when we were gone on stage they didn’t really quite know what to do, you know. They didn’t know what to think. They were there for just to hear “Balls to the Wall.” But on the other hand, there was also people there to see Kreator only. So it was two different crowds coming together and some nights it was perfect and some nights it was not so perfect but still good.
You’re using some 3D technology on this tour and…
Yes but not tonight. Only parts of it because the stage is too small “laughs”…
But in general, do you think the technology brings more value and more dimension for shows?
That’s a good question. I can answer this. You know, the thing is we always want to give something back to the fans. When I was growing up, all the metal shows were like a huge event, and we want to bring this back. We definitely want to give something back to the fans. I hate it when those bands come in and there’s only, you know, guys standing and looking at their shoes. I don’t like that. I like the drama. I like the huge theatrical stage. I like Iron Maiden, Kiss, you can’t touch that, but you can at least, you know, what we have with Kreator is like a smaller version, a club tour version of an arena show. You know, which I think is a lot that we have achieved. And it is entertaining.
Your new album PHANTOM ANTICHRIST is produced by Swedish producer Jens Borgen. What actually made you pick him to work with you?
Nick Holmes from Paradise Lost – we played a show with them in Istanbul and they were just putting a new album out and we talked – he told me that there’s this guy in Sweden that you should check out. And he’s very picky when it comes to producers. And then I did some research and I found out who else he was working with and some of the albums that he did were like, you know, the Paradise Lost stuff and so it was very spontaneous to be honest. I mean, I was thinking about who’s going to produce the next Kreator album, and I wanted to have a metal producer.
You did work years with Andy Sneap who did several albums with you. What made you decide to not work with him anymore?
Andy Sneap is a great producer, but we’ve done three albums with him so I think it was time to move on or two albums, two and half of one album. So I like Andy. He’s amazing. He’s helped the band so much, you know, and he’s a great, great, great producer. So nothing wrong with Andy Sneap. It’s just the change, you know, we needed the newest inspiration. We didn’t want to do things in the same way over and over again. We’re not the kind of band that sticks with one producer forever.
For this album you decided to use the digital technology instead of the analogue technology as you had on the previous album?
Both… That’s like a technical nerdy thing. There’s always this myth about the analogue recording where the band stands in one room and records and there’s this tape machine. We did it with HORDES OF CHAOS and we did it in part for PHANTOM ANTICHRIST as well. But you need to use the modern day technology otherwise you cannot produce an album – I mean, you could, but it’s unnecessary work. So if we have to edit things and we go to the tape machine with a razor blade, I mean, why, you know?
You have worked with different producers like Andy Sneap and Randy Burns in the past etc. but how do they differ in the working methods as the compared to current producer?
It was all good for its time. If you think about – if I think about Randy Burns he helped us to become a band, you know. He helped us to become good musicians, better musicians. He was having us play the takes over and over again. Someone like Andy Sneap, he introduced us to whole pro-tools world and someone like Moses Schneider who did HORDES OF CHAOS, he produced us with a whole different producer’s technique which was ancient and which was something that we’ve done in the past but we re-discovered. And somebody like Jens is more like musical director so to speak.
PHANTOM ANTICHRIST is actually the fourth album in a row with the same line up which actually is the longest running Kreator line-up ever. What’s the secret behind this longevity since the band went through numerous changes in the past?
I think we just get along. We get along and we discuss things and of course sometimes when you’re on a tour it gets a little rough, but it’s never to a point where we were like “fuck this, I’m going home”. But there’s no egos… sometimes there are, but not in the band. So, yeah, we know ourselves very well. We know how to deal with each other. I guess that’s the secret.
Many bands do say that “being in a band is like being in a marriage”. Do you agree with that?
It’s not always easy. But it’s easier. It has been easier over the last 10 years. It’s a marriage. It is like a marriage. It’s like you go somewhere, you feel bad, and look like and people wonder, “what’s the matter?” You know, when your girlfriend asks you “what’s the matter” and there’s nothing, you’re just thinking. And then you have to think of something maybe this could be the matter. That could be the matter or just say nothing. And then they’re like, “yeah well then you talk to me”. You know, these little things are also in the band, of course, in a good way. So it’s – You have to get along.
When you’ve got this line up together in year 2000 you then also returned from the experiential period back to the classic thrash style. Do you have still desire to go and try to be more experimental things in the future?
We did some on PHANTOM ANTICHRIST in my opinion.
Maybe but not as radically what you used to do in late 90’s albums…
It‘s like, if I were to feel the urge, which I don’t because I think I have settled the sound of Kreator now and I know what I want to do and I know how I can experiment without being obviously too experiential for some years. I like the era of ENDORAMA but maybe not so much the era for OUTCAST. OUTCAST only has three or four good songs in my opinion, but that’s a different story. The line-up wasn’t very strong at the time. Those albums in my opinion were good but then again, you know, I think that the past is the past.
THE ALBUM COVER ART THING
As for the album cover art, tell something about the guy, Wes Benscoter. He has worked earlier with bands like Slayer, Autopsy, Vader and Hypocrisy – and he is not the guy using the Photoshop for covers, he’s painting them old fashion way, right?
That’s why I wanted to use the guy. We did two photos or more. We have done many Photoshop covers, and I wanted to have real artwork again. So that’s going to be the future for Kreator also. So we definitely want to keep it that way. We see what happens but I like his artwork a lot. I think it’s very strong.
Why you decided to have different versions of the album cover?
A) There are different versions of the album coming out. B) Nuclear Blast has asked us to do so, you know, so to have like two different things. But I have to give them the credit that – Nuclear Blast – if they put out a different version, A is a different version it’s not only like one bonus disc of this like the whole huge like t-shirt, DVD, whatever. So it’s definitely a cool thing. When I was with other labels, I had to convince them to do these things. Now Nuclear Blast is unstoppable when it comes to those ideas and they were very good with this. And yeah, they came up with the idea to do different cover art and I like both in a way, but I like Wes a little better. But there are people in the band that like the other artwork better.
Do you have some kind of impression in your mind how the cover is supposed to look like – Are the lyrics or the song titles are connected to the cover?
In a way it’s and on the album in many ways it was supposed – I wanted to have like someone that destroys everything (laughter)
What about older albums covers like the one of RENEWAL?
That’s strange cover, you know. It’s a really strange album artwork. See the thing is I want to keep this open for the listener’s imagination. I think it’s a cover art to me that gets you and gets you in the mood. In a perfect world you would take the vinyl, look at the vinyl, take out the booklet, read the lyrics, and listen to the music. That is the perfect world, and the full treatment, the full experience of listening to music to me. And the artwork should help you to understand the lyrics or get you in a certain strange metal mood, you know, it’s like and I think this album does the job.
And the cover is meant to make an impact on people to go and buy the album…
Yeah. When I saw Iron Maiden opening up for Kiss – the first thing that I did… It was in 1983. The first thing that I did was I became a “metalhead” because before that I was only a Kiss fan which is different. Kiss fans are Kiss fans, you know, that those people are nerds… And I was too young to be as nerdy as I would be if I would be such a huge – I still like Kiss, of course, and a good friend of mine is a guitar technique for them nowadays. So and I still go see them, but back in ’83 when that happened with Iron Maiden, it was different. I remember the opening band for Kiss and I went into the shop and I saw the album cover for KILLERS or the first Iron Maiden album and I saw the cover and it was like “I got to get this!” You know, it was even more extreme than Kiss, you know.
THE LAST WORDS
One more thing about PHANTOM ANTICHRIST.I went through the lyric side of the album and I was thinking, what makes you angry these days because it seems you’re always angry about something?
I’m not angry actually. I put all my anger in the lyrics and as a private person I’m not an angry person. I hate being in a bad mood. I don’t want to. Of course, I have to sometimes, but then again, then again, I put all this negative energy and transform it into something positive. And what would make me angry, of course, injustice in the world. But then again I cannot change the world. The world isn’t perfect. We have to deal with it. I came to this conclusion a long time ago, but I think it is good for inspiration for metal – it’s a great inspiration for metal lyrics looking at the negative things in the world. Yeah.
About the Greeks, do you have some kind of closer heart to Greece?
Yeah, this isn’t coincidence that the new video is also done in Greece, partly, and talks about Greece partly and talks about Greece. Yeah, we have a strong fan base there and then we have a history with the Greek people so we’re connected definitely. I like the culture there, but it’s not that we prefer it to other countries, you know, it’s just that we have a strong connection.
Yeah, because I was thinking about the classic “Betrayer” video which was shot in Greece and now there’s the latest “Civilization Collapse” is also filmed in there?
It‘s just a coincidence and we love the fans in Greece just as much as we love the fans in Helsinki!
Of course you do. Thank you Mille!!
All right, man.
PICTURES FROM KREATOR’S HELSINKI SHOW