Part I: Generalities
Heathen Harvest: Greetings Daniel and thank you for taking on this interview. How is the beginning of our Winter months treating you in Germany?
Hi Sage, well I might regret it before we’re through, so do not thank me too early. I had some slow days behind me, but again I am punished with piles of work ahead.
HH: Has 2007 been a prosperous year for you? How have sales on the new Dooom album been so far?
Well I can’t complain. No that’s not true, I can complain all the time if I am thus inclined. More accurate would be: I have less reason for complaining than usual. Dooom sells quite well, but it was also very expensive to produce so that is OK. All in all were getting slowly ahead.
HH: Tell us a little bit about what brought you into the world of doom and gothic music. Where did you get your start in music? What was music like for you in childhood?
I have an elder brother who was DJ for many years, so we had LPs and CDs wall to wall. I have been a pretty lazy and varied consumer, picking here and there. My earliest favorites I remember were Pink Floyd
and Depeche Mode
. I also had some short romances with stuff like rap, underground techno and trance. But that was a long time ago. (grin)
Later I happened upon Kiss
, and Metallica
, and so I began my slide down into the depths of darker Metal. Gothic as such is for me more a matter of outlook than much musical influence. A colour. Generally I am not easily bottled. In my youth I was happy to belong, now I am mildly pleased to stand alone.
HH: Are you satisfied with what you've acheived in your life musically thus far? Are there any other goals left to fight for?
There always are. I am still widely unknown, widely unrich, and have to work more than a quarter of an hour per day. I challenge that here and now. Basically, I take the long, long way around. Other bands are miles ahead aged 17. The lucky few. I belong to the bodies they walk upon. I am doing this for 13 years or so, over 20 releases or such (counting demos and EPs) and I have hardly begun. I am not gifted, I am just too stupid to get it, to stop trying.
HH: Do you have any influence from fine arts or film? What other hobbies do you partake in your life besides music?
Influence is a tricky thing, I try to keep it to a minimum. Still, it’s always there, like carbon dioxide. I enjoy fine arts but mainly when visiting other cities’ museums. I watch a lot of British and American TV series on DVD. The stuff they broadcast here is unpalatable. I devour British literature. I fancy computer games, and doing soundtracks is my new mission.
HH: What is important to you in this life besides music? What gives you depth, meaning? Do you fight for any causes?
I am too tired to fight for anything else than for my survival and my undeserved fame. Life, love, good moments, deep sorrow, and a lot of thinking gives me substance.
Part II: Other Former / Current Projects
HH: You have a small German tour coming up in February with one of the biggest goth rock bands in the world l'Ame Immortelle. How did you land this gig? Are you excited?
- Beyond the Void
You’ll bet! We were fighting for a cool tour ever since album #2, but it’s hard. There are too many bands, and everyone up is usually trying to keep everybody else down and out. It’s like a dating party with 3 guys and 50 girls. Tough competition. L.A.I. are really nice and their singer Sonja really fought for us (thanks!!), so the many things that always go wrong mysteriously failed to do so this time, and hey, there’s a cool tour with venue capacities around 1000!
HH: Apparently Beyond the Void is a big deal in Europe, but here in America I've never heard the band's name. Do you have any promotion over here? Are there any "club singles" circulating?
Beyond The Void is powered by passion and sweat, against the active resistance of mankind. We still have very far to go, and USA is one of them places. But we have a new promotion agency for North, Central and South America, so we hope to win you guys over.
HH: Do you enjoy this kind of well-known semistardom? It seems strange to me that someone so into more extreme forms of metal would find fame in a goth rock outfit appealing.
I can see semistardom at the horizon as a tiny pixel, so don’t ask me how it feels. Beyond The Void has a lot of passion and desire to procreate, but we are mostly powered by ourselves. We have no huge label behind us, branding our logo into the foreheads of the masses. We multiply on a one-on-one basis. This does not always mean that every girl we have slept with has bought one CD. I mean we grow slowly through effort and through personal contact with fans. People find us okayish, tell their friends and so on. We feed the press as good as we can, we burn our money as fast as we can, but we can’t brainwash nations to buy our stuff. That’s the next step.
HH: As of this moment, which band is more important to you point blank. Beyond the Void or Worship? Where does your soul truly lie?
I can’t choose between my children. My heart usually is with the underdog. Worship did next to nothing to get where it is, Beyond The Void failed a lot of times and always got up, that just looks better on the big screen. Worship is very much myself, so it is closer to my heart. But I had more ups and downs, more good moments and hope’s squashed with Beyond The Void.
HH: Thanks to the success of Beyond the Void, are you able to make a semi-comfortable living off your music? If not, what is your dayjob?
Beyond The Void burns about everything I ever earn. We invest heavily into the band to spread our music. Money exists only to be burned for art. I would happily give any amount of dough to earn a few true fans. We are not at that stage where we make profits that we do not reinvest at once.
I have my own tiny company, under which I do my label, the management of my bands and IT consulting. Latest addition is my career of soundtrack composition. I am working on the soundtrack of 2 PC games, more projects ahead.
My dream would be to live of BTV, Worship
, my label and my soundtrack composing. I try get there at least half way in the next 5 years.
HH: What does the future hold for Beyond the Void in light of the new Worship release?
We make the biggest step ahead so far right now. We are signed to my own label for the next third album, which is also designed by my friend Gustavo Sazes
as is Dooom. We have the tour, we have a monster promotion deal, we have a roughly Europe wide distribution + expanding. We also have a MaxiCD coming up, and a dozen gigs in virtual worldwide communities in Second Life. I think all this will get us a few steps ahead.
HH: You played bass in this group from it's beginnings until its first full-length release. Why did you decide to leave the band?
- Somber Serenity
This interview starts to turn interesting. I had my first band The Darkness Within
since 1994, and I was bored. I saw an ad, a new band was looking for a singer. I met Stefan and he was playing Solitude Aeturnus in his car, so he had me. I was growling and singing clean badly. We had no bass player so I did that too because it can’t be too hard (grin)
, later I played guitar there.
We just drifted apart, we were always a wild mixture of things, I was rowing into melodic and sad waters all the time, they preferred raw unmelodic pagan metal, so they, uhm, kicked me basically. That did me some good. I concentrated on Beyond The Void and just singing and it helped my voice.
HH: It seems also that you wrote most of the lyrics, at least in the demo days, of this project. What were the lyrical ideas based around?
Back then I was basically telling stories. I found one idea for a story, usually packed with hard feelings, and wrote a song around that. Could be fantasy, could be personal.
HH: In 1998 you released a split with fellow German doomsters Gone Sadness. Why was this band chosen to release a split with? Any clue what has become of these guys?
They changed their name to Hereafter, then Hereafter And Now, and to Deep Inside Myself
. They had a good deal too but have been kicked, sadly. Their website says they have not split but that’s the last entry of 2005, so I don’t know.
They were cool, mastermind Marco is a really talented sad metal writer. We were friends and tried to help each other out as good as we could. I have lost contact after the 3rd Gone Sadness album, though, which was a really excellent Gothic Metal thing with 70 minutes of short songs, one better than the next.
HH: After you left it looks like the band took a downhill turn, not releasing another album through Medusa Productions and simply releasing a few promotional CD's until their demise. Are you still friends with anyone in this group?
We had some contact, there is no bad blood there. (smile)
For me, looking back, Somber Serenity had too loose a concept, and was not quality driven enough. We took every riff we found, which I later learned for myself is wrong. I think it could have been too “fun oriented”. Fun deserved is a good thing, but a band mainly striving for fun is sailing down waterfalls in my opinion. Nowadays, when I hear somebody say “I do this for fun” I draw and shot them down. A band must hurt to feel good.
- The Darkness Within
HH: Yourself and Martin had a group prior to his joining Worship called The Darkness Within. You independently released two full lengths and at least two EP's during the time this group was active. What was the style of this band like?
Oh dear, soul stripping the past. I know him since I was 10. Well we were teenagers, we had guitars, so we did everything between doom metal and death metal, black and thrash, rock and roll. It was wild, weird, and we had no clue whatsoever. We never had any drive, we were writing all the time and almost never releasing. We wrote around 70 songs but really released only 2 demos. One of them with 17 songs. Could have been a good band if we had had more focus. But then I was bored and found Somber Serenity, then Beyond The Void, asked Martin to join Beyond The Void and that was that.
HH: I'm assuming this project was abandoned because yourself and Martin decided he would join Worship?
Martins work in Worship is not so time consuming. Worship had been me and my guitar for years. I included him only 2007 in studio. We will play live together. Beyond The Void’s more of a reason.
HH: As you were part of this band during the time Max was alive and in Worship, I'm compelled to ask if Martin and Max knew each other back then? Were they friends as well?
No I don’t think they have met. I might be wrong.
HH: Yourself and Mad Max also had a black metal project called Kult, apparently from St-Dizier, France. Is this where Max was from?
Right, research-man. Max threw this band at me, we improvised some grindcore on the rotten Worship equipment, he drummed, I strummed, we growled and screamed.
HH: Was Max more of a Black metal type of guy? In many interviews there's a recurring theme of the hatred in his heart towards humanity. Hatred is an emotion better suited for black metal than doom it would seem.
Max was deeply depressed, very funny, extremely hateful and extensively respectful towards his friends. He was a tight bundle of conflicting emotions fighting to explode. He was into lots of extreme metal but also some other weird styles of music. He was never boring!
HH: Was this a serious project? Max's label name "Impaler of Trendies" makes it sound a bit parady-esque.
That’s very much Max. No interview with under 100 exclamation marks. He was against most things. Kult was a serious as an afternoon of brutal music can be.
HH: Were there any other releases on this label that you're aware of other than the three way split with Lust and Unholy Archangel?
There was more, I have to look it up though. He was a dedicated underground and DIY supporter. Literally every day a pile of tapes arrived from all continents. Worship’s standing is largely due to his good underground networking in the earliest days.
HH: This release was limited to 666 tapes and was released in the same year that Max commited suicide. Were all 666 tapes sold out? If not, what happened to the remaining tapes?
I can’t tell. As far as I heard all went up in flames.
HH: Why were these two bands in particular chosen for the split?
I can only guess that it was due to mutual friendship between them and Max, I can’t shed much light on that.
HH: Will this project stay forever dead with Max, or do you feel one day you may revive it?
I can’t come up with any scenario in which I revive Max’s grindcore project. Although… No.
- Neuntöter / Delivion / Absinthflut / Aaalptraum / Total Disorder
HH: As none of the above bands have any releases there's not much information to be found. Could you tell us a little bit about each? (as in who you worked with in the band, if anything is still actively being pursued, etc)
I think this is the first time anyone dug that deep. Kudos.
Neuntöter was a true gothic project with a colleague in community service (the equivalent to military service for guys with long hair). He was a poet and a goth scene aficionado. We had a couple of songs but it was the usual lack of time in the end that made this fade out.
Delivion was once a doom band, but watered down to an indie wave rock (but in a good way). The songs are really good. It once had a full lineup with violin player (she was one of the best musicians I have ever seen) and cello player, 2 guitars, drums and so on. Later I tried to revive it with Martin (Worship), we even recorded 7 songs but (I don’t know) again we ran out of time, and we never finished it. Some time ago I decided I will never finish half of what I try so I decided to kick it and all the rest of the “I-Could-Also-Maybe-Sometime” projects. A giant list of failures depresses me. I need small victories once in a while.
Absinthflut was my idea of an EBM band. I was meddling a bit with electronics, but hell when and how? Maybe when I am doing music fulltime.
Aaalptraum, oh that was early. It was with David of Mirrored in Secrecy
and Michael Zech (Odem Arcarum
, Reign of Decay
). It was thrash metal with hardcore vocals in German. It was a big pile of crap. Not only because I played drums.
Total Disorder. I was still young and shit, when a female friend called me and said “you play guitar?”. I said “Yeah?”. She said: “Go to this address, now.” I took my lousy guitar (like a tree with strings) and trudged through the rain to that band, they played punk and needed a guitar player, so I was in. That is the way things work when you are 16 and suck. We lost contact after an argument where I insisted that doom metal was way cooler than punk. They later called themselves “The Cyanotic”. I guess they have split up. Last time I saw the singer he was not looking very happy. Bank clerk trainee, the bane of all that’s punk.
Part III: The Legacy
HH: Worship will forever be known for Max's suicide, so you must forgive me for beating the dead horse sort-of-speaking if I ask a few questions concerning him. The very last time that you had contact with Max, what condition did he seem to be in? Did anything about that day or how he was acting stick out to you?
It is no secret that he was obsessed with suicide. Read any of his songs. As he went to Canada and died there, I didn’t see him for a while. I was not really prepared for the actual event.
HH: How hard was Max's death on you personally? Were there ever points where you blamed yourself? As of today, where does your mind lie when it comes to him?
To shape Max is like to divert the tide with your bare hands, I never tried that. So I can’t really blame me. I miss him today in everything Worship does. He was always the driving force. It makes Worship even more sad to me.
HH: Worship is a band that seems to feed off the hatred that is invested in you. You are quoted as saying "We are judged by the number of our enemies." in an interview with Doom-metal.com in 2004. Do you still believe this now? Have you had a lot of "bad responses" to the new album?
Too few bad responses. A bad review is now anything below 90%. That’s weird. But hey, I am a commercial slut, I am doing this because I enjoy a nice reaction by a fan. I don’t need to piss off people, that was Max’s job in the band which remained vacant. If it’s good or bad for the cultitude, well you can’t make nor break a cult I guess. It’s not for me to decide what people think about the music I like to make and spread.
HH: You were also quoted as saying "The more you hate me for what I do with Worship, the more I become like Max.". Just how much like Max are you at this point? Have you ever personally come close to suicide? If so can you go into detail about an incident?
I am too fucking scared of death, but I often thought about it, and I was often very very low to the ground. I am prone to suffering a lot when it’s about girls. I have my share of hells behind me.
Not much Max I fear. I am more the sadness part, not the rebellion part. I am so tired of everything. I sometimes feel old and faded already.
HH: In the "Last ____ Before Doomsday" days you were writing lyrics in multiple languages which really added to the overall atmosphere of the album itself. Why did you make the conscious decision to go with strictly English lyrics on Dooom?
Because my French sucks (not what you think). There are French vocals by Max on the album, but I don’t know what he sings, the words are lost, so I have not printed the lyrics in the booklet. My lyrics form a solid story. I wouldn’t like my audience to miss slices because of any language barrier. This doesn’t mean we stick to English forever.
HH: I've tried hard to find an answer to this question as I'm sure its been asked before but I simply could not locate one. There's a great deal of rumors surrounding the Agathocles split. Copies obviously exist. Some people say 80 copies survived a freak fire, some say only a few remain in circulation and Max's parents destroyed the remaining copies because they blamed your music on his death. I'd like to offer you the chance to clear up the rumors and to give the definitive answer on this issue. What happened to the remaining copies of this split?
Ok here comes. No idea. I live in Germany, Max lived in France, moved to Canada. I can’t tell. I had some talks with his mother after his death, she has been very nice, I don’t know what happened, but I don’t blame them in any case. What do you do with 1000s of DIY UG tapes when your son is gone?
HH: How many copies of The Last Tape before Doomsday were made by Impaler of Trendies?
He copied them one after another on demand, open end, I don’t know.
HH: Was Loss chosen for the split release because of your relationship involved Weird Truth?
That was Fred’s choice at Painiac, I usually don’t meddle. But Loss are cool guys.
HH: Are Weird Truth and Painiac inter-related somehow?
Who isn’t in today’s little scene? We coordinated the release of Last CD / Last Vinyl. I can’t tell how much they cooperate otherwise, ask them!
Part IV: Dooom
HH: Why did you make the entire album a concept story? It fits really well as the whole album flows nicely musically and lyrically.
I don’t know, I have been asked so many times about when it finally comes out, and I have worked on it for so long, I wanted it to be massive. A big story like in an audio play seemed good to me.
HH: What is the symbology behind the main character Qorban? Who is he? What is his past? Why did he survive? Is this newborn his child?
Hey these are 5 questions rolled into one! I usually refrain from spelling out the story from A to Z. I deliberately left some secrets here or there, so people have to think if they want to get it.
We can still talk about it, and I would advise any spoiler-allergic person to skip this paragraph. Bakar, the leader of the Moonkult, is not content with rounding up the few starving survivors, he also looks for a successor, as a sort of ritual. Because he is not immortal. This would have been Qorban, had he not decided to run (Track 3). Qorban has no past, really. This he finds out at the end of Track 7. The Newborn mentioned at the end of the album is the next candidate. The whole album is a little circle-shaped and ends where it begins.
HH: Is Qorban in some way representative of you?
I think whenever you sing a story of somebody in the 1st person, you become one more or less for a short while. I didn’t write the character as an image of myself, he makes decisions I wouldn’t make, for example.
HH: The "Moonkult" subject seems to have been carried over from the old to the new. Have you thought out a complete theology behind this group? If so, can you go into a deeper detail on what the Moonkult is to you? Is there a further symbology present that this group should represent on the album?
I deliberately took this loosely refered-to group from the old material and fleshed them out. The group was Max’s idea. In short, it’s an evil cult. Here, in Dooom, it’s a distorted version of several religions rolled into one. I think religion more often goes wrong than it helps. It helps in small things in hidden chambers and fails loudly in a huge groundshaking explosions. I take my responsibility of the name Worship seriously and try to weave the theme of religion-gone-bad into my songs. Our Moonkult is a church of fanatic Christians/Satanists/Terrorists/Whatnots who set out to ruin the world and mankind because they thought the human race deficient. As self-inflicted punishment they executed a plan to all but wipe out mankind.
HH: The epilogue obviously leaves the story open to continuing. Will there be another album that will continue this concept with the newborn?
It is an open end but also the end of the story. Sequels usually suck, but maybe some idea hits me in the far future and makes me continue it, who knows.
HH: The artwork for Dooom, and the packaging in general is obviously quite complex. Its certainly one of the finest packaging deals i've seen, and as an avid vinyl fan, I must say that this is probably the closest to vinyl that a CD will ever come. What lied behind your vision of this layout? Did a story as epic as the one you wrote from Dooom need an equivalent packaging in order to give it the life it deserves?
Yes! I think it’s a shame that the CD is seen as inferior, and the LP as the luxury edition of the CD. I wanted the CD to be cool and nice-to-have. It’s also the 1st release of my own label, and some fans were waiting for it for years, it just had to be special. Gustavo Sazes designed the images to my story.
HH: The artwork for track two, "All I ever Knew Lie Dead", is of clocktower bells. Is this to say that soon he would be joining "All he ever knew" and that the bells would be tolling for him soon?
A possible interpretation, but on the surface it was more that the bells were drawing him to the ruined cathedral where the Moonkult gathered. It is a ritual, the newborn has to hatch from the cave in the mountains, and walk barefooted and almost naked all the way to the cathedral. If he survives, he is fit to join the Moonkult, and to maybe one day become its future leader.
HH: I'm assuming the foul creature depicted on the fifth gatefold is Bakar, the Moonkult Leader?
I think Gustavo was envisioning here Qorban’s face distorted by rage (i.e. Zorn), because he clasps the newspaper he found in track 4 which told of the approaching end of mankind.
HH: As "Devived" isn't a proper word in the English language, I have to assume that it's a play on the word Revived. This seems to be the climax of the album, when Qorban finally gives up. Just as Revived means resotred life, is this track serving the purpose of taking Qorban's away?
Yes, Devived is the opposite of Revived. He walks into the seemingly endless waste and feels his life falling away little by little, drowning into the ashes in the end. If he has a genuine epiphany then (Track 7), or is getting insane, is left open. But he sees a light which made him fight death again: the island in the black clouds, with a vision of the sun shining down on the hidden lake, the Mirror Of Sorrow.
HH: What was the point of Qorban's sacrifice in the end? What was he sacrificed to, and to serve what purpose?
There is no purpose. There is only faith. That is religion. The Moonkult believed their suffering would end if one day mankind would be forgiven for centuries of sin and blasphemy. To reach that end they were sacrificing themselves ritualwise. Whenever the leadership is handed down, the former leader would sacrifice himself on the cross to make way. Qorban rejected his role as future leader so he had to pay the ultimate price. Why he gave in after having sworn eternal resistance is explained in Track 8 and the epilogue.
HH: Who, exactly, makes up the Choir of the Doomkult?
The Choir in the story is the assembly of the Moonkult in ritual chant.
Part V: The Future
HH: What project lies in your heart with your true nature...the harsher side of Worship or the more sophisticated side of Beyond the Void?
I think good sad music is good sad music. I think these “enemy” camps have much more in common than they ever admit. At least from the doom side there is a lot of hostility. I have used BTV songs in Worship (Devived), I have even used the same part in both bands (e.g. Let There Be Doom and Echoshade). I will continue to do so. I am not a completely different person when I wear a death metal shirt or a goth rock shirt. And likewise a depressing dark hard song does not change so much if played by a doom death or a gothic metal outfit. It’s not the same, both genres have a world of their own, but all in all it’s all sad metal to me.
HH: With the formation of your personal label Endzeit Elegy, you have unleashed one hell of a beautiful package for a first release. Will your label be handling most if not all future Worship releases? Do you plan to sign or release other bands?
I have signed my own band Beyond The Void to my own label for now (control is the major issue here). I just had a talk last week with a hopeful and young death metal band we would like to sign. What happens in the future I can’t really tell.
HH: Painiac is a label that you have worked with since bringing the band back to life. Could you fill us in on information about Painiac? Who runs the label, contact, etc? There's not much information readily avilable online about it.
Fred runs the label, I admit he is a little mysterious. He can be contacted here Painiac @ Telenet . be It appears he still has no website.
HH: Are there any plans in the future for a tour?
Yes they are, I am setting up some interesting gigs around the world for 2008. I will release the dates all at once when I am done, first Quarter of 2008 I think.
HH: Will we ever see Worship and Beyond the Void share the same stage?
I will do that as soon as both genres stop fighting each other and unite in their age-old war against their common enemy, the armies of suck.
HH: Is there a chance for Worship to ever take on any other full time members?
Don’t know, maybe. Right now I have a hopeful live crew and I am quite content.
Part VI: Personal
HH: Are you married? Do you have any children?
Can’t a man have some mysteries left? Give me the associated fame and I give you the tabloid frontpage shots without underwear, freaky home stories and all. For now, I dwell in obscurity and that has its merits, too. When my private life appears in Bravo or The Sun, I will start talking about it. Until then, I will keep the media out of my bed and my bed out of the media.
HH: What's currently in rotation in your CD/vinyl/tape player?
When I have a minute I am writing music, currently for the PC game Broken Sword 2.5
. And for the next Worship album. I keep myself thirsty music-wise, that way ideas keep on appearing in my head out of nowhere. I like that.
HH: Have you seen any recent great films?
Are there great films made in this century? I haven’t realized. I am not one with the ditch-story-for-FX movement so most movies I like are not so recent. I am pretty partial to TV series, though. I buy them on DVD and watch them as a unit, I have just seen “My Name is Earl”, “Mighty Boosh”, “Black Books” and 24 Season 6 on DVD, to name a few.
HH: Name the 5 top current music artists in Germany as you see them.
That is difficult, I do not look much out of my window. “Die Ärzte
” should be there because they are a great entertaining live band, number 1 just about now and also the subject of the very first talk I had with my band mate Martin back in 1988. Tokyo Hotel
because of their amazing success and youth, and Schandmaul
because of their mentordom. And Beyond the Void and Worship of course (hmmmmm), that is for MY universe which fits inside a cube about 10³ feet.
HH: Alright Daniel, thank you for taking the time to answer this extensive interview and for putting up with my incessant need to ask a million questions at once.
Man, are we through? When will the biography come out? Thanks man for a monster interview and a review too that is far too nice and spoils me extremely.