Sunday, October 4, 2009
INFECTED BRAIN are one of Germanys most interesting Death Metal bands. There music maintains everything from slow groovy parts to high speed blast beats. The blast and up-tempo parts make up most of the tunes, but they always try to keep it interesting and most important: mosh-able.
“Blood-Soaked Retrobution” is their last release. What makes this EP special is the fact that it can be downloaded completely free of charge. The download includes a multicoloured cover plus inlay card so that everybody can print out the artwork and manufacture their own CD at home.
Hi Hannes, how are you? Be honest: isn’t it a bit complicated to drive from Halle to Borne on a regular basis just to rehearse 3 chords? Or isn’t that necessary for you anymore?
Hannes: Hi Jupp! Hope you’re doing fine. What do you mean by “3 chords”? We play highly complex, technical music. HaHaHa! No, the driving is no problem. I just need the rehearsals with the band, and enjoy really turning up the amp now and then. Playing alone at home just isn’t the same. Apart from that it’s always nice to spend an evening with the other guys, because we’re not just a band but good friends. The rehearsals are also a kind of time out from work and the rest of “normal life”. That’s why I don’t mind the driving. And even total professionals like us (lol) need to rehearse now and then.
Tell me about living and dying with INFECTED BRAIN! Does Death Metal still rule, or are you getting sick of hanging around with a bunch of alcoholics in a dingy basement pretending to make music?
Hannes: Definitely YES! Metal has been a part of my life for almost 20 years now, same with the others. I don’t think that’s going to change in the foreseeable future, or ever. Sure, my attitude has changed a bit. I don’t have to buy every new CD or t-shirt anymore, and my haircut and the clothes might have changed, but not my approach to music.Luckily we don’t have alcohol or drug problems in the band (or do we???), and we don’t have to play in a basement anymore. We have nice red (!!!) carpets in our rehearsal room, a bar, 2 couches, a clothes rack, heating and even a ventilation system. That’s just the little touches of luxury you’re grateful for when you’ve reached a certain age. HeHe.
What are you up to at the moment, I mean apart from giving porn to school kids?
Hannes: What do you mean? We don’t do anything else anyway… Actually, we’ve just released our “Blood-Soaked Retrobution” EP. It can be downloaded along with the artwork and some info material. But we’ll come to that in the next question, I think. Right now we’re trying to write new material and we hope to release another album in 2011. Sounds a bit far off, but 2009 is almost over, and if we finish the song writing in the middle of 2010, we still have to record the stuff. Apart from our jobs, families etc. we only have a few hours per week for doing all that, so 2011 seems to be realistic. There’s also a label that would interested in releasing the next CD, so we’ll see how things go.
Let’s talk about the new EP. Was it really necessary to record it, because there’s almost nothing new on it? And as to the individual tracks, why did you choose exactly the ones you did and what made them worth being re-recorded?
Hannes: Well, the EP is absolutely free, so what more do you want?
We had several reasons for making the EP. First of all we wanted to present a new song as a preview for the next album. It’s also intended as life sign so to speak, because it’s been more than a year already since our last release.
Most of us play or have played in other bands apart from INFECTED BRAIN, and we just wanted to give a little overview of those activities.
Then there’s “Leichenschmaus”, the first INFECTED BRAIN song ever written and previously unreleased. We still play that song live, and we finally wanted to see it released in one way or other. The EP also shows our musical development, because more than 10 years passed between writing “Leichenschmaus” and “Blood-Soaked Retribution”.
And of course the EP is an advertisement for ourselves. You just have to get noticed now and then, especially in the underground, so people don’t forget about you.
The polka edition of “I Will Kill You” – ROFL! What kind of pills did you pop when you had that idea?
Hannes: You better ask our drummer Carsten about that, I think that was his idea.
Carsten: Well, when we originally recorded the song for the „Infected Brain“ album in 2006, there was some background noise on some of the guitar takes. I had to go through all the takes and manually cut out the noise. I had to listen to the guitar tracks of “I Will Kill You” for about a thousand times, and at some point this ridiculous drum beat just popped into my head. I made a demo version with the new drums, and the others just pissed their pants when they heard it. We thought it would be a shame to keep this nonsense to ourselves, so we re-recorded it and put it on the EP. We just love bands like ROMPEPROP, JIG-AI or PUNGENT STENCH who do songs of that kind sometimes, so that’s a little tribute in that direction.
Looking back, was it clever to release the EP as a free download only? Or was that kind of fighting fire with fire, because it’s only a matter of time before someone rips the EP and uploads it?
Hannes: I think we did the right thing. For us as an underground band, it would have been next to impossible to sell the EP to anyone. People just don’t buy that many CD’s anymore, no matter how cheap you make them. The market is just too overcrowded. And of course you can download anything illegally a few days after it was released. That doesn’t make things easier, especially for underground bands. And there’s one thing I just don’t understand: Less than a week after the release, the EP was available on 20 or more illegal download sites. It was FREE in the first place! Well, we’ve decided to take that as a compliment. But then there are sites who actually charge money for downloading our free EP. That’s where I draw the line. Anyway, in terms of advertising, the EP was a full success. Just enter the EP title in a search engine and see how many hits you get.
What do you think about “internet piracy”? Who does it hurt more, the small underground bands or the big labels? Maybe the web will soon replace CD’s entirely, like CD’s replaced vinyl.
Hannes: Well, I think it hurts everyone. But most of all the bands, underground or professional. Simply put, it’s just not fair. People should once in a while try to see our side of the deal: we put a lot of effort, creativity and money (for equipment etc.) into our music and then get nothing back for our hard work. Nobody would like to be treated like that. We pay for the recordings, the equipment, having the CD’s manufactured, the artwork, advertising and so on. So we depend on making some of that money back by selling CD’s. And those idiots who just have to upload anything and everything make it so much harder for us. I’m really curious how the situation will develop. I personally don’t download any music. I use MySpace and other platforms like that to check out new albums, and if I like something, I buy the CD. I don’t listen to music on my computer anyway, I still have my good old CD player, and I just love to hold the actual album in my hands, with the artwork and everything. I don’t use vinyl anymore, it’s just no longer practical. But of course the albums look great, I still have some very limited editions from back in the days…
Back to the EP. Who designed the cover? It’s got the character of a slasher flick, really cool. Hey, Jason or Michael, who’s got the bigger balls?
Hannes: The cover was designed by Patrick Barcz of Catch Him Design. He made the DVD covers for the German editions of Hellraiser III, Mortal Combat, Shark, Helloween H20 and many more. So, you were right, the cover was meant to look like a movie poster, and he was just the man for the job. We all like the cover very much! There had been some criticism concerning the artworks of our other releases, so we decided to have a professional do the artwork and booklet for our next releases.
The press seems to love you, according to the reviews you get. Do you at least benefit from that or are those only words that don’t reach the audience?
Hannes: Well, to be honest, good reviews are nice, but for us nothing much ever came of them. Now and then we get some feedback (at gigs or via MySpace), but that’s really the exception. Same with the EP. It’s been downloaded hundreds of times from our website (and probably much more often from other sites), but so far we have received almost no feedback at all. That’s not very satisfying to say the least. We’d really like to get some reactions, no matter if positive or negative. But, well, do I give feedback for other bands? Not really, only with bands I know personally…
Today it’s kind of hard to be noticed. Are there too many similar bands blocking the scene? Do we need another wave of band break-ups like in the nineties?
Hannes: The scene is definitely overcrowded and it’s impossible to keep track of all the bands. Some people might call me arrogant, but I blame people who can play about three chords and think they have to release their stuff. There are so many crappy, godawful bands, it’s just annoying. That’s why no one goes to small clubs and concerts anymore, because nobody wants to listen to the crap some people fabricate. I’m not saying we’re a great fabulous band and better than the rest. But it’s like American Idol in a way. Some people just can not sing, but they do it anyway, annoying everybody and making fools of themselves. It’s the same in the metal scene, and the good bands that definitely exist, just drown in that flood.
You don’t seem to play many live shows. Don’t you have enough time for that? Could you manage being on the road more often anyway?
Hannes: We don’t play many live shows, but that’s not because we don’t have the time, but we just don’t get the opportunity. Last year we applied for about 40 concerts or festivals, and we did not get a single gig in the process! Most of the organizers didn’t even send a refusal. That’s frustrating. Or maybe we just suck. LOL! But the reviews say otherwise. The main problem is, we don’t have the necessary connections and we can’t offer to trade gigs because here in the Magdeburg region there’s not much of a metal scene. I think a label would be a big help in that regard. Unfortunately we just don’t have the time to look for gigs constantly. That would mean a full time job for one of us. But we all have jobs of our own, some of us a family too, and that’s that.
By playing just a handful of shows per year, you’ll never become rock stars! Do you want to live at your parents’ until you’re 50, collecting social welfare? But honestly, wouldn’t it be great to play support for a big tour in Germany for a few days (of course that’s a bit expensive nowadays)?
Hannes: No, none of us dreams about being a rock star anymore, we’re just too old for that. And we’ve all moved out of our parents’ houses years ago. LOL! Of course it would be great to tour with a famous band in Germany or wherever. But we all have jobs and some of us a family to support, so you can’t just go on vacation for a few weeks whenever you like. Then of course, you have to set your priorities, and those are money for food, rent, car, guitars, equipment etc. In the question you already hinted at the fact that as an unknown band you have to pay in order to get on a decent billing or tour. We don’t do that on principle. We do not pay for playing anywhere with anyone, period. That’s just a way to get credulous bands to finance a tour. No thanks! We’ve already had such offers, and we declined. We are really cooperative when it comes to fees for live shows, but paying for a tour – that’s out of the question. Well, seems like even the metal scene is just about money anymore.
This year you played at the Bornstokk festival. What can you tell us about that? It was quite a motley mix of bands, how did that work out? Or did you just play in front of drunk youths from the auxiliary fire brigade?
Hannes: Bornstokk was a real success, and not only for the organizers. The festival was completely new, organized by members of the youth club in Borne, and there were 1600 visitors! Not bad for a premiere, I’d say. It also shows that it was a good idea to have that mix of musical styles there. Once again we got a lot of positive feedback after our show and sold a bunch of shirts and CD’s. The festival will be continued next year, and we’re really looking forward to that!
You managed to get a slot on BRUTALISM net radio, how did that happen? Do you expect a bunch of major labels from the US to zero in on you like flies on a pile of dog shit?
Hannes: Actually, there isn’t much to tell. Twan of BRUTALISM just likes our stuff, and so he included us in his play list. But honestly we don’t expect much to come of it, that’s just been our experience over the years. Maybe we can reach some more people because of that, but a major label – I don’t think so. LOL!
Your musical tastes seem to be very similar. Do you see the danger of musical incest, so to speak, just repeating the same stuff over and over?
Hannes: O, I think you might be wrong there. Our tastes do differ a lot in some respects. We listen to everything from Tool, Prodigy, Depeche Mode, 80’s pop music to Korn, Cypress Hill, 80’s metal, Iron Maiden, Overkill, Metallica, Thrash, Death Metal, Grindcore, US Death Metal and so on. Of course we’re mainly interested in stuff with distorted guitars, but there’s a great variety in that as well.
I don’t think we have a problem of repeating stuff in our songs. We try to make every song unique and recognizable. A certain variety in our songs is very important to us, and luckily that was acknowledged in a lot of reviews so far.
What are your plans for the future? What would be realistic nowadays? And is music as a hobby still affordable if all the money is spent on alcohol and drugs?
Hannes: There’s no real plan or goal for INFECTED BRAIN. We make music mostly just for the fun of it. Of course it would be great to have the support of a label, to play gigs at big festivals, to become a little more famous. But it’s not the end of the world if that doesn’t work out. The album “II” and now the EP have gone down really well with fans and critics, and of course we’re really happy about that. Maybe one day we’ll convince a label and get a deal for our next album, which is already in the making, by the way. If not, we’ll produce the album by ourselves again. As long as we’re having fun and can afford making music, there will be more releases. With or without a label.
At the moment INFECTED BRAIN finances itself. With CD and shirt sales and the money we make with live gigs, we just break even. As long as that works, it’s OK for us. If we don’t break even anymore, we’ll certainly have to think about how much money we would be willing to spend to keep the band going.
What became of TOMB anyway (the band you played before)? Do you still have some copies of “Mask Of Disgrace” left? That wasn’t too bad, I think.
Hannes: I’ve already played some guitar in TOMB because I wrote the songs. INFECTED BRAIN were looking for a second guitarist, and during the FUCK THE COMMERCE festival they asked me to join them. TOMB’s guitarist then decided to quit because he didn’t a see any progress in his playing. He would have quit sooner, but he knew that music was very important for me. So he waited until I had found another band because he didn’t want to leave me stranded. We’re still good friends by the way. After TOMB I stopped playing the drums altogether. To be honest, I don’t think I was such a great drummer. But the MCD we recorded with Andreas Hilbert of GOLEM was actually quite cool.
Time for the swan song, your last words please!
Hannes:Thanks a lot for the interview, it’s nice to be interesting enough to be interviewed. I hope I answered all the questions to your satisfaction. We’d also like to thank all the fans, zines, critics, interviewers, bands and friends for all their support in the past! And Jupp, thanks again for the interview and the great review! We wish you all the best with FatalGrind! If anyone would like to contact us, you can do so via http://www.infectedbrain.de or http://www.myspace.com/infectedbrain. Or send an email to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hannes & INFECTED BRAIN