Originally published in ‘zine issue #7, 1993
Kreator from Germany is a band that’s been playing death/thrash for quite some time, and its new album on Futurist Records in the U.S., Renewal, is doing well for the band. Below Mille Petrozza talks about his amazing and original band.*
D.U.: First off, I know this is old news, but I never heard what happened with Tritze.
Mille: Oh, he just left the band because we didn’t get along anymore. He got married and he wasn’t into the music anymore, and it’s the best thing for the band.
How did you get Frank from Sodom, then?
He wasn’t happy with Sodom anymore. And we were hanging out all the time, and so it was just a natural thing.
You used to play a B.C. Rich guitar. Why did you switch to a Jackson?
They stole my B.C. Rich, that’s why. A real nice friend stole it.
You thought he was a friend until this happened, I guess?
No, no, it was really cool that he stole it. I like it a lot, you know.
Oh, I see, you’re being sarcastic.
Yeah, yeah. [laughs]
About the new album, how did you come up with the idea to change your sound and vocals so drastically?
See, a lot of people think that I changed my vocal style drastically. I don’t agree with that, because I think what I did was, like, over the years my voice got a little lower and I got more, um, low end somehow. And on the new record, the lyrics and the music, the way they work together, the only way that I could make the vocals very clear and get my point across was to sing them very, like, direct. A lot of people though that I wanted to change my style. That’s not the case. I just thought that that’s the way the music and the vocals worked together. And I don’t think it’s drastic. Some people told me that. My voice just changed over the last two years. It got a little lower. The style is not too different, I think.
Would you say the same thing about the songs?
No, not really. We experimented a little bit in the songwriting. We wrote songs that are maybe more basic with the riffing, but more complex in the song structures, how they build up and how they work. We used rhythm structures that we haven’t used before. We used, like, more powerful, slower drumming, and a more basic, heavy riffing.
How in general are the longtime Kreator fans reacting to the new album?
We did a tour over here in Europe, and most of the fans that I talked to, they said that it took a little time for them to get used to the songs, but after listening to the album a couple times, they got used to what we tried to do on this new record.
See, I think that during the time Kreator’s around, we went through a lot of changes. I think the difference from Pleasure to Kill to Terrible Certainty, there was already a drastic change back then, so I think it’s nothing unusual for a Kreator fan to see the band progress, change, and grow up. And because of that, I think that most people that really, like, listen to the music and try to understand the band, people who really care and really listen to the stuff closely, they get the idea, you know. That’s all that matters.
Does it feel weird when you’re on stage and you’d play a new song, and then play something like “Blind Faith”?
[laugh] No, see, I think the new stuff and the old stuff really works together really well. On our new live setting, we play a lot of new stuff, but we also play, like, “Pleasure to Kill” and “Flag of Hate,” all that stuff. It’s a different atmosphere. For the slow part in “Karmic Wheel,” when we play this live, there’s always a very, um, laid back atmosphere for the time slow part is going on. And I think it’s pretty experimental and trippy [pause] you know, I think we’re a band, and we wanna be creative. We wanna express ourselves musically. And I think it’s very important to do what you feel you have to do, and not limit yourself by any labels that’s been put on you in the past. So we just wanted to write an album that we thought that we can be happy with, and we can make other people happy with, you know?
I thought it was interesting that on the new record the leads are on the same track the rhythm is on. Why is that?
Yeah, we just wanted to do that too, because we thought it sounds more natural. That’s how it’s gonna sound when you see the band live. Since we have two guitarists in the band, it’s not such a bad idea to do that, because it creates more of a live atmosphere. One rhythm guitar only stops when the lead comes in, so the lead guitar always creates a different atmosphere. It changes the sound for a while, you know?
I notice that a lot of bands, not only do they put two tracks, but they put one right on top of the bass in the middle. That really irritates the hell out of me.
Yeah, it’s true, man. Actually, we put two tracks on each side, like, two rhythm guitars. We doubled each rhythm guitar.
How did you decide to use those samples on the new record?
That was a funny thing. Our drummer, he tried out these, um, drum pads, right? And he had all these weird sounds, and he said, “Okay, let’s try it,” and we were like, “Yeah, let’s try it.” And I think it’s a very good contrast between the natural Kreator sound and the cold atmosphere of the, um, electronic stuff that we put on the record. It gives all the more variety and more interesting stuff to listen to. I think it’s good for a change, you know? You have more possibilities to change the sound around, and it’s a lot of fun.
Speaking of the samples and the riffs that you have, would you say that your sound has some industrial influences?
A lot of people say that. I don’t agree with that either. You know, the atmosphere of the record is supposed to be very depressive, and a lot of the songs talk about the system, how the system influences the minds of people, like the whatever people who go to work, working class people, you know? And I think it fits to what we wanna say in the music, because we’re talking about the manipulation of the minds of people who work in factories all their lives. How they get very frustrated about this situation and drink a lot of alcohol. Like in 1984, the book where it’s very dark and cold atmosphere with no, um, no future, really. And we just wanted to create a sound that fits to that.
Also, we’re from Essen, right [laugh] and we’re surrounded by these sounds all the time, because where we live there’s a lot of industry, and it’s a very industrial area here. Y’know, we had this in mind for a long time, but we were never really able to do it the way we wanted to. So the band thought that it’s time to do, like, different things. So we came up with this new concept of using new sounds that are not natural, that are not really common for this type of music, and I think it worked out pretty well.
“All that power that they put into fighting immigrants, they should attack the fucking government.”
Do you have a political philosophy that you’re trying to come across with?
Yeah, basically some of the songs, like especially “Europe After the Rain,” they talk against racism and against this new neo-Nazi movement that’s going on in Germany at the moment. And I think that [pause] we’re not a political band. See, we don’t want to get too much involved in political things, because I think music is something that you should enjoy, and if you put too much political stuff into the music, you can’t enjoy the music anymore, because it’s too political. You should voice your opinion in the music, and I mean, it’s a good way for a musician to express his negative, um, outlook on the world. So for me to write lyrics about things that are really bad, things that are pissing me off, it’s some kind of a release that helps me to deal with all the negative energy that surrounds me, you know?
The reason I ask is because the stuff you’re saying sort of reminds me of some anarchist ‘zines I’ve been reading lately.
Yeah! [laughs] Yeah, like I said, we’re pretty politically aware. I mean, we know what’s going on in politics, and we know where it’s pretty fucked up, and all we can do is say something in our music with our lyrics. And that’s what we do sometimes, so we just put it in here and there, you know?
Are people satisfied with the inflation rate in the German economy?
It didn’t really hit Germany that bad yet. I think England has a lot of problems with the inflation right now, because the pound’s not that high anymore. The German mark, I mean, it’s not that bad with the inflation over here yet. I think because of the European [Community], there’s gonna be a lot of changes, especially with the inflation, because they’re planning to make even money all over Europe and make that work. You know, in Europe there’s been so many changes over the last two years that it’s all happening very fast. And now that the war in Yugoslavia is going on, that’s another bad thing. I mean, it’s fucking slaughterhouse over there. It’s just fucked up. People are really killing each other and whatever. It’s a massacre.
There was a lot of talk when the unification happened about hyperinflation.
Yeah. No, it’s something that was a problem for the East, because they had to change the money. You know, when the Wall came down, the money wasn’t worth anything. And I think that’s one of the reasons why a lot of the people in the East are not very happy, because their money isn’t worth a thing and they still have to work for the same money. But they have to pay more money to buy things, but at the same time they don’t get more money in.
Also the East is pretty fucked up, you know. The houses there are pretty, um, much down, and it’s not a nice place in some places. The environment there is pretty fucked up. They didn’t care, you know. The chemical pollution there is pretty high. So it’s a lot of work. West Germany’s gotta put a lot of money into East Germany, so that’s one of the problems that’s going on over here in Germany right now.
I understand that they’re trying to mix the laws of both sides, of abortion, for example, so they come out with something even.
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, they had different laws in East Germany as well, and some people can’t really deal with them. I mean, I can’t really say much about it because I haven’t lived in the East, and if I would have, my view would be very different. Because over here in West Germany, it was all pretty much free. Over there, they had, like, total control over anything. It was like 1984, you know? It was pretty bad.
You mentioned neo-Nazis earlier. Is it right that Germany can’t refuse any immigrants that want to come in?
Yeah, they have a law like that. So the neo-Nazis want the government to change that law. But I think that’s wrong, because then they got their way. And the pressure of the right-wing parties got so big that the left-wing and the Democrats, they want to change that law, just because the right-wing movement got so big. And, like, when the election coming up next year, they don’t want the right-wing parties to get that much votes. So the Democrats want to change that law to kick out the right-wing parties. They still wanna let immigrants in, but not only immigrants from countries where there’s war, you know, with very bad situations.
Oh, you mean refugees.
Yeah, exactly. So it’s pretty complicated, all that stuff, because there’s so much things, different views, and different opinions about these things. My opinion is, they shouldn’t change that law. They should let any immigrant in that country. I mean, they’re very afraid of crime and all that, but I don’t think the criminal energy only goes into immigrants’ heads, you know what I mean? It also takes German minds, so [pause] they always blame anything on the immigrants, while they’re ignoring their own problems, their own, um, imperfections.
Yeah, there was a scandal about that over here. A bunch of Haitian refugees came on all these boats, and the American government made them turn around and go back.
Oh, that’s pretty fucked up. See, the people who work have to give money to, um, it’s called some kind of social support. It’s only for immigrants and people who need help. And a lotta people are pissed off about that, because it’s a lot of money they have to give away every month. So that’s why the Nazis got so big over here in Germany, because people are pissed off about the government, and they start reacting very extreme. And I think it’s wrong, though, because they should put all that power that they put into fighting immigrants or attacking immigrants, they should attack the fucking government, you know? That’s what they should do, go to the Parliament, and, uh, go where they sit, and just tell them, demonstrate in front of the government’s place. But they don’t do that. The immigrants are right there, so they can reach them a lot easier. You know, the government doesn’t have to deal with it as long as the immigrants are there. All this negative energy is supposed to go to these places like the government, because people are really not happy with the government.
They’re using this immigrant thing as a scapegoat?
Yeah, I think so. A lot of low-minded, like, very dumb people do that, because they don’t know who to blame for their own problems, you know? And they can’t think that far. They can’t think that it’s the government’s fault. They don’t know that because they’re too stupid for that.
I think that’s everything. Do you have a last comment you want to make?
Yeah, man [pause] peace. ■
*The first five questions are from an earlier interview I did, possibly conducted at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., maybe in 1990 or 1991, that never came out. In any case, when I put this interview in the ‘zine, I added those earlier questions to the front.
Photos: Kreator (above, courtesy Futurist; below, from the Coma of Souls album, 1990)