Costa's Cake House come from Karlsruhe, and as I live in this city for over a year now I saw them play live a couple of times. I liked their original live shows, and as their drummer Nanouk is booking shows in Karlsruhe I got in touch with him at these shows. One day he gave me a promo copy of "555", the first full length of his band, and as I liked it very much I decided to do an interview with him which you can find below...
Hey Nanouk, how are you doing at the moment? You're ready before leaving for a tour, right? So are you looking forward to being on the road again?
Since I'm the lazy guy that I am, I didn't find the time to answer before the tour. Well I was on the road with my other band, which is basically more a project then a band at the moment. It's called Elektrolochmann and it's me with 3 girls playing noisy emopop, something completely different to the stuff we are doing with cch. I always love being on the road, meeting new people as well as old friends. I just love the feeling to be on the move all the time, which also gives you a hard time sometimes, cause you never really have enough time to stay at places you really like, cause you have to get on the highway again to be in the next city on time.
So is Elektrolochmann more the project kina thing and CCH your main band?
Yeah that's another band, or more a project as I said before. This band exists for about 10 years now and I just joined them a year ago, when they needed a drummer and I wanted to do something else beside cch. Because of different reasons Elektrolochmann is not a real band at the moment. The bass player is living in Antwerp, me in Karlsruhe and the other two in Ludwigsburg, which makes rehearsing quite difficult. Besides that everyone of us is pretty busy with other projects.
After 2 MCDs and some split EPs your first full length album "555" is finally out. Fortunately you gave me a promo a couple of time ago, so I could enjoy the songs before the official release date. As you see from my review I like the album a lot. Please tell the readers all details about the record (where and when did you record it, who produced it, etc.) so that they can guess what's coming their way.
Well first of all the basic dates, we recorded the record over a couple of months (from November 2001 till April 2002) in the Custom Recording Studios near Karlsruhe. Don't think that we are rockstars with an enormous amount of money to spend such a long time in the studio. We haven't been there constantly, it was just taking such a long time due to different reasons. Most of the time we just did a few hours after work and so this explains the long period we spent in the studio. The guy we recorded with is called Lemmy and he became a good friend in this period. We are all really satisfied with his job and so we will be recording with him again. Other bands he recorded are pole*, man vs. humanity, baffdecks, stack, ambrose to name just a few. The songs on the record were written quite some time ago, but they still represent us as a band. Due to different reasons it took us such a long time to release the record, but we are all happy that it finally came out now, and so far the responses were great. I won't tell you too much about the music, cause I always have a hard time talking about my own bands music. Just be prepared for some metal, but don't expect clichés.
The CD version of "555" is coming out on Firefly Companies whilst the vinyl is released by Plenge Records. Why two different labels? Is it because Firefly doesn't do vinyl?
Yeah exactly that's the reason. And we really wanted to have a vinyl version of the record. We all like vinyl. Two close friends of ours decided to put out the vinyl and we are more than happy that they did. We also wanted to do a special version, so the vinyl version has a totally different artwork than the CD and it's limited to 555 copies. So if you wanna have your copy you should be fast, since this one is selling pretty fast.
I think it's sometimes a bit boring to talk about the title of a band's record, but I'm gonna ask this question anyway ;-) Why did you name the record "555"? Is it because tons of bands play around with the number 666 or is there any special meaning behind the 555 for you?
Yeah there is a special meaning behind the 555. The triple five is the number of the free human being. The human has five parts on his/her torso, two arms, two legs and one head. Each one of these parts has again five subparts. On the legs five toes, on the arms five fingers and on the head five openings. Each one of this parts is in its proportions divided in five. The human being is also connected to the five on the alchemist level. He consists of the 4 elements, earth, fire, water and air plus the Quinta Essentia, which is identical with the consciousness and the human has five worldly senses. Besides that we are five friends, so there's the 5-5-5 again. The symbolic character of the five-five-five stands for us for a state of life, which is worth to strive for, even it's hard to realize in a society based on material wealth, power, oppression and exploitation. But nonetheless this is a dream, which is worth dreaming!!! We choose the title also as a little criticism to the hardcore scene which plays around a lot with the number 666, which stands for slavery, oppression and things like that. We don't like it and wanted to have a more positive thing.
The first thing that came to my mind when I played "555" for the first time apart from the great production was the fact the the songs are more straight than your previous ones. Would you agree? I mean compared to your latest EP "Lighting up the night sky" they're straighter, also compared to your old songs. I like that development a lot, so was it a natural progress CCH made or did you have the goal to write more "fast forward" type of songs this time?
I'd call it a natural progress. We are now playing together for a long time, know each other better personally and musically which also changed our way of writing songs. I think straighter songs are just a result of that. And this progress is continuing. I think the new songs will be even more straight and in your face, without loosing melodies and complexity.
Your lyrics are still in German, but do you have some English vocals on "555", too? I'm asking because on that sheet you gave me the lyrics are printed in German as well as in English.
No on "555" all the lyrics are in German. In the past we had some English lyrics and we will definitely have English lyrics again. But in the period we wrote the songs for "555" it was the most natural for us to use German as our language, since we all grew up speaking German. Language itself is such a limited medium to express what you think and feel and so it was easier for us to do it in our native language.
Have there ever been any stupid reactions like "Oh, they have German lyrics, I only listen to bands with English ones"?
No, so far we never had a reaction like that. You can't understand our lyrics anyway ;-) (Yeah, that's why I asked if there are English lyrics on "555", hehe - Stefan) So far we had more the opposite reaction, that people said that it's cool to sing in our language.
The lyrics must be pretty important to you considering the fact that they're printed in German as well as in English? Do you want to talk about the lyrics and their content or do you think the listener should make up her/his mind? But of course feel free to talk about the lyrics ;-)
Yeah our lyrics are important to us. They have mostly a personal background, but still deal with socio-political aspects and problems of our lives. But it's all written from a more personal point of view. We also deal with personal experiences and situations in our lives, basically everything which has an impact on us as individuals, be it love, frustration or political and social developments. Most of the lyrics are written by me and Arnaud, as well as by Carsten. Well the message? To me it's important to write about something which influences me in a positive or mostly negative way and so deal with it and that's the reason I'm writing it. I don't have a special message in mind while writing it, and it's also only my or our opinion on different aspects, but I like it if people start thinking about our lyrics and talk to us about them. I think communication is the tool, and I hope that our lyrics are a starting point for communication, to start talking about different topics and think or rethink something and maybe take some consequences out of it, as I did with other bands' lyrics.
What are your plans to promote "555"? Any tours you can tell me off (with which bands)?
We'll do our best to promote "555" live. We just played a couple of shows the last weekends. Some in Austria, Switzerland and Italy. We had our official record release party in Rome, which just kicked ass. The people were really into us and it was so much fun to play there. This weekend we'll have our post record release party here in Karlsruhe together with a new and promising band called Oak. After that there will be a few weekend shows before we hit the road for 10 days in august, most of them together with Yaphet Kotto from the States. I'm really looking forward to this, cause I really like Yaphet Kotto and I want to be on the road again. We'll be touring mainly in Germany. And then we'll see what comes up for the future.
When did CCH start and what were the most important things in the band's history? I guess one important move was to add a second bass player because the sound became more brutal, would you agree?
Costa's Cake House is in existence since the beginning of 1998. We started as a power violence band with some screamo influences. Since back then we went through two line up changes. Steve, our original guitar player was replaced by Matthias and in the beginning of 2k we added Arnaud as a second bass player to the band, which made our sound more intense and brutal as you said. During this time our music developed and changed. It became more metal orientated and more technical. In our sound there are now elements of hardcore, death metal, grindcore and emo combined, but we still manage to keep our own sound and identity. Besides that there are no real things which I could consider really important. I think it was and still is more a constant process. I think really important was also to play as much as possible as we did in the past two years.
Which bands inspired you when you started and are there any bands that inspire you nowadays musically as well as lyrically? Maybe bands like Darkest Hour with whom you played last year in Karlsruhe?
To be honest I can't really name any bands who had an real inspiration or influence on us as a collective. Nowadays I would maybe consider some of the Swedish metal bands such as At the Gates as an influence, but I can't really answer this one.
A couple of years back it wasn't cool or even allowed to listen to Metal within the Hardcore scene, but for quite a while now this has changed immensely as bands with a Hardcore background play total Metal songs. I think it's a good thing that this closed-mindedness ended, but what do you think are the reasons for this development that more and more bands are into Metal?
I think one of the reasons is that the musical abbilities of most of the HC kids developed and so it's a logical step to tend into a metal direction. I think another reason is that a lot of us grew up listening to metal and then changed for the hardcore thing. At some point it wasn't cool to listen to metal, cause the metal scene has quite a bad reputation. But after some hardcore bands started playing metal it became cool again, and so it's no faux pas anymore to like it. For me personal metal is awesome. I really dig the technical aspect of the music as well as the ability to write hard and in your face music, but still combining it with awesome melodies. Bands such as Amon Amarth give me goose pimples from time to time, cause they really have this emotional and melancholic feel in their music.
You once told me that you're studying, right (which subject)? Besides that you're playing in CCH and putting up shows here in Karlsruhe. Where do you see your priorities in the future?
Yes I study modern history and cultural science/management. And yes I also set up shows here in Karlsruhe, play in Elektrolochmann and another band called Sleeping Cities, which is pretty new and not yet in the state of playing shows. At the moment my priorities are music and my studies. I hope I can always have my priorities on music, cause this is such an important part of my life. But beside that I also want to work in a field I'm studying for, definitely something in the cultural sector, I have a couple of ideas, but nothing yet to talk about. As said I hope I always can manage to get these things somehow arranged.
How did you get the deal with Italian label Firefly Companies and how did you convince Firefly to release your previous EP "Lighting up the night sky" in such a cool packaging?
Well we played a new years festival in Belgium in 2001/2002 and there we played with the Italian band Face the Fact. Two of their members are running Firefly Companies. After the show they asked us if we'd like to work with them. Since we never heard of them we first just wanted to do a MCD with them, just to see how things will go and stuff. Because there are only three songs on the CD we decided to put it out as a 3" CD in a special package to give the people something for their money. Firefly really liked that idea and supported us on that after a good relation we now also did the full length with them. So go and check it out.
Thanks for taking the time answering the questions, do you have anything to end this interview with?
First of all thank you very much for the interview and your interest in what we are doing. For all the others thanks for reading this and if you like get in touch with us for whatever matter, feel free to communicate. firstname.lastname@example.org Take care.
Costa's Cake House "555" 12" (www.plengerecords.com) and CD (www.fireflygate.com)
16.05. ger- karlsruhe erdbeermund with oak
17.05. ch- zug kingshot festival
27.06. ger- hanau with monochrome
04.07. ger- pforzheim umsonst und draussen festival with tomte, the coalfield, die happy, fury in the slaughterhouse
1.08.-10.08. european tour!