I guess it's no big secret that FLESHCRAWL are one of the best Death Metal bands around these days. Being around since 1987 these guys manage to release one killer album after the other, and in my eyes their latest effort "Made of flesh" is their best one yet. This record contains nothing but pure brutal Swedish Death Metal. Funny, 'cause the band comes from Germany. Read now what Bastian Herzog, drummer for Fleshcrawl had to say...
Hi Bastian, how are you doing at the moment? Any introduction to kick this interview off with?
Yo, this is Bastian, drummer of Fleshcrawl answering. I am doing pretty good, getting ready for the upcoming tour, finishing some interviews, hanging around. Well, everything is cool and smooth I guess. I think the best introduction would be to not start talking about the band's history, so let me move on to the next one!
Alright, there you go. Let me tell you that I love your latest record "Made of flesh". I think it's a pure killer and actually I think it's your best so far. I was quite curious when it comes to this record, because your founding member Stefan Hanus quit the band after "Soulskinner". What were your feelings when you thought about writing a new record without him? Did you in a way fear that he would leave a gap you couldn't fill?
Thanx a lot! Great to hear that. At the beginning I had some strange thoughts / doubts when Stefan was leaving the band since he founded the band together with me in 1987 and we went through a lot of things over the years. I was worried about the bands' chemistry and taking in somebody new and stuff. But we were talking about this and definitely agreed on going on with the band. In terms of songwriting, Mike and Tobs also wrote most of the stuff on "Soulskinner", so we didn't see any danger there. Stefan still is a member of the band, but in a passive manner. He still helps us a lot, e.g. booklet and merchandise design and other organizational topics.
Why did he leave Fleshcrawl as he was one of the founding members and along with you in the band from the very beginning? Are you still friends? What was his participation concerning the songwriting in the past and are there any ideas from him on "Made of flesh", too?
As I said, Stefan still is a band member, but in a passive manner. He helps us a lot concerning booklet and merchandise design and also in other organizational stuff. Nothing changed between the relationship towards anybody of us and him. Still one family you know! The reason why he left the band were private and personal and have nothing to do with any problems in whatsoever way. Stefan left the band before we started writing the "Made of Flesh" material, so he didn't participate in writing the new stuff. Most of the "Made of Flesh" material was written by Mike and Tobs, but also our new guy Oliver wrote quite a few tunes and riffs for the record.
How long did it take to create "Made of flesh"? I'm not only talking about the recording time, but also about the time when you had the first ideas for the record, rehearsed the songs, chose a studio etc. Please tell our readers something about that whole process.
The songs itself were written in about 8 months or something like that. We are not the fastest songwriters, it takes some time for us to produce some quality stuff, so we also needed this period. The studio was actually booked long before that: I guess we booked the time in Studio Underground one year in advance because Pelle is occupied pretty fast and then we only would have met a closed schedule. So the studio booking took place some time in November 2002 - we didn't have one single riff composed at that time ! Which pretty much put some pressure on us, but things showed that we needed this pressure to get going. There must be some kind of deadline otherwise you can simply rehearse forever. The recording period lasted 3 weeks in November 2003. We felt really comfortable in Studio Underground again - even more than during the "Soulskinner" recordings - because Pelle changed a lot in the studio. Not only equipment stuff, but also things down in the basement where the bands stay during their recordings. Really perfect and nice to have a good time at Pelle's place.
Metal Blade Records is known for the great packaging of its releases. Often albums come as a double CD with lots of bonus stuff. So what about "Made of flesh", will there be any specials? How about your first demo or your first 7" EP? Did you ever think about re-releasing these recordings or maybe even re-record them?
So far we didn't think about that. Maybe this is worth some thoughts in the future. But then also the sound quality would matter somehow. We'll see...
Maybe that's a stupid questions, but is there any "theme" when it comes to the lyrics on "Made of flesh"? In other words, are the songs connected lyrically by a common theme or does each song have its own lyrical content?
No, there is no lyrical concept between the songs, moreover not even a concept or story for each song. At least not from my point of view. Others may think different about that, but that's cool. Everybody who reads those lyrics might have his own interpretation for the content.
The cover art for "Made of flesh" is really cool, who did it? I'm not sure, but didn't this guy do covers for the label Repulse Records in the past? Who came up with the idea of choosing him for the artwork? Was the cover done before you got in touch with this guy or did you give him the title "Made of flesh" or even some ideas how it should look like?
The cover was done by Uwe Jarling who is a good friend of ours - we already know him for years - and who also is a professional graphic artist. He also did a couple of other album covers for us ("Descend into the absurd", "As blood rains from the sky...we walk the path of endless fire", "Soulskinner"). Uwe really did a killer job on the "Made of Flesh" artwork, we love it! I dare to say that this is Uwe's best work so far. I am not sure if he did some artworks for Repulse Records - I gotta ask him on that (I think I'm wrong here, wasn't that a Japanese guy who did those Repulse covers? - Stefan). Well, we went to Uwe gave him the album title and the lyrics for the title song and then just left him alone. We ourselves didn't have any cool idea at the beginning, so we hoped that Uwe would get some great ideas after a while. Hell yeah - he did! Everything you see is his own idea. No direction from us or something.
To promote the new record you're touring with label mates Six Feet Under and Criminal. I guess three bands for a tour are just perfect, because I don't like this big packages too much with about 8 bands playing, some of them only 15 to 20 minutes. Which kind of tours do you prefer and what do you expect from this tour? Honestly I think Six Feet Under will have to watch out as you're going to blow them off the stage, haha...
Of course we hope to play in front of a lot of people on this tour - I guess that's the purpose of supporting a big headliner. I also prefer 3 band packages for touring because things then stay cool and relaxing. There is a really annoying rush on these big tour packages, I have the feeling that the fun misses out sometimes. The upcoming tour is a Metal Blade "family" package together with Six Feet Under and Criminal and we are looking forward to this a lot!
Is this going to be the only tour to promote "Made of flesh" or will you do a headliner tour as well? How about festivals and shows in the US? Anything confirmed yet?
We will try to also get other chances to promote "Made of Flesh" since this next tour is pretty short and doesn't cover all countries which we wanna play in. I think Fleshcrawl is no headliner band in the sense of touring constantly 3 weeks and stuff. We prefer to play as support. But we'll schedule headliner shows on weekends of course here and there if the offer and conditions are cool and fair. Festival wise we will play the Kaltenbach Open Air in Austria in July and the Summer Breeze in Germany in August. But we are also trying to get more stuff confirmed in that direction. Our homepage is the place to check back constantly for updated schedules about shows and tours. The US seems to be a very hard nut to crack for us so far as we never managed to play over there. We tried for years already - and also had cool offers - but for some reasons it never worked out so far. We will keep working on it...
In 2002 you toured through Japan. Now how about this experience? As I've never been to Japan myself I only heard other people talk about this country, so I'd like to hear your impressions. Are bands from Europe or the States still treated so special and how many people came to see you play?
Japan was a great experience for us ! We had a lot of fun over there. It is a very friendly country, better said the people are - they have a very big hospitality to offer. You cannot compare life over there to Europe especially not to Germany. Hard to describe that - I would recommend to check out yourself, hahaha ! I think Japanese people treat all foreigners very good in general. That's their nature, that's how they were raised.
All your albums were recorded in Sweden. Was that a decision to made at the very start of Fleshcrawl or more of a coincidence in the beginning with Black Mark being your first label?
At first Black Mark sent us to Sweden for recording our debut album. Then afterwards we stayed with that because of sound and production reasons.
You went to Abyss Studios two times, but then went to Fredman and then two times to Undeground Studios. Why did you change studios after "As blood rains from the sky", was it because Peter Tägtgren was too busy or didn't you like the sound in retrospect?
Well, there's more reasons for that: We still like our old stuff recorded in the abyss, but we probably would change something on the production nowadays - because we have much better knowledge than years ago. So we wanted to try some other studios after "Bloodred Massacre". Another thing is that Peter quit working as a engineer around that time, so it even wouldn't have been possible for us to go back to the Abyss Studio since he was not working anymore. I think he quit in order to have more time for Hypocrisy. Then we spent our time for the "As blood rains..." recordings in Studio Fredman which was also very cool. But looking back we didn't find the atmosphere and feeling there which we were looking for - no real idea why not, so we decided not to go back to Fredman for "Soulskinner", but instead try some new Studio. And the Underground is the very best home for Fleshcrawl. Already for "Soulskinner", but especially for "Made of Flesh" we really felt comfortable up there, damn cool time. So this was the best stay in a studio for us ever !
And did you ever think about recording in the legendary Sunlight Studios or working with Thomas Skogsberg?
Yes we did. But then we heard some younger stuff from Sunlight which didn't sound too good and also some stories from other bands which made us quit our plans about the Sunlight (I also heard those kind of stories - Stefan).
I guess it's no secret that you sound typically Swedish (and in my humble opinion better than most Swedish bands anyway), so what makes this kind of sound so special for you compared to other styles of Death Metal? On your debut "Descend into the absurd" this Swedish influence couldn't be heard THAT clearly, so how come?
We really love this kind of sound especially the guitar sound which is responsible for the whole sound image. I think this kind of production offers the most power and brutality for Death Metal and at the same time - if produced correctly - still is transparent and open a lot. I guess on our debut "Descend..." our sound picture was not so clearly formed and constructed like nowadays.
There are more and more bands from the Hardcore scene or with a Hardcore background playing Death Metal these days, and there are really cool bands among those just like Heaven Shall Burn. What do you think about that? I guess it's cool that both Metal and Hardcore bands are listening to the same bands, so do you think there should me more tours/shows featuring Metal as well as Hardcore bands?
Maybe a good idea to have more tours of mixed extreme styled-metal/hardcore bands. But I prefer more or less the classical way: A Death Metal package should also stay a Death Metal package. Of course there always some or a lot room to move around, but if it gets too much people ask why this and that package tours together because the target group / audience is so much different from each other. And I mean if a Death Metal fan is going to watch a Death Metal package on tour, he mostly is also interested in the other bands on the bill. I those are totally different from what he expects, I wouldn't consider this as really good.
What do you think about the ideals of many of those Hardcore bands, like being vegetarian and straight edge? I have to warn you, I'm straight edge, too, so better be careful, haha...
That's some personal attitude towards life, nature, animals. Everybody can and should do whatever he wants ! But at the same time also has to carry all the consequences out of it.
How do you see the development of the old school Swedish sound? I think in the mid 90s the scene was pretty much dead with too many average releases/bands and people getting more and more interested in the At The Gates or In Flames sound (or Black Metal, right). But nowadays there are more and more cool bands who play this kind of sound, so what do you think about that?
You are right. It is a good development currently. Somehow the same I was mentioning in the other answer. People and bands get interested in extremer stuff again, more back to the roots. Nice to notice.
You know, I was pretty much into tapetrading in the early 90s, and one of my favourite band ever was Nirvana 2002. It's a real shame those guys never put anything out! Is there any band that should have deserved more attention in your opinion and do you still dig all those old bands just as Macabre End, Sorcery, Dr. Shrinker, Carbonized etc.?
I also did some tapetrading in earlier days - still have that stuff somewhere in my basement, e.g. Carbonized. I am not really aware of some band names right now concerning that question. Too long time ago...
Please comment in a few words these following topics:
a. Entombed "Left hand path" (and of course the Nihilist stuff)
THE classic album. must have for all early Death Metal fans.
b. Entombed nowadays.
One of the only bands you managed to change their style and didn't break up while doing it.
c. Political issues in Death Metal.
Sucks. At least no option in Fleshcrawl! (Good guy! - Stefan)
d. Black Metal
Not my cup of tea.
e. The Lord of the Rings vs. The Matrix.
No clue. Don't like any of them, also haven't seen any of those.
f. Autopsy and their song "Fleshcrawl" (haha...)
Cool shit, but the idea for the band's name comes from a Melvins song, hehe... (Wow, now that's something I really didn't think of, haha... - Stefan)
Ok, I think I'm running out of questions. Did you like this interview and do you have anything to add?
Thanx for the interview and the support of Fleshcrawl. May hell be with you during your metallian times!
SIX FEET UNDER / FLESHCRAWL / CRIMINAL, March 4th 2004, Backstage (Munich)
After quite a while I was finally going to a Metal show again, this time Six Feet Under being supported by label mates Fleshcrawl and Criminal. Thanks to Andreas from Metal Blade I found myself on the guestlist that night, but due to the enormous crowd in front of Munich's Backstage I couldn't enter the venue right away. That was pretty bad, because Criminal had already started to play, and you could only hear them. And according to what I could hear I think they did a pretty good job, and I was eager to get in, 'cause the walls of the Backstage club were literally trembling! No kidding!! Waiting in the cold outside sucks, especially when you're standing next to a guy who's constantly spitting on the ground. Did I mention that I can't stand this kind of behaviour? Anyway, as I said it was pretty cold outside, so I was quite surprised to see some Metalhead on the ground leaning against the wall of the club, wearing no jacket, no sweat shirt, but only a t-shirt! Obviously he passed out from drinking too much booze, 'cause some security guys tried to talk to him but didn't get a response. So they carried him inside the club before he'd be freezing to death. Stupid bastard, but at least he didn't seem to mind that much as he was constantly grinning while being carried away. Strange...
When I finally made it into the club, Criminal were almost done with their set. Two more songs were left and they sounded pretty cool. I don't think it's possible to judge a show by seeing only two songs, so I can only say that their latest album is cool and apparently the audience liked them (well, at least those who had made it into the club at that time...).
When Fleshcrawl entered the stage the club was already pretty much filled, and as I love their latest record "Made of flesh" I went pretty close to the stage to check them out. And to my surprise their Swedish guitar sound sounded as fat as on the record! Fuck yeah! After a slow instrumental they fired one of their fast killer tracks into the audience who immediately started banging and stagediving. Some people complained that the songs would sound all the same live, but come on guys, do you really mean that?? Whenever I'm listening to Fleshcrawl I think that they know exactly how fast a fast song should be if you know what I mean. And they played lots of fast tracks that night, "Flesh bloody flesh", "As blood rains from the sky", "Made of flesh", etc. as well as some slower stuff (e.g. "Beneath a dying sun" from the new album). Apart from new tunes they also played older stuff such as "Soulskinner". Funny notice: The singer of Fleshcrawl talked between the songs to the audience in some kind of growl tone which made me smile a bit and reminded me to some old Sodom live shows (around 1988). After about 12 songs, Fleshcrawl left the stage but it didn't take the audience long to make them reappear to play another encore, and when everybody thought the show was over they played one of my alltime fave Death Metal tracks, "The day man lost", a cover from the legendary Carnage!! Thanks guys, there's no better way to end a gig I can think of!
Next up were Six Feet Under, and it was pretty obvious that the majority of the people had come to see them as the venue was pretty packed by now. After a ridiculous break of 40 minutes (!) SFU finally entered the stage. I wonder what took the stage hands so long, it couldn't be the drum kit... Anyway, Chris Barnes and his pals came up on stage, and from the first riff the crowd loved them. I have to admit that I am not that much into SFU as I think their version of Death Metal is too simple and not brutal enough. But the audience was of a different opinion as every break between the songs was filled with lots of screaming and applause. Even though the songs are not my cup of tea I have to admit that Chris Barnes was a pretty nice guy, talking to the audience a lot and telling the people how much he appreciated their support. So no rock star bullshit from his side. And it was cool to see Terry Butler again. The last time I saw this guy on stage was with Massacre back in 1992 I guess. And he hasn't changed at all after all those years, still standing there on stage without moving, playing his bass parts. Cheers Terry! Also during SFU's gig there was something funny to happen: Some guy that stood behind me asked me in a very polite manner (seriously!) if I could take one or two steps to the side because he wanted to mosh! Cool!!
To sum it up, Fleshcrawl were tonight's winners for me while the audience's faves were SFU. Cool evening and once again thanks to Andreas @ Metal Blade Europe! (Stefan)