Heaven Shall Burn are one of the best (if not THE best) Metalcore bands around. Their latest record "Whatever it may take" is a true masterpiece and I guess not only I am eagerly awaiting their new album. I asked their drummer Matthias when we can expect new songs from the band and his answers were one of the longest I received so far. Thanks mate!
Hey Matthias, how are you doing at the moment? Any introduction to start this interview off with?
Hey, Iím pretty fine. Iím just listening to the new Vital Remains album right now... Just the perfect background to do an interview...hehehehe. (Yeah, Vital Remains rule! - Stefan)
I guess most people (including me) wanna know about the latest news concerning Heaven Shall Burn, especially when the new album is coming out. What can you tell me about that?
Well, weíre done with all the songs and ready to hit the studio. I guess ĎAntigoneí will see the light in February or march 2004...so it will be out a few months later than we all expected. We always have some delay...
Speaking about the new album: Please give me as many details as possible. Do you already have a title, how many songs will be on it, where do/did you record it and who produced it?
The album will be called ĎAntigoneí and 9 completely new songs are going to appear on that record. Weíll probably also have one cover song on it. Iím going to record the drums at the same studio where we always did our former recording sessions. The studio is called RAPE OF HARMONIES and itís really close to the place, where we practice. I guess weíll also do the vocals there. Maybe weíll try something new with the guitars, but thereís nothing really sure yet. Weíll see...
What about the sound of the new record, how would you describe the musical direction you are going with this record?
Since we donít even know how everything will be, I canít really tell you about the sound. I just know that weíll try some new things. There are already some ideas. But thatís it: Just ideas. When we did our former records, we always had the feeling that there could have been something better. So weíll try everything to eliminate these Ďmistakesí. Weíre also totally excited about everything concerning the new album. Iím so curious how everything will sound. I guess the new stuff is not that different to the things we did on ĎWhatever it may takeí. Actually I really donít know... Iím too much involved into everything to tell you something about the new stuff. Some kids will say itís more Metal, others will say itís more HC and has more mosh parts than before... I have no clue...hehehehe. The listenerís gotta judge. I really donít wanna create wrong expectations...
More and more bands that originally come from the Hardcore scene get signed by major labels, for example Thrice or Hatebreed. But apparently there are no bands of the so called Metalcore genre on a major yet as far as I can see. What's the reason for this in your eyes and do you think that will change in the future?
Well, I really donít know. I mean, it was already a big surprise that HATEBREED became THAT big. Of course it wasnít a surprise when they got bigger and bigger in the so called ĎHC-sceneí. The music isnít mainstream or something... thatís the point. Itís something you canít really know. In that extreme music I just see HATEBREED and SWORN ENEMY who really signed to a REAL major label. Thatís it right now. But maybe those bands kinda Ďopen a doorí for more bands to come. You canít really know... And if a huge label thinks that they can sell many records of a Metalcore band, theyíd also sign them. Until now there never was a Metalcore band which could become REALLY big.... thatís what I think. Besides that, there are no bands who work harder than HATEBREED. You also cannot forget that! And all the other HC bands whoíll sign to a major, will benefit from their success.
If I am right HSB did a South America tour not too long ago. What were your impressions concerning that tour when it comes to the Hardcore/Metal scene and the people at the shows on the one hand and concerning daily life there in general, like poverty, crime etc? Judging from the members profiles on your website everyone in HSB seems to be vegan, so was it different to get vegan food in these countries?
We just toured Brazil and it was amazing! Next time we gotta play in Argentina and Chile as well. The tour in Brazil was a great inspiration and experience for everyone in the band. The scene there is different than the one in Europe. More political and more active in general. Of course they also have the same problems every scene has. I wouldnít say that one scene is better than the other one, because I really know that you have assholes everywhere. From the economical view the countries in South America are totally fucked up, but when youíre in a city like Sao Paulo, you donít notice it as you might think. People there didnít take us to really fucked up areas. And to be honest, Iím glad about that... I heard crazy stories and I just can tell that most people have no idea how it is in some areas there. Youíd better watch your pocket there all the time, but I guess you can also get robbed in Berlin, New York, Roma or where ever. It really wasnít a problem to get vegan food in huge cities like Sao Paulo. You can get everything if you have the money. Like everywhere. In the countryside itís different, but we always got good food.
Talking about veganism and vegetarianism: When did that get started for you and why? Was there any band that influenced you in that direction and do you think that vegetarianism is a crucial part of sXe?
I became a vegetarian in 1994. I just realized that itís quite easy to live without eating corpses. So I made my choice without thinking too much about it. I just learned more about the whole thing when I started to pay more attention to HC bands and their lyrics/ ideals. Meanwhile the ethical aspect of being a vegetarian became more and more important to me. So after a while I just realized that itís quite senseless to avoid meat, fish or chicken on the one hand and still consume other animal products at the other. I realized that all the things which come from an animal origin are the reason for the suffering of millions of non-human animals. It took me a while, but I finally became vegan in 1997. And Iím still vegan in 2003, although it seems that no one gives a shit about it anymore!!! To be vegan became a fucking trend in the mid and the end of the 90ies. The whole thing became huge when bands like EARTH CRISIS, CULTURE or MORNING AGAIN were still around and popular. Most kids just quitted everything when their Ďidolsí did. Since there are not that many vegan straight edge bands around anymore, itís not that big in todayís HC scene.
I would say that EARTH CRISIS really influenced me. I think theyíve always been a band with something to say and they made a lot of kids thinking about different topics. Iím not just talking about veganism and straight edge. Itís quite sad that people reduce that band just to the vegan straight edge thing. There were also tons of other things they had in their lyrics or made explanations about. Be it about the Indians, about gay-rights and stuff like that, just to give two examples.
About straight edge being linked with vegetarianism/ veganism: Being drug free is nothing special. Itís not an Ďachievementí or something. If youíre not able to use your sober mind for a more Ďconscious way of lifeí, itís really nothing!!! Itís not just about vegetarianism and veganism. I know many people who label themselves as Ďstraight edgeí, but donít give a fuck about the world in general. I think that they didn't really get the idea behind straight edge, .it's more than just being drug free. Well, I donít think that veganism is the solution of all the problems we have, that would be naive, but itís definitely the first and the easiest step into the right direction.
I really hate all those self righteous PC people in today's Hardcore scene, and reading on your guitarist Patrick's profile that he likes Andrew Blake movies I could imagine that this might piss all those PC people off quite a bit, so what's your opinion towards this? And towards Andrew Blake movies of course ;-)
It might piss some people off, but he likes the movies and thatís it. He didnít try to provoke or something. He just wrote down the things he likes. No big deal. I donít like Andrew Blake movies. I think theyíre quite boring. But thatís just my opinion. Well, I also donít like all that PC kids. They should get a life and stop complaining all the time. You know, in todayís HC you have those two extremes: People who give a fuck about nothing and people who are complaining all the time. Both sides keep the scene Ďaliveí...hahahahahahaha.
To my shame I have to admit that I only saw two HSB shows so far, one at a Festival in Mannheim last year (together with Absidia, Cataract etc.) and the second one at this year's Pressure Festival in Essen. Both times I thought you were absolutely great on stage, but what struck me was the difference between the two audiences: While there was moshing and stagediving in Mannheim, people were kickboxing and showing some super violent behaviour in Essen. I can't stand that tough guy shit, so what's your opinion about that? I mean those kickboxing freaks seem to take lots of the fun out of a whole show for other people in the audience...
I do prefer the shows where people are moshing and singing along. There wonít ever be a kickboxing pit which can beat the energy of having such a chaotic pit!!! But I also donít have a problem with that so called Ďthough guy shití...hehehe. The best thing that can happen is, when both parties have fun at the same time. And itís possible! I love shows where people are getting nuts in front of the stage, singing along, doing stagedives, pile-ons and whatever they want to do! And itís just perfect if at the same time some people in the back can do their stuff like kickboxing or whatever. Itís also a fact that more people get hurt in kinda chaotic pits and not in the kickboxing pits. I just remember that we played a show in Saalfeld and something like 19 people had to go to the hospital right after the show. There was not kickboxing pit!!! But there can always happen something. I mean on HC shows the audience should expect some action, itís not the same as in the opera. The thing is that different people always dig different ways to express their support for the band. We as a band appreciate all the different kinds of support on the dancefloor as long as thereís also some respect for the other side as well. Of course we donít want stupid violence, but actually I canít remember that already really happened at a show we played. And concerning that kickboxing stuff: I also think that the problem are the people who always had bad grades in sports when they still were in school... hehehe. I mean, now they try to do something what they're not able to do. People who can barely control their own movements wanna participate in such a pit. That's the problem. But like I said before, I really prefer the shows where almost everybody can have fun and not just 5 people who can show what they practiced in front of the mirror.
Also Youth of Today played at the Pressure Festival Youth of Today during their reunion tour. As you are sXe what do you think about this reunion?
Fortunately I didnít see YOT on any of their shows, .hahahaha. I wasnít curious, not even a bit!!! I think that reunions in general do suck!!! If a band already split up once there must have been a good reason for it. You canít reanimate the same spirit years later...it wonít ever be the same again! But not just reunions do suck!!! I never ever liked YOT and I wonít ever do!
One of the most actual HSB shows was at the Summer Breeze festival, right? While in Essen there was a cool mixture between Harcdore and Metal bands, at the Summer Breeze Fest there were almost only Metal acts. How did you like that Festival and how was the reaction of the fans?
The gig at the Summer Breeze was quite good. We canít complain. No one there really knew us before and at the end of the set, people were shouting for an encore. I think that the Metal fans are much more open-mined than most people who are involved into the HC scene. It really was a good experience. We also played the Wacken Open Air this year and we had a blast!!! The circumstances were almost the same: Not that many people knew us before. So we could surprise them and we did, hehehehe. Itís always a good motivation to play in front of new people. We also really liked the atmosphere in Wacken. It was just great and the we got really good responses from the people. We thought that people wouldnít care about us, but they did.
On "Whatever it may take" there's this line in the thanks list saying "The "East" is something special - let's keep it this way; stand together!". Your comment, please.
The ĎEast of Germanyí is where we come from, where everything started, .for us as a band as well. We played a lot of shows and weíve got the best possible feedback from the people in the east. HSB also have a special relation to most of the people here, who run clubs and organize shows. Theyíve always been super nice to us and itís still the same. Donít get me wrong, we also always got great support from other places, but here we still know many bands and many, many people we could always count on. But well, things are changing everywhere and itís not the same like two or three years ago. I would say that the Ďnew generationí is something different, but maybe I just get that impression, because Iím getting older and older, hahahahaha.
On ďWhatever it may takeĒ your guitarist Maik wrote all the lyrics if I am right. Do you agree with everything he's writing or are there words you see differently? What about the new album, is he doing the lyrics on his own again or do the other guys help out as well?
Oh, I think that Maik is the only one in the band, who has the gift to write good lyrics. I really like the way heís always writing his stuff and thereís no reason for a change. Sometimes our singer gives him some suggestions, but thatís it. I never talk to him about the lyrics. I just read them and think about it. Maybe there are some lyrics which I donít get at all, but itís more interesting to think about it of my own than to ask him about every single detail. I really trust him in that case.
I grew up with Death Metal and came to Hardcore pretty late (around the mid 90s), so for me it's always cool to see people in the Hardcore scene that have a similar background. When I look at your favourite bands there are so many Death Metal among them, too, so I was wondering if you personally as well as the band have more of a Metal or a Hardcore background.
I started with Metal when I was 10 years old and I have always been listening to it. I just kinda Ďaddedí HC when I was already 18 years old. In the beginning of the 90ies this whole Death Metal thing became so huge and I really loved most of the bands. Bands like DEATH, MORBID ANGEL, DISMEMBER and tons more. It became a trend and the labels really signed almost every band, who sounded at least a bit like Death Metal. So everything became boring after a while, because there were too many average releases. Not really good, not really bad, you know. I gotta confess that I think that in todayís Metalcore weíre standing at the same point like Death Metal was in the mid of the 90ies.... too many average releases! Although I really know that Metalcore wonít ever become as big as Death Metal was back in the days.
Back to the question: While being bored with Death Metal, I got in touch with HC. I was also looking for something extreme, but something different at the same time. But Death Metal has always been my background, as well as bands like SLAYER, ANTHRAX, METALLICA, IRON MAIDEN, ACCEPT, HELLOWEEN, BLIND GUARDIAN, MANOWAR, M÷TLEY CR‹E, AC/DC or JUDAS PRIEST.
Going back to the old days of HSB: How did you guys find together and what was the intention to play this kind of music in the first place? I think you were one of the very first to play this kind of sound that so many bands try to copy these days, so were did you draw your influences from back then?
Well, Maik and me started a band in 1996. We really had no idea about the Ďdirectioní or something, but we knew that we wanted to be active with playing music. I guess it was just in late 1997 when we kinda found our Ďown styleí. I donít know how everything happened, but we never talked how we wanted to sound like. It simply happened. Bands which really influenced us during that time were bands like CONGRESS, LIAR, DAY OF SUFFERING, EARTH CRISIS, just bands which were already metallic. But we were still in love with bands like DISMEMBER or UNANIMATED. Newer releases from bands like ARCH ENEMY, IN FLAMES and AMON AMARTH also really caught our attention. These Swedish bands brought something fresh which didnít sound average or something. Oh, and of course you canít forget the influence from the almighty BOLT THROWER (Haha, youíre right! Ė Stefan)!!! Everything just happened. Thatís what I donít like on so many bands nowadays: You can really hear that they try to sound like someone else or that they try to please the audience.
I was just wondering if you chose the name of the band because of that old Marduk album, is that correct ? ;-)
100 points!!! (Yeah, Iím pretty clever, am I not!? Ė Stefan) We kinda adopted the name from MARDUK, but the band wasnít the reason that we did this choice. We thought that it would be a cool name for our band (Right Ė Stefan).
At the Pressure Fest I had the impression that the Metal and the Hardcore crowds are more and more "tolerating" each other and enjoying the bands together. What about the Metal bands you played with in the past, any friendships you made and which ones did you like the most?
Most of the bands, weíve played with were totally cool!!! Like DEW-SCENTED, itís always nice to meet them. Some of them became friends. We really came along with most of the bands, but I wouldnít really consider it as friendship or something. We also have friends in bands like IMPENDING DOOM and MOURNING ENDS are also really cool people. But we already knew them even before the scenes started tolerating each other. I would really like to see that the scenes would get closer to each other, but I know that itís gonna be hard. Weíll see, time will tell. Since we know them for a longer period, we are still closer to bands from the so-called HC-scene.
Please comment in short about the following topics:
a) Entombed - Left hand path
Almost perfect!!! A real masterpiece!!! Donít know what else to say about that one...
b) Entombed Ė nowadays
Still good, but different. I guess that I just really donít like ĎSame differenceí. All their other stuff is at least good. And Iíve heard that they still kick some serious butt when it comes to live shows.
c) "The red in the sky is ours" or "Slaughter of the soul": Which one do you prefer (now don't say "Terminal spirit disease, haha)?
Actually ĎSlaughter of the soulí is one of my all-time faves, but right now too many bands wanna sound like that. So at the moment I donít listen to it that often. I prefer ĎThe red in the sky is oursí. But even better than that one is ĎWith fear I kiss the burning darknessí. This one is crazy!!! I simply love it!!! (This guyís got a brilliant taste. Ė Stefan)
d) "The fourth crusade" cover done by HSB
Of course not as good as the original, but we knew it before. Itís impossible to do it better than BOLT THROWER!
There are people who say that we shouldnít have done that, but the cover song is our tribute to them!!! And I still like the version we did...we just felt like that when we did it.
e) Florida Death Metal or Scandinavian?
At the moment Iíd say Florida Death Metal...hehehehehe. I think that both scenes had and still have amazing bands. I really donít wanna miss one of them!
f) Old School Hardcore
If i wanna listen to old school HC, I prefer to listen to the old bands like CHAIN OF STRENGHT, SLAPSHOT and the likes. I mean, there are tons of really good bands in that genre nowadays....like SIDEKICK, but there are also too many bands, which are just boring. Itís the same thing like in Metalcore...hahahahaha... I just canít stand most of the kids who are into that old school thing. 2 years ago they still were Metal as fuck and now they listen to the old-styled bands and pretend that they always did. Buying expensive old shirts on ebay to be Ďauthenticí. Itís ridiculous!
g) Lifeforce Records
Probably the most dedicated and professional label you can find in European HC/ Metalcore!!! We love LIFEFORCE!!! (Maybe some of you might have heard the rumours on which label the new record will come out. As Matthias told me they're 100% satisfied with Lifeforce but you never know... But they didn't sign to Metal Blade Records as it was written in Rock Hard magazine - Stefan)
h) The other members of HSB
Ok, I can't think of any more questions. Thanks for taking the time answering all of them. Did you like this interview and do you have any final words?
Thanks a lot for the good and interesting questions! And for the support and the interest as well!!! Watch out for the new album called ĎAntigoneí, which will be out in winter/ spring 2004!!! matthiasXXX