Ketzer’s latest effort entitled “Starless” was one of the records that shone its light bright upon me and each time the record spins, new emotions and thoughts intrigue my mind and soul. Given that, I took the chance and conducted an interview with the band’s bassist David, who answered the load of my questions most kindly and actually helped me embrace Ketzer’s essence in a clearer way. Enough with my gibber jabber, read what David told Metal Invader!
Hello and welcome to Metal Invader! Glad to have you here! How are you? Is everything ok?
D: Hello and thank you for your stellar review on „Starless“. We’re all okay, trying to come back to reality after our tour with Primordial and Svartitaudi has just ended.
I believe Ketzer have reached a huge turning point in their career in 2016, taking things one step ahead. Do you feel the same or is it just me?
D: I guess you could say that, especially thinking about all that happened in 2015: Not only did we sign to a new label, but we also recorded an album that we worked on for three years, which felt like reaching the top of the iceberg.
“Starless” is now a few months old. How did your fans and the press react to it? In other words, are you satisfied with the feedback you’re getting, so therefore, are you satisfied with yourselves?
D: We got a lot more press and also feedback from fans/listeners compared to previous albums. Although reactions were very mixed, most of the feedback was quite positive. We knew beforehand that many of our old fans would need some time to adjust to „Starless“ and that some of them might not enjoy it at all, but all in all we’re very satisfied. What I consider quite special, is that „Starless“ opened up a discussion about how and if bands are supposed to change etc. That alone was really interesting to follow.
There is a crystal clear change in Ketzer’s musical direction. As far as I am concerned, “Starless” is your most mature and self – reflective / intimate record yet. Did you feel you needed to spice things up by incorporating various new features to your compositions or was it something that happened spontaneously?
D: Actually both. We are a band that always feels the need to progress and I guess you can already hear that when you compare our debut album to its successor „Endzeit Metropolis“. Then again, you can’t really plan things out to much when you enter the rehearsal room to work on new material. Things have to flow naturally, one thing has to lead to the other – overthinking is the death of creativity.
Changing your musical style was a pretty bold move. Where you confident about this since the first thought of writing new material or did you have any reservations in the back of your mind during the recording process?
D: Knowing that the metal scene is quite conservative (which is completely absurd if you think about it, nevertheless it’s sad but true) we were quite sure that some people wouldn’t be too crazy about what we’re doing. But “reservations”? Hell no!
Since “Starless” seems to be Ketzer’s sound’s natural progression to me, do you see this musical pattern sticking with you from now on?
D: If you look at our past three records it seems quite obvious that progression is part of our DNA, so to say. Needless to say, our next record will not sound like “Starless”.
In my mind “Starless” is a very esoteric record and every time I listen to it, it feels like I’m one step closer to each of you (in terms of mentality, feelings, etc). Given that, I’m guessing that composing such a record is a quite difficult task, meaning that each member needs his own time to compose something that atmospheric. Am I wrong? Ultimately my question is, did you write the record altogether in a studio or not? Paint us a picture on that matter.
D: Actually this is the first record of ours that was mostly written together, meaning that we spent long hours in our rehearsal room jamming around, trying different things out. At least that’s how I remember it… As for the lyrics I usually took a long time researching the “theme” of each song and for me personally, that was the only part of the writing process that actually needed some time away from everyone else, scribbling stuff into a notebook.
Ketzer’s previous efforts were released via labels, such as Iron Bonehead and Kneel Before the Master’s Throne. “Starless”, however, was released via the colossus Metal Blade. How did this happen and how has your cooperation with the label been so far?
D: Alan from Primordial, who works as an A+R for the UK/Ireland dependence of Metal Blade, was interested in us, so we sent him a demo of new 4 Songs, recorded in our rehearsal room in December 2014. He enjoyed it and made the connection to MB Germany. The cooperation so far has been quite fruitful. Metal Blade left every creative decision to us, which is exactly how a music label should work.
In recent years and especially this season, we are experiencing a huge change in black metal music, by both “old” and “newly spawn” bands. It seems that the entire genre is shifting into more atmospheric / experimental paths. Additionally (and quite naturally) the crowd open to this shift is growing stronger day by day. In a way, your latest effort falls into that “changing” category. Do you feel that this movement is the natural evolution of traditional black metal or is it just a trend that may fade out in the years to come?
D: On the long run, this might just be another trend that fades away and is replaced by the next “Old school Something” (Death, Thrash you name it…). I have no clue actually, nor do I care. To me, most good rock bands strive to push their own boundaries and if they don’t that’s okay, it’s just not very interesting then.
Extending the previous question, most of the lyrical themes in such releases, elaborate on cosmology, astrophysics, space in general, sacred geometry etc, as opposed to the typical lyrical themes about war, hatred and darkness. Combining this thought with the growing numbers of this genre’s enthusiasts/devotees, do you think that people’s perception of the world that surrounds us (earthly or not) has changed or people have just grown out of the overused themes of traditional Black/Thrash Metal?
D: Actually, I don’t think people change too much in general, so the belief that people’s perception of the world has changed is too far out. I’m also pretty sure that there are still a ton of bands who are using the more „classic“ (or: stereotypical) themes that define the heavy metal genre. For me, that is a lyrical world which has not much to give and I can see how a lot of bands think the same, turning to a more elaborate way of writing lyrics. I don’t really see „Ketzer“ in any of those realms though. The lyrics on „Starless“ are very much about how religion works within the world we live in and are therefore more practical or down to earth than you might think.
Do you keep track with the new releases? Is there any new release that caught your interest and that you enjoy listening?
D: There is so much stuff out there, that it becomes hard to keep up, especially because there is so much junk being released every week. I really enjoyed Gold’s latest album „No Image“ – truly unique and dark rock! We played a couple of shows with them this year and they are incredibly talented. Also US Punk Rockers „White Lung“ have just released a new album („Paradise“) which is definitely going to be on my summer playlist.
During April, you toured with Primordial and Svartidaudi. First of all, how was it? Did you have fun?
D: Oh yes, we did! Being an opening band every night is a task that can be quite hard, but we mostly enjoyed the responses we got from the audiences all over Europe. We feel like we have reached quite a few people who didn’t know us yet. Also, it was a pleasure to be on tour with the good people of Primordial and Svartitaudi. We raised hell with them every night and… well, let’s just say our bus driver hated us.
What do Ketzer’s general future plans include? What should we expect from now on? Secondly, are there any chances of seeing you live in Greece?
D: We are taking some time off from writing music right now, because we really want to take “Starless” on the road. You can expect more and more shows in the near future. It would also be nice to play in Greece some time.
Well, that’s all from me! Thank you for your time! Would you like to send a message to our readers?
D: Thank you for your thoughtful questions. If you want to see us in Greece, go annoy your local promoter to book us. We are Starless!