I always immensely enjoyed ANASARCA’s releases – from their demo days up to the "Godmachine" debut, but their new full length "Moribund" blew me away even more! A totally brutal Death Metal assault from start to finish, very well produced and with a serious lyrical concept about the death penalty. Read on what their vocalist / guitarist Mike had to tell us…
It’s been a while since we’ve last heard from ANASARCA, so what have you been up to in between the release of "Godmachine" and the recordings of "Moribund"? Has your line-up stayed the same ever since "Godmachine"? Do you still work with Herb from EYE SEA in the drum department?
"After the recordings of "Godmachine" several different things happened. First we toured with Centinex and Stratuz through Spain and Portugal and after that problems began. We lost our rehearsal room and it was impossible for us to get a new one, so it took nearly half a year to rehearse again. Then there have been problems to manage the rehearsals, because Herb lives in Bremen and to travel these 130km was too expensive for him, also Frank was working in different shifts in a car-factory, so it was hard to find some space for rehearsals. In the beginning of this year Frank had to leave the band, because he still would have these problems in his job and he became father, so there wouldn’t be any possibility for him to rehearse regularly."
Unlike many other Death Metal acts who regularly tour their asses off on small underground tours, ANASARCA hardly played any live shows… Why is that? Apart from the fun aspect of playing live, don’t you think that playing more extensively could also help to make a band more known?
"Yes, of course it is like that, but we hardly got possibilities to play live. Sounds funny, but there are a lot of people and organisers who don’t care about German bands. They all prefer US bands to play at their clubs. The next thing is, that there was the trend of wanting Black Metal bands – and of course the fact that we had the rehearsal room problems was very bad for us to play live. We really love to play live and we hope that everything will getting better now, although I will become father as well, but I will find the time to play live – the only really cool thing about playing in a band. We hope the tour with INIQUITY / BEHEADED will succeed for early 2001 and we have some kind of offer for a Canadian tour, so let’s see what happens. Everybody who would like to book us, should get in contact – it is fun to see us live."
Anyway, give us a few details about the recordings of your new album "Moribund"… Did you record the album in Art Temple Studio again? How long did it take you to come up with this great sounding result?
"Yes, we recorded again at the Art Temple. The recordings took about 10 days recording and 3 days for the mix. I think it is a good production, better as the one on "Godmachine". It is more brutal and more aggressive. Although it is a little and cheap studio it is fun to record there, because Cord Hanken is really a good engineer and he knows how we want to sound like!"
By the way, is the studio engineer a Death Metal fan himself or did you exactly tell him how you wanted the album to sound like? I mean it doesn’t turn out any worse than stuff that gets recorded in bigger studios with more established producers, so…
"Cord himself played in a Thrash band long time ago. Now they play some kind of Power Metal, but he has his own philosophy for producing Death Metal. He doesn’t want Death Metal bands to be produced typically sounding like all other Death Metal bands. "Moribund" for example was produced like Thrash Metal bands are produced. We always tried to make the sound like the new TESTAMENT album. Ok, it is utopia to produce that in such a little studio, but we tried to as good as possible and I really like the production! I think it is cool to make some sound experiments. I’m really bored of all the Sunlight and Morrisound productions."
"Moribund" will not be released on Repulse Records again, but on the Danish Mighty Music label instead… Was your deal with Repulse for one record only? In retrospect, were you satisfied with Repulse and was it difficult to find a new label for such brutal music?
"Yes, we broke with Repulse, but it was a friendly break. It was because of their financial problems, but for information about that, one should better contact them. The deal was for 3 records, but we could search for a new label. It was difficult to find a new label, because we didn’t record anything at the time Repulse dropped us and so we only could search for a label with our old material. We are satisfied with Repulse, cause they gave us the chance to tour through Spain and Portugal. They made a lot of underground promotion world-wide, the only thing that could have been better was the promotion in Germany."
How did you hook up with Mighty Music, where there any other labels interested and what made you sign with them in the end?
"There were some labels interested and also bigger labels, but as you said before, we are not very popular and then it could be bad to be only a band beside many famous, so the Mighty Music offer was cool. They really liked "Godmachine" and they wanted to sign us, even without ever listened to new material! And they want to work hard in the future within the Death Metal business, so we decided to try it. Maybe we can make them well known and they can help us the same way."
Lyrically you obviously don’t follow the typical cliché by writing about Gore, Horror or Satanism… What is the reason for you to concentrate on more serious subjects?
"Everyone concentrates on those topics, but because I am responsible for the lyrics and I am NOT into Gore or even less Satanism. I am always searching for other more interesting stuff. Why should I write about Satan? I am an atheist. I only watched 2 splatter movies, so why writing a gore story… I think life is brutal enough to find stories that fit to the Death Metal genre, don’ t you think? (absolutely! – Frank) Why look into fiction, when death is so real in life? For me it is more interesting to write about ALL kinds of death, doesn’t matter if it happens to animals, humans or other creatures on earth. People might be horrified by stories of monsters, but if you think about the possibility for oneself to die, I think it is much more frightening…"
When did you start thinking about a concept album that deals with the death penalty? Have you seen movies like "The Green Mile", "Dead Man Walking" or "The Chamber" and did they make you think more deeply about the death penalty?
"Difficult to say. I think that the idea was there every time I heard, that someone was executed. Also "Dead Man Walking" and "The Cage" inspired my thoughts to do a conceptional album dealing with this theme. I now have a totally different view on these things, that I don’t want to tell you, but I got more into the "scene" and so it was a MUST to write about it! You know, when you are in contact with a moribund person, you start thinking about everything more detailed!"
What is your personal opinion about the death penalty? Would you say it is justified in any way to execute criminals?
"As I said before, I don’ t want to tell you, because it is difficult for me to explain. There are cases, of which I said they would maybe be worth being sentenced to death, but when you are getting more information about the whole thing, you change your mind. I read a lot of books and there have been things that happened (mistakes during the execution and so on), that are so cruel, that you would say no living person deserves something like that!"
Is one form of execution more human than another (gas chamber, electric chair, injections…)?
"There is no execution that is more human, not when they are still organised like they are today! It would be possible to make it more human, but things like money and politics seem to be more important than to exclude suffer and pain! I read some horrible stories, e.g. a governor used money to renovate his house, instead of using the money for a damaged electric chair that "worked" very painful."
How long have you been interested in this topic already and what kind of research did you do for the lyrics? Where did you actually get them from? Have they originally exactly been written this way or did you have to re-write parts of them so that they’d fit to the music or something?
"I tried to use the writings as original as they have been. I didn’t want to falsify the meaning and so it was very hard to find lyrics, that fitted into a song. I am interested in that topic some time and I searched the whole net to find sites of deathrow inmates. I put the addresses into the booklet as well, so people have the chance to surf on it. There are a few friends of prisoners over here in Germany, who helped me a lot getting permissions to use writings and so on."
I’d like to go a little bit deeper into the lyrics now as I find them pretty interesting and worth being discussed… Who are all those people that you used for the lyrics?
"No special people. I didn’ t choose them because of their personal story. I tried to find writings, that show emotions of being on deathrow, or that show feelings thinking about their deeds. But it was very difficult to find some, that didn’t deal with Christian aspects and believing in god. Mostly the deathrow inmates changed into strong believing people when they are awaiting death."
What’s the exact story of Christina M. Riggs, who wrote ‘If Only’…? Had she been sentenced to death for killing her Babies?
"Yes, she was sentenced for killing her two children. She was executed February 5, 2000. The story is somehow weird and difficult, so it would be the best for everyone who is interested to know the whole case, to go to this site: www.voicesforchristy.webjump.com"
Do you know what kind of relationship Willie Christopher Tucker had to the abused pregnant young girl in ‘Those Who Have Eyes’? What had he done, that he ended up in deathrow? Or did I misunderstand the lyrics here?
"No I don’t know that. I personally think, that he had known her. In the way he’s writing about that girl it seems to me, that she maybe was his sister or something like that, I don’t know. I don’t think that she is fictional."
Robert Atworth obviously wanted to await his death without regrets and with pride… It seems to me that he had hoped by showing strength during his imprisonment, that he would somehow win over the law in the end… kinda like, the law wasn’t able to break him… At least that’s my conclusion when reading the lyrics to ‘I Will Not Be Broken’… How do you judge this?!
"Hm, I think he wished to have some kind of victory against the system, but he finally broke. He sat in prison innocently and died on December 14, 1999 as an execution volunteer. The last thing I heard of Robert was, that he was very depressed and that he wanted to commit suicide the next chance he had. Therefore I sent him a letter to try to tell him positive things, to tell him, that his lyrics will be on our CD, and that he shall wait for it, to see, that he will become some kind of "immortal" with that. The letter returned with the notice, that this person is not known. Some months after that we got the message, that he died by lethal injection and he wanted it to! I personally was very sad about that…"
But I’m not quite sure about his attitude in ‘No More’ – did he see his death as a release or is it more like that he’s sarcastically re-telling the government’s point of view with those lines?
"As for his volunteer execution, I think that death was a release for him. A release from being within those walls. The story of his case is really weird and if it really happens so, I can understand why he was depressed within imprisonment! Short: his wife committed a murder against a robber – that was self-defence! She called Robert who was at a party. Robert drove immediately to his wife to help her and they both tried to bring away the robber’s corpse – they were afraid that his wife would be arrested, although it was self-defence. But they have been recorded by an outdoor camera and on these recordings, only Robert is recognisable while pulling the body. His wife told the police, that she doesn’t know anything and so Robert was arrested. She was never seen again and Robert died for her "crime"… There was a telephone bill, that gave a proof to her call (he wasn’t able to commit the murder, cause in the minute of the robber’s death he was still at the party), but Robert and his family didn’t have the money to begin a new trial… And now he is dead…"
With ‘Signs Of Life’ he obviously wanted to point out that imprisonment didn’t manage to change him, and that all the suffering has kept him alive, while in ‘Of Life And Death’ he seemed to make clear that the government ain’t no better than people like him and that they often don’t even care what actually caused a crime… Your comments here?!
"I think it is difficult for us to judge, because we really don’t know how it is in the States. Even if you try to get deep into the material, it is not obvious how the government deals with committed crimes and how the crimes really happened. I think people who are sitting on deathrow are mostly waiting for years, decades, and feelings and thoughts change very often. Some are sad, others are angry, others feel hate. There are many guilty ones, who said, that they deserve the death penalty because of their bad character, but when the d-day comes, they talk about the bad state and the bad judges you know…"
‘Done In Our Name’ and ‘A Cloud Of Smoke’ were obviously written from an executioner’s point of view, who felt pretty bad about the death penalty and couldn’t get rid of his bad memories from deathrow… Was it important for you to have different opinions about this subject on the album?
"Yes, of course it is important to have different points of view, so that people who are reading the lyrics can compare and think about it closely. ‘Done In Our Name’ was written with the intention to motivate people to work against death penalty. To show their Christian hearts (most of them e.g. in the States are so damned faithful), that they may go to hell as well, if they support this "killing"."
What about Anthony W. Ehlers, who’s responsible for ‘I Am’ – do you think that with his lines he wanted to point out that everyone of us has a little bit of cruelty inside?
"Yes, in a way that could be right. I think being on deathrow is like doing the same day in, day out and of course some kind of everlasting thinking. The only thing you can do when you are waiting for your execution day is to think about everything that happened in the past. Thinking about the crime you probably did, your feelings, your family… I think that he wants to mention, that the only one who can bring you down is you. And also the only one who can fight and be positive is you. That the only one who can do things that change your life in any way is you. You can’t make other persons responsible for your life, because you are responsible for that. If you read his complete poem "I against I" (which ‘I Am’ is based on) it is even more clear what I mean. By the way, the last news I heard from Anthony Ehlers is, that his death penalty has been changed into life – prison! But I personally don’t know, if that in the USA is better than to die… It is not like in Germany for 25 years, it is for the rest of your life… Doesn’t matter at all, we wish him the best of luck!"
It seems to me that Wes Quick, who wrote ‘Concrete Tomb’, had suffered a lot more from his long imprisonment than the actual execution… which would confirm my personal view on this subject. That the death penalty is more of a release than a punishment… Do you agree here?
"Yes, I think so as well. I think Wes is a very sensible person and for him death is a kind of release. I have many more poems from him and it is always the same. He suffers a lot being imprisoned and not being able to do what he would like to. So, if the state wants to let him suffer the most cruel way, they would change his death penalty into life – prison…"
Would you say that Does Carlos Santana regreted his doings in ’60 Steps’ and in the end was awaiting his execution with fear?
"Yes, I think so too. But it is always difficult to say, if those people are regretting from their deepest inner-selves, or just do it because they maybe have to! But in general I would say that everyone on deathrow regrets his / her doings with only a few exceptions…"
Where did you get the spoken intro parts on the album from?
"The intro words are from a documentary about the lethal injection. It is taken from an internet video- documentary. The intros between the songs are also taken from the internet. It is a trailer from a US radioshow dealing with the death penalty…"
Your music luckily still sounds as brutal and traditional as Death Metal is supposed to sound like, so I was wondering how you manage to exclude outside influences from your songwriting?! Or do you only listen to pure Death Metal yourselves?
"I personally only listen to brutal Death Metal and you know the faves we have grown up with. Same with Chris, our bassplayer. If there would be other influences they must come from Benjamin, who is more into Thrash Metal, or from Herb who’s drumming is also influenced by drum’n’bass stuff as well as by many other weird things J ."
Any new releases / bands that impressed you lately?
"I was very impressed by Dying Fetus, Hate Eternal and Suffocation… But there have been a lot of cool and brutal releases the last three years. I think there is a new wave of Death Metal coming – many great bands are doing fantastic jobs. In Germany a cool scene grows too!"
Which bands had (still have) the biggest influence on your own songwriting? Or in other words: ANASARCA would not exist in this form without the following bands…
"DEATH (old), Edge of Sanity (old), Morbid Angel, Suffocation, Obituary(old), Kreator… but I think there are too many to be mentioned!"
Anything else you would like to add?
"Thanx a lot for the interview and support. Hope everyone likes our album or at least checks it out! Destroy Fascism and Racism!!!"