GRAVEYARD from Spain impressed me a lot with their promo 2007 and not only this, their underground behavior and their dedication to the ancient Scandinavian Death Metal sounds with such huge quality couldn’t be honored enough. Therefore we had only one solution: to ask them a bunch of questions to see what GRAVEYARD is all about. In return we got a very interesting interview, answered by a die hard Death Metal fan who knows what he’s talking about. Check out Julkarn’s interesting and detailed answers and make sure to support them and their releases to come!
Hi there Julkarn, how are you? Anything important to say to the Voices readers?
"Hi, Thomas. Everything fine so far. Hello to all the Metalheads with such a good taste as to be reading the best webzine there is."
First up let me ask you what you think about this online fanzine Voices From The Darkside and the fact that you are getting interviewed for it right now?
"Well, it is one of the best webzines I have ever read, as simple as that. Serious, minimalistic and full of good bands. Being featured in it is a true honor for GRAVEYARD and for me personally."
Let’s start with some introducing words about GRAVEYARD! What’s your aim with this band and what made you found a Death Metal band like this one?
"The aim is pretty simple: to play some good old classic Death Metal. After many years playing in different bands and different styles of music, both Bastard and me felt it was the right moment to start a pure Death Metal band, like we had always spoken of doing. Must have to do with age and the desire to take things in the most simple and essential way. To be honest, we both were a little bit fed up of playing complex and abstract music and wanted to make a much more direct approach. That’s GRAVEYARD. Pure Death Metal the way it was meant to be. Or that’s what we try to be."
As far as I know each member of GRAVEYARD plays in another band, too. Does this have an effect on GRAVEYARD at all and does this mean that this band is more like a side project? Please tell some words about your other bands!
"As for today, GRAVEYARD is a established band whose members are involved in other bands one way or another but have GRAVEYARD as main priority. Our drummer, Gusi, plays in MORBID FLESH (Death Metal), SBE plays in ERED (Black/Death Metal) and Bastard plays in TERRORSPAWN (Death/Thrash Metal), DAWN OV HATE (Black Metal), ENYGMAH (Doom Metal) and OF DARKNESS (Funeral Doom Metal). I also play in OF DARKNESS with Mr. I-have-shitloads-of-free-time Bastard, hahahaha."
The reason for this interview is your recently released first promo CD “Into The Mausoleum”. Please loose some words about it and are you satisfied how the final result turned out?
”Into The Mausoleum” is our first recording as a band and the songs on it were written, arranged, rehearsed and recorded in two days (though most of the riffs were in my riff database since the early nineties). I think it has come out really well, though some details such as sound and production could have been better. But, hey, we were drunk most of the time and actually never thought of it more than as a pastime. It wasn’t until we heard the finished songs that we thought it could be something “serious” ."
How’s the response so far? How many copies have you sold up to now?
"We haven’t sold any copies, since it is only a promo. 150 copies on CDR have been pressed and sent to zines, radios, mags, friends and contacts all over the world. So far the response has been overwhelming. We are really pleased and honored by it. Mainly because we never expected such a big impact, honestly. I mean, when you gather some friends, grab some booze, lock yourself in a dirty, stinking basement and record four songs, it is not that you can’t expect the results to be very good. But as they say, you never know…"
Your whole presentation looks pretty professional. I mean the cover of the promo looks professional drawn, the logo looks amazing, the myspace-site is well done and professional is also the way how you promote your band. What’s your goal with GRAVEYARD?
"It is all a matter of having good friends, asking them for favors and buying them a few drinks in return. Let me explain: the cover was drawn by Roberto F. Giordano, one of the best tattoo artists I know and a friend of mine since school days; the Myspace was done by Oppi, a Death Metal freak and a very good friend of the band; the great logo was designed by Katu Marus (of The Sign Of Katu Marus fame), another Metal comrade from the old days, and so on… Truth is we have done very little ourselves other than writing the songs and recording them. How was that old BEATLES song? ‘With little help from my friends’, isn’t it? Hahahahahaha. Our goal with GRAVEYARD is no other than playing the music we love with passion and conviction. The longer we can keep on with it, the better."
Well, honestly spoken I don’t think that GRAVEYARD is such an original band. Don’t get me wrong, we are talking about oldschool Death Metal, which is nothing else than downtuned guitars, bass, growls and drums if you ask me, but the most necessary detail is to play it with a huge dose of heart and soul. Is that more important than originality?
"Ah, but we don’t give a fuck about being original. Death Metal is a closed genre with very little to no possibilities of variation if you want to stay faithful to its roots. At least, that’s Death Metal as I see and enjoy it. Originality is important if you want to shock people with your music, to offer something radically new or never heard before, but, come on, Death Metal has been around for 25 years and everything that could possibly have been done, has already been done. We in GRAVEYARD just try to recreate the atmosphere and the feeling of the bands we grew up listening to, so don’t expect something too different from what the classic bands did in the late eighties/early nineties. If we wanted to do something different to pure and classic Death Metal, GRAVEYARD simply wouldn’t exist."
In my review I compared you to bands as CARNAGE, UNLEASHED, GRAVE and ABHORRENCE. What do you feel when you read comparisons like that and do you think I was wrong with my opinion?
"You are completely right, though I would add ENTOMBED, GOREMENT, NIHILIST, FUNEBRE, DISMEMBER and GOD MACABRE as personal all time faves and clear influences. It is obviously a pleasure and a honor to be compared to such great bands although it is not fully unintentional that we sound like those bands. As I told you, GRAVEYARD is all about pure and true Death Metal, and that means trying to sound as the great bands of Death Metal sounded back then."
So let’s ask you from which bands are and were you influenced and which bands were the most influential ones in the whole history of Death Metal?
"Same answer for both questions: ENTOMBED, CARNAGE, NIHILIST, GOREMENT, GOD MACABRE, FUNEBRE, DEMIGOD, ABHORRENCE, AUTOPSY, BOLT THROWER, ASPHYX, OBITUARY, MORBID ANGEL, DEATH, SLAYER, VENOM, POSSESSED; BATHORY, DISMEMBER, INCANTATION… Well, I’m sure you know. Oh, by the way, there’s also MOTÖRHEAD, the best and most influential band in the world."
Talking a little bit about the songs on your promo. I’d say that all songs on it are nothing less than great, so please comment them on your own and please say some words about my comments, too! ‘Into The Mausoleum’ (a perfect opener in the way "Left Hand Path" started one of the most impressive albums ever made)
"I totally agree. ‘Into The Mausoleum’ is probably the best song on the record."
‘Ritual’ (where did you stole this riff? Haha)
"If I had to confess, I would say I took the inspiration from CARNAGE to write that opening riff. But I think it came out quite different at the end."
‘One Of Them’ (were you angry when I wrote that you borrowed the riff from ‘Before The Creation Of Time’ for this song?)
"Not at all. I actually wanted to use that great palm muting guitar pattern to start a song, as I remember how impressed I got by ‘Before The Creation Of Time’ the first time I heard it. Total respect to UNLEASHED. My riff is shit compared to the original one, though."
‘King Of The GRAVEYARD’ (…is so much ABHORRENCE-like that it is much more fun to listen to than you expect now while reading this!)
"There I disagree. We didn’t think about ABHORRENCE at all when writing that song. I can remember we were trying to create a dark and heavy mood in the vein of AUTOPSY, GRAVE or INCANTATION. It seems it came out completely different…"
I think you can be very satisfied with the final result of this promo, but what’s your honest opinion about it?
"To be brutally honest, I don’t like the drum sound at all. The snare sucks and the hi hat is way too loud in the mix. I also think the structure of the songs could have been better planned. But the worst of all is that I lost the paper where I had written all the lyrics, so I had to "guess" them by listening to myself singing, which sucked big time. Well, now I only know 60% of the lyrics. That is a good example of how things work in GRAVEYARD. We are a fucking mess. And there’s our drinking problem, which doesn’t help much, of course. Need I say more?"
Recently you got a new member called “SBE” from Spanish band ERED. As I know him through email I’m aware of the fact that he is also an oldschool Death Metal lunatic and involved in the underground since ages. Is this important for your band and coming members?
"Absolutely. It would be a huge problem to have to explain to new members why MOTÖRHEAD is the best band in the world whereas IN FLAMES suck. I mean, I have nothing against people who think IN FLAMES are very aggressive and SLIPKNOT are very heavy, it is just that I don’t want that kind of people in GRAVEYARD. This passion for all things underground, the old Death/Black/Thrash Metal bands and that kind of attitude is something that cannot be faked. It has to grow from respect to that scene. I think we would have too many problems with people too different from us to allow them in the band. That’s the problem of being an old fart, mate."
From my point of view you already gained a lot of interest in the scene and if I’m correct your promo will be released through Black Seed Productions on CD in the next couple months (which will also take care for your first full-length album) and the vinyl will be released through Antichristian Front Records later. Quite fast if you ask me? How could this happen, haha?
"Honestly, I haven’t got a clue. I mean, our demo is ok, but not that good in my opinion. I listen to many other bands and always think "Fucking hell, now that’s great music, we sure suck compared to them" so in my opinion it is kind of undeserved since we haven’t shown anything really special yet other than a honest demo and attitude. I’m convinced GRAVEYARD will do great things in the future but, as for today, everything is going quite fast, as you say. On the other hand, we couldn’t be more pleased, obviously. It is always great when people like something you have work on so hard and put so many efforts in."
As I wrote above you plan to release your first full-length album within the next couple of months. Can you tell some details about this album?
"Well, the album will not be released in the next couple of months, that’s for sure. We have to record bonus songs for the MCD and vinyl versions of the demo (different for each version) and our side of a split 7” with the Alte Schule demigods DEATHEVOKATION (the god status is reserved to the old bands, as you may know). About the album, I’m working on new songs that still need to be developed by the whole band and so far everything sounds quite well. The working title of the album is "Necrology", but it is not definitive. I’m always so unsure about song names and stuff that it could change tomorrow. I only hope we don’t fuck things up and release a good album."
What do you think about this growing number of quality Death Metal bands with an oldschool approach? In my opinion I’m a little bit afraid as it could turn (or already did) into a trend again.
"I’m not afraid at all. I think it is always good to have great bands around. It creates a proper competition and stimulates people to make better music. And we have very good new bands now, along with the old bands that are still active. To be honest, I don’t give a fuck if it turns into a trend as long as there are great bands playing great music. I think you can always tell the bands that carry the true spirit from the bands that don’t, like in any other style, so no worries about having shit bands jumping on the oldschool bandwagon because sooner or later they will be marked as crap by the people that know. Also I want to say that GRAVEYARD is not an oldschool band in the sense that I write most of the music and I’m 33 now, so for me it is not oldschool Death Metal, it is plain fucking Death Metal as it was when I first discovered it with bands such as MORBID ANGEL, AUTOPSY, ENTOMBED, GRAVE, CARNAGE, DEMIGOD, UNLEASHED, and so on. We’re not trying to recreate anything or to bring back old stuff; we just play something that has been there for quite a long time now. I think the whole "oldschool" thing only applies if you’re under 20."
Which are the most recommendable bands in the worldwide scene these days?
"Tough question. My faves are FUNEBRARUM, DEATHEVOKATION, REPUGNANT, KAAMOS, DEAD CONGREGATION, HATESPAWN, NECROS CHRISTOS, HAIL OF BULLETS, NOMINON, NECROCCULTUS, VERMINOUS, DEATH BREATH, INTERMENT, PAGANIZER, COFFINS, ERODED, EVISCERATED, NECROVATION, NERLICH, AXIS POWERS… and a new band that I personally highly recommend called MOTÖRHEAD, worth to check out, mate!"
Please tell some words about the current scene in Spain. Could you tell us some names worth to check out?
"Yeah, there’s a young band named GRAVEYARD that just kicks ass!!! Hahaha. No, seriously there’s not much of a Death Metal scene in Spain nowadays. Sure we do have lots of ultra-brutal-grind-hyper-blasting-gore Death Metal bands but since I don’t like that stuff I can’t say. As for proper Metal there is OBSCURE, who have been around since the late eighties and have reunited last year, they play some dark and sinister Death Metal in the vein of the old Finnish bands; gruesome stuff RELISH/ALTAR OF GIALLO, good Grind/Death Metal in the best IMPETIGO, NECRONY, GENERAL SURGERY and CARCASS tradition; MACHETAZO, Death Grind which to me is the perfect mix between AUTOPSY and old CARCASS; ALTAR OF SIN, great Thrash/Death Metal with the right attitude and sound; REDIMONI, pure and great Thrash Metal in the best German tradition; PROCLAMATION, bestial Black/Death Metal in the BLASPHEMY and BESTIAL WARLUST way; TEITANBLOOD, chaotic and dark as hell Black/Death Metal in the vein of old INCANTATION or old MORBID ANGEL, and little else that I can tell you about. There might be other good bands in Spain but I’m not aware of them."
As you seem to be a little bit older than the average Death Metal kid I wonder if you were involved in the Death Metal underground movement back in the early nineties, too?
"Yes, I was. I started my first Death Metal band (which was called SCABROUS, by the way) back in 1991 and we recorded our first demo in 1993. I don’t know the reason but it was heavily influenced by DEMILICH, which is a band I don’t like that much nowadays. I was very active in the tape trading scene and I remember going to the post office on an almost daily basis. I remember how great it was to receive those fat envelopes full of tapes, flyers, zines and shit. That’s all gone now, which in a way is better, because e-mail and internet make things faster, but somehow part of the magic of those days is definitely gone. Shit, I sound like an old fart. That’s probably what I am."
The underground as back in those days died at least 15 years ago, with all it tapetrading, penfriends, “sending back the stamps”… but how do you see the underground movement now with myspace, soulseek and so on? Do you think it’s easier now for the Death Metal starters?
"Well, it’s what I was telling you in my previous answer. Things are completely different now. And maybe it is for good, I don’t know. All I can tell is I personally enjoyed it a lot better in the old days but it is obviously much easier for people interested in Death Metal to gather information nowadays. It is also a lot easier to get your band to be known in the scene. I think much of the "do it yourself" attitude of the old days has been lost in favor of a much more community approach, which at the end of the day is better for the bands and fans alike. The only problem with that is all bands are at the same level on the internet, no matter if it’s DISMEMBER or LACERATED INGANGRENATION (I just made up that one), so one needs to be careful when choosing bands to pay attention to."
Considering the good old days I have in mind one person from Spain: Dave Rotten! What do you think about him and what do you think did he achieve for the Death Metal reputation of Spain? What’s your opinion about such old classic bands from Spain as UNBOUNDED TERROR, NECROPHILIAC or the Dave Rotten band AVULSED?
"I think Dave is and has been very important for the Spanish scene, I know he is kind of a controversial guy, but what he represents for the Spanish underground scene is undeniable. All the stuff he released under the Drowned Prods label is absolutely essential. About the Spanish Death Metal bands of those days, I’d say NECROPHILIAC was the best by far. I never liked UNBOUNDED TERROR very much, and only the first AVULSED meant something to me, but NECROPHILIAC’s "Chaopula – Citadel Of Mirrors" remains to me as the best Spanish Death Metal album ever."
A funny one: what do you think about the movie “El dia de la bestia”?
"A funny movie that in my opinion fails to properly represent the Spanish Metalhead stereotype, which is far worst than what the movie depicts, I assure you."
I ask it in almost each interview but I have to ask you that, too: what’s your opinion about publications such as “Swedish Death Metal” and “Choosing Death”. And in which relationship do you see a publication like “Lord Of Chaos” on the other side?
"I haven’t read "Choosing Death" but "Swedish Death Metal" is definitely worth buying. I think when compared to "Lords Of Chaos", "Swedish Death Metal" shows how a bunch of youngsters created a worldwide phenomenon driven by just passion and anger, whereas "Lords Of Chaos" just shows how ridicule people can get when pretending to be what they are not, that is, warriors from hell, pure forces of evil and that shit. Also, I find a bit annoying the admiration shown by the writer towards such pathetic beings as Varg Vikernes. In fact, the problem is I never got into this entire "fucking serious and evil as shit" Black Metal attitude, perhaps it is because of that problem of mine that I don’t appreciate a book like "Lords Of Chaos" in all its pure black and unholy glory. But I still think most of the people who appear in that book are a little bit ridicule."
“Choosing Death” opened my eyes a lot and it was very interesting to read all these background information about the leaders of the scene and “Swedish Death Metal” was nothing less than a milestone, too! How much do you think do we have to appreciate releases like this and after all what’s your opinion about underground fanzines like Voices From The Darkside and such printed ones which are getting so rare these days?
"I was an avid reader of fanzines back in the old days, but know I’m not that interested in knowing everything about every band. That probably comes with age; you lose general interest and tend to focus only on what is really important to you. Still, I think it’s much better to hold a true object in your hands, something that somebody has struggled to physically create, than reading words in a computer screen. A romantic asshole, that’s what I am."
Did the “bigger” music magazine already show some interest in GRAVEYARD? What were the most impressive reactions you got so far?
"We have appeared in the Spanish version of Rock Hard magazine and our demo was demo of the month in the Italian Grind Zone. That’s all I know so far."
As I’m sure you are deeply involved into the old Death Metal movement, I would like you to tell us your all time favourite demotapes, 7”EPs and LPs! For me some old Death Metal releases influenced me a lot through my adolescent years. Guess it’s the same for you, so please comment some of your faves and tell us what made them so special for you!
"Shit, another difficult question. I remember how the FUNEBRE demos changed my life back then. Also "Acts Of The Unspeakable" by AUTOPSY was a personal milestone, when I first heard that, I remember thinking "Holy shit, it can’t get much sicker than this". The first DISHARMONIC ORCHESTRA, CARNAGE, BOLT THROWER, the first INCANTATIOON, IMMOLATION’s second demo, all the NIHILIST stuff… There’s a lot of stuff I remember listening to for the first time years ago and thinking how great Death Metal was. Fortunately I still get the same feeling when listening to such great bands as FUNEBRARUM or DEATHEVOKATION, so the flame still burns dark… "
OK Julkarn, that’s it for this time. I hope I didn’t forget anything to ask, haha. Please keep us posted about the future of GRAVEYARD. I’m really looking forward hearing new songs from your band! Thanks a lot for taking the time answering this interview. If there’s something left to say, please take the opportunity!
"Thank you very much, Thomas. It has been a pleasure to answer to your interview, even when it is 257 questions long. Hahahahha. Cheers to Voices from the Darkside and everybody involved in keeping the old Death Metal spirit alive. Worship and die!!!"