Germany’s Death / Grinders KADATH have been around for ages already and throughout the years never wimped out nor betrayed their brutal roots in order to reach mainstream acceptance. Unfortunately several member changes and small inexperienced underground labels always seemed to be stepping stones on their overall rather uncompromising way. That’s probably also the main reason why they never really got the same attention as all the other brutal acts that started out around the same time as KADATH. But things could change for the better now, as our hopefuls were picked up by Cudgel Agency recently, so that their newest full length "Chasing The Devil" will hopefully reach a lot more people after all. We hooked up with singer Holger and bassplayer Marc to give the band our fullest support on their brutal mission…
According to your bio the band was founded in early summer of ‘92 – back then still under the CATALEPSY moniker… What kind of style did you play at the time? Did you have any musical faves that you were trying to copy as good as possible?
Holger: “When we started back then, we already played some kind of Death Metal. It was very Thrash-influenced, but it was Death Metal. Of course it was slower and not as brutal as today. We played ‘Circle Of The Tyrants’ by CELTIC FROST, cause it was easy to play and we liked it a lot. But I can’t say that we tried to copy other bands. We all liked SLAYER, MALEVOLENT CREATION, SINISTER, NAPALM DEATH and stuff, but we wanted to do our own songs. As our old drummer was a “normal” Metal guy and the guitarists big Thrash fans, we went more for that style. But I always wanted to do the fast and extreme stuff. In the beginning I had not such a big influence as I was the newest member, but when Marc (bass) and Rolf (drums) joined, it got more brutal and faster. We always had faves, but tried to do our own thing.”
Holger, I heard something about a band of yours called E.D.K. that you used to be in prior to CATALEPSY… And that you were not only singing, but also playing bass at the time… Tell us a bit more about E.D.K., when and how you got together with Kai, Robert, Tanya and Robin in CATALEPSY and why you actually stopped playing bass.
Holger: “Before I played in KADATH I used to do the bass in E.D.K., that’s right. But this was never a real or serious band, more some kind of project. As I’m totally into Death, I always wanted to be part of a band. An old friend of mine called Andreas played the guitar and his friend sang. I started to play the bass, but was never good at it. E.D.K. played very simple Death Metal and so I took over the bass. As we had no drummer, we used a drum computer. In this “line-up“ we did some jam sessions, just for fun. We met at the weekends, played some songs and drank a lot. The two other guys had no big motivation to do it more seriously or even play some gigs. But I wanted to do a real band. Ok, with E.D.K. we recorded a demo-tape at home and sold it very cheap to people we knew. About 80 copies were sold and that was it. I was searching for some other act to play gigs and do it all a little bit more professional. By the way, I only played bass back then. There was only one exception where our vocalist took over the bass and I sang. My friend Kai heard this song and liked my way of singing. His old band broke up and he searched for a new one. Through an ad in a newspaper he found the guys from CATALEPSY, who also needed a new singer. Kai joined them and proposed me to try it as vocalist. After the first session I joined them, too. We played ‘Circle Of The Tyrants’ and I listened to this song a thousand times before trying it with the other guys. Everyone liked it and so I was in the band. The first time I also stayed with E.D.K., but my main band soon became CATALEPSY.”
What have the other CATALEPSY members been doing before?
Holger: “Before my friend Kai and I joined CATALEPSY, the band’s name was INFANTICIDE and they had another vocalist and a 2nd guitarist. As these two quitted, they searched for new members. As far as I know, they never had a gig or hadn’t recorded anything. It just got more serious when Kai and I took over. He had several old songs that we played and my own way of singing. So soon we were the main persons in the band.”
It’s said that your drummer Robin was forced to leave the band already nine months after you founded CATALEPSY due to serious psychic problems… Would you like to talk about this subject a bit more?
Marc: “Well, Robin had serious psychic trouble – I don’t remember exactly what was the diagnosis, but these health problems forced him to stop with the band, because he was obliged to enter a psychic hospital and stay there for quite a long time. Relatively fast we lost the contact with him, so that none of us knows what happened with Robin later.”
Even though you hadn’t played any live shows with the original line up yet, you at least managed to record a rehearsal-tape… Tell us about the material that was featured on there and if you spread that around in anyway?
Marc: “That tape was only for ourselves. We recorded it in 1993 and it featured 6 tracks. All songs were from Kai and we took them for our debut-demo “Face Your Death“. It was just a shitty rehearsal-tape with a bad sound and a lot of playing-faults. Nothing that we wanted to spread. When you do some new tunes, you want to know how it sounds when you can fully concentrate on it and don’t have to play an instrument. That was the solely reason we recorded it. Our former guitarist just came up with a cover and an inlay, so that it looked better. Maybe it was to give it to someone in case we had a chance to do a gig or something like that. We didn’t want to spread it and as far as I can remember, we didn’t give it to someone else.”
In October 1993 you finally found a new drummer named Rolf. How did you hook up with him and why did you change the name into KADATH around the same time?
Marc: “After the departure of Robin, we were not able to continue the band. So Robert designed a flyer, announcing that we were looking for a new drummer and on this one, Rolf contacted the band. Nine months had passed by and after restarting the band activities – knowing that there were other bands named CATALEPSY, the guys (I joined the band one month later) decided to look for a new moniker for the band. And Holger proposed the name KADATH taken from a title of BLOOD’s 3rd album “O Agios Pethane”.”
As the new name was inspired by the third BLOOD album, I suppose you liked their stuff, didn’t you? Would you even name them as a major influence on your early stuff?
Marc: “Well, sure we liked the music Blood was playing. But they were never an influence for us, because they were more into Grind stuff and we wanted to do pure Death Metal. That’s what we are doing until now, even if lot of people say we are doing Grindcore. That’s definitely wrong!!”
In November of the same year Marc replaced Tanya on bass… what was the reason for that? Was Tanya the girlfriend of one of you guys and that caused tension within the band or have there been other difficulties?
Marc: “When KADATH restarted with Rolf, Tanya didn’t show up at the rehearsals and didn’t seem to be interested in doing her job anymore . So Holger and Kai, who were good friends of mine, asked me if I wanted to play bass in their band. At that time I was playing guitar in a band called FOETUS. But this one splitted up shortly before I was asked to join KADATH. And I told them “OK, I can try”. One week later I was the new bass-player. Well no, Tanya wasn’t the girlfriend of any of us.”
With this line-up you finally managed to record the first official KADATH release, the “Face Your Death” demo… Tell us more about its origin – I know it was only a 4-track recording, but already gained you quite a lot of positive feedback, didn’t it?
Marc: “Yeah, after we were complete, we rehearsed a lot, 3 times the week, and a few months later we were ready to record the 7 songs of our program. As Holger said before, 6 of them were composed by Kai at the time of CATALEPSY and one was from me (from FOETUS). We asked our friend Andreas, who had a 4-track recorder, and with that equipment we recorded the 1st demo. To our surprise, a lot of people liked our material, and after a while we were able to sell and trade more than 400 copies of it. In that time we got more and more contacts in the underground, bands, mags and fans, so that we could spread our name in the scene.”
Why did you include ‘Horrible Reality’ only as a bonus track – what is so special / different with that song that it didn’t get used the usual way?
Holger: “In fact, ‘Horrible Reality’ wasn’t a Kadath-song. The track is from my friend Andreas, who did E.D.K. with me. All guitars and bass are from him and the drums are performed by his drum-computer. The vocals are from me, though. But the song had something special: it was played very fast while recording, but then slowed down and again recorded. That resulted in a slower end-version, but it was deeper (lowtuned) and the vocals also got deeper. Andreas recorded our first demo and so we thanked him this way. We named him and his drum-computer and took this song as a bonus. After this, we even played the track live in a longer version.”
After the release of that demo you finally got the opportunity to play your first live show in your hometown Aachen, Germany. How did that gig turn out for you? Was it as exciting as you thought it would be or do you consider it kind of embarrassing in retrospect?
Marc: “We were friends with a German Punk band called ZSK-5. And one of the guys asked us if we wanted to play with them on a little gig they were organising for his birthday party. It was on February 26, 1994. Approx. 70 people showed up and we were a bit anxious if all these punkies would accept our Death Metal chaos. But surprisingly, most of them liked it and so, nine years later I can say it was a cool and funny gig. And that was exactly what we wanted to repeat in the future. Playing live as often as possible.”
And that’s what you did – you played some more shows shortly after, with bands like ASMODINA, INQUISITOR, GUTWRENCH, DAWN and Argentina’s VIBRION… Any particular show that stands out for one reason or another? Did it already become more of a routine for you to get up on a stage at that time?
Marc: “Well, the 2 shows with VIBRION in July 1994 were very special indeed. The only reason why we got the opportunity to play with them, was the misfortune of the bass-player Frosch from Belgium’s RISING NATION, who were supposed to do these gigs. He hurted his hand with a saw on his working place, so RISING NATION had to cancel the gigs. And due to the fact that I was a very good friend of RISING NATION’s singer Fred, they asked us if we wanted to jump in for them. That was a very lucky situation for us. So we did. But, no, speaking of routine at that time, would be exaggerated. We just were at the beginning.”
In April 1995 you recorded your second demo “Into The Eternal Depths Of Sorrow And Desolation”… What was the reason that you didn’t just record the material on 4 tracks again and instead went for a 16-track recording studio? Did you just feel the need to improve as a band?
Marc: “Yes, of course we wanted to improve. But that is not the only reason. Our friend Andreas didn’t want to record a new demo with us, because it was a lot of work, especially the recording of the drums. So we found a guy who had a private little studio with a 16-track-recorder at his parents house. He was quite cheap, so we decided to do the new demo with him.”
Tell us a bit more about this demo as well, like how many copies you managed to get rid off, how the response was, compared to your debut demo, if your song writing changed in any way and so on
Marc: “Well, the 2nd demo contained 4 tracks, quite longer than the songs on the first demo. The new songs were more varied, with more tempo changes and more grinding influences. The Thrash influences instead were getting lost, because we wanted to go into a more brutal way of music. The new demo was sold and traded about 900 times and responses were really good. Wild Rags from USA did another 600 copies on a license deal for the American market. When we had recorded the songs, we expected a lot sound wise and the first hearings in the studio were excellent, somewhere into the Bolt Thrower sound. But unfortunately when the cassettes were pressed, the illusion was perfect. The sound was okay, but the heaviness we had expected was lost. So at that time we had a lot to learn for the future.”
Afterwards you also appeared on a 3-CD compilation from Shiver Records… Honestly spoken, I can’t imagine who was supposed to buy that, so did that do well for you in any way? How did you actually get together with Shiver Records for that?
Marc: “Holger was in contact with Shiver Records and the guy running Shiver asked us if we were interested to appear on his new compilation CD box. We agreed immediately, because it was a good way for promoting ourselves. I don’t know how this box ran, but for us it was a positive thing to do. We never regretted it. There were really good underground bands appearing on it, so I think for all those who wanted to discover new promising bands, the compilation was worth its value.”
What kind of differences lead to the next line-up changes, when your guitarist Robert got replaced by Marcus (“Mockel”) and shortly after your drummer Rolf by this guy from Belgium, called Erling? Feel free to tell us the whole story here
Marc: “Ha, Robert was a very strange guy. He was always telling fairytales and was lying, but he seemed to believe into what he told. And on the recording sessions for the 2nd demo, we were quite finished and had to pay the guy from the studio. The only one who didn’t come up with the money was Robert, with some fucked up stories why he has no money and that he will bring it on the next day. Well, the last day arrived, and he had no bucks with him. So we exploded and threw him out of the band. That was the last time we saw him. Concerning our drummer, Rolf, he was an even stranger guy than Robert. In the beginning we had no problems with him. But at the end, he didn’t want to work with us anymore and on the next rehearsal we found a letter written by Rolf saying “I’m out of the band”. It ended up in a mess. The situation culminated into accusations and legal proceedings – he stole equipment of the band and refused to give it back. He never answered phone-calls and letters and didn’t want to speak with us when we visited him. It was a bullshit situation. Well, 3 months after Robert’s kick out, Mockel joined us on the 2nd guitar and 5 months after Rolf’s departure we were able to convince Erling to play into Kadath.”
After you finally had completed your line-up again a lot of shows were about to follow, with bands like FLESHLESS, DERANGED, SKULL CRUSHER, NYCTOPHOBIC, ORTH, DISFIGURED CORPSE and more. Don’t hesitate to tell us more about those shows, like if there’s been any extremely bad or good ones among them and so on
Marc: “Oh, there are the good experiences like the gig in Berlin with ORTH in November 1995. A lot of people were coming and the guys from ORTH are extremely cool and funny. The gig in Bretagne (France) with D.A.B. in June 1996 was also cool, even if we expected something totally different. But the whole trip was absolutely funny. Another cool one was the gig with AGATHOCLES in Wittenberg in May 1996, because it was the first one that Jens from CUDGEL invited us to. Instead, the mini tour in August 1996 with FLESHLESS and DISFIGURED CORPSE was a total catastrophe. The first gig had to be stopped after the first band played a few songs because there were only a handful of people coming and the organiser had no money to pay the bands. The second gig was completely cancelled and after some efforts of Vladimir from FLESHLESS we went to a gig in Hildesheim where we performed. The 3rd gig in St Pauli – Hamburg was cool, because the place was a squatted house near to the Reeperbahn. The gig in Graz – Austria in June 1996 with SKULL CRUSHER and MASTIC SCUM was a big disappointment because only a few people were showing up, and the place was quite large.”
In September / October ‘96 you went back into the studio to record a new promo tape which consisted of four brand new tracks, that were supposed to be for record labels exclusively… But things didn’t work too well for you in that department, right?
Marc: “Yes that’s exactly the truth. With these new tracks we were searching for a label that wanted to sign us. At that time we thought we were ready for it. But unfortunately only a few shitty offers came in and we didn’t accept any of them. So we were very frustrated with this situation and didn’t know what to do.”
Kai even left the band shortly after the recordings because of the lack of interest… Did that come as a shock to you or were you all in a rather depressive mood at the time?
Marc: “Kai left the band because the gap between him and the rest of the band became bigger and bigger. We wanted more and more grinding sickness and Kai wanted to do more conventional Death Metal. It became more difficult to work together, so Kai decided to leave the band. It was not a shock for us, maybe more a relief not having to argue all the time about the way to create our music. But we always stayed friends with him after all.”
The material that originally was intended to be for the promo tape exclusively ended up being released as a MCD entitled “Twisted Tales Of Gruesome Fates”, that you released on your own in November 1997. What actually made you go for a MCD, which certainly caused you some additional costs, instead of just duplicating the material on tape again?
Marc: “Well, shortly after the departure of Kai, we decided to release the new tracks in one way or another, because we didn’t want to loose the new stuff that we liked a lot back then. So we had the choice between cassettes or CD’s. And the CD certainly was the better medium to reach the fans, because demo-tapes and LP’s were slowly disappearing at that time and CD’s were becoming the main format for music. So we collected the money and ordered 1000 copies of the MCD that we called “Twisted Tales Of Gruesome Fates”. I was responsible for the cover, and after a lot of problems and delays we finally released the CD in November ’97, one year after the recordings.”
How long did it take you to get rid off the 1000 copies?
Marc: “They sold very well. I think the CD was sold out before we released the “Cruel!” album.”
Before that you had already released parts of the material from the promo tape on two split-7”es with IMMURED and EVOKE. Weren’t your die hard fans quite pissed that you released the whole session as a MCD as well afterwards?
Marc: “Well, we had already decided to release the promo material as a mini-CD long before the guys from Stuhlgang Records and Paranoia Syndrome asked us if we were interested to do an EP with both of them. Cause we all loved EP’s as real underground fans, we immediately accepted. But the only bad thing, is that we hadn’t any unreleased stuff for the singles. So we were forced to take songs from the promo, and that’s the reason why ¾ of the MCD also appeared on 7” EP’s. But I think the guys who like 7” vinyl will not be angry with us.”
And what about this split-tape with MENTAL ABERRATION for the east European market – didn’t that feature stuff off the promo tape as well?
Marc: “Yes, it did. But a guy who loved Kadath as well as Mental Aberration wanted to do this split-tape for the East European market. So we gave him the stuff and he did the tape. The reason for that idea, is that in Poland and other countries the people have not the money to pay 20,-DM for a CD, so a lot of albums are sold as cassettes there. That’s something we knew before, so it was a good thing to do. We never got money for it, so nobody can tell that we were ripping people off.”
More gigs followed with IMMURED, AGATHOCLES, MALEDICTIVE PIGS, D.A.B., MASTIC SCUM, SUPPOSITORY, INHUME, PLEURISY, CRYPTIC CARNAGE etc. – did people already know your material well at the time? Did you headline any of those shows?
Marc: “Sure there were people knowing our music before they saw us live. But there were a lot who never heard about us and they were quite surprised when they saw us on stage playing a full grinding death inferno. On some occasions we also headlined gigs, sometimes the other bands didn’t want to take on the headliner role, so we did. We didn’t care to play first or last. On one little Open Air in Sülsfeld, on the border between old East and West Germany we played as headliners at 3:30h in the morning. We were totally drunken, so it was a hell of a chaos, haha!! But the people were amused and had their fun.”
How did Teutonic Existence Records get into the picture then? Did they offer you the financial possibilities to record at Stage One Studio with Andy Classen or was the material which ended up being released as your debut full length “Cruel” pre-financed by yourselves?
Marc: “Holger was in contact with Cees from Teutonic Existence for a while then. He invited us to play in Rotterdam with EXHUMED and HEMDALE in November 1997 and liked our stuff. When we had recorded the “Cruel” – CD in November 1998 with our own money at Andy’s studio, we started to look for a label interested in putting out our new stuff. And Cees was. He paid the 2000 copies and we got a part to sell on our own. The deal was okay for us and so we agreed. Later Cees arranged 2 more gigs in Rotterdam, one with ANCIENT RITES in 1998 and the other one with UNHOLY GRAVE and AGATHOCLES in 1999, that was great.”
I really like that album a lot – it’s actually the first KADATH release that I consider (almost) perfect, apart from the rather poor packaging – which seems to be a big problem with all of your releases so far… So, who was responsible for that and do you personally like the way your releases come across visually?
Marc: “First thanks for the compliment. For us it was the first time that we got an album we were totally satisfied with. With the professional hands of Andy Classen, the sound and production was on top, and musically it was exactly what we wanted to reach at that time. Grinding as fuck with much melodies in the vein of Kataklysm. Concerning the packaging, I did the whole work and spend a lot of time on it. On the computer it looked really great, but the company that printed the covers, did a very bad job, poor paper quality, poor colours; we were quite disappointed with the result.”
In 1997 / 1998 you played a lot of shows again, with bands like BLOCKHEADS, HARMONY DIES, PURGATORY, MANGLED, DEAD INFECTION, AGATHOCLES, DYING FETUS, FLESHCRAWL, KRISIUN, SUFFICIDE, VADER, LAST DAYS OF HUMANITY and also participated in the first edition of “Fuck The Commerce”-Festival in May ’97. What kind of memories do you have on this particular festival?
Marc: “Oh, these 2 years were the very best ones in Kadath’s career. A lot of cool gigs with many great bands. And then the culmination with the FTC-festival. We had spend 3 days of complete delirium and maximum fun. So as you can hear, really fantastic memories. To play with bands like HAEMORRHAGE, gods of gore grind, and tons of famous bands in the Death & Grind underground was a big deal for us.”
You also played two gigs in Slovakia (in November ’97) and one with HEMDALE / EXHUMED in Rotterdam (in December’97)… Were those the band’s first shows outside of Germany? How did they go for you?
Marc: “Yes, the trip to Slovakia was really an interesting experience. A dark cloud over this, was that some fuckers stole our guitars and bass guitar. That really wasn’t funny, because one week later we had a gig in Bonn and we had to play on lended instruments. Quite shitty situation, I would say. The gig with Hemdale / Exhumed in Rotterdam (NL) was a cool thing, because we were big fans of both bands and they were absolutely nice guys. As far as I know it was the first time for them in Europe. For us it was not the first gigs outside of Germany. We played gigs in Belgium and Netherlands long before with Vibrion from Argentina.”
In the summer of 2000 Gezus from MENTAL ABERRATION joined the band and shortly after, Mockel left… What had caused this line-up change again and why did Mockel return in 2002?
Marc: “First Gesuz. When Mental Aberration split for the first time he joined us, so that we were again playing with two guitars. But in the meantime, Mockel had more and more problems to concentrate on the band, he was in a divorce procedure and had critical financial problems to face, so he decided to quit the band. Two years later, in the summer this year, he called me because he wanted to enter the band again. So we spoke with him and everything was okay. That’s how he came back.”
In 2002 you finally signed a deal with Cudgel Agency from Germany who most recently released your new album "Chasing The Devil"… How did you get together with them? From all the labels you’ve been working with so far, they seem to be the most promising, so has anything changed for the better for you ever since?
Marc: “Jens from Cudgel Agency is a good friend of us for 6 or 7 years now. He invited us for the first time to Wittenberg in 1996 and in 1997 for the 1st FTC festival. We have always been in contact with him since, and after the recordings of “Chasing The Devil” we asked him if he was interested in releasing our new stuff. He agreed, and in November 2001, Gesuz and myself went to him to sign the deal. Yeah he and his colleague Besen are doing very good and intense work for us. But on the other hand the problems within the band are not solved yet. Erling will leave us at the end of the year, and we are not able to find a replacement for him, so that we don’t know how Kadath will continue next year.”
Tell us a few details about the new album, how you would compare it musically to the previous KADATH releases and if you’re completely satisfied the way it turned out?
Marc: “Okay, our new album “Chasing The Devil” was recorded in August last year in the Gernhard Studio in Siegburg, near Cologne. Originally we were supposed to enter the studio of Andy Classen, who produced the “Cruel” – CD, but the date with him was canceled. A friend of mine, Frank the bass-player in PERSONAL WAR, told me about the Gernhard Studios, and after a visit, we decided to record the album there. The result is extremely fine; yes we are totally satisfied with it. It’s raw, brutal and the songs have much more groove than on the previous CD.”
Lyrically the new album offers a concept theme this time, doesn’t it? Tell us more about it and if there’s a major difference in the lyrics of the older KADATH stuff?
Marc: “That’s true, this time I’ve chosen to create a lyrical concept about a serial killer. I know, it’s surely not original and new, but I’m into this theme for many years, and I wanted to tell a complete story on a full album. The reason I decided to take Andrej Chikatilo, is that I didn’t want to write about American serial killers, they are too well known, and Chikatilo fascinated me with his massive count of murders and his biography. See the movie "Citizen X", and you know what I mean. Well, in the past I also wrote lyrics about murder and serial killing, but never chained together. In the past we also had lyrics about war, inner conflicts, depression and other dark themes.”
"Chasing The Devil" also features a multi media part… Tell us about it and who came up with the idea for that.
Marc: “Well, the multimedia tracks were recorded during a gig 2001 in Berlin in the K17 club. The show was quite chaotic, what you can see on the screen. The quality is quite good, but it’s not a professional recording, so that you shouldn’t expect too much. Yeah, Jens from Cudgel Agency came up with the idea to improve the CD with live-video-tracks, and we agreed. He found these recordings from Berlin, and that’s the story.”
In May 2002 you played at the “Fuck The Commerce” festival for the second time… How would you compare this years festival to the first edition in 1997 and how do you judge your own performance in retrospect?
Marc: “In the 5 years FTC is running now, the festival has become bigger and bigger and the quality of the bands has improved a lot. In 1997 it was much more fun because we were younger and crazier. This year it was very important for us to show a good performance. Unfortunately on Saturday, the weather was terribly bad, it rained almost the whole day, and the P.A. got damaged with rain falling on the equipment. Due to this the sound got worse and worse, so that we and other bands had to fight against this misfortune. But for my feeling our playing performance was really ok.”
Ok, I think I’m running out of questions now… Anything else we might have forgotten to mention so far? Any interesting news from your side? Then feel free to tell us about that now
Marc: “Thanks a lot for your support and interest, Frank. As everybody knows we have our new CD “Chasing The Devil” out now and merchandising stuff like T-shirts and longsleeves are also available through Cudgel Agency. We are still looking for a new drummer who can replace Erling when he will leave the band at the end of the year. So feel free to contact me, if you are into brutal grinding Death Metal. Thanks a lot to everybody who supported us during the years, in good and bad times, especially Jens from Cudgel Agency and Cees from Teutonic Existence, and of course all our fans and friends.”