A few months ago, BMG announced a reissue of several albums of the most successful and biggest Noise Records bands. VOIVOD were the first band. And they really put a lot of effort in it, as the new editions of “Rrröööaaarrr”, “Killing Technology” and “Dimension Hatröss” were really crammed with interesting and often unreleased bonus material. This month, it’s KREATOR and CELTIC FROST’s turn. The albums of CELTIC FROST look rather nice. Nevertheless, Tom Warrior distanced himself from the whole project. He wrote about that in detail on his blog, Fischer Is Dead. Unfortunately the reissues of KREATOR are quite disappointing in several respects. I can’t say anything bad about the music, because the old songs of KREATOR are still great and just timeless. But as a big fan of the band, I have the feeling that KREATOR didn’t really take the chance to do something extraordinary when the idea of these reissues came up. When the opportunity came up to talk about this with KREATOR frontman Miland ‘Mille’ Petrozza, we didn’t hesitate.
Mille, when we held the reissue of the first 4 KREATOR albums in our hands, we had one spontaneous reaction: why does the artwork of all the covers look so incredibly dark, grey and not exactly very attractive?
"Our graphic designer wanted to give our albums a sort of retro look. And that is of course personal taste. The covers of these reissues definitely do not look the same as the originals. But that was done deliberately. It was our intention from the very beginning that these new versions would look different from the original versions. I personally think the sleeves and booklets look pretty good this way. But I can also understand very well that you maybe don’t feel like that (laughs)."
Who came up with the brilliant idea to put the word ‘Remastered’ – written in an extremely ugly lettertype – on the sleeves of the albums?
"That was also an idea of our graphic artist. But I’m also not that satisfied with that if I’m totally honest. That was not done in a good way. I was not aware that they were going to do it that way. If I had known that in advance, I would have rejected that. They should have worked with stickers, that would have been a much better option."
People who already have all your albums in their collection will hardly find any new, rare or unreleased material on the reissues. Because apart from 2 songs which were originally on the TORMENTOR demo "Blitzkrieg" and which are featured as a bonus on the reissue of “Endless Pain”, all the material was already previously released.
"That’s right, but I have to explain a few things. We still have a lot of old recordings that we made in our rehearsal room back in the days. But the quality of that material is just not good enough. We recently found the recordings of a live album which was recorded in 1991 during the tour for “Coma Of Souls”. My idea was to spread those songs as a bonus over the 4 different albums. We would have put the songs of for example “Pleasure To Kill” (which were in our set back in 1991) on the reissue of “Pleasure To Kill”. But BMG did not want to work that way. Therefore, these recordings will be used in its entirety as a bonus live album for the reissue of “Coma Of Souls”. I can imagine that a lot of die hard fans feel that there is hardly anything to gain for them. But there was nothing we could use. We have found the recording of a radio show from 1986. But that was just a recording on a cassette. We could not really put that one out on vinyl. We didn’t want to release bonus material in really bad quality. Because that’s no use either. These reissues are maybe a bit disappointing for fans who have been following KREATOR for already many years. But for younger fans who have just recently discovered us, the reissues are definitely a good thing."
With a history of over 30 years, I find it hard to believe that there isn’t anything useful in your archives. I mean, if you just look around on YouTube, you can find plenty of pretty good soundboard recordings of old shows. There’s also a lot of old footage on YouTube in often rather good quality. You could have easily used this as bonus material.
"I know what you mean. I also proposed that idea to BMG. But they thought that the quality of those recordings was not good enough to use. We also would have had to rip those recordings from YouTube. And they are not in stereo. I have no idea who has the mastertapes of those soundboard recordings. Otherwise I could have contacted them. I am not a collector at all. I barely have any recordings from the old days at my home. "
You have made a new video clip for the song ‘Pleasure To Kill’ to accompany these reissues. You have used footage of an old tv-show for that video clip. That show was professionally filmed and recorded in a television studio for the program ‘Rudi’s & Neudi’s Heavy Metal Battle’ and has been going around as a bootleg for already many years. You can also watch it in full on YouTube. When the reissues were announced, I was really expecting that especially that show would have been included in the reissue of “Pleasure To Kill”.
"I contacted Neudi for that. And he wanted to let me use that footage. But BMG and Neudi didn’t totally agree. And therefore, that DVD didn’t happen. I don’t want to say anything bad about BMG. The people who work there are good and nice people. But they are a very big record company and not that familiar with the whole underground movement. And the communication is therefore sometimes a bit rusty. I understand your criticisms because I have them too. But you just can’t imagine what a battle it has been to get these albums released again. Because it’s really quite complicated. In 2009, Universal bought the record label Sanctuary. They contacted me back then because they wanted to do something with the old albums of KREATOR. Universal was then bought by BMG Germany. I have been negotiating and working with them for two years. Then everything went from BMG Germany to BMG England and I had to start again from scratch. It was all very frustrating at one point. In total, the whole process has taken more than 7 years. And I didn’t want to wait another year. The timing is a bit unfortunate as our latest album “Gods Of Violence” is still very much in the spotlights. But I can’t change that. I’ve done my best, you can really believe that (laughs). But we could have done more, I’ve got to admit that. I could have coordinated things more and keep a closer eye on everything if I would have had more time. The reissue of the next two scheduled albums are going to be better. I can promise you that (laughs)."
Why are only the songs ‘Satan’s Day’ and ‘Messenger From Burning Hell’ of the demo "Blitzkrieg" (1983) on the reissue of "Endless Pain" (1985)? Because the songs ‘Armies Of Hell’ and ‘Cry War’ are missing.
"Because those two songs are also on the demo “End Of The World”. But I get your point because they are other versions. Only half the demo “Blitzkrieg” is now on the reissue, just like you said. These are all little details that sort of slipped through the cracks because I didn’t really have the time to engage me in all that.”
Something we also find very strange is that you have not taken the opportunity to put the rare tracks ‘After The Attack’ and ‘Gangland’ – your cover of TYGERS OF PAN TANG which was originally on the b-side of “Behind The Mirror” – on the reissues.
"(thinking) That’s right, they are not on there as well. You know, you’re one hundred percent right with everything you say. But this past year has just been a bit too much for me. Our new album “Gods Of Violence” had to be written and promoted. And many things have just passed me by. Malcolm Dome has interviewed me for the liner notes of the reissues. And I also had to intervene there because my quotes were sometimes not totally correct. I think that there were simply too many different people involved in the whole project. But I don’t want to sound too negative. Because I’m definitely not dissatisfied about the whole thing."
What I personally probably find the most interesting about the reissues are the liner notes. For example, you can read that you have taken the bandname KREATOR from MANOWAR’s song ‘Mountains’. I didn’t know that.
"That was more just a source of inspiration. Back then, we were mainly looking for a name for our band. Because it’s not that we really named ourselves after that song. That is a bit exaggerated. We just found the word ‘creator’ cool. And we got that word from that song."
In recent years, you have regularly put rare songs of “Endless Pain” in your set. The songs ‘Tormentor’ and ‘Flag Of Hate’ are almost always played. But the title-track and ‘Total Death’ on your last tour was quite a surprise. It’s also quite remarkable how well those old songs still work in today’s setting.
"You’re right. Those songs are very accessible and sort of primitive in a good way (laughs). Those are songs which always get the audience moving.”
I used to have a bootleg of SEPULTURA from 1986 on a cassette. Back then, they covered your song ‘Living In Fear’. Somehow it’s really remarkable that your album “Endless Pain” already had such an impact back then that a little and unknown band from Brazil decided to cover your songs.
"Absolutely! They even played that song live better than we did (laughs). We didn’t play ‘Living In Fear’ very often. SEPULTURA could clearly play it better than us."
If you compare the successor “Pleasure To Kill” to your debut, there’s a big difference. The album not only looks much more professional, but also sounds much better.
"Indeed. One of the main reasons for this is that we learned so much during the year preceding “Pleasure To Kill”. We played live quite regularly and also performed at many smaller festivals, including a few times in Belgium. Johan of the concert agency Metalysee organized a lot of festivals and shows around the city Aalst back then. We also wanted to move forward and became much more professional in a short time. You could hardly call Horst Müller who recorded “Endlesss Pain” with us a producer. He was more somebody who just pressed the ‘record’ button (laughs). Harris Johns was completely different in that respect."
“Pleasure To Kill” is an album that inspired countless bands. Bands like PESTILENCE, RIPPING CORPSE and CARRION also took their bandname from that album. Many old fans of KREATOR regard “Pleasure To Kill” as you best album. Do you understand why they think that way?
"Now that you mention PESTILENCE, something just came up to me. Back in those days, Patrick Mameli of PESTILENCE sent me a sort of audition tape where he plays along with “Pleasure To Kill” and also played a lot of guitarsolos. I remember that now all of the sudden. That could have been interesting bonus material as well. He wanted to become the second guitarist of KREATOR back then. PESTILENCE didn’t even exist yet if I’m correct. I’m not going to claim that “Pleasure To Kill” is the best album we have ever done with KREATOR. But it’s definitely an album with many emotions and memories attached. There was also no album back then that sounded like “Pleasure To Kill”. And I’m still proud of that.”
To promote “Pleasure To Kill”, you went to the USA for the first time. That must have been a special experience at such a young age.
"Certainly. On that tour, we tried out just about all the ‘funny’ drugs we could get. Mushrooms that made you hallucinate, that sort of thing (laughs). We were all still incredibly young, we were not even 20 years old. Back then, we never thought we would ever play outside of Germany."
Something I’ve always asked myself and never ever saw coming up in an interview: I’ve got the original pressing of “Pleasure To Kill” on vinyl as well as on CD. And the intro on the CD is much longer than the intro of the vinyl version. How did that happen?
"I can explain that. We recorded a long version as an intro. “Pleasure To Kill” was first only released on vinyl because there were no CDs yet back then. We shortened that intro for the LP because we thought that the original version was too long. When “Pleasure To Kill” was later on released on CD, the person who made the mastertape for that accidentally took the original and longer version. It’s just a mistake that has never been corrected."
"Terrible Certainty" (1987) seems to me like the album from your beginning period you’re the least satisfied with these days. Because apart from the titletrack, you never play anything from that album.
"The songs of that record are quite complicated and difficult to play. “Terrible Certainty” is very technical Thrash Metal. I think the titletrack still fits our set well. ‘Toxic Trace’ is a song which I also still really love. I would really like to put that one again in our set. Unfortunately our guitarist Sami doesn’t like that song that much. We are very democratic when it comes to our setlist. Therefore ‘Toxic Trace’ never makes it. But I would love to play that one again live. I think there will come a time in the future where we will do a tour where we will only play old material. But I have to convince the others in the band first (laughs). On the other hand, if I’m really honest, I don’t think much about many of those old songs, especially since our last album “Gods Of Violence” is so successful. We were headlining the Saarmageddon festival yesterday and we also played the song ‘Pleasure To Kill’. But the reactions to a new song like ‘World War Now’ were just much better. We can really slowly see a total change of generation in our audience."
Do you agree if I say that “Terrible Certainty” is a pretty typical eighties Thrash Metal album when it comes to the lyrics? I mean, if you look at the content of songs like ‘Toxic Trace’ (the pollution of the planet), ‘As The Worls Burns’ (the fear of the atom bomb) and the titletrack (the fear of diseases like AIDS)?
"Oh, absolutely! “Terrible Certainty” also has a much more American atmosphere than “Pleasure To Kill”.”
“Extreme Aggression” is by far your most professional record from your beginning period. The first recording sessions with Randy Burns in Berlin did not go as planned. Afterwards you went to Los Angeles where things did work out. “Extreme Aggression” was released in the US by the big record company Epic Records. Did you have a feeling like ‘now or never’ back then?
"The whole period of “Extreme Aggression” was definitely very exciting. We had our own tourbus for the first time. And we had a promoter who let me do about 1000 interviews (laughs). We were very present in the media. And that definitely helped a lot. For example, our tour in the US was sold out almost everywhere."
In the book ‘Damn The Machine – The History Of Noise Records’, KREATOR’s history is also presented in detail. What really attracted my attention in that book is the fact that KREATOR hardly seemed to have had any problems with Noise.
"We also had our problems with them. But that was more around the time of the album “Renewal”. We then felt that Noise could have done much more for us. But they did not do that at that time. However, I’m not a spiteful person. I can’t change what has happened in the past. And I’m also grateful because Noise gave us the opportunity to make records."
You seem to me like someone who does not really rave about the past and always wants to look forward.
"You’re absolutely right. You can’t repeat your youth. That belongs to your past. I’m absolutely not a nostalgic person. It is good to see that people are still interested in our old work. Because our first albums are the roots of KREATOR. But at the same time, those records have little to do anymore with today’s band. A record like “Pleasure To Kill”, I couldn’t make that anymore today. Because my perspective and my views have changed in the meantime… I’m grateful for the things I’ve been able to do. But I focus mainly on the future."