If anybody asked me about my strangest interviews, this one would definitely be among them: in April 2002 I contacted OBSCENITY singer Oliver (Oli) for an interview via email (we live in the same town but email is always much more comfortable for me, so I’m to blame as well). About 3 months later I contacted him again and proposed somebody else in the band doing the interview. So guitar player Hendrik took over and contacted me. The next thing that happened was that I met Hendrik and Alex (bass) at a MONSTROSITY show in the middle of September. There Hendrik told me he had forwarded the interview to Alex because he had too many other things to do and Alex’ story was the same. Now it was up to Marc (drums). When I saw Alex performing with DEW-SCENTED on their tour with CANNIBAL CORPSE I remembered rumors of Marc helping out Deathrashers BK49 in the studio, so I had almost resigned when I noticed my email inbox. To my surprise, not only Marc but Hendrik as well had worked on the questions a relief as some of them had been specially designed for a founding member. So I will hold on to email interviews, even if it takes half a year like this one here.
Can you give us your personal Metal background, like what was your first record / concert, what made you start playing music, did you play in other bands before OBSCENITY and what kind of style were you playing then?
Marc: "My first record at the age of nine was something of ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA. One year later my father showed me AC/DC’s "Back In Black". From that moment on I was a Metalhead. What followed were records from SCORPIONS, KISS, IRON MAIDEN and so on. I remember in 1991 a friend of mine showed me SLAYER’s "Seasons In The Abyss" on his walkman in school. The first thing I thought: "Is this still music?" But after listening to the tape for a second time, I was fascinated about the heaviness and intensity of the music. I had never heard anything like that before. After copying this masterpiece of musical insanity from my friend I got closer to the Thrash- and Death-Metal scene with bands like SEPULTURA, OBITUARY, NAPALM DEATH, DEATH, AUTOPSY, and so on. I think that’s the story about the beginning of my addiction to heavy music. My first concert was AC/DC and KINGS X at the "Weser-Ems-Halle" in Oldenburg on April 13th, 1991. I think the person who influenced me the most in playing drums at the beginning was Dave Lombardo. I remember sitting behind my small drum kit for hours and hours trying to play the classical Thrash-Beat. You can’t imagine how proud I was after succeeding for the first time. Before I joined OBSCENITY in May 2000, I played in a Thrash-Metal band called PAIN FOR PLEASURE for five years (from 1993 to 1998). In the year 1999, I started the Death-Metal project INTO THE MATRIX with Florian Engelke of INGURGITATING OBLIVION and Bernd Reiners and Arne Berents of BK 49. The project split up after six months."
What made you want to start a Death Metal band and how did you meet the other guys in OBSCENITY? Did you know them before, etc.?
Hendrik: "Oliver and I started in the mid eighties in a band called TRIANGLE and after this we changed the name in ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. It was a kinda Thrash Metal we played. After Sascha joined the band we tried to create some Death -Thrash Metal sound. Olli met him in a camp in Italy and he did not play drums yet, but he asked him to join the band and a few weeks later he bought a drum kit and… it worked! He was really talented, he learned like nobody else, really fast and groovy."
Did you play all original songs back then or did you play cover tunes a lot? If yes, which ones? Which bands were your main influences in the beginning and are they still your favorites?
Hendrik: "Of course KISS, sometimes you’ll hear it in the solos. But the main influences are the Florida Death Metal bands like MALEVOLENT CREATION, CANNIBAL CORPSE etc."
How long did it take you to get a record deal and how did you get it (was it Morbid Records right from the start?)
Marc: "After recording the first demo-tape "Age Of Brutality" in 1991, West Virginia Records offered us a record-deal and released our first CD "Suffocated Truth" in December 1992. The label went bankrupt, so we recorded another demo-tape in October 1993, called "Amputated Souls". In July 1994, OBSCENITY signed a deal with D&S Records, who released the second album "Perversion Mankind". For reasons like unprofessional work and lack of support, the band left the label in January 1996. In February 1996 we got signed by Morbid Records. This was the last label-change for us until now."
What was it like to hold your first OBSCENITY record in your hands? Was that a CD or a vinyl?
Hendrik: "It was a CD of course, and it was terrible. It doesn’t sound like it should have. We engaged Andy Classen as the sound engineer but he was on holidays and a guy called Raymond Tabak did his work instead. So this was a shitty start in the Metal business."
Morbid Records always release vinyl versions of your albums. Was that on your request? What do you think about good old vinyl?
Marc: "The vinyl versions aren’t released on our request, they do it for the most of their bands. But it was our decision to release "Cold Blooded Murder" on normal vinyl and not on picture-disc. I really like vinyl, because the sound is warmer and the cover-artwork is bigger than on CD. I wouldn’t say that I’m a "vinyl-junkie", but I buy a lot of albums on LP."
I think you’re also responsible for the OBSCENITY cover artwork. Does this decision have something to do with your daily job? What’s your profession anyway? Did you ever think of letting somebody else create your covers?
Marc: "The cover artworks are created by Oli. I don’t think, that it has something to do with his daily job, because he works at Coca Cola and there he does totally different things. He only is responsible for our cover artworks since "The 3rd Chapter". The artworks of the first two albums and the demo-tapes were created by other artists. But since "The 3rd Chapter", we never thought of letting somebody else create our covers, because he does his job very well and gets better from album to album. By creating the artworks by ourselves, we can be sure that we get exactly our vision on the cover and save a lot of money, which can be used for the production or other things."
What are your feelings about writing and recording songs and, finally, playing live? What do you like best and why?
Marc: "I think, it’s nearly every band’s opinion, but playing live is the best part of being a musician. I’m sure, that I talk for all of us in the band. But finally all assignments in the band make a lot fun. It’s a good feeling, when you listen to a finished song, on which you have spent a lot of time and energy in writing it. If it took more time than usually and you had a lot of discussions with your band-mates about the structure, but the song kicks ass finally, you know that it was worth the time you invested in it. To me, recording songs is the most difficult part. Maybe I have this view on studio-work, because "Cold Blooded Murder" was the first album, I recorded in a "real" studio. You can imagine how nervous I was. I was afraid that I’m not able to play the "perfect" take in the studio, that I probably played in our rehearsal-place one or two weeks before, because I’m in a bad mood or whatever. You know, time is limited in a studio. Finally it turned out better than I ever expected and it was a lot of fun. I think, this is a result of our friendship in the band and the good work of Joerg Uken with whom we recorded the album."
Your new album "Cold Blooded Murder" is a lot heavier and American sounding than all the others. How did you make the decision to take this step? I guess the atmosphere in East Frisia’s Metal scene had an impact on the songwriting of the new album?
Marc: "It was not a deliberate decision to go on in this direction with the new songs. I mean, we didn’t sit down in our rehearsal room and determined to write faster and heavier songs, so I don’t think that the atmosphere in the East Frisian Metal-scene had a big impact on our songwriting. I can’t name a particular reason for the increase of power on "Cold Blooded Murder". Maybe the line-up changes during the years are one reason for the heavier direction of the songs. It’s the second time Alex (bass) plays on an OBSCENITY album and it’s the first CD for me. I don’t want to say that I’m the reason for the increase of heaviness, but maybe I play different beats to the riffs than former drummer Sascha Knust would have done. Maybe this is one point, which makes it all sound a little bit different. The American sounding isn’t that new for OBSCENITY, because our main influence always were US-Death-Metal bands like MALEVOLENT CREATION, MONSTROSITY, DEICIDE or SUFFOCATION."
There are no videos on the new CD this time. Did you have no material or what’s the reason for it?
Marc: "We had some live material filmed on our own, but the sound wasn’t good enough to put it on our release. But until we’ll record the next CD, we surely will collect some stupid shit which can be put on it."
How much is your ‘new’ drummer Marc-Andree already integrated? Did he have any influence on the new album, is he maybe the one whose influences made "Cold Blooded Murder" that brutal?
Hendrik: "He is 20 % of OBSCENITY and gives 100% of energy. Of course he is a full member of the band and also involved in writing songs like the rest. He became a fast drummer in the last 2 years, so, one thing leads to another. That’s the reason why the album sounds so brutal and static."
You already toured quite a bit – what are your favorite places to perform at and why?
Marc: "Difficult question, but I think our favorite places to perform are East-Europe and France, because most of the times the fans there totally freak out during the concert. Besides the "Fuck The Commerce IV" -show, my most amazing gig was in Strasbourg during the "No Mercy-Festivals". We had to play as the second band that night, but the club was sold out at that time and 2/3 of the crowd totally went crazy during our show."
I heard the No Mercy festivals went really well for OBSCENITY although you were the opening act. In Osnabrück you had a great sound, for example. Tell us a little about that tour: how were the fans’ reactions, how did the crew and the other bands treat you, did you make many new friends, did you party a lot and with whom did you party most?
Marc: "The "No Mercy-Festivals" were a great experience for us. It went really great. I was surprised, how many people in countries like France or Italy already knew our songs. But I think we also took the chance to win new fans who primarily came for other bands of the billing. All members of the crew and the other bands were kind persons. We had a lot of fun with them. Before the tour I was afraid, that we have to go on stage at the same time as the entry begins, so that nobody is in the club when we start playing, because I read about such things from bands who did tours with "Metalysee". But luckily I was wrong. Except of one show (Osnabrück), there always were a lot of people in front of the stage, when we had to play as the first band of the evening (we changed the first and second position with DESTROYER 666 everyday). The most time we hung out with the guys of DISBELIEF and DESTROYER 666, because we shared one bus together, but also with MALEVOLENT CREATION and CATASTROPHIC. The most party we surely made with DISBELIEF. They are really great guys."
What do you think about the East Frisian Extreme Metal Scene? Are there any bands you like personally?
Marc: "I think in East Frisia has grown a really strong Metal-scene in the last five or six years. There surely are a lot of talented bands I personally like. My favorites are BK 49, SENESCENCE (R.I.P.), FEARER, INGURGITATING OBLIVEON, TEARS OF DECAY and ANASARCA (I don’t know, if they are still alive)."
How did you develop your sound over the years, especially those "classic" Metal influences I personally like a lot? Is it correct to locate that with Jens (guitars)? What are your influences and do you still follow the development of Death Metal nowadays?
Marc: "I’m no founding member, so that’s a difficult question to me. But I think the main point is, that OBSCENITY have grown as songwriters and musicians over all the years. Our opinion is, that brutality is a result of well planned riff arrangements and breaks. It’s difficult to describe, but when you take a closer look on the masters of brutal songwriting, SUFFOCATION, you know what I mean. So we worked hard on our abilities to create songs with an intelligent and brutal song structure. We are very satisfied with our first releases, but when you take a closer look at the evolution from the "Age Of Brutality" demo tape to "Cold Blooded Murder", you’ll notice that the songs sound more brutal today and have more "flow". Not only Jens is responsible for the "classic" Metal influences, also Hendrik comes up with a lot of ideas in this direction. These influences surely are a result of their passion for "classic" Heavy Metal bands. I think the main influence in this genre of Hendrik is KISS, for Jens IRON MAIDEN or YNGWIE MALMSTEEN. As I mentioned before, the main influence for all of us are American Death Metal bands, like SUFFOCATION, MONSTROSITY, DEICIDE or MALEVOLENT CREATION. All of us are still big fans of Death Metal, so we still follow its development. I’m not the biggest friend of the trend to play as fast as you can through the whole album or to renounce on guitar-solos completely. I like it when a band puts a lot of variety in their songs. Also the new style of growling, called "frognoise", which a lot new shouters prefer, is not my cup of tea. I miss a little bit the shouters with character in their voice from the beginning of the nineties, like John Tardy, David Vincent or Chris Reifert to name a few. But there are still a lot of great Death Metal releases today from new bands or old bands, which are still alive. My favorite at the moment is the new NILE album and I can’t wait, until the new MALEVOLENT CREATION CD gets released."
Where do you draw your lyrical inspirations for songs like ‘Suck My Vomit’ from?
Marc: "I think Oli follows no concept while writing lyrics, he gets his lyrical inspirations from a lot of different things. I don’t know the story behind ‘Suck My Vomit’, but ‘Alien Hand Syndrome’ for example is about an illness he watched about in TV. The person who suffers under this illness hasn’t the control about his hands anymore. ‘Cold Blooded Murder’ is about a tragedy in his family. In the beginning of 2001, his brother-in-law was stabbed to death. No one knows the reasons for this criminal act and the murderer still isn’t arrested for this crime. In this song Oli sings about his feelings towards the loss of his family member and his hate on the perpetrator."
Are you still satisfied with the work of Morbid Records (why?) or do you think they could do more for you (why)? Are there any alternatives? I mean, you have been trying to get on the Wacken billing for ages…
Marc: "Yes, we are still satisfied with the work of Morbid Records. They believe in us and they do for us, what they’re able to do. I don’t know, if there are any alternatives, because we don’t look out for them at the moment. But if anyone of BMG reads this and is interested, you find our address at the end of this interview, hahaha. No, just kidding. Yes, you’re right, we try to get on the "Wacken Open-Air" for years. But Morbid Records is a too small label, to get an influence on the billing of the festival. You have to be a Nuclear Blast – or Century Media band, a friend of the crew or simply have a lot of luck to get the attention of the organizers."
This year you played at the WFF Open Air – can you give us the details about it? As far as I know you weren’t supposed to play. Did you get on the billing because your bass player was there anyway with RUMBLE MILITIA?
Marc: "We got the chance to play there, because DISHARMONIC ORCHESTRA cancelled their show. One day before the gig, Olaf of Morbid Records asked us, if we would like play on the "WFF-Open-Air" on the Mainstage. Surely, we wanted. Finally we played on Sunday as the second band at 14:00h for 30minutes. It was a great experience."
How do you see the internet, is it a good way to spread the word about the band or is it rather dangerous (stolen MP3s, etc.)?
Marc: "I think for underground bands the internet is a fantastic medium, because it makes it much more easy to get in contact with other bands / fans or to organize / promote concerts. Surely there is some shit going on in it, but the advantages prevail."
What is the near future going to hold for OBSCENITY?
Marc: "We haven’t planned that much until now. We’ll play one show in Switzerland in the end of October, the Death Metal Festival in Emden on the first weekend of November and a show in the Netherlands in December. Besides the rehearsing for the concerts we start with the songwriting for the next album. Next year we probably get the chance to play a short tour with INCANTATION and MALEDICTIVE PIGS, but that isn’t serious yet. We’ll see."
Can you tell us a cool story about your life on tour? Did something funny or exciting happen in the Czech Republic or at the No Mercy tour, for example?
Marc: "On the "No Mercy-Festival" tour, I remember, that our bus had to make a stop on the middle of the Autobahn in the night, because the brakes went too hot. That was an unpleasant situation. But our driver Michael Jackson (his real name) fixed the brakes in a short time, so we had not to cancel a show. Another thing I remember, is that some assholes stole the bags of Alex, Oli and our merchandiser Feist out of our van as we played a show in Teplice during the tour through the Czech Republic. We had a lot of expensive things in the van like cameras and walkmen, but the thieves only stole sweaty and stinking clothes. The really sad point is that Oli lost a big part of his classic Metal shirt collection, with old shirts like TERRORIZER – "World Downfall", SODOM – "Sodomy & Lust" and so on."
Now it’s your chance to add anything I might have left out / last words…
Marc: "First of all thanks for the interview! Greetings to all the people who supported us in any way! Check out our homepage at www.obscenity.de! Fuck fascism and racism! Stay obscene and support the underground!"
Interview & first six pics: Ramon Claassen