Everyone who already read my review on PROFANITY’s new album "Slaughtering Thoughts" will know that these guys impressed me quite heavily. I haven’t heard such a brutal and well executed album from a German band in a really long time, so an interview had to be done. Guitarist / vocalist Tom Sator kindly answered our questions and here’s the result…
First of all congratulations to your excellent new album "Slaughtering Thoughts", which still leaves me kinda breathless after several listening durations… I honestly neither expected such a strong album from you guys nor a German band in general… So, how did you manage to exterminate all the weaker elements of "Shadows To Fall" this time?
"Hello Frank and VOICES FROM THE DARKSIDE. First of all thank you very much for your very nice words about our new CD "Slaughtering Thoughts". Also many thanx for doing this interview here with us and for giving us your great support through really cool underground work. It’s great to see people like you giving the scene support and help through your work. It’s great to hear from you that you like our new CD because this CD was a lot of real hard work for us. About the weaker elements on "Shadows To Fall". For us the only way of progression is to write more brutal and also more technical songs. But the main thing with this is to write also better structured songs. We always try to give our songs a "red line" which goes through the songs. For us the highest art is to combine technique and brutality in a way that you will get a good song. I mean playing thousends of riffs and riff after riff makes no sense to us. This is not music. This time on "Slaughtering Thoughts" we have spend a lot of time with arranging the songs. We wanted every song to stand on its own and as a whole. Technique and brutality for us only is a tool to reach something. In our case it is to write a good song. This aim stands above all in PROFANITY. We don’t want PROFANITY only to be defined with the words brutality and technique, I mean this is not our aim. I think the best compliment for a songwriter is not to tell him how technical his song is but to tell him that he has done a very good song which touches me. So if people say that they like our songs and that they can get something out of them while listening to our music, this is so great for us. With "Shadows To Fall" I think it was our first step in the direction I always wanted the band to have. We still had to find our own way of writing songs and on "Shadows To Fall" we weren’t even that able as we were on our new CD "Slaughtering Thoughts" to bring our visons of music we have in our minds down to our instruments."
Where do you see the biggest improvements in particular when it comes to the songwriting of "Slaughtering Thoughts"? How long have you actually been working on this material in comparison to the songs on the debut?
"I think the songs as a whole are a lot better then the songs on "Shadows To Fall". We all in the band also got better as musicians. We all in PROFANITY are practicing very much on our instruments because this is the key to write better stuff. I try to practice guitar every day but at the moment it isn’t always possible because since the release of "Slaughtering Thoughts" I get so much mails. I love to practice because I can improve my horizon. I practise all kinds of stuff and so I get also new ideas. So when I started PROFANITY back in the end of 1993 I showed a very good friend of mine "Final Cremation" of MONSTROSITY on a video because he was asking me in what direction PROFANITY should sound. I always had this vision of music I wanted to play in my mind but it took the whole band some years of playing together and practicing very hard to reach that vision. The good thing is that all in PROFANITY have the same vision of music and this is so great that every one of of us likes the same style. So the biggest improvement for us is that we came a step closer to our vision of sick and brutal music with our new CD "Slaughtering Thoughts". With every song we write, with every CD we release we always want to progress and to get closer to our vision. This is what we try. About the working time, I think it was much longer then on "Shadows To Fall". All in all it took us three years to release our new CD but this also had more reasons, not that we needed so long time to write this eight songs which are on our new CD. The greatest difference was that we practiced the eight songs very long. We had all the material complete in February or March I think. Then til September we only practiced our asses off. We needed such a long time for practicing only because the stuff we wrote was so hard to play. As for myself I practiced 12 weeks, two – four hours a day. So after I came home from work I started to practice every day. Without that I wouldn’t be able to get the best result out of myself for the very hard guitarlines on "Slaughtering Thoughts". The same with the bass and also drums. Armin (drums) and Martin (bass) did the same. So last year this was a quite hard summer for us because we wanted to release the CD as fast as possible but we all knew that the material we had written would be very hard for all of us. So we spent every day of the week practicing our stuff. So I can say that at the moment "Slaughtering Thoughts" is definetely our limit for our vision of Death Metal. But we even want to push our limits and we don’t want to stagnate."
When I listen to your debut "Shadows To Fall" nowadays it seems pretty obvious to me that the musical direction of the band back then still wasn’t that focused yet and that you definitely were still lacking in this sheer brutality and the technical abilities to achieve that… So, was that due to lack of experiences or weren’t you able to combine your individual influences good enough at the time?
"Yes, I agree with you that the music on "Shadows To Fall" wasn’t that focused as we have achieved it on "Slaughtering Thoughts". This has more reasons I think. After we had released our second demo "Into The Unforeseen…" I was totally fed up with the situation in the band. You know, both demos we had done were a mix-up of Death, Black and Gothic Metal. This mix-up came up because every one of us at that time was listening to different styles of Metal so it’s quite normal I think that everyone wanted to get something into our music from his personal favourites. But this wasn’t the way I wanted to go. For me this always meant compromises, but I wanted to play in a band without compromises. At this point of time for me there was no other way to end up the band, leave my own band or search for other people. I also wanted to put more time into this band, I mean practicing more together and play as many concerts as possible. But the others didn’t want to go that path. So after our discussion in the band we came to that point that our drummer had left the band at first followed by our bassplayer. I thought about ending up the band but after some days I was sure that this is definitely not what I wanted. So Mike (git) and myself were searching for new members and we found Martin. He joined us at the end of 1995. So then in May of 1996 Armin our drummer came into the band and this was a real great day for us. So we recoreded our first CD "Shadows To Fall" in September 1997 and I think for the time we got a very good result. We all in the band had the same vision of music but it would take some time to find together and to get the best out of us. With Martin we wrote our first two or three songs for "Shadows To Fall" then he left us and Daniel came to join us in the end of 1996. I hope that I am right with my times. So we were a very young band and we still needed some time to find together. So the last song we wrote was ‘Like A Razorblade’ for "Shadows To Fall" and I think this song was already in this brutal direction we wanted to achieve. Armin also didn’t play blast beats before he joined PROFANITY. So the first two years were like finding together and to find out what is the best way for us to write songs for PROFANITY. About the influences, we all in the band had the same influences so we all knew in which direction PROFANITY should sound but we weren’t able to sound that way because of lack of musical abilities on our instruments and also when it came to arranging the songs. So those years were definitely years of learning for all of us…"
It’s pretty obvious that you have always been influenced by brutal Death Metal in the first place, but I was wondering if there’s probably also been some Thrash influences years ago that you totally got rid off nowadays? In other words – have your musical faves changed throughout the years, has your taste become even more extreme now?
"Yes, you are totally right. When I started to play music I was 13 years old. Bands that I was listening to were SODOM, KREATOR, DEATH, OBITUARY, SEPULTURA, RUNNING WILD, ACCEPT, AC/CD, IRON MAIDEN, SLAYER, BELIEVER and stuff like that. With the years my personal taste became more brutal. So when the first CANNIBAL CORPSE came out and I saw the cover in the record store it was amazing. I listened to this and I never heard anything that sounded like this before. Then bands like NOCTURNUS, MORBID ANGEL, SUFFOCATION, ENTOMBED, DISMEMBER, GRAVE, UNLEASHED, ATHEIST, SAMAEL, DEICIDE, OBITURY… came out with their new stuff and I was totally into that kind of Death Metal. So I still like some older Thrash stuff but I don’t listen to it very often. And yes, my faves have changed through the years. From SEPULTURA, SODOM to CANNIBAL CORPSE, OBITUARY, MONSTROSITY to SUFFOCATION, HATE ETERNAL. So nowadays when I am listening to older stuff it is quite interesting to listen to it with the know-how I have now. Sometimes Martin and I talk about the great festival "Gods Of Grind" with CATHEDRAL, CONFESSOR, CARCASS and ENTOMBED followed by the festivals with DEATH, CANNIBAL CORPSE, UNLEASHED and so on… it would be very interesting to go to those festival today with the know-how we have know. To tell the truth, I am missing those times a bit. It was always amazing when we all went to those festivals… hopefully CANNIBAL CORPSE will play ‘Hammer Smashed Face’ and so on. It was a great time for us…"
I was also surprised about the way better production this time, even though you recorded the new album in the same studio (Brickhouse Studio), with the same engineer (Albrecht Felsenstein) once again… So, how did you manage to get this big improvement? Were you simply better prepared this time, did the studio change its equipment or was it basically due to increased experiences on both sides?
"Thank you very much for this compliment. I think Bibber (Albrecht Felsenstein) will be very happy about your nice words. The fact why we have choosen the Brickhouse Studio again has some very simple reasons. The Brickhose Studio is only one hour away from the area where we live so we didn’t have to take some extra days off for the recordings. We always recorded after our working day. You must know that we have a very good releationship to Bibber and for us it is always great to work with him because he is 100% into our music and he is also working very hard behind the desk. For him not the money is important he earns with us, for him it is more important that we have a good sound and that we get the result we want to have. So it was no question that we also would record our new CD with Bibber. From every recording session we had with him we have learned a lot and this time we wanted to get the best out of us and also out of the studio. So it came that way that Bibber got in contact with Erik Rutan from HATE ETERNAL / MORBID ANGEL and he gave him some tips about his recordings and the way he recorded the stuff with HATE ETERNAL. I think the main thing this time was that we have done four guitar-lines. I have also bought a new guitar amp and a new cabinet and so the hell for me had begun. I had to record all our stuff four times and this wasn’t easy for me. So now you can hear two guitars on the left side and two guitars on the right side. I always wanted this "wall of sound" and I am very happy with the result and believe me… it was very hard for me. The other thing was that this time we also had done more with trigger on the drums. So we mixed up both signals… the nature sound and the trigger sound. We also wanted to get a clear but still brutal sound. For us it was important that you can hear all instruments very well but that there is also still power in the production. Bibber also informed himself more about Death Metal and how to record it and he also got better equipment. Right before we recorded with him he bought a new digital recording desk. I think the Brickhouse Studio is a very good studio and Bibber a very nice guy so I think we will go to him again. Why should we record outside of Germany when we can also get a good result only one hour away from us???"
The simple, yet very effective cover layout was finished by Matze Grüne this time, who most people probably still remember from PROTECTOR… What has he actually done for you on the layout and how did you hook up with him?
"Oh, Matze is a very nice guy who has helped us out a lot in the past months. So working with him started with our split 7" with LIVIDITY. Martin did the whole cover for us and Matze did the side where the song-titles are and the address stuff. He also did the films of that. On our new CD the whole design was done by us. Only the design on the CD was done by Matze. Matze again did all the films because we don’t know how to do it. So Matze is helping us out with the films. All the other things we are doing by ourselves. Matze has a very good relation to our label Cudgel Agency and he is helping them a lot… so Matze is a killer."
It took you three years to come up with a follow up album, which is quite a long time for an underground band… So, what have you exactly done in between "Shadows To Fall" and "Slaughtering Thoughts"?
"Oh, Frank this is a long question to answer. Yes, all in all it took us three years to release our new CD. It was originally planned to release "Slaughtering Thoughts" in summer of 1999. Wow, I think many things have gone wrong. It all started at the gig with CANNIBAL CORPSE in May of 1998. Right after this fantastic gig we had to put all our equipment together and it was total chaos because the stage manager Bobby wanted us to leave the stage as fast as we can. So all were in total stress and Armin was carrying his stuff and didn’t see the downstairs. He fell off the stage and he got a very terrible accident with his shoulder. So the evening was done for him. At the next day he went to the doctor and he told him that he had luck but he won’t be able to play drums for some weeks. This was totally fucked up because only ten days later we should play on the "Fuck The Commerce" open air again with CANNIBAL CORPSE, KRABATHOR and DEVILYN, so normally for Armin and us it was done. This was so hard for us but Armin decided to play with the pain he still had in his shoulder. So luckily all went well and we did a fantastic gig, but Armin had to drive home right after the gig because of his pains. Some weeks later Armin had an accident again at his work. He fell on the same shoulder again and now it was so bad that there was no other way then to go to the hospital. He had an operation and the doc told him that it isn’t shure that he can still play drums after the operation. So I think it was three or four months and Armin came back. He was back on the drums and it was so great for us. All went well and Armin is now better then ever. This was the first PROFANITY. The other thing was that I had a new job right after my social service and this was a shift work. There was only one weekend free each month. So I worked at this job only for one year and in this year I didn’t have much time for practicing because I had four shifts. This was a very bad year for us. The next thing was that we had to search for a new rehearsal room because our old one should be destroyed by the city because of a new highway there. So this costed us some more weeks. Then in the end of 1999 right after we had recorded the split 7" Daniel our bassplayer, he recorded "Shadows To Fall" with us and the split 7", told us that he has in mind to left us. He didn’t want to play such a technical music anymore that we do. He wanted to get back to Thrash again. He told us he will stay with us til we have found a new bassplayer, which was totally great of him. So it came the way it should came. Martin our brother was back right at this time. So it was a totally friendly change and from this point of time on the three brothers were together again. Daniel went to the German band REACTOR and he is still helping us out where he can. But this change meant for us that the CD release was cancelled again. This was bad for us and also for Cudgel Agency. Armin had to learn all the stuff as fast as he could and so we pushed the recording date to September 2000. You see, the three years were full of action but we are very happy that our new CD is out now."
Previous to the new album there’s also been a split 7" of yours with LIVIDITY, that next to your own composition ‘Drowned In Dusk’ also features a cover of the old POSSESSED classic ‘The Exorcist’. Well, that particular song has already been recorded twice before (by CANNIBAL CORPSE and SADISTIC INTENT), so what was the intention of yours to do it again? And how would you judge your result? I hope you didn’t come up with a similar embarrassing version as CANNIBAL CORPSE, did you?!
"No, we didn’t want to cover from CANNIBAL CORPSE, we wanted to cover from the gods POSSESSED. We knew that CANNIBAL CORPSE also did ‘The Exorcist’ but we wanted to play that song in our own way. When we cover a song, we want to put our own style into that song but you also must know that this is ‘The Exorcist’. So we played the song like POSSESSED also did, the only thing we changed a bit is the speed. We played it a lot faster and the other thing is that we played it with blast beats which sounds quite interesting I think. This is our tribute to one of the inventors of Death Metal. The reason of this release also was that we wanted to give the people a sign that we are still around. And we have done it with LIVIDITY becaue I already know Dave some years and that they have agreed to do this split with us was just great. The reactions on the single were also beyond all our imaginations. Cudgel Agency did a limited edition of 1000 copies and only within some weeks after the release all copies were sold out. I only have some copies because I got some back from LIVIDITY. So if there is anybody interested… You can also download the whole version of ‘The Exorcist’ from our homepage http://www.profanity.de as a Mp3 file. Check this site out for news and infos about the UNITED UNDERGROUND DAYS as well."
"Shadows To Fall" was still a self financed release, while "Slaughtering Thoughts" was released by Cudgel Agency… How did you get together with that company and are you satisfied with the way things are developing at the moment?
"Oh, believe me we are very happy about the things and how they are right now with Cudgel. They did and they are still doing a very good promotion for our new CD. They do many advertises which we never could do. They give us much support and they are real brothers to us. Well, the contact to Cudgel Agency came this way. One day I called up Olaf of Morbid Records and asked him if he knows any possibilities for us to play. He told me something about the "Fuck The Commerce" open air organised by Cudgel Agency. He also told me that I shall send a copy of our CD "Shadows To Fall" to Cudgel Agency. So I did that and only after two or three days Jens of Cudgel Agency called me up. He was very impressed by our new CD and so he gave us the chance to play on the "Fuck The Commerce" open air. This was our first contact. After some months later we recorded a promo-tape only in our rehearsal room with our four new songs and we sent out the tape to some record labels. Morbid, Invasion, Cudgel Agency but at this time it wasn’t for sure if they also would do a label. So it came that Invasion Records called me up and Maja was totally impressed by this tape so he wanted to do our new CD. He told me that he will send me the contract in the next days. But I never got it and then Invasion broke up… At that time it was for sure that Cudgel Agency wanted to do a label additionally to their mailorder and record-store. We called Jens and Besen and they agreed to do our next CD. So we did a kind of "contract" but you must know that we have a very special releation to them. We are friends and we have not that typical band-label relationship. We try to help eachother out where we can. For us it is great to have such great friends behind us that are 100% believe in our music and us. So I think Cudgel Agency is the best thing what could have happened to PROFANITY. Check out their homepage www.cudgel.de"
What was the reason to include an alternative b/w cover (just with the bandlogo and album title) in the debut release? I mean, the original artwork is by no means offensive or anything and you probably didn’t sell it through big record stores anyway, so…
"Oh, that we have included that b/w cover has nothing to do with the cover and that it is offensive. We had our new logo and also a new address so we thought about doing this cover. This is the only reason. In the first two years after the release I think we sold it without this "new" cover then I got my own flat and moved away from my parents house and Martin also did our new logo. That is all…"
Was there actually a deeper meaning in the cover art of "Shadows To Fall"? I wouldn’t necessarily say that it fits that well to a brutal Death Metal record…
"We didn’t want another splatter or gore cover so a friend of us came up with some ideas and together we have worked out the cover and he painted it. Yes, the cover has a deeper meaning. On the cover are many details and every detail is a detail of the lyrics which are on "Shadows To Fall", so all these details together are the cover. And you can see it as a face and there are many things on it. This cover fits very well to our lyrics but it isn’t that good painted I think."
Do you follow a certain lyrical concept with PROFANITY? Or are the lyrics not really of importance for you?
"The lyrics are very important for us. They must fit to our music and they are expressions of ourselves. No, we don’t follow a lyrical concept. We like to write about the normal day life and all the fears you have. We write about feelings in different life-situations. We like to write about the soul, the things you are wearing inside of you."
I read somewhere that you had to face quite some line-up changes in your early days already and in between albums another line-up change took place when your bassplayer Daniel was replaced by Martl… What is the reason for these ongoing changes? Do you think that PROFANITY has finally found a steady line-up now?
"Yes, the line-up we have right now is the best I can imagine for PROFANITY. We all are freaks and we all love Death Metal. We all have the same visions of our music so what else do we want to have?? I am totally tired of all our line-up changes and I hope that the change of Daniel and Martl was the last. Martl had to leave us one year before we recorded "Shadows To Fall" because of personal reasons. He wasn’t able to stay with us any longer because he had to take care of his grandma. There was no other way and we all respected this but it was also quite hard for us because Martin was more than the bassplayer. He was and of course is our friend and Martin was the person that gave me the strength to continue with PROFANITY back in 1995. So his decision wasn’t easy for us. But luckily we found Daniel and with him we also had a fantastic time full of fun. If Daniel wouldn’t be there at this time we wouldn’t have known how to continue with PROFANITY. He did a fantastic job on both releases he did with us. The fact that Martin came back was so great for us, and I think this was destiny for all of us. Daniel wanted to leave us and at the same time Martin came back. Isn’t this destiny?? We are now a three piece band and I think we will also stay a three people band. We were looking for a second guitar player but it is always the same. Many are totally into that idea of playing in a band but they don’t know how hard it can be to do a band. Of course the fun is the main thing and without that we all wouldn’t do it but at Friday coming home from work and to put stuff together and then drive hundrets of kilometers to gigs to play… coming back on Sunday and at Monday go to work again… this is sometimes quite hard. The other thing is to find someone who fits musically and personally isn’t easy I think. So if someone is interested to play with us he should contact us… if there is nobody we will continue that way."
By the way, would you mind to tell us the most important facts about the band’s origin / history so far? I guess there’s still several people out there who are not familiar with PROFANITY, so…
"All the things we have done are important things I think. When we recorded our first demo "The Transitory", it was totally amazing for us. We put some tape-decks together and recorded all the copies. We copied 200 tapes I think this way. So every twenty minutes I had to change the sides. It took me two weeks and then I was so tired. Our first gigs were totally amazing. The second demo, because we had better equipment to record. I bought a four-track recorder and an own mixing desk extra for doing this tape. We also had a printed cover which was totally amazing for us. I learned a lot at that time and it was a great time. It was also still full of anger but I don’t want to miss a minute of this time."
You already played quite some shows since the origin of the band… Any particular ones that you still recall that stand out for one reason or another?
"I think that in general all gigs we did were great for us. One of the highlights were the gigs with CANNIBAL CORPSE, KRABATHOR, DEVILYN and the "Fuck The Commerce" open airs II + III. This was so amazing for us to play in front of so many people. At the moment we are doing the UNITED UNDERGROUND DAYS and the sense behind it is to help each other out where it is possible. All bands get the same money and it doesn’t matter how long the band exits or how many CD’s they have out. All bands try to give their best on stage so why should a band get more money just because they exist longer or have more CD’s out. We don’t think in this way. We want to give the people good gigs and chances to support the underground and come to these UNITED UNDERGROUD DAYS. So we are always searching for possibilities to play. If there is anyone out there who has a club or anything where it is possible to organise gigs it would be great if you would get in contact with us. We need all kind of support. PROFANITY is always searching for gigs to play. We don’t want money, we are happy when there are some bucks for gas and food. So if you know something just get in contact and we will come and play. We just want that all is fair and that all bands get the same things. We all love the same music and we are fans of that music so help each other out. We are all in the same boat I think."
What are your plans for the near future? Will people get to see you guys on a full length tour sometime or will you continue to concentrate on as many single gigs as possible?
"Oh, we try to play as much as possible and I think we will play on the weekend and we are also interested to do a whole tour. There also will definitely be some more UNITED UNDERGROUND DAYS. Check out part III of this underground package with MENTAL ABERRATION, TEARS OF DECAY, HUMAN WASTE and PROFANITY. 12.04.2001 Kaiserslautern – Osaka Inn, 13.04.2001 Trier – Ex-Haus, 14.04.2001 Auerschütz – Hellbastard and on sunday the 15.04.2001 Weimar – Stoya Hall. Hope that you will also be there."
Any final comments or anything else you’d like to add to this interview?
"Frank, thank you very much for doing this great interview with us. Thanx also for the great questions. Many thanx for your great support. We really appreciate this. So if there is anybody who is interested to get in contact with us just feel free to write or e-mail me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. You are always welcome and we are always interested to start new contacts with people who’s passion is also Death Metal. Check out our new CD and also our homepage for more infos. Thanx for all support and stay sick and brutal. Support the underground!"