If you’re checking out our website on a frequently base, you’ll already be aware of the fact that Hacker and myself are big fans of this German Crust / Death Metal outfit. And therefore it shouldn’t be a big surprise for you finding another bigger feature on them here. The reason is their incredible new album "Death Riff Society" which just came out on Moonstorm Records and that you should definitely check out in order to experience VIU DRAKH’s brilliance for yourself. One thing’s for sure – as soon as you followed my little advice, you will immediately be hooked by the DEATH RIFF SOCIETY forever! You have been warned! Guitarist Björn Langkopf answered our stupid questions this time…
Hey there… first of all congratulations to your brilliant new album!! Just like the last time, I keep playing it way more often than most of the usually rather uninspired and boring sounding releases that I get these days… I wasn’t completely convinced yet when I got to hear some of the rough mixes a while ago, but things have changed completely with the final result now, and I think it turned out just amazing! But I also noticed that there’s quite a big difference in the final mix and those advance tracks, so tell us a bit more about the things that got changed in the end…
"Hi Frank! Great to hear that you like the new album! Since the "Take No Prisoners…“ album we’ve been working with Tommy Hein in Berlin to set up the final structure and sound of the songs. In Sweden we recorded much more material, than we finally needed on the CD. Only during the mastering in Berlin we set up the track list, song endings and several effects. This gave us the opportunity to create the "flow" of the album after listening to the mixes a hundred times. If we had used the whole material from the recordings the album would probably play 5 minutes longer… "
Who actually invented the album’s title "Death Riff Society", which – to me – is the perfect description of what VIU DRAKH is all about nowadays…?! I could imagine that it was someone outside of the band who got to hear your new material…or did someone of you maybe even come up with it?!
"Death Riff Society“ was a spontaneous idea of Fish during some joking in the tour van. Just a few weeks after the release of "Take No Prisoners…“ we were joking about the next album title… and there it was. Originally Joo and me wanted to change it into "Crust Chord Society“… Hehe."
The new album sounds even more tight and matured than "Take No Prisoners…“ and I could imagine that you managed to achieve that improvement mainly through playing live so extensively. So, would you say, that playing shows is far more than just having fun, but also a big learning experience in order to keep the band’s musical evolution going?
"Of course the many many shows have an influence on our skills. But in my eyes the recordings were mainly influenced by the professional work of the guys at Berno studio. The "Take No Prisoners…“ album we recorded for our own in our hometown and there was no one who was controlling what the hell we’re doing there. In Sweden there was always someone watching you and trying to force you to play it a little better. Args! Sometimes I hated this. Hehe. But finally they were right and did a great job!"
Did you manage to play some memorable shows ever since the release of "Take No Prisoners…“? Tell us about some of the highlights and if you like, also about disappointing or embarrassing shows.
"Uhmm. That’s a difficult question. Just in the beginning of 2001 we had a tour with VADER and KRABATHOR. This was really great. I think we got a lot of new fans during that time. Also the Obscene Extreme festival last summer was a great thing. The shows with DRILLER KILLER in Belgium and France were a big success. Of course there are always some shows with not so many people. But sometimes we have a great show with only ten people in the audience and can’t stop playing on and on…"
Musically the new album sounds a lot more Metal and less Crust influenced than "Take No Prisoners…“ still did, even though it’s still a totally extreme and crushing release all the way through… So, was that intentional? Did you listen to a lot more Metal releases lately or did that happen more or less by accident, due to improved playing abilities and a studio which usually gets used by Death Metal acts?
"We wanted to check out how far you can go with this Death / Crust thing. The drumming style is still the same like on "Take No Prisoners…“ but there are a few more heavy riffs on the new album. After the recording we were surprised that Death had won the fight. Hehe. But I think we’ll keep our style in the future and there won’t be more Death riffing on the next album. Additional to that Fish has enough of the complaints of Joo and me because of all this complex jazz riffs we have to play live. Hehe."
How did you actually end up recording the album in Sweden, at the Berno Studio this time? I mean, as far as I know it wasn’t planned right from the start already, so did it cause you any problems in terms of booking another studio so quick, the recording budget etc.?
"Actually we wanted to record the album with Andy Classen here in Germany. Six weeks before the date he cancelled because of „an important production“ with another band. Hmm. Anyway. Fish had played some solo parts on the last DRILLER KILLER album – so we knew the professional work of the Berno-Studio. I was calling them and 4 weeks later we were on the road / boat to Sweden. By the way: Thank you Berno, Henrik + Johan for your great job! A lot of people thought that we wanted to sound "Swedish“ but this studio was more a matter of luck. The funny thing is that also the people in the studio thought that we wanted to get this "Swedish“ sound. I still remember the first day of guitar recordings when we had a long discussion about guitar sounds… Hehe. Henrik (the engineer) made some proposals for possible sounds – Fish and me: “No! Please not this sound!“ Then Henrik said: "Hmm. Guys, than you’re in the wrong country!“ Hehe. Finally we found a middle course – but if you listen to ‘Caravan’ you’ll sometimes still recognize a little "Swedish“ feeling."
How did you get together with Cliff from DRILLER KILLER and Johan from DERANGED, who ended up playing guest parts on your new album? Were they hanging out with you in the studio or have you been in touch previously already?
"DRILLER KILLER lives in Malmö and during the whole time we were accomodated in the (one room) flat of Adam (DRILLER KILLER guitarist). Johan works at Berno studio as an assistant engineer. During some sessions we had the idea of their guest appearance on ‘Ace Of Spades’. Johann has a really powerful and unique guitar style and we’re proud that he played the solo part in this song. The vocal session with Cliff was a funny thing because the engineer wanted to record him with the same settings he had used for Fish: Cliff came – tape recorder started – Cliff began to scream: "You know I’m born to lose…“ – in the same second all peak meters turned red, the studio window vibrated – the preamps closed their limiters…Hehe. Cliff has an amazing voice."
There’s also a split 7“ on its way with DRILLER KILLER, isn’t it? What can you tell us about that and the material featured on there?
"After so many shows with DRILLER KILLER we decided to produce a split EP together. When they were in our hometown last time we went to a small studio and recorded the songs live. The DRILLER KILLER side is called "Prime Beef Between My Teeth“ and is a little joking about all the vegan food we’ve had on the tours. That’s really meant to be a joke cause no one of us has problems with vegan culture. But when you are on tour as a non vegan and on every fuckin’ evening you get vegan food, than you’ll get some trouble with your stomach. And this is one of the most devastating things on tour. Our side is called "Live Is A Battlefield“ in dependence on an old PAT BENATAR song. The material is much more Punk / Rock’n’Roll than the "Death Riff Society“ stuff. Additional to that we recorded a cover version of ACCION MUTANTES ‘Cash Yuppies’ with Fish and Olli (HELLBLAZER) celebrating some really sick Grind vocals. Actually the release of the split was planned for January 2002 but Xetal Records seems to have some problems at the moment. Hope it will be released in spring."
What made you go for the rather typical MOTÖRHEAD cover ‘Ace Of Spades’? Apart from the fact that it was already covered by many other bands before, I also think that a different MOTÖRHEAD tune like ‘Overkill’, ‘The Hammer’ or stuff like that would have fitted VIU DRAKH’s very own style a lot better
"Yup. Maybe you’re right. But there were so many people asking for the appearance of this song on the next album that we said "Ok, let’s try it.“ In the studio this song was always handled as a "second-rate“ track but when Cliff and Johan had recorded their parts we decided to put it on the record because of its feeling. We love to play together with musicians of other bands – especially live. So it doesn’t matter what song it is but it is more important for us that different people took part in it. People who like to make music… that’s the way we love it."
"Death Riff Society“ was once again released by Moonstorm Records – so, were you satisfied with the work they had done for you on "Take No Prisoners…“ or was there simply no other company interested in VIU DRAKH (which I can hardly believe…) ever since?
"You’re damn right when you think, that no other label was interested in VIU DRAKH (I can’t believe it!!!!! Wake up you losers!!!! Instead of signing all the crap that’s polluting our great scene, you better check these guys out!!! They are by far the most promising band I’ve heard in quite a while!!! – Ed.). No one wanted to take the risk and sign a Metal playing Punk band (or a Punk playing Metal band?). The Moonstorm people were the first guys who wanted to trust in our attitude. They have no big experience in the Metal sector and sometimes I don’t know if this is good or bad. Hehe. The good thing is, that we can do what ever we want and they don’t intervene in our work. On the other hand all the other Moonstorm bands focus on the German market and we don’t have distributors outside of Germany / Austria / Swizerland. I really hope they’ll improve this situation next time."
I noticed that ever since your "Back To The Chaos“ album you are using a skull which always gets incorporated somewhere in the artwork of your album covers… is there a deeper meaning in that or is it just supposed to become some kind of trademark for VIU DRAKH?
"This has no deeper meaning. Fish always said that on a good Metal album has to be a skull. Hehe."
You are playing live extremely often, which is great for a band like yours of course, but doesn’t it cause you any problems with your ordinary day job or school or whatever you’re doing outside of VIU DRAKH?
"It is our advantage that we don’t need any real jobs. This band is our job although we don’t earn money with it. Sometimes we have some small jobs to pay our rents but most of the time we can avoid this." (hmm… I really wonder how you manage to do that… I would definitely like this type of life as well, hehe… – Ed.)
I also noticed that you seem to enjoy watching movies quite a lot as some of the lyrics are based on them. So, any particular current faves in that department? When do you actually find the time to watch them?
"Normally we are no movie freaks. Two lyrics on the album base on cult movies. They are "Accion Mutante" and "Matrix". ‘Caravan’ I wrote after reading Gulag Archipelago, ‘As The Dormand Awakes’ is influenced by the book "Carrie“. When we are at home we spend most of the time with our children – that’s why we are probably better experts in Pipi Langstrumpf, Heidi or Winnie the Poo than in Horror or Splatter movies. Hehe."
Any other news from your side which we didn’t already speak about and you’d like to tell us? Hmm.
"It would be nice if I could tell you something about a bigger tour in Spring 2002 but there is nothing confirmed yet. Everyone who’s interested in VIU DRAKH should visit our homepage (www.viudrakh.de) to see the current state of our activities. By the way: Isn’t it amazing that MOTÖRHEAD will be on tour with MORBID ANGEL next time in the US? Death Metal will meet its roots… I would really like to see that! Thanx for the interview, Frank!" (my pleasure! – Ed.)