Interview conducted November 11 2016
Interview published January 05 2017
"I'm not so concerned about
whether or not I repeat myself."
Kreator puts out its new album,
Gods Of Violence, on January 27th. On his promotion trip for the album,
founding member, guitarist and vocalist Mille Petrozza
visited Stockholm for interviews and a listening session for invited fans
at the Spotify Office.
but in the music
it sounds like very serious, even though we're not that serious. There
is a lot of humor in the music, but it's very hidden."
Tobbe: Gods Of Violence, your new record,
I think it pretty much follows the road, on which you've lead the band
into in the early 2000's, so what were you looking for to come out with
when you started writing for the record, really?
Mille: Basically we wanted to continue, like
you said, but add a new something to the music. And by working with
Jens Bogren [producer] for the second time, I think we kind of achieved
that. I mean, we knew each other once we started the recording sessions
and we already knew what to expect from each other. And I know that
Jens is one of the best, if not the best, producers for metal around,
at this point in time and I really enjoyed working with him.
There was no master plan for this record. It
was more of "Yeah, let's try to follow up the last one and make
it even more brutal and make it more melodic." You know, a new
album. A new album is always a challenge and it's always an adventurous
thing, you know, and I didn't wanna just have a Kreator album that only
follows the path of Phantom Antichrist , but adds a new dimension
to it. And I think we kind of achieved that, because when you listen
to the lyrics and the songs in general there's a lot of, like, things
that you haven't heard from Kreator before.
yeah, it's been a ride, man. It's been a fantastic journey to dig deep
into my creative psyche and come up with something else. 14th album,
man. And something I really didn't want was
You know, having the
14th album sounding tired would have been fatal for me. I wouldn't even
have touched the new record if it would have been like that. So you
try to keep it fresh.
Tobbe: So when you wrote the album, did
you have kind of like a map on the wall where you place key elements or
notes? Like, "We gotta get more intensive here." or
Mille: No, no, no, no, no. It's all in here [His
head]. What it starts with is always, like, the basic idea or a song
title. For example, the title track was the first title that I wrote
down and the first song that I wrote and in my mind I wanted to make
a connection between Greek mythology and modern day events, like current
catastrophes, current terror, wars, whatever.
And even though most of the lyrics talk about
the dark things, the message, if there is one on the record, should
be a positive one. We want people to overcome violence, we want people
to overcome war and enjoy their lives and concentrate on the nice things
in life, like, you know, art, music, literature and movies. Those were
also the main influences on the record.
Tobbe: In the past you have written about
society, politics, and injustice, dystopia, and non-religion, so you wanted
to change that a little bit obviously?
Mille: You can still get that in the record.
You know, there's still a huge element where it's influenced by politics,
but [sighs] I'm so fed up with politics at this point. I don't wanna
be sucked in into this depression that surrounds everything that society
has to offer at this point, you know. Society has become more complicated,
so there's more complexity, but a demand for easy answers.
So in my opinion that explains the rise of the
populist movement again. A lot of the lyrics were influenced by misery
caused by politics, but it's not a political album. I want people to
forget about politics when they listen to Kreator, you know what I mean?
Tobbe: You know, some bands of the 80's
kind of don't put out records anymore, but Kreator puts out records, like,
every 4th year, so what makes you still creative personally?
Mille: It's the reason why I'm into this. It's
not only playing live, which is a great thing also, you know. Coming
out on stage and playing for the people is amazing, but my main focus
also, and the thing that makes me a little happy, was always, like,
creating new music.
could just stay at home the whole time playing and creating music, but
on the other hand it's also great to play on a big festival and to play
on a tour. So I'm happy with what I'm doing. So the reason why we record
records is because when you're a musician that's what you should do.
[Laughs] You know, to create new music.
Tobbe: So when you enter a new record cycle,
is your mind always set to top the last one and always improve?
Mille: Yes, absolutely. Not to a point to where
we destroy the whole concept, but more of, like, extending the ideas,
like coming up with new and fresh ideas and dig deeper and see what's
there and exploring new grounds. At the end of the day it's hard work,
but it pays off at the moment when you sit at home and listen to your
And I'm a fan. I'm a metalhead. I'm a fan of
all kinds of music, but first and foremost of course metal is in my
DNA because that's what I've grown up with. So if I listen to my album
at home and I'm satisfied because of the fact that I think that I've
managed to achieve my goals, musically and creatively, it makes my happy.
Tobbe: You know, you have the lead guitar
playing harmonies or melodies in quite a few of the songs, and I think
that attribute made Kreator advance even further up the stage of recognition,
so what made you, in the first place, put those elements to your music,
because they weren't really there in the beginning?
Mille: It was a development and a progression
of course, because when we started out we were sometimes even afraid
of melodies, you know. I think the music, even like the very early stuff,
has a lot of melodies and I was always a fan of melodic stuff.
But sometimes we wanna be the most brutal band,
on some albums we want to be the most experimental band, and nowadays
we wanna combine all that on one record. We wanna experiment in order
to be brutal and make the brutal parts even more brutal by creating
a contrast between the melodic and the brutal parts. That, to me, gives
it a different dynamic.
Tobbe: Yeah, because the guitar playing
in the verse, those melodic hooks, really, really bring something to the
brutality, just as you say, and it's a nice attribute, I think. So keep
Mille: [Laughs] Thank you.
Tobbe: On the other hand, you were very
young when you first started out with making music, so.
Mille: Oh yeah, back in the day. Yeah, I know,
but I still feel the same, even though I'm of course getting older and
that I'm happy that I'm still alive, you know. But the minute I go into
rehearsal and pick up a guitar I turn into a 17 year old metalhead again,
which is absolutely necessary to keep fresh and there's nothing more
boring than, like, a day job band that just comes up with something
that doesn't sound exciting. So I always push myself and I always want
the new Kreator album to be the best one possible and every time I write
the riffs they should sound exciting.
So, like you said, 14 records, and is it possible to not repeat yourself
just a little bit at this point?
Mille: Depending on how you look at it. Of course
there's certain elements that always pop up and there's a certain style
that we play. Sometimes when you listen to it, and especially my voice,
you know right away that it's Kreator.
But on the other hand
I'm not so concerned about whether or not I repeat myself.
I'm more concerned about "Is it still exciting?". You know,
if I repeat myself and it's still exciting it's okay, but if I don't
repeat myself and it becomes boring because I do something that I don't
really feel, then it doesn't make sense to not repeat myself.
People from the outside might say "Okay,
this is Kreator as we know it." and we didn't reinvent the wheel
when it comes to Kreator's music, but if you dig a little deeper we
have definitely added something to it and a new dimension on the new
record, I think.
Tobbe: So how important are development
and change in a fans' point of view? Or do they want the same stuff all
Mille: I don't know. There's definitely a huge
interest in what we do. You know, we can see that once we put out a
video people go like "Yeah!" and then start to discuss whether
or not we're still the same band, or whether or not they like the song,
which is okay, you know. Constructive criticism is always good and I
think it keeps things fresh.
Also, when you read comments it can sometimes
be devastating and you're like "Really?". But on the other
hand it's, like, people who care about the music and they take the time
to actually react, you know, which is a good thing.
Tobbe: Ventor's [Jürgen Reil] drums
on the album are very recognizable from the past. He has his playing style
of course and you know the sound, like the toms and the snare sound pretty
short, in lack of a better word. Or flat, in a good way flat. So have
you ever thought about changing that a little bit or does he always have
to sound like Ventor?
Mille: I think he cannot sound anything else
than being Ventor, you know. I think it's the same with me. I couldn't
change my vocal style completely even if I wanted to. It's a part of
my personality and also a trademark. You know, it's a trademark.
When thinking about Ventor, like when I listen to the record, I can also
hear that you have weaved in older stuff as well in the record, because
I hear things like "Oh, this could be from 87, or 88 or something."
and was that something you thought about when you were making the record,
to kind of stick to the original idea too?
Mille: It's hard to say, really. I don't see
it that way, but if you tell me and you point these things out I start
looking at the music or listening to the music differently, because
it wasn't our intention, but it's probably in our DNA. It's probably
in there. You know, there's this certain experience and these certain
elements that are recognizable and a part of our sound, I guess.
Tobbe: You mentioned your vocal style briefly
and are you never worried about overstressing your voice a little bit?
Mille: No, the voice is never the problem. It's
more the physical. The state of mind is more the problem. I even noticed
that, like especially during the time when we recorded the album. You
know, we thought it was a good idea, and in a way it was a good idea,
to get out of the studio on the weekends and play some festival. And
you're in a totally different state of mind when you go in the studio
or on stage and I felt, for the first time I felt, not tired, but exhausted.
I have to admit I'm a very private person. When
I'm not on the road and I'm not playing in a studio and when I'm not
doing interviews like now, I'm very much on my own and just doing normal
things that don't have anything to do with music and if they do it's
me looking at music as a fan. So being in the studio and then going
out on the weekends playing festivals was pretty rough and it hit me
by surprise and I was like "Why am I so exhausted?". But then
again I knew, because, see, we were in the studio from 8 o'clock in
the morning up 'til 7 o'clock at night or something. You know, ridiculous
schedules and very hard work.
And then, next thing you know, you're on a plane
flying somewhere where people expect you to be very energetic, but in
a different way than being creative. So these two states of mind kind
of fucked with my head a little bit and I felt exhausted and I was like
"Maybe next time we go into the studio we will not play any festivals.".
back to your question: It's not the voice. The voice always behaves
well because I take care of myself. I don't
do any stupid things with my voice, like smoking or drinking hard liquor
or whatever, so I'm a very healthy person. The voice is only an instrument
or just a reflection of my mental state of mind, so if I feel sad or
if I don't feel energetic my voice won't work. And that has never happened
before. It has always worked.
Tobbe: How is it possible to sound so angry
in so many songs through the years? You have this direct anger in your
voice when you sing the songs and how can you bring forward that energy,
like, every time for every song and enter that mindset?
Mille: That's a good question. I've never thought
about that. I think it's just a part of the way I see metal. You know,
when you listen to a song you hear where the soft parts are coming,
or for example there's one song on the record called Death Becomes My
Light where I go very soft in the beginning and then go into a more
aggressive voice. It's whatever the song demands.
But I have never thought about it like "My
voice has to have a certain form of anger." and I don't see it
as anger, but to me it's how I listen to metal, or this kind of metal,
Kreator metal. Most of the time it's a reflection of what I feel fits
the song. Whatever I feel fits the song will be on the record. And it
might sound angry, but I really don't see it as anger. I see it more
as a form of expression that contains anger, but all kinds of different
emotions too. Whatever the words are, whatever the song needs.
And I gotta admit that Jens Bogren is very good
at getting that out of me. You know, expression is the key word and
expression sometimes can come across as a very strong emotion, like
anger, sadness, frustration, but also happiness in a way. Even though
I think the happy moments in Kreator are rare. You know, we're happy
in private, yes, but in the music it sounds like very serious, even
though we're not that serious. There is a lot of humor in the music,
but it's very hidden.
Tobbe: When you were laying down the vocals
for the album, did you do it like track by track, or did you do one song
here and one song there and do you rest your voice in between the takes?
Mille: I only did one song a day. Most of the
time it was, like, as long as I could last. Sometimes I didn't feel
it, but Jens always had a good ear about where my voice was. I was able
to do one song a day. And one song a day is enough if you want the song
to be really convincing.
we went from vocals to lead guitars to whatever was necessary and constantly
working on something, but, you know, also I had to work on my lyrics,
because my lyrics, to me, are the most important thing and coming up
with these little, like, stories and these little pieces is sometimes
hard. You don't wanna repeat yourself, but you still do because your
vocabulary is, not limited, but there's certain words that just sound
better in metal, you know.
Tobbe: You know, a lot of fans actually
like your material from Violent Revolution  up to now even better
than your old stuff and that's very rare in music, so is it relieving
for Kreator to not have to rely on the old stuff?
Mille: Like you said, it's very unique. I don't
I don't know many bands where it's like that. You know,
it's a very privileged position that we are in, but on the other hand
it can also be a little hard to find the right setlist. It's a luxury
problem, but it is a problem. You don't wanna disappoint people. When
they come to the show they wanna hear certain songs and there will be
Tobbe: But still, when you play live nowadays
the old stuff is, like, Endless Pain, Pleasure To Kill, Flag Of Hate,
Tormentor maybe, and 1 or 2 more, and then there's a lot of new stuff,
which I like, I must say. But I like the old stuff too, so.
Mille: Yeah, same with me. I look at the music
the same way as you do because I'm a total metal nerd and, to me, listening
to the old era, like up to Renewal  maybe, it is almost like a
different band; almost like a different vibe. And I know why some people,
on the other hand, say "I only like that era of the band!".
And whatever, you know, "At least you like any era.". [Laughs]
Tobbe: You have a strong lineup now. You've
had a consistent lineup for 15 years, or 16 maybe, and I never hear fans
calling out for a reunion with you and Ventor, and Rob [Fioretti, bass]
and Tritze [Jörg Trzebiatowski, guitar] or maybe with Frank ["Blackfire"
Gosdzik] on guitar. So why aren't fans looking for a reunion when it comes
to Kreator? You know, you hear things like "Bring back Anthrax!"
and so and
Mille: I understand. Let's just take Anthrax
as an example. Their singer [Joey Belladonna] was essential for the
band, even though I think the other singer [John Bush] that they had
was also good. But our singer never changed. I was always the singer.
But there were some times that people were like "The best lineup
was with Blackfire", but that wasn't because of the lineup. That
was because of the songs that they like and I wrote the songs, most
of them, so it didn't matter whether or not it's Frank Blackfire or
Also I think that Sami [Yli-Sirniö] is like
a phenomenal guitar player and why would you wanna
these people. They were a part of our history, but I don't see a reason
why we would even ever consider doing something like that. It would
be like shooting ourselves in the knee.
Tobbe: Some bands even take a one off tour
or gigs with the original lineup, like Dokken just did, but of course
there was very good money in that.
Mille: You know what? I don't believe in these
things. I believe in progression and I believe in the here and now.
It would feel so wrong doing this, you know.
Tobbe: Kreator is a successful band in metal
and what does success mean to you personally?
Mille: Success is not to be measured. I think,
to me, if there's an album that's not so successful, it doesn't necessary
have to mean that it's not a success for me, because I try to achieve
certain things musically. For example, I know that Endorama  isn't
the most successful record, but to me it's a success, because it's a
transition from the old or the more experimental Kreator up to Violent
to me it's a success, because I have experienced to go on a musical
journey that I wanted to go on and I succeeded because I was able to
fulfill my visions. So success is in the eye of the beholder maybe,
or whatever. Of course it feels great to play in front of a 100000 people
on a festival, but it also feels great to listen to something that you
have dreamed up and put it into reality and that, to me, is huge success.
Tobbe: So what is your opinion about record
sales decreasing, Spotify
Mille: [Whispers] Spotify. We're here. They're
Tobbe: I totally forgot about that.
record stores going out of business?
Mille: But there's a big revival of record stores,
like vinyl record stores. I think there's music, and there's different
ways of listening to music. You can't turn back time, so whatever happens
happens. The fact that we're sitting here at Spotify says a lot. We
have to embrace the changes and celebrate music no matter what.
Tobbe: So what are you looking for when
it comes to record sales for Gods Of Violence? Have you still got high
hopes for the record selling good?
Mille: Yes, of course. It's gonna be a huge
success record sales-wise, because I know a lot of people are waiting
for our new record. But on the other hand, you know, metal is always
selling because people are collectors. You know, people wanna have the
vinyl, they wanna have the artwork, and the poster, and the special
edition with the demo, whatever.
So it will be successful no matter what, but,
like I said, there's no measure, and there's no, like, "Oh, we
sold this much less than on the last record.". It's not like that
anymore. It's like: Where are you with the band, how convincing are
you, what's your life situation, how do you perform live?
So, you're on a festival and you're playing with
this band and you're playing with that band and "Did you blow them
off the stage?". That's another measurement, you know. Or did they
blow you off the stage, because you were tired? So it's a little bit
of a different way of looking at things nowadays.
of the album Gods Of Violence