One of the best news of the year, up to the moment, has been this: the release of all the recordings done by the German band Cemetery. It is not a minor thing, and in the interview you will know why. The important thing is that to the end justice was done (thanks to Raúl of the label Memento Mori), and now the wonderful sonorous material of this band is within reach of all. And not only it: we obtain an interview with Dani and Roland, guitarists of this legendary band. Read and enjoy, it's worth reading this interview
Puro Ruido: Hello! How is everything there? It is a pleasure to interview you!
Dani: Hey there. Everythings fine, thank you. It's also a pleasure for us to answer the questions!
Roland: Hi. Doing great, thanks for letting us do this!
PR: Let's start with something that many fans of the band are asking Cemetery is back? For although it has released the long awaited album of the group, there are no official data on the return of Cemetery to the streets, and some people have asked me. So better I ask you.
Dani: Well, what shall I say. So far, there are no specific plans to bring the band back together. We (the last Cemetery line-up of 1994) met two weeks ago. We had a couple of beers, talked about the old times and also about what the next steps could be. Every one of us is still a fan of Cemetery, but a the moment I can't imagine that the band will reunite in the original line-up. Also, I can't really predict if it will happen at all. It's to early to make a definite statement. Roland and I decided to work on new ideas, which is quite tricky because he lives in Los Angeles and I'm over here in Germany. So we would have to share our riffs across the Atlantic! Let's see what happens during the next few months.
Roland: Dani and I will try to collaborate using a recording application called “Ohm Studio,” that was specifically designed to allow musicians from anywhere in the world to work on projects together. This should at least be enough to work out our ideas. The next step might be to record the stuff in a proper studio – but we’ll cross that bridge when (or IF) we get there.
PR: How was given the opportunity to release "Enter The Gate" by Memento Mori? From whom was the idea to release all the material of the group in a double album? Let me say it, but it was a brilliant idea
Dani: I’ll let Roland respond to this. He initiated the release. I just want to say, that I'm so happy with the situation now. It feels like it has to come out of the darkness. I never really got over the split back than. Although it was my decision.
Roland: The 2CD discography idea came from Memento Mori’s Raul. I had just finished putting together the Cemetery Facebook page as a homage, when Raul contacted me and asked if we were interested in releasing our Material on his label. Initially, we only talked about the album from 1993, but eventually, Raul suggested to release everything we recorded on a double-CD. I’m really greatful for this! Basically, Raul re-discovered us.
PR: Let's make a little history. Why Cemetery born? You begin as a band in 1986, the time when Death Metal was not even defined as a genre. What inspired you to create the band?
Dani: Drummer Michael Bolz founded a band back in 1986. I don't know what kind of music they played, but he already had the name and the logo. So when I met him for the first time, I told him that I'm looking for musicians to form a death metal line-up. A few days later, we were invited to a rehearsal room party. We met there again and started jamming. It sounded good, so we decided to continue together. This was the birth of CEMETERY. August 1990. There’s a little anecdote to this: We had no choice but to break into the building, because the hosts were running late! We couldn't wait to play...!
I always wanted to play in a band since I was a child. I learned playing guitar and had a band with a couple of friends before CEMETERY. But when I saw CELTIC FROST the first time on T.V., and when I heard DEATH for the first time, I knew exactly what I wanted to do!
Roland: Woah, Dani…, I think we never talked about the CELTIC FROST T.V. thing before. They played “Circle of the Tyrants” on a weekly Swiss music TV show called “Tipparade” back in the 80ies and I happened to watch. They usually only played pop music on that show. This had a HUGE impact on me as well. I had no idea we shared that experience, man! Roots!
PR: Listening to the different recordings of the group, I noticed a clear difference between the first demos, and the material that was to be part of the debut album. What things influenced to you in the early years, and what was it that prompted the band's music became more complex and technical over time?
Dani: I think it was a natural progression. In the early days of Cemetery, my songwriting was influenced by bands like Bathory, Celtic Frost and the early Death or Obituary. But the progress didn't stop there.
We've been practicing a lot as a band and also every one for themselves at home. Every one of us was getting better on their instrument and we had a lot more possibilities in our playing.
A lot of good records came up at that time. Bands like Death, Obituary, Morbid Angel or the upcoming swedish death metal wave. It was nearly impossible not to be influenced by all this great music. Roland and I were also listening to seventies progressive stuff like Yes, Jethro Tull or Emerson, Lake and Palmer for example. In my case, I was listening to all kinds of music. Of course not radio-pop or anything like that...! Chuck Schuldiner and Dave Mustaine were my biggest heroes. I seem to recall that I didn't even own any more than 15 death metal records when I was writing the material back then.
Roland: I joined after the first demo, and right around the time the single was recorded. So, I didn’t have much to do with how the music evolved. I might have brought in some influences that impacted Dani’s song writing for the album, but not knowingly or intentionally. From my perspective, I just played what Dani showed me. He’s been CEMETERY’s Mastermind all along.
PR: In 1993, change your name and style. Are renamed Aeons End, and stop playing Death Metal. Were there any particular reason to pursue this change? Because not only it was a name change: there was a change in musical direction, is not it?
Dani: The change of the name is a result of the unclear situation at that time. We didn't know if we could carry on under the flag of Cemetery after we had signed this record deal, and once everything broke down. The musical change was logical for me as a songwriter. I wanted to step on new shores as a musician. But it wouldn't have turned out this way if the record would have been released the way it was planned.
Roland: At least two of the songs recorded as AEONS END, where written by Dani when we were still playing shows as CEMETERY. We even played them live with his typical vocal style. I think that it was apparent that the new songs were going into a more and more complicated and progressive direction. Influences from other music styles made it into new songs as well. As Dani said, things would have been different if the record company fiasco hadn’t happened back then. The gradual direction change from song to song was still a natural evolution of what CEMETERY was going to become, though. But feeling blocked from using the name CEMETERY, and more or less having to leave behind the legacy that was CEMETERY, I feel that this gave us the freedom to explore other elements that don’t fit within the boundaries of Death Metal. Most prominently, the melodic female vocals, contributed by my sister. Seriously, though – it’s easy enough to figure out which two songs on AEONS END’s “Spiral Seas” were still written under the CEMETERY banner. Just imagine them with different vocals, and you get a glimpse of where CEMETERY was heading.
PR: How frustrating was finding out that West Virginia Records ceased to exist, and with its disappearance, missing the chance to see the first full lenght of the group on the street? I imagine that the news must have fallen badly in the members of Cemetery It was
Dani: It was very frustrating! I mean, we had made a killer death metal album and none of the record companies in europe took notice. Especially german companies. So, what should we have done back then? Record another album for the archives? From 1993 on, the walls of death metal started to crack. The record companies had other interests or wanted something new. I think death metal has never been truly succesful in a financial way. Somehow I had lost my musical, and even a little bit of my personal identity at that time. I turned my back on the music business and it took many years until I found the strenght to do new projects again.
Roland: I was just shocked. Most bands under contract at West Virginia were recording at the label’s own studio. We got the OK to record at Falk Gruber’s Mainstreet Studio instead, so we were not in contact with the Label during the recording process, and had agreed to get in touch once we’re done. When we finally held the finished master tape in our hands, and reached out to the label, we couldn’t get a hold of anybody. What followed, was a time of uncertainty and frustration. I don’t even remember how I eventually found out that the company went under, but remember that I felt devastated. What’s even worse is, that I learned several months later, that Massacre records were picking up all the bands under contract with West Virginia – or at least most. We reached out to them, and they wanted to see the contract. Let me just say this much: I still sometimes dream of strangulating the guy who was supposed to keep the contract in a safe place, and who had already lost our only copy by then. Aaaargh!!
PR: A questions for both Dani and Roland: have a working method to make the guitars sound so adjusted, so powerful? That is, work together when creating the songs?
Dani: We've been trying to make to the best out of our possibilities. We had a brilliant producer on our side. Falk Gruber. A lot of european death metal acts recorded in his studio. He was very experienced and knew how to manage his stuff. I didn't use a lot of technology. It should sound very pure. In my case there was only my Ibanez "Randy Rhoads", a Marshall JCM 800 Model 2203 and a Boss distortion pedal. I think the power comes from the songs. The only thing was, that we've recorded all the rhythm guitars twice.
Roland: Dani wrote all the songs – including my parts. I just played the parts he wrote for me. I do think, that we clicked well when playing together, though. We ended up playing for a few minutes when I visited a few weeks ago, and I felt that we still just “locked in” right away. Maybe that has something to do with it, not sure. But Falk definitely deserves the credit for making the album sound so incredible. Like Dani, I simply showed up with MY Ibanez Randy Rhoads, a Boss distortion pedal and an amp. In my case, an early 80ies Laney Pro Tube 100. But Dani always had the better overall sound. It’s easy to tell who’s rhythm guitar comes out of which speaker when listening to the album. Dani is the side where the guitar sounds better, haha!
PR: You were a part of the best moment in the history of the Death Metal. Bands were appearing every day, one better that other one, it was quite really exciting. However, today it has regained that energy, do not say that we are living as exciting as those years now, but there are many new bands that sound good, labels supporting the scene, festivals, and bands of the old school who become and still are great as in the 90s. I wonder what is the vision you have of the extreme metal scene today, what happens now
Dani: To be honest, I do not follow the metal scene nowadays. I'm still listening to metal, but when I'm in the mood for it, I pull out my old records that I was listening to twenty years ago. Today, bands are pushing their skills to a higher level. Some of them would be metal gods if they would have appeared twenty years earlier. Maybe I'm wrong but most of them don't differ from each other. Most of them look and sound the same. But this is just my personal opinion. I can remember the outstanding feeling when I've heard Death's "Open Casket" for the first time...well, back then.
Roland: I lost touch with the metal scene many years ago, when I became fascinated with synthesizers and computer based music. For a few years, I listened to and wrote Industrial/EBM and generally synth based music. During that time, I didn’t even touch a guitar. That time wasn’t all wasted, though – I learned a lot about computers, electronics and music production, and this paved the way for my professional career. I still need these skills for my job every day. When I eventually found my way back to metal, the scene had completely changed. Recording technologies had become very affordable, and enabled everyone and anyone to record a self-produced album at home. In my opinion, this is a mixed blessing. On one hand, it levels the playing field and gives everyone a chance. On the other hand, the scene became flodded with new releases, and still is. Sure, there certainly are many great bands, but it has become so much harder to find the ones I would REALLY like. In the old days, the record companies’ job and business was to find those bands where everything was right, and help them achieve their full potential. Today, there are too many bands, too many labels, and even more self-released stuff. The really good ones don’t have a chance to stand out, because there’s just so much noise drowing them out. Filtering through all of that has become too difficult and too time-intensive for me, and I rarely like the stuff that gets hyped and floats to the top. Shit floats, you know. Because of that, I also mostly stick to the music I already liked back in the day, but do also follow some of the projects that derived from bands I listened to back then. One example would be Blotted Science (of Watchtower’s Ron Jarzombek) – or of course, Meshuggah. But obviously that’s already not Death Metal in it’s purest sense anymore.
PR: Listening to " Enter The Gate ", I could not avoid think that at present there are bands that are very influenced by Cemetery. And if we look a bit backward, we think that the Opeth's first records are notably influenced by you. Do you agree with this? Or do not give it importance to this kind of things?
Dani: It would be great and a big honor if things would have turned out like this. But to be realistic, there was no possibility to buy or hear our album. Maybe some guys was sharing the tapes. For myself, I haven't heard the entire material for almost 20 years! Either we've been two years too late with our album or ten years too early! It's funny but some guys also name Opeth as a similar sounding group before you. I should give the first album of them a listen.
Roland: I keep seeing posts about us having “released the album as a Tape” back then, and lots of people I don’t even know claim that they had it. Reality is, that I personally made those tapes back then, and I only made about 20 or 30, that all went to people who I, or someone in the band personally knew. You can’t quite call that a “release”. Sure, people could have pulled copies like crazy, but I really doubt that. I really don’t think that we had much of an influence on a lot of other bands. It’s just always have to think about how things could have been different if our album had actually come out back then. Maybe then, early Opeth would have sounded even more like us, hahaha.
PR: Well, the last question: the album has received very good critiques, the music of the group sounds very in force, and young fans of the Death Metal have discovered Cemetery and have become fans of you. This takes me to the following question: will we have Cemetery's new songs in a nearby future?
Dani: Well, since the album was released a couple of weeks ago I'm a little bit more into this theme. I'm playing with the idea to write new songs. Three weeks ago I've had the idea for a song. So I wrote and recorded it within two days, using my home recording system. It was just a test for myself if I still got the voice and the skills on the guitar. I tell you one thing, though – it doesn’t sounds bad. As if there hadn’t been twenty years in-between. The guys who heard the new material were quite impressed. I just have to find the time to work on new and old ideas. It's not that easy because I'm very busy in my day job and playing with my other band where I'm also writting all the songs.
Roland: I’m also starting to collect riffs and ideas, while gearing up for the writing process. As mentioned earlier, I didn’t really write any of the material on the Memento Mori release. But I hope that Dani and I working on new songs together will give this thing an extra kick forward, so we have something to show you guys a little further down the road! It will be a new experience for us to try to collaborate during the song writing process already – and in the end, it will be up to Dani if he wants to use any of the stuff I come up with. But I’m definitely commited to help bringing CEMETERY back from the dead! Hmm… does that makes us Zombies?! Hahaha…
PR: Ok, that’s all. Again, thank you very much for the interview; and thanks to you and Raúl (Memento Mori) for release your great songs on that double album. Want to add something?
Dani: I want to say thank you for the interview! To remind these days makes me a little bit sad about the forgiven opportunities but also very proud of what we've created. I think I have to shut up and write another Cemetery album! Stay tuned, cheers!
Roland: Thanks very much from me as well! It’s awesome to see that what was our life blood back then, now gets a little bit of attention, while having gone unnoticed and forgotten for so long. It’s great to be back – or at least to be working on it!