Kill II This Interview
Ok, this one goes back a little bit to sometime last year. Deviate has just been released, the band are just off the back of the Bruce Dickinson tour, and are gathering in the confines of the Vic in Derby just after the gig. And weíre about to start an interview. All the band are here, so we have Mark - guitar, Matt - Vocals, Ben - drums and Caroline - bass. And various members of Chokehold wandering in from time to time.
Thereíll be no pictures with this interview. Basically, the band gave me permission to use a track on the CD with the last issue, "just tell the label which one", but then when I rang, I got fobbed off by the management. Which pissed me off no end. At the end of the conversation though, I was told "I can send you some pictures." But no, Iím pissed off and stubborn. So, no pictures is how this one is going to be. Anyway, this one starts off with some of the disposable music / tour style questions, then descends to some of the more serious issues that were becoming apparent at the time of the interview. And in some cases, maybe eerily preceed certain events that have happened in the States in the months since all this was spoken.
Anyway, as we settle in, introductions proceed, and itís straight into the questions and finding out how the tour with Bruce Dickinson went?
"Really really well. We got on like a house on fire" reckons Ben. "Excellent. It was an honour. An honour to be on stage with anyone associated with the recording of Number of the Beast" says Mark. "When I was 14 years old, Number of the Beast was just the most, it was like hearing Reign In Blood for the first time. Invaders just came on and smashed your teeth in" he continues. "At the time I was into Thin Lizzy and Rainbow, and then Maiden came out with NotB and it was like, this is so fucking metal. So it was an honour to be with him." "Iíve got to say from a younger persons point of view" starts Caroline, "the crowd were amazing the way they received us, because it was just such a different style of music that we were playing to Bruce." "A lot more old school. They were looking at us at the start, and they were looking curious on their faces, and by the end of the set they were really moving, so hopefully that was a good sign" concludes Matt.
The new album, or not so new by the time you get to read this, Iím trying to decide on it. Itís like metal yet new metal. "It doesnít fit in, and Iím proud of that" states Mark. "All the great albums, Metallica never fitted in. When they came out it was like, theyíre a metal band with a punk attitude and they didnít fit in. They broke the mould. Faith No More, no-one knew where they were coming from. Red Hot Chilli Peppers, bands like that. Bands like the Sex Pistols never really fitted in. And I think thatís a good thing. Bands like Dearly Beheaded are in the same division and directly competing with Pantera and Machine Head. Youíre always going to be competing with those bands. If we donít fit in, then weíre in our own division and weíre not competing with them, and I think thatís a really good thing.
But do you really think you can get the support these days, because it does appear that you have to fit in with one particular sub genre.
"If everyone did that, then weíd never progress. 10 years ago Nirvana broke that mould coming out from the whole underground scene" reckons Caroline as various members of Chokehold wander, loudly around the room. "Itís a proper private room this" she laughs before continuing. "Yeah, we are doing something different, and we donít feel itís right to just be following other bands. Youíve got to do something new. Weíre doing what we want to do. Thereís a lot of different musical influences and weíre just combining those to create something that we enjoy."
Once more thereís an interruption as Chokehold claim some more of their equipment and shout various things around. Once things have quietened down to a level approaching reasonable, we continue. This time Iím wondering how it feels to have suddenly gone back from playing those sold out gigs with Bruce to this, 50 people tops turning up.
"Itís sort of weird. Weíre the headline band playing longer, but playing longer to smaller crowds" reasons Ben. Caroline is somewhat more philosophical. "Youíve got to start somewhere. Every band has to do it. You canít just walk straight in and play straight in an arena unless youíre manufactured like Take That or something. Weíre not doing the Take That thing." Matt picks it up. "It keeps your feet on the ground." "Exactly" concurrs Mark. "It keeps your feet on the ground. So many people can go out supporting these bands and playing to 10000 a night, and youíll mean jack shit. Until you go out and headline and play to your own audience, it keeps your feet on the ground. I saw Fear Factory on their very first tour at Bradford Rios. And I swear thereís 25 people, and right after they played they signed autographs in front of the stage and then started moving their own equipment of the side of the stage. And youíve got to start somewhere. Otherwise youíll never know where you are in the pecking order." "I may change my mind" starts Ben, "but at the moment, I like setting up my own gear, my own drums. It sort of prepares you, almost wakes you up lifting all the gear" he says as Caroline enters a coughing fit. "Iíve been ill for a week" she manages to say in between coughs. Chokehold are back. "Sorry about this" she apologises. No worries, this is pretty professional in the grand scheme of things with my interviews.
Do you ever get the feeling that thereís gig that you just donít want to do?
"Every now and then youíll get a bad gig, but you just put up with it. You canít have great gigs all the time, thatís the way I see it" says the quiet on the tape Ben. How do you think a band should approach a bad gig? Do the Manson style and storm off. "Thatís totally unprofessional" reckons Caroline between still more coughs. "People donít respect that, and I donít respect it when I see it" says Matt. "You pay to go and see a band, you want to see a good show, you donít want to see a bunch of moody bastards that just want to kick the shit out of each other onstage. You want to see people make an effort yíknow" finishes Caroline who seems to be recovering now. "Sometimes, if I havenít eaten" starts Ben, "Ben is the consumer, he eats non-stop" laughs Caroline, as Ben continues. "If you havenít eaten and you have to play the gig, but you need the toilet or to clean your ears out, thatís when you start to think ĎI donít want to play tonightí. But when you get sorted just before you go on you get a bit of a buzz going through you." "We always play to the best of our abilities" is a more sensible, or at least comprehensible reply from Matt. "Especially in an environment like this. If weíre headlining, it doesnít matter how many people are there" "weíre going to do the best we can" Caroline finishes for him.
Itís an issue that was touched upon in the Bullyrag interview many issues ago now. "If itís a bad audience from the word go, then you spend the set trying to get them into it" is Mattís attitude in how you treat the audience. "You can treat it as a rehersal" reckons Caroline. "The audience is a big factor though" Ben continues, "if thereís a lot of people, then itís great gig normally. If you make a mistake you can pick it up and still be Ďyeah yeah, weíre still rockingí."
Something that kind of interests me, in that sad old way, is differing attitudes towards stage divers and the whole violent dancing thing. So, time to find out the bands experiences and opinions on this.
"Weíve had a couple" Ben states in reference to the stage divers. "We had them last night, but the security wouldnít let them get onstage" adds Caroline. So, did you see at the Bruce Dickinson gig in Nottingham where there was a stage diver? "And he got really battered by Bruce" she laughs. "Every band you play with itís different, Bruce Dickinson in particular, thereís two things he doesnít like, people stage diving because he thinks it hurts people and puts the crowd in danger, and he doesnít like people smoking in the crowd near the front because heís got a fragile voice" she finishes. And then of course, thereís the other side of the fence so to speak, as Matt takes up. "We went out with One Minute Silence the other week". You know whatís coming now donít you? Well, if not, Caroline will fill in the rest of the details. "And itís like, audience on the stage, all the audience get up here now." Returning to the Kill II This viewpoint is Ben, "Weíre easy you know if people want to get up, get up. But we donít want people getting hurt. Because if Iím in the pit and everyoneís jumping on top of me ..." "simple" Caroline finishes, "if you donít want to get hurt, donít get in the pit" before returning to the coughing fit.
At this stage the unforgivable happens. I make my usual sad excuses about not going in the pit, for one tonight, thereís not many people here, and those that are stand to watch and I donít want to look an even bigger prat than I normally do by entertaining other people. At this point Mark reckons thatís ok "youíre a journalist." donít tar me with that brush. "Yeah, but as far as Iím concerned you are, youíre not a punter, you write, you have an opinion which you express."
Thatís as may be, but journalists or whatever are no different to the punters. They shouldnít be treated differently. Yeah, review copies are nice, and Iím discovering pretty much essential because of costs, and so are guest lists. Purely and simply because of the sheer cost of doing something like this. Itís something as I type this interview up that Iíve been returning to time and again this issue, because itís true. I donít like the idea of freebies, because there is a certain concern that people may feel that youíre obliged to say complimentary things, which is wrong. But to be able to create content for an issue, itís essential. BUT, thereís no reason why ANYONE canít write their thoughts on a gig. Thatís all I do. I write some thoughts on an album. Doesnít make me a journalist. Makes me no different to anyone else, and my opinion is worth no more than anyone elses. Sorry, itís something that pisses me off that people try to take advantage of a status that entitles them to nothing. And then, to make it worse, they abuse that status by paying no attention to the bands, staying at the fucking bar, and making a snap judgement on a band from there. "Oh yeah, Rage Against The Machine.". If you are going to do this stuff, do it fucking properly and with the respect that the bands deserve. I know I make judgments, "shit, another LimpKornTones band". But I do it after watching and listening. Though thereís no reason for you to believe that just because I say so. Sorry, Iíll calm down again now. By the way, in case youíd not figured, I didnít say all that in the interview, itís just me making a point here and now and letting off some steam again.
Anyway, Mark wants to go on to make another point. "Fanzines, this is not bullshit, this is absolutely straight, have a lot more effect on the scene than people think. In Germany particularly thereís fanzines, like one called Underground Empire, and they do like 4 or 5 thousand. And they have a big effect on the scene because you get a more honest opinion and theyíre not swayed by the industry as much. Theyíre not on RoadRunner or Music For Nations or Century Mediaís payroll." We then go off the record as the bands laundry is returned fresh from the machines by the people working at the Vic. Those essential things on tour that are forgotten about by those of us that donít do it. Tour I mean. I do my laundry like everyone else thankyouverymuch. And donít let anyone tell you different.
Returning to the album, it feels that thereís a bit of an anti-religious theme in there.
"Not anti religion" starts Mark, "itís questioning. Itís definitely not anti-religion. Iíve been deeply affected by religion from my upbringing, both my parents were born again Christians, so thereís a certain amount of rebellion in there. But most of the lyrics are just very negative in general. Very bleak, dark, depressing, nihilistic. Isolation, depression, hopelessness, despair. The more negative things. I think theyíre very realistic. Show me someone who says they never get depressed and Iíll show you a fucking liar. Itís as simple as that. That is the one thing linking all humanity is the fact that everyone gets depressed. All the thrash bands sang about nuclear holocaust and it didnít happen. The Cold War ended. And Iíd rather look within. All the hardcore bands sing about straight edge veganism or whatever, they preach how people should live their life. You shouldnít smoke, you shouldnít do drugs, you shouldnít drink. Letís look within. Changing the world comes from each individual. Start with yourself. So all the lyrics are very introspective. Faith Rape speaks for itself. Itís questioning having faith in the world. When I was young I actually thought the world was a wonderful place, and I grew up and I donít think it is. Same with the lyrics to This World. Theyíre a direct take on Louis Armstrong. When I was growing up my grandad was a massive music fan, and he always used to play What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong. And that was my favourite song when I was like 8 years old. And the lyrics are like "I see trees are green, skies are blue, people passing by saying how do you do, And I think to myself, What A Wonderful World.". And the lyrics to This World are "I see the third world, Its starving face, While the spacecraft probe deep outer space ... I see the purest social holocaust, each colour each creed religion hopelessly lost and I think to myself, this worldís so fucked up, this worldís fucked up. And so itís like a direct take on those lyrics."
Are there any solutions then. Many bands point out the problems, but no solutions.
"I donít actually come out with solutions no. Itís more a commentary. Iíll never use lyrics as a soapbox to preach to people. If people want to be preached at theyíll go to church. If people want politics they can watch the news. Itís more questioning, more thought provoking. If you read the lyrics, theyíre thought provoking. Theyíll cause you to think about the subject matter, but Iím not going to preach what my solution is, because thatís just my opinion and I donít want to ram that down peopleís throats."
Time now to turn to that old favourite of yours and mine, well it is if you read the last issue and most of the interviews in this one. Jack K and the old assisted suicide.
"Itís very interesting. My sisterís a doctor. Was it euthanasia or was it suicide?" asks Mark. I explain that the guy was dying of cancer and requested that the Dr assist in his death and that it was shown on TV to highlight the situation. "Right, fascinating that. I heard nothing about that. All doctors swear an oath to prolong human life at all expense and I disagree with that. If someone has no quality of life whatsoever, they wouldnít do it to an animal."
So do you think itís too extreme a way of drawing attention?
"No. If someone is in pain and they have no quality of life and itís a fatal illness thatís totally undurable, then let them move on. Itís pointless prolonging that life and pointless prolonging the suffering."
Time for a quick shifty through the questions.
Referring back to the slightly infamous, at least in my memory, interview with One Minute Silence, there was the quotes they used onstage of "we want to see everyone kill each other in the pit". Then of course there was some slight trouble with various venues in London. So, do you think there is a risk that people will take some quotes too far, and could that reflect upon the opening quote on the album that "this is a soundtrack to murder"?
"If anybody could listen to something like this is a soundtrack to murder and be affected by it, then those people are instable anyway. Itís as simple as that. You canít censor the whole of society for the few people who are unstable. Weíd take cartoons off TV because theyíre the most outrageously violent thing. People just smacking each other over the head with a hammer, and then they stand up five minutes later. You cannot censor the whole of society for those few unstable. Anything could set them off. They could be walking down, see an advert on the side of the bus and itíll send them over because theyíre unstable. So if anybody listens to the intro to our album saying Ďthis is a soundtrack to murderí and is effected by it, then as far as Iím concerned, theyíre not stable.
So what do you think then of the moves that are apparently happening in the States where they want to sticker and rate live gigs in the same way they want to it to albums?
"Absolute bollocks. The whole notion that music takes lives or that music is censored is utter nonsense. The idea that Judas Priest or Ozzy caused someone to commit suicide is complete nonsense. Music saves lives not take them. When I was 14 it was like a reason to live."
Yeah, Iíd agree. And I think most people would, itís not like this is telling anyone anything they didnít already know. But, like it or not, there are people in the States (and Iím sure everywhere else) with corporations behind them, that have the power to at least try to put these beliefs and laws into place. And as Britain likes to follow the States, is there a risk that this sort of thing will follow over to the UK and say Kill II This will be banned from Woolworths?
"Very much so. That is a serious question. The worrying thing, staying on the same subject but deviating slightly is that the whole idea at the moment with the President situation in America, the second in command that theyíre talking about over is Tipper Goreís husband Al. If he gets into power and his wife has anything to do with the presidency, she ran the PMRC and she is a twisted, twisted woman. Seriously. If Tipper Gore has anything to do with the government, if her husband is in power in America, itís going to have serious knock on effects for the whole of the country. She is a twisted fucking power nutter. Did you ever see her in court with Dee Snider and Frank Zappa?"
No, but I remember reading all the stuff with her and Jello Biafra and the Dead Kennedys Frankenchrist case, in which incidently, Frank Zappa stood up for the DKs in court if I remember correctly. I thought all this stuff though had blown over, but it appears not.
"It seemed to for a while because they went on to rap didnít they" Mark says in reference to the PMRC.
The millenium question time.
"The whole reality of things is that when it changes to January 1st 2000, everyoneís going to wake up the next day. The worldís still going to be the same. The same problems. The third world problem, half the western world is going to be fucked up and insecure. Itís not going to be a different world, just a different day. Itís not everything itís cracked up to be. Itís going to be the biggest party the worlds ever seen. Itís a privelige to be alive, particularly with the information and the technological advances that have happened in the last 4 decades really. Itís absolutely unbelievable. At the same time itís another day."
Finally then, plans for the coming year?
"Touring" say Caroline. Then Mark starts again. "Weíve got four people here, and it gives me a lot of pleasure to sit here and know there are three other members of the band that donít sit and go "yeah, thereís a tour, but what about my son back home" he says in reference to one of the former members of the band. Since the debut album, KIIT have shed everyone bar Mark. "We didnít have a record label, but we went out and supported Megadeth. No-one can stop us, and thatís what weíll do. Metal bands get big, through magazines to a certain extent, but by touring. Itís a live music really. Itís very energetic. So we will get out and tour." "As far as Iím concerned" pipes up Ben, "Deviate is a fucking amazing album and it deserves a lot of touring and a lot of promotion. So I want to be a part of that."
"Just to say" starts Mark to draw the interview to a timely conclusion, "Iím very good friends with the guitarist from Annihilator and Iíve toured with them. Judas Priest on their Painkiller tour was billed as JP, Annihilator and Pantera. Panteraís Cowboys From Hell album wasnít actually out in Europe. They went around Europe for 2 months doing pre-tour for the album. And they got booed and flipped off every night on that tour. And they went back to America saying "Europe sucks, we fucking hate Europe." Three months later they were back to do their own headline shows and their album had done 150,000 totally overnight. The whole thing was turned on itís head. And the point Iím making is weíre not afraid. We donít want red carpet treatment. We donít have any dellusions of where we are"
And just to finish, more about that CD track malarky, cos yeah, I do have an attitude. As I write this up, I learn that K2T are to be on a new Century Media compilation. Ah, so theyíre worthy but a piece of shit zine like this isnít. Ok, thatís what it ultimately comes down to. I canít pay anything to the band, and Iím just not big enough as a zine to have an impact. Fine. But if the band gives permission, you should go with that. If you donít want your bands saying things, or agreeing to things, then tell them in advance. But it has nothing to do with having already given tracks to other magazines. You only want zines when they can give you something, and obviously we canít give you enough to warrant allowing people to hear the music. Ok fine. Remember, this gig there was 50 people tops at. Straight after Bruce Dickinson dates. When they returned hear months later, there werenít many more people. And when they played Sheffield shortly after the Soulfly gigs, thereís was only 50 or 60 people taking part. These bands arenít yet big enough for their people in power to get all high and mighty.
Yep, Iím having a bit of an attitude trip this time round. Ah well, themís the breaks.