Germany has consistently exported quality thrash metal. Whilst not as popular as their fellow countrymen, like KREATOR or DESTRUCTION for example, DESASTER have a revered reputation in the underground scene through their chaotic black thrash assault. With the band’s latest record, The Oath of An Iron Ritual, released this week (read our review here) Distorted Sound caught up with vocalist Sataniac to talk about the new album, the band’s status in metal and future touring plans!
Hello there, Tim from Distorted Sound here. DESASTER is a familiar name to anyone who likes the melding of Black and Thrash Metal. We’re all eagerly awaiting The Oath Of An Iron Ritual here. What can we expect from the record?
Sataniac: Fine, that someone is awaiting a new DESASTER album. We didn’t change anything at our camp, so everyone can be serious to get a metal album, done the desatrous way. I think we can’t do anything else haha!
You’ve recently released the title track Damnatio Ad Bestias as a single. How’s the response to that been?
Sataniac: I don’t really know about the response on the first “hit” single. But I’ve already read some album reviews and that response has been very positive.
It’s now been over a decade, and almost four records, since you signed for Metal Blade. How did that come about and what prompted you taking that step to a major label? Has the relationship changed over that period?
Sataniac: Metal Blade was a little possessed to sign DESASTER. And it was a long journey, I think it took one and a half years until we signed the contract. But everything is fine. We are only a very small band releasing one album every 3 to 5 years. There’s nothing really exciting about that. It’s only a record company. There is no matter to have bad thoughts about the evil record company, taking our souls and making us bleed.
Your first few albums came out in the mid-90s, a decade where metal could definitely be said to have struggled. Did you find it difficult to find gigs or record deals playing an “unfashionable” or underground style of metal during this era?
Sataniac: We never cared about what is the fashion or the trend. I love what I love, and we are not that good musicians at all! So in fact, even if we wanted to do some “trendy” music, maybe we wouldn’t be able to do it and play it.
As veterans of this Black/Thrash style have you seen a change in its popularity since the turn of the century? Do you feel you’re responsible for laying some of the groundwork for that to happen?
Sataniac: I don’t know if you can blame Desaster for this. Maybe, maybe not. It’s not on us to answer a question like that!
DESASTER have been playing since the late 80s, before the internet revolution and the changes that brought. Was there ever any intention to make the band a full time job or was it always going to be a passion project?
Sataniac: It was one of my conditions as I came to the band in 2001. I don’t want to live on the music. I want to do it with passion, and without any compromise.
Over the years you’ve also manged to have a fairly stable line-up throughout. Do you think this is down to anything in particular about the band and how you work?
Sataniac: We are friends, not hanging together all the time but we are more than just bandmates. We love the music we create, and everybody knows what DESASTER means. Maybe that’s the reason why we didn’t have line up troubles since 2001.
There are more ways than ever for bands to get exposure these days. Do you feel there is more saturation than in the past and that it’s more difficult for bands to make a mark? How has that affected DESASTER, if at all?
Sataniac: In the former days it was a small quality sign if you got a record deal. Nowadays it’s much cheaper to record an album, and it isn’t a guarantee for quality if your band has a deal. Otherwise it’s easier to find interesting underground stuff without any “help” from the record company. Two sides of a coin…
Obviously social media, with all of its positives and negatives, has become a big deal for some bands these days. While you guys do have a presence out there, is that something you like doing or did you prefer when traditional methods of exposure were the main way of getting publicity?
Sataniac: Personally I don’t like social networks. I don’t use Facebook or anything else. I try to keep our homepage up to date and Tormentor’s [drums] girlfriend is doing our Facebook site. For a band like DESASTER it’s not that serious to have all this social media shit, but some people and fans are interested in that, so we need to have it.
Since your first record A Touch Of Medieval Darkness a lot of DESASTER songs have both sounded and lyrically been about that period of history. Is that deliberate or just what inspires you?
Sataniac: I’m not a fan of Medieval history, and I’m not really inspired about swords, castles and that stuff. Sometimes I use an ancient theme, like this time Damnatio Ad Beastias is about the Romans. But I always try to bring my own opinion, story and meaning to the text.
You are clearly proud of begin part of the great Teutonic Thrash musical heritage of Germany. What do you think it is that causes Germany to produce such a large number of quality Thrash acts compared to other countries?
Sataniac: Every time has its music. And maybe every area, country what else has its particular style. Sweden has death metal, Norway has black metal, Florida has death metal and Germany has thrash or black thrash…
But please don’t ask me why! Haha!
You’ve recently visited the UK to play Brofest 4 in Newcastle? How was that? Do you prefer doing one off festival dates or touring?
Sataniac: It was great and a very good experience playing only with “old” bands of the NWOBHM Style. And I think some of the people were happy to have some more “evil” and “fast” music. We haven’t played longer tours for years. We prefer to play single shows at the weekends. We all have a regular jobs and a life next to DESASTER. So it isn’t that easy to have a tour for 2 or 3 weeks. And we learned that we and the audience have more fun if you don’t need to go to work the next day after the gig. Sometimes we have a special tour like the 3 gigs in Columbia in 2011 or the US tour with 4 dates this May.
In a similar vein are there any pre-show rituals that you guys have backstage before coming out and how have these evolved over time?
Sataniac: We drink and smoke a lot, sometimes too much haha!
What are the future plans in the DESASTER camp then? Can we expect to see tours in support of The Oath Of An Iron Ritual in 2016?
Sataniac: Like I said before. We will play some well selected single shows, and try to see a lot of different places and audiences. This Friday will see the release of The Oath Of An Iron Ritual and we will celebrate that with a gig in Essen and Bremen. That’s all folks!
I’ll bring this interview to a close by offering you the floor. Is there anything you’d like to say to the readers of Distorted Sound?
Sataniac: Thanks for your interest and keep on banging!
The Oath Of An Iron Ritual is out now via Metal Blade Records.
For more information on DESASTER check out their Facebook page.