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Some opening banter precedes our scheduled (and short) Q & A session with Kreator's "creator" Mille Petrozza on the band's tour bus, some 90 minutes before their late September appearance at Brooklyn's famed L'Amour nightclub. Fleeting discourse documented in repetitive scheduling conflicts and stage time misappropriation quickly occurs, accentuated by recent jet lag and travel time layovers - meaningless, but better than the usual small talk forced in first time meetings with infamous metal singers and "How was the flight?" philosophies.

There's laughter about something to do with indigestible sausage, not of a kind typically associated with the accepted German fare. There's a Foreman grill operating in the background and a zealous stage hand goofing in their overnight lap of eight or twelve wheel luxury that's marked their first arrival on Western shores since six years ago. Quickly scoffed is a suggested topic of German restaurants to further a fallen into food topic with the intent of adding comfort to these latest lost souls in the states. Mille is a cool enough guy. Not quite the golden emblem Weikath sort of "honorable" presence associated with good fortune when granted more than the quick glance above the shades. . . But Petrozza is relaxed and confident as Kreator embarks on the early leg of their month-long U.S. tour with fellow German thrashers, Destruction. With 'Violent Revolution' quietly settling into near-classic status having now a year and a half under its belt, the theme here had less to do with the "Tell us about your new album" redundancy and more on, "Welcome back to the states; why are you here, and hey, maybe we're not so slow in coming around with the rest of the world!"

Credit goes to my friend and colleague Ed Kunkel, then and again heavy metal conformist and life-long Kreator fan there to aid me in my choppy recollection of the band's Jurassic period ("Flag of Hate" - "Endless Pain" - "Pleasure to Kill" - etc.) and who unfortunately couldn't quite tear himself away from 'Endorama' long enough. . . But it's okay, Mille's disposition seemed all the better for it. Afterwards, Kreator followed Destruction onto what was left of the still smoking stage (after Schmeir and company tore it up in their own right) with an incredible career-spanning and surprisingly interactive (by American standards) show in front of a respectably sized crowd, that covered the band's essentials, new and old, and with many unexpected surprises thrown in. . .

METAL UPDATE (Vinnie): Welcome back, it's been too long!

MILLE PETROZZA: We haven't been here since '96 when we did a tour with Skrew.

MU(V):Skrew? The old Metal Blade group? Actually, I'd like to rephrase that into something more obnoxious, but I'll pull in the reigns. . .

MP: (smirking) Yeah, Metal Blade. And that was the last time we were here. We were actually in South America before this, but yesterday was our first day here.

MU(V):What's changed after all this time? I don't think things in the metal community were quite as up to speed as they are today. . . right? I mean, Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters and that stuff was still going strong. Any obvious differences you've noticed between now and then, or still too early to tell?

MP: I don't know. So far, I can't tell. I've heard from people that have toured here that the scene has gotten back a little bit over the last couple of years, so we're here to find out what's going on, you know? And we have a pretty good feel that it's going to be okay for us, especially since we haven't been here in so long.


MU(V):Now that I think about it, the scene must've been pretty lame back then. The last few years have given rise to so many great European and Scandinavian bands and even now, American-based groups are popularizing this death / thrash / classic metal hybrid that's going well.

MP: Back then it was definitely a time when there was a lot of the trendy stuff around and, for us, it was hard 'cause our record company didn't really work us well over here. We always had a hard time finding good distribution and we always have had to force the record companies to do something for us here. Now our record company, SPV, gave us the support to come here and I think it's gotten a little better now. We want to build things up here again, so this is the first step.

MU(V):Well considering the fact you've been here a few times before helps. But obviously having an American presence is first and foremost so it's great to see SPV finally crossing the border. I'll bet they still had a lot of import sales with all the classic metal stuff they've delivered over the years, but, still, this day was long in coming.

MP: Yeah, and it's hard for bands, you know? If you're not present in the shops, people will never know you have a new record out. That's what happened to us the last time we were here. So we have a situation that's changing, but we still have to work very hard to get it going.

MU(V):Touring is always the key. Now, of course, with all the underground support the last several years, people aren't slaves to the corporate machine anymore to get all their new music feeds. . . It's been a return to the roots of the matter, you know, and that's obviously been a big help since we're still not seeing mainstream media support and likely never will. But then we proved we never needed it anyway in the early days since the bastards only jumped on board when certain "crossover" bands became popular and "metal" was no longer a curse word.

MP: I mean, we could spend a lifetime touring the states, but, then again, there's also Europe where the band following is a lot stronger and so we don't want to lose that. But then again, we know that here in the U.S. we have a pretty good following as well that we can build upon. So I think we definitely have to do some touring from now on and that's what we'll work on in the future. It's the first step for us especially with metal coming back in the states. We want to be there and be a part of it, rather than only stay in Europe.

METAL UPDATE (Ed): Europe is easy. When I bought the 'Violent Revolution' CD I got it in Budapest before it came out here. And I had to get it because I've been a big fan throughout the years - I go back a long time. But I have to ask you, since I was a huge fan of 'Endorama', and I read an interview a while ago that it seemed like the 'Endorama' album really didn't meet your standards.

MP: No, the thing was when we did that record, our deal with our old label (Noise) went out. So they didn't do anything for that record. I think, like you said, it's a very good record. . . I think it's one of our strongest Kreator records.

MU(E): I think it's the best!

MP: Really?

MU(E): It still sits in my car disc player!

MU(V):We've had to debate this because I really hadn't heard of the record - I never knew where to get it. . . Actually it was put out by Pavement here, I think, which of course would explain things. Then when 'Violent Revolution' came out, this, for me, followed up 'Outcast' which I thought was good, but this one just blew it away to me. It's an embodiment of Kreator music all throughout I think - there's something the loyal fan or the new ones can dig on, so if nothing else, regardless of 'Endorama' or whatever, 'Revolution' silenced the critics.

MP: Yeah. . . 'Endorama' was a little more experimental. It's the sort of a record that really split the fans in half, where 50% of the people liked it and the other 50% thought it was too much. And I think we hit on everything at once when we did 'Violent Revolution'.

MU(V):One thing I've noticed, though not being German myself (at least not inasmuch as a name like "Apicella" might suggest; then again, "Petrozza"?), the fans are very big on tradition and a lot of those bands, your peers really, have that to live up to, on time, every time, with little room for error.

MU(E): Running Wild. . .

MU(V):Yes, Running Wild, U.D.O., Gamma Ray, that kind of thing, but it's worked for all of them.

MP: It works, but then again, as a band and as a musician, you don't want to do the same things all over again. So I think 'Violent Revolution' found a way of mixing these two elements - the more melodic stuff and the aggressive. I think it definitely works because we could still live out our creativity to where we have to as musicians, and we don't feel like we're holding something back. We like to play aggressive music still and it works on 'VR'. But it's also really a band's record. It was very hard when we did 'Endorama' to do live shows because we had so many things going on with all the samples and weird sounds going on. So our drummer had to play to a click track and it took away a lot of the feel.

MU(E): How much touring did you do for that?

MP: Like three or four months, but we only toured Europe. It was definitely hard to do so we figured there were only two options for us: either to go more into this direction, or take away the samples and the loops and all that and be a band again and do something else to concentrate more on guitar work. And that's what we did on 'VR'.

MU(V):It's always a fine line between, let's say pride and progress, right? How can you be different, creative, inventive and still stay true to your original vision and then the fans, many of which live on the hopes of their favorite bands. . . (I swear I heard someone other than us mutter "Metallica" in the background, as I'm momentarily distracted to resume my thought) I think you did well overall with 'VR' and that it's a total embodiment of what Kreator was and is today.

MP: Yeah, exactly. I think that sums it up. I don't think that the 'VR' album sounds dated or anything, but it sounds very modern without taking away the Kreator sound. We used a very good producer for this record (Andy Sneap) who's done a lot of great Metal stuff lately and we're really happy with the way it came out. I guess that really adds a lot to the whole image of this record.

MU(V):All you need to do is look at the later Dickinson records, or Halford, and what more could you look for in terms of balancing tradition with progression?

MP: Yes, that's right.

MU(V):So can you play a song like "Reconquering The Throne" (which naturally they did) and then something off of "Endless Pain," (surprise! they also did) and still feel like the same band?

MP: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. . . When you're a band, you gotta figure there's people in the audience who want to hear the old stuff since that's what they've grown up with, or it's how they got to hear about the band. I don't have a problem with the old material because I think it has a different vibe - it's maybe a little more raw then the newer material is - maybe not as technical or as melodic, but still part of our history. So, I don't feel a problem in playing it.


MU(V):Ironically, a lot of the opener bands you'll be playing with here - when you grab an old record like that (as if 1985 signifies "old") - you'll hear a lot of these new bands doing their death stuff or noisecore / speed, whatever. . . It's the "in" style again really. The extreme music that was then, is more so now. Listen to December (early opener on the evening's bill) or somebody and, shit, "that was us like ten or twelve years ago!" You have to feel good that you've had an influence, even if indirectly, on some of these bands you'll be touring with and then have the opportunity to go up there and still go at it and say, "We're still relevant!" and "You guys got some chops, but we're still gonna blow your fucking doors off!" You know?

MP: (laughs) Yeah, right.

MU(E): So how far back do you go in the set?

MP: 'Endless Pain' - there was hardly any show where we didn't play something off of that record. We try to, at every concert, play something from the old records. It's hard since we have ten records now, but of course we try to get as much into the set as possible.

MU(V):As headliners, they give you about 90 minutes to play?

MP: Yeah. . . Tonight, I don't know how long we are given to play. Maybe one hour and fifteen minutes because we're going on so late, but usually, yeah, 90 minutes. That's what we did in South America, but it just depends on how everything is set up and the audience. . .

MU(V):How long are you on the road with Destruction?

MP: Four weeks.

MU(V):Where do you have the biggest following, back home? Japan?

MP: Japan is okay for us but not as strong as South America. There we had sold out shows in Sao Paulo where we did the DVD. . . But Europe is definitely the strongest overall.

MU(V):How was the festival scene this year?

MP: Oh great. We played almost all the big festivals, like Wacken. . . But it's almost too much, you know? You have one band that's playing, and another one comes on, and. . .

MU(V):It all happens too quickly.

MU(E): You can't cover the whole thing to go back and forth and see everybody.

MU(V):That's why the Ozzfest is so great, since there's usually such a good selection of shitty bands, you can always be assured you'll actually see the ones you want without getting distracted! (I'm joking of course!?!) So who do you like to watch?

MP: I don't really watch anyone because it's too much for me. That's the worst thing, since it's gotten way too big. Not in terms of the audience, but with the bands. This year I think there were like 80 bands or something over three days. I think the Summer Breeze Festival in Germany is good, though. It's a relatively small one. They have like 20,000 people there, but then you know there are not that many bands and there's only one stage.

MU(V):(and that's considered "small"!) That's difficult to conceive of for long-suffering American fans! (laughs)

MP: That's why I think it's very important to rebuild the American metal scene cause. . . It's very hard to conceive of anything like that that's been going on across the world. You know, since I'm here, you have some good magazines here that support it, but it does not seem to work, like the whole of it. . . Something's missing and I don't know what it is.

MU(V):I think it has a lot to do with "tradition" but also lifestyle. That sounds weird maybe, but I didn't see it then, but the more I talk to people who have been there and are getting older, there's not as much room for music as there once was. I don't think I'll ever understand it, but I think that's got a lot to do with it. And maybe in Europe, obviously, they see things differently there.

MU(E): And it doesn't work with the magazines here like something like Hammer does in Europe - Hammer has its own stores as well, to go with the magazine. But what happened in the late '80s and early '90s when you put out 'Extreme Aggression' and then doing 'Coma Of Souls' - this one didn't get the push from the record company 'cause the company felt 'Extreme' got a good deal and got a good amount of publicity, and so here comes 'Coma' and we're just going to let it ride. So you guys got screwed.

MU(V): Oh yeah, I mean there's a lot of forces conspiring against it, but the one thing in everybody's favor here is the fall of the major label. It's a blessing and a curse and those that survived it in the old days, did well, and now can have a respectable career hooking up with a respectable indie backer.

MP: There were many reasons, you know? We learned our lesson from that. I mean, Epic was a major record company and you think once you're on the major, and things are getting better, they're only getting worse. Now these problems are over.


MU(V):There's a better chance to make an impact with the public with a label that's not expecting. . . I mean, you have to be realistic going in. Who's going to expect Kreator, though it would be really cool, to conquer the world here and all of a sudden achieve platinum selling status overseas? So then why hold the band responsible if they don't? You have to have come from that background, of the band, or the music, to really know what's going on and set realistic goals. When they didn't, the band is held accountable and both they and the fans get fucked.

MP: Right. How are you going to do that? I mean once you build up a fan base and what's going to happen? Are you going to change your style completely to appeal to a bigger audience or are you going to stay true to yourself and see what happens?

MU(V):And they sign you on the basis of what you are at that moment and obviously there's potential there, otherwise why bother?

MP: See what happens. . . and that's what we did. I don't think it really hurt us to extend ourselves where, of course we got fucked a little bit by Epic, but then again, who cares, you know? You learn and move on.

MU(V):So now you're with SPV and 'Violent Revolution' has met or exceeded expectations, I would think, by fans and critics. By comparison, you're on a relatively new label from Noise, or Epic.

MP: SPV for us is more of a realistic label. Because, on there, we are one of the bigger bands - not like when we were on Epic and one of the small groups because they had - whoever, Michael Jackson or whatever. . .

MU(E): That was during the days of the signing frenzy also, when Epic, Atlantic, everybody were just signing whoever.

MP: Now on SPV we are one of the biggest bands. I mean, we have Motorhead and um. . . who else. . . I think Judas Priest (DVD) and so it's a better environment for us. Since it's all metal, and they know who to work these kinds of bands. It's very easy to communicate with those people 'cause they know exactly what the deal is. They don't promise you that you're going to sell this amount or that amount of records. They're just very realistic and they give you a certain outlook on how they're going to work things. It's been great.

MU(V):I have the impression with a lot of German bands that there's more of a camaraderie rather than competition. Everybody seems to have this sort of compatibility where so and so will play with this or that, maybe fill in for this band or that band, speak highly of the others, and so forth. It's more of a fraternity there than it seems to be anywhere else. Is that the way it is?

MP: Well that's with the Hamburg posse. There is definitely a good chunk of competition there as well - it's not only camaraderie. It's not like we're all friends or we're one big family, it's just. . . I think that, you know, the German Metal scene from the outside seems where everybody's friends and it is true in a way. I mean, nobody's like unfriendly to each other, but it's not like so great as one might think. . .

MU(V):And so through it all, in spite of the spirit of friendly competition, and for the good of the cause, you and Schmeir still hate each other!

MP: (laughs) That's not true.

(At this point somebody enters the bus - a roadie? - crunching paper bags and all aflutter over a gift of French bread loaves. . . Just then the strange voice in the background invades our waning session with a, "Yeah, they're fresh! Right off the fucking truck! I just asked him for a loaf and I come back with three bag fulls!" (laughs) I'm like, I can't eat all that. What do you want for 'em? He's like, 'whatever you wanna give me.' I didn't have any money so he let me take 'em for free! I offered to walk him in the show or something, but. . . Man, that's a lot of fucking bread! Oh, excuse me. . .")

MU(V):Sure, sure, hardly knew you were even there. (laughs)

MU(E): So are you writing while you're on tour?

MP: Well we're working on the new DVD, so that's our main concern at the moment. We're collecting stuff for the DVD. We did some recording in Sao Paulo and now we're really focusing on that to get the DVD going. It's the most important thing at the moment and also there's the live CD. That's going to be the next step and then maybe for that, we'll be coming to the states again. But for Europe, we will not tour there next year so maybe we can come back here.

MU(V):Hell yeah, and make sure you come to Brooklyn. . . all the free bread you can eat!

MP: (laughs) Yeah. . .


review of Kreator 'Violent Revolution'

review of Kreator 'Extreme Aggression'






Interview: Vinnie Apicella, Ed Kunkel
Live Photos: Florence Homer
Metal Update Editor: Brant Wintersteen [ ]
Webmaster: WAR [ ]

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