interview: Dawid Krosnia
‘You have to ask yourself some questions. Is it relevant? Is it necessary? Does anyone want to hear it?’
photo: Sami Yli-Sirniö by Dawid Krosnia / The Goat Tavern
Having recently released their 14th full-length album, Gods of Violence, Kreator stays on the map of thrash metal bands as one of the most iconic and important groups for the genre. Our photographer has caught up with Sami just before their show in London and briefly spoke to him about the new album and tried to find out why Kreator has still got such a strong position in the metal market.
The Goat Tavern: Hi! Thanks for speaking to us Sami. How’s the tour been so far?
Sami Yli-Sirniö: This is one of the last shows. We’ve got only a couple to go but it has been fun. We’ve had some sold out shows and this an opportunity to thank everyone who checked us out.
It seems like it has been a very successful tour indeed. Do you have a second leg of the tour planned for Europe yet?
Not for Europe yet but it looks like we are going to play in Moscow day after this tour and then we get a week off and we’ll be heading to the US. There is this magazine called Decibel and they’ll present the tour and it’s together with the Obituary. So it should be fun.
That’s great! Obituary are an awesome band.
Yeah I like their music too but I don’t know the guys yet [laughs].
The list of bands on this tour, was it your suggestion as headliners or was it all done by the label? Who had an idea to tour with Sepultura?
We have known each other for a really long time. Few years ago we’ve played Rock in Rio and we’ve jammed a couple of songs and people seemed to like it. I think that before, when I wasn’t in the band yet, Kreator toured with them once so they know each other even for a longer time than me. Sepultura has a new album coming out this month like us so that’s was the reason really. The bands on this tour are pretty good, all of them. We’re all different what makes it more interesting for everyone.
As you’ve just mentioned, Kreator has got a new album out on Nuclear Blast, Gods of Violence. I think that the reception in the media has been very positive so far. Are you happy how it turned out in general?
We invested a lot of time into doing this album. We started the whole process back in 2014, recording demos and sending stuff back and forth. I spent a lot of time in the studios. We’ve put so much effort to it so I guess we must be very happy with the results [laughs].
I was surprised actually how brutal and aggressive this album is, comparing with the previous couple of records. In the past you had a lot of melodic material, why change it now?
Well, with some of the songs yes, like for example Totalitarian Terror. I think this is the kind of a song where we want to prove that we’re not too old, you know [both laugh].
Which songs from the new album are the best to play live?
So far, we have been playing live six new songs live but it was hard to deicide. What we are planning to do is to rotate the songs a little bit because we have a few festivals coming up and then play different new songs to check it out how they are received by the fans.
What it seems to be very popular these days is playing back to back previous albums in full. Would you consider doing that in the future?
When we hit the 25th anniversary tour, we got people to vote which songs they would like to hear on that tour but usually when we’re proud of the new album we want concentrate on the new stuff, that’s the most interesting thing for the musician. It keeps everyone fresh.
Kreator’s back catalogue 1985 – 2012
But would you consider to play for example the Extreme Aggression or the Pleasure to Kill albums in full? I think they’re probably the most iconic records in the Kreator’s back catalogue.
We haven’t given it any thought really, not right now for an obvious reasons but in the future, why not? There must be a reason why some of those songs never ended up on the live sets [both laugh].
There is a lot of people who grew up with these albums, it would be a something special to witness for any fan of the band…
Yeah I know, I like those albums myself but we haven’t really given it any thought yet.
Do you see yourself playing live in twenty years time from now?
That’s a very difficult question. I’m 44 now, I would be 64 then. There is a The Beatles song called When I’m 64 [laughs]. Shit… I don’t know… I don’t want to think about it but right now we’re in a good place and I can imagine that we may make another album at some point. We haven’t talked about it but it’s always good, before you make some new plans, to reflect on what you’ve done and achieved. You have to ask yourself some questions. Is it relevant? Is it necessary? Does anyone want to hear it? This time around we thought, let’s go for it!
Do you think that the thrash/death metal is going currently in the right direction? For me, it seems like it is slightly starting to reach its peak of popularity and people start being very choosy, they’re not buying the albums as much?
I guess it depends on where you go and where you’re at really. I mean, it’s difficult to say but there is much music going on and there is so much stuff you can hear. What I find most interesting is when musically all those bands go into different directions and try to broaden themselves.
I guess it must be really hard for the new bands to create something new and fresh, you can find many new bands that will have that Kreator or Sodom feeling to their music.
It’s almost like a retro. When I was young I wouldn’t want to play music that my father use to play [laughs]. Some people still do it, which is great for them.
Do you listen to any new music? Do you still buy new records?
Yeah of course, I’m listening to all sort of music all the time.
What was the last album you’ve bought then?
Hmmm, it was Opeth’s Sorceress album.
What did you think about it?
I liked it but I still need to give it another spin [laughs].
Opeth changed its musical direction at least three times over the years, would you think that Kreator would ever change the style to play something slightly different?
I think Kreator did it couple of times but at some point we’d like to concentrate on what we do best. If you think about one of the past albums like Endorama, maybe going into a Gothic direction is not the right thing to do for the Kreator but I understand that, they wanted to do it back then because every musician is always afraid of repeating themselves.
Kreator live in 02 Forum Kentish Town, London, UK, 2nd March 2017 – photos: Dawid Krosnia / The Goat Tavern
Are you coming back to play any summer festivals here in Europe?
There is lots booked all the time and I hope we will play this nice festival here in England too [Bloodstock]. We’re doing Wacken and Summer Breeze in Germany and many more.
Are you planning to come to play the Brutal Assault Festival in Czech Republic this year?
I hope so, I know we will play Hellfest, Graspop and stuff but we’re only in March right now and things are changing very quick.
If you had to pick your The Big Four in the thrash metal history, which bands would you pick?
[Laughs] That reminds me one thing, when I heard about The Teutonic Four, I thought it was a big joke. What are you talking about?! It’s crazy! But, trying to answer your question, if I had to choose I would go for exactly the same bands as the so-called The Big Four [laughs]. Metallica’s Ride the Lightning changed my life back in the 80’s. I can’t speak for everyone in the band but there is so many cool bands, especially from that era.
Thanks again for the chat, it was a pleasure. All the best in the future!