To start things off could you tell us a bit about the formative years of Undergang? Have you been active in other bands before Undergang?
Undergang was formed during the last spring of 2008, as my cravings for having a Death Metal band was reaching the limits of being unbearable. I've been writing riffs enough for a couple of songs and I invited K.Ondsind. Who was to become the bassist of Undergang, over to my place to hear some of the riffs I'd put together, after having discussed with him if he was interested in starting up a Death Metal band. Luckily he liked what he heard and we recruited A. Dødshjælp to try out as drummer and we got our first rehearsal established with a week from that. All three of us knew each other from the time we all were part of the local crust / metal band Realm OF Chaos, though our drummer and I never were in the band at the same time. Well, for the first rehearsal we originally had two other people involved, one who was supposed to be the vocalist and another guy as bassist, but as they never showed up at our first rehearsals, we decided to just keep it as a power trio and K. Ondsind moved from rhythm guitar to bass and I took over the vocal duties along with being the bands sole guitarist. We wrote our first five-six songs over the summer and played our first show at a basement show I organized for touring Canadian band Limb From Limb. The show went pretty good and we gained rather positive response from the small, but dedicated crowd. More local shows followed and we recorded a single demo track, mainly for web promotion. It did end up on various mix tapes I did from friends and some solely on a tape for itself and was send to close friends around. During Winter 2008/2009 we recorded what was to become our debut full length 'Indhentet Af Døden'.
The first effort you released was the demo 'Indhentet af Døden'. This one was also released on vinyl through Me Saco Un Ojo Records and later on CD through your current label Xtreem Music. I understood you already signed a deal with Xtreem before the release of both the vinyl and CD editions but why did it take so long to release the CD edition?
'Indhentet Af Døden' was made as a promo tape, but was never meant as a demo. We wanted to get a full album out there right from the beginning. Guess we just wanted to see if it was possible. We didn't expect many to care when we started the band, nor when it came to writing music. We just played what we'd like to hear ourselves…That old story, you know? Ha-ha.
But back to your question; we got contacted by John Redfern of UK Death Metal band Evoke and he said that he had a friend who was about to start up a label and he was interested in releasing our debut album on wax. John got us in touch with each other and we started discussing details over emails and as his offer and general sincere appreciation and dedication to what we'd recorded, was all we needed to hear and we made the deal of his label, the now infamous underground death merchant Me Saco Un Ojo records, released our debut album on vinyl in January 2010. Rather delayed as I simply spend AGES getting the lay out finished. Something I've never been good at fixing fast, heh. Going a bit back in time again, when we made the deal with Jesus of M.S.U.O. records it was summer of 2009 and as I released our 'Indhentet Af Døden' recordings on cassette tape and they were all sold, traded or handed out within a rather short period of time. Any who, Dave, of the Spanish band UNconsecrated, had gotten a copy of it and played it for Dave Rotten of Xtreem Music and apparently he liked it that much, that he wrote to us and offered a two album record deal. We discussed it a bit within our own ranks and with him and ended up signing the contract with Xtreem Music for our first two albums. The CD version of 'Indhentet Af Døden' and CD and LP of our second album.
The reason for the delay on the CD version is basically the same as with the LP version. I was too busy with other things to get everything finished for the CD version, as we decided to do it a bit different from the LP version and the demand from Xtreem Music to add some sort of color to the cover was also a tough nut for me to crack. I ended up getting assistance on that matter from Jeppe Hasseriis (Usipian, Strychnos, The Cleansing) and he knew his way around that sort of stuff.
Unfortunately something went wrong when cutting the songs, something I still to this date don't understand what happened, as the first three songs were cut mistakenly. They all start and end at different times than arranged by us and must have been re-cut wrongfully by Xtreem Music. Well, the second pressing that came out in February 2012 has the right cut of the songs however.
Between 'Indhentet af Døden' and the new album 'Til Døden Os Skiller' you released a flexi 7” with one song on it. What can you tell about this song as it is an exclusive release right?
Yeah, 'Hævntørst' was an exclusive song. Originally we recorded it for the 'Voices of Death' compilation cassette, released Baphometal records from Argentina, a small label run by Eric Nocturnal of the band Infernal Curse, also featured on the compilation. We were asked by Jesus of M.S.U.O. records if he could release the song on a single sided flexi 7”, as they were on sale at his pressing plant at that moment. We thought it sounded cool and a little extra attention to that song couldn't hurt either. So we gave him the permission to do so and as it at that time were closing in for our US West Coast tour with Acephalix, we got the offer from M.S.U.O. to included Dark Descent records in the release and make it more of a tour release. That's also why there's the 2011 West Coast tour dates printed on the back of the 7” jacket. The song was written between the writing process of 'Indhentet Af Døden' and 'Til Døden Os Skiller'.
In 2011 you also released the demo 'T.D.O.S.'. Why was that since you already had a deal with Xtreem Music. Both songs on this demo are also on the album 'Til Døden Os Skiller'. So was it to try the songs out or is there another story behind this release?
We recorded the entire 'Til Døden Os Skiller' album in February 2011, the same month as the CD version of 'Indhentet Af Døden' finally saw its release. We were told by Xtreem Music that he wanted to wait another year till the release of our second album, so we basically had to wait a whole year to get our new recordings out and as we recorded the songs for 'Indhentet Af Døden' all the way back in the winter of 2008/2009 we felt like we needed something new out before we went off for the US tour in May/June 2011. So we got permission from Xtreem Music to release up to two songs on a promo tape in 2011, while we waited for the proper LP/CD release in 2012. So, rough mixes of the two songs, 'Opløste Ådsler' and 'Til Døden Os Skiller' became the 'T.D.O.S.' promo cassette that was the first release on my tape label Extremely Rotten. I think we made around 600 copies of it before the release of the LP and CD in February 2012. The main reason for it is probably that I LOVE cassette tapes .I've always been really fond of that format. There's just something about it that I'll never grow old from. I still carry my walkman with me at almost all times, when on the street or between destinations. I never got into that IPod/mp3 player thing. I'll pick cassette tapes over lame, flat, impersonal computer files ANY day!
Your latest album has just been released and it's a killer album filled with gruff down tuned death/doom. Can you tell us a bit more about the recording of the album?
We started working on the recording process around mid February 2011, when we entered Subversive Studios, in the Copenhagen North West area, for the second time that month. We had previously went in there the weekend before to try out the sound of the place, for our song 'Graven Som Fængsel' which will be out in a few months on our split with ANATOMIA, and as that worked out just killer we booked us in for about 10 days around the middle of the month. We were still working with Morten, with whom we'd recorded 'Indhentet Af Døden' and the 'Hævntørst' single track, but it was in the new location he was working at at that time. Last time we worked together had been in a rehearsal room, so this was a step up concerning sound quality. I think we used all the week days to record the basic drums and rhythm guitar tracks, followed by the extra layers of guitars, then vocals and finally the bass. We didn't intentionally arrange it that way, it was just how it ended up as our bassist with rather busy with work at that time and couldn't be in the studio with us till the weekend. So A. Dødshjælp and I just arranged everything else and had some fun with it all along the way. I'm not a big fan of being in the studio, but we always have a lot of fun all around anyways. (Read = getting drunk.)
We finished all recordings including the many layers of acoustic guitars for the instrumental track 'Kadavermarch' within the 10 days and left the recordings to cool down a bit, before picking it up again for further mixing and finally mastering. Unfortunately, Morten got into some arguments with the owner of the studio and left/got kicked out before we got the change to finish the mastering completely. We had made a try out for it, but eventually ended up wanting to change some bits but never got the chance, as the open files were abandoned at the studio left behind. So, we actually wanted to still change some things on the recordings for 'Til Døden Os Skiller' but didn't really end up with the possibilities for that. That's the reason for the somewhat low vocals on some speakers. It really depends on what equipment you're listening to the album on, as to my discovery it varies a slight bit. We made the final cuts and mastering ourselves in the Kill-Town torture chamber during the winter of 2011/2012 and it was then send to pressing so it could be out in time for our European tour. 'The Dead of Winter-tour', with FUNEBRARUM in February 2012. We did a release party for it as the tour kick off show here in Copenhagen. Unfortunately Xtreem Music didn't want to release the LP version until a few weeks after the CD release, meaning it'd be out during our European tour and that we'd only have the CD for the release party. I think most of the local followers of Undergang want our albums on vinyl, because we only sold eight CDs that night, haha! Some release party!
How did you actually hook up with Xtreem Music? It's a label dedicated to death metal so I guess you fit in well. Yet, I could have also imagined you'd fit in really well on a label like Me Saco Un Ojo or Dark Descent?
I think this has already been covered in one of your previous questions. We'll take it briefly again. We started out working with Me Saco Un Ojo records on the LP release of 'Indhentet Af Døden' in 2009 and right after that we got the CD offer from Xtreem Music and agreed to that and signed a two album contract. We then worked with M.S.U.O. and for the first time Dark Descent in 2011 on the 'Hævntørst' flexi 7”. We have since then met both Jesus of M.S.U.O. and Matt of D.D.R. several times and I consider them as friends and because of that and other label oriented reasons, Undergang will be working together with M.S.U.O. and D.D.R. on tour 3rd full length in 2013. Xtreem Music did a fine job with us and we have always had a good relationship with Dave Rotten as well, but now that the two album record deal is fulfilled, we'll move on to two friends labels that we consider more in the underground spirit of Undergang. So, I guess you hit the nail on the head right there, haha!
Do you feel any affiliation with a lot of the newer Scandinavian death metal bands that popped up the last couple of years or do you see yourselves more as an own entity influenced by old school death metal? What bands did influence you actually?
Ideological, yeah I think so. It seems like a lot of metal heads (newer and older ones) have gotten tired of the over polished death metal of the late 90's and 00's and have looked back a bit to a time when the music was more raw and bestial sounding. Speed and crystal clear brutality will never be my picture of how death metal should sound. I think we'd just picked a rather lucky time to come out, as there was a lot of similar thinking musicians around the world who shared our thinking of Death Metal of today at that time. Luckily, as I've found MANY great newer bands, within the ranks of horrific Death, from the growing current scene. That's also what we try to boost acknowledge of through the Kill-Town Death Fest, an annual DIY underground Death Metal festival we've done here in Copenhagen since 2010. Giving all the killer newer bands a place to play at a festival with likeminded fiends, be if musicians, promoters, labels, zine writers and the average head banger, this is the place you want to be once a year, when we celebrate death metal in all its glory! We've just started working on the 2013 edition, so check out www.killtowndeathfest.dk for the 2013 dates and band announcements. Away from shameless self-promotion again and I'll pick up at your questions; We don't consider ourselves influenced by the current roster of death metal fiends, but driven to deadly insanity by the Gods of Death we loved when we were younger and who used to haunt the death metal world. Undergang is influenced by the old (but not forgotten) souls of Autopsy, Grave, Morbid Angel, Demelich, Carcass, Funebre, Death, Master, Blood, Impetigo and many more. Most of my teen years were spend being obsessed with death metal, so it was natural that I had to put that love into a band some day.
You recently also released a split 7” with Funebrarum from the US to coincide with the European tour you did. How do you look back on the tour? You just did one Dutch show in Tilburg right?
The tour was a blast! We had a great time, got to play some great shows and met a lot of cool people. Both new and old friends and foes all around. And also the chemistry within the touring bands was great. I hope to do more touring with those guys in the future! The tour lasted sixteen dates, as I recall it, and we had some rather long and brutal drives occasionally. Something like +twelve hours in a van can be a little hard on the body, especially when you've been on the road for quite some time already and you're rather destroyed from partying and not really getting any decent food. Well, that's the touring life! Still, I can't wait to hit the road again. Love being on tour!
The overall tour had a lot of varied shows with attendance from 60-150 on regular shows and a couple of hundreds at the Pentagram Fest we played at in Valencia, Spain. We did cover tracks pretty much every night, so when Undergang played we had either Daryl Kahan on stage with us doing guest vocals for Macabre End's 'Consumed By Darkness' or Matt Medeiros would join us doing vocals on Bolt Thrower's 'Powder Burns'. The other way around I did vocals alongside Daryl with Funebrarum on their excellent Grave cover of 'Into the Grave'. Actually, at the Pentagram fest I chose, for whatever retarded reason, that I didn't need to eat that night and just hit the booze HARD, along with the maniacs of Rompeprop, and apparently I was dragged to the stage later that night when Funebrarum where playing, to do the vocals alongside Daryl and for this show, Johan Jansson of Interment. However, I remember NOTHING of this, ha-ha. Luckily there's video footage to show me how it went…Embarrassing, ha-ha! Yeah, I think we only did one Dutch show on that tour and that was indeed in Tilburg, at the Little Devil. AI small place but pretty packed when the bands went on. It was actually a really cool show, as I remember it. We'd played two or three times in The Netherlands before, but never Tilburg, so it was also fun to visit that town as I'd know if from Neurotic Death Fest and Roadburn. Even though I've never attended myself, but hopefully will be able to some of the coming years. The show at The Little Devil was promoted by Doomstar bookings, the current booking agency of Undergang and it was cool to deal with those two guys behind it, though economically speaking the show wasn't a success, he he. But the party around it was!
So what are the plans for the future of Undergang? Any other shows/tours and/or recordings planned?
In general there are always loads of things going on at the Undergang camp side. We've just played two shows here in Denmark and will play another one in Copenhagen on December 2nd along with Swedish Paganizer and as it look right now, Necrovation. Other than that, we have no shows booked at the moment. We've recorded a new three track EP in March earlier this year, so we're working on getting illustrations ready for that (all in my hands, yikes!) as well as the split with Anatomia. Keep watching the release schedules of Me Saco Un Ojo and Dark Descent to see when they'll be out. Should be able to finish artwork for both releases sooner rather than later! I've also just released cassette versions of both full lengths, through Extremely Rotten. So if in need of that version, look us up! Soon, alongside Kill-Town Tour Bookings, we'll start working on the Anatomia / Undergang European tour for July 2013. Still not sure if we'll focus on north or south, we'll see.
Right, that's it from my side. Anything else you want to get off your chest?
Only this Cleveland Steamer I've been carrying around for a few weeks now, hah! Thanks Pim, for doing this interview. I'm sorry it took me a lifetime to get it answered. Keep supporting underground Death Metal! There's plenty of sickness going on out there.