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Comaniac

De Zwitserse metalscene kennen we natuurlijk hoofdzakelijk door gevestigde namen als Samael, Celtic Frost / Tryptikon, Coroner, Eluveitie en Messiah. Zo af en toe melden er zich gelukkig ook nieuwe namen aan het front. Comaniac uit het Zwitserse Aarau is daar een goed voorbeeld van. Deze jonge thrash metal band presenteert hun tweede album 'Instruction for Destruction', dat bol staat van hoogwaardige thrash metal composities, en probeert hiermee hondsbrutaal aansluiting te vinden bij de gevestigde orde in hun land en daarbuiten. Tijd om de Company of Maniacs eens aan de tand te voelen en eens nader kennis te maken! Bassist Raymond Weibel staat ons te woord.

Door: Dennis | Archiveer onder speed / thrash metal

Hi Raymond, first of all let me say that I really enjoyed your album 'Instruction for Destruction'. It is a really fresh sounding thrash metal attack and very well played! How come we don’t know Comaniac yet in the Netherlands?
Hi Dennis. That's great to hear, thank you. We're also quite satisfied with the outcome of the album and so far most reviews sound pretty good. Well, our first album 'Return to the Wasteland' was released by ourselves and we had no huge promotional campaign or something like that and we have not been playing a show in The Netherlands so far but we really hope that this will happen with the new album.

'Instruction for Destruction' is already your second output. Can you tell us a little bit about the history of Comaniac and your debut album 'Return to the Wastelands' from 2015?
Exactly it's our second Full Length album. The band released two demos before the first album came out. The band was formed by Jonas (vocals/guitar) and Cédric (drums until 2016). They were playing some covers as well as their first own songs finally leading to a first demo recording, and recorded as a duo. They had their first show as well and I was at one of them. I don't know exactly how we went on afterwards but they asked me several times to join the band and until I gave in, haha. At the same time Dominic joined the band and this was the first complete line-up for Comaniac. We played our first shows and recorded a 3-track demo which gave us the possibility to play many more shows. At a given momen we started talking about recording a first full length album and finally decided to do it. 'Return To The Wasteland' was received very well by both, press and fans and helped us to play our first shows abroad. The first issue went pretty good and was sold out after some time and we got contacted by the US label 'Stormspell Records'. They released a second issue and as this went pretty good as well we just pressed a third issue, this time again by ourselves. I think we can be pretty satisfied how well it worked out, especially for a 'self-release'.

Early in 2016 one of the founding members, drummer Cédric Iseli and guitarist Dominic Blum left the band to pursue other interests. Did you see this coming and did you ever think about quitting the band too?
Looking back it was not that surprising at all, it was more kind of a slow process than a sudden decision. But at the first moment it was obviously kind of shocking for us. Hm, hard to say, I cannot answer this properly as it was not even sure if Comaniac would go on at this point but when we managed to come up with the new line-up it was clear to me that this will turn out pretty amazing and I still think it was the right decision.

I noticed the new members in Comaniac, guitarists Valentin Mössinger and drummer Stefan Häberli were recruited from another Swiss band called Suborned. How did you guys get together?
Yes, well researched man! I already knew those guys as I've been playing in the band 'Suborned' as well. So when both band had their crisis I came across the idea of putting forces together. The guys are amazing musicians and I also had no doubt that they would fit into the band on a personal level as I knew them pretty well from common touring experiences with our old band.

Also, I noticed the second song on 'Instruction for Destruction' is called 'Suborned'. This is probably a direct link to the old band of three of your members? What is the song about?
The song was a remaining demo version from the old band, yes. We already played it before but kind of rearranged it and as it has never been recorded before we decided to put it on the album also as a nice little homage to our old band. The lyrics deal with the meaning of the word in general as people often used to ask us what this name even means and there are a few hints here and there like for example the man in the ape costume appearing in the middle of the song which is a direct link to the album covers of the band who always consisted of apes.

What can you tell about the lyrics on 'Instruction for Destruction', is there a central theme? Where do you draw your inspiration from when writing lyrics?
There is a central theme, yes. The songs basically deal with the subject of following instructions blindly. This can be put in many contexts as for example dictatorship, education in general or also in religion or even in everyday life. If you're having a problem you can just ask the internet which is obviously good in some situations but it's also making it more difficult to become an independent person, to walk your own path, and it also builds a lot of pressure to fit in social patterns (people building their own virtual personality on Instagram, Facebook etc). This is also the theme of the title track 'Instruction for Destruction' which tells the story of a woman who's trying to build a sculpture of herself by following several instructions. But as she fails it becomes kind of her own downfall leading her to mental and physical decay. We don't want to condemn modern life in general but we also want to encourage people to use their brains and to build their own opinions as well as being self-determined personalities instead of just following any instructions.

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Did you compose the songs on Instruction for Destruction as a band, or is there one particular person responsible for the writing process?
The songs were basically written by our guitarists. They come up with ideas and check them together and work them out until they think it would be something that is strong enough. After that they note it down or do a raw demo recording. Then we come together and play the song as well as discussing it which means that we change riffs or arrangements. So I'd say we don't write it properly as a band but everyone was involved in the development. The lyrics are all written by our singer.

The music is well composed and arranged, and the musical skills of the band is top notch. Where did you guys learn to play so well?
Thank you. Well, Valentin (guitars) is actually studying music. Stefan (drums) took lessons as well. Jonas and me are more or less self-taught. But most important is obviously to practice a lot and to be honest with yourselves about your skills and wanting to improve.

The album cover for 'Instruction for Destruction' is a little bit different than from other thrash metal bands. What can you tell about it?
The cover was done by the Finnish graphic artist Jan Yrlund (Darkgroove). He also did the cover for our first album and as we were really satisfied with it. We decided to work with him again. The content is basically about the story of the title track (explained above) and like on the cover for our first album we chose to use the same girl as the main character. But there are also little hints like for example the heart out of stone referring to the song 'Heart of Stone'. We were aware that the artwork isn't 100% typical for thrash metal but we also tried to come up with something new instead of creating cover Nr 100.000 showing a monster raging through a destroyed city. But most importantly we think that it fits well with the music and the lyrical content of the album so we are happy how it turned out and we hope that people will like it as well.

You have played many shows in Switzerland, but also in Germany, Austria, Italy, Croatia and Slovenia, sharing stages with bands like Exodus, Kreator, Coroner and Toxik. What was the best show you have ever done and what was your worst live gig experience?
We definitely love to play live and we've been lucky that we haven't had a really horrible show so far. Obviously there are shows were you are not happy how you played or there could have been a bigger crowd but as I said I couldn't choose one most horrible show. When it comes to my favorite shows I'd choose last years’ show at the Metaldays festival in Slovenia, the record release show for 'Return to the Wasteland' and a show in Lausanne where the crowd went completely nuts as I've never seen it somewhere else. That was amazing!

Most of the shows you have done were one off shows. Are there any plans for a full on tour? And what about gigs in the Benelux?
We're playing four shows in Czech Republic in June but we are also checking options for longer tours. Nothing's 100% fixed yet but I hope we can announce something soon. Hopefully this will also bring us to the Netherlands. And if somebody wants to book us for a show feel free to drop us a message.

What bands do you listen you yourselves and recent which releases have caught your attention? Are there any other bands from Switzerland that we should check out too?
We all have a little bit different tastes inside the band so I can only speak for myself. My highlights of 2016 were Death Angel’s Obscuras' and Vektors' new records. This year I'd probably choose Kreator and I recently came across the new Pain of Salvation. I never really noticed that band so far but the new record is definitely worth to check out. But I obviously like many other bands of different genres as well.

About Switzerland; When it comes to the big exports you obviously might know Coroner, Eluveitie and Tryptikon. But there is also a very lively underground scene here. Gonoreas, a traditional heavy metal outfit, have just been touring with Destruction and there's a new all-female heavy metal band called Burning Witches which is getting much attention at the moment. When it comes to thrash metal I'd pick three names:

Battalion: They have been pretty popular but they broke up last year.
Algebra: I've never seen them live so far but got their last CD and especially the guitar work is amazing.
And another band worth checking out are The Burden Remains. They started as a proper thrash outfit but became pretty experimental and you never really know what they're going do next which makes them interesting in my opinion.

And obviously Comaniac, haha. We just released a video for a brand new track called 'Coal' and you guys should definitely check this out. We' re looking forward to the release of the album and we hope that you guys like it and we also hope to visit your country very soon.

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