Hi Henrik, how are you doing? Your new album ‘As Darkness Falls’ is about to be released. How does it feel to have this new record (almost) out after nine years of silence?
We are quite happy with the whole development. The album is not even out but if you enter it in internet, you get about six pages pointing out of it. I never gave so many interviews in that short time. Apparently it's the mix of a good product with a professional campaign behind. To be honest, releasing this album and following the reactions on that is a long since awaited self-affirmation for Deny The Urge!
The last album ‘Blackbox of Human Sorrow’ was released in 2008. What have you been doing all these years. And why did you decide to continue the band after a hiatus between 2011 and 2014?
After the ‘Blackbox’ album we had a short period of very crushing headlining shows and some well-placed supports. Direct support for Sepultura (Braunschweig, 2010) and Malevolent Creation (Goslar, 2011) were definitely the best of them. But in the end DTU could never gain that kind of unique favour that is needed to stand out of the endless mass of underground bands. Furthermore we never did anything to promote the band these days. Bit by bit I realized all of that problems and after the split in 2011 I decided to continue alone for now. It wasn't that way, that just the old line up was not matched to go further, I had to consolidate myself as well. So I started a lot of experiments in my small home studio, wrote three albums and the third one finally became ‘As Darkness Falls’. Then I recorded all with programmed drums, hired new musicians with that and went to studio. If you had asked me beforehand about a broad estimation of the needed time for all of that process, hey man, I never had guessed that much!
The line-up of Deny The Urge is also completely different on the new record. What happened to Olaf Danneberg (guitars), Kai Ludwig (drums) and Sven Nothdurft (bass) from the line-up of ‘Blackbox of Human Sorrow’?
Olaf Danneberg is still the head of Headshot, my second band. Kai Ludwig became the drummer of Iron Fate, a classic heavy metal band. Sven Nothdurft went to a Volbeat cover band called Vollbeast. Check these guys out! Some time ago I played session in Iron Fate as well. It was a good time for me and their singer Dennis is just a killer!
You are also still playing in the trash metal band Headshot with Olaf and with your current guitarist Max Hunger, if I am not mistaken? What is going on with that band?
Headshot is well established on a local level and can do just a few, but always very decent shows a year in our area. If we combine a regular Headshot-set with an oldschool hard-rock/heavy metal cover-show (from Black Sabbath and Deep Purple over Carcass and Pantera to Exodus and Slayer), the clubs in our region here are mostly sold out! At least I have to owe this heavy local reputation that I could establish myself as professional guitar teacher in my hometown and being successful with that now for more than ten years. In Switzerland the band also has some good appearance, so from time to time we rock the stage there too. Basically Max and me have quite different views on a lot of business stuff, but anyway it's always a good time to join the stage with the others and being part of a small but very sophisticated band!
Max who is actually a bassist, is now your guitarist. What’s the story behind that?
Max is actually a guitarist! I just asked him once to help us out on the bass for only one important show, but he fit that well into the whole thing that we kept him these days. A few years later the Headshot bassist quit his job and Max replaced him quite in the same way. So the guitarist became a bassist, until he asked me to go back on guitar for the new DTU line up. In Headshot he is still the basstard, ha! Back in the days Sven Nothdurft also played for Headshot and DTU at the same time. Happy little band-incest hehehe.
You are now looking for a bass player to complete the line up to start playing shows again. Have you already found a new recruit?
Actually we have four serious applicants. But nothing is fixed yet. It's not easy to find a guy who is fitting well into the whole setting of this essentially new founded band. I mean it's not just about instrument-skills. If you wanna melt together as one piece in the long run, personality, attitude and mindset are effectively more important than being a mister universe on your instrument. For sure this guy has to be able to play our shit without failing all the time hahaha, but you can work on your technical abilities. But have you ever tried to change a character. Actually we have no upcoming shows in our schedule, so we will give us the time that it needs to fit in this last piece of the puzzle in the best way!
On drums you recruited James Stewart of Vader, how did you get him to join your band? I mean, I interviewed him a while ago, but he didn’t mention this.
After I tried out a number of more or less unknown guy's I consciously hired James with my preproduction. First this was just planed as a studio job. I was just searching for a guy who is able to play my drumlines most close to the original. But after I had a rehearsal with him where this motherfucker played my shit exactly note by note while beating his kit to a pulp, I asked him if he wanted to be part of the band. Concerning your interview you simply don't asked him about anything beyond Vader... So he didn't mention anything about his other bands like for example Divine Chaos, Sceptic, Maschine and so on and so forth.
And how does this work out with the busy touring schedule from Vader? James must be a busy man…
Yes, definitely he is! But he's a professional full time drummer and finally Vader aren't on tour for 365 days a year. Honestly I have to admit, that I don't know how this will work out in the end, but let's just see how things develop!
Another fun fact to mention is that Spider from Vader laid down a guest solo on ‘As Darkness Falls’. What can you tell about that?
The idea was born at a Vader show in Hellraiser/Leipzig/Germany in 2015. We had a lot of beers after in the backstage, had a lot of fun together and finally I just asked him. The solo is 100 percent his idea. I didn't even gave him a raw guide or any kind of conception beforehand. Beside the extravagant guestsolo of Nihilverum (Ascension/Germany) this is definitely one of the highlights of that album!
‘As Darkness Falls’ was recorded in England at the Grindstone Studio with Scott Atkins (Cradle of Filth, Amon Amarth). Why did you decide to record there and what can you tell about the recording process?
The drums have been recorded at Grindstone. The guitars in Braunschweig/Germany by Ben Heber and the rest inclusive mixing and mastering was done in the PuresonicStudio (Jost Schlüter, Langelsheim/Germany). The Grindstone sessions where the hardest thing we ever did. We had just a four days slot (right after us Cradle Of Filth entered) and worked twelve to fifteen hours a day to get the drums definitely save. On top of that we favourite a very natural, spontaneous (and drummer killing) way of drum recording to make the album sound maximal open and alive. This was a maximum challenge! To cite James: "...it was definitely the most brutal album I've played on and by far the most punishing recording session of my life!!!” Another important thing to mention is the arrangement of the additional sounds. For changing my preprod. "cheap-gear-keyboards" into reasonable sounds, we decided to contact Elettra Bargiacchi, an Italian composer and sound designer. At least her skills were indispensable to give ‘As Darkness Falls’ a very special note on top.
I am hearing some keyboards on the record, for some death metal purist this is a no go. They are not very much at the forefront in your music, but why did you feel some of the songs needed keyboards?
I can't judge about others expectation on "real death metal". For me using keyboards at some time is absolutely necessary to create a specific feeling. Just think of Morbid Angel's ‘Immortal Rites’, or a lot of passages on Hypocrisy's ‘Penetralia’ album. Think of the mighty middle part of Orbituary's ‘Memories Remain’ without key's in the background. The main thing to me in "real" death metal is, that this kind of sounds are decidedly created as "add ons" for some special parts. As long as you can leave them in a live show without missing any main idea, all is fine! Surely there are always some purists who condemn every single artificial sound on a metal album as "no needed pussy crap". But we don’t give a shit about that criterions.
What can you tell about the lyrics on ‘As Darkness Falls’?
The idea behind my lyric-concept is to write the lyrics maximal metaphorically. Everyone is cordially invited to detect. So you can feel free to interpret it the way you see fit!
The cover artwork was done by no one less than Dan Seagrave, the famous death metal cover artist. A cool choice for a death metal band like Deny The Urge. Was it easy to get him to make a cover for you? And did he translate your idea properly?
After we were sure about the image we want to create for that album, there was no alternative to Mr. Seagrave. So I contacted him, gave him the rough-mix of the album, draw a sketch as general guide and we negotiate conditions and details. I had quite a strong view of a concept on my side and Seagrave surely his stance too. So it was a long way to get to the point where I told him to go ahead now with the final painting. In the end he changed my basic idea in a way, that the result was just perfect. All in all I definitely would say, that the cooperation with Dan Seagrave and his way to incorporate his clients is very convenient.
‘As Darkness Falls’ will be released through G.U.C. You have also released the other two records on this label. How is their marketing and distribution network working out for Deny The Urge?
GUC is a very well organized underground label. They're small, but they do really care about us and their billing system is very transparent. Furthermore they have quite special criteria’s for what they sign and what they leave. I know some tight and well sounding bands that tried to get signed by them, they had absolutely no chance. So we can be a bit proud of now having our third full length there! For getting a broader representation for ‘As Darkness Falls’ the label works together with Sure Shot Worx. For now we are satisfied with that combination.
What can we expect from Deny The Urge in the coming year, have you already made plans for a tour or shows?
In our former appearance, before the split in 2011, we had quite a passive concept for getting shows. We did just nothing and waited for decent offers. With the new album we totally changed that policy. The new line up is only staffed with full-time musicians and for a broader impact we choose some external partners. The goal is to gain better conditions in dealing shows and such and establish the band in another level, where we can do more touring. A good mix of festivals and clubshows would be perfect! Actually we do our best to promote the new album. The next step is getting shows for 2018. All in all something is for sure: We all live in different cities/countries, it would be absolute nonsense to just go on with the band like we did it back then.
Any last words for our readers?
"Pestilence, Gorfest, Sinister, Asphyx, Hail Of Bullets, Disavowed, Prostitute Disfigurement..."
Hope to see you soon in one of the most important death metal countries!!!