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EINS! ZWEI!...EINS! ZWEI! DREI! VIER!: An Exclusive Interview With Mille Petrozza Of KREATOR

By Chaos G, Nomad Contributor
Saturday, December 13, 2014 @ 7:54 AM

"I always compare Ventor to Tom Hunting [EXODUS]."

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In a genre thatís at one time had a firm hold & once ruled the metal scene, a devastating fall in popularity, & what some coin as ĎRetro-thrashíÖ a revival of sorts - KREATOR have been a staple in Thrash since the sound itself was being honed. Now, some of the Iconic bands of the golden-era are enjoying what would seem a re-energized fanfare. With KREATOR gaining, regaining & delighting fans with each subsequent release since 2001ís A Violent Revolution, to no ones astonishment KREATOR have been dominating for the last fourteen years. Here we get a taste of Frontman/Guitarist - Milleís [Petrozza] unique level of humility & what goes into making KREATOR so undeniably fucking awesome.

Many bands chase the prowess of their early efforts., especially when it comes to thrash. KREATOR seems to break that tendency & aspire to improve with every releaseÖ & they deliver. Are they just on a roll or do they feel any real pressure to put out a better album every time?

"First of all, thank-you for saying we get better with every album, but I should not listen to this when youíre saying that. [laughs] Because, I think that if Iím like - Okay, we get better with every album, then I wonít put enough effortÖ enough work into it. I need to want to get better because of the music not because people are expecting it. Itís a mixture of routine & maybe an artistic view that you have without limiting yourself to one particular genre. I mean, I know that we are a thrash-metal band BUT we also take influences from different sources. When I first go into song-writing mode, I ask myself: Is there something that I want to say? Or is there just nothing in my life thatís interesting at the moment because Iím on tour most of the time. Iím not saying its boring to be on tour, but you cannot be creative on tour. Touring is a lot of fun. Youíre playing in front of your audience every night. Thereís a lot of energy exchangeÖ positive energyÖ but no room for creative energy. For that reason, I rather not start writing on tour.

To answer your question, there is some pressure but it comes from within the bandÖ Not pressureÖ we wanít to achieve a certain goal. We all want to go Ď YES! This is fucking great!í. Each individual member in the band should feel that way & THEN IF weíre lucky we can make other people feel the same way as well. I think that you have to capture that certain moment that many bands have called Ďmagicí but it is magic, you know what I mean? Itís like you can write a song & it can be a technically great song that has no feel to it. It is very important that you get together as a band & everyone contributes some ideas. Also, itís important that the other guys play the stuff I wrote THEIR own way. THEN you get the trademark KREATOR sound."

One undeniable factor is that bandmate - Ventor helps bring an instantly identifiable sound to the band. Does Mille see it this way?

"Since heís [Ventor] played on almost every album, he brings kind of a trademark sound. I always compare Ventor to Tom Hunting. EXODUS needs Tom Hunting. The way he plays, he has a very emotional, very heartfelt way of playing. Itís technical, but itís mostly emotion. Thatís why we never play to a click-track. I mean we do in the studio. We rehearse the songs naturally & get the tempos down, then we program a click-track where the timing is not too perfect. We program the imperfection because we naturally sometimes get faster. Sometimes if you musically program a click-track to have the exact same tempo for the whole song, it wonít work. If theres a spot where we end up going a little faster, we program that way, rehearse it & THEN when we record the songs we always do one take without a click-track & thatís usually the one that ends up on the album."

Speaking of trademark KREATOR sound, one thing that stands clear is that a large part of the bands catalog translates into a much more powerful animal in a live situationÖ

"The other night I was listening to ARCH ENEMY playing live. There were a few songs on the album that I didnít really pay attention to until I heard them live, then it was like now it makes sense. Sometimes thatís just the case. You see how musicians are playing thingsÖ like you say, it translates better in a live situation. In a perfect world a band should do the following: Write 10-12 songs & go out & play them live for a year - but that would be in a perfect world Sometimes thereís songs that you like in the studio, that you never play live.

I think theres two songs on Phantom Antichrist where itís pretty technical, in the sense of progressively technicalÖ but most of the songs were made to be played live. We want to keep it adventurous for the listener. It should never be too predictable. Sometimes we try to avoid verse/chorus - verse/chorus - middle part - lead part, but there are times when you want exactly that. We really have no set formula. I know it sounds cliche. I wanted to write an album that I would want to hear from any band out there, any metal-band. Thatís why some of the parts sound really old school like Judas Priest, you know, more traditional heavy-metal influenced. Thats our roots, you know? Weíve grown up on traditional heavy-metal."

Many metal icons are now becoming common age for retirement. As sad an idea as it isÖ all of our beloved metal titans will be forced at some point by life, to call it a day. Do Mille & company fear the idea?

"None of us want to. Lemmy for instance: if he wants to, if he takes better care of himself in his later days, he may continue to perform for maybe 10-15 more years - At least! Hopefully! I think when you look at all the blues guys, the rock guys, they get older & still do it. I donít want to compare the musical genres but if you play like fast rock & roll itís still very demanding not only physically but mentally. Ití's a big deal to play ANY kind of music with emotion. I think age doesnít really matter. It doesnít matter."

Jens Bogren has been blazing his way to legendary status via producing some of the most memorable metal albums in recent memory. One thing that keeps surfacing as unique to Jens, is his ability to bring an artist out of their comfort-zone to try something new. It would seem he also achieved this with 2012ís Phantom AntichristÖ

"Thatís one thing that I have to give Jens credit for. He said something that really made me think & I thought was really cool. When he likes a part heís not all like íNow the part is great, now itís all there, Now itís a hundred-percent!í. He said íNow it sounds like music.í I know that sometimes when you put together an album & you really, really like one riff. Itís so hard to play, but ultimately does not end up sounding like music. You were mentioning math-metal bands. Thereís a thin-line because this music demands precise-picking, brutal drumming, etc. When itís all there itís sounds like a musical-band thatís in it for the music, then It doesnít matter if itís metal or thrash-metal or whatever, it sounds like KREATOR in my opinion."

Besides crafting signature KREATOR riffs, Mille is also responsible for most of the lyrical content. Itís easy to phone it in with lyrics, but thatís not the case with KREATOR. Does the thrash-metal legend ever hit a wall when it comes to finding lyrical inspiration or is that the easy part for Mille?

"Thatís my biggest problem. Finding riffs is not the biggest problem. The beat is not the biggest problem. Putting together a song is not the biggest problem. To find new lyrics for people to chant to "A Violent Revolution" for example or "Phantom Antichrist". Catchy lyrics, catchy words with a metaphoric meaning that nobody can really figure out. It should never be too obvious, or too boring. Thereís a certain vocabulary when it comes to metal. ĎDestructioní, ĎPainí, ĎDeathí, all these words that sound kinda cool. The trick is not to ignore these words but to put them in correct context & the right spot in the song to make it catchy without being boring. Some catchy music gets boring after youíve heard it three times. Another tough part of writing lyrics is finding themes, of course. Itís kind of like you reflect on the years before you starting writing music & get ideas or inspiration from there. Sometimes it may be something political thatís going on in the world or what catastrophes have transpired globally. I watch Homelands tv show. Itís very inspirational. The dialogues are pretty cool. The way they talk about the CIA, the war, itís very interesting. That kind of brings inspiration. Books of course. Movies. You sometimes come across something that you think, hey I could do something with that."

With Germany leading the way in the environmental fight to sustain renewable energy resources, itís only natural to draw the conclusion that Phantom Antchristís "Death To The World" is directly influenced by this movementÖ

"Kind of. Itís an environmental song. You know we have an album out called A Terrible Certainty & it has a song on it "Toxic Trace". Itís a very old song where we were already writing about the water pollution, the air pollution, whateverÖ from an eighties point of view & we wanted to transport it into two-thousand twelve. In the middle of the song theres a tribute riff to that other song, that old song. Sometimes Iím inspired by my own music, my old songs. A lot of bands in my opinion, lame new recordings of their old albums. I think thatís lame. You know what I mean? Some people all of a sudden re-record one of their old albumsÖ I donít like that. Iíd rather take inspiration from old songs & put it into this day & age.

Itís people becoming more aware. Itís not the majority. The thing is, theres still people any clue of what the fuck is going to happen if we fuck up nature, you know? If we destroy our own environment. I donít think itís a certain group anymore. Some people are aware & do something about it & some people donít. The government does a lot of environmentally cool things, but I think in America itís the same. The one thing I donít like is that everything is plastic here."

Imagine all of your writings, typings, texts, emails, etcÖ are done in your second language. This would prove to be a chore for almost anyone. How difficult would if be to write lyrics in this manner, that truly & accurately express precisely how you feelÖ ? Does Mille take the task in stride as a result of years of experience, or does he struggle?

"When I think of the English language, I feel more free using it the way I want to use it. [laughs] Itís a good thing itís not my mothers language. Itís a good thing I didnít grow up in an English country because then Iíd have too much respect for the language. Somebody told me - you can tell me if itís right or not - the song "Riot Of Violence", in English you wouldnít say riot of violence. Youíd say a violent riot or something."

Mille has always been an advocate for the irradiation of racism. Does he see any noticeable change these days?

"I think itís an obsolete way of thinking in todays world. Itís fucking absurd, you know? I hear people talk all the time. I hear all the little hidden racist views that come out sometimes. Without them knowing it. Itís also human. Itís very easy to be racist, but itís very difficult to question it. If you think about it hard enough, in a logical sense, you Ďd know itís bullshit. I just donít get it, but itís been there since the beginning of man. Itís because people are afraidÖ afraid of what they donít understand. Sometimes I feel sorry for them. [racists] They miss out on so many things because theyíre fucking close-minded."

1990ís Coma Of Souls, saw the release of the anti-racism track "People Of The Lie" which is arguably the most memorable track on the album. Written with such intent, has Mille ever been inclined to put teeth-to-pen again & attack the subject?

"Yeah, I was thinking about that. Itís hard for me to force these things. I think if it comes out naturallyÖ then yes. I actually do that in a lot of songs, without pointing it out. I talk about people who are being cast out by society. For example, "A Violent Revolution" - itís like people that feel alone. If you think about it, going back to the racism subject, some of those people are so alone & then are happy to find a group of people to accept them. I have a different point of view. When I wrote the original lyrics for "People Of The Lie" back in the day, the producer said: Ď You canít be that extreme about it.' He helped me write those lyrics in a more clever way. Not so emotional. When you talk about racism, I tend to get emotional. Then youíre not thinking clearly. Then you end up saying things just as dumb as those racists. Iím not pissed-off in the same way. I channel it betterÖ you know what I mean? [laughs] There are certain things I know will never change, but I can change. I try toÖ not embrace these things but I try to make a compromise to live with these things around me without getting too aggravated about it. Then, I just put the energy that it creates, into the music."

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