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Alex Kraft (Dezperadoz)

Interview with Alex Kraft from Dezperadoz
by Grigoris Chronis at 31 March 2008, 11:33 PM

Spaghetti Metal, right? Right. DEZPERADOZ has just released a new album, An Eye for An Eye, and we would not meet the chance sending a questionnaire to Alex Kraft. A great concept, Alex; the message's 'western' 'n' clear!

Alex, first of all thanks a lot for taking the time to do this interview!

Howdy and thank you for your interest in my new story!

So, what happened after The Legend And The Truth CD was released in 2006?

We were on Tour with KROKUS, AXXIS and GOTTHARD. Played a lot of club gigs and festivals all over.

In between, did you immediately start writing the songs to be included in this recent album, An Eye for An Eye?

Yes, I start(ed) my work directly after \[the] release (The Legend And The Truth).

Did you write everything on your own, or you accepted a helping hand?

No, I write, compose and arrange all songs alone.

How many songs were originally written and under what conditions did the specific ones compile the album?

This album is a complete story. Every song \[is] a chapter with a special situations flair. Riders On The Storm fits perfect in this story and was for me the first choice to make my own version of this great DOORS song. Also, 25 Minutes To Go.

To tell you the truth, when the album’s title was announced I was anxious to see of Tom Angelripper would participate as a full member (you know, I ’linked’ the title with SODOM’s opening track in Better Off Dead!). He’s not a full member bur he’s participating in a song or two, right?

Tom plays in my story the character of Frank in one song called Here Comes The Pain. Tom is not a band member, but he is still a part of our Wild Bunch like Dennis Ward and many other musicians and guys who love my idea. Everyone of them can play a character in all of my musicals if they want, without playing an instrument.

Apart from Tom, did you have any other guest appearances in An Eye For An Eye, as you had in The Legend And The Truth?

Yes, for example a man called Daniel Reed (his real name), but it’s not my wish to make promotion with famous musicians; I don’t like that. For me it was too much on the last album. Sure it’s cool for promotion, but if no one of them makes music on my album it’s only a fun thing for the guys and that’s the meaning with guests.

As for the rest of the lineup; have you preserved the same personnel? And, I think, Dennis Ward’s in again, right?

Dennis is also a part of the wild bunch and produced this album with me, but he never made music on a DEZPERADOZ album. He was only a stage musician and if he has the time he can do that again. The real band are Markus Kullmann on drums, Alex Weigand on bass and me. A trio. On stage: with a second guitar and sometimes with Tom, if he finds the time. You see it’s not that typical Band cliche, it’s DEZPERADOZ and the wild bunch!

After listening to An Eye For An Eye for a ’first’ couple of times, I came to the conclusion that (apart from the ’Wild West Metal’ trademark!) this new album sounds a little bit more ’hard’ this time. Meaning: I checked out some heavier guitar (Zakk Wylde’s approach came to mind instantly) plus some ’rhythm section’ parts reminded me of the grooves fellow German Metal bands (like e.g. PRIMAL FEAR) have in their in-your-face. But, I think you’re the one in charge of talking ’bout what style/sound you wanted these new songs to have.

I don’t know. I try to make my music, my typic DEZPERADOZsound, and try to have the best songs, the best production and arrangement for the flair of the current story. If you belive or not, I don’t know only one song of PRIMAL FEAR.

Really, Alex, what sort of inspiration do you use for writing DEZPERADOZ songs?

In that case I saw a letter in a museum in Tucson/Arizona. It was for me ’inspiration’ enough to write a story and all the songs about this letter.

Do you keep yourself locked into a room watching Spaghetti Western films or reading relevant books and listening to such music? Also, how difficult is to find the point of equilibrium between these two – seemingly – ’alien’ styles of music?

No, I don’t think about that. I have the story, the feeling, make a ’storyboard’ in chapters, write the lyrics (that’s unusual) and lastly I compose the songs.

Is DEZPERADOZ a kind of ’shelter’ for you? I mean, did you feel completely free when writing the music for songs like e.g. Days Of Thunder or Wild Times?

Wow, what a cool question! YES, for sure!!! It’s my baby and my ’mainband’. That’s why I have my famous scream of freedom on wild times!

To tell you the truth, I see DEZPERADOZ’s music as a ’travelling’ ship to other times and places (and that’s obvious I guess!) but also as a motive to ’break the chains’ from various shit making us have a not-that-good daily life. What do you believe DEZPERADOZ serves for the fan buying an album of the band?

I try to entertain, to abduct the listener in a world, a story. I do everything to build this story, this flair with music and art, like the music in old times, before Cinema and TV. But I also try to tell the people my mentality, my views of important things, without the attempt to catch them with my way of thinking. I only want attention to my music and to the lyrics and try to push the people to open their eyes for iniquities and grievances in this world, without getting boring and depressive. An adventure to be a part of it all.

Reading a statement of yours in regards to the lyrics themes of An Eye For An Eye, you’re telling the story of a man condemned to death for killing a friend of him in the name of religion. First of all, is this a fictional story or it’s a true one? What’s the story in brief?

An Eye For An Eye tells the story of Hank, a young man on deathrow in 1901. While sentenced to death by hanging, he is waiting in the cell and narrates his sad and antithetic life. He was born 1878 on a farm somewhere east of the Great Plains. His father, a strict and devout man, used his horsewhip and his hand to educate his son and wife. After his mother died in 1894, Hank ran away to begin a new life and he joined a bunch of cowboys; the craziest was Frank, a young gunslinger who didn’t know fear or mercy.

Both became close friends and made plans to earn some money with small felonies. While they were playing cards in a Saloon one August night in 1897, Frank introduced Hank to Rosie. She was one of the saloon’s hookers. After she did her job, Hank was overcome with his emotions. He wanted her to quit work and become a family together. Everything went well for Frank and Hank. Shortly they got more power and control in their area as they grew stronger in numbers. They were known as the Wild Bunch, a syndicate of young gunmen. Frank was also a punter of Rosie, while Hank bite on the bit.

On December morning in 1899 when Hank walked into Rosie’s room, he found her, nearly dead, whispering Frank’s name before she past away. Frank had fled hours ago because he knew Hank and his rage very well. From this point on Hank had only one thought: To hunt and kill Frank. His soul was filled with hate and the desire to avenge Rosie, to cleanse of sins and to praise the Lord. Early next morning Hank saddled up his horse and went on his way. He knew that Frank’s family worked at the west coast circus, near Sacramento. This ride through deserts, coldness and rain, forced Hank to face his own demons which day after day chewed up more of his sanity. The country, villages, towns and cities seamed strange compared to Hank’s old wild West. All the tall buildings, automobiles, clothes and different languages were like an unknown world to Hank.

In this abstract scenery he finally reached the signs of the West Coast Circus. A freak show and funfair with wild west shows, cowboys and Indians, an elephant man, absurd attractions and the madness of new ideas in times of change. It was the year 1900. On a bright lighted, crowded place, in front of a big colurful circus tent, Hank espied his rival and shot a bullet straight between the eyes; Frank’s body hit the floor before the cartouche was cold. While the crowd cheered and applauded, Hank lifted his hat and took a deep bow. The audience considered it as a part of the circus’ show until the police applied the cuffs on his hands and took him away. Back in his cell in 1901 Hank, still waiting for the headsman and remember the words long written down in Exodus 21:23-21:27, but also the words in Exodus 20:13, the fifth commandment: You shall not to kill. He was sentenced to death in the name of God.

During the work on my last album, The Legend And The Truth, I saw an old letter from a young gunslinger in a museum. His story was mostly similar. He was on death row and wrote it to his dead mother. Revenge is a weakness, a never ending story. A nation and its justice must be considerate and confident. Isn’t all the experience of the human race enough to know this? For me it is unbearable to see people who kill each other, trying to force their opinions on others in the name of religion, ideology, a holy war, God, justice, insanity, politics or different races. Killing is unholy in every religion! That is why I wrote and composed this album.

Do you use this specific concept to argue straight about (any) religion’s impact on the lives/acts of people? Do you consider yourself a religious person?

I belive in a good and great absolute power. In fairness, humanity, love, peace and philosophy, consistency of all humans. Religions are made from humans to get a hold in heavy times, but mostly used for egoistic interests of nations or leaders and that’s for me the mortal sin!

You recorded a cover version on THE DOORS’ classic Riders On The Storm. Weird, I always thought this specific track was a ’weird’ one for THE DOORS style; I think you chose the perfect song for a DEZPERADOZ cover, to tell you the truth. Did someone point it out to you or you already had in mind to cover this exact song?

I don’t want to ’cover’ this song. I want to have my own version of this great song (I’m a DOORS fan). Riders On The Storm is loosely based on the notorious spree killer Billy Cook, who posed as a hitchhiker and murdered an entire family. THE DOORS wanted to make a song like  the old Western song Ghostriders In The Sky. For me, the perfect flair fits perfect in the story and on my version; no blasphemy against Jim.

 25 Minutes To Go: a ’special lyrics’ song performed by Country legend Johnny Cash, right? I read the lyrics of this sing and admit it’s a very smart track! How did you come to record this one? A Johnny Cash tribute or you wanted the specific track?

After the story, after the last song (Tooth For A Tooth), there is a bonus song. 25 Minutes To Go is an old song from Shel Silverstein. This song got a good portion of gallows humor for the end with a little a twinkle in one’s eye (I’am also a Cash fan -American recordings-).

Alex, are you scheduling any live dates for the promotion of An Eye For An Eye?

For shure. First we’ll make a Jailhouse tour through Germany. After that some club shows and festivals and at the end of the year a support tour with a bigger band. I try to play a lot of shows outside Germany (hope so!).

Do you consider ever writing an album for a soundtrack for a Western movie? I think you could make big things happen with an appropriate movie, ’filling’ it in with DEZPERADOZ songs!

Yes, a dream. We’ll try to start a short film, our own small Italo-Western in this 70’s style for a more-than-a-music video thing this year; For free, on YouTube in autumn.

Alex, thanks a lot for your time to do this interview! Anything you’d like to add?

Thanx a lot to be interested in my music! So long and a Yeehaaw! Alex Kraft.


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