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Alex Krull (Atrocity)

Interview with Alex Krull from Atrocity
by Orpheus Spiliotopoulos at 13 June 2004, 7:52 PM

Atrocity is one of Germany's first Death Metal bands (if not the first) and Alex Krull (singer of Atrocity) has always been around! By getting to know Alex from up close you realize that he's not only a great musician full of endless inspiration but he also is a great person! Eleni and I met him at a hotel in the centre of Athens and he was more than delighted to talk to us about Atrocity's new album, Atlantis, the past (some great stories), the present (about his wife Liv Kristine and their work in Leaves' Eyes) and the future.

Eleni: Since this is our first interview with your group, I have to make some questions about your past.

Yeah, that’s cool.

Eleni: Most of your album covers are impressive but in some circumstances you’ve had some trouble (with a company). I’m talking about when you wanted to print a cover with Lady D. and Princes Charles splattered in blood. Also, another cover of yours was made by H.R. Giger. Who had those ideas usually concerning the cover artworks?

Basically all the ideas about the cover artworks were my ideas. I do the lyrics, I do a lot of things so I always like to have the artwork done they way I like it. Now concerning the Giger cover, it was already done by Giger, it was done in the 60’s or something like that. It was an old one but I felt it fit perfectly with the music we were playing. There’s a nice story to that too! I mean, first with Blue Blood we really had a problem. We had a photo and we had this blood…and I called a press agent in Germany and he said If you use that, we’re going to sew you! and I was like Okay!. It was just a couple of days before we were going to press it and the guy there told me Alex, you have to do something! and I said can they forbid me to paint? and he replied no, I think painting is ok, so it’s a little bit of my childish drawing there \[Laughs]…and we used that. I thought, even if it looks a little bit silly I’d have people like you to explain why it looks like that! \[Laughs]

The Giger cover thing was very cool. We had another cover from Nuclear Blast at that time and I thought it was ok but the rest of the band didn’t like it so I called Nuclear Blast and said Sorry with the cover again but we don’t want it…

Eleni: They were all fantastic covers by the way…

Ah, thank you, thank you!…So we changed it into the Giger one. And we said ok, we don’t want the cover from Nuclear Blast but we have to find one in one week otherwise we’ll take the one they’re giving us. OK, I was a little bit angry so I said I will bring a Giger and the guy at the company had everyone over the telephone listening and said one moment, Alex could you repeat your sentence? and I said Yeah, I’ll bring a Giger artwork for Atrocity. Everybody in Nuclear Blast was laughing except one guy (who works at Metal Blade now) who said ah, maybe Alex can make it. I was calling everyday to Swiss museums everywhere and then finally I got Giger’s number from a nice lady – I was begging her like oh come on, give me the number, I have to talk with him – then I called Giger and I was like hi Mr. Giger, I want your artwork for a cover of mine, we’re from Germany \[Laughs]. He helped us, he was very cool! One week later, I called Nuclear Blast and Markus there said ah, hi! Just one second!, he put the telephone again for everyone to hear and went so what about the cover artwork? and I was like I have it. Then he said wait, wait, I didn’t press the button, now tell me, you really got a Giger cover? and he was so proud because you know Giger has an Oscar, he did Alien and he’s very popular. We were the first metal band at that time to have a Giger cover and it was very cool; I also met him personally at his house!

Eleni: I think Orpheus over here has mentioned having a Giger poster or two…

Yeah? Cool!

Eleni: The lineup of your band has changed many times and you’ve also experimented with your sound. Don’t you think that all this could become an obstacle in having a particular identity as a group?

Identity. Atrocity is not the very typical band releasing  an album every year, sounding the same – only having the titles change – like some other bands do. I also know bands which have a big problem with themselves, they’re stuck in their own sound, they want to be more creative but they can’t…because their fans don’t like it. I think Atrocity is different and the fans know it. That’s why we have some surprising albums all the time.

But I also feel there is a certain sound even if we have completely different albums and different styles combined, you can always see the same band behind; my voice, the guitars…the musicians are the same! They just have a wider spectrum. I think that if I look at my old heroes - Pink Floyd - or the rest of the band’s heroes like Elvis and The Beatles…these artists always made different albums, had different styles, there were no rules whereas now there suddenly are rules in Metal and I don’t like it so much. That’s because I was there when Death Metal started in Germany and if someone would have told me that there would be rules in my music I’d go Fuck You!. Sorry but it’s true. There is no law for Metal, Metal is the law. That’s my perception of music.

When we did Werk 80 (1997), it was a crazy idea to put 80’s pop and dance classics into Metal under Atrocity’s sounds, nobody would say that this could be a success but we said ok, we’ll do it and it went out very good. It’s the most sold album from us!

Eleni: Yes, that was going to be my next question \[Laughs]

Oh, sorry! \[Laughs]

Eleni: On Werk 80 you made cover songs for famous artists like David Bowie and in general you’ve done that throughout your career with songs of Simon Garfunkel, Tears For Fears etc. Do you like all these bands personally or where these choices another matter of criteria?

Some of the bands I like very much, Simon & Garfunkel for example is no doubt very cool. I also liked Shout by Tears For Fears very much at that time by I must say I was metalhead so I was always missing something in that kind of music, I always went ah, it could be more brutal! \[Laughs]. I wanted to have a different view of these songs so we decided to do this crazy old idea. I must admit that some songs we covered, the original ones, I didn’t like at all! But I thought that if we did those songs then I’d probably like them.

Some people even asked me why didn’t I do cover versions for 80’s Metal songs. I think that it wouldn’t make any sense. These songs are already there and they’re already very good! You can’t do a classic song better than Iron Maiden or Judas Priest! Maybe just one song here or there but not a whole album about 80’s Metal abba…\[Laughs]…sorry about that, that was German!

We did actually cover a Death song in 1992. That was slightly different because that was a song Chuck Schuldiner would have never released. And we were sitting there with Chuck and he was why isn’t this song functioning right? and Mathias, our player was sitting next to him and went no Chuck, I think it’s like this \[Laughs]. It was an old song, from 1985, Archangel it was called.

Eleni: Before recording Blut (1994) you took a journey to Transylvania. Do you do that often? Do you take trips to get a better feeling of your songs?

That’s a very good question! There’s a funny story behind that. When we were sitting together I heard the first musical ideas – I heard this great melody of Blut (which means blood in English)  and I was fascinated – I had in mind this big landscape with hills and I said this has to be in Transylvania or something. Then in the middle of the production I said we had to look for places to shoot a video. At that time it wasn’t easy to go into Romania and just shoot a video – it was so and so – and we went in mid-winter; it was so fucking cold, you can’t imagine! We also lost our road because there were no signs, just stones here or there pointing in a direction…it’s true you know! Imagine having some stones as your signs and imagine it was mid-winter and most of the stones were covered with snow! We were driving completely in the wrong direction! Suddenly Chris, our bassist now (wasn’t a bassist of Atrocity back then) - who was born and raised there till he was 15 or 16 years old – said Alex, I know this place, we’re going in the wrong direction, we’re somewhere in the Carpathian mountains and I opened the door and I went wow, this is exactly what I had in mind! \[Laughs] while he was calling me to get back in the car Alex we got to go, we’re 200 kilometers off track!. I went in the car and turned on the stereo right away and heard the track and everyone went you’re fucked up in the mind! \[Laughs]

When I got home it was even funnier because my mother told me Alex did you know that you went to where your father’s coming from?. The area where we were lost was the place where my grandfather used to live once upon a time! And I had no idea about it! I only had the feeling that this is the right place when we went there. Maybe it’s in my genes, maybe somewhere….I don’t know what made me go there! \[Laughs]

Dracula also was imprisoned in Istanbul as a child and he came back one day and that reminded me of myself in a way.

Eleni: A last question from me. In the mid 90’s you were accused that you were supporting neo-Nazis and then you broke a huge swastika on stage when you were playing in Wacken. Why do you think some people got this idea about you and how did you feel when it happened?

In Wacken we did it because we played with a band called Unkles and they were skinheads back then. They’ve changed since then, they were teenagers you know. But still people know that and they are big supporters, they sell thousands of records in Germany – they use German words but it’s not Nazi stuff - they’ve played as support for the Rolling Stones and Ac/Dc and all this…So at that time we know that some part of the audience might have been a little bit disturbed…

Eleni: Maybe some people just thought that because they’re skinheads…you know, they combined it…

Yes well the hooligans and football fans, they still like this band very much. But also a lot of people, punks and metalheads like them…they’re very big in Germany. That we were considered Nazis or something like that back then, it was a misunderstanding.

Eleni: I did some research on the Internet and a few sites who talked about you claimed you are of extremely right political ideas and directions.

\[Laughs] Really? The first time I destroyed a crooked cross was in 1989, seven years before Wacken…so I did it many times, I did it at the Dynamo Open Air festival also (two years after Wacken). So I think I know what you mean maybe. When we had our second album, Toddessehnsucht (1992) it was the first time a German metal band would be using a German title. There was confusion and despite that we didn’t want to release in the USA with a translated title, I want it to remain as it was. And I only had one sentence on that album which said where is justice? \[Krull told us that sentence in German too but I’m afraid I don’t speak German hehe] and what the fuck does that have to do with Nazis? \[Laughs] Why on earth can’t someone use his home language on an album?

I had this long interview last night with a guy from Israel, concerning Atlantis and he was oh I love the album but I have to ask you Alex if it has anything to do with Nazis! You know what, Germany has a huge history, like Greece, yeah? There was a certain time which was very bad I have nothing to do with these people (of that bad time) and I know more people who have suffered from the Nazis than people who are supporting them – actually I don’t know anybody. My father suffered very much from the war, he was 16 years old and he had to go to war and my mother was just 5 years old. Of course what happened in the past cannot be described in one sentence now, it was the worst thing ever (meaning WW2). A lot of our culture was destroyed by the Nazis and people only remember them and not what was before them (meaning German culture).

There are so many bands in Germany who are afraid to use German language because of people thinking that they’re Nazis if they do that! I said I don’t give a shit! Why?. I don’t feel ashamed of something I have not done, I feel ashamed for what Germans have done (back then) but not about me.

Eleni: Ok that was all, now it’s Orpheus’ turn to ask you things!

Sure, go ahead! \[Laughs]

Orpheus: You’ve never spent so much time on any other album, like you did with Atlantis. Are you satisfied with the result?

I am very satisfied! The whole course of making the album was incredible. First of all I had an interest about this theme from a very long time ago, probably since I was 18 years old. \[Krull bends over and whispers] …from my x-girlfriend! She used to tell me she’s Atlantian  and I would go ah really – what do you mean? \[Laughs]. She said yes it’s true, I know it, I feel it in my genes and she was a serious woman; she used to get a little bit angry whenever I went what? \[Laughs] I don’t know about reincarnation and stuff, that’s not my type but on the other side she said it’s in her genes. I couldn’t understand what had happened when I was in Romania and I found about my father etc but then I understood what she was talking about.

It was a great challenge and an adventure for me. I read so many things about it. On my honeymoon we were in Ireland, on some cliffs above the Atlantic Ocean with the megaliths around us…it was very inspiring for me to be writing about this story. And you can really be proud, as Greeks, about Plato! It was mentioned in many, many cultures around the world but I think Plato’s description was the best one even if it may have been vivid imagination, you never know. If it was not imagination then it was the starting of mankind’s biggest research of his own roots.

It was a big go for us too cause we’re musicians, we’re not philosophers…

Orpheus: Atlantis is a mixture of many elements Alex. There are songs like Reich Of Phenomena and Superior Race which are strong, well constructed Death Metal inspirations and there are Gods Of Nations which include a remarkable chorus. Was the composing and recording process as fascinating for you as it was for the audience?

I think so, yeah \[Laughs]. You’re right, you know why, when I was writing down the concept I used to go for example on Reich Of Phenomena  I want to have that, I want to have a tornado, a furious beginning so sit down and do something like that or on Gods of Nations, it’s about the Greek Gods’ mythology – I wanted to have it as an example for the cradle of mankind. The legend of Atlantis is that they left a sunken continent and spread around the world.

Some explanations I was searching for, we tried to put them in the songs too and it was a really great process.

Orpheus: Where there any incoming musical influences while you were writing the music for the album?

Well I think that we’re five people and everybody has his own style like Mathhias for ex. Is a lot into Wagner and on the other hand you have somebody like Chris who made a song like Cold Black Days, much more melodic and so, he wanted to make something which would be representing the other side.

For me from the beginning it was like we have the wholly story about Atlantis and the songs but we have to show the emotions of the story also. Many bands just do any lyrics but that’s not my cup of tea! \[Laughs] My part is to bring the sugar into the coffee, to make it taste better! It would be very boring not to put any personal emotion and inspiration (by every one of us) into the songs…we’re together for more than 10 years with some of the band members…Many bands split up after a while…not us! \[Laughs]

Orpheus: Certainly not you! \[Laughs] Are you satisfied with Napalm Records?

Yup! Absolutely!

Orpheus: You having a good cooperation?

Very good, very good! They simply love the work we do or what I produce…

Orpheus: Careful…they’ll be reading this Interview!

\[Laughs] That’s cool! They make a very good job and I also want to say that I am very pleased with them because in the beginning we thought is it good to go to the same label with Leaves’ Eyes or should we try two different labels? but in the end I wanted to have both bands in one label, so we went to Napalm Records headquarters in Austria and it happened! They’re great people; I see the fire in their eyes whenever I talk to them! They’re hungry like us! \[Laughs] Enthusiastic and they really love Atrocity and Leaves’ Eyes. It’s funny cause in the company everybody goes I like this and I like that Alex…At least they like it! \[Laughs]

Orpheus: You’re together with your wife Liv on Leaves’ Eyes. Liv puts the lyrics and the singing and Atrocity put the music. It’s sort of a family matter isn’t it?

It is, yeah! \[Laughs] For sure!

Orpheus: How do you feel about it? How do you feel about Lovelorn?

Fantastic, to be honest! I always had a little problem starting with other bands – I had another a band called Corpus Christi long ago but I stopped it even though it had very cool material and Century Media and Nuclear Blast wanted to do it back then – cause I’ve always been fully concentrating on Atrocity, there never was space for other bands. When the idea with Liv came up, I felt a little enthusiastic. We were walking one morning through the forest – we live by the countryside, which is very beautiful – and I asked her you’ve finished with your studies, what are you going to do now? and she said I don’t know… and I went hey, you’ve been studying Shakespeare and stuff like that, maybe we can do something with music about that. So the whole thing came up and from the beginning everybody was very enthusiastic, especially Chris - he did a lot of songs in advance before the others came along.

Liv has done a fantastic job, I’m very proud of her. I don’t want to say anything bad about other singers etc but she’s really the best singer!

Orpheus: She’s got a great voice.

Yeah! No doubt!

Sometimes it’s hard to work with here. You know why? \[Krull bends over again and lowers his voice] She sings her lyrics and that’s already very good, from the first time and we come in and ask her can we do this and this? and she goes why?. It’s very hard to argue about it with her because it’s already so good! \[Laughs]

Orpheus: Well, I guess every artist has his own strange ways of working!

Yeah! \[Laughs]

Orpheus: Liv told Metal-Temple.Com Magazine in her Interview with our editor, Yannis, that Atrocity and Leaves’ Eyes will be touring together probably in Autumn. Wouldn’t it be hard for Atrocity to do two different set-lists at the same time?

We will find out! \[Laughs] We’re going to try that for the first time now in Turkey, in Rock The Nation festival and we will see how it will function.

Orpheus: It sounds like a tricky situation…

Yeah but I think it should be no problem, we’re all professionals and experienced musicians when it comes to concerts and stuff.

We’re also going to play in Greece, in Athens and Thessaloniki, I think in November 5th and 6th…

Orpheus: Now that’s news for us! \[Laughs]

News, yes! \[Laughs] I heard some other news as well, that we should play before November but they didn’t ask me so…\[Laughs]

Orpheus: I’ll move on to our two last questions but before that I want to do something I should have done in the beginning of this interview – silly me. We’d like to congratulate you for your little son!

Thank you, thank you \[Krull shakes our hands with joy]. Wonderful!

Orpheus: What will his name be?

Leon! Leon Alexandros!

Orpheus: Greek names! That’s nice. Now let’s get out some serious news…Is he going to be a guitar player or a singer or what? \[Laughs]

I think he’s going to be a singer! He’s already started singing! \[Laughs]

Eleni: I think that it would perfectly natural. After all his parents sing!

When Liv gave birth, two hours before that, she was singing! I know it’s not my imagination but whenever he listens to Leaves’ Eyes he really calms down! Whenever we put anything else on the radio, he reacts! So I think he’s going to be a singer…\[Laughs]

Eleni: As it’s time to end this Interview \[we had already been talking for something more than 30 minutes], would you like to send a message out to all our readers worldwide?

First of all, greetings to all the Greeks – even if you’re not a Greek magazine – anyway \[Laughs] They just told me that Atlantis is going very, very good and I’m happy to hear this. I want to say thank you, to you \[Eleni and Orpheus] and to all the fans who’ve been supporting us and thank you for not forgetting about us – it was a while since our previous release. We’re going to tour together with Leaves’ Eyes in October and November…everywhere!!!

Orpheus: It was great meeting you Alex, thanks for your Interview. We wish you all the best for you and your family (Liv and your baby son) and hope to see you soon again!

Thank you very much; it was very interesting talking to you both! Take care!


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