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Alex Schluter (Warmaster)

Interview with Alex Schluter from Warmaster
by Grigoris Chronis at 18 May 2008, 12:58 AM

It's been three years now since BOLT THROWER's last album came out. If tired of waiting for the next opus, here's the perfect 'opioid' for your ears. Dutch old-school Death Metal warriors WARMASTER just released their First War debut album and Alex (bass) shares various info with us but definitely clears things out: we play what we like best, old-school!

Alex, the first thing crossing my mind while listening to First War was old-school Euro Death Metal. Was it a quick decision to play this kind of Metal music when WARMASTER was formed back in 2004? What was the motive for WARMASTER do be ’born’, anyway?

For me the decision was very easy. When I saw them in February 2006 at a Baroeg gig, they didn’t have any bass player. I liked the music because it was very heavy and had a great groove in it. So after the show I went by them and asked if they needed any bass player. So they invited me to come over. And since that time I’m a member of WARMASTER.

And the real motive that WARMASTER was born… It’s hard to tell for me because WARMASTER was already formed when I hooked in. But during a break from DARK REMAINS, Andre and Rik started jamming. While jamming some songs rolled out of it. They later formed a band around it, because DARK REMAINS wasn’t doing anything around that time. They give it the name WARMASTER.

You did receive a good feedback from the ’underground’ scene when you gave your first gigs, still four years had to pass so as to see an ’official’ WARMASTER full length release. How difficult was it to carry on working in order to record your first CD after four years of existence?

The first two years WARMASTER actually didn’t perform on stage. In the end of 2005 they did a gig in Gouda. The ’underground’ scene gave a good feedback then. Also some lineup changes in WARMASTER has stopped the pre-recordings. So we did go back to the rehearsals. Because we wanted that everything was tightly anticipated on the recordings. And that was also the period when we where in search of a label which could bring out our debut. But it wasn’t difficult to carry on working on First War.

Did you - at some time - wonder if you should give up? You know, with tons of bands around and descending CD sales etc.?

No, never thought about it. When I feel that there is still pleasure to play I continue till the end. The rest of WARMASTER thinks the same about that. We like to play, so we are going to continue our battle on stage and we make the best of it and don’t mind about the ’overkill’ of metalbands.

How did you come in contact with Dutch Metal Records for the release of First War? Did you contact them or vice versa?

Dutch Metal Records is actually a label we started ourselves. After finishing the recordings we where negotiating with some labels to release our debut, First War. We almost inked a deal with Deity Down Records, but on a few things we could not come to an agreement. So we got stuck in the negotiations. With all labels we talked with, we had a dissatisfied feeling about what they offered. Then we came by the idea to release First War ourselves. Through the years being active in the Metal scene and releasing CDs with other bands on labels, we gained a lot of contacts, which made it easy to continue on this idea.

So, Dutch Metal Records is a newborn label. Are there any other bands at its roster, at this time?

The goal of Dutch Metal Records is indeed to release more albums, especially from Dutch Metal bands. We have a good scene going on here and a lot of great unsigned metal bands, for instance ARMINIUS, DARK REMAINS, REMAINS and so on. But we still have to gain more experience and grow as a label before we will sign any other band and release new albums.

Alex, you feel more ’free’ - at the beginning of your CD career - to be recording for a non-mainstream label? You believe you’d get little support from a more known label? Many bands - history has shown - try hard to ink deal with a big label, then to simply get ’ignored’ due to more known artists’ promotional requirements.

You have to start from somewhere. We are still ’underground’ so an ’indie’ label fits more to the situation. If a major label gets interested is great, but we are not thinking about that. Writing music we like and playing is the most important and fulfilling thing for us.

On to First War: were all songs written for the purpose of this CD or there are also ’old’ tunes around? Who takes care of the songwriting and who’s in charge of the lyrics? What sources of inspiration do you use for writing the lyrics?

From the start of the band songs have been written. All these songs are on First War. Corne is responsible for all lyrics. The rest of the band ensures that we come with songs where Corne can invent a text on. For this record  most songs were written by Andre (drums) and Rik (guitar), except for 1914. Nowadays Merijn (guitar) and I also take a large share in writing songs. However, you can hear that there’s a difference in it, which will give more variety for the songs on our next record. When Andre and Rik are composing a song it more sounds like BOLT THROWER. When Merijn and I write songs it sounds like SIX FEET UNDER.

For this record Corne mostly got inspiration for the lyrics from World War One. 1914 is about how the War started, Against Heavy Odds is about the Battle of Somme, how the Germans won while they were with much less divisions, then the Allies. Corne also writes more generic lyrics which can be reflected on all wars; for instance Unleashing Devilment is about heavy bombardments and Psychological Suffering about the effects war has on a person.

You believe Metal fans still pay attention to a band’s lyrics?

Most people have always been curious to the lyrics, because they wanted to know what a song is about.. Generally in Death Metal you cannot hear exactly what someone sings about. So for a lot of people is much easier to read down the lyrics when listening to the music.

As far as the song list goes, First War is not of long duration. It reminded me of the durations of 80s Metal LPs. Was this done on purpose, meaning you wanted to deliver in-your-face songs with no tendency to compose 6-minute or 7-minute tunes?

We have chosen to play short songs, making our album sounding smooth and simple. It’s also a wink to the old-school scene back then. We are about originality, we play what we like best, old-school. Maybe with the next album some slight changes will be made in the setup of the sound. This set up of the duration is done on purpose. We think abums with a duration of 30 to 40 minutes is enough, otherwise people will loose their attention. This way it keeps them hungry for more. For the next we will record some songs with a longer duration, but don’t expect the record will go over 40 minutes.

Alex, although there’s a variety in tempos in First War, most songs feature this mid-pace ballbreaking Death Metal vibe. The production is very powerful, too! Who produced and mixed the album? Having the given budget in mind, is there something you’d try to change now?

First War was recorded and mixed at A.M. Studios in Gouda by Andre Van Der Ree. The final mastering was done by Robbe K. of DISAVOWED. After the mix First War already sounded heavy and brutal, but Robbe made an awesome final touch and kept on the brutality of the music. The next album will probably be done the same way. Maybe with another sound, we’ll see.

How was the experience recording your first CD? Did you learn enough to be even more ’pro’ for the second album?

You always learn from each recording, which you can use for follow-up recordings. I have done a recording before with an other band I played in, so I was prepared for it.

There’s a strong tendency for European bands to mix Death(?) Metal vocals with more atmospheric/dark/goth music, then labeling themselves as ’Death Metal bands’. Do you like this specific style, or you support the opinion that Death Metal should be ’crowling’, guttural and brutal?

I think it is not bad to combine different kind of styles with each other. Only if you mix Death Metal vocals with more atmospheric/dark/goth music it’s not ’only Death Metal’. I do not always like this style. But I like sometimes the varieties in vocals when bands combine clean vocals with a grunt.

But I sure support the opinion that Death Metal must be growling, guttural and brutal.

Alex, apart from your obvious European influences, which bands from the US side would you refer to as main inspirations?

I think if we look to the US side SIX FEET UNDER is our main inspiration. Also in reviews of First War WARMASTER is referred to bands like SIX FEET UNDER and OBITUARY. In a lot of reviews they compare Corne’s vocals with the vocals of Chris Barnes.

With such a ’classic’ Death Metal sound, do you believe you can attract the interest of young Metal fans (e.g. teenagers) who seem to be rather ’bonded’ to the current Metal(?) stream (Nu-Metal, female-fronted bands etc)? Or, you do not care at all?

We don’t want to be original with our sound, we love ’Old School’. So actually we don’t care about it. If they like the music they don’t care about the sound either. But I think we actually can attract the interest of young Metal fans. Because they always listen to some older bands. Also the younger generation are not that critical about music.  

Is there any chance ’first war’ would be released on vinyl, too, for us the ’retro’ maniacs?

We are working on a release, a 4-split vinyl album with BATTLEMASTER, WARTORN and BATTLETORN in the US. If First War is going to be released on vinyl, I can’t tell. If we’re gonna release it on vinyl, it is going to be a very limited release. But don’t expect it. Maybe later if we grow bigger. Now it’s not the time for it.

How’s the tour with Jungle ROT, DOWNSWITCH and WALKING CORPSE by now? What’s the reaction of the fans while performing onstage?

The tour has already stopped. But it was a nice period. With ups and downs. We have had a great time with the guys of DOWNSWITCH and WALKING CORPSE. We have mentioned that the European mentality is very different than the American. We do not think big about ourselves. The only thing we want is have a great time and do what we like. Playing music for other people. It’s just for fun. Nowadays it’s hard to be part of the top and we know that. Only JUNGLE ROT it still fighting for a place at the top. Some gigs where well visited by people and the reaction of the fans was outstanding. In other gigs, it wasn’t crowded, but the reaction was still the same. But if I look back it was a great time and we have some laughs with each other. I’m missing it, that’s for sure.

In front of a ’negative’ reaction from the crowd (throwing bottles or falling asleep) you believe you’d react maturely? I’ve seen many bands - specially the ’support’ ones - facing a surprisingly bad behavior form spectators at times. How can you ’win’ such audiences?

We have never experienced that. As a support act it always difficult to win the audience. But you must stand positive on stage. I’ve you are nervous, people will see that. They used that against you. I’m sure the bigger bands make some faults too, sometimes; only, these bands are not faced with it. There is always some people who appreciate your music. And if you give everything to a crowd you also win the audience with it. People doesn’t like to see a brutal band who’s standing like a group of scarecrows. But it’s always difficult for unknown bands to support a big band. I only can say make the best of it. And give 100% with each other.

Alex, for what band/artist would it be a dream-come-true for WARMASTER to open a gig for?

That’s not a difficult question. A dream-come-true for WARMASTER will be the opener for BOLT THROWER or SIX FEET UNDER.

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

Stay yourself. We are doing that also. Playing Old School Death Metal! Also, thanks for your time! Stay Metal!


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