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Bonded's Bernd Kost: "It was more and more Tom's intention to return to the early days of Sodom without compromise. Even if I like and respect the old Sodom classics, of course, I've always been someone who is also looking ahead…"

Interview with Bernd Kost from Bonded
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 08 February 2020, 4:19 PM

Out of the dark and into the light, sounds rather familiar don't you think? Well, Kreator aren't the reason why this phrase was mentioned. It is about continuance, not letting go and moving forward in order to maintain subtlety, the same motivation as in the past, yet under a different foundation. After being fired from Sodom, Bernd Kost and Markus Freiwald, didn't wish to stop writing and making music. Therefore, they founded Bonded, gathered a powerful musicians' core and signed to a great label. With their debut album, "Rest In Violence" out and about making havoc, Steinmetal had the chance to talk to Kost about the whole Sodom ordeal, the present and the future of Bonded and the new album.

Hello Bernd, it is a pleasure to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, I guess that you took yourself time off in this short Christmas and New Year's period? How have you been doing sir?

Hi, I had a few days off from work between Christmas and New Year. I tried to use the time to write new songs but also spent a lot of time with family and friends. It´s the best time of the year.

Ever since the emergence of Bonded, especially with an upcoming release, I can only imagine that you were swarmed with questions about the break away from Sodom of yourself and Markus Freiwald. Without really asking what happened, what do you think that led Tom Angelripper to tell you guys that it is off, especially since you, meaning yourself, have been with the band for two decades.

In the end the separation was perhaps a necessary step. It was more and more Tom's intention to return to the early days of Sodom without compromise. Even if I like and respect the old Sodom classics, of course, I've always been someone who is also looking ahead. Especially after the big success of "Decision Day" Makka and I wanted to work on new songs to enlarge our setlist, Tom didn't. I loved and enjoyed the time with Sodom, but only playing the old songs would have taken the fun out of me and I didn't want to pretend I'm living in the 80s trying to write songs from that era. So ultimately everything went well for all of us.

Do you see the foundation of Bonded as a natural order of things, with you and Freiwald as a kind of a package deal for the next thing in line? Other than financials, you didn’t really want to stop your work in Sodom right?

Makka and myself have known each other for a long time and are close friends. We have been the driving force behind the Sodom songs for many years and would not have left the band under the previous conditions. After the split it was clear that we would continue together. We love to make music, we both have regular 40-hour jobs and were never financially dependent on the band. So we could start with Bonded in a very relaxed manner.

It might sound a little childish, yet ego has a part in every personal conflict. At least at first, did you see Bonded as a counter to the new Sodom efforts? A sort of getting back at Tom for what you believe to be an unjustified move by the latter?

No, definitely not. Of course, we weren't happy that we were fired this way. For many years we put a lot of energy and passion into the band. But that´s history, it´s impossible and stupid if you want to start a band just out of defiance or out of other negative thoughts. We love writing songs, going on tour and spending the time together with friends and fans. We are focused on Bonded now and have long ended with the chapter Sodom, even if it was a big and important part of our lives..

Leaving aside the Sodom business and into the present. You guys named the band Bonded. When I thought about it, I could only guess that it is your unwavering bond of Metal music and of the heritage of Metal that you just can’t think of yourselves without. Am I in the right direction? Were there any other reasons or explanations for the chosen name?

Hahaha … that would be a nice story. The truth is that we have been looking for a long time to find a suitable name. When Makka and I came across BONDED at a couple of beers, we were immediately enthusiastic and only realized afterwards that this name indeed was a strong statement for our band. Thanks to the collaboration with our long-time friends Marc and Chris, our producer Corny Rambadt and as well with Century Media, we couldn't find a stronger symbol.

Since you and Freiwald have been known in your local Metal scene, finding the right band members to complete the lineup wasn’t probably a difficult task. For the vocals, you recruited Assassin’s mighty iron lungs of Ingo Bajonczak. I really enjoyed his work on his band’s latest, “Combat Cathedral”. Was he your first choice to begin with? What is your appreciation of his vocal abilities?

As you said, the open jobs on the second guitar and bass were filled quickly. But we needed a long time to find the right singer for Bonded. A friend made us aware of Ingo and we were immediately impressed by his expressive voice. With Ingo we are more than ever able to sound more versatile and that is our goal. By the way, Ingo is a great guy that fits with his character perfectly into the band and on the stage.

Before we start talking about the new album, I wonder, what is your vision of Bonded and its music? Has it been dwelling in you for some time?

My taste in music has not changed over the years. I like brutal songs that still leave room for melodies and good hooks. With Ingo we have the opportunity to expand our sound significantly, we will continue with Bonded exactly where we left off with "Decision Day" just with a little more room up and down.

Bonded’s debut album “Rest In Violence”, is about to be released by Century Media Records, which I believe that endorsed it with open arms. Was it set in stone that Bonded is signing with Century Media or the offer just dropped on your doorstep, along with other interesting offers?

Indeed we got some interesting offers but chose Century Media very quickly. We have known CM since its foundation, Makka got a contract with Despair in 1986 and I was there with Crows in 1991. The headquarters is in our city; we know the people and know that they totally support us. When they made us a very good offer, the decision was pretty easy.

“Rest In Violence” holds a powerful core when it comes to the message it delivers. Clearly, you are angry, a critic disappointed of things around you. Do you feel that you channeled your anger, letting it loose within this album, in order to sort of clean yourself and start a new chapter?

hahaha…. I can't talk about Ingo's angry lyrics but as far as I'm concerned musically I'm anything but angry. We all have a great time with the band, happy to have come together in this lineup and we enjoy the time. For me, when I make aggressive music, it doesn't necessarily mean that I'm angry. Metal concerts are usually the most peaceful events I can imagine, measured by the aggression in the music and the lyrics, would e.g. the Wacken Open Air end in a massacre. Yes, I opened a new chapter with Bonded but I don't have to clean myself … I wasn't dirty.

What would you say are the main musical features that you gave the most thought of while writing the material for the album?

When I'm writing  new riffs I don't think about it too much. Many things inspire me, consciously or unconsciously. Thrash Metal is a lifestyle and it is in you or not. Of course you do not have good ideas every day, but usually the songwriting process is very easy and natural as long as you are in a good mood. At the latest in the rehearsal room when jamming with Makka and some beer, a few good ideas always come out.

While listening to the album, which I am more than sure that you did, and even several times, what did the final product make you feel? Were there regrets, second thoughts perhaps?

I believe after an album is released most musicians still find one or two parts they would like to change. I'm no exception. But I have to admit that I would not change that much in this production. And if you know me that means a lot, hahaha … A fact that cannot be changed, today we could play the songs a little better because we had to practice them for the shows and have played them many times. We are more than happy with "Rest In Violence" as well with the great sound that Corny did.

Even as a veteran musician, there is always a place to go in terms of learning new things and enhancing one’s abilities. How do you think that you developed your songwriting and music writing attributes with “Rest In Violence”?

You're right, you should at least always try to improve your skills and be open to criticism and suggestions. Overall, I'm very happy with "Rest in Violence"'s songwriting, but even if you want to, you will never satisfy all critics. After being nearly 22 years in the same team it has given me a new challenge to work with our singer Ingo and a second guitarist, that made the production very exciting.

When it comes to the vast Metal market, which still have a fair share of old school driven albums, what do you think makes “Rest In Violence” to become a sort of a beacon, a standout?

I get bored quickly at concerts if bands play down their set without surprising. When the songs rush through at the same speed and nothing lasts in my head. That's why we try to be more varied musically and lyrically than other bands from the genre without losing brutality. At least that's our plan…

How would you describe the songwriting process of “Rest In Violence”? Did you need to adjust yourself as being the main songwriter, yet also maintain a team effort?

I usually prepare the riffs and work together with Makka on the basics for the new songs. Afterwards the boys give their part independently and everyone should be able to put their stamp on the music. When we’re arranging all of us come together with our producer Corny Rambadt to change the structure if it appears necessary. Makka and I have been working successfully for a long time with this method. Even if we are most experienced we try to involve the other boys and share the rights for the songs among us equally so that nobody is disadvantaged.

The self-titled song, “Rest In Violence”, features the undying Bobby “Blitz” Elsworth, of Overkill, as a guest vocalist. Ingo and Bobby are totally different vocalists, and I think that it played out well for you. How do you think that Elsworth’s vocal dynamics impacted on the quality of the song? What made you choose him over others, if there were others?

There was definitely no other. We know and appreciate Bobby for many years. Just like Speesy, he offered himself for this job because he likes us and wanted to support us. We didn't just want to have anybody as a guest, it makes no sense. With Bobby and Speesy, two friends participated in "Rest In Violnece" and they enjoyed it. Bobby even worked on the lyrics and the vocal arrangements. With the cooperation of the two, this song has become an absolute highlight for all of us. Bobby is a fantastic, authentic guy and his voice is incomparable. We are very happy and proud.

 “Je Suis Charlie” is a symbol, a phrase that defies the zero tolerance of extremists. Other than writing a song about the dread that surrounds this phrase. What is your opinion regarding what happened back then in France? What do you foresee in the future following the outcome of the Charlie Abdo incident?

For me it will always remain a mystery how people are capable of such reactions. Unfortunately, such inhumane acts have become part of our everyday life and when I turn on my TV, I don't see much that makes me optimistic about the future. Nevertheless, in my role as a musician, I see myself as a kind of mediator who wants to promote tolerance and understanding. On all the shows of the past years, no matter where, I only met fans who wanted to party and to have a good time, peacefully. Religion or origin doesn't matter at all. Maybe the extremists should headbang more so things get straightened out in their heads.

Though I am a Thrash Metal fan in my core, one of the album’s most interesting tunes, is the only out of the box tune, “The Outer Rim”. Not your typical balladry, although there are signs, definitely a closer for an album, and in a sense, somewhat out of context to the entire album. Was it supposed to be a little experiment or is this your way of closing this first chapter of Bonded with something graceful?

We didn't plan to put a slow song on the album. I had the idea for the instrumental part and introduced it to the others. Ingo immediately added something and the song developed quickly. We recorded it but left it in the drawer for now, didn't know what to do with it hahaha….. When we started to choose the tracks for the album we listened to it again and said "we like it, why not?" Seen in this way, "Outer Rim" is a small experiment and the reactions so far have been mostly positive. We already played it several times live and saw that people like to have a little break from time to time before the next neck attack follows.

Looking forward, what do you think are the challenges of Boned, whether supporting the debut or mainly your musical direction or anything that comes to mind?

We have done everything possible to give "Rest In Violence" a good start. The challenge for us for the future will be to promote the songs as good as possible and, at the same time, to look ahead to work on a worthy successor. We will try to play as many shows as possible.

Bernd, I would like to thank you for this interview, I am glad we could do this. “Rest In Violence” is no doubt a strong position, and it could not be denied. All the best.

Thank you very much, we are happy to be back and can't wait to get back on the road. We hope to meet you soon. All the best, Bernemann


 



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Edited 24 November 2020
 

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