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Gerrit, Britta, Dennis (Cripper)

Interview with Gerrit, Britta, Dennis from Cripper
by Megan McMillan at 19 December 2014, 5:57 PM

Temple writer Megan had some lengthy words with hard-to-categorise Thrash band, Cripper. A female-fronted band from Germany, they've been going strong since 2007, and were lucky enough to perform at the last 70,000 Tons of Metal cruise. Megan had the opportunity to talk to multiple band members, going in-depth about the new album and lightly touching on the prospect of world domination.

Hyëna will be your fourth album release and so far and so far you have released Tourniquet, can you tell me why you decided to choose that song rather than any of the others on the new album? What makes it stand out?

Gerrit: Oh yes, that is a good question. The decision was not easy. I think on “Hyëna” you will find a lot of songs which are not typically Thrash Metal songs. During the songwriting sessions we recognized more and more that the songs on “Hyëna” are building a strong symbioses of former Cripper trademarks and a new murkier and heavier style. For me, Tourniquet shows the traditional character of Cripper combined with a bit of a Death Metal taste. But what can I tell, finally we all love this song and it's so much fun to play it live. So in the end I think that was the trigger that we said: “Hey, if we have so much fun with this song, perhaps some guys out there could have it also!”

Additionally, what is the concept of the song?

Britta: We are playing this song with our foot down to the floor, if you know what I mean. We wanted it to grip you and not let go of you again. Lyric-wise the song is about the abuse of power on a large scale. It's about people whose job is to protect you, but who are actually tricking and threatening our society. Whether politics, church, police or economy - where there is too much power, it is also abused. But there are always individuals or small groups, the underdogs in this case that rise up and do brave things that open people's eyes and give hope. I am thinking of Edward Snowden or Ghandi for example. I have great respect for these people who are dedicating their lives to make a change for the better by opening people's eyes.

The album artwork is very gripping. It captures the gritty sound featured on the album in a single image, who did the album art work. Can you also speak about the development of the image? Such as how you got the texture and ideas behind the concept art.

Gerrit: The other guys actually came up with the title idea when they wrote our previous album Antagonist. But it didn't fit the songs well and so they kept the title in their minds.
We see Hyenas somehow as the thrash metallers among all the predators. Not as elegant as the cat-types like Lions or Panthers - but mangy, imposing and really strong. As a motto for a metal album, an aggressive hyena with very impressive teeth just fits very well. The album as a whole is very heavy and there are many serious, punchy riffs. This was decisive for the gloomy atmosphere in the whole artwork.

Some have already mistakes the two dots above the e as a German Umlaut. It is no Umlaut, since in German language that is only ü, ä and ö. The dots above the e are simply cool looking “rock dots” that we just wanted to have. While the development of the artwork the whole band was involved to the brainstorming process. Finding images, textures an especially the technique for creating the artwork. In the end Jonathan was responsible for all the painting stuff and Christian combined all the paintings, pictures etc. to the complete booklet an album artwork.

Britta: The process of the artwork was surprisingly complicated. We thought „hey, a hyena on the cover – this is gonna be easy to do“. But no, it turned out to be quite dofficult to find some good basic material. Since hyenas can look extremely cute and fluffy, haha.

You seem to have invested a lot of time on the limited edition of the album. However, fans have only been teased with the box set image and have yet to receive any information about what’s inside. Can you reveal anything regarding the items included with the limited edition album at all?

Britta: Ok, in the meantime, we have revealed all the items. I will give you the tour. The manually numbered box is limited to 500 pieces. It the new album in the Digipak version that comes with a bonus live DVD. Our whole set of our Metaldays show 2014 is on, filmed with more than 10 cameras and with a really good sound quality. The box also holds a t-shirt with a new Hyëna design, a postcard and – which I think is a real treat – an 7“ vinyl also limited to 500 pieces and that is exclusively available with this box. It is our first real single so to say and has the song 7“ (= Seven Inches) on it as well as A Dime for the Establishment“.

Moving on, Cripper are stated as a thrash band. I saw that you had toured with Overkilll in 2010. I can see influence of Old School Thrash bands across your discography. What bands in specific influenced your work?

Oh, this is a hard one. I'm not quite sure whether Cripper is a Thrash Metal band today or not… Yes, I think in the early days, Cripper was a Thrash Metal band. I think the musical overlap of all band mates is still in Thrash Metal. But especially on Hyëna, Cripper is more than that. We all are influenced by so many different styles, so it is hard for us to define which genre Cripper is a part of. I think we will know after we have read the reviews. For me, Hyëna combines different genres. I hear a bit of The Haunted, Exodus and Legion of the Damned. But in some parts there is also a slight 80's Rock 'n Roll spirit. And then you have songs with a little more Death Metal attitude or some Stoner shit. In the end we try to give every song something special. It starts with the riffs and then comes to the atmosphere and ends with the lyrics and the story they tell. In most cases we have no specific genre in mind when we create a new song. But as mentioned before Thrash is the overlap I think. The genre which is a lot of fun to play live, so I think Cripper will always be Thrash Metal in its core.

In contrast, this time round your music seems to have a harder hitting sound than older songs which had a melodic metal feel to them. Have you been inspired by newer bands from the hardcore or melo-core scenes ect.

Gerrit: Oops, I think I the answer before is a bit the answer of this question also, right? ;-) All of us love music. Not only playing especially hearing the music of other bands. But in the end I think, it's me, who is orientated most in genres like Melodic Death Metal or Core-Styles. Finally I have a second band called SCARNIVAL, which is a swedish styled Melodic Death Metal band. But I'm not quite sure in which way this was important for the songwriting for “Hyëna”. Perhaps you will find a little bit more Core on “Hyëna”, somewhere out on this record. I don't know, haha!

With the slight change of musical direction, how do you as a musician feel that you have developed your talent and playing style?

Dennis: As the playing styles of all participating musicians combined define the "genre" of a band, these two aspects not only influence each other, but are kind of the same. When we write songs, we play things that feel good for us. Every single songs gets so much attention in the process of songwriting, because we try to give every detail a meaning, or at least a good reason to be - so our abilities to express ourselves through music results in the band style.
Also, Hyëna is our forth album, and as we are always anxious not to repeat ourselves, it's kind of natural that the form of writing slowly develops. Over time, we had the feeling that one of the special aspects of Cripper are for example fat groove parts, so we tried to focus on those to improve our strenghts. Finally, it should be the case that you enhance your talents and skills, when you rehears two times a week for so many years. Concerning that, we are not trying to go faster, louder or extremer in other meanings - but you will hear new techniques in singing, guitar playing and also drumming - and of course bass playing because with Gerrit we have a new bass player since after our last album Antagonist. And with "new techniques" I mean new for us concrete musicians ;)How are you going to approach touring this time round, are you going to be playing in smaller venues or attempt bigger venues?

Yeah, we are prepared for a tour! At the moment the Cripper team is planning a tour for 2015. We will let you know if there are concrete dates available.  First of all, we love playing our shit live. So it doesn't matter if there is a small or big venue in general. Sure, festival like Summer Breeze here in Germany, Metal Days in Slovenia or the 70.000 Tons of Metal… what can I say. It's absolutely gorgeous that we can be part of it. But you know, there are so many smaller festival out there made by metal fans and music enthusiast. We love it, to be part of the heavy metal community. So, please, support your local scene, hehe.

What territories are you planning on covering? World Tour?

Gerrit: Oooooh yeah! Cripper is ready to fight for world domination… No, seriously: Let's see what the future brings. With our Label Metal Blade we have a very good partner to spread our Cripper stuff around the world, and than let's see what happens.

Lastly, what was your experiences growing up in Germany? How did it affect your outlook on life?

Dennis: Uh, that's a hard one for a last question :DI have no ability to estimate the differences of growing up in a different country, but I personally would not consider myself as a "German", because I don't think that nationality is something reasonable to define people. Of course it's a good thing not having to worry about technically important things to survive and many, many other privileges. But on the other hand I have the feeling, that we were not raised with the full awareness of the attached responsibilities and consequences. Therefore, perhaps a little more personal answer :)My outlook on life changes every couple of years, because I try to absorb as many influences as I can, focus only on activities I really like doing and be as self-determined as possible, on the life-long way to find out what that actually could be. Sometimes, that feels kind of rebellious, frustrating and chaotic, and sometimes surprisingly focused, satisfying and resting in itself. Probably, the region of the world we live has a big influence on this way of living, but I am far away from sure if the triggering circumstances and also the consequences are positive or negative - for me and others. And of course, this my personal view on things ;)


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Edited 30 May 2023

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