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Stephan Gebedi (Thanatos)

Interview with Stephan Gebedi from Thanatos
by Yiannis Doukas at 20 June 2009, 4:51 PM

It is always pleasant to see old bands being in a great period. And although the first two THANATOS albums seem to be the peak of the mountain for most of their fans we cannot hide our enthusiasm for the Justified Genocide which -in my opinion- if it had been released 20 years ago with a different sound may be considered as a masterpiece just like their debut. Stephan their guitarist/vocalist is here to explain us what things inspiring him.

Interview with: Stephan Gebedi from THANATOS

Metal greetings, Stephan, from METAL TEMPLE. Congratulation for the Justified Genocide CD, which -personally speaking- I found much better than Angelic Encounters or Undead. Unholy. Divine.. I believe it is the first time after your resurrection that you have such strength and quality in almost all the songs. Were there any special conditions in your work? Did you have any specific purpose in your mind?

Hi Yiannis, well thank you for the compliments. Personally, I think Angelic Encounters was a pretty weak album, especially the production and the drums, but I still like Undead. Unholy. Divine. a lot. I must admit that Justified Genocide is much stronger though. I guess all the frustrations and the bitterness from the past few years, all the problems with record labels and the music industry but also today's fucked up world and religious restrictions came out on this album.

How long did you stay at the Excess Studio? Were the songs prepared there or were they written and previously refined? How did it happen, the contact with Swano? I guess you are pleased with the HAIL OF BULLETS work, eh? He gave an extra brutality to the whole sound without sinking the songs into exceedingly weight.

We were working in the Excess Studios for 2 weeks in 2006 when we found out that Black Lotus had gone bankrupt. So then we stopped the recordings. We came back a few months later to finish the recordings of 3 songs and started shopping with those for a new deal. Not many labels were willing to pay for the production of the new album though. In that same period HAIL OF BULLETS took off so Paul and I had to spend most of our time on that band. In 2008 we decided to finish the album and have it mixed by Dan Swano cause we were very satisfied with his work for the BULLETS. Dan really loved the rough material and assured us that he could give it something extra with his mix. And that's exactly what he did; he more or less resurrected that dead album and gave it new life. Turning it into our most brutal and heavy sounding album so far.

I always felt that in your music there are a lot of Thrash influences, or -to be more precise- you probably listened a lot to SLAYER etc. Look for example the riffing of Destruction. Chaos. Creation.. And if I add the primary demo recordings, I guess the picture gets clearer. What is your opinion? What are your feelings about this music nowadays? Have you discovered any new good band?

Well yes, THANATOS have always played a mixture of Thrash and Death Metal, because we love both types of music just as much. SLAYER, old DEATH, CELTIC FROST, MORBID ANGEL, POSSESSED, VENOM and DARK ANGEL have always been our main influences I guess.

Personally I don't give a shit about this new wave of Thrash Metal bands, I prefer the real stuff like EXODUS, SLAYER, KREATOR, etc.

Can we say moving from the Thrash to the Death Metal sound in the end of 80s put the first one into the grave? Or was it the poor quality of those albums back then, since most of the aggression had been lost and there was something like a technique contest? Or was it a logical parade into more brutal things?

No I don't see it that way. Realm Of Ecstasy had more death metal influences than the 1st album, but there was definitely still a lot of thrash on there, so we never put the Thrash Metal thing to the grave. I guess we simply listened to a lot of early Death Metal in those days and those bands sounded more intense than a lot of the early Thrash bands that started to sound more commercial in those days. We'd rather be compared to DEATH than to METALLICA or MEGADETH who started writing Top 40 songs in those days.

How did the DARK ANGEL cover emerge? The original is pure bloody hell. And your cover catches the feeling, surely. Do you remember the first time you listened to Darkness Descends? Do you like Leave Scars and Time Does Not Heal?

DARK ANGEL has always been one of my all time favorite bands. I like all their stuff but Darkness Descends is by far their best album ever… When I first head I was going like What the fuck???!!! and when I hear it now I still get that feeling. It still gives me goosebumps!

Holland question part one: Do you like the latest PESTILENCE CD? Have you listened to the new ASPHYX album? It seems like a comeback of the Death Metal scene from your country. It always surprised me that your band - plus the two above mentioned - had their unique identity. You know, neither Swedish influences nor Florida. Can you trace the elements of how that happened?

Hmmz, I don't think it's really relevant what I think of PESTILENCE, is it? I like their first 2, maybe 3 albums. I heard the new album once or twice. It's not bad, but it sounds pretty generic in my ears, could be any US Death Metal band as far as I'm concerned. I never was a big fan of ASPHYX either, but their new album has a great sound and I really like quite a few songs on there. Definitely a good album. And yes, Dutch metal is really back; GOD DETHRONED, ASPHYX, HAIL OF BULLETS, THANATOS and LEGION OF THE DAMNED are all doing great at the moment and like you said, we all have our own unique style unlike many Swedish or Floridian bands, although I love some of those bands as well of course.

Dutch question part two: Besides the Death Metal bands, Holland is well known for the weed phenomenon, ha ha! Did the anti-penalization thing brought positive effects?

I have no idea about the whole weed thing so I really don't care. I stopped smoking weed when I was 20 years or so. Nowadays I only drink and the same thing goes for the other guys in the band…

Do you find necessary the existence of laws in our society? Can we survive without having something to control us or such a thing is an utopia?

I guess laws are necessary for certain people, but too many rules are just plain ridiculous. In an ideal world everyone would be intelligent enough to know wrong from right but unfortunately 75 percent of the world population consists of stupid, antisocial, ignorant Neanderthal fucks who unfortunately need to be kept in control by laws.

The lyrics in the new album were a highlight in my opinion. The people's rotten minds also piss me off. You are talking about the Reich occultism and on the other hand the self-titled track is an attack against all the tyrants of this world but unfortunately when a low judging mind takes a look at that stuff starts saying bullshit. Same happened with the previous IMPALED NAZARENE album. Why such a taboo with all these topics? And, on the other hand, isn't it fascistic someone talking without thinking? In the end the whole antiâ€fascist thing can become the worst fascism.

You're totally right about that! All these extreme anti-fascists are in fact the real Nazis who are trying to prevent a freedom of speech. In my eyes and-fortunately- yours and a lot of other people's eyes, these lyrics are pretty clear, but certain people obviously can not judge things themselves and need an explanation for everything. It sucks but if that's what it takes these days, so be it!

Fanatics have caused a lot of suffering and destruction upon this poor planet. And I'm talking about the religion stuff till the Nazi and racism things. Why - in your opinion - all these are happening, not only now but since the birth of societies? How can a young person keep his mind and judgment in clear level, if something like that can be considered as 'undiscriminating'? Is it the education system, the family, the whole economic structure?

I guess it's a combination of both. I think there's good and bad in every person. Your environment, your education, your parents, they can all feed either the good or the bad side. Besides that, power corrupts, so everyone can turn into a relentless killing machine, I guess. A lot of people can't think for themselves and they take everything for granted. I don't have the solutions or the definitive explanation either but at least I try to think about it.

OK, let's go to music again. What are THANATOS plans? Are there any live proposals, are you planning to move on, maybe with a new album or something?

We already had many shows booked with our other bands, so there won't be any THANATOS shows until after the summer. There will be shows in October/November but no definite days yet (apart from 1 or 2 shows in Germany). We definitely want to return to Greece again, so any reliable promoter over there willing to bring us over, please contact us!

It seems there is something like a crawling curse with the labels you are making contracts. First it was Hammerheart, then Black Lotus. Do you feel OK with Deity Down Records? Don't you think that all this stuff played an important role for your career? What label was more OK towards you? And, also, why so much delay in the first days of the band? There wasn't any industry interest back then?

He he, we just seem to have bad luck with labels; they either cheat us or go bankrupt, maybe it's our fault and maybe this band is cursed! Ha ha.

So far we're satisfied with Deity Down, they're a small label of course but Gerard is an honest guy and together we're building the band again slowly but steady. Of course, THANATOS would have been a bigger band now if we had signed to Metal Blade or Nuclear Blast in the 90's but it didn't happen. It's no use to look back anymore. We're still here after 25 years and we just made a hell of a record… We're still very much an underground band, but I really don't mind.

Do you want to share with us a few things about HAIL OF BULLETS? Your debut was fantastic. Whose idea was and when did you form the band? Are you going to continue, is it something like a project or you see it as full band?

HAIL OF BULLETS is doing great, yes! It was actually my idea and I already wanted to do something like this together with Ed Warby (drummer) in the nineties, but it never happened. At the end of 2006 THANATOS played a show with DEATH BY DAWN (feat. Martin Van Drunen) and I talked about this idea again; forming a band with friends of mine that were already in other Dutch bands; we all like the idea, got together a few months later to talk about the idea. Got drunk, discovered we all loved AUTOPSY, MASSACRE, POSSESSED, CELTIC FROST and BOLT THROWER and went for it!

HAIL OF BULLETS is definitely a band and not a project! There will be a new mini-CD in August and a new full length album sometime in April/May 2010.

What is the worst question that someone ever asked you?

After 25 years I really hate questions like 'how did the band start' or 'tell me  a bit about your influences' I mean…come on, this band has been around since 1984…please ask something more relevant.

Why did you decide to re-record And Jesus Wept for the EP? In how many copies was it? What are the differences between the first period of THANATOS and the current one? Personally, I think your songs have gained a more 'straight attack' personality in order with the more multi-riffing that you had back then (see And Jesus Wept). What is your opinion?

We did the DARK ANGEL cover and had some time left. We thought it would be a nice idea to re-record that song as it was still in our live set, and I never like the vocals on the original version…too monotonous…

I guess we sound more straight forward these days. Although Justified… is a bit more technical again than Undead… I think.

Stephan it was an honor. Thank you very much for your time and good luck with your bands. Speed kills!!!

Thank you for showing interest in us. We sincerely hope to come back to Greece very soon! Cheers!


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