If you have the faintest interest in the European death metal scene then you most likely have heard of the Dutch supergroup Hail Of Bullets. The band recently inked a deal with Metal Blade and will start recording their debut in February 2008, but already by now they've made quite a buzz in the underground thanks to the four demo tracks on their MySpace page. Some days ago I got the opportunity to discuss various questions with guitarist Stephan Gebdi and bassist Theo Van Eekelen. It proved to be an interesting conversation.

Stephan Gebdi and Theo Van Eekelen interviewed by PSL

How did the band get together and what made you initially form the band?
Stephan: I already had plans to work together with Ed some time ago, but it never really happened. When Thanatos did a show with Martin's former band Death By Dawn, we talked about getting together sometime to record some stuff. We kept in touch and I discussed the idea with the other guys. First we came together to have a few drinks and to see if there was an actual 'click' between the five of us. From there the plans to form an actual band together became more concrete and early 2007 we started exchanging musical ideas.

The inspirations are clearly many, but could you say something about which bands had and still have an impact on the music that Hail Of Bullets make?
Theo: Bands that had and still have an impact on us are mostly 80's and early 90's bands like old Death, Celtic Frost, Massacre, Bolt thrower, Autopsy to mention a few. Those bands made us play the music we are into so much.

Do you find newer death metal [and metal] in general to be as good as the music that was created back in the day?
Theo: Well, I must admit that the newer bands don't have as much impact on me as the older bands had. When I for an example first heard Power and Pain from Whiplash or Dark Angel's Darkness Descends it totally blew me away. It was the same thing with albums from Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, AC/DC. Looking at the present situation, I haven't heard a classic album for a long time, but of course there are lot of very cool newer bands like Dying Fetus, Cretin, Coldworker, Deathbreath to mention a few.

Stephan: As a writer for Aardschok magazine I am pretty up to date as far as the current scene goes. Personally I think there are a lot of great bands nowadays as well. I mean I love brutal stuff like the latest Behemoth album and even black metal stuff like Watain, but I can't deny that most of my favourite albums were released in the 80's and 90's. There are a lot of good new bands out there though.

Has it surprised you the amount of interest people have showed in the band?
Theo: Yeah man, the promo was sent out to just a few selected labels, but there were reactions from many labels. So we were not afraid if we got signed at all but the question was to whom? And also the reactions from the death metal fans were really overwhelming, as well as the reviews for the promo. Look for yourself at our MySpace page.

You put a limited edition of the promo on sale via EMP Merchandising in Germany. Where you asked to do this or was it your own idea?
Stephan: First we didn't want to sell the promo at all, but then our drummer Ed came up with the idea to sell a limited amount through EMP in Germany and Large in Holland. We heard some complaints about the price being too high, especially because of the pretty high postage costs and to be honest I can relate to that. That's also one of the reasons why all four tracks have remained available for download until December 15th, 2007.

Do you think Hail Of Bullets musically fills out a void that has been there for a long time? I mean it seems like you're pretty much experiencing the same thing that Bloodbath did around Resurrection Through Carnage!
Stephan: Yeah, I guess so, but that's purely coincidental. Old school death metal is the thing that bonds the five of us, so there's no way we could have played another style of metal with this line-up. We felt there were hardly any bands playing this type of death metal at the moment and obviously a lot of other people felt the same, so it kind of fills out a void that both the band and we ourselves as fans have been experiencing. Bloodbath is a great band, so I don't mind the comparisons, but musically I see a lot of differences as well.

Have you by now completed the song-writing for the full-length?
Theo: Almost. Ed and Paul will get together within some days to finish the final song. The studio's booked for February 2008 and we can't wait to record the debut album!

I read in your blog on MySpace that you have enough material for two albums already. Is it difficult to pick what to use and not to use?
Stephan: Yes, that's true. I guess we have enough material for two albums, but it's a bit hard picking the final two songs for the albums now. There was no discussion about the first eight songs we chose, but now it's kind of difficult to decide which two songs will complete the album and which ones will have to wait and be used on the second album. Personally I think a death metal album should be no longer than 45-50 minutes, so that's something we're trying to keep in mind as well.

Do you mostly jam at home or do you write in the rehearsal room as well?
Stephan: We only did a handful of rehearsals so far, so we write everything at home, exchange ideas and once the song is finished we take it to the rehearsal room. Of course there's always room for finishing touches or new ideas but that's basically how we work.

You recorded the promo in Excess Studio in Rotterdam and then had Dan Swan mix the effort. Are you going to do things the same way on the full-length?
Theo: Yep, we got the same plans for the full-length. We'll record everything in Excess and then send it off to Dan Swan who'll make the sound as heavy as fuck!

How many songs do you expect the CD to contain? I assume you plan to reuse the four songs from the promo.
Theo: We're going for a 10 track album including the four songs from the promo. I'm sure that everything will sound so much heavier than on the promo. It's going to be a real spectacle old school death metal album! Just for the record the four songs from the promo will be re-recorded as well for the album. We won't use the old versions.

Could you give away some titles or is it too early in the process to talk about this?

Stephan: Apart from the four songs from the promo I'm pretty sure about the following titles: "Nachthexen" and "The Crucial Offensive".

Obviously the overall theme in the lyrics is war, but is it specific events that they deal with?
Stephan: Martin is working on a more focused aspect of World War II, that's all I can say about it now. I haven't read his new lyrics yet, so it will be a surprise to me as well!

It didn't take you long to ink the deal with Metal Blade. What made you decide to go with them?
Stephan: We got quite a few offers, but Metal Blade and another great label really stood out. It was a pretty hard decision, but in the end Metal Blade seemed the best choice for us.

Theo: Metal Blade was my personal favourite choice. Many classic albums have been released there by bands like Slayer, Sacred Reich among other so an old school band like Hail Of Bullets couldn't refuse their very interesting offer.

When do you expect to have the album recorded, mixed, mastered and ready for release?
Theo: We'll enter the studio in February 2008 and hope to release the album in May/June next year. And the plans are to promote the album with live appearances during the summer festivals.

Is Hail Of Bullets a real band or just a project band?
Theo: Hail Of Bullets is definitely a real band for all of us, just like Asphyx, Gorefest and Thanatos are. All bands are very important to us and we try to give 200% to all.

You plan on playing live once the album is released. How extensive is the amount of shows going to be?
Theo: I don't exactly know yet. It mostly depends on Gorefest, Asphyx and Thanatos. They also are doing a lot of gigs and that means that we have to plan everything very carefully to avoid double bookings, but we hope to play as much as possible.

Is there a band that would be the perfect fit for Hail Of Bullets to tour with?
Stephan: I don't know if they would be the perfect fit, but I'd love to play with Celtic Frost, Bolt Thrower, Bloodbath and I wouldn't mind Slayer either!

Anything you'd like to add to conclude this interview?
Stephan: Thanks for showing interest in the band. Keep an eye out for our debut album next year and we hope to see everyone at some of the summer festivals next year. Check our MySpace page for regular updates!



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