David interviewed by PSL
Could you start out by giving us a brief summary on the history of Undergang?
Undergang started out in the late spring of 2008 with the intention of bringing back rot and putridity to death metal. We recorded our first demo track in September 2008, briefly after our first concert in a basement in Copenhagen with Canadian Limb From Limb. After a series of more gigs we started recording for our first full length, Indhentet af Døden in a rehearsal room at Islands Brygge with our friend Morten. We played more shows and did a little weekend tour in Germany. The recordings of Indhentet af Døden was finally mixed and mastered by the summer of 2009 and I did a run of 100 promo tapes to find a label interested in releasing it on vinyl. Before the tapes were done we worked out a deal for the 12" version of the album with the English label Me Saco Un Ojo Records. We sold, traded and gave away the promo tapes and it lead to a two record deal with Spanish Xtreem Music records. The 12" on Me Saco Un Ojo Records was released with a delay in January 2010 and the CD version by Xtreem even more delayed in February 2011. We recently recorded eight new songs for our second full length which will be released by Xtreem Music on both 12" and CD during the winter of 2011/2012.
What inspired you to use the name Undergang for the band?
We wanted a name suitable for the music we created and as our music is downtuned to the bowels of hell and heavier than heavy we decided to go for a name describing the end of the world. Choosing a Danish name as well seemed fresh and in the beginning we didn't have any idea that our music would be listened to worldwide, but in the end it hasn't been much of a problem after all.
Your logo looks a little like Autopsy's. Is it a tribute to that band?
I guess that you can say that it somehow is, with Autopsy being my all time favourite band. I've always loved logos which are art themselves, like the Autopsy logos or the Impetigo logo to name another. So it came pretty natural to me to design a logo that way for Undergang.
Yeah, from the beginning we knew pretty much what we wanted to sound like and it certainly was nothing like the typical Danish death metal. I've never been that fond of the Danish death metal scene and sound, with only a few bands that I actually cared to listen to or go to shows to see. I hope it'll change with time. And it could be as there are emerging more and more interesting bands from the underground. Bands like Cerekloth, Deus Otiosus, Strychnos and so on. When we started playing I was inspired to bring heaviness of bands like Rottrevore and Winter, total grim rot of acts like Autopsy, Carcass and Impetigo and thrashing deadliness of Death and Master. So our sound turned out pretty different from the standard Danish death metal band which in general seem to aiming for a more technical and blasting style.
Your music is straight forward and stripped down. There are no shitty samples or other things to distract. Is that how you prefer it or is it a coincidence?
Actually we always wanted to add more samples, but as we wanted to keep everything in Danish and it's pretty damn difficult finding cool Danish horror samples, it was spared for our debut, with only the intro, taken from Riget, being added to the piano part. We're currently working on adding a few to our second full-length in the mixing process. This time around we got some help from a movie fanatic, as well as ourselves sitting and going through a series of Danish movies with potential to steal from, [laughs]. Depending on the way samples are used, I think it can be a cool feature to an already great song.
How do you go about writing songs? Do you write as a band or do each of you just sit home and come up with riffs and parts?
Until recently it has always been me writing riffs at home, then bringing them to the rehearsal where I played them for the others, told them my ideas for the drums and bass-lines and then we worked out the result together. Lately we've written two new songs and they have been more of a cooperative writing process as I only had a few riffs written beforehand and then Anders and Kasper had some inputs, like drum ideas and so on. Then I wrote a riff that would fit it. It was a new thing for me, but it worked out pretty well so in the future I think it'll be a mixture of the two writing processes.
You've chosen to sing in Danish. Is there a specific reason why?
The reason all the lyrics are in Danish is that it seemed the only logic way to do it, as we choose a Danish name for the band. I find it somehow silly when bands mix languages in their songs or sing in another language than there name introduces you too. But then again, it's not what makes up my opinion of a band. To me, the lyrics aren't all that important as long as it's presented in a cool way.
So, what inspires you lyrically? Is it fiction or things you read in the paper or see on T.V.?
Lyrically our songs are about death, child murder, suicide, decomposition, taking revenge, suffering and all sorts of horror. It's based on real life experiences, horror movies, fictional splatter and that sort of junk. To me, death metal is supposed to be about death.
Yeah, that's the right order you mention. We finished the recordings of what we wanted to be our debut full length and as we were a new band, we didn't have any record deal or real connections to a label interested in releasing our debut full length on vinyl as we wanted it to be. So when the recordings were all finished we decided on releasing it on a promo tape, so we could send it out to the labels we were interested in working together with. I dubbed 100 copies of the promo tape, but even before I had them finished and all ready, we got contacted by John of Evoke telling us that he had a friend who was interested in releasing our debut on 12" format. We started an email correspondence with Jesus and his label Me Saco Un Ojo Records, and pretty fast decided to have the vinyl released by him. He's a cool guy and has done lots of stuff for us by now, so I have nothing but good things to say about him and his label. I made a promo flyer for the tape and due to the modern days of the internet helping with getting your promotion out wider and faster, all 100 copies got sold out within a few weeks. The tape also lead to a two record deal with Spanish Xtreem Music records, who we agreed on letting him do the CD version of Indhentet af Døden and both LP and CD version of our second full length.
Do you collect LP's or tapes yourselves?
Absolutely, music is basically what makes my life what it is. Every month I always end up spending way too many of my money on records and new tapes [laughs]. My collection may not be the biggest, but there are lots of gems in there. I think my vinyl collection has about 1000 items right now.
You've put out your music via various labels. Is it difficult to find a good label to issue your music?
I guess it sort of is, but we do get a lot of offers. We choose the labels we like and then work together with them on whatever they have in mind. We would like to get as much put out as we can. But not by recycling the songs as some other bands tend to do.
How did you get in touch with Xtreem Music?
When the Indhentet af Døden promo tape was released I sold a copy to Dave of Unconsecrated, he then played it for Dave Rotten of Xtreem Music and apparently he like it so much that he contacted us offering us a record deal for Indhentet af Døden and our second full length when that is ready. Since his label has some great bands, like Verminous, Disgorge,
Demilich, Demigod and Rottrevore to name a few, and his sincere interest in Undergang we decided to go for it. Unfortunately my time schedule is really busy, so I ended up using way too much time on getting the layout ready for the CD version of Indhentet af Døden, but he still hung in there, so it's all good, [laughs].
Besides the CD edition of Indhentet af Døden you've put out the demo T.D.o.S. and the single "Hævntørst" in 2011. Do you have other releases in the works?
The T.D.O.S. promo tape is a two track teaser of our second full length. It'll be released on vinyl by the end of this year and on CD in the beginning of 2012, by Xtreem Music. Besides that an 8" split with Anatomia will be out this year through Me Saco Un Ojo Records and I'm currently working on getting a live tape featuring two full live shows; one with Anatomia and one from Undergang. It was recorded in Halle, Germany, when we did a small tour together after the Kill-Town Death Fest 2010. It'll be released by my new label Extremely Rotten Records later this year. We're also currently working on new songs that either will be on a split or and EP.
Who draws your artwork?
It has been a mixture of people so far. The front cover of Indhentet af Døden was drawn by our friend Jonas Bjerg. Some art on the insert was made by Polish Rafal Kruszyk and the rest is drawn by me. I'd like to do most of our stuff myself as I find it cool when a band offers artwork made by one of their own members. Besides that we've got some new artwork made by the great Putrid. Not 100% sure what it'll be for yet though, but probably an EP or split.
Do you think it's central that the artwork fits the music?
Absolutely, I think it's important that the art tells the story of the music itself. If the art is cool, I sometimes buy a record only based on that as I feel it gives a look into what the music is about. Sometimes it's not and it's a little confusing and irritating to me.
Yeah, at least to me the Kill-Town Death Fest is a great opposite to a festival like for instance Copenhell. I find it important to bring more focus on what's going on beneath the surface of the metal scene and that's the spirit of the Kill-Town Death Fest. I'm a part of the group behind the Kill-Town Death Fest as well and this year it's a bit smaller than the first year. It's basically due to the fact that half or our group quit after last years festival and all of us remaining has a lot of stuff going on besides putting up a festival, which is a lot of hard work. The warm-up show was originally a separate show I was supposed to do for Burial Invocation as they were planning on touring and getting to Denmark to attend Kill-Town Death Fest again. We then decided to use it as a warm-up gig for the real festival, to give the Kill-Town Death Fest a longer stretch than just the two days. Burial Invocation asked to play with us and as we'd like to share stage with them again, I arranged that part as well as getting Antichrist from Sweden on the bill. So turn up and support the international death metal underground this year in September, you'll discover great new acts for sure.
What do you think of the Danish death metal scene in general?
I don't really care that much for it to be honest. I think there are way too many bands sounding the same and not interesting enough in general. To me it seems like most of the Danish death metal bands put too much energy into blast beats, slam, core-shit and that sort of stuff. That way of being "brutal" just isn't doing it for me really. And then there's another thing about the Danish bands, that goes pretty much though all metal genres - they all have this Danish sound to it that just sounds pretty lame. I don't know how exactly to put it into words, but I believe that there's a lot of people out there who knows exactly what I mean. I hope a thing like the Kill-Town Death Fest can add a little wider look into what death metal is about, to the Danish scene in general. Maybe I sound a bit arrogant, but take it as you please.
Anything you'd like to add to conclude this interview?
Thanks for the interview. I hope you find the answers satisfying. Stay tuned for more releases of Undergang and upcoming shows. As things are right now we've got a series of shows coming up this year as well as a mini-tour with Strychnos in Germany, in the beginning of December.