Having heard "Thrash Notes" earlier this year, I wanted to ask Abandoned a few questions about where life is taking them. Kalli took some time out to give me some answers and tell me a few things about their past, present and future, including their plans to release a new album in spring 2007.
'Thrash Notes' pretty much sums up what your album is about doesn't it? Straight down the line thrash metal, with no messing?
Kalli: You're damn right. Since we're all huge fans of bay area thrash and grew up with that kind of music, we now feel appointed to raise the flag of thrash in the new century, haha!
Although you do use modern touches here and there, is 'Thrash Notes' a protest against today's metal scene at all? Do you think music was better back in the eighties in some ways? Why/why not?
Kalli: Well, nowadays you have to be revolutionary and bring music to new levels in order to impress the critics. You have to be faster, slower, more extreme, more mellow, whatever... We don't care about that and do what we wanna do. We don't wanna be something fancy. It's just the music we love and that's it. I think in the eighties there was a certain spirit that got lost over the years. I mean there are view bands that really have as much fun as we have on stage. We give 100% and we mean it!
Do you think thrash is making a comeback?
Kalli: Yeah, I think so. There are many thrash bands in the underground and even some of the established bands thrash a little harder than they did the last fifteen years, haha!
Quite a few reviews compare you to Slayer. It's a compliment to be compared to such a great band, but does it irritate you that you've put all the work into making an album for critics to be quite dismissive of it?
Kalli: Yeah, we're compared to Slayer very often, but they have few impact on what we do. I mean 'Reign in blood' was and is one of the best thrash albums ever recorded but I don't see any similarities between them and us. Maybe it's because of my vocal style but musically they'd rather drop some names like TESTAMENT or EXODUS. On the other hand, SLAYER is one of the biggest extreme metal bands ever and being compared to them really is a compliment, right. I think because there are so many new bands around, you need some established band to be compared to so that people that don't know your music get an impression and make up their minds if you are interesting enough to be checked out...
Some people say that Germany is the most metal country in the world. Do you agree? Why/why not?
Kalli: Hmm, difficult to say because I don't really know the scenes in other countries so well. On the one hand you have such great bands like Accept, Kreator, Destruction, Sodom and so on and huge festivals like Wacken and Bang Your Head!!! which could make you think that Germany is a metal Mekka. On the other hand there is no metal on TV, not on the radio or in the news, there are few metal clubs around and the metal scene is very splintered. There's black, gothic, thrash'n'death, power and true metal and a lack of tolerance. I mean it could be worse but it could also be better. Fifteen years ago there was always a place where you could go and there was metal music around, but nowadays you have to really have to know the clubs. It also depends on the region. There are some cities that are dead and some that never changed. But to answer your question: I don't think so. Maybe Denmark ? Or Sweden ???
This new record is the follow-up to 2003's 'Misanthrope'. Has changing labels made the recording process easier for you this time round?
Kalli: Well, it made it easier AND harder. Since we recorded 'Misanthrope' ourselves and had as much time as we needed, we now had a strict schedule and had to learn how to deal with it, you know? What made it easier was the fact that we could concentrate on our music and our performances and didn't have to worry about the technical stuff like keeping the computers running, fixing broken cables, or calculating delay times, haha!
Did you have as much control over making the album as you would have liked? Have you had any ideas about how you might change things with the next album you record?
Kalli: Yeah, we had total control but we were running out of time. In the end, we couldn't be present all the time when mixing the album. I had some unfinished lyrics that I completed in the studio and so there were some passages that I sung for the first time when we recorded them! These are some of the things we want to avoid next time.
You've played at quite a few of the festivals, including Rock Hard, Wacken and Earthshaker. Is that something you ever imagined you'd be doing when you started playing?
Kalli: No, we never thought that ABANDONED would reach such levels. When we started, it was more like having fun while playing the music we love and having some beers, haha! The more we got overwhelming reviews for 'Misanthrope' and our live shows, and the more people we met, the more opportunities we got for playing these festivals. One incident really started it all which was winning the Rock Hard/SIMeVIL-Contest enabling us to play the Rock Hard festival. After that doors were wide open for us because the fans and the media saw that we rock!!!
You've got a few more gigs coming up in the near future. Things are looking pretty good for Abandoned at the moment aren't they? Are there any gigs you're particularly looking forward to?
Kalli: Yes, it could be worse for us. This summer, we opened one of Germany's biggest festivals, Bang Your Head!!! Our support show for NEVERMORE was only a few days ago and that was something very special. The crowd was totally insane and didn't make us feel like playing a support show. Cool! In November we'll play in Switzerland for the first time. We're looking forward to that!
You won 2005's SIMeVIL talent award - could you explain what that is for our readers?
Kalli: This was a download contest initiated by Rock Hard magazine and SIMeVIL download platform. It was a huge success for such a small underground as we are and gave us the opportunity to play at the Rock Hard festival and start our career, so to speak.
Do you think that with the invention of music television, the underground has become harder to survive because advertising is cash orientated, so that only big bands and labels can afford exposure? How far does the internet negate that effect do you think?
Kalli: Maybe twelve, fifteen years ago, music television had an impact, but now I don't think that any metal head is impressed by music videos on TV, except those who first get in touch with metal by watching these clips. The internet gave any band the chance to be present and I think that's the most important advertisement today. If you're clever enough, you can have hundreds of links anywhere in the net and this is not limited to the big players. Especially for the underground, the internet made it a lot easier to be noticed compared to some years ago when there were just a few fanzines.
I wanted to ask about your lyrics. On 'Hell Is Home', for example, you say 'There's no place I'd rather be, hell is home for me'. Do you take your lyrics literally, or is it just a bit of fun? Do you attach any meaning to them?
Kalli: 'Hell Is Home' is about the feeling of speeding down the freeway with a minimum of 150 mph, so it has nothing to do with literal hell. I don't believe in religious things and hell is one of them. In this special case 'hell' is more like describing the adrenaline, the addiction to speed, the will to be free. Hellbent for leather! Other lyrics deal with personal things, reationships, or war. So it really depends on the song if there's a certain meaning in the lyrics or if it's just a bit of fun.
What's your attitude to band life in general? Where do you stand between being in it just for fun and taking it very seriously?
Kalli: For me, the band is both, fun and serious work. I mean you have to work on your playing technics and on your voice so that you're able to deliver quality any time, anywhere. No matter where or when we play, we want to give 100% so you have to be serious about your music. There are also a lot of decisions to be made and there's also business stuff that has to be concentrated on. But it also brings a lot of fun and initially, this is why we play in a band: because we love what we do.
Are you writing any new material at the moment or concentrating on promoting 'Thrash Notes' for the time being?
Kalli: Right now, we're writing new songs for our next album being scheduled for spring 2007. Promotion has been done a lot on this year's festivals and we're looking forward to next year because we'd like to play as much shows as we can get.
Thank you for your time. Any last words?
Kalli: Hopefully, these are not my last words, haha! We would love to play some shows outside Gemany and are looking forward to any comments on our music. Visit us on www.abandoned.info or www.myspace.com/abandonedthrash. Horns up high for thrash! Cheeeeerrrrrrzzzzzz!!!
Interview © October 2006 Amanda Hyne