Are the words high energy, groove, heaviness and brutality important in terms of defining the music that you like? If that is the case, you should perhaps consider checking out 'Kingdom', the second full-length release from Swiss metalcore outfit Cataract.
Guitarist Simon Fuellemann sounded quite happy and confident about his bandís new album, and spoke about their time at Antfarm Studios, their experience of working with Tue Madsen, and gave us a few insights as to what can happen to a band while on tour!
Welcome to our website guys. "Kingdom" is going to be released in Europe in a month's time. In which phase of the album's promotional period are you at the moment, and what does it involve?
Simon: Ou, jeeez. You are asking a question Metal Blade should primarily answer, ahhahaha. Right now, we are sitting here waiting to get the actual CD and Limited CD to get pressed. All promos are sent out and reviews are dropping in! We are right now at the stage were we have to answer tons of Interviews, be it radio, phone or written. This part is much fun. We are also solidifying our tours for this year right now so we can use this for promotional reasons too.
Is it too early to ask about my fellow journalistsí reaction towards the new album? Which are the main positive and negative comments that you have received so far? Do you feel that, in general, the music industry has understood what Cataract are all about?
Simon: Yes, it is and no itís not. Meaning, we got reactions so far but I guess only 10% of what to come. But the reactions so far are very very good! The most positive thing is that we stayed true to ourselves and progressed in our own way as they say. I havenít heard any negative that sticks to my head so far ?. Does the music industry understand us? Well, good question. I have to say we are getting there. Itís still a long way to go but itís better than before. We are still some kind of outsiders or however you want to call that but the acceptance and respect toward cataract has grown a lot in the last one or two years. I hope this will go on like that.
Your previous effort "With Triumph Comes Loss" was a good album, but I really feel that "Kingdom" provides Cataract with the image of a more inventive and mature band. Do you share my view, and if yes, what is it that you guys did different this time round, that brought this result?
Simon: Yes, I totally agree with you! This is why we hope the above mentioned respect and acceptance will happen more and more. We worked harder this time. A lot harder and nevertheless it all came easier together because of the touring we did in support of 'With Triumph Comes Loss'. We did 3 totally different tours that we learned a lot from. Sound wise and music wise. Especially the tour with Six Feet Under and Dying Fetus did us very good. Also with the Amon Amarth Tour we had to learn things the hard way and saw very good bands how they act live and how they write songs. And of course with all this we got better musicians and we were more focused this time on what we wanted. Not just going in a studio and rock out. This time we invested a lot in pre-producing stuff and rearranging here and there. Also Tue Madsen, our Producer, helped us on some things on the songs before we even entered the studio. This helped a lot to focus on playing it the right way in the studio and gave us some room to experiment.
You have often been labelled as a metalcore band. Are you comfortable with that term, and how useful is it in describing the band's music in the year 2006?
Simon: We actually donít care at all about all this labels like metalcore, metal, thrash metal, hardcore whateverÖWe are Cataract and play hard music. But if you ask us about the term metalcore, yes we can agree on that. We were among the first ones in Europe playing that style of music and I guess we can be proud of that. So yes, we are comfortable with it. How useful that term is? I donít know exactly. Itís a term that is only labelled 'black or 'white'. Whether you hate that style or you like. So it can be good to use it or not. Thatís why we never used it and just say we are Cataract!
It's been almost two years since the release of your previous effort. Did you start working on "Kingdom" straight after having finished your touring obligations? How long did it take to put the material together?
Simon: Yes, right after our last tour with Amon Amarth. By the end of august 05. We already had some songs and bits here and there, but the actual writing process started then. This process of song writing lasted until we entered the studio by the End of January 06. So itís about 5 months it took us with a lot of sweat.
Did you start putting together ideas for the new album from scratch, or were there any riffs/ideas left from the sessions of the previous album that you decided to use? Is there a specific strategy that you use when you compose your material?
Simon: As said above we had some stuff already written during the first part of 05, but there were no leftovers from the last session. All the songs are brand new. There is no strategy behind. We just start writing music and see where it brings us. After we finish most of the songs to 80% we start to work them over and thatís where the thinking or how you call it 'strategy' starts in some ways. We always want to create a record that has a good flow. Not just song after song. So that makes it a little difficult to finish everything off. We normally only have the strategy to write an opener and a finish song for the CD. All the rest comes naturally.
Which are the elements that a Cataract song must have in order to be to your liking? Do you all share the same mentality, or do you end up having arguments when it comes to selecting your material?
Simon: We are one of the lucky bands that have no problems to agree on songs! We all love what we do and love the songs we write. The problem mostly lies in small details like if the break is too long or long enough were heads crashing for a short time but thatís ok. A song for us has to have that certain essence of Cataract which is high energy, groove, and heaviness or being fast. A song has to be brutal otherwise itís no good for cataract.
Talking about songs, the ones that made a really big impression on me were the thrashy "Denial of Life", the Bolt Thrower-sounding "March With Your Battleforce" and the quite seductive "Legions At The Gates". Can you tell me a few things about these songs? Are any of these amongst your personal favourites?
Simon: Well, first of I am glad you like the songs! 'Denial of Life' is probably one of the most well written songs we ever did. This song just happened while practising. Greg came up with some riff and we started jamming. After some practises we had it. Great song and probably the most representative of the album. Thatís why we chose this song as a pre-released MP3. 'March with your Battleforce' is our hymn! It was the song we wrote last before the studio. We just felt, we had to have a mid tempo song again on that record. I had that main riff in my head for a long time but it all fell into the right spot when I came under pressure with finishing it. Its soooo heavy. Itís the heaviest song we ever did I guess. 'Legions at the Gates' was an easy one to write for me. The mosh part was a long time riff I had played for months and then suddenly I jammed on my guitar on tour and the fast part and solo came together. Nice one!
Do you have any plans on creating a video for the new album, and if yes, which composition would be an ideal candidate, and why?
Simon: Yes, there will be a video shut for 'Denial Of Life' first. We are writing the storyboard right now, so I canít tell you too much about it by now. It will be a mix between comics, band shots and news stuff about war as it looks like.
The promo copy of the album does not include any lyrics, but song titles such as "War Of Cultures" and "Sacrificed For The Wealth" led me to believe that the lyrical context of this album has pretty much to do with the current religious/political situation. Does this whole situation affect you as people and musicians, and how does this come across in your music?
Simon: You are right. Its mostly about politics or religion in a big picture. Most wars or most economical crisis are based on those two issues. If you get a hold of the actual CD and read the lyrics you will see what we mean ?: Nowaday everything affects you in the way think and act but those two things are mainly all over the news and stuff. It affects us negatively as persons. We hate those things and try to stay out as much as we can. We have our own belief. No gods, no masters.
Do you consider your lyrics to be as important as the music itself within the band? How receptive are Cataract's fan to what you have to say, and how do they normally react to your lyrics?
Simon: Yes, they are important! For us as a band they are equal to the music! How the fans or the journalists or whoever take them as serious as we do, we have no clue. We know that we have fans that agree with us and follow the same ethics. We also see from reactions from people/fans, that they read our lyrics and want to discuss about that. We love that. As long as you make people think, you know that they are alive and do not just accept whatís being served to them daily from press, government and others. If we get reactions to the lyrics they are mostly positive.
One of the things that I really enjoyed about "Kingdom" was the very powerful and sharp edge production that is credited by Tue Madsen. How do you find the end result?
Simon: We love it! We had a hard time with Tue finding this sound but he did an amazing job! He is the best and will for sure be our producer for the next record. He gives the records that certain extra punch and brutality which you donít find often. It fits really well with the songs I think.
This was the second time that you recorded an album at the Antfarm Studio. Did you find things easier this time round? How would you describe your relationship with Tue?
Simon: First of all he is a friend and not just a producer. We have contact on a regular basis which is cool. Like this we follow each otherís path and can see what each party is heading for. Really cool to work that way. This time it was harder than the last time. Last time he didnít know us really and vice versa. So we just went there after sending the pre-production and recorded material. It was more a case of him doing what he had to do and us doing what we had to do - like a job thing ?. This time as I said, we started our talking about the songs, sound, etc. a long time before we got to his studio. We did the pre-production, he sent it back with comments and stuff. Even in the studio it was a very creative work with him. We talked a lot about things and that helped each other to find the ideal way for his part. It was nevertheless a very relaxed recording and mixing session.
It is very important for any musician to create a unique and distinctive sound. Do you believe that you have achieved that as a band?
Simon: For the time being - yes. With every record you change a bit, but a band has to have its sound and I think we did a good job. Since this is also how we sound live, at least it s pretty close.
Is there such a thing as the typical Cataract fan? What kind of audience do you tend to attract in your shows?
Simon: Well, good question. The typical Cataract fan is either an open-minded metal fan or a hardcore fan. We have all different people on our shows. Thatís really cool to be honest. So there is no prototype of a Cataract fan like you have it in the Black Metal scene.
Talking about shows, I saw that your main headlining tour will take place in 2007. Is it wise to go on the road more than half a year after the release of the album? What led you to this decision?
Simon: Well, this is the headlining tour we will do but before that we have 2 other tours we will be on! So no worries. We just keep being on the road for like 2 years now I guess. That decision is simple. You have to play good support tours first before you do your own thing. This way we will reach more people.
I am afraid that I haven't seen Cataract live so far. What am I to expect from one of your typical shows? How would you describe them in a few words?
Simon: Thatís a pity ?! I guess we are pretty well known for intense and brutal, very tight shows. So this is what you get. A lot of sweat and fun on top of it with a good live sound and some cool effects (sometimes). Its all a big party with the hardest music you can get.
You have toured with many important bands such as Agnostic Front, Pro Pain and Six Feet Under so far in your career. Can you describe some of the best and worst memories that you have being on the road?
Simon: There are no bad memories to be honest. There is just some stupid things happened like we refilled our diesel van with unleaded fuel instead, haahhaha. Breakdown in nowhere land! Jeez. That made us sweat. We also had a hard time in the US. Nobody knew us and had to prove every night that we are a band worth supporting. No support from magazines during that time. But other than that we are really happy to have so many good memories in our mind. Every tour has its special moments. The ending of our headlining tour with Maroon was killer. They all come on stage with their undies while we were still playing, bringing a table and eating from eat! Great. Other stuff that we liked was salting some water from other bands at the end of a tour and stuff. This also happened to us, no worries, hahahaha. All the festival is big experiences too! We love them! Great people, lots of food and a lot of fun playing!
There is a strong metalcore community here in London. Are you in touch with any promoters here? Are we to expect Cataract to visit the United Kingdom on their upcoming tour?
Simon: Yes, we know! We have toured the UK 3 times now and all tours have been great even though they could have been even better because we know about the craziness of English fans! Yep, our tour-booking agent MAD has good contacts in England and we will come to play in Sept/Oct again! Watch out! And then again on our headlining tour. We love the UK!
Well, thank you very much for the interview and my best wishes for "Kingdom". The last words are yours!
Simon: thank you very much for doing this interview and for supporting us! Keep checking www.cataract.cc for exact UK tour dates!!
Interview © 2006 John Stefanis