With the German five-piece’s latest album, 'To Have And To Unhold' due to be released in late March/early April followed by a 31-date European tour, it seemed wise to ask Koroded’s vocalist Jan Röder a few questions whilst he still has a moment to himself. He took the time to tell me about his good and bad experiences of being in a band, his musical and lyrical influences and his love of music generally.
Why the name Koroded?
Jan: Our first bass-player had the idea for the name. It is simply the English word 'corroded' spelled wrong. It is a metaphor for a twisted world which is going down slowly. It just fits very well to our music and the lyrics. That’s why we chose it.
How did the band form?
Jan: We used to be a very bad death-metal band until got some new members in and changed the name. We still love death-metal, but we just developed into another direction so we had to make a cut at one point…
Your new album, 'To Have And To Unhold', is out at the end of March/beginning of April. How is it different from your debut, 'The Absurd Beauty Of Being Alone'?
Jan: The songs are more structured. The sound is much more heavy, brutal, rough and fat. Everything is more to the point and more straight into the face. We just concentrated on the red-line in every song. Our producer Jacob helped us a lot with that. He also reminded us to just PLAY and not to think too much while recording. So the record sounds much more organic and more emotional then the ones before. Well, once again… The sound is so much better then before!! This is the first different you will notice when you put it into your CD player.
'The Absurd Beauty Of Being' alone was the name of the record we released in 2004 and also the name of a song. Our guitarist Andi read an article about an English writer who visited nazi-Germany before the war. This sentence just describes his feelings. To be surrounded by people, but to be alone at the same time. My grandfather died while we wrote the songs for this record and it also describes my mood at this time. Being without him, but having all this beautiful memories, which you can’t think of, because it hurts too much…
Your debut album came out in 2004. Was it difficult to come up with fresh material in a relatively short space of time?
Jan: We started writing songs in may 2005 for the record and already had some ideas and arrangements at that time. Ideas always come up. The biggest difficulty is to find the time to sit down and make songs of it. We had a lot of shows last year and that kept us from writing songs. Once we had the time the songs just came up. We picked the best ones for the album and that’s it.
You've also acquired a new guitarist in Frank Fleckenstein. Was it difficult to adjust to a new way of working?
Jan: It was a big advantage, because Frank brought a lot of new ideas and fresh air into the band. His and our ways of writing songs where not that different. We met at Andreas’ apartment, threw our ideas on a big pile and made songs of this which we introduced to the rest of the band at the rehearsal-room. The other guys add some more ideas and we have a song.
Any upcoming gigs or tours?
Jan: We will be on tour with Betzefer all over Europe in April and May for 30 days. We will also come to the UK, so check us out there.
What got you into metal in the first place and what inspired you to first start playing?
Jan: I think it was Metallica’s 'Master of Puppets' that got me into metal. I always liked to sing since I was a little child and I had my first band with 17. I started this band to impress girls of course. Unfortunately we were very bad and also our name was not that attractive for girls I guess. We were called 'Fistf*ck' – understand!?
Has your opinion of metal changed at all since you first started to play? Is it still fun?
Jan: If it would not be fun anymore I would stop immediately!! Of course having a band with a deal and a lot of shows means also a lot of stress, because we all have jobs or go to university. Sometimes I don’t understand why I am doing this, but when we play the songs at the rehearsal or live I remember the reasons.
Who writes the lyrics and what is their inspiration?
Jan: I write all the lyrics for the band. There always has to be something that really bothers me and pursuits me into my dreams before I can write about it. I write about the experiences I made in my life so far, but also about political or philosophical topics. Sometimes it is a melange of all three aspects. My inspiration comes from books, movies, pictures, other music and other lyrics.
How do you write your music? Do you have an idea before you start playing or do you just get together with the other guys and jam?
Jan: We are not a band that jams a lot. We sit at home and write songs as I just mentioned. For the last album our guitarist Andy and me wrote all the songs. This time our new guitarist Frank joined the songwriter team. As I just said we meet at the rehearsal and have a rough structure that turns into a song while we play it. Sometimes ideas come up in the rehearsal room and we write a song in a few minutes.
What would be your ultimate goal as a musician?
Jan: To love music for the rest of my life.
Do you feel that being German is an important part of your identity as a band?
Jan: I never really thought about that. For us it is not important at all I guess.
How long have you been making music? Do you think you'll ever get bored of playing?
Jan: I’m playing in bands for 12 years now and it is getting more and more exciting.
You seem to have black metal influences in your music - is that a direction you would consider taking at some stage in the future?
Jan: Oh - do you think so?? Andreas and I listen to a lot of death-metal or grind-core. We are not planning into which direction we will go. We just play what we feel like. Some more death and grind would not be that bad haha.
How would you describe your music to someone who's never heard it?
Jan: Brutal and bittersweet at the same time.
Do you ever tailor your live set to suit your mood or a particular gig's other bands?
Jan: We always make a set before we go to the show. We work a lot on the set and the dynamics in it. We only change it if we find out that we have more or less time… or when we cannot stand it anymore.
Which are your best and worst memories of playing live?
Jan: I have a good example for that. Last year we had a show in the yuppie metropolis Frankfurt. It was cold. I was sick. The sound was horrible. Only 6 people showed up and it was a door deal. At this point I really began to ask myself what I was doing here. But we went out and played the show of our lives. As soon as I was on stage someone turned the switch in my head. We had so much fun and we and the 6 guys and lady will never forget that show. There are more bad and good shows, but this one was special… it sucked and was awesome at the same time.
What would be your dream line-up if you could play any gig?
Jan: Me on drums, Chris Barnes on vocals and piano That would be horrible and a lot of fun *haha*. Sorry for the silly answer, but I never thought about it…
Which is the best gig you ever went to see?
Jan: Difficult question. This year it was Obituary. The best gig ever?? Infectious grooves in 1995.
Is there anything else you'd like to say to your fans?
Jan: Thanks a lot for the interview!! I appreciate it a lot!!! Also thanks for reading this. Hope to see you when we are on tour!!!
Interview © 2006