No doubt a significant milestone in the bands seven-year career, guitarist/vocalist Lupus is feeling happy and excited about what lies ahead for the German three-piece.
OD – Rough Times was released just a few weeks ago. Having been through this process with previous albums have you become accustomed to things or is it still a little daunting?
LUPUS – It’s like all the pressure just kind of falls off because I know that I can’t change anything anymore on the record. I just hope that people really like it and realise that we put so much work into it. We started writing ‘Rough Times’ in January but before that, we had to build our own studio to record it in which was a very difficult task but also one that was incredible for us all.
I feel like we have been working non-stop for so long now and here I am sitting in London and when Monday comes around, I know that for the first time in a long time, I can just kick-back and do nothing.
OD – You mean to tell me that you’re not gonna start working on the follow-up to “Rough Times” next week? (laughing)
LUPUS – (laughing) Yeah, right! I’ll just put together the next album in a couple of days then!
OD – Having been together for seven years, with this being your fourth studio album, it’s quite obvious that there is a constant stream of writing and working involved within the ranks of Kadavar. Do you find that the consistency of your work ethic has seen a transformation within the band over the legacy of the albums?
LUPUS – We’re definitely more focused now. Having been making music in Kadavar for seven years we really have a sense of who we are and what we are capable of doing as we are only three people and not able to produce the sound of, say, an orchestra.
When I look back at the beginning of the band, we kind of didn’t know where to go with the first two albums. We wrote both of them in one year with Kadavar coming out in 2012 and ‘Abra Kadavar‘ coming out in 2013. We were just three friends that wanted to play music that we really liked and to be honest, we never thought that it was going to turn into what it has. More and more people started to come to the shows and take an interest in the band with some magazines and radio shows wanting interviews. It was kind of a surreal experience. Especially when we started getting invited to play shows with other bands and getting offers to play festivals.
We realised very quickly that if we kept doing what we were doing, things might get a little bigger for us and potentially create some new, bigger and better opportunities for us.
We just kept our heads down and during a tour in 2013 when our old bass player (Philipp “Mammut” Lippitz) left the band and Simon (“Dragon” Bouteloup) joined we just followed a format of playing/recording/playing/recording repeat which was a lot of fun but also really brought all of us together in a creative way that I hadn’t experience before.
We really found our way by the time we started writing ‘Berlin‘ in 2015 but we made a mistake by giving the record to an outside source to mix and master which ended up sounding more like a pop production.
OD – Why did you bring in a producer for ‘Berlin‘ then?
LUPUS – I guess we figured a fresh set of ears would bring a new dimension to the music. Until then, we were used to recording everything in our basement and nobody else was involved with the process. It was a new experience for us at the time.
OD – Do you have any regrets about doing this?
LUPUS – It seemed like the right thing to do then and since we have now seen the aftermath of that release and have had time to look at the way things unfolded, we realised that we needed to go back to the way we used to do things before ‘Berlin’ but keeping this new approach to the way we work.
OD – I’m guessing that this had a lot to do with the sound on the new album?
LUPUS – Yes, absolutely! There is a much heavier sound on this album with a big step back from the pop sound of the previous release. ‘Rough Times‘ is not an album that we created with the intention of getting into the charts although “Berlin” made the top twenty.
This year we just wanted things to be different as we are in a different state of mind and feel very much more confident about who we are and what we do. Our surroundings are very different also, we have all been through many different personal things as well as collectively, not to mention that the world itself is a very different place to what it was two years ago.
OD – You have said in the past that you all collectively put yourselves under a lot of pressure to reach a certain level of success, but have since learned to step back from that feeling. Can you tell me what had changed to make you just be happy to make the music rather than care about the accolades?
LUPUS – I don’t know if there was a special point in time where something happened that made me think differently about it all but one of the things for definite was that there were too many people involved and I hate when there is anyone else that makes decisions other than me and that includes within the band (laughing).
We have a really good democracy in Kadavar, where we make all the decisions together as unit, but when have management and other people telling you how things are supposed to be or how they should be in the music business and give you no other choice but to follow that path is something that I really don’t agree with and I just don’t want to hear that.
OD – Do you feel that the business side of things of gets in the way of the music and the fans?
LUPUS – Yes. For example, I don’t want to play shows in Germany where tickets are €35 because I know that our original audience who are predominantly skater kids, hard-core kids and punks, these people who supported us from the very beginning just won’t pay that kind of money to see us live.
Everything is directed towards an older audience who can buy the tickets and have the money to purchase records and merchandise etc and the atmosphere from those shows is really different. We want the younger kids there, we want stage-diving and all of that loose stuff happening during our performance. The power and the energy from those shows is just amazing and we feed off that.
OD – Could you see a difference in the audience over the last touring cycle?
LUPUS – I started to notice that slowly it was going in the direction where we were losing the audience that was with us from the start. The kids that bought our music and wore our patches were just not there too much anymore and that really got to me.
OD – Did you talk with your management about this?
LUPUS – Our management wanted us to get a producer for ‘Rough Times‘ and I was in the mindset of “why do we need to get a producer when we are the people who wrote the music and know exactly how it’s supposed to sound?” That’s when I really became uninterested in getting into the charts.
I could feel that things were leaning more into the direction of almost alienating our core fans and I just wanted to put a stop to it once and for all, even if it meant that the album doesn’t do well. At least we all knew that we were doing things our way and not the ideas of someone else.
If everything goes wrong, I’ll still be able to get up in the morning and live with myself as I will know that it’s because of my decision. Going forward we are going to remove people from the situation that we don’t’ need and make sure that we do things our way.
OD – I noticed that there is a particularly heavier and warmer sound off Rough Times with regards to the overall sound and production. Did you try anything a little different to previous recording set-ups?
LUPUS – We always use analogue and record in a live setting with us all playing in a room. This time around, we took things a little further. On “Berlin‘ we felt that there was a real absence of bass in the mix and we definitely didn’t want that this time.
With Rough Times I wanted to have every instrument at the same level, drums, guitar and bass which gives it that really warm sound. Another thing that I wanted to address was the fact that people in the past have always said, “there is a different sound to you guys when playing live” and I know exactly what that is! It’s the raw energy between us playing that we have never seemed to capture on a studio album before and I wanted to lock that into this album as much as possible.
We never understood why we couldn’t capture that energy before and so we decided that we were only going to record three takes of each of the songs and then we just took the best one of the three recordings for the album and we really managed to get that energy.
OD – Do you find that this process worked as you have really managed to capture a raw sounding sense of fury with the tone and overall feel?
LUPUS – Yes, totally! When I start to play thing over and over again I begin to think too much into it and the natural process of energy begins to disappear from the spirit of the music. To me, it’s not about the details, it’s about the feeling of the music and you can only catch that if you don’t over think or overplay it.
OD – Did this apply to the lyrics and vocals also?
LUPUS – The theme of the lyrics and the delivery of the vocals is all part of the overall vibe that we were trying to create and in doing so, it’s not perfect. There are some mistakes in there but for me, the energy is totally there.
OD – Rough Times is the second studio album with Simon ‘Dragon’ Bouteloup, I can sense that there is a greater presence from the bass on this album as opposed to ‘Berlin’, do you find that the chemistry between you all has become a stronger unit?
LUPUS – Yeah absolutely! After three years on the road, you have to motivate yourself and to be honest it’s not easy. Getting that motivation up again can be tricky at times can be very disruptive. For this one reason, we decided to build our own studio, which was a huge project for us. We had to do everything from building four rooms, installing everything else apart from the plumbing, the wiring and heating, everything else was us!
OD – Apart from the hard work involved with this project, I’m sure that this proved to be a great bonding experience for the band?
LUPUS – We worked on this project for four months non-stop and it was a fantastic experience. It was nearly part of the album in a strange. Not that you can hear it but we were working every day in that room and for two months we had no heating and it was really rough, but the overall experience was very special and played a huge part in the writing, recording and personal bond that each of us has with ‘Rough Times‘?
OD – With reference to your “Live in Antwerp” release, there are not many bands that are releasing live recordings these days. When you look back on bands like The Almond Brothers doing stuff like ‘Mountain Jam’, MC5, Deep Purple, The Who, Thin Lizzy and UFO. Releasing live recordings was so popular back in the 70’s/80’s. Was the consensus behind the release, kind of like a nod to the classic bands, but also proving that you are a band that don’t need samples and all the other shit that most bands are using today?
LUPUS – It was so, so. First of all, we only had two albums out at that point and we thought “let’s do a live album“. Our approach to the whole thing was let’s just record some live shows and if it’s shit, then we’ll just throw it away and if it’s cool, let’s see what we can do with it.
So, we recorded a couple of shows in Germany and they were just okay, not really special you know? They would have been a good record but at the time we were scheduled to play in a really small room in Antwerp and we fighting to get upgraded to a bigger room for the show. So we were calling them and saying, “hey, we want to play the bigger venue” and they were telling us that we couldn’t do it and that they didn’t have a guy to do the lights for the bigger show and we told them that we would get someone to do the lights. The reality was that we were on the tour bus and trying to find a guy to do the lights for the show in Belgium with no contacts!
The whole situation of how that show came together was so cool as there was just so much energy about everything we were doing to make it happen and we really wanted to show the promoters that we were worth the risk of performing in the bigger venue. So, when we finally got the show happening, we were all just feeling that we wanted to just blow them all away as loads of people turned up for the show and it was electric!
When we went on stage loads of our friends turned up and it was really a perfect night with loads of people coming together and when we got off stage we just knew that this was the show that we wanted to put out as a live album. Even though there were fewer people in the venue than the previous German shows, we knew that this was a very special night.
OD – So, the album is finally out and now the promotion starts with a hectic touring schedule showing dates right up to December 20th. Can you share any further touring news for 2018?
LUPUS – Yeah, totally! It’s the process of touring an album and doing as much as we can. I can say now that we are going to Australia, South America, Russia and also Europe of course. I can tell you that we have plans to make it back to Europe and the UK in Spring of 2018, so yeah, we have a lot of touring to do as well as the festivals in the summer.
But the good thing is that we have a studio now and we can just work on some new material on our time off and maybe write a whole new album in a few weeks (laughing)!
OD – I understand you are a collector of vinyl, do you have a particularly rare or very sentimental album that you would like to share with us?
LUPUS – I have one that is probably is the most expensive that I’ve ever bought and that’s ‘The Crazy World of Auther Brown” because I really love the arrangments of his music and the orchestral arrangements of the music, but also the heaviness and the amazing range of his voice which is just fantastic. I think I paid something like €150/€200 for it as I really wanted the original pressing. I also bought a re-issue, which is the one that I play but I keep the original as a treasure for me. That album is a very important and special record for me personally.
OD – When you look back at your journey in music to where you are today, what would be the most proudest moment for you in your career?
LUPUS – I think it would be the last show of each year which is something that we do in Berlin. We have done a special end of year show every year for the last seven years and to see how much we have grown and developed not only as people but as musicians, is just amazing to me and something that I’m very proud of.
This year we are playing in a venue that holds 3,500 people and when I think back to when we started doing it, we were playing in just a small bar that could barely hold one hundred people. To see what we’ve done grow over the years and to have the support from our friends and family, is just amazing and so rewarding for us all.
Kadavar “Rough Times” is out NOW via Nuclear Blast. Order your copy via this link.
© OVERDRIVE.IE 2017
Live photography – © Down The Barrel Photography 2017