Interview with Kissaak (vocals)
Interview conducted by Barbara Williams (Crowley)
Date online: December 25, 2003
Hi! How are you and what's up?
Cheers Barbara! Kissaak here from Belgium doing fine. Everything's ok over here. We just did a couple of great shows with Leng Tch'e with our new guitarist Frank "Rizzo" and we have a new web site, so thing are going very well!
When I first saw your name, I wondered what the meaning behind it was and then found my answer on your website. Why did you choose Leng Tch'e?
Our former band had a pretty stupid and cliché name, Anal Torture, so know we wanted something more original. I read about the torture of the Death by a Thousand Cuts in a book about all kinds of torture through the ages and I thought this name would be pretty cool. I also remembered that John Zorn had a CD with Naked City which had the title Leng Tch'e with some pics of the actual torture on it, so for me, personally, it's a kind of tribute to him. We also took the spelling from him coz in the book I had read, it was written as Ling Chy, but this guy was British and the singer from Naked City is Japanese, so I though that he should know better...
How is your search for a new guitarist coming along?
We already have a new guitarist for about two months now. His name is Frank "Rizzo" and he's from Holland. He used to play the bass in Pyaemia. We did some great shows with him; just look at the pics on our site! And Nir "The Goat" is also still a member of the band, but he's back in Israel now, which makes it rather hard to rehearse. He'll also make some songs for us with mp3 and normally he'll come to Belgium if we record again.
You include a good bit of humor in your productions, which is also apparent on your website. Why lighten the otherwise morbid and gloomy ambience of this genre?
I think it's not good if you take yourself too serious. My lyrics are sometimes rather depressed, but I still try to keep some humor in it. It's not good if you just start preaching or whining, I guess. But I don't think the grindcore scene is too morbid. In grind most lyrics are political or personal or funny. It's more in the death and black metal that people try to be really sick, gory, and evil.
Leng Tch'e has been playing throughout Belgium. Any further plans to go on tour?
We didn't tour yet, but we hope to do a tour next year. We already have some plans indeed, but nothing is certain right now, so I can't tell you any more about that. For now, we already did some cool shows in Belgium, France, Germany, Holland, Portugal, Czech Rep and Israel. (Unfortunately, I couldn't do the gig in Israel because of my work).
How do you feel about playing live? Are there any particular memories from the touring you would like to mention?
Playing live is great. Then you can totally freak out!! I'm always running around, jumping from the stage and falling on my face over my cables and everything. In Portugal I totally fell from the stage coz I put my foot a bit too far while I was running. Everybody probably thought I broke my neck coz some guys came to look if I was still alive, haha. And Nicolas is always kicking me around; he does Kung Fu, you know. Last time in Germany, I felt like a human pinball coz people were throwing me around from left to right. Then they all started jumping on me and in the end I broke three microphone cables there. And last time we played in Holland, I was running around in the audience and got a lot of beer spilled on me. Some people were pissed off and threw the rest of their beer over me, haha. And I also fell on my face on the stage and then Rizzo came to sit on me and Svencho was shouting at me from behind the drums coz he thought I had knocked Rizzo from his feet.
Which songs do you like most playing Live?
Of course, I really like "I know Where You've Shit Last Summer" coz that one has got my solo in it and then people are looking strange at each other, which is nice. I also like the rockin' songs like "Too Stupid to Live" and "Get Rid of the Rock in Your Name" and the mosh songs like "The Meaning of Life" and "Graveyard Shift" and "The Queen of Egoism."
When you play live, do you try to stay close to the studio version or do you like to change things up?
We try to play the songs as they're supposed to be; that's why we rehearse, of course. But live, we don't always succeed in playing the songs right. Maybe that's because of the adrenalin from playing live or because of the nerves or just because we suck. I don't know. Personally, I think when you go to see a band live, it's more their attitude that is important and their stage performance than playing all the songs exactly like they're on CD. I mean, they don't have to fuck up all the songs, of course, but it's cooler to watch a band jumping around and freaking out and maybe playing some mistakes than seeing a couple of statues that play exactly the same as on CD.
When was the first time you performed in front of an audience?
At first I learned to play the drums in a classical orchestra or how you call that where they play Mozart and Beethoven and stuff like that, and I was also in a marching band. So my first public performance was in this big orchestra when I was 13-14 years old, I think. It was a big show with 500-1000 people if I remember that right and I knew my parents were also there filming the whole thing and I thought I was going to be sooo fucking nervous and I would fuck up everything. And on top of that, the leader of the band kept on telling me that everyone always follows the drums and not the guy in front swinging his arms, so I had to keep the tempo good. But when we got on stage, I felt really relaxed and everything went fine. Of course, I didn't like the music, but I also wasn't into grindcore yet. This was probably in my hard rock period when I loved Guns 'N Roses.
What was your first concert you ever attended?
I really don't remember this. I inherited my love for music from my mom and she always took me along to all the gigs where she went, so I think I went to my first concert while I was still in my buggy. She was really into blues and rock 'n roll and I also liked that kind of music then. I still remember that in the summer we always went to the big Rhythm 'n Blues festivals in Belgium from when I was about ten years old. I loved that kind of stuff. I also remember that once her friends asked me what I wanted to do later as a job, I answered that I wanted to be a professional festival visitor, so I think I pretty much succeeded in that, haha. I know that my mom took me along to a Guns 'N Roses show in Holland during the week coz I really loved that band, and she let me skip school just to see them. And we also went to Bon Jovi together, and she even went to Body Count with me when I asked her!! As for my first grindcore gig I ever visited, that was Dead Infection in 1997, I guess, when they played at the Vort'n Vis in Ieper and I know someone released that gig as a split tape with Infected Pussy.
How do you write your music and how do you get the inspiration for writing your lyrics?
The music is mostly done by the drummer and the guitarist. They start with one riff and then build a song with that, sometimes we decide to make a fast blasting grind song or a crusty song or a rocking song and then we search stuff that sounds good at the rehearsals. For the lyrics, usually I write a couple of lines when something happens to me or when I think about something I could use and then later. When we have a song finished, I search all those tiny bits of paper with all those things I wrote done and then I start writing the lyrics. The lyrics are about all kinds of stuff: things that happen to me, things I don't like, personal stuff, funny stuff. It depends on the mood.
"Death by a Thousand Cuts" and a 7 " split with Black Ops are your latest productions. Will there be a new release pretty soon?
We also released our second CD "ManMadePredator" in May 2003. Next releases planned are a split-CD with Fuck... I'm Dead on No Escape Recs and a split7" with Gronibard on Bones Brigade Recs. Don't know yet when these will be released as we're rehearsing with our new guitarist now and writing some new material to record.
Do you have an album title yet?
We haven't really thought about a new album title for now. I don't think the splits will get a title and another full CD will take us even longer so we're not thinking about that yet. When the time is ready, we'll have some brainstorms and then the world will hear about it or something like that.
Could you tell us a little about the lyrical concept for this album?
I don't have any new lyrics ready yet, just a couple of lines I wrote down on some pieces of paper. I wrote most of them when I was feeling rather bad, lonely and unhappy so I don't think the lyrics will be very positive. I'm not a positive thinker I guess, but I also wouldn't say that I am a pessimist. I'm just trying to be realistic and when you take a couple of minutes to think about life, you'll see that it ain't that good.
Which bands are on your list of favorites? If I were to look through your CD collection, what would I find?
My fave bands? Shit, there are just too many to name them all. Take a look at the profiles on our site and you'll probably see that mine is just a bit longer than the ones from the other guys. But to name you a few here, I'm into The Locust, Napalm Death, Cripple Bastards, Brutal Truth, Amen Ra, Neurosis, Dystopia, The White Stripes, Naked City, Spazz, Hellnation, Tragedy, Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse, Mastodon, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Pig Destroyer, Deep Purple, Queen, Flip Kowlier, Ulme, Thee Plague Of Gentlemen, Moby, Kosheen, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Radiohead, Coldplay, Rammstein, Korn, CSSO, Dahmer, Agathocles, Nasum, Warsore, Dropdead, Doom, Integrity, Hatebreed, Liar, Length Of Time, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Sepultura, Rage Against The Machine, Tool, Perfect Circlen ... I could just go on and on like that, so I'll just stop here. As you probably noticed, I like a lot of different stuff.
Are you self-taught or had you taken formal lessons?
I started drumming in that classical orchestra and the marching band I already mentioned. My dad showed me an advertisement in the newspaper of this marching band searching for drummers and that's what got me started. This is probably one of the few things he's ever done good for me and I think he regretted it very fast when I got a drum into the house. Later I also took lessons in a real music school to learn how to read and write musical notes and to get more into drumming and other instruments, but everything I learned there was classic music and a little bit of rock so this certainly didn't help me a lot for grindcore drumming. As for the vocals, I also had to take singing lessons when I learned how to read music, but I really can't sing. I can't hear a tone difference, when an instrument isn't tuned right I will never hear it!! The only thing I was interested in was the rhythm to play the drums, I didn't care about tones. I just needed to know the rhythm and if I had to hit the hi-hat or the snare drum or bass drum or one of the toms. So singing never went good for me and I also couldn't reach the high notes. As for my screams, those are self-taught from screaming at Svencho's neighbours.
When did you start playing and how old were you when you became interested in metal?
I started playing the drums when I was twelve, I think. The musical taste also came around that age. I started with Guns 'N Roses and then went on to stuff like Nirvana and Rage Against The Machine and then to Channel Zero and Sepultura. When I was fifteen or sixteen, a guy at school told me I had to check out Morbid Angel, Cannibal Corpse and Carcass and then one of my neighbours also gave me some stuff from Deicide, Gorefest and Napalm Death. And finally Sven got me into the underground grindcore scene when I was seventeen, he got me in contact with the grind bands and the H8000 hardcore bands. Later some other friends also got me into the power violence, hardcore/punk, sludge and stoner stuff.
Besides Metal, what other types of music do you listen to?
I like a lot of stuff like grindcore, power violence, crust, hardcore, punk, stoner, sludge, doom, death metal, metal, metalcore, garage rock, some pop music, some dance, rock, grunge, sreamoviolence. But I don't like all the nu-metal bands and I'm also not into black metal. My girlfriend is more into pop and rock and she's also got some CDs that I probably wouldn't buy myself but that I still enjoy listening once in a while.
The T-shirts you are selling display the slogan, "I'm Still from the Hood?" Why did you choose your slogan that generally is found within the rap genre?
Guess we're just funny guys, haha... or at least we try to be. The text a bit smaller reads "Grindcore assholes flogging the crucial kids y'all" and this is for our "friends" from The Deal. We don't really like those guys and now they call themselves the crucial kids coz they think they're crucial for the survival of the hardcore scene in Belgium. That's what our song "Crucial 4 life" is about.
Do you feel that Death and Black Metal bands have it more difficult to gain recognition compared to those who play other types of metal?
Of course, death metal and black metal bands will never get as big as some more mainstream metal bands or the nu-metal bands or some heavy metal and trash metal bands. But I also don't think that this is their goal, death metal is supposed to be underground. There's only a few exceptions where the band can live from it's music alone I guess, like Cannibal Corpse and Cradle Of Filth. But that's only for the biggest bands and I also don't think that they will get rich doing this. All the other bands will probably stay underground and personally I think that's good. This scene isn't meant to be mainstream!
You have a list of some rather interesting influences such as Regurgitate, Black Sabbath, and Britney Spears. I just have to ask about that.
Well, that's the funny part from Mr. Svencho talking again. I think he's in love with Britney, haha. Personally, I prefer Christina Aguillera. She made some good songs and some good lyrics that I like and my girlfriend is also into Christina. And Christina looks a lot nicer than Britney and she can really sing. She seems to be a smart girl while Britney just has that stupid look on her face. As for Black Sabbath, they just rule! But Ozzy looks kinda stupid now in The Osbournes.
How is the music and being Leng Tch'e connected with the person you are? Is your band image a reflection of you or completely separate?
Music just is a big part of my life, so of course my band is connected with the person I am. I don't think we have a real image with the band, we just do what we want to do and we play grindcore, that's all. As for the lyrics, I write most of them and some lyrics really give my opinion on this world or tell something more about my personal feelings. As I already said, I don't think I'm a really happy guy so the lyrics can be rather serious sometimes, but I always try to keep it a bit funny coz preaching and whining isn't good.
Now that you're with The Spew Records, are you happy?
Yeah, Giorgio from The Spew really did a great job with our debut CD. It was almost sold out even before it was released!! He made a lot of advertisement for us and helped us to spread our name. When he also wanted to release our second CD, we were glad for that coz he had done very well with the first one. But now we also have a US license with WillowTip for the second CD "ManMadePredator". Giorgio pressed a limited edition version of the CD with a slipcase. He's put the CD everywhere and we get a lot of stuff from him, so we're happy with the way things go.
Any video releases in the planning?
Normally we should be featured on a live DVD from the Belgian metal scene that the guys from Deathmetal.be are preparing, but I don't know yet when they will get this one ready. As for our own video, we've been joking about it to make one for our web site, but we haven't really talked about it yet. Maybe sometime in the future, I don't know...
What holds your band together?
Actually, Sven and me are the only original members so I don't know if we manage that well to keep the band together, haha. But if someone wants to stop, that's his own personal choice. For me, as long as it stays fun playing this kind of music and playing live, I want to keep going with this band. And that's probably what keeps the rest of us together, the fun of playing together the kind of music that we love.
What's in store for Leng Tch'e? Where do you hope to be a couple of years from now?
Right now, we're making some new songs for those splits coming up. And we hope we will be able to do a tour sometime. For the rest, time will tell. I'd like to keep on doing this as long as it stays fun, if it doesn't get too big or mainstream for me. I don't wanna feel like a sell-out. I have no real goal with this band, I'd be glad if we can release some more stuff, do some nice shows now and then and go on a tour.
Any last words to fans?
Thanks a lot for your interest and this interview! Hope you liked it? Anyone interested in the band, get in contact or check the site! I'm also playing in a noizzz band now called Permant Death, go to our site if you're into noisy shit. And I'm doing a label with some friends, Anvil Of Fuy. Out now on AOF: Spleen 10" (stoner power violence), Sylvester Staline/Fuck The Facts split7" ($$: crusty power violence; FTF: disco grind playing Death and Unholy Grave cove songs) and Amen Ra CD (great mix of sludge core and chaos core; think Isis, Converge, Botch, Neurosis). Take care! Isaac "Kissaak"
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