Interview with Centaurus-A
Interview conducted by Jason Cominetto
Date online: March 7, 2009
Greetings Centaurus-A! Your premier full-length, Side Effects Expected, is set to be released on March 2nd through Listenable Records, but before we get into that I want to know some more about the band. How, when, and where did Centaurus-A originate, and how long have you each been playing your respective instruments?
Hi Metalheads and Metal Crypt readers, we're CENTAURUS-A from Cologne/Germany and are going to release our debut album Side Effects Expected in March in Europe, North America will then follow the 16th of April. But our band history goes back into the year 2000 when CENTAURUS-A was formed by Maik Matanovic (guitar), Patrick Schroeder (drums) and Michael Ahlgrimm (bass/backing vocals). Only a few months later, the demo "Last step Line" containing the band's first songs, was recorded. With the same line-up, CENTAURUS-A went on to write new songs and recorded its second demo entitled "Nimbus" in 2002, as well as started playing the first live shows supported by a session singer.
In 2003, the band's line-up was completed with guitarist Hernan Martinez and permanent vocalist Johannes "Jojo" Henke. This was a great leap forward and CENTAURUS-A continued to develop its unique and advanced mix of technical Death/Thrash Metal. A lot of time and effort was put in writing new songs which were released on the first studio-recorded demo Narcotic and got positive feedback and reviews from fans and the metal press. In the following years, we played numerous gigs all over Germany. The time was ripe for the next step and CENTAURUS A entered the Hansen Studios (Denmark) in April 2007 to start the recordings of the debut album Side Effects Expected. After several recording sessions and loads of work, the mastering was finished in the beginning of 2008. The result is an album containing 10 unique and outstanding songs of technical but catchy Death Metal.
We've all played our instruments for about 15 years and benefit from our musical background and education from our years of childhood.
What is the main influence for Centaurus-A's music, both instrumentally and lyrically, and are there any consistent themes you guys seem to gravitate towards?
We all grew up in the 1990's and love the big Thrash and Death Metal bands like Sepultura, Pantera, Morbid Angel and Death. Nevertheless, we all listen to different music in both metal music and non-metal genres and everybody brings in his own influences. In fact, CENTAURUS-A is influenced by various metal genres like Death, Thrash, Melodic, Progressive, Metal and Grindcore and other music we are listening to...but without a doubt, we can't deny the affinity for technical Death Metal. So, from the beginning we tried to stretch the limits of extreme metal music and combine different elements and influences in our songs. We love to surprise the listener with some unpredictable tunes. But our overall goal is to compose a coherent song that balances technical brutality, weird and sick themes/rhythms with catchy and comprehensible grooves and melody.
The lyrics of the album deal with the dilemmas and necessities of our everyday life as well as with global nuisance. Some lyrics are very personal while others are kept more abstract but the album title Side Effects Expected is kind of conclusion and can be understood as a warning: don't believe and accept everything which is going on our planet and rethink your own daily routine and habits.`p
You guys released a few demos before Side Effects Expected: has your sound evolved at all over those demos up to this point, or do you guys still capture the same vibe of your older demos on this new release? Looking back, how do you guys feel your older material turned out?
Right, we recorded three demos before we started to work on our debut album. Our first demo, Last Step Line was recorded back in April 2000 only 4 months after our formation. It contained our first 6 songs ever and even though we don't have to be ashamed of the tunes, it's far away from what CENTAURUS-A is standing for today. Also the second demo, Nimbus from 2002, was recorded as a trio and we already tried to point out our several influences. Looking back, our style of technical Death/Thrash Metal was in its infancy. But with the joining of Hernan and Johannes in 2003 we were ready to realize what we had in mind and on our third demo Narcotic everything was matured: the individual skills, the songwriting and the sound. Still there was some space to improve so that we took our time to write and compose the songs of Side Effects Expected carefully.
In retrospect, our sound definitely evolved from demo to demo and we see Narcotic as real starting point for what our music is about.
How long have you guys been signed to Listenable Records and how did you get discovered? Also, what has the experience on the label been like so far?
After finishing the recording process of Side Effects Expected in early 2008 we were spreading our promotional CDs and Laurent and Listenable Records got in touch with us last summer. We were thrilled when Listenable Records contacted us and are glad to have teamed up with them because we highly appreciate their work and their intuition for promising and unique bands. We really feel well taken care of and Listenable has done a great job so far to support and promote us as much as they can.
OK, on to the new album. How long was Side Effects Expected in the works, and how was recording this record different from recording your older demos?
First of all, the work on and recording of Side Effects Expected was completely different from the older demos and is not comparable at all. While the first two demos were recorded and produced by our own in our rehearsal room on an 8-track-recorder, we recorded our third demo Narcotic in a small local studio within only 3 days.
For the work on our debut album Side Effects Expected we first focused on the songwriting process and took our time to arrange the material. The recording of the album took then place in several sessions in the Hansen Studios in Denmark. We started with recording the drums in April 2007, and the guitar, bass and vocal tracks were laid down in the Fall and the entire album was finalized in early 2008.
The recording with Jacob Hansen was a great experience. He is absolutely professional and knows what is best for the production at any time. The atmosphere was relaxed but focused. Nevertheless, recording Side Effects Expected was hard work. We pre-produced all songs to make sure that they were coherent and we were busy for weeks preparing the studio sessions as well as possible. In the end, we are more than satisfied with the result.
What has been the most enjoyable part of recording this album, and consequently, what has been the least enjoyable?
To record our music in a well-known state-of-the-art studio was exciting and a great experience. The most enjoyable part of the recording was probably seeing how the different pieces of the puzzles were put together and that in the end a song is fixed on tape that we worked hard on and that turned out the way we wanted it.
The least enjoyable part of the recording was definitely the goddamn high prices for beer in Denmark as well as the plague of flies that summer...
I don't know if you've seen my review of the new album over at metalcrypt.com, but needless to say I loved it. How has the other feedback for the album been?
Yes, thanks for the great review and your warm words. While you`re reading these lines, Side Effects Expected is released in Europe and has hit the record dealers these days. Since we uploaded the first outtakes and songs of the album on Myspace and our web site we have recieved positive feedback from all over the world and the first reviews are really positive and enthusiastic. Our music does not only arouse interest in the Tech Death Metal scene but also fans of Melodic, Progressive, Thrash Metal and Grindcore seem to enjoy the album. So, apparently the time was ripe to unleash Side Effects Expected.
Your music is very technically proficient and complicated, how do you guys build up your chops to the point where recording a record like Side Effects Expected is possible?
There are several points to raise. First of all, we've had a stable line-up from the beginning and not only the individual abilities improved over the years, but also working as a band was getting better and better. CENTAURUS-A is a fruitful collaboration and our sound benefits from the various and diverse influences, ideas and musical skills everybody's bringing in and we succeed to develop our own style of Tech Death Metal. Finally, we rehearse quite often, are assiduous and take care that everything is played well.
On a similar note, are there any pointers or pieces of advice you would like to give to budding musicians that want to play music similar the style you play?
It's hard to give some advice, but maybe the most important thing is not to have any musical limits and try to find an own way to interpret Tech Death Metal, rather than copying what others do.
It looks like you guys are planning to play some German gigs later in the year. Are there any gigs you are particularly excited about and who will you be playing with?
You're right. We are quite busy booking club shows as well as some summer open airs for the next months. We are recently confirmed as support act for the GOJIRA show in Cologne/Germany in April and we will play the LEGACY FEST (Kreator, Arch Enemy, Satyricon, Kataklysm,…) as well as METAL CAMP in Slovenia (Dimmu Borgir, Sodom, Hatebreed, Death Angel). That's what we're really looking forward.
Any funny tour stories you wanna share?
Hmm…there is no certain story that comes to my mind right now.
Lastly, how does the future for Centaurus-A look, what are your future plans?
With the release of Side Effects Expected we can't wait to perform as much as possible. We're heading numerous club shows as well as some summer festivals and hope to get the opportunity to jump on a complete tour. Besides Germany and Europe, it would be great to come to North America to play for you metal freaks.
Currently, we're working on a video for the song "The Praying Mantis" and looking forward releasing it soon.
Finally, we are already busy with writing new songs for the follow-up album and hope to add some more albums to the CENTAURUS-A discography in the future.
Thanks for the interview and giving us the opportunity to introduce CENTAURUS-A to your readers. Please visit our websites and check out our album!
LET MUSIC TWIST YOUR MIND!
|Other information about Centaurus-A on this site|
|Review: Side Effects Expected|
|Video: The Praying Mantis|
Copyright © 1999-2019, Michel Renaud / The Metal Crypt. All Rights Reserved.