Niclas Müller-Hansen of Sweden’s Metalshrine recently conducted an interview with guitarist/vocalist Mille Petrozza of German thrash metal veterans KREATOR. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
Metalshrine: Where did the title “Phantom Antichrist” come from?
Mille: It’s a metaphor. It was inspired by certain things that I read in the media, especially the death of Osama Bin Laden, who got killed and thrown into the ocean for religious reasons, even though there are no such thing as a sea burial in the Muslim religion. It’s a metaphor for control and for the state of the world at this time basically and that’s also what most of the songs are about. You get your typical KREATOR treatments where I talk about injustice, war, horror, pain and oppression of course.
Metalshrine: It is a crazy world. In your country, how are things with the former East and Germany as a whole? Are things getting better for former East Germany?
Mille: That’s a tough question to answer. I mean, I’d like to say yes, but I’m not an expert on these things. I can say it has definitely gotten better in some parts and a bit worse in others. There are places in the eastern part of Germany where there’s nothing and all the people there, when they turn 18, they leave to go to Berlin or somewhere in the west, maybe. There’s no work there. Of course, it’s great to have access to the eastern part of Germany, which wasn’t the case when the Wall was still there and it is also great that the people who live in East Germany can go wherever they want to, but there are still a lot of things that need work in the future.
Metalshrine: The [“Phantom Antichrist”] video then? It looks like you spent some money on that one. It’s a great looking video!
Mille: In my opinion, it’s either you do a video and you do it right, or you don’t. In this day and age, maybe it’s not necessary to make videos anymore. For me it’s an art form and it’s always exciting. It makes sense to me. There are still a couple of TV stations in Germany that play it and some stations play it in South America and even in North America. There are still some stations that play metal videos. It’s not money out the window, but, of course, most people watch it on YouTube, but I think it’s a great promotion tool and also a great art form, in my opinion.
Metalshrine: A video like that, how much is your idea and how much of it is the director’s idea?
Mille: Basically, it’s all the director’s idea. I sent him some rough scripts and then he came up with his own script and I was fine with it. The script that I had was a little bit different, but it was all his idea. I sent him the lyrics I think. The lyrics they wanted and I think they did a great job. It looks spectacular and it doesn’t look like an amateur video or something.
Metalshrine: Those old school gas masks are always kinda creepy.
Mille: I know. [laughs] I think it’s still some kinda ’80s trauma and nightmarish vision that we all have. It gives an association of terror and the apocalypse. It’s quite disturbing, if you think about it, but that’s what I like about it also. The artwork and the music round it up quite nicely.
Metalshrine: What was it like working with [Swedish producer] Jens Bogren and was that something that you decided early on and what made you go with him?
Mille: Well, we were basically looking for a new producer and there were a couple of people that I had in mind, but a friend of mine who worked with Jens, Nick [Holmes] in PARADISE LOST, he recommended Jens in 2009 already. He was like “You should check him out, he’s great!” and I checked out Nick‘s album and I was really enjoying it and I thought it sounded great and it was quite an organic-sounding record, so when I first talked with Jens on the phone, it was either I work with him or I don’t, but I got a great vibe from him and the most important thing, if you work with somebody for production, is that you like that person and when he makes a suggestion you have respect for it and he has respect for the band. I didn’t really think too much about working with Jens, because I had a great feel towards the guy. He’s a metalhead and he knows a lot about music. When I sent him the first demo tape, he wasn’t like “Oh, this is great!” He was very critical, which I thought was great. He was never too enthusiastic, but if he liked something, he was like “Yeah!” and if he didn’t like it, he made it better. To me, he was the perfect producer and we had some really great times. Sweden is very cool for a recording situation. The people were very nice and it was nice living in Örebro. A nice little city. There was not much to do there, but if we went out, it was always great. There were a couple of great nights we had there, and it was good.
Metalshrine: You’ve been doing this for such a long time now, but do you still feel that you need a producer?
Mille: Yeah, definitely. In my opinion, there are very few bands that can produce themselves without losing focus. I mean, you might focus on things but sometimes you… you know, when you’re in the studio you’re very emotional about your music and I think somebody from the outside is always more critical. If I was to record my own album and produce my own album, not only would it be more work, but I wouldn’t know whether or not it’s gonna be better. I trust people, I trusted Jens and I’ve trusted the people we’ve worked with in the past so, yeah, we need a producer. We’ve always done it with a producer. Sometimes we had producers that were great and sometimes we had producers that were OK, but it was always a good experience or an experience. Sometimes it was a bad experience, but most of the time it was great experiences. You always learn something.
Metalshrine: Does it ever happen that you write something and you realize that you’ve already written about it 10 years ago or that you’ve used similar lyrics before?
Mille: Many times. And then you have to rewrite the whole song, which doesn’t make your life easier. [laughs] It doesn’t start with the title, it starts with the words. Look at a band like MANOWAR. I’ve got nothing [against] MANOWAR, but if you take their lyrics, their vocabulary is very limited. Not that I’m saying that my vocabulary is larger or anything. I also have words that I use all the time like terror, war, pain, death… They’ve all been used and I think you have to be convincing. Even on the new record there’s a couple of songs, like I had this title “Death To The World” and it’s a great title, but it sounds like I’ve heard it before and there’s probably a couple of bands that have that title. Then you start googling and you see that NIGHTWISH has a song called “Death To The World” and you wonder “Can I still use it? Is it cool?”, but you have to make it your own song. There are so many songs that have the same names and you cannot always have an album with songtitles that nobody’s used before. But I think a song title like “Phantom Antichrist”, with two words combined that doesn’t really make any sense, is a song title that nobody has. It’s also a very controversial song. When we put up the song title, many people on our website said “This sucks man! What’s up with that?” There’s always people complaining.
Metalshrine: That’s something that has happened a lot lately, a lot of metal musicians talking about people writing negative comments and so on. It’s so easy these days, to sit at home in front of your computer and write negative stuff and not be creative at all.
Mille: Yeah and it’s something that I don’t take that serious. Of course, we get that many times and I know in rap it’s even worse. In metal it’s still OK. People are very passionate about metal, so it’s OK with me. On the other hand, it’s so strange. The reality on the Internet is so much different from the actual world out there. I’ve never heard anybody, at a concert or anywhere else, say something like that to my face. As easy as it is for people to write negative things, it’s just as hard to actually say that to anyone. Whatever. I guess it’s just a human thing when you have too much time on your hands and you start complaining about things. People that don’t do much have the time to complain.
Read the entire interview from Metalshrine.
“Phantom Antichrist” (song) video:
“Phantom Antichrist” album artwork:
Photo by Stefan Heilemann of Heilemania