Hey guys, how are you doing? What kind of noise are you crushing your ears with to while answering my questions?
G. Ashworth: Currently I am listening to the “Kithless” LP by Pedestrian Deposit.
C. Mumma: V/A Americanoise
I must admit I discovered your band only when the list of bands for the Nuclear War Now III fest was announced. Your monicker caught my attention as it was the only band I didn’t know, and I had never heard about before. And I thought “what a cool name for a band”. So, after this fairly interesting story, could you please introduce us to Knelt Rote, its foundation, its goals and ideals, and the meaning of your name?
G.A.: Knelt Rote is L. Danner, C. Mumma, K. Schreutelkamp and G. Ashworth. We formed in 2007. The name Knelt Rote is meant to invoke subjective meanings of the two words; “knelt” & the physical form of kneeling has connotations of subservience, vulnerability, begging, prayer, sexuality, inferiority, etc; the term “rote” has connotations of repetition, mechanical response, thoughtless routine, memory, etc.
Since the first moment I listened to “Insignificance” I was blown away by that furious melting pot of Grindcore, Black/Death Metal and Noise you managed to mix on those three long tracks. How did you arrive to that point? Was all this already counsciously planned? I mean, did you have in mind to mix the most brutal genres under Knelt Rote’s sound, or was it something that just came this way as you follow those different scenes?
G.A.: Each member of the band has his own influences, passions, and musical/mental orientation. We initially wanted to make music that combined our specific tastes in metal, hardcore and harsh noise, and through conscious and subconscious experimentation it has evolved to become what we consider our own sound and writing process.
Another thing that stands out from that album is that, as said before, you only included three long tracks, which isn’t usual when it comes to Grind or that kind of Black/Death Metal. Was it something planned or simply that you developed them that way? Weren’t you afraid that the length could result in a linear or boring effect? Do you play those tracks live just like on the album?
G.A.: Initially, the two tracks that comprise the A-side of “Insignificance” were intended to be two sides of a 7” EP. We realized that they were too long to fit comfortably on the 7” format, and we did not want to compromise the material by heavy editing, etc. We then focused on creating a more conceptual, side-long track for the B-side that would contrast & progress from the A-side material. We have played “Immeasurable” and “Age” live, but have never played “Constituent of Oblivion” live.
Having had the chance to get a copy of your first LP (“From Without”) recently, I was surprised to find out that your music was much more Grindcore/Noise oriented on that recording. Was the evolution from one release to the other done on purpose, was your first album a failed atempt of what you had in mind or you simply changed your tastes in those two years?
G.A.: It is just our natural course of progress, I think the only really deliberate change has been us wanting to evolve and not repeat ourselves musically or thematically.
C.M.: Recording ‘FW’ was quite a learning experience for me. We had to spend a lot of extra time remixing it just to get it to sound as good as it does. Which is not very good to me. I’m far from embarrassed by it, I just think it could sound better.
How far do you think you can go with the evolution of your sound? Between the first and second album there’s a huge step, be it on the writing as on the length of the tracks. Will you follow developing what you started on your second album or may we find again some big differences with your next full-length?
G.A.: It is difficult to answer this question because our perspective is internal, but I believe that we will always evolve as long as the band exists. There is definitely a progression between “Insignificance” and our next album, both musically and lyrically, especially since we now have two guitarists and there is more complexity in harmony, different writing techniques, different approaches to vocals, progressing as individual musicians, etc.
Why do you think Grindcore and extreme Black/Death Metal (or War Metal as it's used to be called) have been so far from each other since its early moments? I still remember when Blasphemy were labeled as Black Grind, and Gut did a Blasphemy cover on their “Crippled Bitch” split 7”EP.
G.A.: I’m not much of a historian on this stuff, but I have always considered grindcore to be an extreme extension of hardcore punk, while black/death/war metal is clearly a development of metal. No music is entirely “purebred” these days but there still seem to be distinctions and segregation within genres and “scenes,” which sometimes feels a bit ridiculous.
C.M.: I don’t think anyone seriously interested in extreme forms of sound are too genre specific. Blasphemy cited Discharge as influential.
Focusing on the lyrical/ideological part now, “From Without” included a cool A5 booklet with all the lyrics of the songs, and an explanation of its title, taken from a revolutionary pamphlet from the 1800s which was secretly distributed by prison inmates. Could you let us know a bit more about that publication, how you learn about it and why did you decide to base your first album on it? Are you concerned by the penitentiary system?
C.M.: I found the title “Prison Blossoms” in Alexander Berkman’s Prison Memoirs of an Anarchist. It’s just the first song, not the entire album’s concept. I am concerned by the penitentiary system.
The lyrics of “Immesurable”, the first track on your second LP, made me think about F.Nietzsche's “Beyond Good And Evil”. Or, better said, how people tend to interpret it on their own interest, especially for the words “Wine, Women and song is not the only result of there is no right or wrong”. What can you comment us on this song and subject?
C.M.: I wrote these a long time ago but basically once one grows up and understands subjectivity and their own mortality, they may need to decide how they’re going to live their lives. Or not. Drink Fuck Kill. I was also referencing an interview between Christopher S. Hyatt and Israel Regardie from the book Rebels and Devils: The Psychology of Liberation.
How close do you feel to the kind of elitist, warlike or satanic lyrics used by most of the bands that you seem close to, musically speaking? Do you feel close to their ideas or beliefs?
G.A.: Personally, I have little connection to those kind of lyrics and usually find the satanic, war, and hateful themes to be pure fantasy and cliche. I think the more Nietzschean, self-determinism themes used by bands like Conqueror can be interesting, as well as more personal themes on deep ritualistic matters. I’m not very interested in any of the elitist, racist, impotently violent or overused satanic themes, and I think our own lyrics are clearly coming from a different perspective and intention.
C.M.: Elitism and satanism is fine with me. Total support for the true pioneers and innovators. No love for the goofballs and silly motherfuckers.
Which scene or kind of audience are you feeling more comfortable playing for? Which better received your music and message? Do you think your releases on Parasitic Records and Nuclear War Now! Will help you approach more Metal oriented fans?
G.A.: I am comfortable playing for any audience that is paying attention. It seems that audiences who are more interested in death/black metal receive our music well, but we have felt both alienated, and alienating, in many live contexts. We are obviously not a “pure” band of any genre, and I think it can be weird for people if certain expectations are not met.
As I've read on your website, apart from that show at the NWN! Fest, you're planning to conquer the european stages on a tour in October/November of this year, which I guess is a way to make the most of your trip for the fest. Are you going to tour with any other band? Which places are you most excited to visit and which bands would you especially like to share the stage with?
G.A.: At this point, we are still working out the tour schedule and logistics. It is unclear if we are going to tour alone or with another band. We are very much looking forward to performing in central Europe and Scandinavia, and we are truly excited to share a stage with many excellent bands at the NWN! Live Ritual, and hopefully many more throughout Europe!
Apart of playing in Knelt Rote, some of you have been in other bands. Gordon, I'd like to focus on your own project (better said, one of them), Oscilating Innards, which is more or less focused around Electronic Noise. As far as I’ve read here and there, you’ve done a lof releases since 2003 and been on tour with it, right? Can you sum up a bit what we can find on that project and which similarities could we find between it and Knelt Rote's noisiest parts?
G.A.: Oscillating Innards has been my solo project since 2002, and is focused on harsh noise and electro-acoustics, with which I did a lot of touring and recording. For the past 5 years I have mostly been focusing on other solo music projects, mostly under the name Concern, which is based on drone and tape manipulation. I have contributed a lot of the noise/textural material for Knelt Rote and it was always be an important element of the band.
C.M.: Black Air.
Before ending this interview, could you please let us know which are the latest news when it comes to future releases from the band? I know NWN Prod. will do a CD version of “Insignificance”, and there's a split 7”EP with Anhedonist planned too.
G.A.: At the time of this interview, Nuclear War Now! has released the CD version of Insignificance and we will be recording our next full-length album over summer 2012. NWN will release that album, hopefully in early fall of 2012. There will also be a split 7” with Anhedonist which should be released by the end of this year.
Thanks a lot for your time Gordon, and for answering my questions, which I hope that were more or less challenging or at least entertaining. You can close this interview in the best suitable way you find. I hope to be able to see you on your european tour. Cheers.
G.A.: Many thanks for your interest and your support, it is much appreciated by all of us!!! We hope to meet you in Europe soon. Cheers!
Gia Thanatos is a webzine dedicated to music for the apocalyptic times. No matter the scene or genre it comes from, and mainly chosen according to its author's taste.