I love this band Knut. Their albums are so intense, with
the latest one, Challenger, being the most so. From the start,
the hard-hitting and heavy rhythms surge with massive guitars to beat
down upon the listener. And then there are the perfectly suited balls-out
screams. Up until now, I'd been very happy thinking of them as a mix between
hardcore and metal. However, it seems that I was grossly mistaken, as
Roderic, the drummer for this band, was eager to point out. Oh, well,
I can still like 'em, can't I? - Roberto
Maelstrom: I think you may be the most intense band I've
ever heard. All your records are like this. How do you manage to keep
this level of intensity? Do you guys need to psyche yourself up before
recording or performing? What drives you to exude so much passion when
Roderic: Honestly I've got no idea since I haven't been
through really hard shit, like having someone really close pass away,
nor did I experience a war or anything like that. Anyway, I just can't
imagine myself playing music without intensity, it just seems natural
to me to put all my passion and energy into what I make. Especially music,
which is the thing that really keeps me going, and I guess it's pretty
much the same for everyone else in the band. Music is what really makes
life easier, more enjoyable and beautiful. Being able to play music has
to be the most fulfilling thing in the world. Then I'm sure everyone in
the band has had to put up with a certain deal of fucked up shit, like
relationships, work, people being phony and things not being totally right
so I guess it affects the way we approach our music.
Maelstrom: Your vocals are especially fucking mad. Do you
(or does Didier) ever get really hoarse or scare yourself when listening
to a recording and realize how pissed off he sounds?
Roderic: Didier should have been answering this question
since he is the throat in this band. I guess it kinda makes him laugh
to hear himself shout like that since he is the quietest person on earth.
I'm still amazed cause hearing him put himself in such an extreme position
is like totally unnatural and natural at the same time. Not sure if that
makes any sense...
Maelstrom: Especially when I listen to Challenger,
I am reminded of Dazzling Killmen, except much harder and heavier. Were
you indeed influenced by this band?
Roderic: I can only give my own answer but yes, it's true
that DK has been a great influence. It certainly affected my perspective
on rhythm and dynamics, and even my playing, along with bands like Helmet,
Melvins, Don Caballero, Rush, The Police, Genesis, King Crimson, Meshuggah,
Today is the Day, Deadguy and so on. I could name a thousand. Yeah, DK
used to have the complex, fucked up time signatures, the discordance and
the weird vibe, totally insane and unpredictable. I love them, same with
Colossamite and Sicbay, the other bands that a couple DK members did after
DK broke up.
Maelstrom What bands do you listen to and feel as blown away
by the level of intensity and musicianship?
Roderic: Well, the aforementioned bands obviously as well
as others (if you're asking about intensity) like Converge, Neurosis,
Coalesce, Bloodlet (the "Seraphim Fall" album), Breach (best
european band!), Morbid Angel, Immolation, Carcass, Eisenvater (super
harsh, fucked up german band, mid 90's), Tool, Opeth, Rorschach, Creation
is Crucifixion, Ananda, Isis, Keelhaul, Botch (RIP), The Dillinger Escape
Plan, The Cancer Conspiracy... I could go on. These are only some of my
personal faves. Burnt by the Sun and Mastodon seem to be pretty intense
too, but I could mention a ton of others that are intense to me without
being necessarily loud and brutal.
Maelstrom: This genre of metalcore seems to be rising in
strength and popularity lately. I think that's great. Bands like Heaven
Shall Burn, Caliban, Converge and Mastodon are putting out some great
stuff. Is it accurate to say you play a mix of metal and hardcore?
Roderic: Personally I don't see a link between the bands
you mentioned, being that some of them are actually groundbreaking whereas
some other are not. Just because two bands mix metal and hardcore doesn't
mean they sound the same or belong to a "genre". There was a
time when C.O.C. was tagged "metalcore" for example, so I don't
know if this is so new. It seems like the mix of metal and HC is the most
logical thing to do if you're into heavy stuff. The more influences you
have the better. Look at Black Flag and Neurosis, they were really revolutionary
in the 80's, the reason why so many bands have been citing them as influences
Maelstrom: Why is it not acceptable for hardcore people to
have long hair?
Roderic: What?? Are you asking this because you think we
consider ourselves hardcore or because we have short hair? Or both? Well,
we don't consider ourselves hardcore. We don't consider ourselves anything.
In fact our guitarist Philippe used to have very long hair until two years
ago or so.
Maelstrom: What's so remarkable considering your intensity
level is that you come from Switzerland, a country that is generally regarded
by the outside world as being peaceful and serene. The Swiss make great
chocolate, win a ton of skiing medals and operate top-notch banks. However,
I recently made a German-Swiss friend who says that it's not so calm in
Zurich. (J'imagine que vous êtes du coté français
d'après vos noms) Could you give us an idea of what life is in
fact like where you live?
Roderic: Switzerland is a pretty relaxed place to live,
this is true. But can you say violent calm? I mean, the world is violent
and our country certainly took part in a lot of ugly shit. Lots of things
are going wrong, some people are having a hard time making it through
their lives so there's times when they get fed up and go outside to let
their anger out. Be it in the shape of organized demonstrations, or like
people getting a gun and firing in a public building, just like in the
US you know. Chocolate and watches won't heal those feelings. And the
money, well it always ends up in the same, selected bunch of pockets.
However, it's easy to enjoy life in this country and especially in Geneva,
where a lot of foreign people come to work for international organizations,
or as students. There's a good diversity of people, good opportunities
and things to do besides your work. Plus the country is just next to France,
Germany and Italy, so traveling (and touring) throughout Europe is quite
a piece of cake.
Maelstrom: What's it like being a hard and heavy band in
your country? How did you guys form?
Roderic: Knut formed in 1994. Nothing worth mentioning before
that. It's cool, if you don't suck you will get noticed since there's
not a great deal of competition. You will have to tour outside though,
being that Switzerland is such a ridiculously small "market".
Maelstrom: My Swiss friend says there is quite a bit of social
pressure that young people feel to live up to the careers and high standard
of living of their parents, sort of like there is no where to go but up.
What do you think of this?
Roderic: Well it might be true outside of cities, in the
land, cause here it's possible to live a different life (Geneva has a
lot of squats for instance and a nice choice of alternative lifestyles).
It also depends on the environment, what kind of upbringing you have,
but myself I don't see it as more difficult than anywhere else. Those
pressures exist and suck, no matter where you live.
Maelstrom: Recently Switzerland legalized drugs. Even before
the law passed I remember a report about how this park in Zurich that
was in the middle of all the big banks was a contained place where junkies
were allowed to obtain and do drugs. If I understand correctly, the police
will look the other way even if someone has hard drugs in his or her possession.
There was fear that this new law would make Switzerland a haven for "drug
tourists." What do you think of this law and has it affected your
life in any way?
Roderic: Where did you hear that Switzerland had legalized
drugs? It's not true at all, although possession of small quantities of
hash or weed are no longer going to put you into trouble. Junkies, they
can follow programs using alternate products (mostly methadon). Switzerland
is still far from the Dutch "model," but people are slowly understanding
that 1/ weed is not harmful and certainly less dangerous than alcohol.
2/ heavy drug-addicts should be considered ill and treated accordingly.
And that big park you mentioned, which no longer exists, was nothing but
a total shame, it was like saying "ok, do what you will with those
shitty drugs, we don't care, we just want to be able to control your scene".
Maelstrom: I read in a press release that Knut means "whip."
What language is that in?
Roderic: Russian, pronounced "cnoot."
Maelstrom: Is there a country in particular that you like
Roderic: France (nice people, great food and wine), Netherlands
(nice people, good beer and lots of good drugs), and the USA (nice people,
terrible food, expensive beer and almost no drugs at all. Officially).
Maelstrom: Since you are on American-based Hydrahead Records,
when can we expect you to come play here?
Roderic: We did a full US tour last year with Isis and Thrones.
Are we coming again? No clue.
Maelstrom: What do you guys do outside of Knut?
Roderic: We all work. I am a writer, a journalist, in a
local newspaper. The others, one is working as ground crew at the international
airport, one is being a slave in a huge shopping mall, lifting shit, and
the third one teaches French lessons to foreign business people. Other
than that we drink, we smoke, we go see shows, watch movies and hang around
with friends. I also run a label with Didier and a couple of friends,
called Snuff Records (www.snuffrecords.com). We've put out the first Knut
records, as well as other local acts. Not much going on right now but
all the bands are good, and active. Do you know Nostromo? They just recorded
a new album in Sweden with Miezko from Nasum. There's also Shora who did
a split CD with Merzbow. We put out their first records.
Maelstrom: Ok, thanks for the interview! I'm don't consider
myself much of a hardcore fan, but I'm really into Knut! I was hooked
ever since I heard your self-titled EP. You guys keep it up and remember
that you have some supporters here in the US!
Roderic: Thanks for the interview. And give it up with the