Artas - Radek
05/01/09 || HailandKill
Coming from that part of the world famous for sparkling mineral water, Arnold Schwarzeneger, the Himalayas, and Celtic Frost, these multilingual Austrian blokes arrive on the European scene this year with their Napalm Records debut, “The Healing”, whose cover has a dude carrying a flag. It’s an album that treads on all the new extreme melodic shit coming out today and combines them for a diarrhoea inducing headbanging cocktail. Consider the effort an exclamation point for the band’s string of successes dating all the way back to the last Metal Champ Festival. Shrimping the barbeque, mixing his geography, using a shitload of smileys that were edited out of this interview’s text, and saying “Fuck You”, Artas’ groove-commando (that means bassist) Radek spends some quality time with Global Domination’s most irreverent scribe, who lays on the cheesy compliments like butter on toast. The result is a brief tete-a-tete of Manowarian proportions.
Wow, you’re like the first band I’ve interviewed from Austria. Which Austrian city do you live in, Sydney or Melbourne?
Fuck you! We’re from Vienna!
So you’ve got this smashing new album with an epic cover matched by an epic death metal sound. Who has given it the warmest reception so far?
We have received a lot of diverse feedback on the album and I find it a little hard to tell which has been the “warmest” reception. Well, I guess it would be an English reviewer who wrote that we should be avoided like a case of leprosy. That’s pretty much what I’d call an intense reaction, hehehe…
The lyrics on the songs come in three languages, and “Fick das Fett” is pretty fuckin’ heavy too. You guys must be geniuses. But why?
Thanks a lot. Using different languages for us is just awesome. You can play around with them and put the songs in different atmospheres. We extend our possibilities of expression by using a language other than English. “Bastardo”, for example, is a track that would sound completely different sung any other way. It just needed the Spanish lyrics to sound how we wanted it to sound because that’s how it had to be.
There’s also a huge mix of extreme styles on the album. Who were the main composers/songwriters who put everything together for the band?
Our songwriting is a process involving a lot of teamwork among the members. Someone comes up with an idea and we work it out together. I think this, among other things, is the main reason we come off as eclectic because our sound is inspired by a lot of musical styles.
But we don’t want to be that specific about our sound and music style; we’re just creating songs by putting our energy and emotions together in order to bang it on our instruments and our music. We don’t have to mix styles up, but there are no limits. The result is Artas.
Yeah, and the cover art just totally rawks. A dude’s carrying a flag. Really epic shit, if I might say. Did you have any alternatives? And how come this one ended up on the cover? Who created the damn beautiful thing?
The main aspect of Artas is “Freedom” and the roads you have to walk and the battles you have to fight to deserve it. That’s why we raise the flag, step onstage as warriors win over the world to our cause, which is to face our own quests in life. So from the beginning we wanted this epic assassin-cum-warrior to represent the album and the artist Dennis Sibejin was the right guy to develop our vision.
It’s common knowledge you included a cover of “Gangsta’s Paradise”. You’ve probably doomed yourselves to always being asked why you did this. Since every journalist is gonna pop this question, I won’t. Whaddaya think?
Mmmm…right now I think I should get myself a cold beer and some cigarettes to get this intie done… yesss…much better.
But hey, I’ve got no problem at all with questions about “Gangsta’s Paradise”. It’s just copy n` paste. Everything’s fine… wait one moment…okay, here we go…
At Metalchamp 2007 each band had to choose a song from a given list that they had to cover in the second round. We decided for “Gangsta’s Paradise” because of the different musical aspect. It just fit well with the band and we instantly thought it would be a cool cover. The song contains a choir and to implement the different voices into our guitar work was a crucial challenge for us. Additionally the song is made for two vocalists. In the end we were so content with it, that we decided to include “Gangsta`s Paradise” on our debut “The Healing”.
According to your official biography you nailed a record deal with Napalm Records after winning Metalchamp 2007. How did the band cream the competition?
The whole thing happened within the span of three or four months, I think. The first rounds started in Germany, Italy, Austria… then we played the semi finals in our hometown, Melbourne. Finally the finals took place in Slovenia, at the Metalchamp ’07, which is probably the best friggin festival in the world. I can’t really tell how it came about that we won. It all started with signing up to the contest just to play a gig in one of the larger clubs here in Sydney. Then things got bigger and bigger, and the response was great, which gave us a lot of energy to do our best at the shows. Oh yeah, and maybe it has something to do with paying a professional hooker to sleep with the whole jury twice a day, for four months straight. A little expensive, but hey…
The band is also referred to as ‘warriors’ in your official biography. You dig the Manowar thing?
Not really, we dig the Artas thing. We shave less and spend so much time in our rehearsal room here in Sydbourne that we just cannot manage to work out like they do. (Okay, time to get another beer…) But seriously… I think that everyone should live his life like a warrior. Just use your imagination and step out to fight life’s battles, raise the flag, don’t give a damn shit. If you don’t stand up for yourself this way life will be just prey and fuck you every day anyway (gimme the beat!). We spend a LOT of time in our cellar here in Melney, hehehe…
Artas’ dark secret is your former name, Staub and Schatten. Now where the hell did that come from? It sounds like you guys were makers of chocolate wafers or something.
Hell yeah!!! I gotta go and get some chocolate wafers right after this intie! Hahaha!
“Staub und Schatten” actually means “dust and shadow”. It refers to Horaz and it’s meant to signify that names don’t matter after all.
But you still have a smashing album with “The Healing”. The record just kicks ass—so intense! What kind of work ethic did the band exercise in the studio?
Thanks!!! We did the recording in our own studio (which also doubles as our rehearsal room and cellar) here in Vienna, and we wanted to do it as perfect as it can be. We just wanted to produce a record that every one of us can be proud of; we wanted to prove that we CAN do it, and were extremely motivated. If the parts of songs didn’t fit…we’d just be repeating the same damn riff all day long.
Do you ever marvel at how much the band and its music has changed since the Staub and Schatten days until now, when you’re already being backed by a label? Or has there been barely any difference?
The contest, the record deal, and the big support of Napalm Records were definitely the turning point in our professional music careers. As a new band it feels great when you realize all the opportunities out there and it gives us a lot of energy to do the best we can. But it has always been the same band with the same vision, which is to conquer the world.
How much time do you guys spend sharpening your musical chops? You might as well throw in descriptions of your gear, the place where you rehearse in, your favourite albums, your home address, and when you lost your virginity. Mucho thanks.
We rehearse about two to three times a week and we lost our virginity to Peavey.
What are your favourite pastimes outside metal? Any of you into camping? How about skiing? Bodybuilding? Reading books?
Our recreation consists of music, books, computer games, drinking and fighting, raising flags… It really depends on the current mood.
I always ask this whenever I’m interviewing a European band. How much does a pint cost in your country? And while you’re at it, what’s the most popular beer?
Beer costs between 0.40 and 0.60 Euro in the supermarket and 2.50 or 3.50 Euro in a pub. The best brands are Ottakringer and Kapsreiter – very good Austrian beer.
Are your parents proud of what you’ve accomplished?
I hope so. At least I know they’re big supporters of Artas.
I’m from an Asian country, but this interview is coming out in a Swedish webzine. You wanna leave a message for any drunken Scandinavian friends of yours?
Dust to dust and shadow upon all.