Cemetery is a Death Metal band in the veins of Death,
Morbid Angel, Nocturnus, et al. The band met its untimely fate back in 1993 without their music being released. The
entire discography was released as a compilation double CD by Memento Mori
Records in 2014 [REVIEW HERE]. We
sat down with the band to discuss the past, the present and what the future
holds for CEMETERY.
MM: Hi. It’s a
pleasure to have you on Metal Melancholy.
Roland: I’m thrilled to be given the opportunity! Thanks,
what prompted you to work with Memento Mori Records after nearly two decades to
finally release “Enter the Gate” album and the earlier demos?
Roland: Around mid-2013, I read on an Internet forum that
there were still people looking for copies of the “Enter the Gate” tapes I made
by hand back in 1994. I had made only 30-40 copies straight from the
Master-Recordings to Cassette Tape, after it had become clear, that the album
wouldn’t be released by our old record company as planned. Almost all of them went
to friends of the band back then, so they were practically impossible to find
for others. I had the idea to put together a Facebook page to pay homage to CEMETERY, and
eventually wanted to offer CD-R copies of the Album, for those who were
interested. The Facebook page had only been live for a few weeks, and I was in
the middle of working on putting together the original cover artwork for a
possible CD-R release, when Raul from MEMENTO MORI contacted us, offering to
release the 1993 Album “Enter the Gate” on his label. After we started
exchanging some e-mails, Raul was also the one who came up with the idea to
release our whole catalog as a 2-CD Discography. Of course we were absolutely thrilled
about the opportunity to finally get our material officially released so many
years after the recording sessions. Definitely beats hunting for old tapes or
burning CD-Rs for a chosen few.
MM: There is no
way around asking this, so could you tell the new fans, as to what exactly
happened back in 93 that led to the band leaving the material unreleased and
moving into a new direction with Aeons End?
Dani: After we've signed the record deal, we've been waiting
for months to get into the company owned studios and start recording. Nothing
happened. No messages or any kind of information. So we asked carefully after a
while what's going on. They told us that their studio is still being used for
another project, and that we could choose any other studio. We decided to work
with Falk Gruber in his studio, because we knew each other from working on our single
and demo tape together. After two months of recording, during which we had been in
the studio two or three days per week, the album was finished. Again, there
hadn’t been any contact with the record label during that time. We tried to call
up the record company, and after finally reaching someone, were told that the
company is broke! This means, no money for the recording, no release!
There was no way to get any help or money from the label.
The contract situation was unclear, also. We tried to find another label but,
as far as I remember, didn't know if we could even release anything as
'CEMETERY', or if the rights to the name and the recordings were legally owned
by a bankrupt company, that was unable to do anything with the material.
One or two labels showed interest, but no one had the balls
to deal with the fragile situation. The whole Death Metal business was kind of
down at that time. No company thought, they could invest profitably into our
band, while risking a legal dispute with our previous record company. The
market wasn't ready for CEMETERY. Maybe we've been 3 years too late or ten
years too early. I don't know.
MM: Aeons End
also met an early end, after releasing a demo and a full length. What musical
projects are the members of Cemetery involved in at the present (if any)?
Dani: Aeons End had almost the same destiny as Cemetery. The
music was great but maybe too complicated for the market. No one gave us a
chance. After all, I haven't had the power to go on. Some private problems came
along on top. I stopped my activities as a musician almost completely. I was
just playing in some cover bands for years.
Now, looking back, I'm glad that I've made all of these negative
experiences. I'm a really relaxed person now and I play with a bunch of friends
in a heavy rock / old school metal line up called 'Höllenbriada'
The former drummer Elmar Nüsslein and Aeons End singer Gaby
Weihmayer joined Munich thrashers 'Red To Grey'.
Roland: Michael (the original Drummer heard on all of the
recordings) and Robert (Bass) are not currently actively playing in bands, but
during my last visit I “almost” jammed with Michael. But when we saw each other
for the first time in 20 years, we got so wasted together on the night before
we had planned to play, that both of use were way too hung over to pull off
that jam, hahaha.
As for myself, I stopped being active in bands when I moved
from Germany to the US in the year 2000. I had a few stints helping out in a
hard rock band as a bass player, playing small club gigs around the Hollywood
area, just so I wouldn’t forget how it is to be on stage. But the CEMETERY
release gave me the push I needed. About 2 months ago, I joined a new L.A.
Death Metal project as their guitar player, and we’re actively working towards
playing shows in the near future. No name or recordings yet – but I’ll post
something on the CEMETERY Facebook page when I have news.
MM: How has been
the reception to the compilation release, from the old fans and the new?
Dani: I'm surprised about the worldwide reactions to the
release. It gives me a sense of satisfaction to know that what we had created
back then wasn’t that bad. I'm really happy about that there are people who
like our songs.
Roland: Our old fans are a fairly intimate group – many are
personal friends of the band. But they were just as thrilled as us about our
recordings finally being officially released. Considering that we never had the
chance to reach a wider audience without releasing our album before, I think
the majority of those interested in CEMETERY today, have only heard of us
thanks to MEMENTO MORI. There were several really good reviews for our release,
and I’m really excited about this. And you gave us 9.5 stars in the review you
wrote! Awesome, man! THANK YOU! I think for back then, we were pretty cutting
edge, but by today’s standards, we were very old school – or much more,
contributed to what would become old school later on. I’m amazed that what we
did back then still resonates with so many Death Metal fans today. I like to
think of CEMETERY as one of the many roots of today’s Death Metal movement – having
spent most of our time buried underground, contributing to the foundation,
rather than being widely noticed.
MM: Based on
your experiences, what advice would you give to new younger bands starting out?
Dani: You need talent, style and character. Stay true to
yourself, even if it make things harder. Don't let the business people fuck you
up. They are nothing without you. It's all about the music and your dreams.
Well nice words, but if you're not at the right place at the right time with
the right people...you won't make it! Sad but true.
Roland: Play for the passion, not for recognition. Constantly
work on evolving your skills (…that Nirvana couldn’t play is no excuse). Play
live at any opportunity you get – even if it’s basically a shitty gig. If
nothing else, it’s experience and there’s always something to take away from
it. Leave your ego at home – there’s a long way to go until you’re a “rock
star” and even then, an ego is out of place. Network with other musicians as
much as possible. Get a manager as early as possible – ideally a friend who is
happy to help and wants to be part of it… but someone who has organizational
talent and people skills. A manager is essential to hooking up more gigs, and
soliciting record companies, etc. It’s worth paying his or her $200/month phone
bill, as long as you get at least a gig or two per month, and even if it hurts you
financially. And nowadays: Learn how to use a fricken computer and Digital
Audio Workstation. Anybody with enough know-how, can put together a decent
recording setup for way less money than it cost back then to pay for studio
time. But you need to know what you’re doing with that gear, so read up, watch
tutorial videos and get familiar with that stuff! At the very least, and if
done well, you can do pre-productions that can be built upon when continuing
the process in a real studio, saving lots of time and money. These tools are
available to anyone today, and if you’re not making use of them, you’re lagging
MM: How do you
feel the state of death metal today compares with the state of death metal in
the early 90’s?
Dani: I'm not following the scene actually. I don't know
much about it. Of course there are a lot of talented bands in the business.
They put the music to a higher level. A level we all dreamed of twenty years
ago. Maybe I'm wrong but I'm just missing individuality. I mean, back in those
days you could hear from the first note, the first guitar riff who was playing.
That's Death...that's Obituary..., even if you never heard the song before.
Roland: I think the skill level of a lot of newer bands is
just unbelievable. There are so many people who play insanely fast and tight, I
couldn’t even dream of reaching such a level. I really like DAATH, for example.
Something I’m missing with a lot of the more extreme bands is, though, that
many just seem to go “pedal to the metal” almost constantly, while throwing in
some quieter parts for good measure here and there. But often, it doesn’t
really sound organic. Many random pieces in a song might just end up sounding
stitched together – but not really like a coherent song. It’s a bit
schizophrenic, or at least frantic. At least in my opinion, there was still
more focus on the song as a whole in 90ies Death Metal. It was less about shock
factor, or how many tempo changes you can cram into the first minute of a song,
etc. And then there are some of today’s big name bands that just sound like
commercialized bullshit to me. I’ll skip the names, not to piss anyone off, but
it’s almost cartoonish. I take DETHKLOK more serious than some of those guys. Anyway,
if I had to pick between 90ies Death Metal and today’s stuff, it would
definitely be the 90ies. But when it comes to chops alone, the bar is certainly
higher today. But to each their own. That’s just my personal opinion.
Cemetery - 2014
MM: I’m sure you
have been asked this one a thousand times already. With the new compilation
out, can fans hope for a reunion of any sorts at any point in the near future?
Dani: A difficult question. I can't tell you at this point.
I do really think about it. Roland lives in L.A. and my place is Germany.
Through that, things aren't easier. To build it up again would take a lot of
time. I'm not sure if it's worth it. Do we really need another Death Metal
But let me tell you, I'm working on new material...!
Roland: It’s definitely not easy, because we’re now living
in different parts of the world. Dani and I both have professional recording
setups in our homes, though. I had the privilege to listen to some of the new
CEMETERY material Dani is working on, and it is KILLER!! We’re still trying to
figure out the best way to collaborate on the recordings over the distance, but
I’m confident that we will get this working. As for playing live together, this
will be a bigger challenge, but I wouldn’t rule it out. There’s also the
possibility that the L.A. Death Metal band I have in the works, would play some
of the old CEMETERY tracks live – not quite the same thing, but it would at
least give a taste. But all this will definitely take some more time.
MM: Well that’s a
wrap from my end, any last words?
Dani: Thank you for your interests and support. I really
appreciate it. It was a pleasure to answer the questions. Stay tuned, there's
something new coming up. Hopefully soon!
Roland: Thanks very much from me as well! It’s a privilege
to know that like-minded people are out there, listening to us play, and being
interested enough to ask questions, and read these lines. THANK YOU.