02 03 Metal Melancholy: INTERVIEW: Cemetery [Death Metal] 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

INTERVIEW: Cemetery [Death Metal]


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, Metal Melancholy!

MM: Firstly, 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' (=Hellbrothers)

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 behind.  

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 Band?

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.

Stream the NEW CEMETERY SONG below!

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