On the last day of February, we included a brand new song from The Monolith Deathcult in one of our MISCELANNY posts. For us, it was a better-late-than-never introduction to the music of this Dutch band — and that new song continues to be obliteratingly good. You can read the post and hear the song at this location.
That post led to the chance for us to conduct an e-mail interview with Michiel Dekker, the band’s mastermind (and its vocalist/lyricist/guitarist). To prepare for the interview, we browsed TMDC’s Facebook page to get better educated about the band’s latest news, and discovered that it’s one of the more entertaining band pages we’ve yet come across, due to Michiel’s literate, sometimes cryptic, usually quite funny musings.
For example, we saw a poll he was conducting about whether the band’s next album should include any lyrics in Volapük (go here if you want to know what that language is). Other poll candidates included Esperanto and West Country English. There was also a comment about learning to play the saz.
TMDC is painstakingly preparing a new album, to be called Tetragrammaton (unless Michiel and his comrades change their minds). To get a few insights into that work and when it will be ready, and see Michiel deftly and amusingly handle my feeble attempts to ask some off-the-wall questions, follow along after the jump. (and we’ve got an eerily topical song for you, too . . .)
(Note: TMDC’s lead vocalist and bassist Robin Kok contributed to the interview answers below.)
NCS: First things first: that new song, “Aslimu!!! — All Slain Those Who Brought Down Our Highly Respected Symbols To The Lower Status Of The Barren Earth”, since it’s what got this interview thing started in the first place. You’ve explained elsewhere that the lyrical theme of this song was based on Lawrence Wright‘s Pulitzer-prize winning book The Looming Tower and an Islamic prayer called Dua-e-Sanam-Quraish. What were you trying to achieve in the lyrics to this song? I ask because I can’t hear the words. 🙂
MD: We don’t have goals with the lyrical theme. We like to write interesting lyrics because we see ourselves as a lighting beacon in the sea of bad lyrics. I already put the words on our Facebook.
NCS: Is that lyrical theme something that will play a part in the rest of the songs on the album? And if not, what other lyrical concepts will the music be exploring?
MD: We have a lot of lyrics about the Middle East. Don’t ask me why. Maybe because we are done with World War 2. We have a preference for weird dictators and religious fanatics and the Middle East is full of it. We are working on tracks about the Iranian Basij militia, Uday Saddam Hussain, the Rote Armee Fraktion and the Bhopal Disaster and maybe Qhadaffi.
NCS: Songs = words and music. So, the music: Based on what TMDC has recorded so far, and plans to record, how would you compare the music on the new album to Trivmvirate [TMDC’s last album]? Give us hints.
MD: The album will be in the vein of Trivmvirate. That is easy to say because all the songs on that album have their own identity without an overall musical theme. We will do that again on Tetragrammaton.
NCS: Will there be sonic booms?
MD: Sort of, we are doing some experiments in our lab with a sound called “The Schwarzschild solution”. This is a sub-sonic boom which is so devastating that it will create a elliptic paraboloid in your subwoofers which minimum point will undergo a gravitational collapse. Or you will soil yourself. Or both. They used the Schwarzschild solution to kick-start the Large Hadron Collider. I think it will do nicely as an accessory on Tetragrammaton.
NCS: Will you sing any of the songs in Volapük?
MD: O söl pelestimöl ! Elilädöl vobuki ola nitedik, e no kanöl kapälön dilis anik, penob ole penedi at al säkön va vilol seplanön obe setis suköl. But, no, because we love to use the letter “r” in our lyrics in praise of Lord Petrus Steele and RRRRRRamstein. If we were to use Volapük, we’d of course use the original and not Arie de Jong’s revision. That would be plain wrong.
NCS: Not to put you on the spot, but I have to ask (being an impatient sort), where do you stand in the process of creating the new album, and how long do we have to wait before it detonates on the scene?
MD: Last year I was suffering from a writer’s block, but this already over for a few months. We have 2/3 song ready, we have a lot of loose themes and parts in database which can be placed in new songs. I hope finish another track this weekend (11-03-2011).
I have a rough timeline in my head. We hope to record the album in summer 2012 and releasing it in autumn or winter 2012. The reason Trivmvirate worked out fine is the fine-tuning of the songs. There isn’t one unnecessary riff or vocal line on that album. I remember one year before we finally entered the studio we had a band meeting and listened through all the stuff we had and decided it was ready to record. We didn’t, and used almost a year for fine-tuning the lyrics and songs. You must understand that there are 30/40 versions of each song before it is finished. That might sound exorbitant, but that is how we work and that is the reason why we always put out 100% quality stuff.
NCS: Any chance of another song release, a/la “Aslimu!”, before the album comes out?
MD: No, this was a teaser to fill up the gap between the releases. For us it was a checkout if we are on the good way with the songwriting.
NCS: Being the snoop that I am, I saw this comment from you on TMDC’s Facebook page in response to comments about “Aslimu!”: “Well, let me say this about the stuff we are working on. All hail Psalm 69, All Hail SYL’s first 2 albums, All hail Obsolete/Demanufacture and all hail Laibach!! This is a track about the Middle East where civilizations aren’t able to filter their sewage so all electronica doesn´t make sense.” Elaboration please? What does all this mean?
MD: Somebody complains about the lack of electronic beats. Well electronic beats aren’t in the vein of the track. It is a track about the Muslimbrotherhood, a radical Islamic organization who want to get back to the year 800. Using eletronics doesn’t fit in that song. We use that in other tracks.
NCS: Apropos of one more of your Facebook admonitions: I did my homework about The Battle of Kyahbar, in which Muslims attacked Jews in the year 629, won the battle, but allowed the Jews of Khaybar to live in the oasis peacefully in return for the payment of half their tribute. But what does this have to do with TMDC?
MD: It has nothing to do with TMDC. None of our lyrics have anything to do with TMDC. We use historical subjects through the ages. I took the subject of The Battle of Kyahbar, because Dutch Muslim youths often uses the phrase, “Khaybar Khaybar ya Yahud, jaysh Mohammed saya’ud” in demonstrations against Israel, which means “Jews, remember Khaybar, Mohammed’s army will return”. Interestingly, none of the Jewish scribes record this battle, and the chant is probably just a bit of medieval dick-swinging.
NCS: Where did the interest in Arabic cultures and history come from?
MD: I teach history at a high school and I have a huge interest in the Arabic world so I read a lot of books about it.
NCS: I’m looking for an instrument I can learn quickly so I can join a metal band. How long does it take to learn the saz?
MD: It takes long, because the Saz uses an non western scale. Besides the 12 tones we know in western music there are semitones. If I were you I would start as singer/bassplayer. They just hang about making sarcasting comments and being pedantic about everything. Singing and bass-playing has been relegated to a click-track ages ago.
NCS: Best books you read in the last 12 months?
– Khomeini’s Ghost: The Iranian Revolution and the Rise of Militant Islam by Con Coughlin
– The Gospel of Filth by Dani Filth
– The Looming Towers by Lawrence Wright
– Guests of the Ayatollah by Mark Bowden
NCS: Music by a band other than TMDC that you’re digging at the moment?
MD: Alice in Chains, Type o Negative, Ministry, Cradle of Filth (first 4 albums)
Last question: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers and your fans, whether it’s news about TMDC or anything else that you wished I had asked but didn’t because I was too stupid?
Our thanks to Michiel for putting up with our questions and for providing such entertaining and informative answers. In one answer he mentioned that he had added the lyrics to “Aslimu!” on TMDC’s Facebook page, and here they are (and after that is the song itself, in case you’d rather not jump away to our previous post in order to hear it):
TMDC has a few performances lined up in the coming months. Here’s what’s on the calendar so far:
April 1 (with Hail of Bullets):
April 15 (with Aborted, Massive Assault, more)
Kabaal am Gemaal
And since we’re all about TMDC today, how about another song? This one is particularly appropriate in light of what’s currently happening at the Fukushima reactor in Japan (this song is about Chernobyl). And as an intro, here’s a recent fan comment on Facebook and a response from TMDC’s lead vocalist and bassist Robin Kok, proving that Michiel Dekker isn’t the only guy in the band with a sense of humor):
Fan: My hobby: listen to your albums and look at your uploaded concert photos and pretend I’m listening to you live. Your shitty production quality on the first two albums makes it really easy to pretend I’m in some cramped cafe with a terrible sound system.
MD: Close your eyes, fart, turn the heating up to 11, rub some stale beer under your nose, turn on a few failing CF-lamps and the imagery is complete!
Oh fuckit, might as well put up a couple of the band’s official videos so you get some sense of what their live shows are like, in case you don’t live in The Netherlends or Iceland.
Both songs are from the Trivmvirate album. The first one is about World War II atrocities, especially during the Warsaw Uprising, committed by a pro-Nazi anti-partisan operation called the Kaminski Brigade that was eventually absorbed into the Waffen SS. The second one I think will be self-explanatory.