(In this latest installment of his “Get To the Point” series, KevinP poses 5 questions to Stephan Gebédi, guitarist of Thanatos and Hail of Bullets.)
K: Be honest with me here. Does Thanatos flying under the radar all these years annoy you in any way?
S: Well I would be lying if I said that it has never annoyed me, ’cause we had loads of bad luck and deals with shitty record labels that did us more bad than good. But on the other hand I know we made a lot of bad decisions ourselves as well, especially in the early days. Not everyone in the band was serious enough about taking the band to another level, so we’re too blame as well.
And maybe I should not have disbanded in 1992 when I grew tired of all the record label bullshit and irresponsible behavior of certain band members, and maybe I should have just kicked them out and recruited new band members. But at that moment I was sick and tired of all the lineup changes in the past.
Nowadays I accept the fact that we will remain an underground band and I’m happy with the fact that we’re still putting out records after 30 years and damn strong ones as well! I’m also happy we finally found a decent label, so our albums are available and well promoted these days.
K: Even though you re-formed the band in 1999, you have regularly put out albums every 4-5 years since then. And since Hail of Bullets is taking 2015 off (Ed needs to explore his folk metal weenie side), now seems like a golden opportunity for you to focus on the new album, Global Purification.
S: Yeah, we weren’t always that fast when it came to writing songs, and besides that, we always had to search for another label after every record ’cause they either went bankrupt or fucked up. But for the latest album, the writing process went pretty fast and smoothly. And yes, my focus for 2015 is definitely Thanatos. We’re not doing tons of shows this year but we have some pretty cool things lined up and there’s more to follow.
K: How does the writing process work? Paul Baayens joined in 1999, but you both have written for Hail of Bullets since 2006 and Paul has also done the lion’s share of work for Asphyx since 2007. Obviously each band has their own distinct “sound”, but speaking as a non-musician I have to ask, isn’t it difficult to juggle and/or feel limited at all?
S: Basically I’ve been doing about 80% of the writing for Thanatos throughout the years. In the past our 2nd guitarist Erwin contributed 1 or 2 tracks to every record, and since Paul joined he usually contributed 2 tracks or so to every album. For the latest album he came up with 2 songs again, but our bass player Marco and even our drummer Yuri both came up with 1 track as well. So Global Purification has more then ever been a team effort for us. In Asphyx, Paul writes about 90% of the stuff. In Hail of Bullets, Ed Warbie has always been the main composer, with me and Paul contributing 2-3 songs each for every album.
Writing songs for 2 bands actually gives me more freedom. When I come up with really intense, fast, aggressive stuff it’s pretty obvious to me that it will turn out to be a Thanatos song, and the same goes for Paul, I think. When I write for HOB I tend to focus more on groove and heaviness instead of pure aggression, although my riffs for HOB are mostly a bit more aggressive than Ed’s riffs. Personally I’m pretty focused for either HOB or Thanatos when I start writing songs. There has been the occasional song that was originally intended for Thanatos but ended up as an HOB song (“Berlin”) and vice-versa (“The Demonized Minority”)… both written by Paul, but it doesn’t happen often that we write a song and decide later which band it fits most.
K: You mentioned before you had some shows lined up. Which ones can people catch you at?
S: We have a few shows lined up for the near future that are 100% confirmed: April 3rd we’re playing London, UK (The Black Heart), April 11th we’re playing Kortrijk in Belgium, and July 11th we’re playing the Obscene Extreme fest in Czech Republic. We’re working on more shows in Holland, Germany, France, and hopefully some festivals in other countries as well. Of course we’d like to come over to the States as well and play Maryland Deathfest or stuff like that. The album release was just a bit too late in 2014 to be included on the bigger European Summer festivals, but hopefully we can make that work next year if I don’t drop dead on stage before next Summer 😉