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Back in 1994, when we first heard Pyogenesis, it was groundbreaking music – nobody else had combined doom/death metal to so many melodies before. But the four German guys led by guitarist/singer Flo v. Schwarz did not follow this path for too long, they went further to combine doom/death with alternative and pop punk and finally created a style of their own that is not particularly metal, not particularly punk, but somehow embraces all of that and much more. Unfortunately, it’s been quite a long time since Pyogenesis released something, so when we got a chance to do a phoner interview with mastermind Flo, we decided that it should be an overview of the band’s path all across the years and musical styles. Enter these roads again…
It’s been about three years since the release of your latest record “She Makes Me Wish I Had A Gun” (2002), and you’ve never had such long breaks before. What is the reason? And when can we expect the new album?
We were very busy with the last record, we toured a lot through Europe, and after nearly two years I started producing other bands, because I have a little label, and I manage other bands. This takes a lot of time as well. We are already writing new songs and preparing our next album, but I can’t tell you exactly when it’s gonna be released. It will be recorded when we know that we have enough good songs, because we wanna fill the next record with only killers.
What style are you planning to follow on the next record? Will it be in the vein of “She Makes Me Wish I Had A Gun”, or something dramatically different again?
I think it’s gonna be like “She Makes Me Wish…”, because this is the direction the new songs are going, but there are still some influences from the past. We played some metal festivals last year, and played old metal stuff again, which we hadn’t done for a very long time, and that was a lot of fun. Maybe some new songs will be much rougher and more like the old days.
Your latest studio recording is a cover version of the song “Urbahnlinie 2” by the band Montreal. How did it happen that you covered their song? And will it be available anywhere else apart from your website?
No, this is just a gift to the fans. I produced the Montreal CD, and I’m managing the band as well. And to expose them to a bigger audience I covered the song. It’s a great song, and it’s got a great hook and a great melody, but we wanted it to be a bit in the vein of acoustic Pyogenesis stuff.
As you said, you’re also working as a producer, for instance, with the British band The More I See. How did you happen to know these guys? And how was it like to record in England?
I met the band two or three years ago in Germany, when they were touring. We spoke about production, but they didn’t have a record label. Now they are signed to SPV, and they asked me if I was interested in working with them together on their songs, because I knew them, and we got along together very well. They flew me to London, and I worked with them on their material, we did the whole pre-production.
On your webpage there’s an mp3 of your side-project NDW. Can you tell us a bit about it?
The project is not called NDW, NDW is a music style here in Germany, “Neue deutsche Welle”. Do you know the band Nena? This was NDW. When I sit at home sometimes, there’s nothing to do, and I’m bored, then I start writing music. One night me and some of my friends drank a bit, we were sitting together, and we said, “Hey, come on, let’s write some songs, silly songs.” That’s when we did this project thing.
Was it released in any way, or is it just one song on the web-page, and nothing else?
There are nine or 10 songs, I don’t know exactly, but only one song is available on the website. I burned 40 CDs and sold them on concerts, there was never a proper release.
Will you do something like that in the future? Maybe some other projects?
Yeah, sure. I’m always working on music, so I’m pretty sure there will be some further projects, some further guest appearances and stuff like this.
More about side projects – we’ve heard that members of Pyogenesis used to run a grindcore band called Gut. Is there any truth in that?
Yeah, but this is an old project, this was years ago, in the early 1990s.
Which members of Pyogenesis were doing that?
This was Tim (guitarist/singer Tim Eiermann, a key figure in the Pyogenesis line-up all through the 1990s – ed.). I only played once there, I did the keyboard stuff. This whole project was kind of silly.
Let’s speak more about those extreme metal times, if you don’t mind. Before Pyogenesis you had a band called Immortal Hate…
That was actually Pyogenesis, the same band, but with a different name.
What kind of music were you playing in those days?
It was death metal as well, exactly the same as the first Pyogenesis stuff.
And after all, when and how did you first meet Tim?
That was in summer 1991 in Rockfabrik in Ludwigsburg.
We’ve heard that prior to signing to Osmose, you released a mini-album on a Colombian record label. How did you get such an exotic record deal?
This was just a seven-inch with two songs, one on Side One, and the other one on Side Two. Back then, there was this underground scene, people writing letters to each other, putting flyers into them. We used to send our flyers with all the demos we sent and all the letters we wrote, and somehow this Colombian label got in touch with us, supposedly through the flyer. One seven-inch was released there, and another one on a Mexican label.
What songs were on those seven-inches? Are they available anywhere else?
I don’t remember exactly what was on there. (laughs) But I remember that we did three seven-inches, one is filled with songs from the first demo, and the other two are unreleased recordings on the songs that later appeared on the first record and on “Sweet X-Rated Nothings” (1994). Among these songs were “Underneath” and “Sacrificious Profanity”. The latter appeared on “Sweet X-Rated Nothings” under the name of “Extrasis”.
What feelings do you have at the present time when you listen to the album “Ignis Creatio” (1993)? Are you still proud of it, or do you wish you never recorded it at all?
(laughs) No, not like that, but I wish I would have a chance to record it again in a better way. The production sometimes doesn’t sound that good quality-wise. Of course, we still play old stuff, at those festivals we played old and raw stuff.
Many songs on this album were co-written by a person called Asmodeus. Who was this guy?
Ah, that’s Tim, it’s his artist name.
How did you first get the idea to introduce clean vocals to doom/death metal?
This was a progression. We wanted to be a bit more extraordinary, and we started experimenting. This was a good idea, it sounded OK, so we did it, and with time clean vocals was replacing growling vocals more and more.
When you were working on “Sweet X-Rated Nothings”, did you realize that you were making something that would make an enormous impact on the scene, or did you just pay more attention to writing and recording and not thinking about the consequences of it?
We didn’t know that this record was gonna be what it is now. It’s like with every record of every band – when you write the material, you think this is the best record that’s ever gonna be released. We were thinking the same. Of course, we are very proud of what we did back then, but we didn’t know that so many people will like that. With this record, it was the first time we started playing outside of Germany, we were in South America, Mexico, Bulgaria, everywhere.
Who is the girl that moans in the track “Fade Away”? Was it a sample or did you invite somebody to the studio especially to record this part?
That was a porno tape, a cassette, not video, just audio.
Oh, we’ve never heard of such thing…
I’d never heard of that before and I’ve never heard of that afterwards. Tim got that from some guy from Poland.
At the end of the song “Sweet X-Rated Nothings” you can hear the crowd chanting “fuck Pyogenesis”? How did you record this part? And what’s the idea behind it?
That was some kind of self-irony. We did that ourselves, we were six guys in the studio, and all the voices you can hear are ours. It sounds like a stadium or a club full of fans, but all the voices were produced by six guys and then multiplied. Don’t ask me about the idea behind it!
After the last song on that record ends you can hear various sounds and noises for about 10 minutes, it’s just like somebody’s coming home and doing things around the house…
I don’t know why we did that either. (laughs) We had a CD with a lot of sounds… Maybe you know that if you have something new and fresh, you wanna do everything with that. That is why we filled the whole end of the record with silly noises. And as to the last track, number 99, I remember that we were drinking a lot of beer, and we arranged a competition – who will make the loudest blurp. And I won, it’s my blurp you can hear on that track!
When “Sweet X-Rated Nothings” was re-released a few years later, it carried 8 bonus tracks. Four were from the mini album “Waves Of Erotasia” (1994), but where do the other four come from?
Wait a minute, I’ll get it, it’s deep inside my drawer. OK, here it is. “Deepblackdiscotoaster” was recorded during the sessions for “Twinaleblood” (1995), but it didn’t really fit the record because it’s too funny. “Lost In Reverie’95” is just another version of the track, which is on “Waves Of Erotasia”. Then there is “Son Of Fate”, we especially recorded this song with a guy from Berlin, his name is Harris Johns, he produced Sepultura, Kreator and all the big names in the late 1980s and early 1990s. This song was never released on any record or compilation before. Then there’s the song “Symbol Of Disgrace”, which was recorded during the “Twinaleblood” sessions as well and released on Nuclear Blast’s “Death Is Just The Beginning” compilation. And the last one is “Coming Home”, which is on the regular CD as well.
This re-release also had a different cover artwork. Were you dissatisfied with the original one?
The “Sweet X-Rated Nothings” album is black, blue and white, and the “Waves Of Erotasia” EP is brown and white, so we took the cover of “Waves Of Erotasia” and covered it in blue. That’s the idea behind it.
Let’s pass on to “Twinaleblood”. You always seem to come up with album titles that have many meanings. How do you choose the title – do all the band members sit together after the album is ready and throw in their suggestions, or do you think about it at some different stage of working?
Of course, we’re sitting together and talking about it. We always have a lot of ideas and suggestions concerning how the album title could sound like. But everyone has to be happy with the title in the end, because this is how the record will be called for all eternity.
But do you specifically want the album title to have many meanings? Titles like “Unpop” or “Sweet X-Rated Nothings” can be interpreted in many different ways…
Yeah, of course, this is something that goes through all the albums we have done so far, it’s a kind of Pyogenesis trademark.
For this album you had a new bass player, Roman Schonsee. How did you get him into the band? A couple of years later you wrote in the comments to the song “Silver Experience” that Roman was born with one hand, so we still wonder how he manages to play bass and all other instruments…
Yeah, maybe it’s because he was born with just one hand that he managed to get things done in life that he wound have never done if he had lost his hand by accident. He was interested in music, so he started playing guitar, then he started playing bass, and he did it very good. And there’s no reason not to work with him together just because he has only one hand, as long as he’s good. I got to know him because I was in school with him. Back then he was a real weird guy. Years later he played in a metal band, and I had Pyogenesis, so we met again in Rockfabrik, it was very funny after all these years. We were talking, it turned out that he had his own studio, and we did some recordings there. Then we had some problems with our bass player (Joe Azazel), and he said, “I can play bass as well.”
At what point did you get interested in alternative and punk rock music?
I’ve been listening to punk rock since the late 1980s when I was a little kid, so I’ve been interested in it forever. But the style of Pyogenesis changed in a natural way, it’s not that we said, “We have to write alternative and punk music.” We just did it, and then we thought, “Shall we throw all those alternative and punk rock songs away, or shall we just release it?” If we had kicked them away, we would have had to write new songs in the old way, this metal style, which would have meant that we’re doing it just because the fans expect us to do that. It would have been some kind of sell-out – not to do what you feel and what comes out of you.
When you were recording “Twinaleblood”, did you view the record as the beginning of the transition from doom/death to punk, or was it exactly the music that you loved most of all at that time?
When we started with the songwriting, we didn’t really know how the record was going to sound like. We just wrote songs, and as I said before, we were not willing to replace the new songs with other new songs that would sound like the records before. We didn’t really know which direction all this is gonna go, but we liked it and we just followed our heart. Maybe it sounds pathetic, but it is like it is.
The digipack version of that album had a bonus track with German lyrics called “Mutz umst Erben”. Have you ever considered switching over to German completely? Most of the famous German punk rock bands are singing in their native language…
No, never. That wound not fit to Pyogenesis. I work with a lot of punk rock bands singing in German, famous bands as well, but if we had started singing in German, that would not had been Pyogenesis.
The musical evolution of Pyogenesis – was it something that all the band members approved at that time, or was there someone, the leader, who was pushing the band in a certain direction?
Tim and me wrote all the songs, and Tim needs time to find out what he really likes and what he doesn’t like. You could say I was the opinion leader, the one who brings new and fresh styles or ways to write songs into the band. But I don’t think that anyone was dissatisfied with the music we did, because then he would have said it. I remember that after each record we did we were sitting together, listening to it once, twice, three times, ten times, and we all were happy with what we did. We always felt that this is unique, this is something very special.
The next record called “Unpop” (1997) has a very funny cover, a naked guy with an acoustic guitar. Where did you get the picture from?
(cracks) The picture shows me under the shower. (everybody laughs) This was in the studio of Roman, our bass player, someone from the German magazine “Rock Hard” came down to do a studio report, and he said, “Come on, we need some crazy photos!” He said, “Hey Flo, why don’t you stand under the shower?” And I don’t know why, but I did it, and he took the picture. It looked very crazy, I don’t look like that if you look at me, but under the shower I look silly. At that moment, we didn’t have an artwork, and it was the time when Polaroid pictures appeared, so we needed a cover like this to show that Pyogenesis is not that metal anymore.
What was the reaction of your label Nuclear Blast when they first heard the record? They’re still pretty much a metal label, and they had nothing of that kind of music back then…
(laughs) They expected something different, but we recorded the album, that was what we liked and what we wanted. So they had no other way than releasing this record. But it was very successful, so after all they liked it as well.
“Unpop” also contains a rap song, “XXL Ego King”. Were you fond of rap music at that time? Do you still listen to it?
Mmm, this all record is an experiment, a lot of different styles are on it. I would say this is the most diverse record we’ve ever done, with the most different styles. “XXL Ego King” was just a test, let’s put it like this.
Such an experimental album as “Unpop” is very hard to get into for your old metal fans, and you were taking a very big risk of losing old fans and not finding new ones. Did this circumstance ever scare you, or were you ready to start a new career in new music at any cost?
Mmm, we didn’t think about that. We just wanted to play music, and we didn’t want anyone to tell us what is cool and what is not. We didn’t take care at all about people telling us, “You have to write a song like this or that again.” For example, the song “It’s On Me” is one of the greatest Pyogenesis songs ever, and a lot of people said, “Hey, you have to write a song like that again!” But that would be just like a copy. We write songs, and if they sound like this or that, it’s OK, but we don’t wanna sit down and write songs that sound like this or that.
Some people consider you a provocative band, because each of your records is a challenge to those who liked the previous one. Is that intentional in any way or does it just happen?
I didn’t know that. I know that each record sounds differently, but I’ve never heard that people consider us provocative.
Both “Unpop” and the next album “Mono” (1998) contained very cool cover versions. Why did you choose to cover “Sehnsucht” and “Africa”? Do these songs have any special meaning for you?
These are songs from the 1980s that we listened to when we grew up. That’s why they are important for us.
On the “Love Nation Sugarhead” mini album (1996) you have a song called “Female Drugthing” that features Martin Walkyier from Skyclad. How did you get him to record this track?
He was the boyfriend of the video director we had for one clip. That’s how we got in touch with each other, he liked Pyogenesis, and we played two shows together. Then we were talking, and he said, “Yeah, I would like to do some experiment with you.” He was very professional, he came to the studio, it took one hour, and then we started drinking. (laughs)
After “Unpop” you were touring with totally different bands and playing to totally different audiences. How does a tour with Anathema differ from a tour with Social Distortion?
The audience, of course, is totally different. The tour with Anathema was our very first tour, so everything was fresh, new and exciting, and it didn’t matter if there was not enough food or not enough to drink. The Social Distortion tour was totally different, because we already were someone, and we had a certain level, so we expected more than from the tour with Anathema. And it’s another style, of course, Social Distortion is a punk rock band, they have been in the music scene for 20 years, and Anathema were as young and fresh as we were.
This is probably wrong or just an outsider’s statement, but a lot of people considered you and Tim the two main persons in the band. But over the years you were writing and singing more and more and Tim’s role in Pyogenesis was declining. Why was that happening?
I would say it’s because when he wrote songs, he sang them, and when I wrote songs, I sang them. We wrote many songs, and the best ones made it on the records. We used to have a little list of what was written, who likes which song most, and with that list we would find out which tracks would make it on the record. Out of 20 songs, we would only put 12 on the record… Mmm, how can I say it? Maybe my songs were better that his? I don’t know how to explain it, this sounds very arrogant, but I don’t mean it that way. Do you know what I mean?
Yeah, of course. But now let’s pass on to the next record, “Mono… Or Will It Ever Be The Way It Used To Be”. This title sounds quite sarcastic…
Was it a statement that Pyogenesis will never look back and will only move forward?
Yeah, that’s exactly the statement behind it. Mono is the opposite of stereo, mono sounds very thin and not as good as stereo. And we wanted to say that this one is thin, but on the other hand, who knows if something’s gonna change again? If you’re turning, turning, turning, one day you will be on the same point where you started. And that’s point behind it.
“Mono” wasn’t supported by any singles. What was the reason? And are you satisfied with the work that Nuclear Blast did on that record?
We did release a single for “Drive Me Down”, and we also shot a video for it. But we didn’t sell this single, it was just for promotion, for the radio stations and clubs. With that single we entered the German alternative charts on number one. The work of Nuclear Blast was OK, because it was a new field for them, a new world. A lot of contacts they had could not help us, because we were not that metal anymore. So they had to hire some professionals who are more into alternative and punk, and it worked out very well. It was a very successful record back then, and it helped us to get people outside the metal fans in the audience.
Now the remix album “P” (2000) – did you already know when you were working on that record that it was going to be the last album for the old Pyogenesis line-up and for Nuclear Blast?
We knew that this was gonna be the last record for Nuclear Blast, because we had to do one more record for them under the contract, and they wanted to release a best-of album. But honestly, who needs a best-of Pyogenesis record? I didn’t want that, so we suggested to do a remix album. If I had a chance to do that again, some songs would sound different nowadays. This is very experimental.
How did you choose the songs for this album? Are they your personal favorites or did you already have good ideas of how to re-do them before you started the recording?
It’s a mixture of the songs I like most, and the songs you can put into another version. Even the best song is very hard to remix if you don’t have an idea.
Did you consider brining outside remixers to work on that album?
Yeah, but we didn’t have any budget at all. Of course, I would have been interested in letting Prodigy or Depeche Mode remix my music, but we didn’t have the money.
How did you get an idea to start your own record label, Hamburg Records? And what were the main difficulties that you were facing when you were putting the label together?
The most difficult thing was to set up an international distribution network. And the reason why I did this was that I was so familiar with the music industry that I didn’t understand why I should sign a record contract and pay all those guys doing what I could do on my own 10 times as much as regular. All you need is contacts, and I had all those contacts. It was very easy to set up my own label.
What are your plans for the future with Hamburg Records? Are there any bands that you want to sign very much?
The releases we’re doing on the label are meant to help bands get started, like we did with Montreal, and we’re also releasing Pyogenesis material, but most of the work we’re doing here is management. We’re managing other bands and making sure that they can play a lot, that they get great support slots, that they get record contracts, that they get published, and all these kinds of things.
And what is required from a band that wants to get signed to your label?
They should make good music. All you need is to have good music, to be good live, and that’s it.
How much time did it take you to put the new line-up together after Tim and long-time drummer Wolle left the band? Did you know the guys in advance, or did you have to arrange an audition?
One guy was our live bass player Peter Rutard, he started to play guitar then, and the others were our roadies. I didn’t even have to ask them to join, they asked me. It was very easy, of course.
Now we have reached the latest studio album – “She Makes Me Wish I Had A Gun”. It’s now nearly three years old, so are you still satisfied with it? Or would you like to do another remix album full of songs from that record?
No. As I told you before, we did that remix album only because Nuclear Blast wanted to release a best-of album. We have no ideas to release remix albums on our own, so there will be nothing like that in the next years. The next release will be a usual high-quality Pyogenesis studio album.
In an earlier interview you said that you wrote 23 songs for the album, but not all of them are on the CD. What happened to the rest of the tracks?
We did an EP called “I Feel Sexy Everyday”, I don’t think it was released in Russia, and there were a few extra songs on it. We released one more song on our website, and we have two or three left.
Why did you decide to open the album with a sample of Werner von Braun? What connection does it have to the rest of the songs?
Not to the rest of the songs, but to the rest of the album. Werner von Braun was a German guy who was just into his work, just into physical and technical stuff, and not into nations, he didn’t care about the Second World War. When Germany was defeated, and the Americans took the country, they also took this guy and brought him to America, and he helped them with the nuclear bomb. He was not into nations, he was only into physics and technics, and that’s the same with us, we’re only into music and not into certain kinds of styles such as metal, punk, hardcore or alternative. It’s all about music.
There are some other spoken samples on the album – where do they come from? Did you sample movies or anything like that?
Yeah, these are from movies, from “Star Trek”.
You once again made a very sarcastic song about girls – “Punk Rock Is Her Life”. And in on the “Unpop” album you had another song of that kind – “Alternative Girl”. We wonder do you get any reaction to these songs from your female fans – at your forum or in person maybe?
No, why should we?
Some girls may think that these songs are about themselves…
Mmm, if they think these songs are about them, then they like it. It’s the experience I made.
The song “Lunacy” is obviously about a club that you like very much. Can you tell us more about this place?
This place is in the nightlife center of Hamburg, I don’t know if you have ever heard of Reeperbahn. It’s very close to Reeperbahn, it’s on a side street. This is our favorite bar, it’s not even a club, it’s a bar, but they play a lot punk, metal, alternative and all the music we like. There was a time when we were there three or four times a week, staying the whole night and drinking. (laughs) Whenever we go out in Hamburg, we always meet at The Lunacy.
Do you think that such a death metal name as Pyogenesis still fits the music that you’re playing?
No. (laughs) But the name Pyogenesis is more like a brand. For example, if you know the first Paradise Lost record, it was doom metal, and Nick Holmes was growling only, his vocals were totally distorted. And if you listen to what they are doing nowadays, it doesn’t fit as well, but it’s a brand. You don’t hear this as a metal band’s name, but you combine this with what it is now.
Let’s speak about your current setlist. You have already mentioned that you still play a lot of old songs. But what is the earliest track that you play?
(pause) Probably the oldest at the moment is “Fade Away” from “Sweet X-Rated Nothings”. You can take a look at our website, there’s a little live clip of that song. We are planning to do some more of the old stuff, so there will be “Through The Flames” as well.
There were rumors that you were going to play in Russia some time in 2002 or 2003, but that never happened. What is the reason? And what are the chances to see you in Russia at the present time?
I had contact with some promoters through the Irond company that helps us releasing our records in Russia. There were plans for some touring, but that didn’t happen. I don’t exactly know about the Russian live music scene, so it’s very hard for me to say what exactly was the reason. But we are willing to come to Russia, and if we do come to Russia, we will play a lot of old songs as well. The problem is that we don’t have too many contacts.
Roman Patrashov, Felix Yakovlev
March 31, 2005
15 èþí 2005