I’m very proud to introduce another great band in my “Highly Recommended” series :) Dortmund, Germany’s RED APOLLO brings in a solid dose of angry, furious and sludgy post metal to the table. Their amazing debut album “Marche Funèbre” will surely appease all of you post hardcore lovers and atmospheric translucent experimental music addicts.
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I’m starting to worry about myself, there is more and more dark and disturbing music in my life :) You’re another band that takes my mind into another dimension. I’m glad you’re here though. How have you been doing lately?
Thanks for the interview and the kind words, Karol!
Well, the last months were pretty exhausting! We have parted ways with our singer back in December 2012 right after the release of our first full length which was pretty surprising and a big setback for us. We have already had booked some studio time for March 2013 to record new material and some shows as well. Due to several reasons we decided that I will do all vocals beside my position as a bassist. I’ve already gained some experience as a singer with an instrument in my other band SUNDOWNING, but nevertheless, it was pretty tough for me to learn all the songs. Beside that we had to finish the material for the studio but we made it and now we have three new songs recorded which will be released over the year and we have already played some shows with the new line-up and luckily it worked fine!
So there was no addition of a new member after the parting ways? Is it a permanent decision or will you be looking for a new vocalist?
Well, we’ve discussed adding another vocalist but came to the conclusion that it’s kinda hard to find someone who really fits into the band. It’s hard to find someone who has the right voice, enough time for touring and rehearsals, enough passion and who becomes a good friend. I don’t want to make music just to make music but I want to make music with my best friends, you know? In addition, we were pretty close to record new material so we didn’t have any time to test new singers. We just wanted to make sure to continue with a constant and good lineup as fast as possible.
But the Summer tour is happening anyway, right?
Sure! Absolutely! We will release a split 7inch with GOTTESMORDER from Italy next month and another 7inch split with SUNDOWNING right before the tour. The tour itself is half way booked and we are still working on it. It’s a bit hard due to holidays and the summer months but nevertheless, we are totally stoked about it and look forward to play as many shows as possible this year!
Were you a heavily touring band before? How many shows have you played as RED APOLLO?
Not really. We played our first show in December 2011, so 2012 was our first year of ”real” existence and we spent the first half of the year to finish and record “Marche Funebre”. I guess we have played about 25 shows so far and now we have finally time to play more regularly and to play a tour!
Any special evening that stayed in your mind for a really long time?
The show with CELESTE in Berlin last year was special! I’ve been in love with that band for years and finally made to see them live. The show was organized by a friend of mine and a lot of other friends showed up. The location was packed and we just played a great show!
And how’s your local scene in Dortmund? Are there lots of people coming out to shows? Any fests, bands or other local relishes you’d like to shout out to?
It’s hard to limit it to Dortmund since there are many cities around Dortmund like Essen, Duisburg, Mülheim or Bochum and it rather seems like a big city than separated ones.
Unluckily there is not a single good location in Dortmund which would be suitable for underground punk/metal/whatever but there are many great locations in the surroundings like alternative clubs and squats so shows are taking place weekly which is actually pretty cool! The bad aspect is that it is totally unpredictable how many people are showing up since many are kinda jaded so it is harder to set up good shows in our area than at other places. Nevertheless, we are thankful to live at a place with such a big scene and possibilities to attend concerts and to make music.
Is there a foreign place that you visited and desired to live there since you saw it?
Well, we haven’t been at places where we hadn’t been before yet, but I’m really excited about the Strasbourg show at the end of June and our tour which will lead us to Denmark and Eastern Europe. I’ve just experienced it with SUNDOWNING. I’ve never been to Prague before our show at the beginning of 2012 but fell immediately in love with the city and would at least love to spend some days there again.
Ok, let’s discuss “Transgression”, shall we? When will it premiere?
Yeah sure! Well, we have no definite date yet but expect to hear the song within the next two weeks! The physical split will be released on the 17th of May. We will play a release show with GOTTESMORDER on that date and the day after in Hannover at the Alerta Deathfest as well.
“Transgression” is a conceptual trilogy and will tell a story throughout all three songs. The second one will be on a split with SUNDOWNING and the third one on a split with DEAD FLESH FASHION.
Is there a timetable for the second and third releases?
The second split will be released at the beginning of July via Moment of Collapse. We are currently working on the cover artwork but the songs are all finished. The third one is roughly scheduled for later summer/early autumn. Nothing definite yet.
Alright, speaking of your newest outing, what is the song-writing process like in the band now? Is it a whole pack collective or individuals that write the music? What is your biggest step forward in terms of developing RED APOLLO?
Normally Björn, our guitar player, comes around with a bunch of riffs and/or a rough scheme for a song. He always records them so we can already give them a listen at home. Later at rehearsals we pick those songs to pieces and start writing the actual song. We often delete some stuff, add something or change the structure. I think roughly 60% of a song comes from Björn and the other 40% are done at rehearsals.
It didn’t always happen that way but it becomes more and more a collective songwriting which is pretty cool since everyone gets involved and brings in new ideas. The creative process is definitely more exciting when four people are doing something.
Tell me more about the concept behind those three new tracks.
The three songs tell a story of the great antagonism between the values and expectations which are inflicted by society and one self’s anticipations towards life. I grew up in a middle-class family and been exemplified that typical and normal way of life through my parents’ life and society: become well educated, get a 9 to 5 job, earn enough money, have a family, spend two weeks per year on holidays, die.
In the end I came to the conclusion that I don’t want to live my life that way. There are other things that make me happy. Nevertheless, it’s hard to realize and accept it for me since I’ve been taught that way of life my whole life.
The three songs broach that issue from realizing the problem, the struggle with it and finally the acceptance and individual fulfilment.
How do you cope with the struggle? What are those things than can make you way happier?
That’s a complex question! I came across a picture of a wall some days ago. Someone spray-painted “we buy shit we don’t need – with money we don’t have – to impress people we don’t like” on it – that is actually a pretty limited and polemic statement but nevertheless a good foundation.
See, I’ve done an apprenticeship in a marketing agency and I hated it. I hated the people and I hated to spend about 9 hours a day there, so I decided not to keep on working there when I’ve finished my apprenticeship.
I could have easily continued working there and would probably earn way more money than I’m doing now in my part time job but I love my ”new” life. Spending some time at university, working part time and having a lot of time for other activities, especially music. It’s not easy but I wanted to have it like that so I won’t complain about my decision. I’ve done it for certain reasons and I don’t need to have ten pairs of shoes to be lucky or whatever. You’re surrounded by so many things nowadays. Things you can’t have, things you want to have but I’m just trying to cross out the things which are not worth it and focus on the right things.
Nevertheless, it is hard to realize that and finally live with it when you’ve actually been taught these values (having enough money, buying certain things, having a good job, etc.) for your whole life by society.
Yup. It’s not like it’s having no food and fighting for survival, but I definitely know what you mean. I’m having a little discomfort of working for a bigger company and being just a little mechanism in its structures.
What non-musical stuff are you interested in? Any hobbies that keep you busy and stress free?
I’m actually pretty much focused on music. There’s not much time beside playing in two bands, organizing stuff and writing songs, attending university and working in a job. I was running a label for a while called Iron Plague Records with our drummer Sascha but we put that on hold when we realized that we cannot effort enough time and passion for it anymore.
I also got into writing lately. I always felt that certain topics or styles of writing wouldn’t fit into both bands’ concepts so I was looking for another way to express my thoughts. I’d like to publish some stuff in any way in the future but I don’t have definite plans yet.
Alright, let’s go back to the new release for a while. Why did you put one third of it on your split with GOTTESMORDER? :) Weren’t you tempted to produce an exclusive song for this co-release?
Well, first of all: The second and the third part of the whole “Transgression” concept will be on the two other splits. Therefore “Transgression II” will be on the one with SUNDOWNING and “Transgression III” on the split with DEAD FLESH FASHION.
We’ve been half-way through the writing process of the three new songs when we decided that I will do the vocals from that moment on, so I had to write the lyrics as well and came across that concept I’ve mentioned before. I can’t give you an explicit explanation – I just liked the idea of splitting the whole story on three releases.
Damn, you’re right, bro! My bad, sorry! :) This is actually a great idea, you know? Also, it’s super cool that you have decided to put it out so soon after “Marche Funèbre”, which was out last Autumn. For this frequency, you will end up with a new LP in the end of this year, huh?
Haha You’re welcome! Haha Well we finished the writing process for “Marche Funèbre” about a year ago and recorded it in May 2012. The song writing for the split songs started in November 2012, I guess. It was a pretty natural process. We didn’t feel that we have to release something right after the album but we were just excited to write new songs and luckily everything went pretty quick.
All I can say is that we definitely won’t release another LP this year, which is a wilful decision. We do not want to release “Marche Funèbre 2”, but try to explore new fields and sounds. I’m already super excited about it and it’s awesome to have such a big time frame to write a record. We’ve already talked about the next LP and its sound. I have also jammed some riffs and ideas as well as Björn and I have started collecting ideas for the lyrics but to be honest: We still do not have a single idea how it will sound like Haha.
Ok, you have released a nice video for the song ”A Sea Of Trees”. Any plans to back up the upcoming splits with another visual form of art?
We do not have any plans yet. We might do some prints but nothing’s definite so far. Generally I’d like to do another video with a story or something but it’s pretty tough to do a video which is not pathetic Haha! Most metal videos nowadays are just embarrassing or not worth to watch till the end but nevertheless, there are still pretty good videos such as that CODE ORANGE KIDS video for “Flowermouth” or the AMENRA video for “Boden”.
I wonder… are your family and friends supportive of your music? Do you spend a lot of time developing this band?
We rehearsal once or twice a week and play shows on a regular basis. Besides that there is a lot of other stuff to be organized like touring, future releases, designs, whatever. The whole band takes a lot of time and it can easily happen that you play a show when it’s your best friend’s birthday, you know? But I’m pretty happy that all our friends and families are very supportive and understand it. Otherwise it wouldn’t work.
Very cool :)
Ok, I wonder what music you’re into right now. What would I be surprised to find on your music player? :)
Surprising music? Well, that’s a good question. What do people expect me to listen to and what not? Haha I mean, I was and still am open-minded about new music and other genres and grew into a surrounding where it was pretty common to listen to any kind of music, so it’s difficult for me to sort out the surprising bands/musicians. Nevertheless, I’m currently listening to the latest TITLE FIGHT album at least once per day! I’ve known that band for some years by now but Floral Green surprised me absolutely and I can’t stop listening to these songs.
I’m also digging the Party People EP by SINGLE MOTHERS. Aside from the fact that the songwriting is so damn good and the production’s sound a banger, I can feel every single line of the lyrics since I’ve experienced all these things during the last months as well.
No MODERN TALKING, Swedish disco or Mongolian roots music? Nothing? :D
People outside Germany do know MODERN TALKING? My deepest sympathy :D Well okay, let me sift through my music collection…I got the latest Adele album, some COLDPLAY songs and a Rihanna song Haha Is that what you’re looking for? I’m a Frank Ocean fan as well! “Swim Good” always gives me chills! Haha
:D Very nice. Chris, do you have an y Polish roots? Your surname looks familiar.
Haha People always keep asking me that question. To be honest, I have no idea but I assume it as well. At least I do not have “direct” roots, so my Polish or Eastern European ancestors are from an earlier generation. My surname is pretty rare in Germany and when I come across it, it is always spelled in another way. Mostly with a “cz” instead of a “tz” and a “ck” instead of “k”. Mine became Germanized.
You should definitely dig deeper and start researching your family tree. It’s a lot of fun, actually :)
Alright, man. Any final thoughts as we close out?
Thank you for the interview, Karol!
And to all readers: Go to shows, buy vinyl and support your local scene! Hardcore is not just limited to US and UK bands but the rest of the world offers a lot of great bands as well!
Damn right! Thanks so much for your time!