Right before the end of 2007, I had the opportunity to do an interview via Email with Karl Simon, vocalist and guitarist of US based Doom Metal band THE GATES OF SLUMBER. I know, that's he's a man with a very own perspective on the world, and he's more interested in speaking the unwanted truth, instead of following all the boring mainstream opinions. Well, of course, Karl Simon is just a human being, but in times where a plague called political correctness is poisoning the people's mind, it happens not very often that someone isn't infected by this disease, and I think, that's he's a very "healthy" person when it's about being political correct. One of the reason's for this interview was the band's latest full-length 'Suffer No Guilt', but there are a few more topics, which should be analyzed. So, here we go...
Hail, Karl! Before we start to talk about 'Suffer No Guilt', the latest full-length of THE GATES OF SLUMBER, I like to ask you how you're doing actually and what's your personal advice to escape the current Christmas madness? Or are you deeply involved into Christmas' preparation?
Oh, well... things are fine, I'm working like a jerk and getting ready for Xmas. You know how it is, gifts and the what not. I'm not a Scrooge or anything; can't say that I really get worked up over it either.
It's been a few months ago, since 'Suffer No Guilt' has been released. For my taste, it's a very unique album, and I needed a few more spins to discover the might and power of it. It really grows with every day, and it seems that THE GATES OF SLUMBER aren't limited to a specific pattern, as long as it is Doom and Metal. What do you think is the main difference between 'The Awakening' and 'Suffer No Guilt'?
Thanks for the kind words, I'm still very proud of this record for sure - a lot of really hard work went into it and I think that shows. The difference between The Awakening and Suffer No Guilt is the real emergence of the Heavy Metal influences that I've had in my music forever. This album owes as much to Manowar as to Saint Vitus. It's also something of a 'period peice' record I think. The ideas incorporate a lot of 70's and early 80's influences. Chris as a drummer was much more into playing in the 70's style, and a lot of the music we wrote had the feel of the 70's early 80's metal sound. It's probably our take on 'retro' or something, because we didn't ignore the things that came after. I don't know. It was less a collection of songs and more songs that were written for an album.
Have all songs been finished, when you went into the studio to record the album or have you also used some spontaneous ideas?
Pretty much everything was done before we went in, God Wills It was a work in progress and had some developments in the studio, same thing with Gemni Wyrmwood and Children of the Night, those were totally developed in the studio, for better or for worse. Gemni is the only one of those experiments that I really liked. Children of the Night has a nice mood, but it's too stark. Wyrmwood is what it is, you know? I think they add to the atmosphere of the album though.
Usually, I don't like the term 'concept album', but I would consider 'Suffer No Guilt' like this, meant in the most positive meaning. What do you think about my interpretion of the album?
I'd say it's pretty fair. While it's not a concept record, it's also is one, if you follow me. I think it's a record in the classic sense of the word in that all the parts fit together, which is what an album used to be - now it's just 15 songs on one CD, but we don't want to work like that. Our goal is to create albums that have to be heard as a whole to be understood. I think you can hear one song and think "wow, that's super neato" but to get what we are trying to do you have to hear the whole thing, at least that's the intention.
Currently, I Hate Records is one of the the leading labels for high-quality Doom Metal. So it's just logical, that you signed with Ola and Peter. Your first album has been released by Final Chapter Records, which isn't no more. Why have you been interested in releasing your second album on I Hate?
Heh heh, I Hate would have us! When Final Chapter folded we didn't have a home for our next record, so I approached Ola... he'd seen us support Thee Plague of Gentlemen, Reverend Bizarre, and Isole and had said a bunch of nice stuff about us. One thing lead to another and we have a record with them. They do release amazing stuff, varied and quite good. All the bands on I Hate are pretty much head and shoulders above the bands doing similar things on other labels.
In the past two years THE GATES OF SLUMBER have toured a lot here in Germany and other European countries. Sometimes I've thought, that it would be maybe easier for you to move over to Germany...hahaha. Where's the difference between the audiences in the USA and Germany f.e.?
Well, first we can get bookings in Europe, so that makes things easier. We also play to a more "heavy metal" crowd than we do here in the states: here it tends to be the Doom folks, and in Europe it's more just a metal crowd, rather than your sterotyped 'doomer'. Which is awesome. I consider us to be a Heavy Metal band first and a "doom metal" band second. Naturally, the crowds are bigger and a bit crazier in Germany. But we have had some super successful tours here in the US, in both places I've met people who have driven for hours to see us and all I can say is "Wow!" I mean, it's fucking incredible to know that people will even take time out of their days to go and see you play, let alone travel! It's very humbling, really.
Most of the lyrics deal with uncomfortable themes like war and death, what is mankind's fate. Mostly, there will only be freedom and peace when blood has flown, like it is documented in every history book. If there wasn't World War II, maybe we would still have concentration camps here in Germany. Why do you think is it so hard for some people to realize that war is part of the human nature?
War is the end, it's all we are good at. We suck at everything else. Humans are still living in their lizard brains, kill it first and don't bother to ask any questions - that's how we've lived for the last 100,000 years; it's not going to change anytime soon. We worship Death, peace and freedom are just the calm periods where we develop new weapons to fill graves with. People don't like this because they are not comfortable with the truth. You show them the ugly fucker that stares back at them in the mirror and they get all scared. Fact is that if you are human you are guilty and the louder you protest your innocece the more likely you are guilty as hell.
Frankly, peace is boring. Isn't it? Look at your TV news, even in enlightened Europe, it's all war on the News. We love it. No one anywhere focuses on the 'good' things in the world. It's all death and rape and hate. We love it. It's like a kink that humans are mostly ashamed of. Even if we can understand that there is a better way, we'll never take that route. So fuck it. This is what we are good at. I don't judge it, shit is what it is you know? All the pretty books and fancy philsophies are worthless when your brains are bashed out. Fuck, it's why we have such advanced brains in the first place. Nature didn't intend for us to write books, it wanted us to develop the spear.
You write profound lyrics, and I really appreciate the fact that your point of view is far away from being 'political correct' or shit like this. The epic song 'God Wills It' is a perfect example for it. In current times, the assessment of the Crusades, especially from a European perspective, is always extreme negative. The old Islamic world will seen as something, which was full of wisdom and peace, but the people forget what happened in Spain and so on. The current decade is just a further proof, that there are still a lot of aggressive tendencies in the Islamic world, not because of the crusades. That's just bullshit propaganda. What do you think is the reason for our guilt ridden culture? Why do they always feel guilty, instead of seeing all the good things Europe had given to the world?
The reason? Fuck, I don't know. Really. It could be the reaction to the second world war. I think Europe gave up on itself then something in the cultures broke and they just gave in over the last 60 years. Christianity also has a lot to do with it, this belief in sin transmitted from generation to generation, also the egalitarianism in the Bible had to eventually have it's day in court, what with the nonsense that "all people are children of god" and what have you. Fact is that there are some who are hardly worth killing.
Despite the fact, that a lot of people don't have any good words about the Crusaders and Templars, especially the last one have become a big theme in a lot of books of inferior quality. Instead of taking a look at the historical facts, the market is flooded by conspiracy theories, one worser than the next. What do you prefer? History or conspiracy?
Honestly I love conspiracy a lot more, it's more gripping to read, but most of them are shit. A well researched history is far better for you, conspiracy is a lot like reading a pulp novel or something - it's all imaginary. But then this begs the question: is the history we are receiving 100% accurate? Or is it colored by the prejudices of the tellers? Take the Crusades, most academics will frame the picture around just what the evil europeans were doing to the poor arabs. And they leave out the rest of the picture.
You get this a lot. Like the recent horseshit about the dropping of the atom bomb being pointless. Never mind that millions of lives on both sides were saved by ending the war and forstalling the inevitable invasion of Japan. The PHD says it is so and so it must be. That's not to say that I don't ever listen to what they have to say, or that I am anti academic. But I like to keep my eyes and ears open and my bullshit detector on at all times.
Before we finish that theme, one last question: what do you think about the movie Kingdom of Heaven?
Well, we did get the song title from that film. And it's a good popcorn epic. I can't say that it's the best film ever. But it's a decent big budget film. I could have done better. heh.
At the beginning of the interview, I mentioned THE GATES OF SLUMBER's first album 'The Awakening', which will be re-released very soon. Where's the difference to the first edition? Somewhere I read, that it will include a DVD.... sounds very interesting!
It will also be remastered or rather mastered for the first time. Also a song from those sessions has been found and added to the record. And the DVD should be cool, it's got a bunch of footage from that era, it's a time I'm still very fond of.
What are your other interests apart of playing music?
Hmmm. I try to write pulp fiction in my spare time. I read a bit, I like film and often would like to take the time to actually make a movie or short film of my own...
In the booklet of ‚Suffer No Guilt', you also wrote Might is Right. Have you read that obscure book, which was written by Ragnar Redbeard and what do you think about it?
Actually, no. I've heard about that book. I think it was Jack London using a pseudonym, wasn't it? But I've never seen it. I've read quotes on line and I agree with the general idea behind what I've read. LaVey borrowed heavily from the text in the Satanic Bible, a book I personally swear by. I'd love to get a copy. But then I'd also like to get a lot of things... maybe I'll make time someday.
Karl, I like to finish our interview with one of those usual, but always interesting last question. What are the future plans of the band?
We are finishing up the songs for our new record Conqueror, due out in May of 08 on I Hate/Profound Lore records: yes we have a North American label now. We hope to *really* hit the road this year touring both in the US and Europe like the bastards we are. Conqueror is a hybrid of The Awakening and Suffer No Guilt, the songs are more riffy than ever before and it's fucking aggro as hell. So that's what's coming next. That and the hopefull big sellout coming soon so I can start to enjoy the lifestyle that I've always expected you, the music buying person to provide me. If all goes well we'll be at Hell's Pleasure and Headbangers Open Air this year, and also Doom Or Be Doomed. We'll see, I hope so!
Ok, thank you very much for the effort you've put into the questions. Is there anything you want to add?
Thank you for doing the inty Klaus, I hope to see you on the road next year! Cheers!