Interview : Carach Angren – English

It’s at Pigalle Country Club that HIM Media invited us for a listening session of Franckensteina StrataemontanusCarach Angren‘s next album. Seregor (vocals) and Ardek (keyboards) are present.

Ardek wanted to introduce us the backstory of Franckensteina Strataemontanus, that began in 2018. A dream he had, about an old man, playing piano in a castle. Months later, Seregor and him began talking about the next album, about Frankenstein, the novel by Mary Shelley, who was 200th years back in 2018. Ardek read the book, and even go into an exhibition in the Boerhaave museum. He talked to a scientist and artist here, who explained him the theory about Johann Conrad Dippel, an alchemist, theologian and scientist from the XVIIe century that lived in Castle Frankenstein. And it appears that he looked a lot like the man he saw in his dreams, in addition to be Mary Shelley’s model for the character of Victor Frankenstein.

Then we listened to the album.
Here is the tracklist:
1 – Here in German Woodland
2 – Scourged Ghoul Undead
3 – Franckensteina Strataemontanus
4 – The Necromancer
5 – Sewn for Solitude
6 – Operation Compass
7 – Monster
8 – Der Vampir von Nürnberg
9 – Skull with a Forked Tongue
10 – Like a Conscious Parasite I Roam
11 – Frederick’s Experiments

Then I had a talk with Seregor.
(Version française disponible)

First of all thank you to be here in Paris and thanks a lot for your time. The band’s style is described as “Horror Metal”. Could you explain what does it mean for you?

Seregor: It’s always difficult to us to put a tag on a music. Especially when you talk about Black Metal or Death Metal actually. Since the beginning we always were a band that focuses on keyboards and not just being a band with only guitarists. We wanted to recreate what you see in a movie, so I think later Horror Metal became more clear to put a label on our music. We’re not simply Black Metal anymore.
That’s why you have so many scenery?
Seregor: Yeah, I think Horror Metal is the best deal. You don’t just put thousands of tags on it!

So we just listen to Franckensteina Strataemontanus, which is really good. Could you explain us the title?
Seregor: Actually the title is the name used by the original guy, Johann Conrad Dippel. He was the real Dr Frankenstein, and he used this name in one of the university for his works. That was the name he wrote. Apparently Mary Shelley got the name Frankenstein from that, Franckensteina. So she… “stole” it, and now we did (laughs).

So it’s a whole concept album about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. How did you get the idea to add Carach Angren’s touch to the story of Frankenstein?
Seregor: Actually it started with Ardek having a dream, like he explained. So we started to search about Dr Dippel, and it took over two years because we cannot just copy the story. When you think of this, you have to think also about the equipment, the experiences to get someone back to life. I think the word “monster” was very symbolic for this, for our own story about Dr Dippel. We used some other stories around to complete it, like The Vampire from Nüremberg (Der Vampir von Nürnberg), which is another german real monster. I don’t like the concept about the typical vampire, like Dracula with the teeth, or the werewolf… this is… I don’t know, this belong to Halloween maybe. So the way to describe this necrophiliac man, Kuno Hofmann… he killed two people, he shot them and he drank the blood of one of them. He was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in jail, he’s still alive and was released… to me this is a typical vampire. A human monster. This was the perfect story, just like the bonus track! Frederick’s Experiments. This also has nothing to do with Frankenstein, but this is a Roman Emperor (Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor, ndlr). He liked to to some nasty experiments, just like putting people in barrels with a hole in it, and wait until they die, if he could see their spirit left (laughs). Second experiment, he gave to prisoners a meal. Then, some were sent to bed for two hours, and another groupe were send to hunt for exercise for two hours. And after two hours, he get them together, this was on purpose to check the differences between sleep and exercising on the digestive system. And the last thing he did, he got a couple of babies, and he gave the order to raise them without any speech, just care and food, because he believed that the primal language comes out. As a native thing. But of course, they just had a huge retard… But this whole thing has something to do with Frankenstein experiments. He liked the experiments too, and he was involved in them. So it’s for me a great thing to build up this story, and keep them interesting. It’s mainly the concept.

You composed again with Ardek and Namtar of course, but you also collaborated with Nikos Mavridis.
Seregor: Yeah, he’s our violin player actually. For this album we recorded some studio parts to make the violin more real.
And how does the whole composition process works with the other members?
Seregor: Actually it starts in most cases with a melody, something that Ardek already play. We also put drums on it, but unfortunately for Namtar, as a drummer you cannot really compose. So this is how it works for us. Then he send it to me, and then I write guitar, we puts chords. My job is mainly to do the guitar, and melody lines. Then I send it back to him, and then we exchange files… And then the lyrics come. Actually the drums for Namtar only comes in the end. So that’s something he can change a lot. You can compare it with a statue you know? We go on rehearsal, we play it and see if it works. I always compare it to a statue because you can always do something more.
And in the end, you created something that you think to be beautiful.
Seregor: Yeah, in the end we are satisfied.

I noticed when we listened to the album, that there are many vocal changes, including clean vocals. Did you train yourself, do you still do exercises?
Seregor: Actually not specifically. About vocals, we always like to do it, but there never was clean singing in the past… it’s not an easy job. We were thinking to have a little group to got very cool clean singing, but we had not enough time for this album. We really took time to practice it. So I did it by myself. It’s an obvious choice, and I’m very proud of my vocals on this album, some parts are really deep, the highs are good and also about clean ones.
So it came naturally for you?
Seregor: Yeah, absolutely.

I also noticed that in some songs the guitar is a bit less present than on previous records. There are more place for keyboards, orchestrations. Do you agree with that?
Seregor: Actually for this album we got collaborated with Robert Carranza. He did albums for Marilyn Manson (The Pale Emperor in 2015 and Heaven Upside Down in 2017, ndlr), so we thought that this guy was perfect for us. And we had a great response. I think he did a great job at pulling things… each part that he combined to each other for this album… maybe guitars are a bit more in the back, but it changes for each song. You can hear also on some songs that my vocals are a bit in the back too. This is what I like about Robert, he really put his best for this album, every song has its own…
Its own personality maybe?
Seregor: Yeah, that’s it.

On the first records, it was more about Black Metal, and Symphonic Black Metal of course, now there are many influences, do you notice changes or evolutions in your influences?
Seregor: Yeah, we want to do more stuff like this song Pitch Black Box, now we have this Monster song. It’s not about going quicker and faster. We choose some songs to go slower, and I think it works very well. But we still have some… quick music you know. Not just blast beat all over, but we have our dynamic and we feel that it’s better to work like this.
It’s my opinion too, you have your own signature sound.
Seregor: Well thank you! Our music is made for everyone, I mean we have slow songs for slow people… well not slow people (laughs) you understand what I mean! Let’s see where the next album goes! But we won’t be slower, don’t worry (laughs)

A bit earlier we talked about the song Der Vampir von Nüremberg, which is about a man called Kuno Hofmann. Maybe you like serial killer stories?
Seregor: Actually serial killer stories comes a lot of times, when I wrote down the lyrics, even if I’m writing about ghosts… ghosts or something bad like murders or anything else. And yeah, it catches myself. Serial killers are the real monsters again. It’s always good to see what they did. In this case, the Vampire from Nüremberg, he did “only two” (laughs), but he is officially a serial killer because of what he really did. So someone just got into the morgue and see someone kissing a corpse and the guy was mute. His childhood was so hard for him so he just couldn’t speak anymore… so he went into the morgue and someone shooted at him. That’s what he (Kuno Hofmann) did, before killing two people. A happy person (laughs).

Back in the beginning, how did you get the idea to create a visual identity to Carach Angren? Like the makeup, accessories…
Seregor: I think I always wanted to do it. Just like Ardek, he was in his first band at the end of the nineties or beginning of 2000, and I did my thing. Even in the two or three bands we had before this, in my bands, I always wanted to do some kind of corpse paint. I remember that one band that I left some years, then I came back, and of course I didn’t have anything to say, it was a Thrash Metal band. It was a good band, but I didn’t stay that long. Yeah for me this whole thing like corpse paint, theatrics, the music, it would be impossible for me now to do a band without a visual aspect. It’s hard to imagine. So that’s why.

One of the last live performance you played was at 70000 Tons of Metal. I checked some videos, Namtar wasn’t here.
Seregor: No, he had stuff to do with his work. He’s an engineer, he is the only one who have a full time job. So we won’t be seeing him always. Just like today, but Ardek and I are here for the situation. Just like on other shows, if he can’t do it, we have another drummer for the backup. The ship keeps going!
(Some days after this, Namtar revealed that he left Carach Angren. His last gig with the band was at In Theatrum Denonium, March 7th 2020, ndlr)

Last time you played in France was at Hellfest, and you also played at Hellfest in 2015. What do you keep in mind about Hellfest?
Seregor: Hellfest I think for me is officially the best show. We had everything, it was our headline tour in Europe, and we had those rising accessories, that you cannot take to a normal venue.
Of course, I remember the small stage in Paris!
Seregor: Yeah, but at Hellfest the stage was big, and everything succeeded. The sound was great, the feeling was great… When you go on stage it’s always hard. You think a lot, will people like it? As an artist you just want to give your best, you have to fight very hard. And there’s no way you can fail. Everytime I walk on stage I just feel like the energy is correct, so this is cool… but at Hellfest, this was perfect. All went by itself. 

Carach Angren‘s gallery at Hellfest 

Hellfest - Carach Angren - 8

Seregor at Hellfest Open Air 2019

While we’re talking about last tour with Wolfheart, Thy Antichrist and Nevalra, do you have any memory that come to your mind you would like to share with us?
Seregor: Maybe a couple of drinking nights! We didn’t have too much nights , maybe one bottle of wine or two by night, so it wasn’t too much drinking. But I went a little crazy with the guys. I remember that I had the knife on my shoe for the show. I was cutting the doll and drinking its blood.
Yeah, I remember this!
Seregor: And I remember I just had that knife the whole time with me and I just… stabbed a table! A wooden thing, and next morning I didn’t remember it, because at the moment it was just drinking and stabbing, it was really fun (laughs)! I wasn’t aggressive with the guys, we just had so much fun together, and we were scared at the same time you know, that was a very funny moment with the guys. And no one get hurts (laughs)!

Carach Angren‘s gallery in Paris

What does make you enter in the world of Horror movies?
Seregor: Wow… it was a lot of things since my youth… If you ask Ardek as a kid, he would answer being busy with Jurassic Park, monsters… for me as a kid I liked skeletons the moment I could breathe! I was always interested in things like maelstroms, quicksands, and people disappearing! So… I was always attracted to… I don’t know what it’s called, something strange and weird!

And what does make you enter into the Metal universe?
Seregor: Actually Metal… where did it started? I think it was with Rage Against The Machine or Faith No More… These were the firsts bands that I heard of. And it was really quick for me, I jumped to Slayer. I never really listened to Metallica, I skipped that part and then it was Death Metal. I remember that Jason Newsteed came to my town like… fifteen years back. And I remember asking him “Hey, have you ever met Glen Benton from Deicide?”. He was like “No, I don’t know him”. And a friend of mine was like “What the fuck are you doing man, that’s Metallica!” (laughs). But back down, I only cared about Death Metal. So yeah, before I get into the keyboard bands, I was into the True Black Metal bands, so… I was looking for extreme music. When you’re young you’re searching to belong to a certain group of people. Some people are going to Hardcore, for me it was Metal, the darkness.

Are you a collector? Like CDs, DVDs, books?
Seregor: Not really actually… I have all my albums, but now everything is in digital… I just have my own albums! You can handle them in your hands.

What was the most insane dedication you ever received by a fan?
Seregor: I think that… It happened on album This Is No Fairytale’s tour… We received something. It was about child abuse events, the story explains that one child get scared. When I was writing the song, I felt so confident, I was like “man, let’s do this, it’s awesome!”, and then I was more like “shit, it’s a very hard thing to talk about…”. But we decided to push it, because we felt good about it. Actually I had more cases that came to me, like some woman who had rough abuse and they thank me for this album, because it was really relate to them. This was for me a very positive thing, because I was worried about some people who can start thinking that I am just doing this for horror or shocking… But it was cool, because for this people it was really… hard for them, and good ad the same time.
So it was really special for you to receive those comments?
Seregor: Yeah, I will keep it in mind forever, all those special things. 

The last question, imagine that you are a tour manager, and you can create a tour with Carach Angren and three other bands for a worldwide tour. Who would you pick?
Seregor: Holy shit… Can I also pick some solo projects?
Sure, from any style you want!
Seregor: Okay, so let’s say Ardek’s project! And then… this is difficult… I’m trying to find something crazy but I cannot find some… We never played with Cradle of Filth or Dimmu Borgir… so that would be a nice line-up! So yeah, maybe I will choose them. I don’t know who could play with us…

Maybe you have some last words for your french fans?
Seregor: Keep going back to Carach Angren’s shows! (laughs)

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