For the release of Where Fear and Weapons Meet, 1914’s third album, I had the pleasure to talk with Dietmar “2.Division, Infanterie-Regiment Nr.147, Oberleutnant – Ditmar Kumarberg”, the band’s vocalist.
Version Française ? – Bientôt disponible sur french-metal.com
Promotional pic credits: May Lee
Hello and first of all, thank you very much for your time! Would you please introduce yourself and the band 1914 without using the usual “Metal” labels?
Dietmar “2.Division, Infanterie-Regiment Nr.147, Oberleutnant – Ditmar Kumarberg” (vocals): I am Dietmar, a vocalist, and this is the archaeological and shrapnel ensemble of trench music named after Josef Schweik. Enough non-metallic?
I obviously know where the name comes from, but why did you choose 1914?
Dietmar: The answer is quite obvious – because this is the year when the Great War began. It is quite difficult to come up with something even more relevant to the Great War. Although I’ll be honest, at the beginning of the band when we didn’t have a name yet, I was considering options – BHB (Barney Hines Band) and Hindenburg Line. Decided to stop on 1914, especially since as a fan of the Great War at that time had such a tattoo on my arm for many years. But I’ll come back to Barney Hines Band, maybe as a side project, he was a very funny character.
Your third album, When Fear and Weapons Meet, is about to be released, how do you feel about it?
Dietmar: Honestly, from the moment we recorded it – half a year of constant movements, chasing something, videos, mixing and mastering of the album, interviews, etc., etc., there is always some work around it. But personally, I burned out a bit after it. You know, you complete a big piece of work that has taken a lot of emotions out of you and you just feel a big black hole and emptiness inside. So if you talk about how I feel about the new album – it’s good that it is out there, but I have quite a bit of emotion about it.
How did the composition process happen? Was it different from the previous records?
Dietmar: We made this album as fast as possible and I would say aggressively. In some places I was very intolerant and strained my guys more than necessary. The whole album was actually made in 3 months, very fruitful work with a lot of quarrels, alcohol, ideas and periodic lowering of hands. I was constantly feeling lack of everything, it seemed to me that we were doing our worst songs, I frankly thought that no one would listen to this shit and was very stressful for the people around me. They were patient, listened to me, sometimes exploded and then we quarreled a lot, but a day later we returned to hard work. Somehow like that. It was difficult emotionally, procedurally, I often wanted to get up, go out, and part away with music. I am very grateful to the guys who coped up with me like that, my chaotic ideas, stories, screams and expression.
You stated that “Where Fear and Weapons Meet is not about death, but about life”. What does it mean for you? Do you think that war can have a positive side?
Dietmar: I can’t say that the album is about the positive, because life in war is not always better than death. But an album is about life, that’s for sure. I really wanted to see at least some enlightenment and hope in my personal life, so I probably subconsciously clung to stories that were full of life and hope. I passed through dozens of books, events, stories and clung to those that resonated with me inside. That’s probably why it was reflected in the theme of the album – the desire to live, to have hope. But is it about the positive? I do not think.
The band’s sound is the perfect and chaotic melting between Doom, Death and Blackened influences, how do you reach this balance?
Dietmar: It’s simple – all musicians in the band have such different musical tastes that we periodically call each other’s favorite bands “a piss” and joke about each others musical tastes. So when everyone starts throwing new musical ideas into the common pot, we filter each other, and the result is a mix that has everything from MDM to Crust, Hardcore, Sludge, Florida Death, classical Black, Noise, Industrial, Punk, etc. The main thing is not to give preference to anyone in his ideas and keep this balance. I don’t want us to be just another Black or Death or Doom band.
On the song …And a Cross Now Marks His Place, you welcome Nick Holmes from Paradise Lost and Bloodbath. How did you ask him to participate in your work?
Dietmar: When I found this text of the letter, I realized that it would be a song, but for some reason in my head the chorus was stubbornly performed with clean vocals. I just didn’t see anything else there. And we understood that this track would sound cool and massive with growl in combination with pure vocals. And considering that I’m a big fan of Paradise, I didn’t really have options in my head, I immediately thought – uh, it would be unrealistically cool if we could do it with Nick, on whose work I grew up. I wrote a letter. He liked the concept, the demo and he agreed. It was just so damn cool, I could not believe it, but here’s the track and it’s cool.
The song that marked me the most is The Green Fields of France, which is for me most heavy and the most seizing of the whole album, what is the story behind this one?
Dietmar: This song was written in 1976 by Eric Bogle. The song refers to the traditional Scottish song Flowers of the Forest being played over the grave of a World War I soldier. Since then, an unreal number of covers have been made for it, originally it is an acoustic folk song. It was called No Man’s Land and is one of the most famous anti-war songs of our time. To me, it was very logical at the end of the album, as a total reflection, a conversation with a fallen soldier, near whose grave you stand. I really wanted to make it not just another metal version, but a track that tears you to pieces, conveys pain, fear, anger, despair, the whole palette of emotions, which mixes the mud of Sludge, anger and misanthropy of Black, the sounds of Industrial war, slow funeral reefs of the Doom. This is an elegy song. It seems to me that we closed the album quite logically and it completely conveys the emotions that we wanted to show.
How did you work with the artist to create the artwork?
Dietmar: This is not the first time we are working with a wonderful artist from the Czech Republic – Vladimir Chebakov aka Smerdulak and I hope we will work for a long time. This is a comfortable relationship, when you explain the idea, meaning, message – you are understood in a nutshell, you work together on the design, generate ideas, etc., complementing the music, making the album a whole. He is a very talented and well-known artist, for example he worked with my favorite Lake of Tears on their new album.
As we all know, Covid-19 crisis fucked a lot of things up since last year, how did you face the situation as a band? Did the crisis have an impact on the album itself?
Dietmar: Yes, this fucking covid and especially the ambiguity of the situation that will follow. How we will live and whether we will at all, how we will return to normal life, how to protect our loved ones, children, ourselves, it completely occupied our brains in 2020. In fact, as a team we hardly communicated, sometimes we were going to have a drink and share news. Everyone fell into a kind of anabiosis, everyone lived with their problems, where to get money, how to survive. This is Ukraine, here you get a big dick on your shoulders from the state instead of help, as for example in Europe. Here you survive on your own. And also the lack of concerts, cancellation of tours and festivals which we have been waiting for – all this hit us hard. But apparently everyone had it, so we are not unique here, the whole world lived like that.
Where do your artist names come from?
Dietmar: All the names of regiments and armies are absolutely real and historical, and at a certain time of the Great War intersected with each other on the battlefields. And the names themselves are transliterations of our real names into the style of a country. For example, in life I am Dmitry, so in German I translated myself as Dietmar, and although the name Dmytro and Dietmar have different roots, stories and origins (as well as meaning), it is quite consonant. Therefore, by this analogy, we have changed all our names. And in some (such as Oleksa – Liam or Vitaly – Witalis) it is a direct correspondence of the name in a particular language.
I unfortunately have not seen you on stage yet, but I will for sure be on at least one french show in 2022. What can I expect of 1914 on stage?
Dietmar: Screams, dirt, a man running around the stage and the hall with a rifle in the hands. I have no idea what to expect, all our performances are situational and not planned in advance. It all depends on the mood, the audience, etc. Once we performed in the Netherlands, a month after I had a serious and difficult surgery. There were 4 unhealed holes in my body because of which I could not sit normally, breathe fully, etc. I went on stage realizing that I had to breathe every other time and sing without extra efforts – because it hurts so much. After 3 songs I was so into the performance that I jumped into the hall, started to mosh and scream there as hard as I could. It was very painful, and every breath and scream was given with real severe pain, so I screamed very emotionally, full of pain and very naturally. So I honestly do not know what you can expect from us. Maybe something in the style of GG Allin?
What was your first Metal album? Bought by yourself or offered by someone.
Dietmar: If we talk about the one I bought myself – Metallica Black album. I bought it in 1992, not knowing what it was, just liked the picture. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the musical choice here was not even small – it was simply absent. When I brought this case home, I turned it on and fell off my chair. My parents always had a good musical taste, but the hardest thing I heard at that time were Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, CCR, Smokie, etc. And then a wall of something new and heavy fell on me. There, before that tape recorder, when the tape finished playing, I realized that I want to listen to this music more and more. Since then, I’ve been collecting music enormously, listening to huge amounts of music, and so on. And although everything that did Metallica after 96 I consider unreal shit, I got into heavy music because of them, and this album is still one of my favorites, a kind of nostalgia for childhood.
What do you love about your music that you cannot find in other band’s music?
Dietmar: To be honest, I wouldn’t say that we are different or too interesting. In general, I sincerely believed that the topic of WW1 would be interesting only to me and a few of my friends, so I started this project as essentially a tribute to all those who died in that war, as my hobby about the stories I love. Therefore, I do not see in us something that I can not find in others, although let’s be honest – majority of the current music in the metal frank, superficial and commercial shit in my opinion, they do not carry any concept, message, one song about beer, another about the relationship with his girlfriend, the third about the capitalists, and so on. Just a random set of shit. I love music with history, research, a concept that sticks together. It is very sad to look at all those thousands of bands continue to scream Satan my lord, O horned prince, put inverted crosses and sing the same learned patterns about darkness, blasphemy, etc. Uninteresting shit.
Maybe you already heard about the french Metal scene? Which French bands do you know?
Dietmar: Are you joking? France is one of those countries that gave the whole world the development of culture, music, science, etc. Of course I know, tens if not hundreds. I grew up on French music, my mom was a fan of Edith Piaf, Mireille Mathieu, Charles Aznavour, Joe Dassin, my father was a fan of Jean-Michel Jarre, etc., as a child I woke up under Serge Gainsbourg and his L’Homme a tête de chou, parents had all these records. In addition, my mother was a fan of French history, Maurice Druon and his series Les Rois Maudits were my table book at home. Thanks to my mother I grew up as a fan of history. So French music and history are with me since my childhood. Speaking of my favorite bands from France, I really like Berurier Noirs, Alcest, Molodoï, Forest of Souls, Osculum Infame, Glorior Belli, Nehëmah and hundreds of other cool bands from Noise, Punk, Black, Industrial to Breton Folk (I adore Alan Stivell) and Rap (just adore Keny Arkana, now while I write this interview and her La rage rushes in the background).
What if I ask you to compare 1914’s music with a dish? Which one and why?
Dietmar: Apparently it will be chanakhy. A little meat, a little beans, a little potatoes, a lot of spices, garlic, hot peppers and delicious broth, all baked in a jug in the oven. At the end – a spicy, tasty and hot dish that should not be eaten if you have stomach problems. And which tastes best with delicious homemade moonshine.
Are there some musicians or bands you would like to collaborate with on a song, or more?
Dietmar: Of course, for example, I really dream of working with Henrik Nordvargr Björkk (I’m a fan of all his projects and music), Merzbow (to reveal the total and insane noise of war) it would be very interesting to try collaboration with Borknagar and Lake of Tears, but if we talk directly not “you would like” but about dreams – we have already made one with Paradise Lost, But I have another one – this is one of the most interesting and cool bands in this part of the galaxy – Ulver.
Last question: which bands would you love to tour with? I let you create a tour with 1914 and three other bands!
Dietmar: Oh… just three? It is too few. But just on the top of my head – Maid of Ace, Sick of it All, Section H8.
That was the last question for me! Thanks a lot for your time, let’s meet in France next year! Last words are yours!
Dietmar: As usual the last words – do not shoot, so let’s skip this time.