Few questions to Cornelius Althammer, drummer of the Nautik Doom band AHAB.
Hello and first of all, thank you very much for your time! Could you please introduce yourself and the band AHAB without using the usual “Metal” labels?
Cornelius Althammer (drums): Hello, we are Ahab. Four fine gentlemen from southern Germany, playing very slow music. Our songs are very long and the music is very dynamical. We go from soft to super heavy, from gentle to very brutal. Sometimes we have a psychedelic feeling, sometimes it´s an eerie one. The vocals go from moanful to epic to non-human.
Ahab is the captain of the Pequod in the book of Herman Melville, why did you decide to use this name for the band? What made you decide to focus on this universe?
Cornelius: Christian and Daniel, each having his own Funeral Doom project, somehow came up with the idea to take the sea as lyrical groundwork at the same time. The even better idea was to put these two together into one project. From there it wasn’t far to Moby Dick. Using the captain´s name „Ahab“ as band name was obvious. The lyrical figure in all his tragedy fits the Doom genre like no second one. And then it´s a short, memorable name…. So, using Ahab as band name is a win on all levels.
The Coral Tombs, your fifth album, was out early this year. How do you feel about it? Do you already have some feedback?
Cornelius: Oh yes, feedback is overwhelming, so far. Our release show was a wonderful experience. A sold out show in a church with a great team behind. It’s been ten days now, but the show is still ringing in my ears.
How did you deal with the composition process for this album? Was there an evolution compared to the beginning of the band?
Cornelius: Since we have been together in this constellation (from the time we recorded The Divinity of Oceans) it’s always the same different ways how songs evolve in Ahab. In all cases guitar comes first. Be it a riff or an acoustic section or some stuff that is built on special sounds from a FX Pedal. So it happens that we write a song together as a band in our rehearsal space. Or Daniel or Christian develop parts of songs at home and bring them to rehearsal. Or they bring whole songs to rehearsal which are being discussed to death. At the beginning there was no band, it was just a project. So all the rehearsal place stuff didn’t happen back then.
What inspires you to build your songs?
Cornelius: Well, I guess this is the thing that Ahab is all about. We try to create an atmosphere that musically depicts our lyrical groundwork. So, we write music under the influence of a story. When you read the book and a certain passage makes your head ring, you better go grab the guitar.
On the song Prof. Arronax’ Descent Into The Vast Oceans, you welcome Chris Noir from Ultha. What led you to ask him for a really different introduction?
Cornelius: We were looking for a voice that delivers a harsh contrast to Daniel‘s deep voice for the intro. As we like Chris’ utterly desperate screams we just asked him if he’d like to contribute to our album.
You have another guest spot on The Mælstrom, the last composition, filled by Greg Chandler from Esoteric. How was the collaboration with him?
Cornelius: Greg Chandler has been a long term friend of Ahab. Esoteric have been a major influence on Ahab, especially during the founding time. So it was just a matter of time until something like this collaboration would happen.It is always a great pleasure to work with Greg and I am absolutely stoked to finally have him.
I also noticed a huge vocal diversity on the album, maybe a bit more than on the other ones. How do you decide which voice to use?
Cornelius: Daniel is not somebody who rationally thinks about what voice to use. His decisions are merely made on a gut level. But surely there are riffs that very obviously tell him how to sing, and some which take a little longer to find out what the music wants him to do.
I remember seeing you at Hellfest back in 2015, and after this you had a short European run. What memories do you keep of this time?
Cornelius: It was just the best festival. We were perfectly taken care of, the organisation was brilliant, the food was not from this world… I remember dining next to Body Count and Biohazard. So, I guess, the least spectacular thing about Hellfest was our show, haha…
You also played a live stream lockdown show, how was the lockdown period for the band?
Cornelius: Terrible. During this time there even was a whole year we didn’t meet in person. That delayed our album by one to two years more. The stream concert was a cool thing, ‘cause we played at Café Central in Weinheim. This is the club of my youth, I played umpteen shows there and I attended even more concerts. So it was kind of a melancholic experience to play this empty club we were always used to being totally crowded.
Do you have plans for the band’s future? Whether it is about live shows or even anything else.
Cornelius: Absolutely, at the moment we are trying to book shows. …which is harder than it was before the pandemic. Everybody is storming the stages, everybody is emaciated…
Do you think you still improve yourselves as musicians?
Cornelius: Absolutely, that’s important. You learn as long as you live. Anything else is pointless. I think in Ahab you can hear Daniel’s vocals improving significantly. Everytime he is together with our engineer Jens he learns a lot. Seems Jens is a killer vocal coach. I practiced drums a lot during the pandemic. I reached some goals I had been striving for for a long time.
I obviously know you all love music in the band, but what do you guys do for a living, and do you also have other hobbies?
Cornelius: Hah, no, I don’t have hobbies. I have five bands, that’s enough of self fulfillment. But if we´re on the road you could assume you’re in a car full of chefs. Obviously in Ahab we are very food oriented. My job for a living is teaching drums at a music school, my bandmates are pedagogues, as well and we have one layouter.
Are there any musicians or bands you would like to collaborate with? Whether it is for one song, an album…
Cornelius: There are tons of musicians I admire. But what I’d really love to hear would be a collaboration between our Guitarist and singer Daniel and the guitarist of my Black Metal Band Raptvre. Both are absolute geniuses, but extremely antithetical in their styles.
What if I asked you which dish you could compare Ahab‘s music, which one would you choose ? Why would you choose this one?
Cornelius: I agonized over this for a week now. I absolutely can’t make a comparison to food. Buuuuuut, nevertheless, a drink comes to my mind: Scotch! Salty, tongue-biting, and when it’s gone it leaves a calm and tender hint of wooden planks.
Last question: with which bands would you love to tour with? I let you create a tour (or just a single show) with Ahab as opener and three other bands!
Cornelius: Ahab – Portishead – Gorguts – Judas Priest
That was the last question for me, so thank you very much for your time and your music, last words are yours!
Cornelius: It’s been a long way to finally get over the pandemic, the making of this album was tough, so now I’m really looking forward to seeing you people all again! No matter which country or stage, I am starved!