DATE OF INTERVIEW:
HAIL OF BULLETS
22nd February 2011
METAL DISCOVERY: I understand you write for a big Dutch metal mag – would that be Aardshok, I presume?
STEPHAN GEBÉDI: Yeah, that’s correct, yeah. I’ve been writing for Aardshok for many years now.
(Stephan Gebédi on what to expect from a Hail of Bullets show)
"It's an old school death metal show, you know, so lots of energy, a lot of metal, a lot of headbanging…even the bald guys!"
Hail of Bullets - promo shot
Photograph copyright © 2010 Caroline Traitler
Interview by Mark Holmes
Hail of Bullets Official Website:
HAIL OF BULLETS DISCOGRAPHY
...Of Frost And War (2008)
Albums & EPs
Thanks to Andy Turner for arranging the interview.
Warsaw Rising (2009)
On Divine Winds (2010)
Hail of Bullets Official MySpace:
MD: So being active on both sides of the coin as a journalist and a working musician, does that make you more subjective when reviewing other bands’ music in that you have a deeper insight and first-hand experience of the industry unlike a lot of journalists?
SG: [Laughs] Yeah, but I try to avoid it as much as possible because I’ve been writing for Aardshok magazine for about twenty years now and with my other band, Thanatos, I remember when we put an album out and another Dutch band put an album out and I reviewed it – they said, “you’re always bitching about us because you want to promote your own band”. So I decided not to write too much about Dutch bands anymore. Well, occasionally now it happens and I think people don’t take it that badly anymore because yeah, I don’t know, I try to be as objective as possible and try to look at music as a fan or journalist would and not only as a musician. When you listen to certain bands you hear a lot of fuckups – of course, I cannot ignore it but I try not to talk too much about it, like being a musician and reviewing the album like that.
MD: So if somebody gives Hail of Bullets a really bad review, can you sympathise with that more so if they’re being constructive what with you being a journalist too?
SG: Yeah, maybe, but I don’t really care too much about good or bad reviews, to be honest. Of course, good reviews are always better than bad ones but if people have a good reason why they hate the music or don’t like it, that’s their opinion.
MD: Everyone says that an average review is the worst one to get anyway because that’s provoked no kind of reaction in somebody.
SG: Oh yeah, six out of ten is the worst one.
MD: What’s the best album you’ve reviewed recently, out of interest?
SG: Errr…in the last couple of months, I haven’t reviewed that many great albums. I think the Deicide and Destruction albums, they were okay. It’s a little bit back in time but I think the Triptykon album – I reviewed that one and it was awesome. I gave it 9.5 out of 10, I think. I think it’s one of the best albums of the last decade.
MD: In a lot of interviews I’ve read it seems most people presume that the entire band have a massive interest in war but I gather you’re more of a horror movie fan?
SG: Yeah, that’s true. I do watch the occasional war movie and I own a couple of war movies at home, but I think ninety five per cent of my DVD collection is full-on gore and horror.
MD: What’s the best, most recent horror film you’ve seen then? Any recommendations?
SG: One of the more recent things is ‘Eden Lake’ I like very much, and some of the French movies that came out last year like ‘Martyrs’.
MD: Ah yeah, ‘Martyrs’ is one of my favourites from recent years. A very nasty but very well made film that.
SG: Yeah, stuff like that, it’s very intricate. Then I’ve also already seen ‘A Serbian Film’…[laughs]…it’s not recommended for weak stomachs! It’s a good, well-made movie but some things that happen in the movie are just a little bit too much.
MD: Yeah, I’ve read all about it but haven’t seen it yet. Has it been released uncut in the Netherlands then?
SG: They have a censored version but I’ve seen the uncensored version at a screener…you get a bad feeling from it afterwards. But, still, it’s a well-made movie.
MD: I’ve heard the scene with the baby is maybe quite disturbing.
SG: There’s even more shit at the end of the movie…the baby is the worst thing.
MD: It came out in the UK a month ago, I think, and it had 47 cuts or something like that.
SG: That's going back to the eighties, I guess.
MD: Yeah, like with all the old video nasties. You’ve been booked to play the Neurotic Deathfest at the end of April this year and there are quite a few legendary names from the scene playing too like Atheist, At the Gates, Obituary etc…are there any bands you’ll be wanting to check out if you have the time?
SG: Autopsy for sure – one of my all-time favourite bands. At the Gates – I’ve seen them last year or the year before and they were great. Misery Index are playing and I really like them as well. There are definitely a few more I want to check out. It’s a great festival…very crowded always!
MD: Yeah, I went there in 2008 and it had some of the biggest mosh pits I’ve seen over in Holland…it got pretty violent in there! You’re playing most of the major European metal fests this year, as you’ve said already, and I’ve heard talk that a Bloodstock appearance over here in the UK might be on the cards this summer?
SG: No, it’s not happening. There were talks about that and there was a small chance we would play the Sunday but we never heard from them again so I don’t know what happened. I think our booking agent was negotiating a little bit and he didn’t get any replies anymore. We had an offer for Brutal Assault in Czech Republic the same weekend and Party.San so we said, well, let’s focus on next year then and make it to Bloodstock next year. There are some more festivals in the UK – Hammerfest, is that any good?
MD: Yeah, that takes place on a holiday camp called Pontin’s and it’s a very bizarre concept. Everyone stays in chalets on the camp and the festival takes place indoors in a big hall. The whole holiday camp is really colourful and then it’s filled out with thousands of metallers dressed in black so it’s a pretty strange contrast!
SG: Cool! [laughs] We’re gonna try to do some of those festivals next year and maybe even some more UK dates at the end of the year. I think we’ve got a lot of good press in the UK and good reaction from the fans.
MD: It’s the second time you’re playing the UK next month, of course, in a bigger venue this time – what are your memories from the Purple Turtle show in 2008? Was that a good show?
SG: Yeah, that was a good show. It was a little bit chaotic to start with, with the backline and the bands who played before us. I remember that we played on rented gear and some amps still had to arrive one hour before the show or so! But it turned out pretty good. There were some small technical problems so I hope it will be better this time. I think we’re using the backline from The Rotted this time. We fly in with the plane again so we don’t bring our own backline. We do that if we were playing more UK shows and bring the whole thing but now it’s a low budget show! [Laughs] This is the best way to do it for now. They have pretty good gear so it will be okay!
MD: It’s quite a good venue too. The Purple Turtle has a 200 capacity but the Underworld is 600, I think.
SG: Yeah, it’s pretty cool. I’ve been there once for a Deicide album release party. It wasn’t in the Underworld…it was at Camden Palace, I think. There were some other shows that weekend and one of them was in the Underworld, and one at the Mean Fiddler, so I got to see a couple of the London venues that weekend. The Underworld is underneath The World’s End pub, right?
MD: That’s exactly right; you’ve got a good memory! That’s a good pub.
SG: Yeah, we’ve been there a couple of times.
MD: So when you finish playing you can go upstairs and drink lots of beer.
SG: We will!
MD: Finally, what would you like to say to encourage people to come and check out you guys at one of the forthcoming shows, and what can people expect from a Hail of Bullets performance?
SG: Well, they can expect, at least, a lot of songs from the first and second album. I think we will play an eighty or ninety minute set this time so everybody will get their favourites from both albums. It’s an old school death metal show, you know, so lots of energy, a lot of metal, a lot of headbanging…even the bald guys! And we’re hoping that everyone who bought the album or downloaded it will come to the show and check it out and hope they have a good time. We don’t use any big props or anything.
MD: You let the music speak for itself.
MD: Okay, thank you so much for your time.
SG: Thank you very much as well. Will you be at the show?
MD: Yeah, I might be able to get down for that one.
SG: Okay, it’ll be nice to have a couple of beers together.