South Africa might be far from Sweden geographically but music wise CHAOS DOCTRINE are very close. Anders Ekdahl ©2018
A band name says more than thousand words, or does it? How important is a band name to get people interested in your music?
-Thank you very much, Battlehelm, for making time to speak to us – we are all huge fans of the Swedish scene so getting some coverage in Sweden is very exciting for us!
As to your question – Yes! And how difficult is it not to get a decent METAL band name in 2018? When we formed the band originally back in 2011, we were called Subhuman Race. When we decided to change it, it literally took months and months to come up with a name that reflects our style of music and our lyrical intent. A band name is definitely important – not only because it becomes part of your identity, but also because it is the first message you put out there. If your name is not striking (or too striking) – you may not get any attention, or the wrong kind of attention!
When you finish a recording and then sit back and relax, what kind of feelings do you get? Are you glad it is finished? Does the anxiety grow, not knowing if everybody will like it?
-We spent quite some time to get our debut done because of our obsession with having a product that we could be proud of. So, the first feelings we got when we completed our debut were definitely relief and excitement. We were also lucky enough to get feedback on some of our tracks along the way – Cult was released as a single well over a year ago, followed by The Genocide Number, and both songs enjoyed great reviews. Both of them also spent quite a bit of time in the African Metal Charts. So, we had a bit of an indication that our album will be well received – and so far the reviews have been absolutely fantastic, beyond our expectations.
What is it like to be in a studio recording your music? What kind of feelings and thoughts race through your heads?
-We are lucky enough to own Subhuman Studios, which is entirely dedicated to our writing and recording process. That gives us a lot more freedom to experiment, knowing we are not paying by the hour to get our tracks down. So, we get firstly to focus on the creative process, the music, the sampling, and the lyrics – bouncing ideas and letting the creative tension build until we have something we all like. Secondly, it allows us to be more pedantic about the quality of our process – so, if we want to rewrite or re-record a whole song, for example, we can do that.
Today I get a feeling that the promotion of a band lands a lot on the bands themselves so how does one promote oneself the best possible way in order to reach as many as possible?
-This is a question we think all bands are struggling with. It has quickly become clear that you cannot rely on social media alone – there is so much out there that people have become saturated and, quite frankly, numb. In our experience you need somebody great to bat for you, which is what we have in Warren at Plug Music Agency, to get our name out there. The rest is hours and hours of conversations, going to events, and using both social media and old school advertising like flyers.
Today we have all these different sub-genres in metal. How important is that you can be tagged in one of these? Why isn’t metal enough as a tag?
-The human brain is generally not comfortable with ambiguity and wants to put everything into a box which will enable us to understand it. The result has been that our sub-genres got out of hand a very long time ago. Not to mention that you cannot possibly put W.A.S.P. and Cannibal Corpse in the same category of “just plain old metal”, can you? Hahahaha. For us, “metal” is enough of a tag. But inevitably, you get asked for more detail, or, “who do you sound like”.
What importance is there in being part of local/national/international scene? Does playing in a band make you feel like you are a part of something bigger? I know it does to me knowing that in some slight way I was a part of the Swedish death metal scene in the 90s.
-Well you should be – Sweden in the 90s and even now is definitely something to be proud of! For us, being part of an international metal community is definitely a fantastic experience, meeting people in Norway or France or the US or wherever and your metal t-shirt means you are friends, immediately. On the scene – now that is a different question altogether. All five of us have been around in our local scene for quite some time so we have seen the South African metal scene grow, fall, get up, and grow and fall again. Where we are now in the cycle remains to be seen – but all of us remember better days. What is important is that we are dedicated to helping to build the local scene and putting on the best show we can for as long as we can. Hopefully that will help us appear on the international scene too!
Ever since I first got into metal the art work has been a main motivator in buying a record. What part does art work for album covers play in the world of the band?
-Album art is definitely important – it needs to reflect your band name, your style of music, and the message this particular album is driving. With ours, we decided not to give our debut album a name as Chaos Doctrine is not only a strong name, but also a strong statement. While exploring the terms a bit, we concluded that Moses must be the international poster boy for doctrine, and the statue Michelangelo did of him is just breath-taking. So, take this statue, edit it to reflect our industrial elements and the grit of our lyrics, and offset it against a dystopic nightmare – the inevitable result of following like a sheep, rather than thinking for yourself and finding your own truth – and you have our album cover.
How important is having a label to back you up today when you can just release your music on any sort of platform online? With the ability to upload your music as soon as you’ve written it the freedom to create has become greater but are there any negative consequences to music being too readily available to fans now that every Tom, John and Harry can upload their stuff?
-We spoke about saturation and a “numbness” in the audience earlier – and that is exactly what you just highlighted here. The digital age has brought us a great many awesome things, like the ability to speak to you, but at the same time, it means there are thousands of bands out there, many of them fantastic musicians producing great music, competing directly for said audience’s attention. A label can definitely help with this – if you associate someone like Nuclear Blast with great bands, and a new name pops up there, you may give it a bit more time before you click “skip” than some random band that you have never heard of.
Interestingly enough, with our music on all the major digital platforms now, people are still asking for records – on CD and on vinyl. So, while our album got pirated more in one day than sold in two weeks, the physical copies of the album is outselling the digital download.
What is a gig with you like? What kind of shows do you prefer to play?
-The first prize for a great show is always a great audience – rather have ten maniacs swinging their heads than 1000 disinterested people watching you with their arms folded. Second – good on stage sound. Third – a stage big enough to fit everyone and the mic stand! So we do not really ask for much – we want what we need to play our best possible show to people who made the effort and paid money to see us!
What lies in the future?
-Right now we are finishing off a few pre-booked shows associated with our album launch, including a trip to Botswana at the end of September. Behind the scenes, we are focusing on finalising an EP with special edition tracks and slowly starting to write our next album in between the pressures and realities of “real life”. In the longer term, we would definitely like to see more stages in the rest of our country, and maybe in Europe in a year or two!