German death metal assault COMMANDER are back with a new album. Answered by Nick Kolar Guitar/Vocals Anders Ekdahl ©2018
Every band has to introduce their music to new people. What is it that you want people to get from listening to you guys?
-Above all, we write and play music for ourselves. If people listen to our songs and like them, then that‘s the icing on the cake!
Whenever we write a song, we try to push ourselves to grow and improve.
I keep telling people: We’re COMMANDER and we play „DEATH METAL MUNICH STYLE”.
How hard was it for you guys to pick a name? What had that name have to have to fit your music?
-It started with a running gag: I watched a German movie, where one character kept saying „Nobody fucks with the Commander“. So, we were constantly quoting that line during the rehearsals for our first gig – and the name COMMANDER stuck. It fits the music. It’s simple and catchy. People can remember it easily. In the beginning we got a few dumb comments about it in German magazines, but it stopped eventually. And now, it’s a name that we’re all happy with.
Everybody is influenced by certain things. What band(s) was it that turned you on to the kind of music you play? What inspires you today?
-In the beginning, my intention was to play a groovy style of death metal like BOLT THROWER, GOREFEST, DEATH combined with Bay Area melodies like old TESTAMENT, EXODUS etc.
I was never into covering songs of my favorite bands. I’m also not a trained guitarist, but an “upgraded” bass player. But now, I’ve been playing guitar for much longer than I ever played bass, ha, ha, ha… So, I always approached songwriting instinctively, in contrast to our guitarist Steffen, who IS a trained guitar player and who writes music in a much more structured and guitar-oriented way.
Today we’re still inspired by the music of our “wild youth”, but also open to influences from more up-to-date bands.
In the end, it’s the result that counts. And I think it’s quite presentable.
When you formed did you do so with the intent of knowing what to play or did you do so from the point of having a band name and then picking a sound?
How did you settle on the name/sound combo?
-Back then I wasn’t happy with my former band and really wanted to create something of my own. I wanted to find my own path and follow it without compromise. With this mindset, I entered the rehearsal room and recorded the first three songs on my own.
This was the birth of COMMANDER. But like I’ve already mentioned, the name came later. All this happened 17 years ago. Man, time really flies.
I believe that digital is killing the album format. People’s changing habit of how they listen to music will result in there being no albums. Is there anything good with releasing single tracks only?_
¬-I wish kids nowadays would dedicate more time to music. I started listening to metal back in the
time to actually listen to the music. You couldn’t skip tracks and there wasn’t this overkill of new releases competing for your attention. I also formed some great friendships through tape trading.
A single song can never be representative of a metal band’s body of work. This might work for pop or rap acts, but honestly a lot of that stuff sounds the same, anyway.
What part does art-work and lay-out play when you release new recordings? How do you best catch people’s attention?
-Good question. I always try to find a link between the album title and the cover art. That worked out quite well with our first two albums “World’s Destructive Domination” and “The Enemies We Create”.
This time, the title FATALIS came first and I didn’t have any idea what the design could be. So, I started looking at artworks of different designers. Then two years ago BAM – I discovered a piece called „Guidance“ from French artist Remy Cooper (Headsplit-Design). For me this artwork is mysterious, mystical and leaves enough room for your own interpretations.
And it’s a great artwork for all kinds of merch!
Has social media re-written the rules on how to promote your music? Or do you go about doing promotion the same way?
-In that area I actually had to get advice from „young people“, because for the last 10 years I didn’t have to deal with promotion at all. It was kind of scary, how much the whole process has changed.
I mean, I’ve had a Facebook account for ages and before that MySpace, but I only realized how much those platforms have changed everything, when I had to plan the presentation and promo of our new album.
When you play in a band, does that make you feel like you are a part of a scene, of something bigger and grander?
-The most important part is really the music itself. Secondly there are four people, who share interest in the same style of music and who have found together through their passion for music. If you get along on top all that – what more do you want?
A band is like a second family, but you can’t compare it to your family at home or any sports team. It’s really unique and bonding.
See, I’ve been playing in bands with our guitarist Steffen since 1991. Our bass player Toby joined in 2006 and we knew our drummer Flo long before he became part of Commander in 2014, because we often shared the stage with his former bands. In 17 years we went through so many different things, that stuff binds you together.
How much of a touring band are you? Is touring/gigging still a great way of spreading the word of the band?
-For a band, playing in front of a live audience is the greatest feeling you can possibly experience. We played gigs regularly before our split in 2012 and we also were part of some smaller tours. Since we started over in 2014 we played more live gigs in 2015, but less in 2016, because we wanted to focus on finishing the album, which we finally did in fall 2017.
Of course, we’re trying to play as many shows as possible. At least as many, as our private lives will let us. We also want to tour again, but the timing has to be right for that to work out.
We’re not 20 anymore, where you got all the time in the world.
What will the future bring?
-We want to play more gigs, but we also have 6 rough song structures for album number 4. So, there’s always a lot to do. But mostly we want to have fun. The music is a great balance to the stress of your daily life.