I hve just recently come to know of MISANTHROPIA. So I wanted to know more about them. Replies by Ronald Stiefel (Guitar), Volker Pusch (Vocals/Bass) and Edwin Stübner (Guitar). All answers valid for the whole band are not marked with the name of the responder. Anders Ekdahl ©2019
Was it hard to come up with a name? What does the name mean to you? How important is it to have the right name?
-Misanthropia is a made up word, a composition of the two words misanthropy and Utopia. It was originally created in the song Soul Cancer. Misanthropia is a fictional world where hatred amongst individuals and the whole society is dominating – perhaps a not very unlikely blueprint for where the real world is going. The Utopia part suggests that this transformation into a world full of hatred is wrapped up in the fancy dress of technological evolution and that everything is invented for the better of mankind. We think a good band name is quite important. Ideally it is catchy, easy to memorize and should give an idea about what kind of music the listener can expect. We know that there’s black metal band from the Netherlands also called Misanthropia which is more commonly known than we are. Therefore we thought about changing our name but finally decided to keep the name. Our band was founded in late 2004, while the other band was founded several months later in 2005. And we did not have any issues so far because we’re clearly serving different genres and we hope it remains like this in the future.
Who would say have laid the foundation for the kind of sound you have? Who are your heroes musically and what have they meant to you personally and to the sound of your band?
Ronald: I got addicted to heavy metal at the age of 14 when I first got to listen to a very poor quality bootleg tape recording of Metallica’s Creeping Death. After five seconds into the song I knew that I wanted to play this kind of music. Of course as a guitarist I have deep respect for the commonly known guitar gods Steve Vai, Malmsteen, MAB, Nuno Bettencourt, Nita Strauss,….
Volker: In 1995 I deeply was impressed by the Album Draconian Times from Paradise Lost. The intensity of the vocals and the dark but yet passionate sound really left their footprint in my ears. I was not singing in a band before we founded Misanthropia. So when I had the chance to sing I really wanted to take every effort to also provide a thorough metal experience with dark, shouting vocals. Looking back at the feeling we had when we started Misanthropia our motivation was something like: “let’s do something loud, passionate and different – something that will be born from us!” – it was quite a strong emotion.
When you play slow do you have to think differently arranging the music than if you play faster and vice versa?
Eddie: You should always try to think differently, whether you are playing fast or slow. Because otherwise you face the risk to limit your creativity. But in the end it’s just about the song. And every song is unique and should be handled like that. So there isn’t really a scheme or a golden rule. So hopefully the song tells you which arrangement it needs.
Will your music work in a live environment? What kind of stage environment would best suit your music; a big stage or a small club?
Ronald: Whenever we write a new song we want to ensure that this song can be played live by the four of us. Up to now we did not feel the need to incorporate samples or anything like that in our live performance, everything is still handmade. That might change for some of the new material to add some more atmosphere but that is not decided yet. Basically we like to keep it simple. Eddie and I use a maximum of 4 sounds on stage, that’s it. As an underground band we usually play small clubs which works very good for us. But you need a very good sound guy to generate a decent sound in small clubs, because the drums are so loud and you have to find the right spot to position the bass guitar, the guitar and vocals in the sound spectrum. This is a really tough job which can easily result in a rather undefined puddle of sound mud. But of course our music works on bigger stages also. We played some festivals with bigger stages and this is always great fun. But to be honest, up to now it’s the same show that we play in a small club or on a bigger stage. We don’t have any fancy stuff like pyro or background videos prepared for the bigger stages.
It is very hard to be 100% satisfied. Everybody seems to be disappointed with something they have released. Is there something that you in hindsight would have done differently on this your latest recording?
Volker: I guess as an artist you eventually will have mutual feelings regarding your own work. It is a matter of finding the right distance to be objective to a piece you created and yet you will fail miserably in this attempt when it’s a emotional thing such as music. On the other side there is always the sort of evolution in a technical but also personal way. This way your point of view changes over time. Currently we are still pretty close to what we have done so I think I am still pretty happy with the results. The larger learnings definitely have been from one long player to the next. There is just so much to learn and to try out.
Promotion can be a bitch. Even today with all different platforms it can be hard to reach out to all those that might be interested in your music? What alleys have you used to get people familiarized with your band?
Ronald: Promotion is a real bitch. Unfortunately PR has been the one thing we did not really know how to take care of. Of course there was Facebook but that’s basically it. Just 2 month ago we started working together with Markus Eck from MetalMessage who is a massive help with all the PR related stuff. Within these two month we have reached out into the huge universe of social media and are now present on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Google Music, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, etc. We did a couple of interviews with music webzines which is fantastic and also got featured in some metal radio shows. We have just become a support band of Pure Sound Radio which we are very proud of. But in the end we realized, that PR is not something that you can to on your own. You need someone who knows his way around and tells you what makes sense and what doesn’t and helps you to gain more popularity through his connections and network. Markus Eck is the perfect guy for this job!
To me art work can be the difference between bust or success. What to you is a great front cover? What should a cover have to make it great?
Volker: At first a good idea can be as thrilling as simplicity like Nirvanas Nevermind cover or the Black Album from Metallica. However to me these “effects” wear out and I tend to appreciate the more complex and opulent artwork over time. Like when you can gaze at it listening through the whole work over and over again and still discover little details you missed at first. Certainly I like depth and storytelling. Nightfall in middle earth from blind guardian features an impressive cover in that respect. I also have to point out that I am very happy with the cover artwork we had so far and we definitely need to work hard on keeping that standard.
Do you feel that you are part of a national scene? Is a local/national scene important for the development of new bands?
Ronald: We are definitely part of the local underground scene but we’re not part of a national scene.
I think only the local scenes can provide the basic foundation for any new bands. Only very few of the hundreds or thousands of local bands work hard enough and get lucky to get a chance to proof themselves to a broader audience. Out of those few some can really make to the national scene.
So the answer to the question is yes, a local and national scene is important for new bands. Where else would they come from, leaving aside the casting shows.
I could just be me but I got the feeling that the live scene is not what it used to be. Could be that more and more people use the net to discover bands instead of going out and supporting new bands live. What is you experience with the live scene?
-We have been making music with MISANTHROPIA for over 15 years now and yes, the live scene has changed a lot. 10 years ago it was fairly easy to set up a club concert with 3 or 4 local bands and get 200-300 people to the club. Nowadays it’s become an incalculable risc to organize such shows. If you’re lucky you will have 100 people at the show, worst case you play in front of 10 people.
It’s not the quality of the music or the shows has gotten worse, it’s more like the value of live music seems to have changed. People are willing to pay 180€ for a single show of bands like Rammstein, etc. but the same people are not willing to pay 7€ for a local club show with 3 or 4 bands.
With the uprising of Youtube, Spotify, etc. people tend to discover more more on the internet instead of going out to a club show with 3 bands they never heard of before. This is really sad because there are so many good bands out there that create fantastic music far away from the mainstream. To me a live show can never be beaten by recorded music. Only in a live show you get the vibe of the bands performance and feel the pure energy of the songs.
Whenever I get a chance I tell people: “Go out to the club shows, meet your friends, have a couple of beers and enjoy the show! Can life really get any better than that???”
What does the future hold?
-For MISANTHROPIA and our fans the near future holds a new album which will be released around easter next year. And of course we will play a couple of shows to promote the album after the release.
It will be the third release but this time we want to go for a much more professional approach in the promotion of the album. With Markus Eck we have a professional that will surely make this release more successful than the previous ones. And with hard work and some luck we may advance from the local underground scene to the national underground scene.