Danish thrash metal might be synonymous with Artillery but there are those who like to have a piece of that cake too. Like Symbolizer. Interview with Anders by Anders Ekdahl ©2011
Your thrash metal is very different from the thrash I’ve come to associate Danish thrash with. Has it been a planned strategy to be different?
-It wasn’t really a planned strategy in the beginning, but with so many bands out there we think it is important to be different. Over the years we have worked hard in the band to develop our own style which can be described as melodic thrash metal with roots in the 1980s, and we haven’t paid much attention to what the other Danish thrash metal bands were doing. Today many people associate Danish thrash metal with the more modern style like the one spearheaded by Hatesphere. That we differ from the typical Danish thrash metal style is only great, because we don’t want to sound like all the others.
Living on the other side of Öresund (the sound between Sweden and Denmark) I’ve always been aware of the Danish metal scene. But lately it seems to have diminished. What’s happening with the Danish metal scene?
-It seems like we have a few bands doing very well and many others that are struggling to break through. Being a small country with a small audience, it is hard to build any significant fan base in our home country. So to become successful as a Danish metal band, you have to become successful abroad. Hence many bands look outside Denmark, mainly to Germany, for record labels and a bigger audience.
With you being a Danish thrash metal band, sort of anyway, I got to ask if Artillery have had any impact on the thrash scene at all?
-Absolutely. Artillery have inspired many bands. They are true thrash metal pioneers and one of the best Danish metal bands of all times. Artillery proved that it was possible to play uncompromising thrash metal music even in a small country like Denmark, and in doing so they paved the way for many other Danish metal bands. Their influence also stretches into other countries, but sadly they never got the big break that they deserved, so they disappeared from the scene for many years. But now they are back with a vengeance, and it is really cool. We have heard them a number of times since their comeback, and they deliver an excellent show.
With “Thanatos Unleashed” being a DIY release, how much time and effort have you put into it?
-We have put a lot of time and effort into this. Raz has been working on the recording of this album since 2002. He has also had a full time time day job while he was working on the album, so he could only work on it in the weekends and in his holidays. In addition there were some line-up changes in the band as well as gigs that we wanted to play, so it ended up taking eight years to record and mix the album. But it is great that it is now finally completed and released.
It’s not just enough to release an album. You got to get the people to hear it too. How do you go about spreading the music to metal heads all over the Globe?
-We use for example MySpace, Facebook and ReverbNation, and we have also sent the CD out to various magazines and webzines such as battlehelm.com. So far we sell the CD through three different distributors: HellionRecords.de, CDBaby.com and GDC, so sometimes people hear about us by visiting one of the many online shops where you can buy our CD. We have also had radio airplay at Metal Express Radio which recently featured 5 songs from the album.
With Sweden so close by how much have you peeked at the Swedish metal scene for inspiration?
-We have all listened to many great Swedish bands over the years. We also go to Malmö for concerts from time to time, and I am actually a Swedish citizen, although I live in Denmark. I think Sweden has produced some of the best bands in metal and continue to do so. Bands like Demonoid, Arch Enemy and Bloodbath are some of my favourites among all bands. There are many great Swedish death metal bands, but I don’t know that many Swedish thrash metal bands, except for The Haunted and Witchery. I guess that what you listen to rubs off on what you write, so in that sense one of my primary influences is Swedish metal. It is interesting to speculate why Sweden has produced so many great bands, but I guess one of the reasons is that they are very dedicated to what they do, and because music plays a large role in Swedish culture.
To me Denmark has always been the epitome of open-mindedness but in the last couple of years Denmark has become more and more isolated in its own politics. How does that change in environment affect you as a band/person?
-Yes, Denmark has changed a lot in the past decade. Most noticeably with the activist foreign policy and the tighter immigration policy the country has conducted. With regard to the Danish immigration policy this has actually affected us as a band. In 2008 we rehearsed with a great Turkish guitarist who lived in Denmark. We started writing new songs together with him and the situation looked very promising. But when some personal changes happened in his life, he lost his residence permit in Denmark and had to leave the country. Who knows – if the political situation in Denmark had been different he might still be in the band today. So in that way you can say that we have felt the effects of the Danish immigration policy.
Touring Denmark as a metal band, does that mean playing youth centres in Århus, Odense, Roskilde etc. or are there other venues to play?
-Those are definitely some of the options we have. Then there are the established venues in Denmark, festivals and other outdoor events. We love to perform live, and we have already played many shows in the Copenhagen area in the last 10 years, so we would like to play more in other parts of the country and also abroad.
When you plan any sort of touring is Germany the first place you think about or are there other areas that are more interesting?
-I think that Germany is a great place for any band to tour. But we would love to play anywhere – Scandinavia, Europe, the Americas, Japan, India, China, you name it! So far we have only played concerts in Denmark, because it is very hard to finance touring abroad. We looked into touring Germany and Poland some time ago as a support act, but the tour booker demanded so much money from us that we could not afford it. But we will do whatever we can to make it possible one day.
Where would you like to see Symbolizer go in the future?
-I would like to see us write a killer new album sometime in the future. We are working on some new songs at the moment which will hopefully become great, and I hope that we can develop our music further without losing the style that we have now, which we have fought hard to create. It would also be great to be able to play gigs abroad – that is our big dream!