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Interview

Krisiun Frontman On New Material: "We're Moving Forward... And Getting Crazier"

Thursday, March 20th, 2014. Destruction had just wrapped a ripping set at Springfield, Virginia's Empire, the third stop of the German thrashers' current North American tour. Since I'd interviewed guitarist Mike Sifringer upon arrival, I thought it only appropriate to finish the night by catching up with the support act: Brazilian trio Krisiun.

Amid a slowly waning bustle of gear breakdown and merch removal (what was left, anyway), I stood before Krisiun's bassist/vocalist Alex Camargo. A formidable rock of a man with a menacing death metal stage demeanor, Alex in his downtime revealed a far different, relaxed side at odds with his swarthy "Machete" resemblance and husky voice. Here's what happened...

Mike Smith (OverkillExposure): We’re just three dates into this tour. When was Krisiun’s last time in the States?

Alex Camargo: About a year ago, I think. It was weird. It was supposed to be a Hypocrisy tour, but they cancelled at the last minute. We had the flight tickets bought and the visas done and ready to go, and there was a common agreement with the promoters; they wanted to keep the tour going. So we did it ourselves! We went out with Arsis, twenty-eight dates. It was kind of a mess, because some people didn’t realize the tour was still on, but we did it somehow. Good times, man. It was really too bad Hypocrisy couldn’t make it, because we love that band, but maybe next time.

Mike: And here you are with Destruction again!

Alex: Yeah, second time. Really good times man, we got along pretty well. I think it’s a good combination, two legit bands, real metal bands. So they invited us and here we are. We’re glad it happened!

Mike: I was very pleased with the diversity of this bill. We had Widow playing an old school Iron Maiden type of metal, then Krisiun playing some death metal, then Destruction playing thrash. And Schmier [bass/vocals, Destruction] even mentioned it at one point: “Forget all this ‘thrash, black, power’ shit; we’re here because we love metal.” As a fan, do you prefer those types of shows?

Alex: Oh, definitely. I totally agree. It’s just one thing: metal. If I go to a show, I like to see a variety of different things, y’know? It doesn’t matter if you’re a death metal band or a heavy metal band. It’s all just a bunch of labels. I’m totally into old school metal like Judas Priest or AC/DC, and then stuff like Morbid Angel. I don’t care. Good music is good music, and fashion sucks. Every day there’s a new thing, a new flavor of the month, and all that shit. It doesn’t really matter, man.

Mike: And Krisiun seems pretty broadly influenced, especially on the later material. Do you ever find yourself wanting to teach the young “brutal” types a thing or two about how to sound memorable?

Alex: Yeah, I think being into metal is kind of a natural process. If you stick around, you’ll find out some things. The young kids, they might not know about the whole thing – they’re just rookies. But if they stick around, someday they’ll find out. You’ve gotta go back to the roots and find the real deal, and then learn how the whole thing expanded into all these different labels and styles and stuff. It’s pretty hard with these new kids today. There’s so much shit going on. And some people are in it for the fashion, but if you stick around for the metal, you’ll find out someday, I think.

Mike: I’m curious about Brazilian metal. It has a great reputation worldwide, thanks first to Sepultura and the Cavalera brothers, and now with Krisiun, Angra and a few others. But there don’t seem to be that many bands!

Alex: Also Sarcophago, kind of a cult band. The records they put out back in the day were very important, but they just never really went out on tour or anything. And there is a lot of shit going on in Brazil with metal, but a lot of the bands just don’t seem to really go for it, y’know? They’re not really that well known outside the scene. There are quality bands though, and the whole scene is getting better. It’s not as bad as it used to be during the early Sepultura days and even our early days, when everything was just harder: getting decent gear, getting information. Things are easier these days, and hopefully more bands come up with interesting things and bring more Brazilian metal overseas like Sepultura first did. Of course we love those guys and they’ve done so much for Brazilian music. They’re like our pride and joy. I actually remember seeing them back in ’88, long time ago, and they played a Destruction song! That was awesome.

Mike: Having been around from the early to mid ‘90s, whom do you feel you’re really playing to now? Do you imagine a seasoned fanbase, or maybe the kids – younger versions of you when you started?

Alex: When the crowd is young, I definitely see myself at that age. When you’re young and fall in love with metal, that is just the best time. You’re so impressed with everything, and it’s all so fresh. So I definitely try to deliver in that way. It’s not really about impressing people, but about really bringing it, and creating a big family where it’s all about metal. I’ve been around a long time, and I can remember the early days as the best days, where everything was fresh and everyone went crazy. That’s everything to me. That’s what we’re here for; it’s all about those kids. We could be playing for a hundred kids or a fuckin’ thousand kids, but we try to deliver the same show. They paid for a ticket and they deserve it.

Mike: With all honesty, I think “The Great Execution” [2011] is your best record yet, and I’ll tell you why: I love death metal as much as any other style, but I also loved the way that album combined it with a traditional, groovy, melodic sound.

Alex: [Laughs] I’m glad you understood the message, man!

Mike: Well, sometimes the message is in the music, for sure. But my question, since it’s been nearly three years: is there something new coming along?

Alex: Definitely! We’ve already started. We’ve done a lot of touring for “The Great Execution,” and this is our last of those tours. We got the offer, and we just couldn’t miss it. We actually should be working on the new songs now and doing our homework. [Laughs] But soon as we’re done with this tour, we’re going back home, and then we’re gonna go for it. We’re planning to record late this year and hopefully put it out early next year.

Mike: I know it can be hard to summarize a work in progress, but from what you know now, from where your head is, where do you see yourself going musically with this next record?

Alex: Well, dude, just forward. Like we did with “The Great Execution.” We don’t want to repeat ourselves. I know that sounds like a cliché, where everyone says “The next record’s gonna be the shit,” but we definitely are trying to step up, y’know? We’re not running away from our roots. It’s gonna be brutal and it’s gonna be fast. But we are trying to get crazier, to add something. São Paulo is just the right place for us, the right environment for the right inspiration so we can go for it. It’s gonna be about adding something crazier, something newer, without running away from the death metal world. We’ve been wanting to add some more of those acoustic guitars, so we’ll see.

Mike: Those are some of my favorite parts on “The Great Execution.”

Alex: Oh yeah, it sounds good, man. Really brings out our background, those South American traditions. We have a bunch of friends that play that stuff, and we’re always involved with them, so it’s cool.

Mike: I think it’s also helpful for people outside the metal scene. From that perspective, when someone hears the term “death metal,” they tend to think of one thing. So the challenge is to turn death metal into something bigger than that one thing.

Alex: You got it, man. If you make it your career… I mean, we’re here forever. I’ve got nowhere to go! [Laughs] We have to try to expand it, make it bigger, no matter if people give a shit or not. But we have to try. If people like it, that’s killer. Death metal isn’t as popular as melodic heavy metal, so it definitely is a challenge to stick around while playing fast and hard. We do it because we love it; otherwise we’d sell out or just stop doing what we’re doing. We wanna keep doing it, man. We wanna keep having a good time, keep feeling good. That’s what it’s about; as long as we’re motivated to do it, we’re good to go.

Mike: Are there any bands out there today that bring you that feeling?

Alex: Yeah, man. I’m still digging the good old bands. Testament is always good. Sepultura’s good. Cavalera Conspiracy… I think I’ll dig anything Max [Cavalera] does. He’s awesome. I’m digging the new Deicide. I still like AC/DC too; I really liked their last album a couple years ago. Judas Priest, they’re still doing it, and Iron Maiden… all these old bands. Metal’s still alive for me. As far as newer things, I don’t know… but I still am digging the same good old metal. I even actually liked that last Morbid Angel album. [“Illud Divinum Insanus,” 2011] It took me some time to get it and understand the point, but I got it, man. The death metal songs are fuckin’ killer, and I’m not really into industrial music or anything, but with those songs, they did it good. That’s their thing: thinking outside the box. Some of my friends just hated it, so many people, and all that hate got pretty funny. But they had to have the balls to do an album like that. I respect the band; they’re one of our main influences. I love Morbid Angel, man.

Mike: If Krisiun were to record a different kind of album like that – something that really shocked people – what do you think it would sound like?

Alex: [Laughs] Dude, I don’t think we’d ever do it. I couldn’t even think about it, because the way we think, the way we’ve committed to each other, and to things we think would work for the band… I don’t think that would ever work for us. We’d look silly. I like rock ‘n’ roll music, and we’ll jam some Black Sabbath covers and stuff like that, but I think that’s the furthest we’d go. I don’t see any industrial happening for us!

Mike: Then again, those acoustics were kind of a bold move.

Alex: Yeah, we love that. It’s part of our culture. Where we’re from, there’s a lot of acoustic guitar playing and we grew up listening to that. So it fits with our atmosphere. We’re definitely gonna keep doing that.

OverkillExposure's avatar

Mike Smith is a Southern-born, New England-based writer and a diehard metal and hard rock fan. As a music journalist, he is a staffer with Metalunderground.com and Outburn Magazine. As a screenwriter/producer, he is currently working on his first film with director Jason Matzner ("Dreamland").

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