|January 11, 2012 - Simlev Interviewed by Death Metal Baboon
Site: Death Metal Baboon
Date: January 11th 2012
After we reviewed Krokmitën’s 46-minute one-shot of Experimental Death Metal, Alpha-Beta, last week, it seemed like a good idea to shoot some questions over to the band and get some clarification on this very conceptual and freaky-as-fuck album from them. Turns out that when we hooked up with Simlev, guitarist, vocalist, main writer and main man, it wasn’t a good idea, but a great idea. To understand Alpha Beta you need to get back into the band’s history. And that’s precisely what we’ve extensively done. Though we haven’t forgotten the future either.
Honestly, this was one of the most pleasant and insightful interviews I’ve undertaken to date. Thanks to Simlev for spilling his guts and giving us an awesome interview!
DMB: You guys started out way back in 1991. Can you elaborate a bit on the how, the time, the place?
Simlev: We started as a Thrash Metal band playing various covers in the Montreal area. We got tired very quickly of playing covers and we wanted to write our own songs right away. The original line-up was formed through friends of friends. After we recorded the two first demo tapes, I wanted to get our music much heavier and intricate but some members in the band wanted to smooth things out or stay in Thrash. At some point I just got tired of pushing others and lost interest. Thrash Metal started to stagnate and I wanted to evolve from it. Actually there’s not much to be said about our early years. It was pretty uneventful. That’s why we kept the biography short on our site.
DMB: In 1995 Krokmitën started on, what you could call, a bit of a hiatus. Only after ten years did you put the band back together to work on Alpha Beta. Did you always know it was going to be a break or did you actually mean to close down the band for good in 1995? And two, did you just completely put music to rest in the ten years or have you continued playing, be it unofficially, in the meantime?
Simlev: We never really called it quit or officially quit. I knew I would eventually return to it. I just didn’t know how and when. I have always been the main songwriter, so when each member went his own way, Krokmitën stayed with me. During those ten years, I kept playing and accumulating riffs and ideas. Mathz joined various local bands, he never really put the sticks down in the meantime, and once in a while we would jam together because I wanted to try out some of my riffs with him. I haven’t spoken with the two others much since. My understanding was that they were done with it. In general, I’m a pretty intense person, I have a clear vision of what I want Krokmitën to be, I’m open to suggestions but I guess I’ve got some sort of veto over everything concerning the band. I guess that can rub some people off the wrong way. For some odd reason Mathz sticks with me and seems to be unaffected by this.
DMB: How did you go about returning the band to form in 2005. You had stayed in touch with Mathz over the years, but what about Dubg?
Simlev: Mathz met Dubg around 1999, since Dubg was playing the guitar they quickly became friends and start jamming together for fun once in a while. Mathz felt that we would get along pretty well and introduced us, I remember that the first songs we jammed together were Death’s Lack of Comprehension and Metallica’s …And Justice for All. We all jammed together once in a while after that first time, but we never talked about rebooting Krokmitën at that time. None of us really had the time to concentrate on it anyway. When I officially restarted Krokmitën in 2005 it was just Mathz and me. Dubg was busy with work. When it was time to mix the album Dubg stepped in to mix it. We felt we needed to add some 7-string guitar parts and solos to the album, Dubg offered to do them and that’s how he joined the band officially. We are both bordering obsessive-compulsive about details. Mathz was right; we fit very well together.
DMB: It also sounds like the two of you could easily get into conflicts about such details. Does that ever happen?
Simlev: Hahaha no, well so far no. Without being a doormat, Dubg is very respectful of my vision. He cares about details that I don’t really focus on and vice-versa. He’s very picky about the production and I’ve very picky about the lyrical content and the overall artistic vision. He’s much more technical than me guitar-wise, while I’m more instinctive. I’ve got a very crazy intense personality and he’s very easy going. Maybe I could get on his nerves sometimes but I like to believe that I’m smart enough to back the fuck down when I push too far. He’s a very smart guy and his insanity managed to adapt very well to my mine. So far so good!
DMB: The motivation you indicate for shutting down in ’95 was that each of you wanted to focus on your careers. What do a bunch of bad ass Metalheads do for a career?
Simlev: I’m a freelance art director / graphic designer, I’ve worked for major companies in Montreal before I became a freelancer. Mathz is this bad ass certified engineer in a major company that makes water pumps and filtering system, he manages a big engineering team. Dubg is a sound engineer / composer and programmer. If you translate that to music, you can certainly understand our music and video better. Together we are a production powerhouse.
DMB: Still, you’re only three people. Do you ever feel limited in what you can do with just three people and so three instruments? What do you do with bass for example?
Simlev: So far no, we don’t feel limited in the studio. On the album I played the bass. At some point we might need to find a bassist, a hired gun or a full-fledge member, for now this is still up in the air. For the next album Dubg and I will probably take care of it.
DMB: Alpha Beta then. For a song, it’s long. Very long! What made you go for such a lengthy motherfucker and was it the intent from the very start?
Simlev: During this ten-year hiatus I kept writing riffs. Those riffs all had the same root. I felt that many of my riffs were meant for the same song but I had too much material for a standard 5-6 minutes songs. When I started to clean up my shit in 2005 to make Alpha-Beta I noticed that my riffs felt like they all belonged together. I didn’t want to split them into different songs just for the sake of it. One long song was the best solution for what I had. I’m very influenced by movies. The album structure is based on a movie structure, with introduction, confrontation, climax and conclusion. If you think the album is long, too long, be happy that I chopped about fifteen minutes out of it! I had enough material to write three times that length.
DMB: Conceptually it’s strong, about a man or subject going apeshit and discovering all kinds of shit about himself, at least that’s what I grabbed. But obviously the exact meaning still eludes me. Can you explain what it’s really all about and what the track’s title means?
Simlev: I’m a big David Lynch fan. I love that his movies can be interpreted in various ways. This is somewhat similar. When I wrote it all, it made a lot of sense to me. Now with time I personally see different meanings that I didn’t even realize at the time. There are many symbolic elements that can trigger various things for different people. If you want an oversimplified answer, it’s the scientific creation of the antichrist. If I was to explain every chapter title, you’d need to sit down with me for two days while I go apeshit and rant about the entire world, human behaviors and whatnot. I don’t think you could get a precise answer out of me on this one. Even Mathz and Dubg can’t get a straight answer on this one.
DMB: Plenty of meaning then, but each pulls out what he wants. Is that a given for you, that music should have meaning distilled from it, or would you be open to making something less conceptual someday. You know, twelve three-and-a-half (or five or six if you please) minute songs with a standard structure of intro, verse, chorus, verse, verse, chorus, chorus, bridge, chorus, outro or something?
Simlev: We might someday write something less conceptual or not at all, but for now my global vision is very conceptual. I’m not that much interested by standard song structures. I like bands that do it, but it’s not the best approach for Krokmitën. We might release stand-alone songs from time to time when we feel like it but I love conceptual albums in general. I’m not a big fan of hit singles, I love when the songs in an album are united together by theme or concept. Since our music will always be free we can release stuff whenever we feel like. I have a home-studio at my house and Dubg runs a professional studio, so we can do what the hell we want, when we want. The only limit is time.
DMB: The inevitable and ever-returning question then: what’s next? Another ten-year hiatus or have you been working on ideas for future material yet?
Simlev: No more hiatus! I have a lot of riffs I didn’t use for Alpha-Beta. I have stuff in the early demos I plan to use and give a different twist. And after we recorded Alpha-Beta I kept writing riffs. So I have already a lot of stuff to work with. Dubg has some great riffs too. This time Dubg will be integrated into the songwriting. We already have a good part of the musical concept established. We recently started to make demos. I have many lyrics already written. The whole concept and vision is already clear in my mind. I need to clean this mess up and make something concrete with it with the others. Also, we are currently working on a little special something that Dubg brought to the table. Some kind of an in-between project to make the wait for the next album easier for the fans. If everything goes well this thing should be released this winter.
DMB: An EP then? Will it be a one-song wonder again or will you take a more traditional approach this time? Talking about both the next full-length and the in-between?
Simlev: The in-between will be one track around ten minutes long. I don’t want to reveal too much at this point, we want to keep it a surprise. You’ll know in a couple of months when we’ll release it. As for the next album, at first I thought of making it four +/- twelve-minute tracks, but now that I’m deeper into the songwriting and the building of the structure, I feel like it’s going to be, again, one long track clocking in at forty minutes, at least.
DMB: We would like to thank Simlev once again, for his time, his effort and an awesome interview all together!
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