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Interview : Rest In Fear

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   Hailing from the Styrian Graz, Rest In Fear is one of those bands you would definitely want to keep an eye on. As one of the main pillars in the local and Austrian-wide Metal Music scene, they are certainly very fond and quite devoted to the music they make and to the community to which they contribute.

El Evil Emperor : Hello Rest in Fear, we are hoping that things are going great there in Austria, music-wise. So the big World Wide Web says that the band was founded in 2007 and has experienced multiple line-ups and on-and-off and new changes, both in names and in instruments. 

Rest in Fear : That’s absolutely correct, a more or less complete band line-up-history can be found at www.metal-archives.com/bands/Rest_in_Fear, even though it misses one drummer and one very early guitarist.


El Evil Emperor : Was the band mainly performing covers and tributes in its early days? Around when did you start to have your own compositions?
 
Rest in Fear : Even though the band was founded as a typical “hey-friends-let's have-a-band” band and doing some covers was definitely our intention initially, we started developing our own songs quite early. Covers and tributes have definitely been important in the first time, because with everyone still being really young when the band started out (most of us were school kids) and being generally rather inexperienced as persons and as musicians, profiling yourself as a bandsman plays a major roll. We did some tributes and practiced those lot, mostly I think to get a picture of how our idols were playing their respective instruments and to get closer to actually mastering them - and for fun, of course! I think covering in the rehearsal room was an important part of how everyone in the band got shaped as an artist and it definitely left everyone with his own musical history. But tributes and covers actually always were more of an internal thing and not many have left the practice room so far. From the beginning we tried to enchant the audience with a set of our own songs. Obviously when we started out writing a lot of music we were just beginning to find our own unique style. The songs played at our first show for example had strongly been influenced by what we practiced in the rehearsal room and what everyone was listening on their Discman (back then). They mostly had clean vocals and sounded a lot like bands such as Godsmack and Machine Head. 
 

El Evil Emperor : Into which direction did the band's genre gradually evolve? Did the line-up changes make the band change genres often?
 
Rest in Fear : Generally speaking, there was a big mixture of genres due to the fact that everybody in the band brought in their own influences and musical interests - as it usually is with young bands. With the band leaning more towards one or the other genre and changing interest regularly musicians came and went around the founders Elias, Thomas and Boris and later Valentin in the first years. In that sense Roman and his keyboard becoming bandsmen was really both - an expression of our wish to develop musically by adding another instrument (with In Flames being really popular at the time, we just needed samples and electronic sound!) and of course, interdependently, the new instrument and the new man being another source of influence also changed our music a fair bit in ways we’d never thought possible before. While Roman’s admission into the band pushed open the door to electronic music, Gerald brought in a lot of experience, both as a studio and live drummer and with him being a seasoned bandsman our public relations were worked over completely and organization got more efficient. Musically, ever since a somewhat professional opinion on rhythm and harmony has been influencing our songs, which especially can be heard in small ornamented technical details throughout our live set. The youngest member Willi not only added an extremely motivated ingenious string-climber to our stock of musicians, but also got involved into song arrangement recently. Being a very straight forward and organized person he’s responsible for the band being stabler than ever and focusing on things with an intense amount of energy. In terms of music his fast and his even physically heavy shredding combined with speedy licks and solos that he comes up with are definitely something that will, or currently does change our live sound and of course will also be noticed on our second record. Interestingly enough, the different influences of our members still affected our music a lot, when Boris started taking charge of the creative work more and more (becoming the “brainbug”) and they actually still do. We usually go as far as saying that they even define our own musical style.
 

El Evil Emperor : So how would you tag the genre that the band is currently playing?
 
Rest in Fear : Frequently being pigeonholed as a Melodic Death Metal band and being not too unhappy about it, we still feel that - apart from the depth of our arrangements (e.g. in terms of our scores, being really twisted and interweaved sometimes) - our own style, “Melo-Death à la Rest In Fear”, if I may say so - is seasoned with strong and recognisable hook-lines here and there, best known from pop music. Even more than that, the way how the individual instruments are arranged and the respective combination of everyone’s personal style is marshalled together in a musical score really distinguishes the band’s music from the rest of the genre, while not completely kicking us out of the MDM-ring. The way we collude musically as a bunch of artists would best be described as the attempt of everyone playing his own thing while being conducted mostly by our common interest not to sound like a cow in labour on a rainy day.
 

El Evil Emperor : Well, that is a rather eloquent and interesting metaphor. Are most of the band members professional Musicians? And are you involved in other music projects?

Rest in Fear : Nope, we are not really professional musicians. However, all of us have been studying their instruments with the help of professionals to some extent. Mentionable may be, that both, Gerald and Valentin have been studying guitar with Heimo Hofer, the latter still is his student. Gerald was a novice of “Opus”’ drummer Günter Grasmuck for almost 10 years and has been performing in annual concerts and on some records within Studio Percussion Graz and their percussion school since he was a kid - and with his former band project “Project Anima”. Singer Boris has been learning guitar and drums and currently has two side-projects. One being a quiet singer-songwriter trio with a chello and a female singer where he plays guitar and sings (“Boris, Tini und die Loopmaschine”), the other one being a rock band called “The Knife-Fighting Monkeys” with him being their drummer. He is currently also teaching guitar.
 

El Evil Emperor : So, "Insert Yourself", was released around two years ago if I am not mistaken, at least for sale. How long did it take for the composition and where was it recorded?
 
Rest in Fear : The way we write our songs has dramatically changed in the past. Our first LP “Insert Yourself” was really a collection of (partly extremely) old songs which developed a lot during all the time we have been playing them and got recorded at Industreet Studio in Vogau-Straß, Austria. At some point, the song material was definitely massively refined before the record was released and forged together to a coherent and harmonious record - even though the spectrum of songs is incredibly wide for the genre. For us it is very interesting to look at this document and see that actually some of the songs that you can find on “Insert Yourself” originate from the very beginning of the band’s musical work and haven’t changed too much - it’s like saying “hey, we still somehow like what we created earlier and don’t have the urge to throw everything away, or (sometimes) don’t even see need to change things at all” - which is a good sign, of course, if it doesn’t come with a “neglection” of musical development.
 

El Evil Emperor : Lyrics-wise, the first album seem to be mainly about misanthropy, Human feelings and experiences, freedom, and liberty. Did Boris write the lyrics or is it somehow a group work?

Rest in Fear : The lyrics were all written by Boris, and only peer-monitored in terms of content by the rest of the band. The extent of how much the band interferes with the lyrical creation changed a lot though. So currently we discuss contents a lot and try to create sort of a thematic frame for everything, while producing the actual lyrics is still mostly Bo’s job. More than before we go through them and somehow like the score writing, we more openly discuss general ideas and details in the lyrics, because we feel that revising things tend to make them better.
 

El Evil Emperor : Indeed. How about the upcoming release? Any main lyrical theme in the air so far?

Rest in Fear : The upcoming album is going to be a thematic collection that combines most of the topics that we have been dealing with previously, but focuses on some more than others. As usual, we are trying to be critical about social developments and phenomena, always from the viewpoint of the generation of young, critical individuals that we feel we are part and / or representatives of. For the upcoming album we decided to go one step further and actually give our ideologies and opinions a more illustrative face and connect all the ideas in one contextual symbol and thereby creating a metaphorically conceptual album this time. The creation of our second album Shallows Deep really works completely differently. On the one hand the way our band generally works is currently influencing the song-writing way more: Rest In Fear being a very democratic band without a specific leader we try to implement certain tools and technology into the song writing. One example would be cloud software that makes it incredibly easy for everyone to have access to everyone’s musical ideas and working files at any time and give feedback at earlier stages in the development of songs. On the other hand we are inventing the songs mostly on paper and our computers this time. Giving us the advantage of being a lot faster, it also yields tracks and scores that are so much more complicated that sometimes we have to meet in the rehearsal room and actually check, if what was written can be played.   
 

El Evil Emperor : That indeed is something worth waiting for. A further outlook onto your upcoming second album might set off the readers' appetites more.
 
Rest in Fear : Generally speaking, the way we create our music has become much more technical and the creation moved from the rehearsal room to our offices and workplaces, which gives us more time to think about things than developing everything during a rehearsal. The method plays to our diversity with everyone suggesting changes in songs wherever he thinks he can provide a better solution and people adding ideas where they think a song could profit and in this way we strengthen equality and collaboration within the band encourage synergies to happen where they are needed. However as good as that may sound, not everyone is contributing in the same way of course. Following the idea of everyone putting in the same amount of work we derailed a little in the course of action and adapted the method of operation. With the the lion’s share of the basic musical ideas still coming from Boris in our upcoming second album they are being peer-monitored and reviewed a lot more. For instance Willi going over the idea and then doing e.g. the arrangement in one song and Gerald overworking some harmonic or rhythmic parts, Valentin a Solo etc. and Roman and Boris then producing the samples together (or one of us completely re-writing whole parts, sometimes! :D) would be a typical example, while another song may be written by Gerald and rearranged and fitted out with new parts by Boris and so forth. The modus operandi still gained transparency and eventually turned into a quite efficient work pipeline of music-creation while still featuring the musical influences of everyone taking part in each song. As an outlook to what our new album will bring, we can say that even more than on “Insert Yourself” we’ll be working with samples and backing tracks for our live performance, some of those brought in by Roman on cue, including e.g. an orchestration under a live-keyboard solo and some more instruments that can’t be featured live and others running in the back throughout complete songs. This, obviously gives us the possibility of having some extra instruments in the live score and getting really close to the record score, as well as a very calculable show that will also go with a programmed light show and - again - have filmic and scenographic accompaniment to an even broader extend. The music is, of course, is what Rest In Fear at it’s peak sounds like! As always, catchy choruses and somewhat pop-like hook-lines will combine with heavy, yet this time technically more elaborate riffing and refined progressive and more extreme drumming, adding up to a darker and more experimental overall feeling of the record. Narrowing the stylistic bandwidth a bit, we are trying to stick what we do best and picking up where we left with our most recent song “Mirror” from our first album. A release is planned for July 21st online via our label G Minor Records and an audio sample can be found on the company's youtube channel (https://www.youtube.com/user/gminorrecords).
 

El Evil Emperor : Having founded G Minor, it is very likely the case that it would be your next record label? Any details you could tell us about how the release of your next opus would take place, regarding labels or distros?
 
Rest in Fear : Most probably yes, it will! We still are thinking about trying to get into touch with a bigger indie label, because it sure is a lot of work to manage yourself and it takes a lot of time away from our actual goal - making music. However for the upcoming album we also feel that a lot of the organizational work already has been done and signing a deal with a record company would be giving away our work for nothing but prestige. This is why we founded the record label “G Minor” (www.gminor.at). Probably like a lot of bands in similar situations, we all thought that what we were doing would neither be interesting to the big companies, nor would it be (if they were interested) in our own interest to sell our music to the highest bidding. Being a musician is always a on a sharp edge between being an artist and a salesman of some sort, at least if you think about becoming a professional musician and actually earning food and housing with your music. But in this case even if a label approached us and told us “hey, we want to sign you!” it would be selling our own production for fast money. Possibly a very unsustainable decision that could make us very big immediately, or cost us everything - and that is not really the kind of people that we are, gambling with what really matters to us. Basically getting signed by our own label G Minor would mean that we are, just as before, in charge of distributing our music ourselves, but it will leave us in a good position of getting into contact with the people who like and buy our music. And it will be a possibility of doing the same thing for other bands who struggle with publicity and management within the same framework. Founding the label G Minor also was a step that would make it easier to collaborate with the studio that we currently are building (you can find a blog about its creation on our label’s website: “Klangkellerei”. Currently it’s a mess :D) in legal matters and in the future we are planning to be a part of the cultural production scene in our city, supporting artists and bands wherever we can with our work and service and our considerable (yet not professional) knowledge about the music business. Small structures are simply more personal and allow more personal space with less pressure of having to “sell a product” for us as the “label people”. It is way different to the work of the major labels who just click twice and sell ten thousand records online of course and most noticeably in terms of financial output we can’t really compete, but then: We don’t have to - We just do this out of passion and don’t have to be any number ones in any ratings as long as there are people who are interested in the music that we make as a band and release as a label and as long as these people value our work. We are however looking to forward to connect to labels abroad with a similar bandwidth of music which find themselves in a similar situation. In terms of distribution it is more essential even than in music-making to work together with other people who do this out of passion and regarding that it would be a great boon to find partners who are willing to trade distribution rights and promotion in their area. It’s always a thin line between getting big companies to help you without losing your actual goals and we very much like to work for the little fame that we get ourselves. In the long run we will have to think this over, currently however we believe that releasing the album on our own label more closely represents the way we generally work as a collective of individuals and therefore corresponds way better to our development as a band.
 

El Evil Emperor : That certainly sounds promising. Let's talk about the band's live performances. Rest In Fear has been in the top-ten Austrian Band Contest and won the Austrian Wacken Metal Battle award in 2011, among other interesting prizes within and outside Austria. What is there between the lines to tell about?
 
Rest in Fear : Band contests are a difficult topic. On the one hand they really help to promote bands that have talent, but no financial means or a lot of renown to get some attention. On the other hand the way the actual contest works is very often just a cover for making money with someone else’s work again: Young bands get to perform and get more attention the more tickets they sell in favour of the event host. This adulterates both, the actual perception of the band (e.g. in the eyes of a possible jury) and the outcome of the audience’s vote. As an example, we have witnessed many a good band walking out of a contest, because a 14-year old kiddy band brought two classes full of their friends, but (just in that special case) no talent at all in the first round of a big contest and kicked out real quality musicians, while having no real chance to stay in the contest in one of the next rounds, or even winning, because their initial success was so local. Some time ago, we figured it was a good idea to put a lot of energy into taking part in contests and we still think it was an interesting experience and a smart move. Despite the pressure that rests upon you during a contest, we got good feedback and this actually gave us back a lot of energy. Again, this was pretty ambivalent, because for us as musicians it’s not exactly a good sign if music gets quantified and put down all in numbers and rankings. Nevertheless we have to admit, that it feels good to get attention for what we believe in with all our heart. After taking part in a few contests, we slowly started retreating from that sector again, since it is getting harder and harder to fulfil the requirements of time pressure that exists at a contest with all the crazy gear we are using - filmic accompaniment, backing tracks etc. just take a very long time to get set up correctly. We figured that it just wouldn’t be a good performance and we all agreed on not playing any contests for some time, because we think that the current Rest In Fear live set is a theatrical act in a way that is more like a conceptual show and shouldn’t be divided or jumbled about too much, for the sake of the integrity and authenticity of our music and show.   
 

El Evil Emperor : Any Future gigs in the horizon? Within or outside Austria?
 
Rest in Fear : Sure thing! We will be on Metaldays Mainstage again in 2014 (and also have very reasonably priced tickets for sale, by the way) and are negotiating with a couple of other festivals in Austria as well as planning two small tours; One to our southern and eastern neighboring countries and one to Germany and Switzerland in autumn. Nothing has been settled though so far, since we are really busy getting our album done for the moment.
 

El Evil Emperor : Photos told a lot about your recent Ball des Steirischen Schwermetalls 2014? Any feedback about how this edition was?
 
Rest in Fear : The “ball” is a something that we grew very fond of organizing annually. It is a showcase of what we think is representing the local (underground) scene, our own expression of joy about what happens culturally within the landscape of metal in Graz and Styria. We are all very proud of the event since it gets such great feedback every year and we are even happier about the fact that we really managed to establish the event as a recurring youth-cultural event that at the same time functions as a benefactor of metal artists who play at the event. For us as a local band that is known a little above average it was very important to draw the conclusions from our experience as a live band and make things better for everyone. A major goal was to break out of the usual way these concerts work, namely the people who take all the risk taking all the money if all goes well, without any regard to the well-being of the artists or audience. Since we do a lot of the work ourselves and also have very good media partners and a few very dedicated friends in the scene (like “Tick-Tack”, a famous metal bar here in Graz), we “can afford” (we say this with the knowledge that “real” event managers do this for a living and possibly don’t have such liberties as we do in organizing this) to give away almost the entire profit from the evening, without charging a lot of money for the tickets. For us as the hosts it is very important to give the artists the feeling that what they do is being appreciated and a valuable part of the Styrian cultural scene, even if they don’t earn a lot of money with it, or even have to pay for playing at shows and we think we managed to get this right in a way. Bands get a lot of beer and drinks, very good quality warm food (vegan/vegetarian and with meat) and cold food and therefore perform very happily, which in our opinion is definitely something that the audience notices and appreciates. On top of that, we pay out a high percentage of the revenue to the bands, with a little extra for those who put a lot of effort into promoting the event and selling tickets and with everyone’s expenses being covered completely. The event itself plays at the strenght of diversity, without mixing styles too badly and we always try to get some of the “bigger” local heroes or a guest together with brand new bands that more or less fit into one evening with Rest In Fear. The event being a well visited party could be seen as a symbol for the metal scene as a whole, because apart from being sold out quite well every year so far, we get very good responses from visitors and bands alike, fans tend to stay the whole evening and not just look at “their” band and the crowd usually goes wild for whatever band really gets them going without any respect to how famous they are.


El Evil Emperor : What are the major setbacks the ball has, cooperation-wise and funding-wise? And what are your expectations or plans for future editions?

Rest in Fear : Our dream for upcoming versions of the “Ball des Steirischen Schwermetalls” is to reach out more to our southern neighbors who have a very interesting metal scene as well, which unfortunately though is almost unknown to most of the metalheads in Austria, even though it is so close. Setting up the event more internationally would make it more interesting for the underground, since connecting and personal contact to other parts of the scene, especially cross-border, is a lot of fun and is what we think very important in such a small section of music and would also help to get more attention from public institutions and actual funds. This (to answer your question about co-operation between bands) is for sure a big problem, because even though bands work together a lot and people like us who have some experience try to share it with others, what youth culture mostly lacks isn’t ideology and enthusiasm, but actual money that pays for space and promotion and technical equipment - and therefore the basic opportunity to play quality shows. Even though money will buy you great sound (talent or skill being another precondition, of course), a good show will not get you a lot of money or even attention, if you don’t have the means to present it the right way. To give a few artists the chance of changing that every year is what keeps us going with this. 
 

El Evil Emperor : Thank you for your time and your answers. We wish you more glad news to come.

Rest in Fear: Thanks. We're very grateful for the intense research you have done about us and our projects and we see this as a great opportunity for the band. Cheers to you.

 

 

By El Evil Emperor (June  2014)

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EXCLUSIVE: Rest In Fear - "Shallows Deep" - Album Preview unmastered Click Here to listen

 

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