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Keitzer
Since 2001’s …to Destroy the Planet, Keitzer has been destroying listener’s senses with truly brutal Death Metal and Grindcore. Now the group unleashes what roughly fourteen years of activity have all built towards with their fifth album, The Last Defence. With the new effort available, I got the change to shoot some questions over to bassist Simon Venig about the release, tour dates, and even his label 7Degrees Records.

How is everything going on your end? Hopefully everything is well for you and the others in Keitzer.

Simon:
We’re great within these days. Pretty stoked about the first reactions to the new album, which are really overwhelming so far…

First of all, I know that Nicolai Hinse joined you guys sometime in 2007 on guitars. How has his growth within the group been after two albums with you guys (three if he played on As the World Burns), or do you feel that everyone in the band is still maturing and it’s hard to gauge his level against everyone else?

Simon:
He fit in perfectly from the start. He played in a grind band with Chris and Tim that existed even before Keitzer, called “Androphagous”. That made it quite easy to work him into the band. We’re all pretty much on the same musical level, so we don’t really need to keep up with the others. That doesn’t mean that we’re all still maturing and getting better over the time…

What was the writing process like for The Last Defence? With this being the band’s fifth full-length album, has it become easier to write new material, or have all these years left Keitzer with an urge to experiment with their direction?

Simon:
No, it wasn’t really different from the songwriting for the older records. It may have felt easier because on some rehearsals, as far as I remember, we just tossed the songs out of our instruments, but we don’t really need to experiment with our direction, the writing process developed quite natural, so as our musical direction. It’s possible that we became more confident of ourselves, as well as we became better musicians that we were able to put in some novelties here and there…

This is your second album through F.D.A. Rekotz. Is this a multi-release deal, or did you have to re-sign with them after 2011’s Descend into Heresy?

Simon:
To be exact, it’s the 3rd FDA release, as they re-released the “As the World Burns” CD. We had to re-sign with them. Before we asked them for the new Album, we decided to have the album recorded first on our own, so we wouldn’t have any pressure concerning deadlines etc. Rico, who runs FDA and who has become a good pal after all these years, immediately offered us a deal after he listened to the Masters we sent him. He’s an honest guy and offered a really fair deal so we had no other choice than sign the contract. We all come from a more DIY oriented scene, so for us it’s quite normal to sign from record to record…

The press release compares you to Misery Index, Marduk and early Deicide, but that’s a rather broad list. Did those bands happen to influence the material on The Last Defence, and are there any other groups or albums that you or the others were listening to at the time of composing this release?

Simon:
In a certain way they surely influenced us. But I don’t think explicitly the “The Last Defence”’s Material. It’s really hard to say what bands we were listening to during the composing process as it took about 3-4 years. I’d say all the great records that came out during that period besides all the classics that accompany our lives. The problem I see with comparisons like this in PRs is that they mostly just affect the reality on it’s outer limits, and also may leave the listener with wrong expectations. I know why those bands are mentioned, but I see us from a slightly different perspective, though…

Keitzer did a music video for the song “This is the Only Solution” with live footage and shots of the album’s artwork. Where and when was the live footage shot and (if actually at a live show you played) did the production crew alter how you or the fans there reacted?

Simon:
The live footage was shot and edited by Zoe Dahmen with a handy cam at the “Grind the Nazi Scum”-Festival on June 20th 2014. She simply filmed us playing the show, nothing was altered.

The Last Defence was recorded, mixed and mastered at Soundlodge Studio with Jorg Uken. What made you choose to have all that done there? Had you worked with Jorg in the past?

Simon:
We recorded there for the first time and haven’t made up our minds who should master it or anything. We like the work that he’s done so far. As his normal procedure seems to keep it all in one hand, and he offered us to do the same, we trusted him to the fullest and didn’t even have to think about another solution. I think the outcome speaks for itself.

Keitzer also recruited Florian Furtkamp to handle the artwork. How did this come about? Also does the undead knights of the crusades (or so I assume them to be) fit in with The Last Defence as a whole, or perhaps only built off the song “Crusades”?

Simon:
Florian is a buddy of our singer Chris so it was mainly him who proposed to work with Flo. He’s normally doing more comic/manga styled artworks, but his works convinced the rest of us and we tried him. And the result of the cover and the other artwork turned out really amazing, exactly as we expected it.

The cover represents the whole album. It’s not a concept album like a cohesive story or sth., but it deals with the madness and consequences of wars and war itself from a more medieval, crusade era point of view.

I know you own 7 Degrees Records. Does this endeavour at all impact the functionality of Keitzer as a unit, or does it end up a benefit for the band in the long run?

Simon:
It has no impact on us as a unit really. At first I benefited from the band, as we were already known and as I started the label with 2 Keitzer releases, it eased my way into the label work and I could revert on the contacts we made during the 8 years before. Now, as the label grows and I made a lot of contacts with lots of international labels and bands, we can sometimes benefit from those as a band. It’s just positive both ways I guess.

What do you usually look for in a band that ends up having something released through 7 Degrees Records?

Simon:
I must really love what I hear. It’s good when the music kicks my ass in some way. Demos, that keep spinning in my CD or MP3 player have a good chance. Even better is when I know the people behind the bands personally and appreciate them can make the decision to spend my hard earned money much easier. Sometime it’s me approaching the bands when their stuff is just awesome and i’d like them in my roster…

The Last Defence is also being released through 7Degrees Records on August 15th, and I see EveryDayeHate and IFB Rcords mentioned on the Facebook wall. How are those other labels involved with that release instead of F.D.A. Rekotz?

Simon:
FDA decided to release it very short term, so they offered us The CD release, as there was no scheduled budget for the Vinyl release as well. So I decided to release it via 7 Degrees, as I do vinyl-only releases anyway. I asked Andy from EveryDayHate amongst others to join in on the project as EDH is moving more in the classic grind scene and IFB, who is based I the US DIY HC scene was interested to release it over there. I know and appreciate these guys personally, so it’s a friendship-based cooperation…

Unless I missed them, I don’t see any live dates listed. Will Keitzer be hitting the road or playing any festivals you would like to mention? Also, what are the chances of the band travelling overseas for a small tour, maybe coming here to North America?

Simon:
Yet there are not many shows booked. The next confirmed show is the Grind Feast in Arnhem, NL on 11/22 With Mumakil, Blood I Bleed etc. Others are not confirmed. As we’re all pretty much bound to our jobs and family life it’s always hard to book tours longer than a weekend. Chances are existent to cross the pond but right now, seem to be rather small, though.

So what’s next for Keitzer? Are there any further plans to promote The Last Defence, or are you all waiting to see how well accepted the album is before making or announcing anything more?

Simon:
Well, we’ll see how the reactions will develop, as we think that the so far really overwhelmingly positive response will open a few more gates such as more interviews, show-requests, features in mags etc. We’ll probably do a release show in our hometown when the LP is out as well. Then we’ll see, what there will be to announce…

Thank you for your time! I really appreciate it. Take care, and all the best with The Last Defence!

Simon:
Thank you for your interest and supporting!

Keitzer: Conjuring the Dead
Keitzer
Interview conducted thanks to Clawhammer PR.