Interview with guitarist Kode
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: June 12, 2015
Finland's Thrash Metal merchants Forced Kill have kept their wheels rolling in the name of old school Thrash Metal since 2008. Not only they have become known for their violent and frenzied Thrash but also for their intense and highly energized live shows that are second to none. They are, hands down, among the most promising Finnish Thrash Metal forces these days and cause quite a fuss whenever something new comes out of their camp.
It's been relatively quiet on the Forced Kill front lately so The Metal Crypt decided to check-in with them and guitarist Kode was willing to provide some answers...
Luxi: What's the latest news from the Forced Kill camp?
Kode: We're about to withdraw to the shadows once again to continue the never-ending song writing process. There's going to be a break from live activities due to Markus (drums) being busy with his other bands. Another reason is that we've exhausted our set list. Again. I have 7-8 songs in the works but everything's on hold. Again. We have a split release in the pipeline but no idea when it'll be out. We have one new song on it, which we recorded during the Hard Death 7" sessions last year.
Luxi: What does your band name have to do with Necromancer, the defunct yet legendary Finnish Thrash Metal force from the 80's?
Kode: The similarity to their track "Enforced to Kill" is pure coincidence, if that's what you were suggesting. I haven't even heard that song myself! Antti (guitar) was the one who came up with the name and the point behind it was, if I remember correctly, to support the loose idea of writing "coercive" riffs! Kill or be killed! p.s. Someone re-release the Necromancer stuff immediately!
Luxi: Simple question, how did you find out about old school Thrash Metal in the first place and what makes it so fascinating for all of you in the band? I mean, when such albums like Hell Awaits, Pleasure to Kill, Infernal Overkill, Eternal Nightmare, Forward to Termination, etc. were originally released, none of you were even born...
Kode: I truly "got" Thrash as a teenager, around 2003 or 2004 when I was 13/14 years of age. I had of course heard of bands like Slayer way before (without proper exposure though) and in the late 90's my first Metal CD ever was Metallica's Garage Inc. (a pirated Estonian copy without a proper booklet, leaving me clueless about the fact that it was actually a cover album, ha ha!!). Thrash as such didn't really interest me until my early teen years when my taste slowly started to take a proper form. From the beginning it was always the speed and energy of Thrash that I craved. It struck me. Early on I was constantly on the hunt for the most ferocious bands I could find. And hey, the eldest among us were born during the years when the aforementioned Vio-lence and Sacrifice albums were released, but that doesn't really make a difference, does it?
Luxi: What amazes me about Forced Kill is how well you understand what old school Thrash Metal should sound like. Forced Kill's stuff sounds like it was created back in the mid 80's. What's your secret?
Kode: There's no secret, just the vision of how something should be done, then hard work. Countless hours of listening to not only Metal, but music in general, is of course a key factor here. We don't really jump the gun either. Writing these songs takes gargantuan amounts of time, of which most hours are often seemingly in vain especially with the upcoming stuff which has proven to be a real pain to get finished. Currently my requirements and criteria for new songs are at all-time highs. The more I compose the more I demand from myself it seems. I have to challenge myself over and over again to make it worthwhile regardless of if it's something simple or complex. With any new stuff I feel like I have to make a difference on a personal level before I can bring it to others. This applies to complete, finished songs. So yeah, we don't work together not even with Antti. Lately, I've become rather pessimistic about this whole process and about the entire band actually. Frustration accumulates. I can't stop though.
Luxi: Are there specific things about Forced Kill that make you proud of your own band? I guess you can never underestimate the unspoken chemistry that you have between members of the band, can you?
Kode: I like what we do. I'm proud of what we've achieved together so far. I don't know, "proud" maybe isn't the right word for this.
Luxi: When Forced Kill enters the studio to record their next outing, how much fine-tuning of new stuff will be done beforehand?
Kode: We would never even consider booking a studio if we didn't have everything rehearsed at least to some extent. "Living" elements like guitar solos, drum fills and shrieks aside, the songs are always thought out and arranged well before recording.
Luxi: What are some of those most important and vital aspects of a song that need to be there to get 100% approval in the Forced Kill camp?
Kode: It's that "certain something", the x-factor. It's not bound to attributes such as tempo, structure or complexity; it's deeper. I can't put it into words really. Luckily, approval has never been an issue within the band. Antti has only turned down one of my songs during the history of the band and in hindsight I'm glad he did.
Luxi: There's been some debate going on about 80s Thrash and modern "retro" Thrash with some saying retro-Thrash tends to suck because kids are just jumping on the Thrash Metal bandwagon and bla-bla-blah. At the end of the day, isn't good Thrash always good Thrash, regardless of whether it was made during the heyday of Thrash or 20 years later?
Kode: Time is irrelevant. The current oversupply of mediocrity aside, there's indeed some seriously good Thrash that's been made in recent years and it would be quite stupid to ignore it just because it wasn't made in a certain era. Taste can be a complicated thing of course with heavy aesthetic qualities weighing in for some but if someone wants to limit his/her listening to just a particular year of release and live a nostalgia trip, it's their loss. I suppose I can respect that and I understand if some, ehh, "senior" maniacs might be a bit burned out after decades of thrashing and would rather stick to the classics but I'd still recommend everyone try things without prejudice.
Luxi: Speed and Thrash Metal here in Finland has been getting an extra boost in the past 5 or 6 years and, what's even better, this phenomenon hasn't been totally ignored by labels or media. What do you think is the reason for the enormous popularity of Speed and Thrash Metal among the new generation of Metal kids here in Finland?
Kode: I'm not really up to date with this phenomenon anymore. When MySpace was still the hottest thing it was really easy to find an endless stream of bands playing Thrash. That's where we started, in the midst of it all. Nowadays there isn't an outlet where you can browse similar bands easily so it's harder to form the big picture. I have been under the impression that the biggest Thrash-craze was over. I don't really care anymore. I used to be very passionate about this subject during those "early" days but nowadays I get a bigger kick out of the fact that I kind of feel like operating outside of it all. That's how estranged I have become with my lonesome song-writing, ha ha...!!
Luxi: Record companies seem to jump on all these musical trends by signing bands that are popular among the fans and creating hype around them. Do you hope Speed/Thrash Metal achieves mass acceptance or should it remain the property of die-hard followers only?
Kode: Mass acceptance and huge success hardly matters to me. It's not like if this phenomenon gets blown out of proportion that it would somehow spoil the genre for me. The biggest new and "get-to-the-top"-oriented Thrash bands these days usually have very strong modern traits in their songwriting and overall sound (clinical!), often accompanied with some more or less tongue-in-cheek type of themes and shit (this seems to be a rule for many). These factors probably make them desirable and more accessible to the bigger crowds. So it's a very different game but on the same field. My point is that the Thrash that in vogue right now most likely has very little to do with what I personally perceive as "real" (and even all the "real" stuff isn't necessarily meaningful to me). There have also been some actual killer bands that have been making their way up successfully so that's no reason in itself to bash anyone but most of the time the closer you get to "the top" there less there is worth listening to. I say this with not a trace of elitism nor do I want to sound like some self-important schmuck in any way. It's a matter of taste and preference after all. Trends come and go and a lot of bands will move on to the next big thing or just drop out once the "big bang" is over. So much for mass acceptance at that point, huh? I don't think that's anything new or worth pondering too much.
Luxi: Do you see the downside as being when labels start cashing in on popular musical phenomena and lots of average or shitty bands get signed and dollar signs are all that matters?
Kode: Average and shitty bands are the ultimate downside, hah! I don't think there's too much money involved, at least not for the bands. Luckily, it's easy to just ignore bad bands and labels. Then again, there's always the possibility that these kinds of phenomenon may spark a genuine interest in a younger generation who then dig deeper and find the real deal eventually. I want to believe!
Luxi: Forced Kill's first official release, a 2-song EP titled Hard Death, came out on Svart Records at the end of October 2014. How pleased were you with Svart and do you see any further cooperation between them and Forced Kill?
Kode: Nothing to complain about! We were stoked to have the single (not an EP!) out on Svart. I've been buying their stuff ever since they started so it was cool to become a part of their roster. I actually don't have any idea how the 7" has been selling but I hope they'd be interested in working with us in the future.
Luxi: The small Danish label Deadbangers released Forced Kill's first two demos as a limited edition cassette in September 2012. How did they get interested in Forced Kill and end up releasing this compilation called Armed to the Death?
Kode: In 2011 Deadbangers contacted us to get our demo tapes in stock. While we were negotiating I asked if they'd be interested in doing some sort of a re-release of our stuff at some point. Cheers to Ole if you're reading this!
Luxi: What are some of the criteria that you'd expect a label to meet before Forced Kill would rush to sign a contract? Obviously signing a contract with a label does not necessarily guarantee the moon, as you know.
Kode: No moon, just overall quality on everything. No shenanigans on the business side. Fuck that side anyway.
Luxi: When people come to see the band live are there some promises that you make regarding Forced Kill's frenzied Thrash battles on stage and what they can expect to witness?
Kode: Right now, in the wake of our latest gigs, I'm eager to say that the one enduring attribute of ours is chaos and we've just had to accept it, given that we are a band that rehearses more rarely than plays live. After gigs we always joke around with Antti saying that we probably make the influence of bands such as Holocausto and Chakal on us pretty obvious, ha ha!! Markus has been sporting his Armagedon shirt quite frequently too as of late, hmm...
Luxi: How important is playing gigs?
Kode: Well, I think gigging is essentially very much about getting your band out there, supporting the very existence of the band in the public eye. We don't really gig that often so for me it's just a nice extra. Right now I'm sick of it though since I think we've O.D.'d on playing our old material.
Luxi: Forced Kill has played a respectable number of gigs around Finland but what about outside the borders of your home country? Have you gotten any offers to come and shake the ground outside of Finland?
Kode: We visited Russia in 2011 for two dates. I'd love to do a longer tour somewhere in Europe when the time is right. The USA and Japan would be cool too but I reeeally don't see that happening.
Luxi: Are you against or for reunions of once disbanded Speed and Thrash Metal bands? This is a hot topic that has provoked all kinds of comments/opinions.
Kode: Usually I don't care for such reunions. Although right now I'm warily waiting to see what's coming from the reformed Dark Angel. Their show last year at Oulu was something I just had to see. I enjoyed it immensely despite the fact that they didn't play as fast as I had hoped for, ha ha! I think they easily could have but were just playing it safe after so many years.
Luxi: Could there perhaps be a reunion of an old Speed/Thrash Metal band that you'd still like to witness some day?
Kode: I'm not against them but there isn't one that I'd be too interested to see. Many bands have that magic in their past works which I simply think cannot be matched after so many years of being out of the business. Razor is playing dates in Europe this year and it would be cool to see them. Had Holy Terror come somewhere near (Europe) before Keith Deen passed away I would've probably gone the extra mile to be there. I'm hoping for the best for the newly reformed Sacrilege, too.
Luxi: When looking into the distant future what kind of things do you see happening for Forced Kill?
Kode: It's all a haze. I hope we manage to get the LP done in the not too distant future. After that it's even hazier.
Luxi: Glad you made it this far. Thank you so much for your time and all the best with your future endeavors with the band. Feel free to throw out some last words to conclude this chat properly.
Kode: Thanks Luxi!
|Other information about Forced Kill on this site|
|Review: Hard Death|
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