Interview with drummer Max Kolesne
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: June 14, 2019
Brazilian Death Metal institution Krisiun has come a long way since the band originally formed in 1990. They started as a four-piece act but soon became the trio we know today. It's been a challenge for South American bands to make an international breakthrough, but the three brothers in Krisiun—Moyses, Alex and Max—did so with their third album, Conquerors of Armageddon, in 2000. Since those early days, they have built up a loyal and steadily growing fanbase with album after album and many successful world tours.
Krisiun's eleventh studio album, Scourge of the Enthroned, was unleashed on Century Media Records on September 7, 2018 and the guys have been on the road ever since. They arrived in Helsinki, Finland from Tallinn, Estonia, on April 12th in support of Greek symphonic Death Metal emissaries Septic Flesh as part of their Codex Omega European tour. The Metal Crypt took the opportunity to speak with drummer Max Kolesne about their ongoing tour, future touring plans, playing in a Death Metal band in general, what it is like to tour with your brothers and such...
Luxi: First of all, welcome to Finland again, Max!
Max Kolesne: Thanks man!
Luxi: You have been Finland quite a few times, playing with Krisiun. What memories do you have about past shows in Finland? Last time you played in Finland was at this same venue in 2016 when you were supporting Cannibal Corpse, correct?
Max: Exactly! That was a very good show. The house was packed, of course. We were opening for Cannibal Corpse and the crowd was really good for us. We were lucky and it was a really good night for us.
Luxi: What about your other visits to Finland? Have they been as successful as your show with Cannibal Corpse?
Max: It has always been good man. I don't really remember all the shows, but I have good memories from here. It is such a beautiful city, such a nice country. People are nice and as far as I can remember, every show we've done here, it's been good with good crowds. They love death metal, so I think it's a good place for us to play.
Luxi: What are you expecting from your three shows here in Finland?
Max: We'll see man. Hopefully it's going to be good. We are always going to do our best and deliver a brutal, extreme death metal show for the crowds.
Luxi: Are you friends with the guys in Septic Flesh?
Max: Definitely, yes! We toured with Septic Flesh in North America some years ago, so we became really good friends. I think it's a good combination despite the fact that we have a different approach. Krisiun is pure brutal Death Metal and they have a lot of Death Metal elements. I think they're symphonic Death Metal. They have more variation going on and we're more like pure Death Metal but still, it's a great combination.
The other bands have been changing since the beginning of the tour, the support acts, so every week we have different acts. The only band that stayed for the whole month was Diabolical, a very good band. They have their own identity. Yesterday was their last show, so they went their own way...
GETTING BUSY TOURING-WISE
Luxi: Your tour will last until April 28th and then you're going back to Brazil for two more shows. What else will happen for Krisiun touring-wise?
Max: Yes, this tour is going to end on April 29th. We have a festival in Germany on May 4th and then we go back to Brazil. We're going to have three or four shows in Brazil. One show we're going to be playing with... sorry, I'll remember later. Then we're coming back to Europe the end of May and play at a few festivals. We are going to play Dubai in between because we have a break between festivals.
We are working on some dates, possibly in Australia or somewhere else. We're still working on dates. We have a bunch of festivals in June and then in July, we have a small tour in Brazil, and in August, we're coming back to Europe for more festivals.
Luxi: It sounds like you are going to play a lot of club gigs and festivals this year, right?
Max: Yes, we're playing a lot of shows this year. We have one more tour we're not supposed to tell you about because we haven't announced it yet, but we have a tour in North America after the festival season here in Europe.
Luxi: But this yet-to-be-announced tour will happen by the end of the year?
Max: Yes, a little earlier than the end of the year, around October, we'll see...
Luxi: When you are on tour do you write new music, especially on these longer tours?
Max: No, we were going to finish all the touring first. Once we're done with all the tours, we're going to concentrate on writing stuff. We might do a few shows and maybe a small tour, but we need the break and time to focus on writing new songs.
Luxi: Have you ever tried to write stuff while touring?
Max: No, sometimes we may come up with ideas on tour, though. Moyses sometimes comes up with riffs. He is always thinking about riffs. Even when we are doing soundcheck, we're jamming and we have an idea for a song. But to build up a song, we have to go home and build up the structure, the beginning and the middle and the end.
Luxi: Fully concentrate on that process so to speak...
Max: Yes, exactly. We might have a lot of ideas but when we go back home, that's when we put it together. That's when we really build the song.
Luxi: Being on tour can be very exhausting, especially if you do these longer tours. Have you ever had moments when you are like, "damn, I wish this tour would be over, and I would be back home...".
Max: Sure. It looks like we're on the road all the time because we're active band, we never really stop. We always put albums out and we're always touring. We never take a break from that, that's why it seems like we're always touring but we actually have a few breaks here and there. Like we finish a tour, we might have a month back home to just relax, recharge the batteries, get ready for the next one.
This one is really long, 45 days. Usually, we do like 25 or 28 or 30 shows in a row but 45 is a long one.
THE IMPORTANCE OF RECHARGING BATTERIES ON TOURS
Luxi: But you have your "mandatory" days off to make touring more comfortable?
Max: Yes, every Monday on this tour is a day off, every Monday.
Luxi: Recharging your batteries is always important to avoid getting totally burned out.
Max: Yes, it's always important. You've got to have a few days off here and there to recharge the batteries and get ready for the next round.
Luxi: How do you spend these days off? Are you fascinated by visiting different locations where you have a chance to see historical buildings, etc.?
Max: Yes, at the beginning of the tour we went to some of those places. We were in the beautiful city of Bruges in Belgium. I don't know how to pronounce "Bruges". It's beautiful with a lot of canals, medieval buildings and stuff. It's very epic and there were a lot of beautiful things to see so we spent the whole day checking out the place, we had some nice food, whatever. But at this point, I just like to take the day to rest and relax because we're getting close to the end. We still have two and a half weeks left so at this point I like to spend the whole day relaxing and recharging the batteries. Maybe go for a little walk but I don't go too far because we have to rest.
Luxi: It must be cool now that spring has arrived Europe and it's very nice everywhere...
Max: Indeed. It's sunny and beautiful everywhere at the moment...
Luxi: Do you believe that you may take some time off from touring to concentrate on the band's next album next year?
Max: We'll see. Actually, we still have some tours for next year. The agent here in Europe is happy with the band so we're preparing a headlining tour for the next year. It's going to be maybe the beginning of next year and once we're done with that then I think we're going to focus on the new stuff.
"LET'S KEEP IT NATURAL, ORGANIC AND REAL"
Luxi: Scourge of the Enthroned was your eleventh studio album and it was better received than your previous album, Forged in Fury. Did you feel you perhaps lacked some inspiration on the Forged album when you were composing it in 2014-2015 or were you simply exhausted when making it, due to all the intense touring and stuff?
Max: No, I see the Forged in Fury as a different album for Krisiun. I'm not saying it's a bad album, but it doesn't really represent what we are. But we've played brutal Death Metal for more than 25 years. If you check all the other albums, they are pure, there's lots and lots of blast bits and brutality and speed. As musicians, there came a point where we felt like, "Let's do a different album, something different. Let's show some of the roots."
If you're an old metal head and you listen to Forged in Fury, you can tell there's a lot of Black Sabbath, some of the riffs are slowed down, more mid-tempo, whatever. But as I said, the album, in my opinion, doesn't represent what we truly are. We took a little break from the real essence of Krisiun to do something a little bit different, which I think is normal. Then for Scourge of the Enthroned, we came back really inspired and we said let's go back to the roots and let's try to write more brutal, fast, straight forward and short songs, making it sound—
Luxi: The Krisiun way?
Max: Yes, exactly! The Krisiun way. I think that the Scourge album truly represents the essence of Krisiun more than Forged in Fury.
Luxi: You mentioned the slower, Sabbath-esque riffs on Forged in Fury. Do you believe on that album you showed some of Krisiun's "metal roots", the bands that were there in the beginning that inspired you to form Krisiun?
Max: Sure. It's important. With the new one, The Scourge of the Enthroned, you can tell we're going more back to an organic, natural recording. We are going against the new wave of recording, which is very digital and very sterile. Sometimes it's hard for the kids to understand why. They're like, "It sounds different." It's not as fast as this band and that band because it's natural. It's real playing so it's more like when we play live. It sounds the same in the studio and live.
Nowadays, a lot of bands do a lot of fixing stuff in the studio and sometimes it sounds really, really fucking fast, and kids get impressed by that. We're going the opposite way. We said, "let's keep it natural, organic and real."
STAYING BRUTAL AND OLD SCHOOL FOR 30 YEARS
Luxi: 2020 is going to be Krisiun's 30th anniversary. You have had a long career with this band since you started out back in 1990. Do you have anything special for next year regarding the 30th anniversary of the band? Like a headlining tour with a very special set?
Max: Yes, we might do something, I'm not sure. Krisiun started playing together in 1990 but I'd say the REAL Krisiun started in 1992, so maybe in 2022 it would be more like our 30th anniversary. The band started jamming and playing together in 1990 but let's say like the real Krisiun, which is three of us, started playing Death Metal in 1992.
Anyway, yes, we should do something like maybe playing like one album, maybe Black Force Domain or Conquerors of Armageddon, just to celebrate or whatever.
Luxi: Conquerors of Armageddon, your third album released in 2000, was your first album on Century Media and it was quite a monster, really putting Krisiun's name on the map of Death Metal. If you remember those times, how crazy a year was it for the band?
Max: That album was definitely a big step for us. It was very well received and people were like, "check out this band. They play Death Metal but in their own way. They don't sound like the other bands". It helped that we were trying to get our own identity of playing Death Metal just straight forward, less beats, old school riffs and brutal vocals.
When we put out Black Force Domain we were lucky to have support from guys like Lord Ahriman (Dark Funeral) and Trey Azagthoth (Morbid Angel). They heard the album and said things like, "Man, check out this band from Brazil. They played brutal Death Metal, whatever but it's raw, it's savage, it's old school. It's not just Death Metal, it's a mixture of the real old-school spirit like Possessed, Dark Angel, whatever, the old school shit but with the brutality of Death Metal. It's never-ending in speed and chaos and satanic, whatever."
We were lucky that those guys said really good things about us without knowing us as friends. We became friends but back in the day, they wore our shirts and I read an interview with Trey where he was asked, "What have you been listening lately?" and Trey replied, "I checked out this band from Brazil, their first album Black Force Domain is sick." The same with Abbath, he played a concert with our Black Force Domain shirt on back in '95, or '96.
We were lucky that those guys, "the big bosses", were supporting us in the beginning. Apocalyptic Revelation was a good step, but Conquerors of Armageddon was definitely a bigger step for us.
Luxi: Can you name one or two moments from this long journey that make you proud of this band?
Max: Oh, man...!
Luxi: It could be a single tour or some certain chart position with some album or whatever.
Max: Man, it's always a lot of the tours. The first tour, we opened for Morbid Angel which was a dream that came true for us. We have played with so many killer bands like Cannibal Corpse and Kreator, we played big festivals in Europe. It was our dream when we started to be recognized as a real Death Metal band in the scene, not just a band that came and went. When Bill Ward, the drummer of Black Sabbath, mentioned Southern Storm as one of his favorite albums, that was maybe the highest achievement or compliment for us—and he was not just trying to be cool like, "I'm listening to Death Metal. I listen to this album and I understand the riffs, I understand what they're doing. It has a lot of feeling to it."
Luxi: He put lots of weight on his words by saying so...
Max: Yes, that was something really huge for us. It meant a lot to us.
ABOUT TRYING TO SEPARATE FROM THE MASSES
Luxi: I remember when Sepultura made a breakthrough in the worldwide Metal scene in the late eighties/early nineties, it inspired many other Brazilian underground Metal bands to show their claws to the world so to speak. Do you think Krisiun has had a similar impact on new Brazilian underground metal bands, seeing you work your asses off releasing eleven studio albums and a good number of tours?
Max: I honestly believe that we have inspired many other extreme Metal bands coming out from our home country, absolutely! The same way Sepultura inspired us a lot in the beginning. They made us believe that even though we are this band from Brazil and nobody really knows about the Metal scene in Brazil, we can make it, we could prove we can work hard and make it happen. The same way they inspired us, they opened the doors, I think we did the same for the bands that came after us. You show people, you inspire people but no matter what, you have to work hard. Especially for a band from Brazil, you've got to bring something different. If we're just a copy from any European or American band, people don't give a fuck. You've got to bring your own identity. That's very important.
A lot of bands have a shot, they have a chance, but if they don't have something special or different going on, it's going to be hard because there are so many killer bands all over Europe, and so many killer bands in North America. If you come from South America, you've got to have your own identity or whatever. But yes, there's a lot of good bands down there. I'll just say they have to work hard and never give up and go for it, go crazy.
Luxi: Do you see it as an advantage for Brazilian underground bands to let people know they come from Brazil? When one mentions the Brazilian (underground) Metal scene by name, people almost immediately come up with such names as Sepultura and Krisiun and know exactly what these bands stand for, quality-wise?
Max: Yes, I think so. As I said, if you bring something special and something of your very own to the table, that's a helpful thing. The same thing happened with Sepultura when they released the Schizophrenia album, for example. It was different from other Thrash Metal bands because they're maybe a little more savage and raw, as we were when we started and still are. If you listen to Krisiun, we're still raw and we're still savage. We never go in any clean, or perfect, or whatever direction musically. We skip all that.
I think it's a characteristic that we have in Brazil. If you keep that, it can help you. As I said, don't try to sound exactly as the bands from here or anywhere else. Keep your roots. If you're from Brazil and you do good music, whatever, have your own thing going on and you keep this more savage and raw style, it might help you.
Like Sarcófago or old Sepultura, old Vulcano, Dorsal Atlântica and us, one thing that set us apart is you can tell all these bands have their own thing going on. The same thing when you listen to German Thrash Metal or American Death Metal or Floridian Death Metal or Scandinavian Black Metal, whatever, they all have this identity, this characteristic thing. I think the South American or Brazilian style, we have this natural raw and savage approach.
Luxi: Do you think the Death Metal scene is perhaps a bit oversaturated these days or is it as great as ever, like in the first half of the nineties when it was blooming with bands like Morbid Angel, Entombed, Deicide, Malevolent Creation, Pestilence, Morgoth and so on?
Max: It's hard to say. There's a lot of things going on. Honestly, I think a lot of the bands, especially in Death Metal, they want to play so technical, so fast, so tight that sometimes they lose the feeling and the vibe. To me, it's very important to keep that. I don't care how many notes or how technical or how many riffs are played in a song. I want to remember it has to be aggressive, brutal and fast, whatever, but the vibe is the most important thing. Sometimes I feel a lot of bands, they're missing the point. That's my personal opinion. I'm not saying it's a bad or a good thing. I like the bands that keep the vibe and the real spirit of playing Death Metal.
Of course, there is a place for everybody. It's interesting to see how crazy those bands can play or how different you can be. You know how it is? The trends in the scene are always ups and downs. In my opinion, the real spirit of Death Metal and Metal in general, it's always the one that's going to survive, and all the trends are going to vanish, sooner or later.
DEATH METAL IS MY ASYLUM
Luxi: If we get a bit philosophical with my next question, when you make music for Krisiun, do you find that good therapy? We all know the world we live in is a very cruel and dying place. I guess it's a good escape from reality when you have a chance to make music and relieve your own agony through it, right?
Max: Exactly! It's an escape for me. I can put all my energy and everything I have in to it. I think everybody should escape from reality from time to time because as you said, the world is fucked up. There are good things and good people living here, but the ones that control, the ones that own this shit, they're vile, they don't care. They just care about power and themselves. We don't own shit here, unfortunately.
We have to try to make the best out of the life we have and try not to worry so much. Everybody should have an escape. Metal or sports or whatever, we've got to have an escape because this world we're born into is a fucked-up world. Since ancient times, there's so much hypocrisy and shit happening. We're lucky. Even us in Brazil, even though it's still a country that we have many problems like, poverty, a lot of corruption, a lot of bullshit, but still, we are free. We have Metal shows, we still can drink and do things, whatever. We're free. Well, maybe not 100% free but we still have our little freedom.
Luxi: We kind of have all these different alternatives to be free, or at least to feel to be free...
Max: Yes. Imagine those countries where you're not allowed to do anything. Even in some countries, people are not allowed to be gay [*chuckles*]. Like, what the fuck?
Luxi: In some countries, if you play in a Metal band, and perform publicly, you may get your head chopped off.
Max: Exactly. How come, man?
Luxi: It's just crazy.
Max: Indeed, it's crazy. What the hell, man. There's so much bullshit happening these days.
ABOUT THE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF THE DIGITAL ERA OF MUSIC
Luxi: Back to a lighter topic. The digital era has made music easily available nowadays, which partly is a nice thing, but it also has its downsides. Record sales have dropped, many people have stopped going to concerts because they can watch their favorite bands on YouTube (or related channels), lying comfortably on their sofas while eating a delicious and fatty food and having some sweet drinks.
Max: As I said, there are bad and good sides. I think one bad side is that some people are getting lazy and spoiled because they have access to everything they want. They can see videos, they can check music all the time. They think they have thousands of friends on the Internet, but they only have one real friend. In the past, it used to be different because if you want to have friends, if you want to have a good time, you had to go out, have to go to the shows and meet people and talk to people. That was real life in my opinion.
I'm not saying that it's wrong what people choose to do. The Internet, digital era has a lot of information. There's the good side to it, too. People sometimes, they have to turn off the computer and go out to the shows and see friends, have real friends, and live life more—the outdoors life. As for sales, yes, of course, there's a big difference. For us, it's not a huge difference because we've never been this big band that used to sell a million records. It's a little bit different.
The fans we have are very loyal. Luckily, we have loyal fans. They always make sure they're going to buy the CD and buy our merch. That's one thing that we can count on from our real fans. Maybe not your regular everyday metal head who knows Krisiun but is not a huge fan, maybe he/she is not going to buy our stuff, whatever, but I know that the real fans do.
The other good side of it is that nowadays, if I have a band, I have to tour, man. You have to go, you have to play live and have to show your music constantly. You cannot stop. I mean you can stop, whatever, but it's more demanding. The bands have to work harder now. In the past, some bands, they would sell hundreds of thousands of records and they would spend four years not touring, whatever, because they were getting a lot of money from record sales. Everybody has to play live, tour and show the real music live. If you want to be a professional band, you have to tour, you have to play live. You have to adapt yourself to the new era.
Luxi: You are the youngest in the band. Have your brothers told you that little brothers should always listen to their big brothers and do what they tell you to do? Do you have this type of a "brother hierarchy" in the band?
Max: No, [*chuckles*] it doesn't go like that. There's no boss in the band. We're three bosses in the band.
Luxi: So, it's been easy for you to be this youngest brother in the band?
Max: I have to impose myself at certain points as I am the youngest. The youngest one always follows the steps of the older ones, but we all work together as a team. There's no boss, nobody telling you have to do this or that. No, it doesn't go like that at all.
ABOUT BECOMING A DRUMMER IN THE BAND
Luxi: How did you end up playing the drums in Krisiun in the very first place?
Max: It was a crazy story because Alex, he had this band in a small city in the south of Brazil, the place where we grew up. It was just some guys from school and they had this band. They used to play some very simple, basic metal or rock. Alex was the drummer because they needed a drummer and Alex say, "I can play drums," whatever. Then he learned how to pay the AC/DC beat, simple stuff, and then they had the band going on. Then Moyses, right after that, he was like, "Man, that shit's great. I want to play guitar," or whatever, then he learned also.
I was always the kid around. I was the big fan. I was watching the rehearsals. I never thought that I could play anything. I was just like this little monkey running and breaking stuff. For some reason, one day, I sit down the drums it was just mimicking and playing and they were like, "Hey, man. I think this kid has the potential to be a drummer". I learned the basic and then for some reason, I went crazy with that. Every day, I was learning more and I was a natural. Alex already knew how to play bass and after a few months he thought, "Maybe we should make a band. Max drums, Moyses guitar, and I can play the bass." That's how it started. I never thought that I could play anything, but then they told me, "Yes, I think you have a potential to be a drummer." When they said that, I was just totally into it.
Luxi: Learning to play them properly enough.
Max: Yes, exactly. I was just a fanatic, obsessed. Not just by playing drums but Metal. In the beginning I was only learning how to play drums properly, playing AC/DC. Iron Maiden was so complicated, all the jazzy stuff they did back in the day, I thought that was impossible, and I was always looking for information. I had no internet, nothing. I had to talk to the older guys, "How do you play that?" This guy told me one day, "Yes, you can learn the perdidos, rudiments, whatever, then maybe you can play Iron Maiden, but it's very hard," then was like, "Aargh...!", every day. And then, Slayer, Sepultura, Metallica with the double bass, shit was like, "Man, this is crazy." Then I was going for it.
Once you get obsessed with something, nothing can stop you. The same for the other guys. Moyses was always practicing and learning, Alex, the same. Actually, we had a singer in the beginning. We were four guys. Alex was just playing bass. But the singer was a lazy ass motherfucker. He never showed up to the rehearsals and Alex was doing the vocal lines and writing the lyrics for the guy to sing. This guy, he wanted to sing in a clean, more Heavy Metal voice.
When Alex was doing the vocal lines, he was already singing with his voice, more aggressive, more thrashy. Then we were like, "Man, I think that's the right voice for Krisiun, not this guy trying to sing Iron Maiden or whatever." I love Heavy Metal, but we were trying to do something different, more aggressive, more brutal. We fired the guy and Alex took over the vocals and bass. That's why I told you that the real Krisiun started in 1992, that's the year we started getting more and more aggressive and more into the brutal stuff.
We were kind of lost and still looking for our own characteristic and brutal style. We were pushing and pushing. I was always pushing, "let's play a little bit faster and faster and faster." The guy, his vocal was too melodic. We told him, "the way Alex sings is much better, is much more brutal and more aggressive," and then we fired the guy. That's how the real Krisiun started.
Luxi: Many extreme Metal fans consider you one of the greatest Metal drummers nowadays because they really seem to appreciate you what you are doing behind the drum kit.
Max: Thank you, man! Appreciate it.
Luxi: Are you are still doing drum clinics when you have time?
Max: Yes, I do, once in a while, sometimes.
Luxi: It's really telling something about your dedication to play drums, and how enthusiastic you still are to play them, after all these years.
Max: Definitely, man.
Luxi: You have indeed come such a long way from the early days of the band.
Max: Yes, it's been a long way, man, yes. The passion is still the same. Once we start playing the show, we give 100%. It's the same fun and the same dedication for Death Metal.
Luxi: Yes, I think that was all. I want to let you go to eat something before your gig. Thank you very much and all the best for tonight's show, Max.
Max: Thank you brother. Yes, my pleasure. You think you could join us a beer or something after the show?
Luxi: Sure, why not!
|Other information about Krisiun on this site|
|Review: Ageless Venomous|
|Review: Conquerors Of Armageddon|
|Review: Black Force Domain|
|Review: Works Of Carnage|
|Review: Southern Storm|
|Review: Live Armageddon|
|Review: Forged in Fury|
|Review: Forged in Fury|
|Review: Scourge of the Enthroned|
|Review: Mortem Solis|
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