Interview with vocalist Mahmood and guitarist Dominik Rothe
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: January 31, 2021
German Thrashers Cerebral Invasion, formed in 2019, are one of the newer Thrash bands riding the wave of retro-Thrash Metal that's been going on for the past several years and shows no signs of ending any time soon.
The Metal Crypt found the band completely by accident while surfing the bottomless music library of YouTube. We were sold, so much so that we contacted them to ask about the birth of the band, how things have been going during these restrictive times, what's on their strategy map for conquering the world, etc. The band's vocalist Mahmood and guitarist Dominik Rothe stepped up to answer our questions...
What's up, guys? Do have many restrictions in Bochum, Germany, due to Covid-19?
Dominik: Yes, the restrictions are pretty strong, which affects us as a band. We are trying to make the best out of the situation.
Mahmood: Yes, it is a very hard situation that has affected every aspect of our lives including the band and our ability to work freely on our music as we planned. But we have to adjust to this and to focus on our goals.
THE INVASION STARTS...
How did Cerebral Invasion come into being and was it easy to find like-minded guys who all shared a common musical vision?
Mahmood: I created this band as a way to express my anger and frustration with this fucked up world. I went through a lot hardship and disappointment in my life, which led me to see this world in a very negative way and I almost reached the point of no return. I needed a way to release all of this anger that had built up inside me toward everything and everyone and so I started writing the thoughts down and screaming them out as a last resort to deal with the situation I was in. That led me to founding this band; an angry scream cursing this fucked up world.
I have known Stefan for years and I have had this idea for a band for a long time, but the timing was never right. In 2019, I met our former bassist Simon at a festival and we shared the same passion about music and a similar view of this world. He offered to be the bassist for the band and he brought our former drummer Freddy with him. Then, I met Dominik, who is a friend of Stefan's and whom I have known from his other band. I have always admired his music and I decided he would be in the band before I even spoke with him about it and somehow he agreed after Stefan told him about my decision. After we finished working on our EP, Simon and Freddy decided to leave the band to focus on their other projects and now we have two new members, Oli and Kilian, who share our passion for music and our view of this world.
Dominik: I have to say, when Stefan told me Mahmood decided that I should be in the band before even talking to me, that immediately gave me the feeling that this guy knows what he wants. And that's exactly the kind of attitude you need to bring a band forward.
Are you hoping the EP will get the word out about the band and perhaps interest some labels? What was it like to make the EP?
Mahmood: The main idea of this EP, and any other album we will make in the future, is to reflect the state of mind that we have while creating the music and the message we want to spread. This EP is the first angry scream that will introduce our ideas about this fucked up world. The making of the EP was an amazing experience for me. This band was a dream of mine for a long time and when I decided to make music, I wanted to make the first EP with my own hands and without help from anyone. Of course, we are open for any labels that are interested but our main target is to spread our message and, as I have said before, making music has been my last resort to not losing my mind.
Do you have certain roles within the band as far as your songwriting is concerned or does each person support the band's songwriting process equally?
Mahmood: We are a team trying to deliver our message. I have the main idea of how a song should go depending on the lyrics I write. Then, Stefan and Dominik turn this idea into music that we all agree on. Actually, three songs on the EP were written in the rehearsal room with us just jamming together.
We wanted to show the world what we are able to do musically. That is why each song is kind of different and made in a way that fits the main idea of the song. And, of course, the background of each musician played a big role in this. As I said, each brought something to the table during the process of writing the music, so you will have elements of Death in my voice, Thrash in a technical and brutal way in our music coming from Dominik and Stefan.
DIVERSITY IN MUSIC IS IMPORTANT
Are there certain things in the band's songwriting process that you always want to pay extra attention to, be it a catchy chorus, striking riffs, synchronization of the guitars, etc.?
Dominik: When Stefan and I meet to write new tunes, we always have in mind what Mahmood wants so that the music fits his lyrics. If the lyrics need a brutal, fast song, we write one like that. If the lyrics demand a more versatile song, we write one like that. Other than that, we don't have any musical boundaries, which you can already hear on the EP, I think. Of course, it all has to be Thrash Metal in a way. But if a classic Heavy Metal riff or a catchy guitar melody comes to our minds and it fits the song, then why not use it? More diversity in the music keeps it exciting in the long run. So we definitely have a clear vision while writing the music, but we don't force the music into any sort of box.
SHOVING ANGER INTO PEOPLES' FACES
The band seems to be very socially aware of things that have been going on in our rotten world for decades. How important are your lyrics? Are they equally as important as the music?
Mahmood: I do not have this narrow way of looking at music. A song is the result of different elements that complement each other. The music is written according to the message the lyrics want to spread, so if you are looking for music without substance you won't find this in Cerebral Invasion. And since each song represents a different message, I wanted to deliver this in every way possible through music, lyrics, and visually.
I worked with the amazing Maurice Mosqua of Calvariam Design to create artwork that can tell the story of each song and that will give the audience a complete interpretation of the image I had in mind when I wrote the lyrics. All the lyrics that I wrote are based on my experiences and the way I see this fucking world through my anger. Sometimes you must scream to be heard.
I wanted to share my view of different aspects of this world, so I wrote about my personal struggles and frustrations, about how I see this world and the people in it, what I think of society and how people are being controlled and manipulated. I expressed my desire for revenge against those who stole our freedom. The lyrics might be dark and the song titles might be harsh, but this was my intention. We are a Thrash band and we want to shove our anger into peoples' faces through our music. This is our way of seeing the world and it represents our reality. I do not expect everyone to agree with us. Every person has their own way of seeing the world depending on their beliefs and experiences. Our music represents our truth.
When you guys gather for rehearsal, how would you describe it?
Mahmood: We are definitely trying to perfect our act and, sadly, since there are no concerts at the moment the only way to have the feeling of playing live is through rehearsals. We do take this seriously and we are trying to work on our songs as much as possible. We do have a balance, though. We can have fun and still focus on our goals.
Stefan (Absorber) and Dominik are the axe masters in the band. Which of you is more of a rhythm guitarist and who takes care of all soloing work?
Dominik: The great thing about the musical relationship between Stefan and me is that we treat each other as equals. Personally, I see myself more as a rhythm player and the guy for the riffs. But in Cerebral Invasion, Stefan and I split the solos 50-50 most of the time and when writing the music, we just throw around all our ideas and, in the end, agree on something we both feel works well.
As this band is still relatively new and many people are still unaware of the band's existence, which albums would you give as references so they get an idea of what Cerebral Invasion is all about musically?
Mahmood: This is a hard question because we are trying to create our own sound. But I would say Rust in Peace by Megadeth, The Formation of Damnation by Testament and the early Slayer albums.
Dominik: Tough question. But for me that would be Rust in Peace by Megadeth, Testament's The Legacy and Slayer's classic Reign in Blood.
Cerebral Invasion isn't the only band that you, Dominik, are a member of. You also play in another Thrash Metal band named Taskforce Toxicator. How do you split time between these bands? Is one of them your first priority or are they equally important?
Dominik: The time management isn't that much of a problem. I devote almost all of my free time to music and therefore I can contribute what is needed to both bands. I enjoy being in both bands a lot because I have different roles in them.
Even though your EP has only been out a short while, it's been gaining lots of positive feedback from media and fans. How thrilled have you been about all this positive feedback?
Mahmood: The reactions and the support that we have gotten so far have been unbelievable. It is a great feeling to see the result of your hard work being appreciated. Many people are frustrated with how things are going and how cruel so-called society is, and they are able to relate to our anger and the way we see this fucking world. We poured our hearts and souls into this EP and we tried to represent our reality and I think the people sense that we are real and I promise we will always stay real and true to our message.
NEW MATERIAL COMING UP
Besides the songs on your EP, how much material do you have ready for a full-length? When can we expect you guys to enter the studio again?
Mahmood: We are working on our first album. Six songs have already been written and I have written the lyrics for the rest of the songs. The album will be released in 2021 and include nine songs in total. The album will continue on the same path as the EP but with more aggression. We have songs that will speak about the situation we are living in and the problems we see in this fucked up world. Some songs will be about my personal demons I face in my life on a daily basis. Overall, the album will be another angry scream towards everything.
Dominik: Stefan and I are constantly working on new music. We are confident that the new material will not only be as good as the EP, but even better. Like Mahmood said, the album will have more aggression, but also more technicality and just more of everything that makes Thrash Metal awesome.
PLACES TO GO
Do you have some cool venues in Bochum that arrange events for underground Metal bands or are most of your clubs ridden with Techno/Hip-Hop acts?
Dominik: For my part, I can recommend Die Trompete and Rockpalast. Die Trompete is good for underground acts. For example, Pripjat from Cologne are planning to play there next year. Rockpalast is a bit bigger, but still an option, if you want to do something with more underground like bands. But I'm sure Mahmood has even more in mind, since he has been living in Bochum way longer than I have, haha!!
Mahmood: Well, we have a very good Metal scene in our area, not just in Bochum, and there are a lot of clubs that support our music. In Essen, which is like 20 minutes away from Bochum, there is the Turock, one of the best venues for playing Metal and my personal favorite. Other nice locations are the Freak show, Helvete, Turbinenhalle, and Kulttemple in Oberhausen, the Blackend in Dortmund. Those clubs are all close to Bochum and great venues for Metal. We are lucky to be living in one of the best areas in Germany Metal-wise and the birthplace of German Thrash.
What are some of the most promising bands from your area, especially Thrash Metal, that you'd like to recommend for (hungry) people like me who are always seeking new bands to be enjoyed and digested?
Mahmood: As Dominik just mentioned, Pripjat is an amazing band that comes from Cologne. Suicide of Society is also a great band from Siegen that just released their first album.
Dominik: And Futurephobia from Dortmund are definitely an awesome Crossover Thrash band coming from our area.
Playing gigs is impossible at this time due to Covid but how much have you guys been trying to get opportunities booked for 2021?
Mahmood: We are starting the process of organizing concerts, but this situation is making everything hard because no one knows if live shows are going to happen or not. But we promise that we will start playing live as soon as possible. We cannot wait to go on stage and share our anger and hate towards this cruel world with everyone.
Is there a dream-come-true tour lineup that your band would love to be a part of? Let's limit this to Thrash Metal bands only...
Mahmood: I would say my favorite band Megadeth. Moreover, Sepultura, which is one of the bands that has influenced my lyrics a lot and is one of my favorites, and Death Angel, which is one of the greatest Thrash bands of all time.
Dominik: I have to go with the band that inspired me to pick up the guitar in the first place, so Metallica definitely would be part of my dream tour. Besides that, Testament and Kreator would go around the world with us.
What do you hope/expect to achieve during 2021 at a minimum? A full-length album would, of course, be nice. ;o)
Mahmood: As I said before, we are planning to release our album next year and hopefully start playing shows.
Well, I think that's all I had in my mind for this conversation, so I want to thank both of you for your time and let's hope 2021 will turn out to be a great year both for you and your band (s) as well. You are entitled to the final comments to wrap up this interview...
Mahmood: I would like to thank you and the entire team for supporting us and helping us spread our angry message and I think at these times all of us are angry and we need a way to express this anger.
I would also like to thank all the people who have supported the band so far and I promise them an angry album next year with some twisted songs and once this shit is over we can all show our hunger and passion for Metal as a family.
|Other information about Cerebral Invasion on this site|
|Review: Cerebral Invasion|
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