Exclusive Interview: “The New Decapitated Will Be a Tribute to the Old Gods”
Decapitated are one of the greatest Death Metal bands in the history of the genre. Over 25 years, they’ve released more than a handful of critically acclaimed albums and earned their place among the legends. They’ve been around the world many times and are one of the most experienced bands out there. Both beginners and well-established musicians can learn from them.
“Don't sign any agreement before you find a good lawyer and someone who has years of experience with being a professional musician.”
Poland is one of the biggest petri dishes for extreme Metal in the world. Why do you think that is?
Yes, the Polish extreme Metal scene is pretty big. I'm not sure why it's like that. Maybe because of our “pissed off” mentality; after all, we have all those wars, partitions, communism and all the other shit in our history. Also, I think we're a very brave nation, and if we want to make something extreme, it'll be more extreme than others could manage. I think that's why we're good in Metal music – because Metal music is war. 😊
The band was formed in 1996, when you were all just teenagers. What are the major differences in Death Metal if you compare those times and now? Has the Metal scene changed a lot since then?
So many things have changed. We started 25 years ago. There was no internet, Facebook, Instagram or Spotify back then, only the "analog" world. Today everything is faster, more digital and more commercial. For me, the biggest difference now is that in the 1990s, the most important thing was the value of music, the talent. You needed to be a special kind of musician if you wanted to get the attention of fans. Today I see that bands are more like corporations with great business plans that make them big. I don't want to say it’s bad. It is what it is. We still have many great new bands that are making awesome music.
If you could talk to your younger selves, what advice would you give?
Don't sign any agreement before you find a good lawyer and someone who has years of experience with being a professional musician.
How do you write your songs? On recent albums, we can hear thrash and groove elements. Were they incorporated intentionally, or did it just happen?
Both, though I do think more like "it just happens". I know it was a shock for all Decapitated fans, but on the other hand, I've changed as a musician and as a man. It's natural that my style's changing and evolving. It’s like when you face-check your photos from 20 years ago and look in the mirror. You won't see the same "riff" anymore. The way I create songs has changed as well. For the first albums, I didn't use anything except my brain and my memory. I wrote the songs and I learned everything by heart and kept it in my head until the studio. Today I record all ideas and program drums on Nuendo. Sometimes I also jam with our drummer, just trying to come up with new ideas.
Many bands, especially in death Metal, can stagnate a bit, but with you, things change. You grow and experiment with your music, even though some of your fans might resent you for drifting away from your first records. What can you say to them?
I hope they understand it and aren't too disappointed. :) BUT!!! Things are different now. With the new record, I'll be back with fast aggressive riffs and technical stuff, so the old fans will get what they deserve after years of my experiments. There will be songs in the style of "Earth Scar" and "Kill the Cult", but from what I have now, the new ideas sound brutal and crushing. The new Decapitated will be, in a way, a tribute to the old gods, like Morbid Angel, Suffocation, Deicide... so I feel I want to deliver more blast beats and double bass death Metal. I would also like to go for more melodic things this time, plus heaviness.
What would you say is more important for a musician – creating albums or playing live shows? Or are they both equally important?
Those are two completely different things. And also, not every musician can be a composer. Some of the musicians only perform live, so I believe that's most important to them. From my perspective as a composer and a performer, both things are important on the same level. I try to give all I can to make my music as good as possible, and the same when I perform it live.
"But it's way harder to be in Metal Hammer than to make your own profile on Instagram, so I think it's way easier for everybody to promote themselves these days."
Can you describe what a typical day before a concert is like? Most fans probably imagine a lot of partying, groupies, booze. But it’s mostly hard work, right?
I can describe my day today to give you an example. I wake up at 9.30 am. I wear my Vans and hoodie and go see where I can find some coffee. I walk around the city center, because luckily, we're in downtown San Antonio, which is a pretty nice area to take a walk in. Then I set up my laptop, and after I finish this interview, I'll go downstairs to find my guitar, so I can start working on some new riffs. I have lots of free time during the Machine Head tour, so I want to work as much as possible on my own material. That's pretty much what it looks like. After lunch, we'll do soundcheck, and then it's about 2 hours until we start the show.
You’re playing live a lot. What can ruin a show for you?
There have been a few bad shows. Most of them I really enjoy, because I love to play. Some shows are harder and some shows go very smoothly. It depends on how you feel, if you’ve warmed up enough, if something pissed you off, or if you pissed off someone else. It even depends on the weather sometimes. But to be honest, most of my shows now are great. If I have a good show, I feel so much better after it in every way. It's like catharsis in a way.
Reading fan comments on your YouTube videos is always fun. Some viewers wonder what kind of shampoo you guys use, while another said your riffs are so heavy that we could deadlift them. Do you have a favorite weird or funny comment?
Yes, my favorite is: “Why did you change your style so much and why don't you sound like 20 years ago.” That's like asking why does your face look different now than 20 years ago.
Social media are a “necessary evil” for musicians these days. How do you use them and what are your thoughts on streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer?
Yes, they're a necessary evil, but still the best way to promote your band or music. I use them as most musicians these days, posting pictures of my band, posters, news, etc. Everything that people need to know, like what’s going on with the band. I think they offer a great opportunity for new bands now, because back in the days, there was no internet, so the only way for promotion was through magazines and zines. But it's way harder to be in Metal Hammer than to make your own profile on Instagram, so I think it's way easier for everybody to promote themselves these days. And I think that’s great, obviously. I don't have a problem with Spotify either. This is what the music world looks like these days, and we can't turn back the clock. We need to use streaming as a new tool to deliver music to people. It sucks a little that bands don't sell as many CDs as before, but that's evolution. Everything changes all the time. It is how it is.
Which bands do you listen to these days? Do you also listen to “Non-Metal” music?
I listen to everything that's around, new releases, old albums, whatever I think is going to be interesting to me. Of course I listen to different kinds of music. If I listened only to Metal, my life would be strange.
“I use [social media] as most musicians these days, posting pictures of my band, posters, news, etc. Everything that people need to know, like what’s going on with the band.”
What are your plans for the future? You’re going on the "Faces of Death" tour in spring 2020, can you tell us more?
Yes, we have a great tour across Europe very soon, which makes me very happy. The last time we played in Europe was one year ago, so I'm very excited to hit the road again with Decapitated. I'm sure it'll be awesome. We'll have Ken Bedene (Abigail Williams, Aborted) as a session drummer for this run, so it’s going to be amazing.
There are also news of a new album coming out in 2020. Can you give us more details?
Be patient. Soon.
There’s no way to talk about Decapitated and not mention Vogg's younger brother Vitek. Witold "Vitek" Kiełtyka died in a bus crash in 2007, and the world lost one of the best drummers that have ever lived. Vitek, who was only 23 when he died, was an extremely innovative drummer, doing things on the drums that seemed out of this world at the time – and still do. He had a natural feel for supporting the rest of the band, making the tracks sound amazing. As his brother once said, he couldn’t imagine how good he would've been today – one of the greatest, without a doubt.
Cover photo: Artist's archive
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