Kreator – Prolonging the Golden Age

Sunday, 10th November 2013 by David E. Gehlke

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Lots ‘o discussion these days about thrash bands getting up there in age. We see it all the time with Megadeth and Slayer, two bands who have been very vocal about their limited amount of time left. Testament as well, with guitarist Eric Peterson admitting to this scribe they need to turn around albums faster than usual because they know the end isn’t too far away. On the European side, Destruction just celebrated their 30th anniversary, Sodom keeps soldiering on, their avoidance of North America notwithstanding, so could Germany’s Kreator be the last thrash band standing? It could turn out that way…

Since the band’s 2001 revitalization for Violent Revolution, Kreator have been on, for lack of a better term, a warpath, virtually erasing those rough and poorly-received late 90’s days when the Outcast and Endorama albums were the antithesis to Extreme Aggression and Coma of Souls. From that point on, mainman Mille Petrozza and co. reestablished themselves as Europe’s top-level thrash band, thanks in large part to bristling, melodious, and acerbic efforts such as Enemy of God, Hordes of Chaos, and their latest, Phantom Antichrist.

Age and Endorama were two topics of focus when we grabbed Petrozza for a chat on the band’s bus during their recent stop in Pittsburgh with Overkill. Commendable was the fact Petrozza was doing interviews a mere hour before he was set to go onstage, so with McDonald’s coffee in hand (read below), and stories to tell, here’s the first man of German thrash. Read on…

Dead Rhetoric: You’ve been doing this since the mid-80’s. Are you starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel? Or, can you see yourself going until the wheels fall off?

Mille Petrozza: Yeah, I can see that. What else am I going to do? Become a farmer? I can’t do anything else…and I don’t want to. I just enjoy playing music and I cannot do nothing. I’m not one of those guys; I’m not lazy. I came straight from school into this craziness.

Dead Rhetoric: You hear bands like Slayer say things about “passing the baton” in relation to how old they’re getting, but since 2001, you’ve been all systems go.

Petrozza: We try to stay in shape and I think that’s the key. You can’t abuse your body too much and I know a lot of the bands we’ve been touring with, they drink hard liquor a lot. We can’t do that.

Dead Rhetoric: What are you drinking now? Hot chocolate?

Petrozza: Coffee.

Dead Rhetoric: From Mickey D’s.

Petrozza: Fuck it! I don’t want to drink this. Usually, I go find something, but we got in so late that my drum tech brought this for me. Usually I don’t support McDonald’s. [Editor’s note: Petrozza is a well-publicized vegan.]

Dead Rhetoric: Back to the topic when talking about bands not taking care of themselves…

Petrozza: Yeah, it seems to me some bands that the older they get, the more they drink. For us, it’s been the other way around. When we were really young, the first couple of tours when we were still teenagers, we were drinking like hell. At some point, we quit. There’s still some beer and red wine.

Dead Rhetoric: It’s almost a cliché: You’re a thrash band and you’re supposed to be drinking.

Petrozza: Yeah, but who says that? Who came up with it? As much as I like partying…I have to be honest with you – maybe it sounds conservative, but when I’m on tour, there’s people paying to see me. If I’m hung-over on stage, they only get 70% of what they could get out of what they paid for. And I don’t want that. When I’m at home, I’ll drink, but only if there’s a reason to like if there’s a party or whatever. I’m not like the guy who has to drink because he’s in a thrash band…that’s not really necessary.

Dead Rhetoric: What about during the Endorama days when admittedly, you weren’t having the best of personal times?

Petrozza: It wasn’t an identity crisis. Maybe I’ve asked my question a little too much: “What am I going to do?” I wasn’t really that old. I was like, “Maybe I want to do something different with my life.” Then I tried to go deeper into music and explore different styles.

Dead Rhetoric: And that’s your most experimental album.

Petrozza: Right. I like the album. I think it was necessary. At the time, it’s just what we felt like; it’s what we wanted to do. It’s not like we forced [it]. No record company told us to write a Goth album. When we signed to BMG in Europe they told us write another thrash album, but it wasn’t in us at the time.

Dead Rhetoric: The 90’s weren’t a good time to be in a thrash band.

Petrozza: Many bands fell into an identity crisis at the time. Remember the Skunkworks album that Bruce Dickinson did? That’s even worse! [laughs]

Dead Rhetoric: That’s not a bad record, but I know what you’re saying. You had such great success in the late 80’s and early 90’s, but what do you do after that?

Petrozza: Some people said it was the grunge phase that killed it all, but I don’t think it was only that. I think some metal bands were mistaken for the glam stuff. Like the real metal bands were labeled with the idiots that were around at the end of the 80’s that made metal look bad. In my opinion, that’s what they did. A lot of the glam stupidity took people off of metal. I think it has to do with the MTV era. Most of it here in America was the Poison, Ratt, Whitesnake, then you had your one spot of Slayer, Exodus, and Kreator. It was mostly that and people would think “This is metal.” They want their glam stuff. I didn’t listen to it, and I didn’t want to have anything to do with it.