Obscura – Completing the Story

Thursday, 2nd August 2018

Dead Rhetoric: You have a North American tour in the fall. Do you feel all of the visa issues the band faced a few years back are finally behind you?

Kummerer: It’s a big gamble for each band that is not from the US every time. I know the situation got even worse over the last couple of months. We are well-prepared. We hope that we can get help from the German government in case there are any problems. This is a big issue – a huge issue for each artist that tries to play as a band in the US. These days, you even have to prove relevance to play. I have a couple of friends who were supposed to play Maryland Deathfest and California Deathfest and they tried to go the regular way, applying for visas and not sneak in as a tourist or some crap like that, and they got neglected because they were not relevant. You have to prove relevance, meaning you can do headlining tours around the globe before you are playing in the US. It’s not possible to build up a reputation. Just tell a punk band or black metal band that they have to prove relevance – it’s somewhere out of reality. In our case, it’s easier. We have our history, we have been around for a long time and have played in the US.

When we got the visas neglected, we lost 38,000 US dollars. Personally, I lost 18,000 for cancelling a tour two days before it was supposed to start. Of course, on the Summer Slaughter tour, we let down the promoters and the bands on the tour. To be clear, it was a big disaster and it really hurt. If you ever promoted a show or played in a band, you know how much it means as a band. It’s something that really takes off of your existence – if you have a regular job or working…in any band business, it’s disastrous. But we are positive guys, so we are looking forward [laughs]. I don’t want to be negative, I just want to explain the issues.

Dead Rhetoric: Where does the draw of astrophysics stem from for you?

Kummerer: I somehow fell into it while I was studying at university. I’m an engineer in media technology. Astrophysics somehow was always interesting to me. From a private perspective, I’m interested in general physics as well. I’m working with that everyday, especially with audio techniques and acoustics. I really don’t remember when I picked up my first books in philosophy. I guess I somehow fell into it through school. We had to read a lot of books at school, and I somehow kept in that same century (the 18th and 9th century). If I look at my bookshelf, I would say half of my books are from that era.

The same goes for religion. When I was a kid, I visited a boarding school for the musically gifted and it was a very conservative Catholic/Christian boarding school. I lived there only went home one weekend a month. We had to go to church and had to learn all of those old Latin lyrics. The older I got, the more critical I got as a teenager. That might be the reason I am writing so much agnostic and upside-down perspectives in those lyrics. A funny story – my teacher at this school was the brother of the Pope! With those three different topics, I mentioned a small bit about where it came from, but in writing for Obscura, astrophysics, religion, and philosophy somehow became something I read about every day. These are my interests – I’m not writing splatter lyrics or things about girlfriends – I’m writing about what interests me. It’s a nerdy, small world but I think it’s more honest to write about something you like instead of making something up that you don’t like and do it because it’s cool.

Dead Rhetoric: Is there anything going on with Thulcandra at the moment?

Kummerer: Yes, we actually just had a rehearsal last weekend and we prepared for two festival shows we have over here in Europe. For the last record, we did two European tours and now we are preparing a new record. We are supposed to hit the studio by the end of this year. We can’t wait to make more of this blackened death metal. The only issue that prevented us from getting into the studio earlier was my work with Obscura. I’m completely wrapped in PR and producing the record. It took almost three months to record it, and I was there from almost day one. During the drum recordings I wasn’t there, but for everything else, I have to be. It took so much time. On the other hand, I’m only playing in those two bands. Sometimes I have a few gigs with Death To All (DTA), but there’s no writing music. I put 100% of my time and effort into these two bands.

Dead Rhetoric: It took 3 months to record – when you take that long, do you feel that you get a better product by really focusing and making sure everything is the way you want it?

Kummerer: Absolutely. I would love to have a little more time for the next record. We are extremely picky about how we produce and record albums. When it comes to producing, I’m the nerd with the knowledge about production and audio technology and electro-acoustics. It’s not like, “Okay, we are starting to record drums, let’s put some microphones over there.” It’s a little different.

For this album, we rebuilt our facilities in Austria. I went there and measured the room acoustics and we optimized them. That means we checked the frequencies, we swept through and we put a couple of optimizing products in there and measured until the room itself sounded as we wanted to have it. Then we went through extremely expensive pre-amps where just one line costs 1000 euros. You can imagine how many you need to record a whole drum set that is as big as Sebastian Lanser is playing. It’s extremely nerdy, and we hear stuff that maybe a kid that is ripping off audio from a YouTube stream is not hearing, but we are also producing for audiophiles out there. Seriously, I can say that from an objective point of view that the production of the new record sounds different, and better, than the previous one. It was worth every effort.

Dead Rhetoric: As you mentioned earlier, you are writing for everybody but you do have that one portion of the audience that is very nerdy about some of those things. Do you feel you need to set a bar?

Kummerer: It’s more my own bar to be honest. I want to be better in everything I’m doing with each record. In the end, it’s the consumer who more or less decides if an album sounds good or bad. But it also depends on what device they are using. If you are using mp3s on 320kbps, of course it sounds like crap compared to a proper file or cd or something. It always depends on how you have grown up.

The majority of audio consumers are growing up listening to music through YouTube, which is compressed as hell and basically ripping off a lot of audio information. They are used to it. If they are used to it, they don’t understand how a high end produced record can sound. They might not actually see it as good. But this is something I’m doing for my own taste and there’s plenty of people that invest in a good stereo system at home and also listen on good speakers. The majority are listening to audio files streamed somewhere – Spotify or YouTube or iTunes. Most of the files are simply corrupted I would say. But it’s the consumer who decides. I’d rather stay with the vinyl and cd lovers.

Dead Rhetoric: What do you have planned for the rest of the year outside of the fall US tour?

Kummerer: For this year, we put our main focus on the North American headlining tour with Beyond Creation, Archspire, Inferi, and Exist. That will be the main thing we do. There’s no other tour planned for this year. We have a European tour in February 2019. Perhaps we are doing a South or Central American tour by the end of next year, but it’s just speculation.

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