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Battalion - A chat about Metal, waffles, and guns (Ruben Luts) - March 2007


Hello and welcome to this chat with BATTALION. They are nothing less than a close to excellent Death Metal band from the land of waffles, Belgium.

 

Let’s do the usual. Congratulations with releasing an album (“Winter Campaign”) of high quality Death Metal. Not only is it a good album, it’s also your debut in such format. Do you think it will be harder the next time around, with the pressure and all?

Hi Arve! Well first of all thanks for having this interview with us. Second of all, thanks for your opinion on "Winter Campaign". We’re relatively happy with the result. Let me explain a bit: this album dates from end 2004. We put a lot of money in it and tried our best to find a suitable label – which proved difficult. But in 2006 Shiver Records picked it up and signed us right away. We then decided to put two new songs on the album – you can hear the improved play style, sound quality, etc.

 

So now we’re pretty eager to record again! The well-known CCR Studios is booked again for September 07, and we’re going to be in there twice as long this time round. Lots of new material is written, and despite the fact we and the public appreciate what we’ve done with "Winter Campaign" the new one will be the absolute crusher that must put our name on the international map!

 

How has the response been? Do you feel that your band's name has been spread?

Well I sometimes feel our label could’ve put more effort into it, and they do the promotion together with other bands from the roster. And I don’t think mixing genres in one and the same package is a good thing. On the other hand it does cost lots of money and we see our name popping around more often so that’s cool… Shiver has sended their CDs, helped us book a few shows and haven’t made false promises so we’re pleased at the moment. Best thing is most people like it but we haven’t convinced everybody yet. The new album surely will!!!

 

 

For being a debut album, I would say that “Winter Campaign” sports very good playing skills. Have you guys been in other bands before, or did you just do a lot of gigs before recording any material? Or perhaps it’s just pure talent. Please, don’t be shy.

We all played in different metal bands before BATTALION, so the years of experience before the start of BATTALION (5 years ago) sure have helped. But as I stated before, these recordings are pretty dated as well, and we’ve been getting tighter and more technical these past times. We also benefit from improved gig opportunities and the studio experiences as well of course. Still, we must keep getting better, but I believe we’ll get there.

  

What are you thoughts around the Belgium Metal scene? In my opinion it could’ve been better, though I know some pretty decent bands. The ones I know of (besides your band) is EMETH, ABORTED, LENG’TCHE and PUTRID INBRED. That last one was fucking ace by the way.

The scene is still keeping a bit to itself over here… it is difficult to get recognition being from Belgium. Guys like ABORTED really worked extra hard to get where they are, and that extra comes partly from the fact being from Belgium means being overlooked sometimes. Luckily I feel it’s starting to change. We’re going to play Holland and Germany soon, and will try to expand from there. We have some great bands over here, of which you have named a few. Keep your ears open for ORDEAL, FLESHMOULD, SUHRIM, HEADMEAT… to name a few. Try visiting deathmetal.be (English forum) to get to know some more bands in Belgium.

 

What made you guys pick up the instruments?

Can’t speak for the rest of the band here, but as a vocalist I wanted to have the same motherfucking grunt and screeching screams as some of my idols. Brett Hoffman, Johny Hedlund, Pete Helmkamp are some of them. And we wanted to make fucking pure death metal, no nonsense shit, and bring it out to the people. They seem to appreciate it, and we enjoy being on stage a lot! 

 

Which country has the best/worst Metal scene in your opinion?                                           Can’t really say, I love Metal from all over the world.

 

Do you think the US will win the war in Iraq?

Civil wars can never be won… of course the conflict didn’t start out as a civil war but slumbering problems have emerged due to US intervention. Like in Vietnam they’re fighting in an environment that benefits local combatants, and all the technology in the world won’t help when you can’t bomb the apartments and streets, but have to clear them with squads. So no, I don’t think they will, but it will be portrayed like that. Mind you, I’m not judging US soldiers here. They’ve got to do their work. US government has a different agenda, but then again so do all governments.

 

If it turned out that your music had been used to torture people would you try to avoid it happening in the future. Like if your music was used to scare people shitless under interrogation.

I’m not quitting on making Death Metal because somebody can’t take it, even if it is under extreme circumstances. When they’re pulling out my fingernails or electrocuting my balls I could care less what music they’re playing, just stop pulling my nails or burning my scrotum.

 

Is Belgium making a lot of weapons? I’ve read/heard so.

Ha, that’s a difficult question right there. I can’t look into the official programs of course. We have a few weapon factories in the south of our country, and there’s a military airfield that has rumoured to house US nuclear weapons. Stupid thing is Belgium doesn’t even have a proper army anymore; all weapons are to be exported. Well, the Almighty Death Dealer comes around everywhere, doesn’t matter where weapons are made…

 

What is the best place you ever had a gig?

Must for sure be Graspop 06, only half a year ago. First time we played a huge amount of people. By that I mean an estimated 1,000-1,500. That is pretty damn sweet for an underground band. The atmosphere was amazing and it was satisfying to see all these people moshing and banging away to our music. Lately most of our gigs have been great so when there are less visitors it keeps being damn energetic!

 

Which country has the best beer?

Easy, that’s ours! We have so many of the finest beers here, it’s possible being drunk for years to come and never ever drink the same thing twice, hahaha! I’m pretty addicted to Guinness though, man I love that drink…

 

What ambitions do you have for the band?                                                                         First of all we want to record the second album and make it a fantastic effort. I think we can succeed with that, and establish ourselves as a main act in Belgium. After that we must move on to our neighbouring countries. And then we’ll see, that’s the far future.

 

Do you see yourself performing Death Metal 10 years from now?

Sure, as long as I can keep performing and my body doesn’t collapse on stage I’ll keep going, hahaha! Seriously, I want to keep playing as long as possible and reach whatever we can.

 

What is your take on Black Metal? What kind of music do you listen to besides Death Metal?                                                                                                                               Black metal is something that’s not really up my alley. Musically it just doesn’t do it for me. Of course I’m talking about the mass of the bands out there. I have a few records that I really adore… BATHORY, NIFELHEIM, BEHERIT, ABSU, SABBAT, BLASPHEMY, DESTROYER666, NECROPHAGIA…  to name a few well known. That stuff I can definitely relate to.

I spend most of my time listening to Thrash, Speed and Heavy Metal. I used to collect vinyl intensively for about a decade, and I’m satisfied with my collection now so that’s really my thing.

 

One friend of mine just admitted that he found Justin Timberlake to be a quality artist. Should I stop talking to him, or should I give him some leeway? He’s got his shit together most of the time.                                                                                                                             There are lots of quality artist out there that don’t play metal, and that’s all there is to it. I won’t listen to them, and they will probably never ever listen to our band – or Metal in general, but I’m not going to punch everybody in the face who’s not into Metal. I’d rather be with friends that aren’t related to Metal at all but are honest, than some kind of kiddy Emo/Gothic/’Metal’ wimp that THINKS he knows what Metal is about. Fuck that. But to answer your question: make him get his shit together, cause Justin and Metal definitely don’t mix!

 

What about KISS, do you think of those as Metal heros?

Not really, they were a fine Rock band, but unlike early JUDAS PRIEST, or BLACK SABBATH (to name a few well known ones) they really haven’t gotten all that heavy in their music.

 

A year is soon to end, any surprises? I’m thinking about music, not unwanted pregnancies and painful itches. Personally I think it was a good year for Metal, as always. The biggest disappointment for me was “Now, Diabolical”. Anyone who pissed you off?

Pfff lots of people piss me off. But I try not to focus on them or negative stuff, which is hard to do sometimes but it makes life easier if you manage not to get yourself worked up. Of course there are disappointments in metal: JUDAS PRIEST really lost their touch as "...Retribution" is a fucking bad album, also IRON MAIDEN keep on getting worse (though they still rock a bit, but just not the way they used to). But as said, why waste my time on all these new polished and über clean so called Metal releases where all power and pride is lost? I thoroughly enjoyed the latest DARKTHRONE album, total HELLHAMMER worship there. I think the Heavy Metal band WOLF put out a very decent record and I’m really fond of the new UNELASHED, just to name a few well-known acts. There’s this German thrash band called FATAL EMBRACE which I enjoy a lot, as well as DELIRIUM TREMENS. And we played with NOCTURNAL BREED over here and man that was Black, Thräsh & Roll a go-go… lots of good moments!

 

Do you think of war of as entirely meaningless?                                                                    Not really, it’s part of the human nature and will never ever go away. When you believe you’re right you fight for it. I would if it was necessary! But the stuff people fight for is nearly always indoctrinated by religious fanatism or historical disputes over some fucking piece of land. So that’s what makes it so damn stupid. The world has got a long way to go before every man can think for himself.

 

Do you play videogames? I do, quite a lot.

Hehe cool. Besides the Metal addiction and the band stuff, it is where most of my spare time goes into. I play on PC, Xbox 360 and have a PS2 and Sega Mega Drive here somewhere… I enjoy all kinds of sport games, action games, shooters, racers… heck from time to time even an RPG, but that’s mostly too time-consuming. Some stuff I enjoyed a lot recently is Gears of War, Rainbow Six Vegas, PES6, GTR2, and I’m looking forward to Crackdown, Stranglehold and LOTS of other titles as well

 

What about movies? I can recommend you “Man Bites Dog” and “Funny Games”.                  “Man bites dog” is a Belgian film which is simply awesome. Best movie ever made here, together with the brilliant “Calvaire”. If you enjoyed Deliverance you should check that one. I’ve never heard of Funny Games though… I enjoy different types of movies. Used to be a horror fan (Fulci, Argento, mostly the Italian shit) but kinda grew out of it (last good horror film I saw was the first Saw, then that got boring as well). I especially like British gangster movies such as Snatch, Lock stack & two smoking barrels, Essex Boys, Layer Cake… And I think Casino Royale is a great Bond movie!!!

 

What do you think about the interview so far?

Neat, it’s nice to talk about some other stuff as well J

 

Have you started writing new material yet?                                                                       Yeah, we’ve got a lot of good shit coming up. Really, we can’t wait to get into that studio and record this stuff!! Some titles are "Radiation Holocaust", "Throne of Lies", "Mechanized Blitzkrieg" and "Opening the Blastdoors to Hell".

 

How is your record label treating you?

So far so good, I think the promotional efforts for our next album will be essential, so I hope they do what they’re supposed to.

 

How many albums have you sold so far?

Wouldn’t have a clue about that, I reckon a few hundred at the moment.

 

What do you think about file-sharing? If I say, download one of your albums but buy two of your shirts. Would you then call it stealing?

From our point of view not really no. I mean, we’re an underground band and if our name gets spread as far as possible by sharing our songs via internet… fine by me. However I’d like it if people that enjoy the music we make would by some merch or something. We have lots of expences as well. But getting our music out there and grow from there, that’s the main key.

 

Any nasty habit you’ll try to quit at new-years eve?                                                              Ha, don’t believe a bit about that! Why would January the 1st be a new beginning or something? No reason at all! Besides, I don’t have nasty habits, ROFL!

 

There's no snow in Norway, at least very little. They say it will be one of the hottest December’s ever. Do you believe in the global warming theory?

Something is going on, that’s for sure. And I read some stuff in magazines and papers about different theories. It’s too huge to grasp for me. When the world’s end is near we’ll know it, until then I’m banging my head and drinking my beer! Life’s too short to worry, and other people are better placed then me to study that stuff.

 

Do you see humans as superior to animals?                                                                         Of course. I know civilisation and science are just layers of the beast inside us, and if you peel them away we’d be vulnerable to lots of animals. But it’s exactly education and our intelligence that makes us dominate almost all living species on a grand scale.

 

Do you believe in afterlife?                                                                                              That’s a heavy question towards the end of an interview isn’t it? Haha, I really don’t know. I think being dead is like sleeping forever, but except for your dreams you don’t know you’re asleep when you’re sleeping, if you know what I mean. So our souls must go somewhere, but we wouldn’t know I suppose.

 

This interview has come to its end, and therefore I would like thank for the time and effort put into it. Belgium is definitively more than waffles, so be sure to check out these here Deathsters.

Thank you for your support. We’ll make sure BATTALION won’t go by unnoticed!!! By the end of the year we’ll surely have our new album out, maybe we can talk again then!

Support real Metal, and fuck the rest!

Discography:

2002: Warstorm (Demo)

2003: Nuclear Devastation (Demo)

2005: Winter Campaign (CD, Self-production)

Arve Henriksen



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