Kaiser von Loopy - Hanzel Und Gretyl

January 24, 2005

You guys put your first demo in 1994. Is that when you guys started your band?

Yes.

You guys are on your fourth record.

Yes.

How did the tour with Ministry go?

Awesome. It was amazing. We're such Ministry fans that we were freaking out that we were going to be on the tour with Al.

How did you get hooked up with that?

Since we almost started the band, we've run into Al Jourgensen on occasion and every single time we saw him we would just tell him we're Hanzel Und Gretyl and we want to tour with him. He'd be just like whatever. Through the years he just started to remember our faces and then him and his wife, turned out they were friends of a friend of ours and we kept this stalking going hard for the last couple of years. He just eventually knew who we were and we just vied for the tour with our manager and we got it.

He finally gave in.

He caved. He wanted to take Skinny Puppy out and that fell through. We thought okay we're not going to get the tour with Ministry but then that just fell through. They couldn't do it together so there we were. We actually went about a month or maybe a couple of months before the tour to his record release party in New York and we just grabbed him and fucking threw him down and made him take us.

You must take us out on the road now!

Yeah, I was like "we're huge fucking fans. Come on Al." And we did it. It was awesome, man. We had a great time. He's really cool. He was totally into it so we were freaking.

You guys were on the Energy Records label which went out of business.

Yeah, I can't even believe our demo was '94. That's been so long ago. Holy crap. I can't believe we only did four CDs in that time. I think we should have been busier than that shouldn't we?

Well, yeah I think so. You did one in '94, you did one in '95, you did one in '97. Yeah, you slacked off.

Right, yeah. Then we got sued for a million dollars.

Why the hell did you get sued?

Because our record label went under and then we were in the middle of doing a record and they were closing their doors and didn't give us the rest of the money for the record. We were like well we're not giving them the record. They sued us for a million bucks and we were like what?

Well, hell if they're going to close down then what the fuck do they need the record for?

I don't know. That was a big part of the argument. It was like just let us go and they were like no. They wanted our record and they gave us half the money. We were like well, here's half the record then. Lucky enough we have a lawyer who's now our manager who is just a guy who saw us in New York and was a fan of ours. He dealt with this for us and it took three years to get us out of that debacle.

You got to keep your record?

Yeah, actually we had to give them the record to get out of the situation. Give to them the half finished record which I still have which has never been released and that's how we got out of the deal.

Then you guys signed with Metropolis Records. So you did a different record for Metropolis.

Yes, we did a whole new record. We must have spent two or three years just making records between that and then making our first one for Metropolis.

These people basically wanted half a record that would never, ever be put out.

He was like "I'm pretty much folding my record label but I invested in this record and I want it."

For posterity.

Yeah, exactly. For posterity. He's like "I just want it." We were like "we can't give it to you." It turned into a big mess and we got sued for a million bucks and it took us three years to get out of it. It was horrible. Then Metropolis found out we finished that and they called us and said they'd sign us. We signed to Metropolis but they were expecting something a little bit more electronic than we gave them and we gave them a very metal record. They were like what are they supposed to do with it.

Give it to the masses and let them have it.

Yeah, exactly. We were like "I don't know. We just make this stuff."

Besides that, you don't want all your shit sounding the same.

Yeah, not all of it. Maybe some of it.

You guys have come out with Scheissmessiah. Tell me a little about that record. I got a kick out of it, especially the "Burning Bush" ditty.

That one's getting a lot of play. Everyone seems to like that one. On this one we had our second option with Metropolis and he wanted the record one year after we made the last one and we just got to work. We knew it would be out around Christmas so we were just like let's make a Christmas record. This is from Hell and this is the closest we can come to that.

Yes, it definitely looks like a Christmas album.

It's Christmas in Hell.

Yeah, because they have to have Christmas everywhere.

Exactly. Finally, somebody understands. We get going on whatever theme and then it snowballs. Not to use more Christmas references.

Jingle bells in Hell.

Exactly.

You guys do cyber industrial metal music.

That's what we're told.

That is the kind of music you guys are putting out. Now that you know.

Cool. I wasn't sure for a while. We just put in all the elements that we like and then I guess that's where we're at. We just rely on everybody else to categorize us or tell us what we're doing.

I guess you and Vas Kallas are the founders of the band and just have different people come on board.

Yes, it's been pretty crazy. When we first started out, nobody wanted to be in our band and we were lucky enough to find a couple of people. Then after the label folded, we lost touch with them and now we regrouped with Anna who used to be in Drain STH.

I loved that band.

Yeah, we're really lucky to have her. She's really awesome. She's an awesome bass player and she's an awesome person. She's much taller than all of us which is kind of fucked up but she's Swedish. We're from New York so we're short. She's a whole head taller than us but nobody really realizes it on stage.

That doesn't seem to come across. When I was in the Air Force, there was this girl in my dormitory who was of Swedish descent and she was six feet tall. Married a four foot five French-Canadian guy.

That's what I love about Swedish girls. They like short guys.

Yeah, apparently.

Her husband is actually normal height. Almost as tall as her.

That's good.

She's not a typical Swede. She actually went for a sizable guy.

She didn't want him to have to climb up a ladder.

Right, exactly. She's probably getting tired of that stuff.

And your drummer?

Our drummer is Jon Osterman from New Jersey. His claim to fame.

You guys wanted a Roman/Germanic Heaven and Hell vibe with a Renaissance setting.

Yeah, exactly. I couldn't have put it better myself. Pretty much. We didn't know where to go from our last one and I don't know what happened. I don't know how this one materialized. Everybody told us we're going to Hell for the album we made before this so we were like all right, let's go there. Let's go straight to Hell.

I hear people describe Hell and it sounds like a fun place. All the cool guys are hanging out there. Elvis and everybody.

Yeah, right. Let's face it. It's going to be a lot more fun in Hell, maybe. I don't know. Maybe not.

On all of your albums, do you do the German and English combination?

Yeah, on the earlier stuff we were messing around with every possible language we could think of. Then we refined it to only German and English. Now it's just getting more and more German. It started out as a goof but now for us, it's difficult to actually write words in English because it's so natural for us to just mouth off in German now. It feels right. It feels more angry than any other language when you sing it. We don't speak German. If you stuck us in a room with a bunch of Germans, we'd be pretty confused and not know what to say.

It's pretty easy to pronounce. I took a few years of it in college.

See, there you go. And it's fun, isn't it?

Yes, it is a really fun language to learn.

It's severe and it has a lot of just emphasis to it. It works. It works over all the angry metal stuff.

I liked the "Scheissway To Hell".

You have to have AC/DC references.

Absolutely. They are the band. How did you guys get the idea to put this type of a band together?

We were in a band together previously that disbanded and then we were just left to our devices. Like I said, we couldn't find anybody to be in our band so we decided to get machines. We got drum machines and we got samplers. We didn't really set out to be an industrial band. I'm not even sure we knew what an industrial band was outside of Einsters and Neubaum. They're like real industrial bands. To me, if you don't have garbage cans on stage and pieces of sheet metal then you're not really industrial. I thought we were just electronic with guitars but that's what industrial is today. We ended up being an industrial band. Really, we're just a metal band that couldn't find a drummer and this is what we became.

I think industrial music has evolved or devolved into different things.

Yeah, exactly. What used to be industrial to me was just pots and pans and power tools or something.

Get out the drill.

Right. Now it's like if you have any samples in your music, it's industrial. It's very widespread now.

I guess a lot of people could be industrial.

They could be. By today's definition I think a lot of things could be industrial. I guess we're an industrial band. What are we again?

You're a cyber industrial metal band.

Cyber industrial metal. Okay, fine. We'll take it. That's what we are this year. Every year it's something different. Whatever they slap on us, we'll just go with it.

I was reading about your albums and there's one called Transmissions From Uranus. That was kind of sci-fi.

Yes, our early stuff is really sci-fi. It's just really outer space and we still think of this stuff as being kind of intergalactic too but it's a little bit more cerebral and it's a little bit less Star Wars. More medieval. I don't know. We're just winging it.

Are you guys into stuff like sci-fi movies?

Yeah, probably not as much as your average crazy Trekkie or Star Trek fan or Star Wars nut. We do get a lot of people who are coming up to us who are heavily, heavily influenced by sci-fi or German stuff. They're even more in-depth and knowledgeable about it than we are. A lot of people are really upset that we're not German when they meet us. Soemtimes German people at our shows will come up to us and just start speaking German. I'm just like "dude, I'm not German." It's the most upsetting thing for them.

Do you have a pretty good fan base in Germany?

Well, our CD Uber Alles got us banned in Germany because it has too many WWII references and that is unlawful in Germany. You cannot wear a t-shirt that says "uber alles" on it because it's a direct reference to the Third Reich and WWII. It's unlawful in Germany so our CD was banned in Germany but we finally after this CD got one German distributor to start distributing our stuff in Germany. Our German audience is slowly but surely...we're getting more and more German people who are joining our website from the distribution. Years ago we toured with Rammstein and that gave us some international notoreity but we have not taken this spiel to Europe yet and we're dying to do that.

Rammstein is another incredible band.

Yeah, they're awesome and they are awesome people too on top of it. They're really, really cool, funny guys.

I was really surprised that they managed to break out over here because I know that the U.S. tried to keep stuff like that out for a long time. It's really cool to see a German band break out over here singing in German. People love it.

We were all about it. When we got on tour with them, we were freaking. We were right on their bus partying. They've been on tour with other American bands and usually they don't even get to know them and converse with them because they were very self-conscious about their English. We were like "yeah, we're German too but not really." We had a lot of fun with those guys. They are awesome people on top of being an awesome band.

Germany is a bit cautious about a lot of things because they know that people point fingers at them even though that wasnít really their fault per se.

Yeah, thereís a lot of inherited guilt for the past and they grow up with it.

Thatís such a bad thing because you basically get some person that puts himself into office and does what he wants. Thereís not really much you can do about that.

Right, exactly. I think theyíre dealing with all that stuff pretty well creatively and I think theyíre getting their point across. Especially recently. Theyíre really, really crazy funny guys. Itís like hanging out with six Arnold Schwarzeneggers. Like fun ones though. Theyíre awesome though.

I find it amazing that he is now the governor of California.

The governator. It is shocking. Iím sure itís a matter of time before heís President.

Yeah, he might as well be. Then weíll have Terminator movies for the masses. Here I am laughing about that and heís one of my favorite actors.

Thatís probably why he got a lot of votes, too. He was awesome in Jingle All The Way and Kindergarten Cop.

Yeah, so god damn it he needs to be governor.

Yeah, who can forget those classics?

Undoubtedly. Where did you record the record and how long did the process take and who did you use to produce it?

All of our stuff is self-produced and weíre pretty self-contained and we do most of it ourselves. We track it at her place and my place. Weíll do vocals at her apartment and most of the loud stuff we did at my momís house. You can imagine how ecstatically happy she was about that. We record guitars at my momís and most of the vocals we have to do down at her place because sheís not into screaming when thereís people around. Thereís a lot of programming involved obviously and we do most of it just in our living rooms so whatever budget we have to make the record, we use basically for mixing in a studio. Most of itís done right into my laptop computer and we have our own microphones. We really want to work with a real budget and perhaps even a real producer in the future but for the most part, weíve been doing things on our own and producing it ourselves.

I bet the neighbors are happy.

Oh yeah, forget it. At my place, weíve had so many different neighbors during the years. I only had one set of neighbors that actually liked what we were doing musically here and they were very friendly. Turns out they were Colombian drug dealers and they got busted by the DEA and thrown into jail forever and they were my favorite neighbors. That was unfortunate.

You canít put these guys in jail. They like my stuff.

Yeah, I know. I did what I could but apparently nobody was impressed by that. The process is tedious and itís long and thereís a lot of yelling and screaming.

Is that yelling and screaming between people?

Yeah, usually that means Vas and I. Weíre both extremely opinionated and loud. We just kick and scream our way through every single record. Itís just the way it gets done. Thereís no way around it.

Thatís probably why itís such a good finished product. Thatís what it is. The kicking and screaming.

Thank you. We end each CD with ďif it sucks itís your fault.Ē ďNo, itís your fault.Ē

You definitely need to argue and scream and yell a whole lot because all that anger and pressure comes out in the music.

Yeah, I hope so. A little of friction is good. Itís all in the name of making music. It doesnít get really crazy. We scream.

It works. Screaming is a good thing. It lets out all of that inner tension.

Absolutely. Itís our only outlet. Making a record and getting on stage obviously.

Now that your tour is over with Ministry, what are you guys looking forward to doing next?

Rehab I guess. Right now, thereís not too many tours going out in January. Weíre just trying to set something up for the spring and weíre just shopping around for tours. Ultimately weíd like to do what we did with Ministry and just open for a bigger band and increase our fan base rather than go out and do a headliner which is what we might do but we have nothing set up. Iím sure weíll be out in the spring or summer. One place we have not been enough is Texas. Especially fucking Dallas. I love Dallas.

Yes, it is a cool place.

Itís great. Itís a great place. We play Trees usually when weíre down there. We always get treated well there. Itís a great place to play. I love that whole street.

How is your new CD selling?

Pretty good. I havenít gotten any of the Sound Scan reports yet but I know our label is happy with the sales. They sold pretty good at our merch booth on tour. I know weíre not distributed in Best Buy and stuff which bums me out but I think itís doing pretty good.

Well who knows, maybe youíll work your way up to Best Buy.

Hopefully, someday.

I like this one part in your bio about distorted synth filters and being pummeled by a million homicidal robot drum machines.

Thatís a good analogy. I like it. Very descriptive. Itís very picturesque. Itís scary.

The mental images I get from that. Like when Rob Zombie is on tour and he has those big monsters walking around on stage.

Yeah, weíd like to get out with Rob Zombie. I think thatís the next guy we have to start stalking.

Yeah, stalk him.

He actually used to live in New York but now heís in L.A. so heís hard to stalk.

Heís also really heavy into movies right now.

Yeah, I think heís too busy directing. I think he might be busy making another record. I know Anna has been on tour when she was in Drain, I think she was on tour with Rob Zombie.

You definitely need to stalk him. Maybe you can do some kind of long distance thing.

Long distance stalking? Weíll get right on that. Iím writing it down right here. Note to self. ďStalk Rob Zombie.Ē That would be a tour weíd be more than happy to get out on. If heís touring. I think heís actually recording. I donít know what heís up to. God knows, weíre going to find out.

What actually got you into music?

I went to the High School of Music And Art when I was here in New York. I donít know. A good question. Growing up, there were always musical instruments around the house. I just picked them up and started fooling around with them. I had an older sister who plays guitar and when she was 14 she followed David Bowie around. She would bring back a lot of cool records and I would play them. It just happened.

For those of us who have not been graced with a live show yet, what does your live show consist of?

It consists of two very angry and foreboding chicks and myself parading around in lederhosen and a spiked helmet and our drummer who is a man beast. Often we hear that our live shows are actually much more impressive than our CDs which I try and take as a compliment. It really has to be experienced I think.

I think thatís what people mean when they say your live show is more impressive than the CD. The same thing with Rammstein. Their CDs are good but itís their live shows that kicks ass.

Iím always hoping thatís a compliment. Cool. Itís better that they say that when theyíre at our shows as opposed to somebody just listening to the CD and going ďtheir live shows are much better.Ē I think the real essence of our band is actually our live shows. I think you can fully get where weíre coming from or experience us. We should be experienced live which hopefully youíll get to do when we make it down to Texas.

Yes, I want to experience you.

We fucking missed the first 10 days of the Ministry tour and that was El Paso, Dallas, Austin. It was everything which sucks because I love Texas. I love being down there. I love Austin, I love Dallas. The whole vibe down there is awesome. I love hanging out. Weíve got to make it through there this time. It sucks because we donít play there enough so itís hard to get our fan base not to stall in Texas. Actually every time we did Trees, it was pretty good experiences. I think we played Houston and it was not too crowded but that was a headlining tour and it was a year and a half ago.

You had one of your songs used in the Mortal Combat - Annihilation movie and played during the 1997 MTV Music Awards.

Yeah, that was pretty cool. Itís weird because they played Mortal Combat - Annihilation on cable television every five minutes. I keep seeing it. It got half a star. Itís basically the worst movie ever made.

And they used one of your songs in it.

Yes, weíre very happy about that. Weíre very proud of that.

That was a very proud crowning moment.

Iíll never forget us going to the theater to see it and people screaming that they wanted their money back when the movie was over. I was like ďshut up. Iím trying to see my name in print. Thatís me, I did that. Shut up.Ē What are you going to do? Rammstein was in that one also actually.

Thatís the problem when you make several sequels to a movie. Whatís the point? Then they get weird. Like in the Friday The 13th series, each movie gets weirder and wackier and doesnít have anything to do with the very first one.

Exactly, it runs out of steam after a while.

Any other thoughts or comments?

I look forward to checking it out on your cool ass zine.

Hanzel Und Gretyl