The Gauntlet: What has the band been up to over the last year?
Luke: The new album basically. We started recording 'World of Lies' over Christmas 2004. It was very plisse, just over a couple of weekends. We laid down some rifts and over the next couple months I got those rifts transformed into the songs. That's the short version of it.
The Gauntlet: You make it sound like the album was thrown together over a couple days.
Luke: Well the initial recordings took place over a couple weekends. We just put the music down. Then I sit down and work with this jigsaw puzzle. I gotta find some riffs and find where they'll go. So the actual songwriting part takes a lot longer than the recording. With The Berzerker, we do everything backwards and the wrong way. It's not a traditional band where everyone brings there parts they have been working on all year. Then I sat down and did all of the songwriting and all of the vocals and spent the next couple months really getting the music right.
The Gauntlet: You bring back Ed and Jay on this album who were absent from 'Dissimulate', how did this come about?
Luke: Initially we weren't interested in doing a new album at that time. I got together with the bass player and we decided to just get together over Christmas and see what happens. Christmas is traditionally a time when not much gets done as everyone is gone for the holidays. We figured we'd just contact Ed and Jay from the first album and make the album we always wanted to make. We got a little sidetracked with 'Dissimulate'. We have a bonus DVD for the album in the UK and Ed and Jay came down for the interviews and they talk about it in a lot of detail. It was great because we haven't all been in a room since the first album which was 5 years ago. We don't all hang out on a regular basis. And Jay started coming up with things, they'd come up with a half riff and play it, then Ed would jump in and play it. It was just a huge melting pot of ideas that flowed really well.
The Gauntlet: So 'World of Lies' came about in a completely different way than 'Dissimulate', no session guitarists or musicians?
Luke: Right. We just sat in the room and someone would come up with an idea and then another guy would have a tail for a riff or drop the 3rd note down or whatever it was. We were just chucking ideas out there. It wasn't like the 1st album where I sat down and wrote the riffs on the keyboard and then the guitars. Basically when I had all the riffs, I put them in the computer and carted them up. I was able to rearrange the riffs and bars. I would play it back to the guys and they would say 'what the fuck have you done to my riffs' which is the standard response from guitar players. Our bass player coined it as 'berzerkerized' the riffs.
The Gauntlet: What were the decisions behind leaving the drum kit out and use a machine for the drum tracks?
Luke: It was just like the 1st album. The first album was written all drum machine. The second album was actually written for the drum machine also. I tabbed out the drums and gave them to Gary. For the second album we had a live band so we wanted to record the drums with a human person. But basically it still involves triggering everything, there's not much acoustics aside from the hats and cymbals. I hadn't seen Gary in about two and a half years since we got back from touring. While in New York, he broke his foot being thrown down some stairs by some bouncers. He flew back to Perth and we got another drummer and continued touring with another drummer. When I got back to Australia, I still hadn't seen him. For the album, I just wrote the drums the way I normally do. For a live show it will be a person though.
The Gauntlet: Why did the masks come off?
Luke: It was really a simple decision. We originally started and kept very much in line with what a traditional Berzerker is, the Nordic Viking warriors with bear snouts and wolf snouts. We wanted to make the live image to have more of an impact. The problem was people couldn't get past the image. We didn't want people to focus so much on our personalities and to concentrate purely on the song. We did the DVD and we had to lose the masks anyway for that. Everyone now knows who we are. With the new album, we completely removed all that. 'World of Lies' is about songs. It's not about technical prowess or being the fastest band on the planet, although there are songs on 'World of Lies' that are faster than songs on 'Dissimulate'. The difference with the new album is we didn't make the songs faster to prove a point, we proved the point with 'Dissimulate'
The Gauntlet: How has fan reaction been to the mask removal?
Luke: It's really been quite surprising. We didn't bring the masks onboard to gain fans really. I don't think we'll really gain or lose fans by removing them. The main reaction from the fans has been pure excitement for the new album.
The Gauntlet: With 'World of Lies' the fans are going to see a ton of changes all at once with old members coming back, drum machine, you performing high and low end vocals, and mask removal. Do you feel you might alienate some of the core fanbase with so many changes all at once?
Luke: Possibly. But you know, end of the day, I write music to make me happy. A lot of the music I have written for myself, other people have been able to get something positive out of. We have got quite a decent fanbase over the last 10 years. It's inevitable to lose and gain fans with each album. But we haven't gone so left field to alienate any of our fanbase.
The Gauntlet: One of the main differences in 'World of Lies' is a sort of technically melodic, yet still brutally heavy album.
Luke: Definitely. Producing and having to record the first couple albums, I now have a better concept how to sonically mix the band. It's very difficult with the tuning to A, low death growls and all the noises going on. It's very difficult to get that clarity in the album. In the bonus DVD, you see a lot of the production. It's really scary seeing this wall of white noise coming at you. That's why it was so good to get the old guys back. They knew the concept.
The Gauntlet: Did you have a general direction or concept for the album to take before you got into the studio?
Luke: We never really have any rules or anything set out beforehand. I have a vision in my head and just try to get that out. Having the other guys in the room really helps to get that out. It's basically to capture the feel of the old death metal. You can hear really strong influences of Bolt Thrower in there. Carcass is always gonna be an influence. Now a lot of bands are just grinding and trying to go as hard as they can. When death metal came up it had a groove. It was heavy to get people going in the pit. We can't be on stage and grind for an hour. Now that we've got the different beats in there you'll just see some of the most brutal moshpits ever.
The Gauntlet: On songs like 'All About You', 'World of Tomorrow', and 'Farewell' there is a doom influence.
Luke: Doom? Like the video game?
The Gauntlet: No, the metal genre.
Luke: Right, I much prefer faster music to listen to. Bands like Cathedral were a doom band.
The Gauntlet: Any plans for a video?
Luke: Next week we begin shooting a video for 'All About You'
The Gauntlet: Will it be a concept/story video or just the band playing to introduce the new image.
Luke: There is going to be a bit of us. We wanted to go with a story and have actors, but the higher powers advised us to have some band members in there.
The Gauntlet: The Berzerker cover art has always been these mechanized beasts. Is there a message you are trying to portray?
Luke: It's to reassure people that we haven't strayed to far from where we originally began. I look at it like a franchise like a movie or play station game where like Tony Hawk comes out and is a great game. You want the next one to come out but be a little better. This is the third album in a series of albums. Most bands will do the first two albums similar and have the third album be so left field and they play completely different. The day we do that, the album covers will change.
The Gauntlet: Any tour plans?
Luke: There are a couple things being discussed at the moment. There are always offers there. Some come through, some don't. We just have to see how the year pans out.
The Gauntlet: Any plans being discussed for a US tour?
Luke: The main one we are working on at the moment is Europe and England. Our bass player is there already. For an Australia band to play US, it's expensive as it costs $10,000 just to land on US soil so we are already at a disadvantage.
The Gauntlet: Why did you go into playing extreme metal?
Luke: Music is my passion. It's what I do. When I sit down to write music, that's what comes out.
The Gauntlet: What is the main reason for the band success up to this point?
Luke: I think that we stay true to our initial concept, being ridiculously fast and extreme. Also the fact that we tried to meld two different styles of metal, as far as I am concerned we have done it successfully. I just wanted to take that style of music and develop it a little bit.
The Gauntlet: What would you be doing for money if you weren't a musician?
Luke: I don't know.
The Gauntlet: A veterinarian?
Luke: [laughs] I have no idea dude. Something horrible no doubt. Luckily I do have music.
The Gauntlet: What bands did you grow up listening to?
Luke: I was listening to Maiden, Anthrax, you know if you pull back a bit further you have Motely Crue, early on Slayer and Carcass. I was a fan for so long. A lot of the bands I really listened to and enjoyed aren't around anymore. As a young kid, you just, for me anyway, as I got into metal I was just looking for the most extreme music anywhere. That's what our fans are.
The Gauntlet: Anything else we can expect from The Berzerker in 2006?
Luke: Just hold your breathe for now. Come check out a show.