Maurizio: It's been pretty much our time off over the last few months. We finished the record and shipped it out in September/October of last year. We have been just chilling out and relaxing a little bit. We have a pretty big year in front of us. We just decided to take some time off to do our little things. We have just been at home doing our daily things we do. Next month we will start practicing for the tours coming up.
The Gauntlet: The new album 'In the Arms of Devastation' doesn't seem rushed. It seems like the band has really matured and was able to take some time with it.
Maurizio: With this record, we really wanted to take our time. With our last album we took only a month and a half. With this album, we wanted to do it on our terms. We told the label not to expect it right away. We did some things differently with this album. We took three months and wrote it. Then we took three months off and let it sit. When we were ready, we came back to it and began working on it again. I figured if we wrote a song, it sounds killer that moment. When we came back to it, we wanted it to sound as killer. We just had to touch it up a little. We felt we had a great record. It was a different approach in writing. My guitar player wrote a lot of this album. Usually I do a lot of the writing with the bass player and JF would write a couple songs. With this record he wrote most of it and did a great job commanding it.
The Gauntlet: There were a lot of changes over the last album. Tue Madsen mixed the album; Max was brought back for the drums.
Maurizio: For sure. There are a lot of different elements we have done on this record we haven't done on the last. If you know Kataklysm you know we don't repeat the same record twice. We try to do something new for every album. This album is a very important record for us at this point in our career. The label kept telling us this record could be the one that breaks us. We didn't want to hear that. We took that and threw it out the window. We just didn't want to fucking hear it anymore. We were going to do it the way we want to do it and the way we know our fans would like it. We always base our music to be live. It's gotta sound as fucking killer live as on the record so that's how we write our albums. We emphasized on this album more on the thrash side. It's something that's always been a part of this band, but we never really worked on much. We also worked on the melodies. It's a lot more melodic, dark melodies, not just guitar. It's a lot more work and more technical than we have done on the last records. As for Max, he is a great guy that has been with us for ten years. He couldn't do it for the last record and we needed to keep going and he needed a break that we couldn't give to him. We were glad it happened. He got the time he needed off and we needed to do our thing. We got back together again and it sounds perfect. The record got together so perfect. He is the type of guy that plays and doesn't put a blast beat there just to put on there and be extreme because he is trying to show off. He uses the right beat for the right riff. And that makes a difference for us. Sometimes a simple beat behind a killer riff is going to bring that riff 10,000 times stronger. That's the problem with a lot of death metal bands. They are about showing off, playing how fast they can. It is something we disregarded on this record, being extreme for the sake of being extreme.
The Gauntlet: When Kataklysm started out, your mission was to 'be extreme for the sake of being extreme'. What changed all that?
Maurizio: Exactly. I used to say that to every magazine I knew. I was 16 when I started in this band. I was 19 when we did 'Sorcery'. Our goals were different. We decided we were going to be the most extreme thing in the world. That was our goal. It got us noticed and signed. We were chaotic. Obituary and Death were the big bands with the big death metal sound unleashed. We came out with death metal and black and all that crazy shit. It made our name. Then with 'Temple of Knowledge' in 1996, that was the most extreme thing we could ever be. Today it is still one of the most extreme things put out. Why repeat it? There is no point. We did that. We can't get heavier and crazier than that. We decided to concentrate on being a good band with good riffs and memorable songs. That's been our goal since. It took us to a new level. I don't know many bands on their eighth album still selling more and more than ever and are at the peak of their career.
The Gauntlet: It seems when you took over the vocal duties, the band really took a different direction and became more focused on making good music.
Maurizio: I'll tell you what happened, its super simple. When we were with our ex-singer, it was a dictatorship. He was doing his thing and controlled the music too. He couldn't play any instruments but was telling us how to play them. As soon as I took over the vocal duties, as soon as he was gone, it became a democracy. That's how we worked better. If someone had something to say, here it is, put your feelings into the music and do what's really right. I am more of a power, thrash oriented musician. I like the riffs that are more thrashing. My guitar player likes melodies and the bass player likes black metal. All together it created this Kataklysm sound that we have worked on since. It was about freedom. It wasn't like I took over the vocals and said it will be like this. For the first time we sat down and said we can actually do whatever we want right now. It was a liberation thing, it was weird.
The Gauntlet: With 'In the Arms of Devastation', the band seems more in control of the instruments and you take time to build up the riffs.
Maurizio: A lot of people are afraid we are maturing. A lot of times that means selling out. For us it means getting better at what you're doing. I just think for us, songs are made a certain way, they gotta have hooks. I have always liked bands that have choruses as it sticks in your head. I was always about that. As soon as I took over vocals, that's how I wrote. I like structure and things that are more organized. That's what this band has become. Not too much of something, but just enough to keep it interesting.
The Gauntlet: For me, I think a band that is a sellout is one that doesn't try anything new. A sellout is the band that keeps making the same record over and over.
Maurizio: That's a huge acknowledgement. I really like that and I'll be using that so I hope you don't have a copyright on that. [laughs]. I agree with you 100%. It's like 'ok we have achieved this right now, let's stay here'. A lot of bands are doing that. I don't want to mention names because then I'll be the bad guy. They keep making the same album over and over or just doing it to try to impress as many people as they can. They are not catering as they just. The music should stand the test of time and be forever. When I release an album, I know it's gonna be here forever and I have to do something that's gonna be memorable. I put my heart in it. As long as we have that drive and those ideas and inspiration we'll put records out. We ain't gonna put a record out to make money. If it was about making money, I wouldn't be doing this. If it was, I'd take some lessons and do a rock album and fuck off you know?
The Gauntlet: How did those cute girls from Kittie get on the album?
Maurizio: I liked Kittie's last few records, the heavier ones. For girls they are pretty heavy. They are doing some good metal stuff. The guys from Into Eternity are also on the album. I like what both bands are doing. With Kittie, we had the idea to do a duet with a female vocalist. We wanted to do something not done in death metal before. Kataklysm is a band always trying to do something new, to push the style and take a chance. We keep it heavy and extreme but keep it interesting. I did this song with Morgan. I asked her what she thought about it, she came down. She has some good pipes. She made me work. I was really impressed with her vocals and the song came out killer. Nuclear Blast in Germany loved it. They thought it was the best song on the record when they first got it. Now they can't choose. I really like that when they can't choose cuz it means we did a good job.
The Gauntlet: You mentioned earlier that the band writes music for the live show. Who would do Mogan's parts on stage?
Maurizio: I can do the vocals she does. I can do the vocals she does. That's probably a song I would keep for if we ever tour together or are playing a festival together. I'd probably keep the song for that reason. If it becomes a really big song, I can practice her tones and be able to do it myself. Ofcourse, if I would have let her do her clean vocals that she can do, then I'd have no chance. I can't reproduce that. I can reproduce what she has done. She has come to our level of screaming, I'm not going to goto her level and sing clean, then I'd be in trouble. But this is our territory here, the extreme stuff.
The Gauntlet: What do you think about all the accolades this album is getting from the critics?
Maurizio: I don't know man, I said it before. This is another piece of the puzzle for Kataklysm. Is this our best one, I don't know. Every record we have done, people have said it is the best record of our career, and then 'Shadows In Dust' came and blew it away. Then 'Serenade in Fire' came and blew Shadows in Dust' away and now this one seems to blow them both away. I just don't pay attention really to a lot of the reviews. Ofcourse it's amazing to see the fans reaction. This album has received the best scores we have had in our career. It's like full scores across the board in Europe and in the US is the same. I think the hardliners; the ones that are only into blastbeats from start to finish and growling are not going to dig this record. Those are the elite who think they know everything and then 2 years later are listening to rap. When they are 15, they are into black metal and at 17 they are listening to rap. To me it's about being open minded and listening to music for its quality and not what fashion you are in. I am more old school like that. I think this will be a very big record for us and will cross over into other genres. I don't really care where it goes as long as our fans are satisfied.
The Gauntlet: It's never good when your best album was four albums ago like Metallica. They will never have another 'Master of Puppets'.
Maurizio: Exactly. I like the Black Album. When I heard 'St. Anger' I was like 'What the Fuck!' It's just different for Metallica. That's what tends to happen to a lot of bands. I think it was ok. What bothered me was the production. I think if they would have had better production on that record it would have been different. I couldn't stand the snares, it bothered me. A lot of people liked it, and a lot of people hated it too. It's Metallica and they are legends and are going to be where they are. It's one band I respect. They have done something that nobody has done; it's something you have to respect. For us, I wouldn't compare us to Metallica, or Slayer for that matter. But we are hardworkers. We are on our eighth record. Four records in a row we have gotten these crazy accolades. The critics are saying that they like the album. Everytime, we are saying 'wait til you hear the next album'. Will be a challenge to beat 10/10.
The Gauntlet: Kataklysm has really raised the bar for yourselves and other extreme bands.
Maurizio: I know. There are a lot of people waiting for us to make that record that they are going to hate. I am not going to let it happen. I have seen so many do that mistake. If we don't have the inspiration, we won't put it out. That's where so many bands make the mistake. They go and buy a house, need to pay for it so they put an album it. They spend a month writing and recording and it sucks.
The Gauntlet: You mentioned earlier that you wrote the album and sat on it for three months. Did you realize at the time that the album was something special?
Maurizio: You know what, when we first did it in the pre-production, we heard it and we were thinking it was badass and killer. We decided to sit on it to see. When we came back, we were still impressed. It has hooks, it sounds like Kataklysm. Ofcourse there were little elements that we knew we'd want to switch. Maybe put a blast hear and toughen it up there. We figured maybe we should do that. Then we thought about it and decided not to. We said no, it sounds great. Why would we do it just to be extreme for those 10 people. It's not worth it. We will gain more fans by doing it right. Having a mid thing for the drums works out better in some places. Max was saying that this is what he felt should go hear and there. We told him to do what was in his heart. We put it all together and in the end, the hair was raising on our arms so we know we did something right so we kept it. We put it in the studio and put it out. Nuclear Blast heard it and was like 'Holy Shit!'. I have never got an email from them until this album.
The Gauntlet: I understand there is a Limited Edition DVD shipping with this album.
Maurizio: There is a misunderstanding with it though. It's only coming out in Europe, not America. I don't know why they did that and it's too late for me to change it. I didn't know about it, I thought it was a worldwide thing. It's political. I think they are trying to make more money in Europe. It is a live show we did in Strasburg, France. It is really chaotic and crazy crowd. It was a really cool show we did on our last albums tour. We will be releasing a DVD in the US in September for our 15th anniversary. It's called 'The Test of Time'. It's a documentary style thing we did some making of the record in it too.
The Gauntlet: Will there be any live footage on it?
Maurizio: Yeah, there is footage in 1991 of us in a garage when we first started. You'll see me in a mullet. It goes all the way to the album.
The Gauntlet: I hear the band is shooting the video for 'Crippled and Broken'.
Maurizio: Yup, we are going to be doing that next week. It's already started. The video was shot overseas in Europe in Holland. The producer is from Holland. He shot most of the video there and will come shot the band next week. The concept of the video is about a Vietnam Veteran who goes to war and comes back but never really recoups from what he's seen. It hit me because I moved to Chicago 3 years ago. I noticed a lot of Vets still wear their army coats and it's like they are still back at war. It really hit me seeing them homeless, no money, on drugs and alcoholic. I was wondering why that was going on. You look at this old man who isn't really old, he's in his 50's. When he was 16 he was sent to war and the government mind-fucked him. They do nothing to help these people. It's really sad. These people risk their lives to defend us. If they are going to send people to fight, that's cool. But when they come back they should take care of them. Some of them are just barely there. It really intrigued me and I wanted to talk about it. The video really goes inside a man facing his demons. It's going to be a really cool video though. I saw some excerpts from it today.
The Gauntlet: In May you'll be out on the Metal Crusaders tour with Graveworm, Vader, Destruction and The Absence.
Maurizio: Nuclear Assault was on it but had family matters so Destruction will take their place. We are going to Europe in April for 15 shows with Cannibal Corpse and Finntroll. I think it's called the No Mercy Festival. That's going to be the start of our touring campaign. After Metal Crusaders, we will go back to Europe for some open air festivals. Then we start a headlining tour for about four weeks. After that I think we are back in the states. We'll just keep going back and forth.
The Gauntlet: What countries have the craziest fans?
Maurizio: Our biggest fanbase is Germany. We go over there and everybody is singing our lyrics, they know everything about the band. We sell out everywhere we play there. Germany, Austria, Switzerland is very big for us. They have insane crowds there. The craziest crowds are in Latin America. They just throw themselves everywhere. In Montreal, we have a killer fanbase too. The big cities in the states are great too. It's hard to just stand their and watch unless you are older or my age. We are a very energetic band and we build our music so when we play it live you want to break something. We are one of those bands that have that killer response with fans.
The Gauntlet: I hear you have an autobiography coming out soon?
Maurizio: Yeah. I am almost done. I wish I would have rethought it before writing the thing as it's so long. Putting 15 years in a book is just crazy. It is about 400 pages. We have been a very reserved band and haven't really gone public with a lot of our things. It's a very good book about the band that is making it out of no chance at all. If you see where we started to where we are now and what the bands been through it will fucking raise a lot of eyebrows. You read it and be like "what the fuck!". You'll see, it's going to be cool. You don't need to be a fan of the band to read it. It's just a good story about the band. The book stops right when this record is getting released.
The Gauntlet: So will there be a part 2?
Maurizio: [laughs] No way man, I'm not writing another book after this. This is the end of my book thing. I wanted to something for me. It's for me and my fans. I would say we made 50% of our fans on the last 2 albums and a lot of our fans don't know the history of the band. I thought now would be a good time. The whole history of the singer switches, conspiracies, a lot of stuff going on. There is a lot on touring stuff and how we got treated. It's a really good book for any band to see what you gotta go through for credibility. We are respected now, but it took us a long time to gain that respect.
The Gauntlet: Give me a good story from the book as a teaser.
Maurizio: I would say remember "The Mexican Tour". That part is probably about 10 pages. It's insane having the military shooting at you. It's like fucked up. I was nineteen years old going through that in a different part of the world. Also eating pigeon because there was nothing else to eat. A lot of people would have quit a long time ago. That's why I am very hard with the band and very proud of it and defend it. Nobody knows about this stuff. We are going to put out the book and people will see us from a different perspective.
The Gauntlet: Do you humble yourselves in the book? Show the good and the bad?
Maurizio: Yeah, pretty much. I would say there are a lot of things that show we aren't what people would think of. Right now we are in a pretty good position but what we went through to get there� A lot of people idolize bands and will realize they were making more money at their minimum wage jobs than we were. Our fans who idolized us didn't realize they had a much better lifestyle and living conditions than us. Yeah, I'm humbled that I keep my feet on the ground about my band because I know what we've been through. Every fan that shakes my hand helps me realize that I'm making my dreams come true as a musician. A lot of bands forget that and start begging for it when they lose it.
The Gauntrlet: Were there any problems with the other band members not wanting you to put certain stories in the book?
Maurizio: I try to keep it very band-wise. I keep away from the personal band gripe because that gets messing. I think if I went into personal details I'd have problems with some of my guys. It's really about the band and I kept it about Kataklysm. Sometime I edge off, but it's mostly about Kataklysm.
The Gauntlet: When will this be out?
Maurizio: I am hoping to have it finished next month. I am hoping to have it on the Metal Crusaders tour. Maybe amazon.com will have it. Labels aren't really capable of handling books. It will be well distributed though.
The Gauntlet: What did you think about winning the Canadian Indie Award for best metal group?
Maurizio: It's about fucking time man, fifteen years later! Canada never really recognized us all our career. They recognized everybody else, but not us. I don't know why. They always knew we existed but never really acknowledged us. I guess last year there weren't many bands from Canada releasing stuff and they put Kataklysm on and we won. We got voted in by the people and we won. It's cool and a really nice award. It's the equivalent of the American Music Awards. It's cool to see that now. I can say I got something to show for my life.
The Gauntlet: Is there anything we left out?
Maurizio: Not really. We are just getting everything in order to get out on the road and we are looking forward to The States and Europe.