Previous Caliban Interviews
Caliban has blown the European metalcore scene wide open with their dark imagery, powerful songwriting and emotion packed performances. Following the German group's set in Detroit Rock City; Erin Fox had an opportunity to catch up with guitarist Marc Görtz about the bands latest record "The Opposite From Within" and the group's current U.S. tour in support of God Forbid…
The Gauntlet: Obviously, the band is in a much different situation on this tour than what you are used to in Europe. What is it that you find to be different about playing shows in the U.S.?
Marc Görtz: Kids are acting different, like in Europe they're doing more circle pits and stage diving and stuff and here they're more singing along and moshing and stuff, so it's a little different here.
The Gauntlet: A lot of the kids here are not exposed to wall of death and circle pits and things like that in many of the venues, which often have no moshing rules due to insurance concerns. Usually, at this club, they don't allow moshing at all, but they have allowed it tonight, which is a good thing because the show certainly warranted it.
Marc Görtz: I'm surprised that we played here, last time we played at The Shelter so I was surprised but it was a cool show.
The Gauntlet: Tell us about the making of "The Opposite From Within"…
Marc Görtz: This time is the first time we did pre-productions, like, we wrote three or four songs and went to a very small, cheap studio and recorded, did them like, live one time, just to record them, to see what could be played better and we did this around three, four times. Then, our producer came from Sweden to Germany and we worked over a little bit of the songs and then it took us around three, four months to write it. But very excessive, like we don't write songs over the whole year, when the record is out, we don't start immediately writing new songs. I like it more when we do it like, excessive in a short time, a lot of rehearsals in a week, like three, four, five rehearsals a week, three four hours a day and stuff. Three to four at the most.
The Gauntlet: Do you prefer to write that way because the ideas build up and you don't reach a point where you are just repeating the same ideas over and over?
Marc Görtz: Yeah, because if you just practice maybe once a week and then you have maybe a show or a week tour or something then maybe you've forgotten what you did at the last rehearsal, so at the time when we write the record, we usually don't play much shows. This year, we'll just play some festivals in the time of the writing process for the next record, but no tours, nothing else.
The Gauntlet: Caliban is from Germany, which is a country that has a pretty strong metal scene doesn't it?
Marc Görtz: Yeah, yeah there is. We are from the hometown of Kreator, Essen. And we are friends with them too, I mean, I am friends with Mille, the singer and there is a very big metal scene, definitely. But the hardcore scene is getting bigger and bigger, too. It's getting very big at the moment.
The Gauntlet: I know that overseas, bands can be classified a bit differently. Do you view your sound as hardcore?
Marc Görtz: I would say yes, I mean like, personally, we're definitely a hardcore band. But music-wise, it's pretty much mixed, maybe more metal than hardcore. Like we have the fast parts and the melodic stuff is maybe from a metal scene.
The Gauntlet: How do you feel about the metalcore tag that is thrown around? Do you feel that is a term which accurately describes the music of Caliban?
Marc Görtz: If I were asked are we called metalcore? Yeah, it's not a bad word. I would say the fast and melodic parts are from the metal and the breakdowns are from the hardcore part of it. We mix it up because we think it is more interesting for us to have a little bit of everything and our music is also somewhat like, I would say Portishead and Depeche Mode and stuff because I am influenced by bands like this when I write. I write most of the parts at home, the guitar parts and at the rehearsal room we put it all together. I am influenced by a little bit of everything I listen to, so it's also bands like Depeche Mode, Portishead, Lacuna Coil, melodic stuff.
The Gauntlet: It seems that this last wave of this type of music, a lot of it comes from Europe. The sound has really migrated to the U.S., and of course, there's bands from here like Hatebreed and before that, Biohazard, that were doing their own thing with the style. But now the scene is really exploding into the big thing in hard music at the moment, so it's very exciting to see that bands such as Caliban are able to make it over to the U.S. and bring their art to the fans over here.
Marc Görtz: Yeah, It's not that easy for us to come over here to the States, because we have to get a working visa and it is very expensive. In dollars, it is around three thousand five hundred dollars. That's very expensive for a band, for a year, so we can do two tours on that visa. The visa is valid until June or July, so for the next year, we have to get a new visa. They always want to know so much stuff, it's like a paper this big, (holds fingers an inch and a half apart). It's tons of questions and it takes about a month to get it, but we will definitely try to come back to tour this year again.
The Gauntlet: It's worth it though, isn't it?
Marc Görtz: Yeah definitely. Because, it's great to see that people are excited. They do not get the chance to see us, maybe, every second month or something, so we have a pretty good following on this tour and that's pretty cool.
The Gauntlet: So, after this run, how much longer will Caliban be touring in support of the record before heading back into writing mode for the next album?
Marc Görtz: I guess we will try to do one more tour in support of this record, in the States, maybe in late August or later, October or early November.
The Gauntlet: So you haven't written anything for the next project as of yet?
Marc Görtz: Not really, we just finished the recording of a new split CD with Heaven Shall Burn, it will be out on Lifeforce Records again, it's like a good-bye CD for Lifeforce because we changed the record company. There's one new song on it and four old rearranged so very, very old songs on it, like six years or something.
The Gauntlet: What was it like to change labels? Here in the U.S., you are now on Abacus Recordings…
Marc Görtz: We didn't decide to go with Abacus, in the rest of the world, the album is released on Roadrunner Records, we signed to Roadrunner and they licensed it to Abacus in the States. Roadrunner in the States, it's not that they were nervous, but they were like "Well, should we put it out, blah, blah, blah". So they will see how this record goes in the States, maybe they will pick it up for the next one. But, Abacus is doing a great job so far, we get a lot of support from them, they do a lot for us, so it seems to be pretty good. I think we are the best selling Abacus band so far. We haven't sold tens of thousands of records…but the second best selling band is Heaven Shall Burn, two European bands, so it's pretty funny.
The Gauntlet: European metal is getting very popular as of late in the States, people seem to be enjoying it…
Marc Görtz: In Flames is getting pretty popular here in the States, aren't they?
The Gauntlet: They are growing their fan base and getting a lot of exposure, a lot of the fans of their earlier albums seem to think they are sell-outs now; perhaps they don't enjoy the new direction of the band. Personally, I enjoy their last two records quite a bit. They are certainly bigger than they were back in the days of "Clayman", that's for sure. Soilwork seem to be getting the same response with their new album to their shift toward more melodic material and I don't really understand it.
Marc Görtz: I haven't heard the new one…
The Gauntlet: It is more polished, there's more melody. Myself, I think what they are doing is very good. So, you're playing some festivals in Europe this summer?
Marc Görtz: Yes, everywhere in Europe, some pretty big festivals, I don't know if you know any of them. Rocken am Ring, it's a hundred thousand people…
The Gauntlet: So that festival is bigger than Wacken, which gets a lot of press over here in the States…
Marc Görtz: Wacken is more just metal, while the other one is a bit of everything, bands like, Depeche Mode played there once, bands like Green Day and stuff. They have different stages there, so we will be playing on the stage with Lamb Of God, Unearth, some more heavy bands there. Do you know Donnington? We've played this…
The Gauntlet: Absolutely, that is a well respected festival as well.
Marc Görtz: It's almost the same lineup, a lot of the bands from the Rock am Ring play also.
The Gauntlet: When is Donnington this year?
Marc Görtz: I believe somewhere in June, but I'm not sure. We're doing some other fests, some smaller hardcore fests, up to two, three thousand people, I guess. We play a festival like Summer Breeze, it's almost the same as Wacken. I can't remember all of the festivals. So, we are playing a lot this year. With Roadrunner putting the record in Europe, it has sold pretty well, we've got a good following. We toured with Machined Head and In Flames, so then there was a lot of interest to book us for a lot of festivals, so it's been very good this year.
The Gauntlet: In contrast, there is a large difference in between playing shows like that and the dates on this US tour…
Marc Görtz: I like both because it's closer to the crowd and they're allowed to dive. Maybe here they are not, but most of the time. For a tour I like to play shows like this or a little bigger most of the time. Between this, every week, a festival would be nice one time a week, but not everyday. I wouldn't like to do festivals every day.
The Gauntlet: How does it make you feel to play a larger festival, do you get nervous before you play?
Marc Görtz: Not really. The crowd is so far away. We've done this for six or seven years, so let's say real excited, not nervous.
The Gauntlet: What have sales been like over in Europe? Obviously, you're quite a bit more well known on that side of the ocean. It can be hard to gage the popularity of overseas acts, as the press here is generally focused on what is happening in the U.S…
Marc Görtz: We are doing very well, we have pretty strong sales. I guess we almost tripled the sales from the last one on Lifeforce. We're bigger in Europe than over here. I mean, we don't have so mainly big European hardcore bands. We have a big scene, but a lot of American bands are also pretty big, like Hatebreed. But, there are two or three European bands that are the most popular and we are definitely one of them. Heaven Shall Burn is the biggest European act, Hatebreed is bigger, but of the European acts it is Heaven Shall Burn and us, we are one of the two.
The Gauntlet: What is the one thing that you would most like to relate to the fans here in the States?
Marc Görtz: At first I would say, I would like to thank everyone for the support. We didn't tour for this new record and it sold pretty good. Also, thanks to all of the people who come to the shows and support us on this tour. Maybe, check out the new record if you have not had the chance to do so yet. But, most of all thanks!