I had sent these interview questions to Impalers lead vocalist and guitarist Søren Crawack as I gave his band's new demo multiple listens. I could try to offer up a long introduction on the genesis of my queries and how I wanted to work some serious soul searching with a mastermind who is moving up ranks in the NWOTM...but that would all be crap.
Truth is, I listened to the tunes on A Necessary Evil and thought they kicked ass, so I shot off a few questions. Thankfully, Søren's answers are as involved as his music, putting on display his adoration of Sodom, playing gigs, and E string meyhem.
NWOTM: What originally attracted you to thrash metal?
Søren: Back when I was just starting to get into metal, I kept looking for more and more extreme stuff. Some of the first heavy metal I really listened to was Pretty Maids and Yngwie Malmsteen. But when it came to finding new and more extreme stuff, nothing could really fit my taste. Metallica was my first real taste of thrash, and Master of Puppets from the Seattle '89 video made me want to play metal. My real infatuation with thrash however began with Sodom. I was on my way to Wacken in 2007 and the bus that I was riding in kept playing the same compilation CD over and over again. What really caught my attention from that CD was the track Axis of Evil by Sodom, I really dug that a lot so I decided to check them out at the festival. That's when I knew that when I would eventually start a band, THAT kind of thrash is what I wanted to play.
In your opinion, what can make or break a thrash metal riff and how do you apply that to your own songwriting?
Good question! I think it varies a lot. It depends on my mood, sometimes I just want E string mayhem, like the more extreme kinds of thrash and other times I'm more into intricate stuff or even technical riffs. But most of the time I think what makes or breaks the riff is what goes on around it. What the bass is doing, or the drums. Drums can really affect a riff. If the drums are played in a fast style, the riff just seems faster obviously. But if the drums go down in to more of a what I like to call "headbanger" rhythm, that's got a whole different feel to it. However, when you listen to A Necessary Evil it's pretty clear that we have a thing for E string mayhem stuff, haha. We just like the aggression that comes out of the riffs that way.
Who are some of your personal guitar and vocal influences?
In terms of guitar I would say, as a rhythm guitar player, something like Gary Holt, James Hetfield, Mille Petrozza and Eric Peterson. They are insanely good with downstroke rhythm chops, which I'm a huge fan of. I'm not so much the alternate picking style player. Vocal vise I'm clearly more into the guttural German stuff. I like all kinds of vocals, but that kind is what feels best to me. So that would be people like Tom Angelripper or Mille Petrozza, and even Jon Nödveigt of Dissection as well.
Your new demo A Necessary Evil sounds great. How long did the recording process take?
Thank you very much! The recording process took waaay too long. It was supposed to just be a project we'd do in a week in October, but we ended up having to push the most of the recording back for many months. The lead guitarist we had back then didn't really care to record his solos, so we had to wait for him. Eventually we got a guy named Jonas Quist to do the lead guitars about a month and a half ago.
Many bands dislike the recording process. How do you feel about recording?
Well there's no doubt I would much rather be playing live than recording, but I don't really dislike it. Sometimes it can get a bit annoying when the producer tells you to record the part again after a hundred attempts, haha. But mostly we just hang out, drink some beers and joke around.
The solos in your songs take them to such epic levels. When writing songs, how do you approach the solo sections?
As I said we had a guy do the solos for this demo, except the first one in Nuclear Nights. I'm not a solo guitar guy at all, I like playing rhythm. But I do have a couple. My approach is trying to figure out some kind of hook that then leads into something that will keep you interested, which could be a cool melody, some tapping or shredding. Stuff like that. But it's not really what I want to do, so I try and stay somewhat out of the whole lead role.
Are there any plans to tour in support of A Necessary Evil?
There's not really a tour planned out, but we do have a couple of dates as well as some festival stuff. But not of that is tied directly into the release of A Necessary Evil. It's mostly meant as a promotional tool coming up to the recordings of our debut album late 2011, as well as a way to show people how we've progressed since the Army of Darkness demo, which is now over two years old.
Has Impalers played shows outside of your home country?
Not yet. There just haven't been the right opportunities. But we'll probably do a little Scandinavian stint later in the year.
What gear do you use when playing live?
I play a white Gibson Explorer from '97. My amp is a G200R HD Hiwatt transistor amp, with a BOSS GT-6 effects board in between the guitar and the amplifier. I use only a single kind of pick which is a black Dunlop with a thickness of 1 mm. If I'm playing with any other picks I feel kinda handicapped in a way, haha.
How do you physically or mentally prepare for an Impalers gig?
Right before the gig I usually just walk around in my own little world with my guitar for half an hour. I just walk around playing all kinds of stuff, mostly downstroked stuff. I also tend to kind of envision the gig, maybe thinking about something to say between songs. I also like to get in a certain mood, because our music is certainly aggressive and I think our attitudes should represent that.
Have you played with any notable metal bands? If so, how was that experience?
Well for one we've played with one of the best thrash bands ever, Artillery twice. Those gigs were definitely landmarks for me, and it was just awesome. Great guys as well. We've played a couple gigs with other bigger bands, some from labels like Metal Blade and such, but nothing really interesting thrash wise.
Who would you like to open for?
Metallica. Still one of my favorite bands. Sodom and Kreator would definitely also be a major thing for me.
We hope you all like and buy the new demo, and that you spread our word as much as possible! We're trying to get out on the road as much as possible, so hopefully we'll see you out there! And thank you for the awesome interview!