The pounding drums and blaring riffs of Kommandant ring loud throughout the world. While they appear to be becoming a prominent force in the underground and beyond, Kommandant have defied standards and brought upon themselves a most unique take on black metal.
Here in the United States, Kommandant have bewildered those who have witnessed their live shows. They’ve brought rather good compositions into the fold, as well as throwing a live experience that would make Stalin’s mustache fall off.
Totalitarian Black Metal, War Metal, or whatever you want to call Kommandant… We present an exclusive interview to pick their brains:
Why was Kommandant formed and what do you want to express?
Kommandant was formed to record the music that we wanted to hear, to be the band that we would want to see.
There are members that have been involved with other bands such as Sarcophagus, Forest of Impaled, Nachtmystium, Demonic Christ, and so forth. How have all of these resumes meshed? Is Kommandant the next generation of the ideas in these other bands?
I don’t think that Kommandant is an extension of any of those bands. Each members’ individual experiences are their own, it is the expression of those individual influences in congress that create Kommandant. Even if one person did bring something to the table that was directly influenced by one of their past projects, by the time the rest of us got done with it, it would sound like Kommandant, not whatever it came from originally.
What are your thoughts on the book “1984”? How would you place in juxtaposition the despotic similarities between your music and totalitarian mindset? If you’ve read both, how do you compare the dystopian societies in “1984” and “Brave New World”?
Orwell’s vision of constant, total war and constant, total surveillance certainly rings true today, but I feel that our society is closer in mindset to Huxley’s interpretation. Orwell’s world was one of strict rationing and information restriction. Ours is closer to Brave New World where people are placated not by direct oppression, but by distraction. Orwell cautioned that what we fear will control us, Huxley postulated that what we love will control us. Not to say that fear isn’t a strong driving factor in our lives (our “war on terror” is certainly analogous to the Huxley’s description of the war on Eurasia/Eastasia), but mindless entertainment and an overload of triviality is our soma.
Kommandant often uses atonal technique. What other techniques do you use in song compositions? Do you compose by starting with a riff, an image, an idea, or some other method?
Every song is different. We write collaboratively, so one person may have one idea and someone else takes it and builds on it, or warps it into something completely different. We’ve started with nothing more than a turn of phrase or a vague idea and it takes on a life of its own.
I’m embarrassed to ask this, but metal’s genres proliferate like bunnies. Are you war metal? Black metal? Is it all nonsense? Or are these not genre terms, but simply descriptive terms?
We’ve been called a great many things. We don’t really think of ourselves in terms of genre; we don’t write strictly about war, so we’re not really a war metal band. We’re certainly more black metal than death metal (lyrically, visually and philosophically). Some even say they hear an industrial influence in our music.
All in all, it is all nonsense, but it’s human nature to categorize things.
Much like Gwar, Kommandant is known for live theatrics almost more than the music itself. What initiated this dystopic theme? How has this brought Kommandant to a higher podium?
We set out with a clear vision to be the band that we would want to see live. We felt that too many good bands are not visually exciting live. Corpse paint and spikes do not a live show make. If you’re going to go out to see a band, you want to be enthralled, caught up in the momentum, suspending your disbelief until the band leaves the stage. The best shows are the ones where you forget that those people on stage are mortals like the people standing there watching. You want to feel like you’re witness to something extraordinary.
It does seem to cause people to stop and take notice, but it is also very polarizing. People either love it or hate it, there is no middle ground.
What ideologies or beliefs motivate Kommandant? The word ‘Kommandant’ is German for ‘commander’ and the band uses the maxim ‘Hate is Strength.’ Is there a political ideology here? What about another ideology? What meaning do you derive and hope to communicate through using authoritarian imagery?
Kommandant is art imitating life. We are a reflection of the direction that we see the world moving in. Notice that I say reflection, not condemnation or commendation. We do not have a political ideology. Our philosophy is that one should embrace the traditional virtues of direct action, uncompromising speech, and reverence for knowledge.
Do you worry that you’re going to mislead anyone with your use of 1940s era uniforms, German language and war imagery?
What people take mistakenly away from our imagery is more telling of who they are than what we are.
North Korea is in the news a lot lately. How do they compare to your ideal warlike society?
We’ve never said anything about a warlike society being ideal. If anything, direct action and clear intent prevents more wars than they start. There are more mentions of war in the questions asked to us than in our own writings.
What books, magazines and websites do you read for information? Do you seek information that reinforces your outlook, or “broadens” it?
We strive to have a well-rounded and accurately-informed view of the world around us. To only view the world through the scope of our previously-formed outlook would be intellectually dishonest.
What influences shaped the formation of Kommandant and its music, and what type of music do you see yourself making in the future?
We bring a lot of individual influences to the table in our creative process. We can find inspiration in film, literature,architecture, current events, personal experiences or individual philosophies.
Are you working on new material now, or touring? What’s ahead in the next year or so for Kommandant?
Both. Our next show is going to be our first trip overseas, to Kings of Black Metal Festival in April. After that we are playing Maryland Deathfest XI and then heading into the studio to record material for a split 7” we have coming up. We will be returning in July to New York City to play Martyrdoom Festival again. After that we plan to finish writing and start recording our next as-yet-unnamed album.