Hi Larry. First of all I wanna thank you for giving me the opportunity of doing this interview for the Untombed Webzine. Well, it’s not easy to summarize the band’s history in a few sentences, but I’ll do my best. Dead End Rising was founded as successor of the death metal band Infection Zero in 2007. Except for our drummer Bene we all played together in the former band. In May 2009 we released our first full-length demo “Human Reconstruction”. Musically it might be worth mentioning that keyboards are an important attribute of our sound. I think that’s pretty unusual to American death metal fans. The main difference towards Infection Zero is that we nowadays have more groove & melody in our music but less speed. The whole thing turned into melodic death metal.
Why the name change to Dead End Rising and how did you come up with that name? For that matter how did the name Infection Zero come about?
When our former drummer Thomas quit we decided, that a continuation of Infection Zero wouldn’t make any sense without him. We didn’t have the motivation to look for another drummer and so we broke up. Furthermore we had to cancel some shows so that our reputation was damaged. After some time of musical abstinence we realized that we missed the common time in our stinking rehearsal room. We felt that we just wanted to carry on making some kind of heavy music. All of us were permanently in contact, cause we’re not just a band, but also friends. So we started jamming around. At the beginning of our sessions our guitarist Malte played the drums. But soon we realized that he’s much better on the six-string. So we brought Bene on board, who played in a rock band called Noizy Fruit Machine at that time. From the beginning on the chemistry between us was right.
Certainly the whole thing has been completely different. So we needed a new name for the band. I can’t remember, who came up first with Dead End Rising. I interpret the meaning of this expression as follows: No matter where you look at, mankind maneuvers itself more and more into various dead ends. These dead ends are multiform: wars, secularization, interpersonal problems, unemployment and the associated social disadvantages. Human beings are evil-rooted and stand in their own lights. Furthermore D:E:R rose from the dead end / ashes of Infection Zero. That’s another explanation towards the name and the phoenix-logo. Infection Zero was developed before most of us were in the band. So I unfortunately can’t explain the meaning.
What is the mission of Dead End Rising?
Oh, that’s a very difficult question. I think everyone of us would give a different answer. My mission is writing and playing good and diversified music which advances step by step. We should stay open for any musical influence. But despite all changes you should always realize that you listen to Dead End Rising. And – very important: Every band member should have the opportunity to achieve his ideas. I, personally, also pursue the intention to transmit messages through our lyrics. I want to tell people some things about the lord. But not every band member would subscribe my last statement.
What is the metal scene in Germany Like? What about the Christian metal scene?
Puh, there’s no pat answer. Generally the metal crowd in Germany is an underground phenomenon like everywhere in the world, yet I see a vivid scene in this country. We’ve got a couple of summer festivals everywhere in the country – some huge (e.g. Wacken and Rock am Ring with more than 80.000 visitors) and some small. If I am correctly informed you don’t have that much metal festivals in the states.
In my hometown Siegen (near Cologne) there are comparatively many metal heads. I wouldn’t talk about a scene, but rather groups of people which are arranged around several bands. In this region there are many bands which know each other and organize common gigs. So the conditions are really positive.
A regional Christian metal scene doesn’t exist. In fact there are some famous Christian metal bands in Germany like Sacrificium but not here in Siegen. The Christian music scene is dominated by hardcore, punk and worship bands. There’s one festival called “Freakstock” with Christian rock, hardcore and metal bands. It is organized by the Jesus Freaks. And there are several “Jesus Rock Night”-Events, but I would not talk about a scene cause most of the bands are spread all over the country and some of them are also involved into the secular metal scene.
How is Dead End Rising received by the secular crowd? Are you asked much about your faith?
It’s pretty uncommon that people wanna talk about our beliefs, but I appreciated the few times I was asked about it. In those situations I take the time to talk about it as extensive as the opponent likes. I think it’s very important not to force-proselytize people. Most of the time we’re attended through our music, cause we’re involved in the so called secular scene. We never had any conflicts because of our beliefs and we never got hostiled by any visitor of our shows or any band we played with so far – at least not right to our faces.
Yeah, we also have a hardcopy-cd. You can buy it for 1 Euro plus shipping. The idea behind the free download and the cheap cd-release was, that we wanted to reach as many people as possible. I mean, there are thousands of bands who sell their demos for 5 Euro and more. So why should anyone listen to Dead End Rising when we act the same way? We don’t want to make any profit with our music, but rather gain the attention of a maximized audience – musically as well as lyrically. Another point is the never ending discussion about illegal downloads and stuff. My perception is: I want people to listen to my music and people want to get music as cheap as possible. So why shouldn’t I give them what they desire? Otherwise they probably would download our stuff on youtube, myspace or other sites. We all know about the possibilities in the internet.
What are some of the main lyrical topics on the album?
Even if “Human Reconstruction“ is no concept-album there’s one major topic throughout the whole release: All the lyrics deal with Christianity. “Circle Of Dreams” is about a man, who feels hopeless, sick and lost. In the chorus he is encouraged to stop his escapism: “In a circle of dreams your life flows away, pray to the one and get back to life!” This is the major solution. Just pray to God and he will help you out. It might not be the way you would have chosen, but he won’t let you alone when you’re down and out. The basic idea of “The Trust” is taken from psalm 121 (“Helping hand comes from the one who created heaven and earth.“). “Dead End Rising“ is an appeal to deliver your life to Jesus and “Autumns Leaf“ tells about a weak-minded person who’s spinning around like a leaf in the wind. To him the main thing is always to go with the flow. Again the message is: Change your life and let Jesus be the anchor of your life. So most lyrics focus the rebuilding of maybe lost humans…
Musically you have a nice mix of guitars, bass and a very strong drum line but the keys really seem to play a very strong role as well. Was this a conscience effort? How do the keys add to the atmosphere to your brand of death metal?
Yes, indeed! The keyboards play a very strong role within our music. It takes over a lot of melodies which are played by the lead guitars in other bands. And it is responsible for atmosphere and the creation of a constant wall of sound. I think this instrumentation sets us apart of many other death metal bands. And it’s difficult to compare us with other bands. We always try to create a sound which differs from other bands as far as possible. This is a credit of the keys. Last but not least the integration of keys opens greater possibilities towards songwriting-variations than the classical band cast vocals-guitars-bass-drums.
Where did the inspiration for such a strong role for the keys come from? Is that a pretty common element in the death metal scene there?
Besides us there are some more death metal bands who work with keyboards, but I wouldn’t say that it’s a common element in the German metal scene. In my opinion there are two basic brands of death metal: The American stuff like Cannibal Corpse, Death, Kataklysm and the Gothenborg style which is dominated by bands like In Flames, Dark Tranquility and Soilwork. We’re influenced deeply by the Swedish bands who have more melody in their songs. And most of them use keys and especially Dark Tranquility and Hypocrisy were major influences to Infection Zero. And the sound of Dead End Rising is an advanced version of the former band.
I have to say that I love the “Human Reconstruction” album as a whole, but my favorite songs are Holy Kingdom, Prayer Of Desperation, Sacred Liar and Silence within. Could you tell us what those songs in particular are about?
Thanks for the compliment. It’s pretty interesting, that everyone mentions different favorite songs. Remarkably most people include “Silence Within”. I always wonder why, cause it is an old song which was originated from the Infection Zero times and it is very simple. Maybe the song is catchy because of its simplicity. But I think your question targets at the lyrics.
“Holy Kingdom” was written by the former Infection Zero drummer Thomas. It deals with the apocalypse as described within the book of Revelations. In the song it says that we will stand forever against all appeals until the day the Lord will come. The chorus is a demand for help in times of weakness: “So help me holy one, cause I can’t go on alone, make me part of your kingdom which is never going down!”
“Prayer of Desperation” is the cry for help by a tormented soul. The narrator feels empty inside. He wants to learn how to live and get eternal life. The device of the song is: “Living to live and not for dying!”
“Sacred Liar” is a reckoning with… – I call them Sunday-Christians. The expressions of the text may be given to misunderstanding at some points. When we talk about “ever smiling worship Christians” that doesn’t mean we are against worship. In contrast: In one or another way our music is worship, too. But here in Germany there are lots of people who visit a church every Sunday, but from Monday to Saturday they don’t seem to give a f*** about their beliefs. Then they act selfish and they are self-serving. An example could be the attitude in business life. We don’t want to judge anyone, cause that’s the job of the higher one. Further more that is a problem which everyone of us has from time to time. All of us push their morality aside – if consciously or not. The song shall sensitize for this problem and appoint people to question their behavior and attitude outside church.
“Silence Within“ tells the story of an old man who never had any mentionable problems in his life but now he comes to a point where everything breaks down and he looses control. Then he recognizes that he’s alone. His wife has died after painful years, his kids are gone to live their life and he feels lonely. In his desperation the man prays to God. And God fills the inner silence with love and lust for life. The moral of the story is that God has an answer to everyone who listens.
When you released this album did you tour for it?
Well, we played several shows, but I wouldn’t call it a tour. I mean, everyone of us has a job and so we can’t play as many gigs as we’d like to. I’m working at an all-day special-school from Monday to Friday and as a freelancer at the sports desk of the regional daily newspaper at the weekend. Besides, I am leader of the youth group in the local YMCA-chapter. Other band members recently finished their academic trainings or had to deal with working in foreign countries for a while. So touring is very difficult.
So what is Dead End Rising up to now? Didn’t you recently have a lineup change? What was changed and what brought the change about? How does this affect the sound of the music?
That’s right. Unfortunately our singer Martin has left the band. But I wanna point out that we didn’t brake up with a clash. We hang out very much together. Tosh and me work together with Martin in the youth group I talked about earlier, we go out to drink some beers and so on. He just decided to back out.
Certainly this affects the sound of the music. We decided not to engage a new singer, but to hand over the mic to our bassist Tosh. This step was obvious because Tosh sang in several bands before (Manifestation, Major Seven, Infection Zero backing vocals…). Admittedly he’ll come up with more clean and thrashy vocals than with growls and screams. Besides that the vocals the music won’t differ too much from the stuff we did before. But I don’t know if we may call it death metal in the future because of the missing growls. I’m really anxious how people response to the changes in our next shows and the coming release.
Isn’t there a new album in the works? Could you tell us a bit about that up coming release? How will it differ from Human Reconstruction? What can we expect musically from it? Lyrically?
Yes, we started recording a new album in early November. The drum- and bass takes are finished. At the moment we’re working on the guitars. The mixing and mastering process will take some time because we do everything on our own once again. Fortunately we’ve got a little studio in our rehearsal room and a friend who has tons of tone-engineering-skills. The problem is, that we can only work on the album in leisure-times. I hope we’re done at the beginning of the next year. Maybe we’re able to present the raw version of one song earlier.
Apart from the vocals there hasn’t changed much concerning our musical direction. Probably we’re more guitar-riffing oriented. I’m quite sure that the sound-quality will be better, because a friend helps us with the recording and mixing process of the coming release. Lyrically there won’t be any change – apart from the fact, that Tosh, our Keyboarder Martin and me contributed some lyrics. Whoever wants to read the lyrics just visit our myspace-site.
Is that album going to be self released as well or have you signed with a label for it’s release?
We’re going to do everything ourselves. I think that bands are able to care for most stuff, which underground-labels normally do. In this way you refuse to compromise and avoid to undertake commitments. We’re able to decide everything independent from the guidelines of a label. Friendly bands have had bad experience with several labels, which we try to refuse. And I think our music has not much mass appeal.
What does the future hold for Dead End Rising other than the new album? A U.S.A. tour maybe?
Ha Ha, I don’t think so. Don’t get me wrong: I’d really love to come to the States again. I’ve been there when I was a child about 20 years ago to visit relatives who live near Washington DC. But the financial and logistic effort would be too big. If any promoter reads this interview and pays the whole stuff we’d be prepared… Ha Ha! We’ll see what the future holds for us after the release of our album. I hope we’ll play more shows than before and some more people listen to our music and give us feedback. It would also be great to exchange opinions towards belief with several people.
Thank you again for your time. Do you have any final thoughts for the fans?
Are there any fans? Thank you very much for the conversation. Please check out our new album and provide feedback. God bless you all!
Interview by Larry Versaw for Untombed.com