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.:Interviews:.

05/04/2008 – Interview with HATE SQUAD

Dockyard 1 has at least two bands celebrating their anniversary this year: STORMWARRIOR, for being around since 1998 and the Hardcore band HATE SQUAD (official website), who celebrates its 15th year of existence. This band mixes Death and Thrash Metal with Hardcore and calls its music H8core. Because of this special occasion a new album was made, "Degüello Wartunes", showing they still have the fire burning. The review of the album can be found at this location.

This new album was my first acquaintance with the band and their music, but I thought it was a very decent release. As a consequence I wanted to know more about the band, their music, their view on certain things. Vocalist Burkhard Schmitt was charged to answer and he collaborated very well. Enjoy.

Hate Squad logo

You're celebrating your 15th anniversary. Do you have any special plans for this?

First of all, it is great that we have the album out on time. Our 15th anniversary is exactly on April 18 and the album came out on March 21, so this was a perfect timing, I guess. We also want to play as many live shows as we can and also will check some other ideas with our label for the second half of the year. But nothing's confirmed yet.

Made Of Hate - MikeWhen you look back at the past 15 years, what moments stood out for you, is there anything you would like to have done differently, ...?

Oh, there have been lots of fantastic moments. For example, the gig at Dynamo 1995 or the tours with KREATOR, DEATH, EXODUS, ... Every release of a new HATE SQUAD record was a fantastic moment as well! We have played many cool shows and met lots of awesome people, we really were lucky with all the success over the past 15 years. Sure, there are also a couple of things that we would do in other ways nowadays, but if we look back only at the positive days, everything else makes no real sense, because we can't change anything, what happened has happened.

Could you give your personal view on the albums you made? What are the pluspoints, what are the less good points, is there a sort of evolution to be found, ...?

To be honest, I still like every HATE SQUAD record in its own way. "Theater Of Hate" was the first in 1994, I will never forget the moment as I hold it the first time in my hands...what a special moment!

"IQ Zero" (1995) is our most successful record so far and it was the record with some hits like "Not My God" or "I.Q. Zero". We've had an awesome time in Düsseldorf (Germany) recording this album and I guess this is still the real HATE SQUAD classic album that most people know or have heard of.

In 1996 we released "Sub Zero - The Remixes". This was planned to be a whole album, later we released it as an EP, I can't really remember why and today I guess it made no sense, 'cause there were 2 more remixes done for this record which have never been used or released in the end, otherwise it would have been a whole remix album. Finally we released it as an EP. In 1996 we also played lots of great shows, for example with SEPULTURA and RAMMSTEIN and numerous headliner gigs all over Germany. By the way, I still find the whole "Sub Zero" interesting, because it's always a pleasure to hear what other people with totally different backgrounds could make out of your own songs. I still like this idea in general. And finally, for "Sub Zero" we have had extreme remixes from cool people. ;-D

In 1997 "Pzyco!" was released and this album got its own story. There are too many things that I could talk about - good and bad. "Pzyco!" was our third album and showed different sides of HATE SQUAD, many of our old fans didn't like hearing me sing with a clean voice, the songs were different and the cover also offended some people, mainly in the True Metal scene. Anyhow, we surely don't not play many songs from "Pzyco!" live nowadays, but sometimes I really like to listen to the record. By the way, the sound is really great, when I think about it having been recorded in 1996. What can I say? It's still a HATE SQUAD record and I have put all my energy into it like I did on every other album, so I guess I accept it as a part of our history. And only our band knows exactly what the story behind "Pzyco!" really is, hahaha. ;-D

In 2004 we released "H8 For The Masses" and in my opinion this is a really cool album with very good songs. For example, the title track and "Time For Revenge" belong to my HATE SQUAD all time favorites! This album also was a big personal success for me, because it was a hard struggle to keep everything together over all those years and everybody told us to split up and to stop or many people thought we had already split up, etc. (by the way, believe it or not, we never split up in the meantime and never stopped writing new songs!). And finally after 7 years we came up with the record - it was a really cool feeling to show some people the middle finger!

Now "Degüello Wartunes" has sort of the same feeling and I'm really happy that the record is finally released. And to be ultra honest: "Degüello Wartunes" is the best HATE SQUAD album so far and got killer songs, in my opinion. I'm not sure if "IQ Zero" can compete with the new album. ;-D

The new album is titled "Degüello Wartunes". A couple of questions:
a) When did you start writing the new material? And is everything new?
b) The recordings took place at the Rape Of Harmonies Studios: what was it like and how would you compare it to the other studios you used in your career?
c) What are the songs about, which subjects did you tackle?
d) What is/are your favourite song(s)?

a) All 11 tracks are brandnew, no old fillers! We started directly with the songwriting after "H8 For The Masses" was finished. "Degüello Wartunes" is out now and we're already working on songs for the 6th full album. Hopefully it will not take another 4-7 years. We'll try to have the next album out in 2009!

b) Rape of Harmonies studios are a really good place to record a great record! Many known bands like HEAVEN SHALL BURN, MAROON, FALL OF SERENITY, etc. recorded their albums there... and still record albums there. ;-D It is an awesome studio with cool and experienced people and we've had a great atmosphere recording our stuff there.

c) The songs are about subjects like hate, struggle, injustice, anger, frustration, loneliness and my personal inner fight! The lyrics are mainly influenced by reality and the real life, especially what makes me angry and the lyrics are very direct in your face I guess. A title like "Never Surrender...Die Fighting!" says exactly what is going on, hahaha.

d) My personal favorites from the album are: "Rise Up", "At The End Alone", "Anger From The Gutter", "Aggro Manticore", "Never Surrender...Die Fighting!", "Hannover H8core"...I could tell you every song, all in all I love the whole record :-D

You recently signed a deal with Dockyard 1. How did this come about and which other labels also showed interest or were you interested in to sign with?

Dockyard 1 showed their interrest and finally we only spoke with Dockyard 1. They made a good offer and we agreed. Without Dockyard 1 our bass player Bauke would have released it again on his label Swell Creek, but we thought it was time to work with external partners again.

Over the years you've been with G.U.N., Swell Creek and now Dockyard 1. What was good about each and which points are/were you less satisfied with? Dockyard 1 will be tough, since the deal is still very fresh.

Oh good question. GUN/BMG was like a major label, they really supported us in an awesome way with the 1st and 2nd record and spent a lot of money on our band to promote us. We got money for video clips, for tour support and all this wasn't bad at all. The point was that in the end they stopped to give this extreme support on the 3rd record and as a consequence we parted ways. At that time we got tour offers from PRO PAIN, SPUDMONSTERS and TESTAMENT, but without tour support money we weren't able to go.

The second label was Swell Creek records, the label from our bass player Bauke. So we were satisfied with all the effort that Bauke and we've put into the promotion for the "H8 For The Masses" album. It is not always a bad choice to do things on your own - DIY rules. ;-D

Now we have Dockyard 1 and so far they do a very good job. We'll see what the future will bring. :-D

Since you're one of the bigger/biggest? names in the genre, did it put a certain pressure on the band for this new album?

Sure, there is some kind of pressure, because everybody is waiting for us to release something really bad and then split up, so finally they all can say that they knew it for years, 'cause we have always been shitty, hahaha. But honestly, I don't feel any pressure, because I have done my best, sometimes more than my best just to make the best possible record. The other guys did their very best, too. Whether people will like it or not, it's not really in our hands anymore. I do know that the die-hard HATE SQUAD supporters will love it!!! ;-D

Can you still look at life and your career with your feet on the ground or has success had an influence?

For sure I'm with my feet on the ground. I have no real reason to fly high. Even if I try to make a living out of all this music stuff, it's nearly impossible to live out of it. Times are really hard today and be sure, this keeps me on the ground all the time, because I'm thankful for every little success right now. Nothing positive in life is certain and nothing good will last forever, so I try to be thankful for every little thing that went right in my life.

Regarding live performances, you've played with a big list of bands, which must have been an awesome experience. Did you learn from them regarding stage presence, songwriting, ...?

Made Of Hate band picture 2008Sure, you always learn from many people. This will hopefully never stop! I'm thankful for every new positive experience I've learned from older people in this business. But I guess there was also a period between 1994-1996 where many bands watched what we have done with our live shows at that time, especially in the stage-acting area, 'cause we were young, very wild and raw on stage, very aggressive.

I can remember shows where we supported well-known bands and some of them could not believe what kind of power and energy we set free on stage. These are not my own words, but some people say we have smashed often the headlining bands against the wall with our young, raw, naive power. I can also remember times where headlining bands were angry because we sold much more CDs and merchandise than they did the same day, hahaha.

One time we got the limit just to sell 50 CDs on the whole tour and after the first day all 50 CDs were gone. So I started selling them outside around our nightliner and at the entrance directly to the fans before and after the show. You have no idea what kind of trouble we've had then with the headlining band, hahahaha. What a fucking joke, glad that this is long ago and I can laugh now. :-D

From what I've read "Pzyco!" is a different album than what you're known for. How different?

More commercial songs, different songwriting... I started to sing with a clean voice (some people pushed me into that) and we had with "Just A Dream" our first and only (so-called) ballad. You should get this album and decide for yourself. Some people say it was an awesome HATE SQUAD record, some say this was the first real Metalcore years before KILLSWITCH ENGAGE and Co. did it, some just hate this album. I don't know, I only know that the title fits 100% to the whole story that happened to HATE SQUAD back in these days. The whole recordings and the trip to Malaga in general, everything was like a real bad movie, like a fairytale or like a bad LSD trip...hahaha!

Is everyone in the band a football fan, seeing "Hannover H8core" as one of the new tracks?

Yes, we are all big fussball fans in the band! Our club is Hannover 96, even if there are some other clubs we support. Bauke is from Amsterdam and I guess he also loves Ajax. ;-D We all played also in clubs when we were younger. My club was SV 06 Lehrte and I played for about 12-13 years, then came the music and destroyed my professional dreams, haha. I can remember that we were at tournaments in France and also Spain and played against teams like G. Bordeaux, AC Milan and the national selection from Tunisia. But all this is long ago, seems like this was another life. By the way, the Fifa World Cup 2006 was the biggest party I have ever been a part of, I'm usually not really a party animal, but at the World Cup I was partying for 6 long weeks, every fucking day...that was one of the best times I have had in my whole life...Fussball rules the world!!!

Bullet In Your Head coverWho handled the cover art for "Degüello Wartunes"? And how important is cover art, in your opinion?

The cover artwork was done by our friend Hiko Kramer, he also did the artwork for "H8 For The Masses". And he did on both albums a killer job! We all love the new cover artwork and we are very satisfied with it! In general the artwork is very important for HATE SQUAD. Ok the first record we've had no choice at all, but from the 2nd til now we always tried to have good covers. By the way, I still think that the "Pzyco!" cover is one of the best covers I've seen and was made by 2 very good artists, even if many people hate this cover, it is outstanding quality. Now Hiko's coverartwork is again awesome and we are happy to have his support and creativity for HATE SQUAD.

On the new album there are a few guest appearances: Marcus Bischoff from HEAVEN SHALL BURN and Timo Böhling and Julian Tamke from MAINTAIN. How did they get involved and on which tracks can they be heard?

We know the guys from MAINTAIN and HEAVEN SHALL BURN. I asked them and they came over and did a very spontaneous but professional job. Marcus Bischoff you can hear on "Rise Up", "My War" and "Rivers Of Blood" and Timo Böhling's voice is on "Rise Up", "Hannover H8core" and "Rivers Of Blood". Julian Tamke joined us on "Hannover H8core". They all did an awesome job and I'm glad to have them on these songs and on the record :-D

Any plans for a video of, for example, "Rise Up" or "Killing Spree" - two of my favourites on this album - or any other track for that matter?

We'll see, I really don't know. But it would be cool to have a video for "Rise Up" or "Killing Spree". I have to check the possibilities soon, hopefully there will be a video. If not, search youtube.com for HATE SQUAD clips. ;-D

What's your opinion on Metal anno 2008? Is it growing or is there a stagnation? And do you keep an eye on any new bands and releases?

Hhhm, to be honest I don't really have a special opinion about this, I guess it is like always. The whole music market is very difficult now and surely all bands sell not the amounts on records they did back in the 80s or 90s, but there are finally much more bands around than 10 years ago - everybody seems to play in a band! But I keep an eye on new bands and records, but not only in the Metal direction, I love nearly all styles of music.

Talking sales: do you have a view on how your albums did and which sold the most?

Yes, the top selling album was "IQ Zero" with more than 20000, "Theater Of Hate" about 9000, "Pzyco!" was around 7000, "Sub Zero" was 3500 and "H8 For The Masses" was 3000, all mainly Germany. I don't know exact sales numbers in foreign countries. By the way, our first and only demo tape sold over 3400 copies - that was the base for our success!

After all these years, what still drives you to make music and Hardcore in particular?

This is my passion, my love and my life! The feelings/subjects that push me to go on with it are: hate, anger, struggle, dissapointments, war, wordwide corruption and slavery, injustice and on the other hand: love, hope, friendship, trust, fun, energy!

You've played with many bands, you've listened to many bands since a very long time... which do you consider your personal favourites?

My personal alltime favorites are for example: EXODUS, SEPULTURA, CRO-MAGS, POSSESSED, DEATH TESTAMENT, OBITUARY, AGNOSTIC FRONT, THE EXPLOITED, SUICIDAL TENDENCIES, METALLICA, SLAYER, NAPALM DEATH, SICK OF IT ALL, BOLT THROWER, MERAUDER...and also bands like W.A.S.P., AC/DC, ACCEPT and some more.

My personal current favorites are bands like: HEAVEN SHALL BURN, MAROON, BLACKLISTED, TERROR, HATEBREED, 100 DEMONS, DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR, NUEVA ETICA, MACHINE HEAD, DEVILDRIVER, STATIC X, BRUJERIA, WISDOM IN CHAINS, THE SETUP, DO OR DIE, HAIL OF BULLETS, MAINTAIN, FULL BLOWN CHAOS, IGNITE...etc.etc.etc. Ah, and I also listen to much Hip Hop and Rap stuff like HOUSE OF PAIN, LA COKA NOSTRA, WU-TANG CLAN, LORDZ OF BROOKLYN, GUNSHOT, HIJACK, ONYX, THE PSYCHO REALM, ARMY OF THE PHARAOHS, etc. etc.

That's it for me. Many thanks for replying and have a great anniversary-time. If there's anything you'd like to add, fire away.

Thank you very much for the interview and the great support! I hope that all Thrash/Death/Hardcore people will risk an ear and check out "Degüello Wartunes"...if you want, feel free to visit us at www.myspace.com/hatesquad. Thanks to all the people that have supported us over the last 15 years. Without you we would be nothing! Cya hopefully somewhere on the road soon. :-D



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