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.:Interviews:.

26/06/2010 – Interview with THE RETALIATION PROCESS

THE RETALIATION PROCESS (official website) is a German extreme Metal band blending influences from different styles (Thrash, Death, Metalcore, ...) on their debut album, "Downfall". This release came out in February this year, two years after the band's founding. You can read my review at this location. As we're dealing with a small band here, like there are a gazillion out there that also deserve to be heard, an interview would be a fine way to get to know more about the band, their music and so on.

Guitarist Jury Kowalczyk mailed me for an interview a few months ago, but because of circumstantial reasons it's only now that I could interrogate the band about the aforementioned items. Bassist Michael Konecny aka Micha took the time to put answers under my questions. Read on and while you're at it, check out the band on MySpace and contact your local or national gigs organizers. That way you're helping small bands get bigger, get more recognition and so forth. Metal is about more than supporting (only) the big names.

The Retaliation Process logo

You didn't really foresee a proper biographical text to present THE RETALIATION PROCESS on your website/MySpace page/press text for Silverwolf Productions. Hence a few questions. :-)
a) How and when was the band formed?

Hi Tim, THE RETALIATION PROCESS is founded on the ashes of NAYLED, the band Jury, Andre and myself (Micha) used to play for up to the day discrepancies between those who are not with TRP and those who are brought that band to an end. NAYLED split at the end of 2007 and soon after the three of us decided to move on with stronger and more focused material by the name of THE RETALIATION PROCESS. In early 2008 Christoph entered the already started writing and recording session you are able to buy now as our debut album "Downfall". That's the story so far.

b) skills: self-taught or did you take lessons?

To be honest I'm not sure about the way the other guys reached their skill level. For me, the musical career started learning notes by playing the flute. Soon after, I switched to classical guitar lessons. But the devil inside missed the distortion in classical guitar. So I bought my first electric guitar at the age of 13 and two year later I was in the studio recording some tracks with my first band for the first time. The bass came to me by chance! Out there everybody seems to yearn for being the lead guitar player (to get most of the chicks I guess ;-)). But there is no need for more than two lead guitarists in one band! So I tried the 5 string boom box, and it worked out that well, that I decided to stay with it. Everything I do on the bass is self-taught, but with a solid guitar foundation.

The Retaliation Process bandc) Why that bandname? What's the story behind it?

There is no need for a name if you are in it for the music, but the people need a catcher to have a common basis for the start of the discussion. You can choose a simple name everybody is able to catch by first sight or you choose the challenge that needs some attention, but once it's inside the system... remembered 'till death. That's the TRP way! Easy is the right way for all the other lame ass itch bands out there! The meaning for us behind this depends on who of us is asked! For me this is our claim for a warpath against cliché and lame stereotyped music in every scene! Or something even more pathetic.

In what kind of environment did you grow up? Was your family into music? Did you get chances to develop possible skills at a young age?

I was a fucked-up small town boy, knowing that he is predicted to be more than everybody else, but that's how everybody feels, I guess. Growing up in a middle class family and a small town is the best stepping ground to become a skilled musician, a sarcastic lyric or an early suicide. Luckily my life lead to the musician type of life!

You're signed to Silverwolf Productions, the label of DREAMSCAPE guitarist Wolfgang Kerinnis. How did this deal arise and how is Silverwolf helping the band?

In times like this, when nobody wants to pay money for value, or in other words, in times when music is no longer seen as an art form, it's fucking hard for a "no name band" to get a contract. So we are thankful for the chance we are given by Silverwolf. But it's not hard to imagine that a small label like that needs to sell physical stuff to make a band a business case. I don't think that there is one for TRP at the moment, so the label help and the promotion effort is calculated to that circumstance.

Were there other labels that showed interest?

Yes, there have been contacts with other labels, but none of those was in the position to take the risk, signing TRP and enable a worldwide release.

When did you write the songs for "Downfall" and was there a sort of pressure to deliver a solid album from the start?

Taking into account the situation, when we started the recordings (without singer and second guitar player), you might think that we had all the fucking time in the world. But we wanted to be back on the scene as soon as possible, so I think 3 songs out of the album were written in the final second before entering the studio and were finished in the studio. If you enter a studio, I don't think that there is one band out there that tries to deliver a weak performance or a lame album. You always think you are going to nail down another future classic. If this is not what makes you tick, then there is no need wasting time and money. In the end there is always a limiting factor for an underground band (time/money) in a production, that forces compromises. But that's ok, 'cause then there is room for improvements for the next album, which will be for sure the future classic everybody was waiting for.

You recorded "Downfall" with Eike Freese from DARK AGE. Why was he the chosen one? And did he offer you ideas for the songs, to rework stuff or maybe add parts you didn"t think of before entering the studio?

Eike is a close friend of the band. So there was never a question of going to another producer. And even if he would not be our friend, we would have chosen him, because he is one of the top notch producers in Germany. He is extremely musically skilled and seems to know what the sound or the song must sound like before you even have a clue.

The production fits the style you play, but somehow there's room for improvement, in my humble opinion. Room to let the music breath more? Considering how the end result now sounds very compact, no?

Well, I think you are right, the production is a little bit to compressed, which makes it a wall of sound that blows as hell, but leaves less room for single instrument. This is the time and money causality I was referring to... And this is the room for improvements for the next production we already started.

The Retaliation Process - DownfallThe artwork contains shapes like grain or crop circles. What does it mean and how does it connect with the album title and lyrics?

The artwork is an end of civilization scenario with final signs of the old or fist signs of the new species. This dark atmosphere reflects the pessimistic mood of our lyrics. So downfall might describe the end of an era, but there is always a new beginning inside this ending. This is a strong relation to TRP's history!

For the lyrics, where did you draw inspiration from? And at what point in the song-writing process were they created?

The inspiration comes automatically if you go with open eyes through this world. There are so many things going wrong, there are so many things one should question. And the human being with his interdependencies to the society and the conflicts within this urban existence is the second leg our lyrics consist of.

How are songs created? Is everyone responsible for the compositions, for bringing ideas to the table? Is there perhaps one man who eventually decides what goes and what doesn"t go?

In the writing process we arrived in the 21st century, with all the goodies like hard disk recording and software emulation. It starts with an idea by one of us. This idea is then recorded and send to the others. Once this theoretical new TRP song is agreed by everybody, it is brought to the rehearsal room. If the song works out, it is a newborn TRP classic.

"Downfall" contains a mix of several styles like Death, Thrash, Metalcore, Gothic, ... Is this due to every member having his own taste or was it more to stand out from the majority of extreme bands?

There is no master plan behind the style we kick. It is just the natural flow inside the writing process. That makes it an issue of the personal background. Jury and Andre are coming from the Swedish Death Metal scene, Sascha is influenced by Math Metal and Christoph fells at home in every kind of extreme music. I bring the Hardcore to the table. This is what the TRP soup is cooked with.

Is this the style you'll hang on to (for the time being?) or does the extremity of the music depend on the writing process of each album?

Everything in life is a process, everything flows and so does TRP. No one knows what's up next. We do not make a living of the music, this gives us the opportunity to do whatever we want to do. Maybe the next album is a pure Grindcore blast massacre or it will be a Progressive Metal bastard. Perhaps it will be a pure acoustic release or just more of the monster groove attack that "Downfall" is. Stay tuned and enjoy the show!

Which are the bands that influenced you/the band to, first, form a band, and second, play the style that is found on "Downfall"?

I'm strongly influenced by the early 80's Bay Area Thrash Metal scene. METALLICA and MEGADETH made me want to be in a Metal band too. Later on I took a deep dive into New York Hardcore. The common ground inside TRP is definitely bands like MACHINE HEAD or DEFTONES. But a direct influence on what we do and did on "Downfall" I will deny.

Guitar solos are not an important element in your songs. Not that one always needs a solo, but why did you add so few of them on the album?

Who the fuck needs guitar solos? Only guitarist with a small ... does need it to build up his ego. Good songs can easily live without (the HC sucker speaking)! We do use guitar solos just as small add-on, not as a fixed part of every song.

The album's also available on iTunes. How do you feel about digital sales vs hard-copy sales in real shops? In today"s digital age, it's a must, but does it have a positive influence on your musical income, so to speak?

Me, as the one that quit buying cd's, iTunes is the main legal source for new music. Yes, it is a must and in the future the only way to have a minimum profit from creating music. For TRP it is of no matter, 'cause we are not making any money at all. This is not changed by iTunes and it will not change.

The Retaliation Process - MichaAnd related to that: mp3s vs CD (with booklet)?

About two years ago, I switched from physical CD to mp3. I love to be able to carry out my complete catalogue everywhere I want to. But this does not mean that I stopped paying for the music. That's me, the guy loving to listen to music, that's the fan. The musician inside has a more critical view on the mp3 story. The availability of music within the web without being charged for it makes it hard for every artist to make a living out of his creativity. And by the way, the fans do shoot their own knees with illegal downloads... but this is known to everybody, so...

Any view on sales at the moment?

No, I do not have a view on sales, but I don't think that we reached break even up to now. Unfortunately!

In terms of gigs you really want to play more than what you"ve been doing so far, right? Is it that hard indeed to get booked or get the name out to organizers?

Sure, this is not the question of willing to play. It's a matter of getting booked! We already talked about the pain in the ass situation a small band finds itself in terms of live presence. There is a bunch of small stages bands can play on without getting paid, and most of the time there is no advertisement for this kind of shows, so the audience is limited. If you want to play bigger shows, you will have to accept the "pay to play" philosophy or you don't play... So iIf you are out there planning a show or a festival, contact us (theretaliationprocessNOSPAM@gmx.de - note by Tim: remove the NOSPAM). We are ready to rock any stage!

Of the gigs played so far, how was the crow response? And what did you learn from those gigs regarding playing live or perhaps even the song material itself?

We are no absolute beginners, everybody of us had several bands before TRP, there is not that much that we can learn about the live playing! In terms of song material it's hard to figure out what works and what does not. Every evening is different, every crowd responds in a different way to each and every song. But most of the time the people liked the way we present our songs and hopefully they liked the material too.

Looking at bills of festivals, it's still the big bands that need to be booked to be sure of enough revenue. But depending on known bands will wear out in the long term. Especially with a gazillion number of bands out there (Death, Thrash, Power, Progressive, Black, Gothic, ...) it's as if concert organizers don"t want to burn themselves by booking smaller bands or putting less-known bands higher on the bill. Also, I have the impression that many (young) Metalheads don"t want to check out less-known bands anymore or prefer to talk about the big(ger) names, hence bands like TRP getting less chances to present themselves and thus rise in popularity (= being known on a bigger scale and thus acquire more booking requests). What"s your impression on this situation, gigs and support from Metalheads in general for smaller bands?

Well, you got the point. If you are a no name, no one will book you! But you need to play live to get in touch and inside the ear of the people to make a name. This is a downward spiral for the underground bands. And yes, I agree with your impression that only the big names are watched by the people. Maybe there are too many bands out there for the people to focus on, maybe it's all about the promotion budget to bring the music to the people's ear. And it is the combination of everything. But that's how it is, you can't change the game, you can only try to your cads with the new rules, and work hard to get out of this spiral.

When not spending time on THE RETALIATION PROCESS, what do you do in your spare time? Any hobbies?

We spend most of our spare time for TRP. If you want a band to work out on this semi-professional level, you need to be pain resistant, 'cause it has nothing to do with bitches and money! It's hard dedicated work! It's not enough making good music, you need to tell the people that this is the hot shit! And if you want to rock some shows, you need to hang on the telephone and penetrate bookers and those who think they are. If you think the bed is prepared once you sign a contract... I can just say "dream on". This is the moment the hard work starts! A contract is an opportunity that you can use or that can be wasted!

And finally, did you have leftover material from the writing sessions for "Downfall" that can be used for the next album? Are you already working on the next release?

There is definitely no leftover material, 'cause there was not time enough for another bunch of songs. But we already entered the studio to record new stuff. This time around, we decided to do most of the recording work by our self (DIY, baby). Only the drums will be recorded again at Eike-studio in mid July. The main part of the guitar work is already done and I will do my work in the beginning of August, followed by Christoph. We hope to be able to release the EP (probably as free download) by late autumn or early winter! There are some videos on our myspace page showing our work in the home studio. That's funny stuff, so don't miss it!

That's it from me. Many thanks for taking the time to reply. All the best with TRP and the necessary gigs. Any final words are yours to add.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to present TRP to your readers. And to the people out there: "check out our myspace page (www.myspace.com/theretaliationprocess) and if you like what you hear, get a hard copy of our debut "Downfall" or buy our tracks on iTunes and we will hook you up with new material ASAP.



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