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27/09/2010 – Interview with Tobias Ludwig (THULCANDRA)

The Swedish Death/Black Metal band DISSECTION is no more. But there's the German THULCANDRA (official website) to take its place if you're seeking the same kind of extreme Metal. THULCANDRA is the other band of OBSCURA vocalist/guitarist Steffen Kummerer. He got help from his pals in HELFAHRT to complete the line-up for the band's debut album, "Fallen Angel's Dominion", which came out earlier this year. You can read the review at this location.

As I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the material, I sent some questions to the band. Steffen was to answer them, but as he's working on a new OBSCURA album, bassist Tobias Ludwig took the liberty and time to provide answers about the band, the album and more. You can check it all out below. If you haven't done so far, go out and buy "Fallen Angel's Dominion", for it's (in my humble opinion) one of the better releases this year. Sidenote: photo by Ruth Graebeldinger.

Thulcandra logo

THULCANDRA, a powerful and somewhat epic name. Does it mean anything or is it just a name that sounded right for the band and musical style?

THULCANDRA is the name of a very old and very rough DARKTHRONE demo. Even though the production is really rough, or maybe just because of that, it has a charm of its own. The name itself derives from the "Silent Planet-Trilogy", where THULCANDRA is the name of the silent planet, Earth.

Thulcandra - band"Fallen Angel's Dominion" was written by Steffen. Or did the other two members help you with certain compositions or lyrics?

Most riffs on "Fallen Angel's Dominion" were written years ago by Steffen and Jürgen Zintz, but Sebastian contributed some riffs to two songs. The re-arrangment of the old songs with the inclusion of the new ideas was done by Steffen. On the upcoming album, we will all three work together and see how that turns out.

Steffen's doing very well with OBSCURA. Personally I found "Fallen Angel's Dominion" a very solid album, yet I felt it lacked a sort of feel, passion for the music. A drive, one might say. Is it just my impression or was there pressure during the writing and recording process, to make it as attractive and solid as OBSCURA's material?

Well, the writing lasted for several years, so.... no, no pressure! And I can assure you that we would not release an album we are not comfortable with because we lacked passion and drive... no, that must be just your impression. :-)

After Jürgen Zintz's passing, Steffen was the sole survivor, yet found with you new members who also play in HELFAHRT. Since Steffen used to play in that band, I take it the choice was easily made? (looking for new members)

Yes, it was an obvious and very easy choice. During the few concerts in which Steffen helped us out we soon realised that we are all die-hard DISSECTION fans and that we came along perfectly well. So when he told us that he wanted to begin again with THULCANDRA and asked us to join... it was a rhetorical question, basically.

Fallen Angel's Dominion coverThe cover looks very nice. Dark, cold and inline with the music. Is this the fallen angel, who's doomed to spend the rest of his days in such an environment?

You would have to aks Necrolord that question, though I like that interpretation! We gave Necrolord free reign on the cover, and that's what he came up with. Needless to say that we are all more than content with it!

Are the songs connected in a sort of story-line or does each stand on its own?

It's not a concept album, the songs and lyrics can stand on their own. We do like the idea of a concept album, however. Maybe the next one will be connected.

In terms of lyrics, where do/did you draw inspiration from?

The lyrics were written to support the atmosphere of the album, that cold and grim feeling that was prevalent in the albums of the 90ies. You can achieve that even without being a member of some obscure, Satanic order.

For OBSCURA you signed with Relapse Records, for THULCANDRA it's Napalm Records who offered you a contract. Was this because Napalm has a history of Black Metal or for the simple reason that they have a diverse roster, are active on a big scale, etc...?

Relapse Records was not interested in a Black Metal album, but they allowed Steffen to look for other labels to release "Fallen Angel's Dominion". Napalm contacted us directly, and we immediately signed with them, as they are very good label who support THULCANDRA in every way.

In terms of gigs, the only big one scheduled so far (when looking on your Myspace page) is the Helion festival in October. Do you plan to make a European tour, however small, or just play random gigs here and there?

Yes, there are plans for a European tour, but nothing solid so far. Seeing that we are all busy with our other bands, it is not easy for us to play single gigs... especially Steffen has a very tight schedule with OBSCURA. Therefore, a tour is the only possibility for us to play often, as single random gigs are difficult to manage.

Most reviews are (very) positive, though there's the criticism that THULCANDRA sounds too much like DISSECTION, therefore lacking originality, integrity, etc... Which I don't agree with (the lacking of...). Many bands (be them Thrash, Death, Power, Progressive, ...) sound like several others, which is unavoidable. Does this kind of "criticism" influence the way you write or play Death/Black Metal or Metal in general?

No, definitely not! We write and play music the way we want to and don't care what the critics say to it. The main idea behind THULCANDRA was and still is to recreate that feeling and the atmosphere of the Black-Death-Metal of the 90s, so the resemblances are purely intentional. We have never set out to be original and inventive, that's what we can do with our other bands. So, most of the time we see the criticism that we sound like DISSECTION as a praise.

As everyone in the band is occupied with music (HELFAHRT, OBSCURA and others), is there still room for me-time, i.e. hobbies and non-band related stuff, just to clear your heads from time to time?

Well, unfortunately there has to be, as we cannot live from the music alone. Steffen is still at university, Basti has a proper dayjob and I have just finished studying and have applied for a job. Actually it works the other way round, band-related stuff is a good way of clearing your head from the everyday life.

For the cover of DISSECTION's "The Somberlain", could you just add it to the album or were there royalties and such involved?

We just added that one, no royalties and such!

Since you reworked older compositions (and also wrote new ones) for this debut album, I take it you have bits and pieces ready for the follow-up, no? Even if it could take a certain number of years to complete it all. Or will OBSCURA become the main focal point again?

That's right, there are still bits and pieces flying around, and Steffen and Basti are both writing new riffs. It won't take years for these bits to be assembled, actually, we booked the Woodshed studio for December 2010 and will record the next album there. Having said that, THULCANDRA will very likely never be the main focal point of all its members, our other bands have priority.

That's it from me. Many thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Good luck with the Helion festival and other gigs. Feel free to add any final comments.

Thank you for your interest in our music! Check out our MySpace webpage from time to time, we might announce a small tour sooner or later! See you then!

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