KORPSEInterview: August 2016
With their second album Unethical Dutch brutal death/slam act Korpse prove that they belong in the top of the European slam scene. The only thing more convincing than the album is the band’s live performance, which is absolutely crushing. I had the opportunity to speak with the Korpse drummer Marten Vanka.
Your new album Unethical hasn’t been out for too long, but I believe it got some great comments so far. Overall, how have the reactions been?
Very good! A lot of people and reviewers are pleased with the progress we made, both in our sound as in the production. We’ve done our best to improve there, so we’re happy to hear that!
You also did your best (again) to return with a… how should I put this….”colorful” album cover. Is the cover inspired on an actual event? The kidnapping of all those girls by Boko Haram maybe?
Yes, it’s definitely inspired on a specific event. It’s based on the horrors that took place during the civil war in Liberia during the 80’s and 90’s. Even though the main character on the cover isn’t literally Joshua Milton Blahyi, a.k.a. General Butt Naked, but we did try to portrait his stories.
In a documentary of Vice Media he tells with great detail how his rebel army, which mainly consisted of child soldiers, went to battle. He tells how before they went to battle they would kidnap an innocent child, ripped its heart out while it was still alive, cut the heart to pieces and eat it together, because they believed that would make them immortal. They would also drink the blood of the child and take of all their clothes, hence the name Butt Naked. They believed no bullet could hit them if they fought naked. As soon as they were naked they would start their offensive, which was basically killing entire villages and cities with axes and machetes. Women and children weren’t spared, genocidal rape took place and every slaughtered village was burnt to the ground.
We tried to make a sort of recap of these stories and use that for the album cover. The comparison you made to Boko Haram is just, because they often use similar extreme measures.
When I compare the covers of your debut and this one, I must say the first is still the most extreme. At first glance anyway. Did you try to top the first one in terms of brutality or was this never a goal of yours?
Our goal was to continue in the same way we started and I think we succeeded. I agree with you that just by looking at the covers the first one is more extreme, but I believe that the story behind Unethical will give people just as many bad feelings. It was very difficult to capture so many different aspects of the Liberian civil wars in a single picture.
Do you feel Unethical contains musical differences when comparing it to your debut?
I think the biggest difference is that the songs are faster. On the whole the way I write my music has remained the same as well as our musical direction.
Are there things you did differently in terms of the writing and recording of Unethical?
This time the recording, mixing and mastering was done by JB van der Wal and because of him the recordings and the production are a lot better than on the first album. For the first album we did everything ourselves. This time we also rehearsed all the songs with the whole band in the rehearsal studio. The songs on the first album had never been played by the entire band before the recordings. By playing the songs first we could hear the music in a whole new perspective and we were able to rewrite certain things and just take some edges off, so to speak.
Last May I had the honor again to witness you guys live. I think it’s pretty amazing how solid your show is, considering that Korpse hasn’t been around for too long. Do you have explanation for this?
We all gained a lot of experience in the other bands we played in before we founded Korpse. Besides that Sven, Mart and I already played in the band Dictated for quite some time. The past two years we also played a lot of shows around Europe, so we also gained a lot of experience on the road.
Besides musical qualities it’s also important to have a certain presence to you. When you play there’s a real band on stage. The way you look really adds to that and most certainly also Sven appearance. When you have a tough crowd I feel Sven is really the one who can still get them going. Is this something you practice or talk about or is Sven’s dominance a natural thing?
Sven does have a certain natural dominance to him, but he also has a lot of experience as I said before. Often we record our shows so afterwards we can evaluate the things that went well and also the things we could do better. I would call it practice, but it is something we work on, because we feel it’s extremely important to have a good front man.
In your short existence you’ve grown to be probably the best death/slam act in The Netherlands. Who do you think your competition is?
We don’t see anyone as competition. The brutal death/slam scene in The Netherlands is really small so I think we can all gain more if we work together. We try to play as many shows together as possible hoping the scene will gain strength rather than be shattered around like so many other genres over here.
What’s going on in the near future?
We’ll be playing several show throughout Europe and with a little bit of luck maybe a short tour to promote Unethical. We’ve also begun writing material for the next album and we’ve also just released a new lyric video!