Four years following the release of their promising debut album titled “FMKD”, Greek four-piece group KEMEROV are back in action, striking us once again with their potent and crushing death’n’roll inspired by the likes of Entombed, early Carcass, and even Six Feet Under or Bolt Thrower.
CVLT: Hi! Can you recall your first ever musical experience?
Matt Karampalios (vocalist): Talking about myself, my first ever musical experience personally, the one that made me feel for the first time that I want to get into music was when I, as a young teenager, caught Alice Cooper’s ‘Poison’ video on TV. This was shocking to me, to say the least. A lot of other musical stimuli have shaped my musical point of view since then of course, but that was definitely a decisive point. As for my bandmates, we all come from quite diverse musical backgrounds, so I guess that’s different for each one.
How do you feel the band has grown in the time since your first album ‘KEMEROV’, both personally and musically?
Well, first of all, the line-up has changed and we struggled a bit for a period of time until we found a new permanent guitarist; that explains the rather long time gap between our two full-length albums. Musically, the influence spectrum is much wider now, as, in terms of songwriting, the whole band contributes more evenly compared to the first days, when the guitarist was mainly responsible for that back then. In a personal way, I don’t think we have changed much, after all, we are unfortunately not so young anymore, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, etc.
How is your life reflecting on your work?
We definitely live by everything our songs talk about. As people, we are not untouched by everyday struggles, but also in a social and political manner. We are against injustice, inequality, and discrimination of any kind, and we try to impress that on our lyrics.
We like people to be free of strict ideological barriers when listening to ‘Anti-Hero’. We want them to be open to new points of view and to not be afraid to challenge what cemented ideas they may have been brought up with.
How is ‘Anti Hero’ any different than any of the previous albums? What is it new that it brings to the table?
‘Anti-Hero’ is definitely more diverse musically than our first one. Also, this time around we had a more clear view of how we wanted to sound beforehand, and we worked towards that. This wasn’t the case with ‘FMKD’ in 2017, as we weren’t really sure how to approach our material soundwise and we were left in the hands of our mixing engineer. That is of course still an album we are proud of, but in ‘Anti-Hero’ we feel we are making our point more distinctly.
What was it that inspired you in putting together the latest album?
The years after our debut album have been a bit hard for the band because we’ve struggled with replacement guitarists for quite along. On the other hand, this fueled our “stubbornness” and will to go on and this certainly got depicted in our new material.
How did you approach the writing process for Anti Hero?
The writing process has always been more or less the same with Kemerov. Usually, a first riff idea and/or a chorus idea comes to the table. From then on, brainstorming through rehearsal and beers take over, more ideas are added or rejected, until all this can constitute a song that seems to have a reason of existence. After that, it’s more and more rehearsing until the specific song definitely sits right and gets finetuned in the small details.
If you were to sum up the whole album to a single word, which would that word be?
What do you want people to feel primary when listening to Anti Hero? How would the album be best served?
We like people to be free of strict ideological barriers when listening to ‘Anti-Hero’. We want them to be open to new points of view and to not be afraid to challenge what cemented ideas they may have been brought up with. This is how we live too. It’s true that some things, like the mutual respect among fellow human beings, are unnegotiable; but being willing to listen to another person’s point of view can sometimes be really eye-opening.
The title itself is quite illustrative. “Anti-Hero” has this comic-themed inspired artwork cover that pays tribute to Wolverine Blues by reflecting the simplicity as to not take yourself way too seriously. What message do you want to convey?
If we had to set a main general idea behind the album, this would exactly be it, and kudos to you for noticing; not taking yourself too seriously. Apart from some basic human values that we believe are indisputable, people tend to be very serious and dogmatic about the things they believe or love like they are some universal truth. Sometimes, even if we are sure we are right about something, taking some time to appreciate what the person across might have been through or where they come from is something that will help us control our ego and stop taking ourselves so seriously. Maybe we even get to learn a new thing or two. As for the artwork, I personally am a huge comics fan and was always entertaining the idea of “dressing” an album of ours this way.
How do you know when a track is ready? Does it ever become difficult to either refine ideas down or to stop perfecting?
Well, there is not a certain rule about that. Sometimes a song feels that it’s made to be straight and simple, so in that case, we leave it like that. Other times, it’s like nothing sits right and we go in endless circles. In a case like this, we leave it aside and we return to it after we’ve almost forgotten it was there. When we return to it after some time, looking at it with fresh eyes, everything usually falls into place with just a few touches. But overall, there is no predefined method for songwriting.
What are your recording studio setups like? What gear is most important to your composing process?
As you’ve probably noticed, we love Entombed and this whole ‘90s death metal sound with all the feeling it emits. This is why we consider the Boss HM2 guitar pedal the starting point of our overall sound. From then on, each member of the band comes from a different musical background, so there is no specific recording setup apart from that.
Who amongst you has the oddest touring habits? We’ve heard it all, from ice-t bottle collections or to guerilla-tactic swimming missions in a random hotel. How does Kemerov rank up?
To be honest, due to COVID, it’s been so long since we’ve been on a tour that the memories have even started to fade. Well, we’ve never actually been on extensive touring outside of Greece, so I can’t think of any related touring habits that deserve to be mentioned. We sure can’t wait until we get over this whole pandemic situation, so we can get on the road and promote ‘Anti-Hero’ the way it deserves.
As I’ve already mentioned, as long as extensive touring is not a possibility under the circumstances, we are concentrating on rehearsing and already putting together some new material, in the hopes that we’ll have our next album out sooner than our last. Of course, we are looking forward to some live gigs, when they become possible!
You can pre-order ”Anti-Hero”, HERE.
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