Interview: SAMMATH
Title: Heedless trampling overforce

„I can’t stand most people so why would I want to be popular?”, proclaims Jan Kruitwagen with absolute believable attitude.

He founds his own Black Metal horde Sammath 1994 and he’s still full of burning passion and highly demands for that style. Thrashy, furious and rigid pounds also the new album release into the ears, well fitting entitled „Triumph In Hatred”.

While so many others of earlier acts out of the genre disappeared long ago, hellish screamer Kruitwagen still rages on with the power of an rabid horde of buffalos. Read, what this imperturbable individualist has interesting to report about musical topics and more!

Jan, how has developed your Black Metal Metal style over all these years? And under which influences?

„Sammath is probably most influenced by 80s Thrash and Death Metal. But early Gehenna, the 7” `Angelwings And Ravenclaws` probably inspired me the most, this was Black Metal so dark and intense. But before that other bands got me into metal. At that time I was 16 when Metallica’s `Master Of Puppets` was released and I think this album got me to pick up a guitar, before that I only heard Death and Thrash Metal through a local Australian radio metal show, but was not thinking of starting a band. Deathrow, Kreator, Sado. There are so many great bands out there that have influenced me in one way or another, even Cryptic Slaughter, early eighties Punk, Metal stuff. I’ve never really had any other types of influences, I’ve never had a radio or watched MTV, I never had the faze in life that I hear with others, first Guns N' Roses and then faster, I got into the fast stuff first and always hated the glam gayness.”

Which Black Metal hordes out of the time of the beginnings of Sammath are still around?

„Man, probably not as many as then, I’ve seen a whole generation of Black Metal come and go. But hundreds, but more are gone, just see metal archives, hehe!”

Btw: how would you categorize your own music at all?

„Black Death Metal. These days its Black Metal with some riff ideas and song structures from Thrash and Heavy Metal, but still fast Black Metal, the pounding drums must never stop. Some call it extreme furious metal leaving of the Black Metal, I still think its Black Metal, deep down you can hear the influence, and the voice is about as Black Metal as you can get.”

Black Metal – the most evil music so far. Accepts no fear, no authorities, no weakness. In nowadays times modern people bear more and more fears in their minds and hearts. Why? What’s your opinion about?

„I think people are just getting lazy and weak. Most people just do without much thought. Also TV and internet of course, fuck me, when I was young I was glad to see some tits on TV ever. You don’t really have to fight for things anymore. Black Metal for me stands as a wall between me and the rest of shitty music. The only thing terrible in Black Metal is that most of the woman are so damn ugly and it attracts a lot of losers, thankfully they are usually gone in a couple of years, some exceptions of course. There are rules enough in Black Metal, we kind of weed out the Christian and fake Black Metal by ourselves. I once heard of a Dutch label who releases Christian Black Metal, that’s so fucked up. The biggest problem these days is that there is so much to do and see that people run around taking small bits of everything but never dive down deep to truly discover something. I think internet is great, but it did ruin the obscure nature of Black Metal. Receiving letters and packages from strange countries is better than receiving emails. Black metal is also, because of internet a form of entertainment to kids who don’t feel mum and dad understand them, I can’t stand any of that whinging behaviour. I remember at Under The Black Sun festival in 2007 some members of Urgehal and Sammath were chasing each other around the camping ground with raw pieces of meat. I fell into a tent where some kids where burning candles while listening to Sammath, very amusing, I was drunk and running around with steaks and they were cutting themselves, the look and their faces was great. I guess Black Metal is different to everyone, but i think the ones who don’t need all the theatrical crap are more Black Metal. Image is superficial, fuck that.”

Please explain the meaning behind the new frontcover artwork of Sammath!

„The cover art is done by Tony Koehl. I had seen some of his work for some brutal Death Metal bands and it looks completely insane, it’s like a 80s Death Metal album but better. He did some great detailed work. The cover shows the dead of wars and piles of corpses and weapons. This all fades away into a storm which consumes all the dead. You have to see it on LP format to see it how it should be. Piece of art. The cover is Tony Koehls masterpiece, he said the same last week, his best work. He first got the ideas from me, I made some sketches and then he worked it out, completely amazing how he visualized my words and thoughts, he is great to work with. I would recommend him to any band, he has his own style and his creations are different every time.”

For what meaning stands the new album title „Triumph In Hatred” – please explain as detailed as possible!

„It stands for the fact that we kill and die, and that it repeats itself for thousands of generations, what more fitting tale then war, chaos and destruction for extreme Metal. Every word sounds like its the end. Instead of usual Black Metal topics I don’t preach but I tell the history of wars. All the lyrics tell of war, from spears to machine guns. There’s no line to it, I tell a story of war, no beginning and no end, no personal stuff, just describing. It’s our hatred towards each other that gets us going. I don’t use any personal lyrics as it always sounds kind of pathetic when you let emotions into lyrics. So we get ahead by trampling on others. I don’t judge this, or have a opinion, I just write it down. I can’t stand emotional Black Metal, like all the depressive, weak stuff.”

Btw: what means „Sammath” at all?

„It means mountain of fire, actually it’s `sammath naur` but I left the naur of because it sounds better this way, a band from Poland who started some years after me use that name Sammath Naur. Its from Tolkien‘s work. I got the band name in ‘93, when it was not the entire world who was using Tolkien as inspiration. It sounds Metal, that’s about all. I wanted a band name starting, don’t know why. One mustn’t think too much and simply do.”

Why you still do this music at all after so many years? Which is also nowadays the most inner driving force within your creative heart to do such extreme music?

„Still the same as back in ‘94, I just want to create a good Black Metal album, this kind of music has a much bigger impact then anyone who just listens to music, I see it more as a way of life then just listening to CDs. Most metalheads will understand this. Metal is not a hobby as some reviewers called the last album. Its called passion, a thing totally out of reach for most people. The driving force is a great love for this music. And finding your own way in Metal makes it even better, fuck people and their opinions. When people hate the music or try to piss me off I simply enjoy it. This music is not for everyone. I know already that Rock Hard mag will give Sammath bad marks, because some of the people there don’t like Black Metal, well, fuck them. Some German mags have always had a problem with Sammath, maybe it’s to militant, or they just don’t like it, either way, I don’t give a shit.”

Tell me about the songwriting process for „Triumph In Hatred”!

„I sit down, write riffs, then after a few weeks would go the rehearsal room with the drummer and work it out. Then back home, combine lyrics to certain riffs. Usually I start out with the chorus and work the track out from there. It takes me a long time to get a song right, I made five complete demos for this album. The first demo was total shit. In 2007 this album was already finished, but I wasn’t at all satisfied with the guitars, or voice. The bass lines were bad so I called in the live bass player Ruud, we recorded the bass in three days. I am a guitar player, so my bass playing sounds like a guitarist playing bass. It all seemed to work out perfectly, he nailed the bass, Magnus nailed the solos, Koos drums like he is possessed, perfect. You need a certain amount of luck while recording albums, it needs to fit in. I have heard many albums that are good, but miss any type of soul or conviction.”

Where you`ve got all the creative ideas for your new creations? And when they come regularly at best in your mind?

„Usually when I’m working or have things to do you get the best ideas. I however have the luck that I’m self employed and can go home to record whenever I want to. Whenever I have a day off to work on Sammath material it always sounds crap, when I get up in the middle of the night, or only have ten minutes the best stuff is created. Very funny how it works, many people have this. Working under pressure works best for me.“

How ran the studio recordings for these new album?

„Good, the guitars, voice and bass I recorded in my own studio, not the most professional studio but for guitars, bass and voice its ok. The drums where recorded in three days at a studio here in Holland, those guys never record Metal, but they did a great job. They are both drummers, so know how to record it. I did not want a typical Black Metal sound. Because the sound is not typical Black Metal I wanted the total sound to be better than most underground recordings, but still, in some reviews it’s still called raw and underground...”

Do you like it to play live?

„Not really no, at least not at every shit club or pub. I know so many bands who just keep playing at the same shit venues. I can’t stand that. I only play live at festivals or gigs with good bands where I know the sound and everything else will be ok. I don’t like the endless waiting at shows. Once I pick up the guitar and turn the amp on my heart starts pounding but all the time before that is always crap. There’s always some dickhead who walks in the way, drops your guitar, no food, no proper stage manager.”

Do you have Sammath live gigs in 2010 in focus? Exist there any plans for a real tour?

„This year won’t be easy, I am busy as hell with my job and twins of 15 months, the drummer also just became father this year. In 2011 in January we will be going on tour in Europe. Folter Records has many contacts, so it should work out well.”

What do you think about nowadays genre-bands which do mostly anything (even change the style of music) just to become and stay popular?

„I don’t think being popular is something to thrive for in Black Metal. Most popular Black Metal bands where good the first albums and then cut of their menacing edge to get the cash. If you want to make a living maybe you have to kind of sell out, but I have never had that ambition, the theatrical side I will leave to those who have that need. I don’t like the combination of Black Metal and all these so called dress wearing, make up wearing pansies. I just create Black Metal, what goes on around me I follow but that scene changing is indeed strange. Being popular is to me a very sad thing to see. I can’t stand most people so why would I want to be popular? Also thinking that you are going to get rich playing real black metal is pretty fucking stupid.”

And, what do you think, why so rare bands play really authentic Black Metal nowadays? Is it a question of inner views and feelings of hate?

„Black Metal these days is not as it was, maybe that’s a good thing, stagnation should mean death. So it’s good that the scene is expanding it’s sound a bit. But there are so many totally pathetic things going on in Black Metal. The whole depressive, kill yourself, weakness Black Metal is totally unacceptable. It stands for nothing that I see in Black Metal, strength, power, arrogance. Also Christian Black Metal, what the fuck is that? Completely insane. I don’t think Sammath plays authentic Black Metal. In some ways we are creating our own path, even though we are not original at all. But creating good music does not necessarily mean you have to be original. Inner views, yes, but I don’t see hate as the only driving force in Black Metal. Pride, arrogance and defiance play a large role in my view on Black Metal. It seems Black Metal thrives on hatred, you can feel it in every band, also the bad ones. But what is authentic Black Metal? The bands from Norway? No, they are the popular ones.”

Which are your favourite Black Metal acts?

„Old Gehenna, Bestial Warlust, Satyrion (the old stuff) a lot of War Metal, Revenge, Axis Of Advance, I could really go on for hours, also a lot of eighties Metal, man, the list is endless.”

Which is your preferred typical Netherlandish traditional meal and distillery?

„Ah, yes, Dutch food, stampot! Boerenkool met speklappen (go figure that one out), Dutch beer I don’t like at all, maybe Hertog Jan, but I prefer Fosters myself. Dutch friends that come by always want to get Fosters after they have had a couple here, or Victoria Bitter, also a damn nice beer.”

When you`re looking back in the beginnings of Sammath – have your musical „dreams” mostly fulfilled until now?

„I would never have imagined that I would record something like `Triumph In Hatred` when I started out, so yes, absolutely. This album is about as good as it gets for me. Im having a hard time in thinking about the next album, its not going to be easy, but every album needs to be different, or at least better. I don’t have to live from this, it doesn’t pay the bills so I don’t have to copy myself once I make a album that people like or dislike, not really my problem but more the problem of Folter records.”

With which expectation(s) do you looking forward to the upcoming way of your band?

„Its already going better then expected, I got interviews in big magazines, I am getting great reviews. That’s about what I want. We are also building a studio in my house beginning next year, so that should make sure we get back to rehearsal every week, and I’m the lucky bastard that doesn’t have to travel.”

Do you have in your country a dedicated fan-base?

„A fan base, no, many people who write me once a new CD is out, yes. When a new CD is released I get a lot of orders from the same people who ordered the first demos. I get many reactions to CDs and mails but in ‘94 you would get eight page letters from all over the world from underground maniacs, those times are over in some ways, its all bigger but not better. Drowning in Metal it seems these days. So many good and bad releases that I simply miss due to the vast amount of releases these days.”

What’s your personal view about the Metal scene in your country?

„Holland has always had a good scene. The Death Metal in the eighties was some of the best made at that time. Always a couple of bands that I’ve known and they are still around, Salacious Gods, Cirith Gorgor. Some new bands are pretty good but they disappear is quick as they came. Infestis is a good new band. Holland doesn’t differ much then other countries. There is not much more of a scene of friends, I know many of the bands, drink some beers, arrange some concerts. A lot of new Black Metal bands release one or two demos and then fade away. Some af them are pretty damn good, but I guess these days people are Black Metal on Monday and Hip Hop at Friday.”

© Markus Eck, 18.12.2009

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