Ever since hearing them for the first time back in 2013, German psych rock masters Kadavar have been one of my favorite bands. Their first two albums were such bold statements about what they are all about but it is their latest album, Berlin, that truly has Kadavar firing on all cylinders. Released on August 21st of this year, Berlin isn’t just Kadavar’s best album to date. It’s a sonic psych rock masterpiece that I feel solidifies the foundation of this band and proves them to be a force to be reckoned with.
I was lucky to have the opportunity to talk to Kadavar drummer Christoph “Tiger” Bartelt recently and it was great catching up with him again. We talked about the story behind the latest album’s title, how the creative process differed this time around, and his opinion on Gene Simmons’ statement that rock n’ roll is dead. This was a really fun interview so I hope you all will enjoy my 3rd interview with Tiger of Kadavar.
Long time no talk, Tiger. It’s been a while since we last talked. How are you?
Don the Brainfart! It’s great to talk to you again. I’m doing quite alright. I am enjoying the summer in Berlin.
Has the summer in Berlin been insanely hot?
Yes, it’s been very hot. I’m not familiar with the Fahrenheit scale about as hot as it is in Atlanta [laughs]. You have A/C there. We don’t. I just sit at home and sweat a lot [laughs]. I live in this old building that was built in the 1920’s. In the winter it’s cold as fuck and in the summer it’s hot as fuck [laughs].
Congrats on putting out Berlin. This is such a great album and I’ve really been blown away by it.
Thank you, Don. It’s great to hear that from you.
The last time we talked we talked about how Abra Kadavar was written in 10 days. You said you were going to take a different approach to writing this one. Is this where this more focused, mature sound comes from?
I would say so. Maybe we also grew a little bit as people also. I would also say that we are much closer now. Like I told you last time, I would never want to write a record under pressure again. This time we took two months just for songwriting and that was the best decision we could make. In the end, it’s all about writing good songs and I think you can really hear that we grew as songwriters a lot on this record.
I feel like there is also a bit more discipline to the delivery. Did this come from finally settling in with this line up with Simon on bass?
Yeah, of course. I mean, the discipline is something that grows if you’re playing 100 shows every year. I think it’s the same with the songwriting. When we finally went into the studio, the songs were perfectly shaped and done and we could just enjoy laying down the tracks. We didn’t have to learn the songs as we went. Everything was sorted out and we could just enjoy it and play naturally instead of thinking and analyzing too much. The whole process was really easy going and really intuitive. We didn’t have to think so much about anything and it had a really good flow.
Was there a particular song on this album that was bit more challenge than the others for you guys?
There was one song, The Old Man, which was the very first idea that we worked on for that record. I think the first sketch that I brought in for that song was back in the beginning of 2014 but we never managed to really finish the song. We worked on it for months but it just never was ready. I worked on it for a week before we went into the studio and I finally had a feeling that I had found the right parts. That was the most challenging song but I also think it’s one of the strongest songs on the record because we took the time and didn’t give up on it.
Tell me a bit about the album title, Berlin. I know that you guys are from Berlin but is there something more behind the reason you titled the album that?
A lot of people ask me if it’s something like an homage or a glorification of the city. It’s really just the history of the band. We came from different places to Berlin. Especially from a creative sense, Berlin is a big melting pot. It was challenging in the first years and we learned a lot. When we started working on this record we talked about how the band would’ve never existed if we hadn’t moved to Berlin and met by some lucky chance. Thinking about that, we thought it would be a good idea to call the record Berlin. It’s not a conceptual album where all of the songs are about Berlin. Berlin reflects the history of the band, the way we met, and how it’s responsible for where we are now. Living here and having the band here changed our lives completely.
Of the three albums Kadavar has released, I found Berlin to be the most dynamic release. Was this a conscious effort made on your part or did it come very naturally for you all?
Well, I was hoping that we wouldn’t be narrow minded and just reproduce what we have already done. We just tried to work on all of the song ideas whether it was fast, slow, sad, or whatever and tried to make something out of them and to see what happens.
With three albums under your belts now, how hard is it to make a set list for the live shows?
[laughs] Actually I think it’s going to be great because we are finally at the point where we can switch the set list up every night way more than we could before. I think it will be very refreshing playing the songs from the new record. We toured for the last two records for two years and I don’t know how many tours. Now we can alternate more.
What songs from Berlin are you most looking forward to playing live?
We have been playing “Lord of the Sky” and ” Thousand Miles Away From Home” already. I’m eagerly awaiting to play “The Last Living Dinosaur” because I’m really into that simple, heavy pounding playing that the song has. I think it’s the heaviest song on the record and I think it’s going to be really good when we play it live.
You guys recently released a video for “The Last Living Dinosaur.” That video is kind of fucking creepy man.
[laughs] Yes, I’ve heard that a couple of times already. It was fun. The director of the video is the actually the guy who designed our logo as well. He’s an incredibly talented visual artist and film maker. We asked him to do the video because he’s definitely not mainstream in the way he thinks or how he does what he does.
Gene Simmons was quoted this year as saying, “Rock N’ Roll is Dead.” What is your opinion on this?
I would disagree very much. I think rock n’ roll is quite alive right now. I mean, there have been times that maybe you could get the impression that rock n’ roll is dead but we believe that our take on playing this kind of music proves that it’s still alive. People of different ages are still liking this kind of music and coming to the shows.
I agree with you 100% but I also have to say that like it’s always been, if you really want to hear the truly great bands that doing great things, you have to dig below the surface and find them for yourself.
Yes, most of the time. I think why I love rock music so much is because it’s a way to express very personal feelings. You can put your own personality into the music and it can become really interesting. As long as there are bands around that continue to do that I think this music will stay around.
Finally, what is in store for Kadavar for the rest of 2015?
We are going to be touring a lot and we will definitely be coming to the States!
Well you guys need to get back to Atlanta so we can have some barbecue and hang again!
[laughs] I am looking forward to that. If we have time we definitely need to do that. We’ll do that at some point I promise. Thank you so much and it’s always a pleasure to talk to you, Don the Brainfart!