Following up their stunning 2019 offering, The Harvest, German death metal band Endseeker tackles modern society and conspiracy theories on their new offering, Mount Carcass. If that’s not enough, they still find time to bash out an instrumental cover of the movie theme for Escape From New York. With plenty to chat about, we caught up with vocalist Lenny Osterhus and drummer Andre Kummer to talk conspiracy theories, the German government, and more.
Thanks for your time. How is life treating you today?
Andre Kummer: “Thank you. So, except for the typical Hamburg crap weather, I’m doing great today.”
You’ve just dropped your awesome new album, Mount Carcass. You’ve talked about recording an album through lockdown, what were the challenges you faced and how did you overcome them?
Kummer: “I’m very glad you like the album so much. In fact, the work on the album was surprisingly uncomplicated, despite the pandemic, lockdown and circumstances associated with it. Since there were no live gigs, we could fully concentrate on the songwriting and do a complete pre-production for the vocals. We always lacked the time for this luxury until now. As a result, we went into the studio extremely well prepared, so that the recordings went very relaxed and without any problems.”
Metaphorically speaking, you talk about modern society. How do you hope society will change post-lockdown?
Kummer: “To be honest, I don’t have much hope that society will change much for the better after the pandemic. Of course, it would be desirable that people appreciate the comforts of life more, or that people pay more attention to each other. However, I can imagine that after a few months of normality, potential good intentions will be quickly forgotten. In this regard, we are often unfortunately not very capable of learning.”
Lockdown has been different in every country. How would you describe the last twelve months for you?
Kummer: “For me personally, the lockdown hasn’t really had a negative impact over the last twelve months. I was able to concentrate completely on the new album and spent a lot of time behind my drums in my free time. Since I don’t have any existential worries thanks to my main job, I really can’t complain. But of course, I miss concerts, festivals, bar visits, and travelling. As soon as all that is possible again, some unhealthy months should follow (laughs).”
You talk about being political individuals, how would you rate the way the German government has handled the pandemic on a scale of 1 to 10?
Lenny Osterhus: “I would say there is no perfect way to handle this pandemic except your country is an island. You can’t shut down everything for short time dramatically here in Germany and afterwards is everything ok again. A country in the middle of Europe with focus on export economics is not the best starting point to fight a virus world downfall. However, many important steps were neglected and the voices of scientists seem to be unheard again and again and again. That’s exhausting. We have politicians that have made ‘mask-deals’ and got rich due to ‘special consultant contracts.’ Not very trustworthy.
Then, some politicians seem to be very naïve. Or the Minister of Health was infected with COVID because of a meeting with a lobby group. It seems there are different laws for different people and that is exhausting as well. Also, the event industry, gastronomy and self-employed got kicked in their asses. Unfortunately, the commitment of aid payments is far away from being reliable. I hope they will survive the pandemic… also hospitals and intensive care units were closed during the pandemic… why?
But we have to consider, I am still alive. And that is at least an advantage for me. So there cannot be everything wrong. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give the German government a motivating 3. However, I would like to highlight the great work of the people working in the health sector. Doctors, nurses and supporters. Definitely, 10 out of 10!”
Aside from the serious influences, there are classic zombie lyrics on tracks like “Unholy Rites.” Are you big zombie movie fans?
Kummer: “In general, I really like the whole horror genre. Although that has diminished somewhat over time. But the typical George A. Romero classics, or films like Halloween, Evil Dead, and Hellraiser have shaped me as a child. I always watched these evil films secretly or at a friend’s house. Afterwards, I was always afraid to go home alone in the dark.”
The sound has obvious influences from old school death metal bands like Morbid Angel and Bolthrower. Could you talk us through some of the bands that made you want to be in a band in the first place?
Osterhus: “Unfortunately, as a child, my social surroundings were not characterized by metal heads. So I started to listen to Rammstein first. It was simply the heaviest band I have known so far. I enjoyed the power of that music and thought I have to do something similar. I started my first metal band when I was 17 (heavy metal band). I got to know more metal bands and the full range of subgenres. Listening to Cannibal Corpse was like an awakening. Wow! Music that was able to reach every single cell of my body. I knew I had to make death metal. So I started with brutal death metal. The faster, the better. My aim was to pulverize this world with music. (Yes, I was young.) My heroes were besides Cannibal Corpse, bands like Krisiun, Immolation, Vomitory, Morbid Angel, just to mention a few. I still love the music.
Now, many years later I listen to all the bands I missed when I was young. It is kind of a reversed story. Most people love the old school death metal because of romantic memories to that time. For me, old school death metal has a modern touch because I listened to other genres before.”
Pre-lockdown, what was the German metal scene like and how much has your local scene suffered due to there being no live events?
Kummer: “In general I would describe the German metal scene before lockdown as big and healthy. Especially when it comes to small and medium-sized festivals, there was a huge offer in Germany with really something for every fan. There was a special festival for almost every genre. Often organized by fans for fans with an incredible amount of heart and soul. I strongly hope that most of them don’t have to give up and can continue to exist after the pandemic.
The local scene here in Hamburg suffers enormously from the general ban on concerts and work. This affects the entire cultural sector, which feels completely abandoned by politics. Many clubs and bars have their backs to the wall and I really hope that they can somehow recover from the current situation.”
Another subject on the album is conspiracy theories. Do you think lockdown and the growth of social media has contributed to the increase in conspiracy theories?
Kummer: “Absolutely. Even before the pandemic, social media were the perfect space for conspiracy theories and their exchange. Nowhere else do people dare to say even the most absurd things, unfiltered. In lockdown, the whole thing has intensified. On the one hand, people have more time, and on the other, everyone can declare themselves an expert. The bad thing about it is that there are unfortunately far too many people who pick out a truth for themselves that just suits them. As absurd as this may be.”
Is there one conspiracy theory that you hear which really makes you laugh?
Osterhus: “(laughs) This is a good question. To be honest, most of them make me cry. They show me that humanity has not made any further steps in the direction of a Star Trek society. Rather, we are trapped in times of Galileo Galilei where ‘truthseekers’ are persecuted. Nevertheless, I watched this documentary in TV about ‘Flatearthers.’ They tried to prove the globe is no globe at all. They bought this very expensive instrument to prove their theory. But after they did their experiment, they recognized the curvature is real. Broken faith at its best.”
Tell us a bit about how your instrumental cover of Escape From New York came about. Are there any other covers in the pipeline from the band?
Kummer: “Our guitarist Ben is a big fan of the movie and just as enthusiastic about the soundtrack. That’s why at some point in the rehearsal room he came up with the idea of dressing the film’s theme tune in a death metal garb. At first, we couldn’t really imagine that it would work, since it’s an instrumental. But in the end, it works absolutely fantastic and above all, it’s something completely different. We actually enjoy covering songs a lot. I’m sure there will be more surprises in the future.
You’ve used ascending Mount Everest as a metaphor on the album. If the band tried to reach the top of Everest, what would your plan of action be to do so?
Osterhus: “First of all we would have to sell our souls and bodies to earn enough money (laughs). Then, we should decrease the abdominal girth. At least, Eggi, Ben, and me. Maybe by training. Maybe by liposuction. Sporty looking, we could practice breathing exercises. We would climb Mount Everest without an extra of oxygen for sure. Buying clothes, that I normally wear in summer (my band knows what I mean) we would start ascending the mountain. Climbing hours and hours, we would take a look on the map and GPS and recognize that we walk in the wrong direction.
Without further ado, we would follow the course and climb this other mountain just to declare that THIS mountain is now the top of the world and Mount Everest is just a little piece of shit. Satisfied, we would descend and probably die in the next blizzard. This is my romantic vision.”
Thanks for your time and good luck for the rest of the year. Over to you for the final words…
Osterhus: “Thank you so much for your support. We highly appreciate it! As soon as live shows are possible again we will catch up the lost year and pulverize the earth. When you feel to support us after reading this interview just feel free to visit our online shop buying merch, send us greetings via social media and spread the word.”
Endseeker’s new album, Mount Carcass, is out now through Metal Blade Records and you can order/hear it on Bandcamp.