Crackheads Aplenty
CoC Interviews Crack Up
by: Adrian Bromley
As I expressed with mixed feelings in my review of this German quartet's sophomore record _From The Ground_ in CoC #24, I felt that Crack Up were good, but that nothing had set them apart other than their groove. But the more and more I listened to the band's latest, the more I was drawn into what they were doing. While the music may not be all that original, it is the death metal-ish sounds mixed with the crazy groove of the band's music that draws in the listener. Songs like "Worthless", "Blood On The Floor", or the Fang (70's punk band) cover of "Money Will Roll Right In" just do something to ya. It's aggressive music built around solid grooves. Some may disagree, but I think Crack Up have a future if they continue along the same styles and grow as musicians and as a team. I investigated the band some more, to learn of their first record - _Blood Is Life_ on We Bite records - and to find out a bit more (from their website) than the average bio would tell me. More and more, I was hooked, so I fired off questions via e-mail for bassist/singer Tim to answer. After weeks of waiting, I finally received his replies. Here is what Tim had to say about Crack Up (rounded out by guitarists Dirk and Helvin and drummer Frank), the state of metal music nowadays, and the German music scene.

CoC: Tell me about the new album _From The Ground_. What were the initial ideas behind song styles and concepts?

Tim: We recorded it in December 1996 at Andy Classen's studio (Stage Studio One) in about eleven days, plus five days of mixing it. We never really think much about the songs when we write them. It is a very natural process for the band and myself. The album was initially released in Europe in April 1997, and we got a lot of good responses from magazines and zines. Our album was initially supposed to be out earlier, but the label Nuclear Blast has moved from Tampa Bay to Philadelphia, and that is keeping it from coming out I think. At this time right now, I am not sure if the record is available there yet. I think it is.

CoC: Do you find that over the years the band has grown, the band's musical style/sound has altered a bit? Or do you think you have stuck pretty true to what you initially set out to do as Crack Up?

T: Yes, I think we have stayed true to what we wanted to do since the very beginning. When we started the band, we were quite bad at playing and hadn't really learned how to use our instruments all too well. We all learned together and grew as a band with our sound. We always wanted to take all the riffs and melodies and include them into our music. We always wanted to create music and not think about the other types of music out there and follow it in anyway. We don't care if our music has a death metal riff, punk rock riff, or hardcore riff, as long as we like what we do. We feel that as we go along, album after album, we must be able to express ourselves more. With each album, there must be some natural changes and developments in the music, and we are very open to that.

CoC: What were your influences in metal music growing up? Do you see those influences in your music?

T: Our drummer Frank and I were very much into the early death metal releases of the 1980's. Those records that we bought back then are all classics now. It was a great time for metal music back then. I remember the debut records from Obituary, Entombed, and Morbid Angel. Those bands gave us the kick to form a band and play this type of music. But at the time when we formed the band, we were also listening to bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Primus too. It's funny - we like all types of music, and death metal is a big influence for us and our music, but I still don't consider ourselves a death metal band.

CoC: How long did it take you to write this record? Do you write music often, or is it only when you head into a studio to record the material?

T: We wrote these fifteen songs over a year's time. But that isn't always the way it is for us. I mean...we could write fifteen songs in three weeks, too. It just depends on the mood we are in. We are constantly recording music, unlike a lot of bands that write over two hundred songs and only record ten of them. We prefer to write material when we are in the mood or need to, an example being [when we are] in the studio needing material to help out the recording process.

CoC: What is your take on the "metal industry" right now? Many people (non-metal fans) are saying that metal is dead - gone! What do you think?

T: There will always be metal fans wanting to hear only metal music. Metal won't die. I don't make judgements on music because of sound, style, or genre. All that matters to me is the quality of the music. About metal music nowadays: metal music has had better times, and it is very sad that most labels don't show any interest in pushing their new bands. It's a shame, but it is happening.

CoC: Tell me about the German music scene. It's a very diverse music scene where all types of music can be found: techno, goth, rock and metal. How do bands compete and get exposure there, with such a varied assortment of bands to choose from?

T: Yes, it is very difficult to get attention over here when you play. When we started the band, there was a very good underground death metal scene, and it helped get us a lot of exposure - but the bigger we became with interest, the harder it was for us to get shows. It is great to be a part of the music scene here, but with so many CDs coming out all the time and a variety of bands to follow, bands get neglected or don't get to play much. About all the types of trends here? Personally, I don't like many of the trends here, like gothic metal or black metal. I also hate the techno scene here. I hope it doesn't get as big in the US as it is over here. [Note: Too late, Tim. The Prodigy and Chemical Brothers have arrived! --A.B.]

CoC: What has been the reaction to the record over there? Lots of press? How do good and bad reviews affect you as a band and as a musician?

T: So far we have gotten a good amount of press from Germany and other European countries. Overall, we are satisfied with what reviews we have gotten. Also, our first album _Blood Is Life_ got really good reviews, so it is hard to top that too. Sometimes a bad review is better than a good review, especially when people are writing that we are a "pure" death metal band and give us high points. I don't understand that. I think the bad reviews expressed our music better, and I respect those reviews and reviewers more.

CoC: Anything that bugs you about being in this industry and/or being on a major label like Nuclear Blast?

T: I think there are a lot of negative things about the industry. It is flooded with them. I really don't like the industry, because everything is so concentrated on sales, and most labels don't push their bands like they promised when they got signed. I hope that Nuclear Blast believes in Crack Up, and that they'll have the power and interest in pushing us.

CoC: Do you think there is a difference between the North American metal scene and the European metal scene?

T: Yes, I think so, but I am not too much into the US scene anyway, because it is difficult to keep updated for me. I would say that US bands sell well here in Europe for the most part, where a German band would have a hard time selling copies over there. I think European albums could sell well over there, because there are a lot of people who like metal over there and a huge underground death metal scene.

CoC: What are the plans right now for Crack Up in regards to recording and/or touring? Will you tour the United States?

T: Right now, we are hoping that we get hooked up with this four-week tour with Unleashed that is supposed to happen. We hope that happens, as Nuclear Blast said they are trying to get us on that tour. Also, right now we are writing on and working on our third release, due out in the summer of 1998. About touring the United States - that would be a dream for us. We will be able to come over there if the record does sell well for us. We are hoping it will, because it would be great to come over there and play.

Contact: Crack Up, c/o Donnersbergstege 56 46569 Huenxe, Germany (for CDs and merchandise) WWW:

(article submitted 16/10/1997)

1/16/1999 A Bromley Crack Up: Keeping It Sane
9/14/1997 A Bromley 7 Crack Up - From the Ground
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