One of the surprises and biggest finds so far this year has come in the shape of Austrian metal band Kontrust, not that they are newcomers just that we have been blind to their impressive sounds until now. With release of their stunning new album Second Hand Wonderland, a deeply eclectic, wonderfully eccentric, and extremely brilliant release we are now enjoying the treats and pleasures the band brings with each and every song. We had the chance to find out more about the band and new album by having the pleasure of vocalist Stefan answering our eager questions.
Hello and many thanks for taking time to talk with us at The Ringmaster Review.
Firstly please just introduce Kontrust and its members.
Glad to have this interview. We’re a hard rocking 7 piece. There’s Agata, who does the vocals, not necessary the softer ones. Rhythm section is Roman on the drums and Manuel on the percussions. Those to supply the a** whooping beats. Gregor our bass player delivers the fat groove, while Robert and Mike kick in with the walls of guitars.
For those of us who have only just discovered you, yes we hold our shaking heads in shame, tell us when and how the band started.
We originally got together in 2001, released the first 2 EP’s and finally 4 years later in 2005 after a massive line up change, when Agata and Gregor joined in, our first long player We!come Home. That’s how it all began.
How has the band changed since those early days?
After the line up change we were a six-piece that started to be heard by an audience at clubs and festivals. We played tons of great shows and then in 2009 we put out a new album “Time To Tango” and then “Bomba” happened. Something we didn’t expect at all. It was our first big international breakthrough. We we’re really blown away. First high ranking chart positions in the Holland, then later in 2010 we received the AMADEUS Music Award in our home country of Austria.
The single and of course the album as well became really popular on the internet and received a substantial airplay on TV and radio. Things started to go really well. We got strong feedback from the international music press and a constant growing international fan base. In early 2011 we added our 7th member Mike (guitar) to the band. After massive touring we played Poland with our biggest show ever at the Prystanek Woodstock festival in front of over 300000 crazy Kontrust fans.
We spent over a year working on our new album “second hand wonderland” which is finally released.
With a sound that has diversity and flavour which encompasses all forms of rock, metal and distinct genres further afield what were and are the influences that helped and still add inspiration your inventiveness?
From Sepultura to Depeche Mode, from Iron Maiden to Bob Marley and so on. All kinds of musical styles from rock to jazz, to electronic music and experimental forms.
The songs bring so much ingenuity and as mentioned invention to their richness it is hard to imagine where you start when writing them so please give us some insight into the song writing process within Kontrust.
There are a lot of ideas! Then of course time for our ideas to develop and legal and illegal helpers!
We jam, we record, we re-write and so on. We enjoy working with other songwriters as well in order to get a different approach. Working with so much passion, love, frustration and aggression all put into the music we do, we try many different approaches when it comes to writing the songs and leave all the musical barriers behind. And it the end…it sounds like we do.
Listening to your music one also has the thought that songs almost shape themselves that they evolve on their own with the band the guide at times. Is that so?
That really depends on the songs, some go really easy and are done in just a couple of hours, others occupy you for several weeks or even months.
You are about/have just released your brand new album Second Hand Wonderland. Where does the release go or has brought from you as a band that is different from your previous and acclaimed release Time To Tango?
Well compared to all other previous releases, it’s a worldwide release. For the first time, our stuff will be available in every corner of the world. We’re looking forward to the fact, that a lot of new people, who aren’t aware of us yet, will hear us.
Admittedly as I ask this I have only heard the singles Bomba and The Smash Song from the previous album, something that will be remedied soon, but there feels a stronger intensity and dare one say aggressive streak to Second Hand Wonderland. Is that the reality?
The music itself evolved and we brought our songwriting to a new level. It’s definitely more playful, twisted and very hooky. We enjoy writing stuff, that actually touches you, whatever you mood may be, doesn’t matter if it’s in your face, bashing stuff or more melodic parts.
How long was Second Hand Wonderland in the making?
The entire process took over a year to produce, record and finish. The entire time span of finish to start was well over two years.
The album has a soundscape that is almost like an aural version of the South Korean movie The Happiness of the Katakuris and in some ways of the film Who Framed Roger Rabbit with its reality blended background of cartoon and reality. Do you understand what I mean and if so do you agree haha?
Well Roger Rabbit I know and it never crossed my mind till now, but yes it’s somewhere in that neighborhood. Crazy and wicked.
The vocal blend of Agata and yourself is as distinctive and contrasting as it is seamless and an obvious and perfect fit. Was this as natural from the start when Agata joined the band or was there work needed to done to make it as impressive as it is?
There was an instant chemistry that worked for everybody at that point in time. We evolved quite a bit since then, got more creative and approached a different musical level. We grew together and got better at what we do.
Agata is from Poland originally, how did you find her?
She found us after we put an ad into a local music-mag. Back then, that was way to do it. She already lived in Vienna several years before, so all of us were in one big town. Just a matter of time until we found each other.
It is impossible to choose a favourite song on the album, each song stating a firm and undeniable claim, but is there any particularly track or moment on Second Hand Wonderland you are most proud of or simply have a stronger pleasure from?
All the tracks! I love them all. I guess it depends on the mood I’m in. Each songs kick’s ass. Or gets you a speeding ticket, because you slammed the gas to hard, while listening to the tunes.
With an album so eclectic and at times wonderfully eccentric you will sadly but obviously find some people that will find it hard or unwilling to venture into your world of imagination. Do you ever think about that when writing or simply declare it their loss?
Obviously it’s an impossible task to satisfy everybody. I guess this album will polarize a lot more than all previous ones. You either love it or hate it.
For all the innovation and imagination you bring to your music has there been ideas or sounds that even you have found hard to immerse into your music or simply unable to work with?
There are a couple of tracks where we were not sure, if should put them on the album or not. But in the end we’re really glad we put them on there, just because of that reason. They color it, they make it different. We like!
You have a great reputation for your live shows making sure everyone has an experience to remember but for you the performance at the Przystanek Woodstock festival last year in front of over 300,000 people must have been a real highlight?
It was absolutely crazy. Insane! Totally overwhelming! We had an instant connection with the crowd and they gave everything back tenfold. So they fired us up really well and we returned the favour. It was an amazing show full of mosh pits and walls of death and bodies surfing everywhere. Flags waving from a crowd that cheered so strong we couldn’t hear ourselves on stage. Very intense. Timeless memories.
An event and success like that must have given the band a stronger hunger and heart for more of the same and inspired your creativity?
For certain! Events like that give you such an intense boost in great vibes and positive energy. It satisfies you. You get the feeling…ok, we must be doing something right. But the most important fact is, you know that you can be grateful. Grateful for being able to play such an event, because of the fans who supported us.
As much as the catchiness to the songs and the irresistible hooks and lures you lay upon us, a lot of the infectiousness comes from feeling and seeing the fun the band has making and bringing the music and how it equals ours receiving it. This is as important to you as musicians as much as the music itself, having fun?
Oh yes. Having fun was always the major part of being in this band. We really enjoy what we do. Playing live, jamming, recording, writing music, all of it J
Second Hand Wonderland is released on Napalm Records, a surprising link up though we all know they know good music when they hear it. How did the union come about?
Well we were looking for a label and found one. The really treat us well and take good care of us. They have been in the industry for ages and always proved themselves as a great long term solution that makes everybody happy.
Have you shows or a tour lined up to support the album? …and possible festival appearances in the year ahead?
Oh it will be a busy year! We go on tour with “Die Apokalyptischen Reiter” in early may through Germany, Switzerland and Austria. We have many shows planned for the summer festival season throughout Europe. Check out our homepage for exact dates and where they’re happening.
Thank you for sparing time to talk with us would you like to leave with any last words or thoughts?
Thank you for the interview. Big thanks to all our fans out there who support us. Without you we would not be here. This new album is dedicated to you. See you out there on tour J
Finally in our review we referenced the likes of Skindred, Dub War, Djerv, Rammstein, Mike Patton, De Staat, Guano Apes, Yello, 12 Stone Toddler and Shaggy to name a few to give an idea of the music and songs within Second Hand Wonderland. Any there you agree with haha and any we may have missed?
Guano Apes… haha…haha…haha. Why is that? ;-) – Oh yes, probably you forgot Justin Bieber…
Read the Second Hand Wonderland review @ http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/04/10/kontrust-second-hand-wonderland/
The Ringmaster Review 25/04/2012