More than 30 years of Depression
Depression is a DIY band from Germany and existing 30+ years. Their latest release “”Ära Der Finsternis” is from September 2020 and about time to catch up with them again. The connection between the band and BRUTALISM.com goes back in time as you can read the interview out of 2002. But for now let’s see what Kai and Ron have to answer to the questions of Manos.
It was 1989 when Depression was formed to perform the music you wanted, and many didn’t dare to play at the time, a hybrid of unmatched death/doom heaviness mixed with the fury and sharpness of grindcore. How did you decide to play this style and how do you feel now that Depression have already made it to 32 years of existence? Did you expect it?
Kai: First of all, Hi and thanks for the interview, Manos!
Well, the decision to play a mix of death metal and grindcore was simply: I love both genres and I wanted to combine the brutality and heaviness of Death Metal with the speed and structures of grindcore. To me, this is the perfect mix of brutal musick.
No, I really, really NEVER expected to be around with Depression 32 years after the birth of the band! When I started, I just wanted to play the music I like the most, and to be part of the scene and create my ideas. It was never planned to do a proper release on a label or something like that. Just creating and playing music. Nowadays I feel proud and satisfied about what we have reached and that Depression is still alive! It is a part of my life. And so are myDepression bandmates and true friend Marc and Ron. I am sure that the constant line-up of us three (and for a many years Apollyon as live-guitarist) is most important for the still ongoing history of Depression.
What is the progress you’ve made through the years both as a band and as persons/players?
Kai: Oh, well, in more than 30 years, you should have progressed as a person and as a musician, haha. The progress of Depression, hm, I suppose we now know even more, what we want and how we would like to sound. Productions in studios are way better than in the past. We all know what to do, everyone has his part in the band. It fits and works fine.
Well, as musician, the progress is not that much, as it should be after three decades. Of course playing drums is better now than in the early days, but I am not that professional. I try to be able to realize the ideas that I have with Depression, but I have not to be the fastest and most skilled drummer around. That is not my cup of tea. As a person I developed a lot. Being almost 50 years, having a family, a job and life experience changes some opinions and things that are important. Today I am a man. When I started Depression I was a boy.
Ron: Hi Manos, I also think that our life circumstances have an influence on the music and lyrics. Nowadays, things are a bit less chaotic and more to the point, which is definitely reflected in our music. I can only say this for myself, but there is a natural “flow” when new songs are created, whereas in the past it sometimes stalled.
Depression have a brand new album out. “Ära Der Finsternis” (Era of darkness) was first released on September 1st, 2020 from Rotten Roll Rex. What does this 30-year-jubilee album mean for you?
Kai: Oh, it means a lot to me! First of all, it is crazy that we are still around and releasing musick and albums, for more than 30 years! There is a lot of work, blood, sweat, tears, creativity and pain in this album. 70 minutes is a bunch of music. We all were very happy, when this recording, layout and all the stuff were finally done. But it was worth all the hard time before. I love this album!! And I am very satisfied with it. The sound fits perfectly to Depression and it is heavy and great. The songs are cool and differ from each other. Everything is like it should be. I enjoy listen to it and I am very happy, that the reactions so far are such great and positive!
Ron: Absolutely! We’ve never had so much music in one pile before, haha!
A jubilee always makes me realise how long we’ve been doing all this and how important the band is to us. A release like this is then always the essence of the last few years and embodies what we are all about. But as long as it is fun and we’re happy with what we’ve created, it can go on like this.
Who composed the songs for “Ära Der Finsternis”? Is composing a collective or an individual work for Depression?
Kai: Most of the songs are composed by me individually. I compose the songs for myself. When I have a new idea, I get the guitar and try to play it. If it works, I try some druming with the guitar riffs in my mind. And when I am satisfied with the result, I send the songs to Ron and Marc, so that Ron can start writing lyrics and Marc can do the bass guitar in the studio. This way fits the best for us.
But not all songs are written by me. Marc composed ‘Grin’, Apollyon did ‘Concept Of Time’ and Skaldir is responsible for ‘Tormentor’. Also ‘Der Weinende Tod’ was composed and played by Phelina, when she was 8 years old!! Unbelievable!!
Where was the album recorded and who produced, mixed and mastered it?
Kai: The album was recorded at Kalthallen Studios. Skaldir, who might be known as a musician of Hel, Elaine, Abscession and some other projects and bands, owns the studio. He produced, mixed and mastered the stuff. Since 2008, as we recorded the “Unglaube” songs, we are working with Skaldir. And this fits perfectly, as he definitely feels the spirit of Depression and is a long-time friend. Having fun in the studio and working in the right mood is great! Never change a running system.
Ron: Skaldir has a really fine feeling for music and his own experience as a producer and musician also makes it easier for us to get the right sound.
I’ve known him since 1999 when I did some backing vocals for his former band Hel. He’s a great musician and producer, and he’s often the calming influence in the studio. He has to be sometimes, haha!
A special “die-hard” Double-CD version of “Ära Der Finsternis” including the “Chronische Depression” album CD as a bonus plus a band photo signed by all members exists. Why did you choose to add “Chronische Depression” as a bonus?
Kai: Since the release of “Chronische Depressionen” I had exactly 30 copies of the CD left without booklet, just the single CDs. So I decided some years later, that it would be a nice idea, to have a special edition with this long-time sold-out album when it came to our 30-jubilee. And so I did, haha!
“Ära Der Finsternis” is released today, on the last day of the year (31st December, 2020) on cassette tape from the Dutch label Murder Records. How important are cassette tape releases for Depression? What is your opinion about the old-school format of cassette tape?
Kai: Well, as almost every album is also released on cassette tapes, you see that tapes are very important for Depression. We are part of the underground, and tapes are underground. Personally, I like this format a lot, because it is very special nowadays and it is a collectors item. And as you said, it is old-school and that fits to us. So we are always happy to release our stuff also as a tape.
Please let us know some more things about your co-operation with Murder Records and the true spirit of the underground support.
Kai: I know Danihell from Murder Records for decades! We were in contact in the 90ies and both dedicated to the underground. We traded and wrote letters to each other and stuff like that. Then we lost contact over the years, but in autumn 2020 he got the Depression newsletter and answered me immediately. Cool after such a long time! So he asked, what I think of the idea to release “Ära Der Fensternis” on tape format in a special edition. Yeah, we agreed of course and so it is done now! His support is awesome and the dedication and love that he puts in his releases is fantastic. We are very happy to be part of the roster of Murder Records!
Depression use to have a new release almost every year. Some people would argue it’s better to wait for your material to mature through rehearsals/live shows before releasing it. Some others would say that your creativity over all these years has been cataclysmic. Where lies the truth for you and why did you make this choice?
Kai: Well, within the years, we have many releases, but we are active for more than 30 years now, so I think it isn’t unusual to have a lot of releases after such a long time. We release full albums every 5 years. Not that much productive, he?!
We are not a band which rehearses every week. I live 250 km away from Ron and Marc and we all have lives. I know what people mean when they say you need to rehearse to mature the songs, but on the other hand, Depression would not sound like we do, if we would change the compositions and structures while rehearsing. So for us, it is the perfect way and I am sure that this is part of our sound.
Do you think our creativity has been cataclysmic? Most of the people I talked to say the difference: that we developed and are more professional than before. So, I came to the result, that for Depression it is the best way we are doing it, haha!
Ron: I have a hard time with the word “cataclysmic”. We don’t follow a master plan regarding songs, releases or albums. Songs are created when they are created. I also think that part of our sound is not to tweak songs for too long, but to leave them relatively raw and primitive.
I mean, at the end of the day, we have to be happy with what we’ve created, and if other people see it the same way, that makes us happy. If people don’t feel that way, that’s okay too. There are so many good bands… support what you love!
Back to the first days of the band. How easy was it for you to find the right members for the band back in the days?
Kai: That was REALLY difficult! I didn’t found members for this project. The ones who would be able to play that style have no interest in such an uncompromising music, back in 1989. So I decided to start on my own as a one man band. And so I did the first two demos. Then I met Marc and we soon figured out, that we both like brutal Death Metal. One day he let me listen to a song that I didn’t know, but like the growler very much. To my surprise he said that he was singing that song! So I asked him, if he wanna join Depression and he immediately agreed. In the next years he developed his bass-playing skills and besides being the growler, he became also the bass-player. After a couple of years has passed, Marc told me about Ron and his extremely deep and brutal voice. So Ron did some guest vocals on ‘Und Keiner Weint Uns Nach’. The result was great, and it was only natural that he became the third member from Depression. Until today, this is the one and only Depression line-up!!
Your line-up has been stable. How important is this for what we listen from Depression? Are you guys also close friends except from bandmates?
Kai: It is VERY important. Depression sounds like it sounds because we three are doing it. There is no chance to do it with other members. The vocals of Ron and Marc are something special and they fit perfectly to my music. The difference between them is brilliant. Ron with his ultra low growls and weird shrieks and all the facets in between. He is the voice of Depression. And then Marc with his his snoddy and antisocial death growls with punk attitude. This is the formula.
We are all three very close friends. I suppose it is the only way to stay together for decades as a band and still having fun and creativity. Depression is and will always be: Kai, Marc and Ron.
Ron: I think our friendship has developed parallel to the band. We would certainly be close friends even without Depression, but it’s just even nicer that way. Since each of us has his own opinion and musical taste, it is not excluded that this affects the music. I never asked myself how Depression would sound with other people. I love what we do and I’m happy with the result. Brutal music, confused guys and booze… could be worse, haha!
Depression have an uncompromising own style. In my ears it is a mixture of old school death metal with old school grindcore. How did you decide to adopt this style and how easy was it for people to accept it through the years?
Kai: This description fits very well. Cool, thanks. Well, it was only natural to mix the best of both styles (in my opinion). I love old-school death metal, and I love old-school grind, and I love the combination of both. It was not really a decision, more a logic conclusion. Hm, I suppose it was not that easy for the people to accept it. The death metal fans didn’t like the crust and punk elements, for the grindfreaks we are not fast enough. But within the years, we builded up a very strong and enthusiastic fan base. Really crazy die-hard depressive maniacs! YOU RULE!
What differences do you see in the music itself, the music industry and the fans in time, comparing the old days with the present time? What has changed in the underground?
Kai: In 30 years, the underground completely changed. Back then, we wrote physical letters to each other, it took weeks to get an answer and some new photocopied flyers to get some news and new contacts. Only a few bands recorded their stuff in a real studio and released demo cassettes. No one knew about CD-Rs! The scene was small but strong. The music itself was more primitive and fascinating to me. All was new and had never been there before. The music industry was afraid of death metal and grindcore and the DIY-thinking was 100% everywhere. About the fans I think, there were more fans than musicians. Today almost every fan is also playing in a band. On one side this is very cool, on the other side, the scene explode and there are too many bands and releases to check out, do you know what I mean? Well, it is a crazy feeling being part of the underground in 1989 and still being a part of it in 2020…
You are obviously influenced by old school death metal and grindcore. Which bands are significant for you and why?
Kai: Is it so obvious?! Haha, yes, of course it is and it should be like this! When I started Depression, my big influences were Bathory, Impetigo, Autopsy, Blood, Dead, Gut, Agathocles, Rot, Grave, Necrony, Nihilist, Carnage, Terrorizer, Disrupt, Master, etc, etc, etc. These bands had the special feeling, something different and something personal. They hit my heart, you know?! And still today I love these bands. Mostly their old stuff I grew up with, but some of them still play great music! I try to not deny my roots, so that people know, when they listen to us, where Depression came from, but I also choose my own left hand path and do what creativity shows me. The result is Depression.
It is a common practice in the underground to release splits. Please give us your opinion about the reasons behind it. You have released many splits with Depression through the years. Which has been your favorite so far and why?
Kai: I like splits a lot. It gives the fans (and the bands) the chance to get to know other bands. You buy a split because you like one band and maybe you also like the other. As a more unknown band, you have the chance to get the fans interested in your band. That is cool. Another aspect is, that both bands show their friendship, and it totally reflects the underground aspect.
Oh, this is difficult. I suppose, the split with Agathocles was very important for us, as no one knows us really before. With that split we reached a lot of new fans. It was a huge step for Depression. But also the splits with Rot and of course with Haemorrhage were great and important. The split with Paganizer was cool and of course our latest out-put with Coffins!
Marc Grewe (ex-Morgoth) is doing some vocals on “Ära Der Finsternis”. How did this collaboration occur? Which other remarkable collaborations for Depression can you recall?
Kai: I know Marc for a very long time for we both were working at Century Media Records years ago. We wanted some guest-vocals on our jubilee-album, so I asked him if he would join for that and he agreed immediately. It was a lot of fun for him and I think he did his job brilliant. Really cool that he collaborated with us! Well, we do not have many collaborations. We do our own thing. On the split with Mesrine, both bands agreed to cover a song from each other, that was a cool idea.”
Ron: I saw Morgoth live for the first time in 1990, so it’s a cool feeling to have one of the ‘old heroes’ on your own album. Also, his voice is a great contrast to ours.
Apart from that, it’s a great thing to hear guests in our songs or to work together with other bands in general. In the course of time there have been some guests with us, or we as guests with other bands.
I remember our split CD with Paganizer. Rogga wrote to me and asked if we wanted to do some lyrics on a common theme. However, most of my lyrics were already done, so we discarded that, but it should just be an example of cool ideas and collaboration.
I’d say that your albums’ cover artworks are far from being the typical death/grind covers. Some of them are weird photos/images, others portray themes from nature. All of them have a dark/gothic aura for me. Please let us know more about your aesthetics.
Kai: When I started with Depression, it was clear to me, that I don’t want to have another boring splatter-cover, like most of the grind/death bands. So I decided to do something different. I like dark and mystic aesthetics, but as we are no black metal band, it had to be something in between. I am very satisfied with the difference between the music and the covers/layout. Also the bandname Depression is not typical death/grind, nor our german album titles. I like that and it fits to my personality, there’s two sides of a coin.”
Ron: Initially, I didn’t understand why Kai wanted the covers that way, but over time I’ve come to appreciate the Depression style. The fact that we are often asked about the design of our releases shows that it is not typical for the music. On the other hand, metal in general has always stood for doing what you feel like doing and not sticking to common conventions. But whether you like it or not, it’s just our style and probably it will stay that way.
What is the German scene like at the moment and which bands stand out for you?
Ron: Hm, it’s hard to say exactly, because of course I don’t know everything and everyone in the German scene, but I think we have a healthy, creative and enthusiastic scene. There are fantastic concerts and festivals and really a lot of good bands that are maybe not all very well-known but should be, hehe!
Most fans also appreciate the concerts and are still into physical records, which I find very reassuring.
German bands that I really appreciate at the moment are Sulphur Aeon, Evoked, Slaughterday, Venenum, and quite a few others. Do you know our buddies from Kadaverficker? I can’t tell you exactly what style they play, but it’s worth a listen. There are also a lot of good and original black metal and thrash metal bands which are definitively worth listening.
I know this question will sound surrealistic because many people fell into Depression during the pandemic, but how creative was the pandemic for Depression?
Kai:To be honest, the pandemic was very good for us. I had enough time and inner calm to compose new songs and being creative for the album in any way. I could focus on the album. For me, these lockdowns were the best that could happen.
Ron: It’s been fine for the band so far, even though we’ve had problems with the recordings, because the measures don’t stop at a studio. However, I am curious to see how things will go in 2021. We would like to play live again and of course visit concerts again as fans. Personally I miss all the crazy people from the concerts and festivals, and it really sucks not being able to live your life as usual. But it also makes me a little humble, because I now know what this normality is worth to me.
Thank you so much for this interview! I wish you the best for the great and honest band of Depression! I myself as a fan own several of your releases in my collection and I have enjoyed them all! I particularly like the personal style of Depression! Take care, friends, stay safe and close this interview with your message and contact ways for the fans/labels.
Kai: I thank YOU for this in depth interview and the nice questions!! Thanks a lot for your cool words about Depression and your cool support!!! Take care!
Keep the underground spirit alive and stay fast, heavy and brutal!!!!!!
Ron: Thank you for your interest in Depression and we wish you and your readers all the best for the future. If someone doesn’t know us yet, just take a listen, it doesn’t hurt that much!
No fans, no bands!
You rule! Cheers!