A talk with
DANIEL ZUFLUCHT (Drummer)
(Questionnaire by Stefan)
According to myself, Germany based Pessimist was one of the absolute highlights on the “Baden Metal Vol. 2 – Flight Of The Griffin” album. Beforehand, they were totally unknown to me but while hearing their participating track ‘Feindfahrt’ I was blown over by so much power and aggression, they really took me by surprise !
Thanks to initiator of Baden Metal Local Scene/Infinite Metal Promotions named Yücel Erol I came in touch with the band, recently I received their latest output “Death From Above” of which I’ve written the discussion already.
I call this CD as one of the best Thrash Metal outputs of 2013, it’s time to have a talk with drummer Daniel ‘Zufi’ Zuflucht about the founding, the hunt for the right musicians, the new album and stuff. Here we go…
Q: Hails brother, first of all I’d like to show my respect and full dignity to a band like Pessimist! You guys just took me by the throat with your latest, killer effort “Death From Above”. We’ll talk about the product a little further – first I’d like to ask for the start of Pessimist. When and by whom this band was formed?
A: Hey Stefan ! Thank you very much. That’s good to hear that you like our new stuff.
The band was founded by our former guitarists Peppi and Robin and our vocalist TZ in 2006 during a pretty hard booze-session. After a while bassist Sevi and drummer Raphi joined the band and in 2007 the first demo “Nuclear Holocaust” was recorded. Later this year the band had their first live appearances (e.g. at the “Baden in Blut Festival”). In the end of 2007 Robin had to leave the band and was replaced by Richie.
In 2008 the second demo “Pessimist” was recorded and there were a few gigs in Switzerland and Austria.
In November 2009 Pessimist entered the Iguana Studios to record their first debut album “Call to war” which was re-released by Firefield Records in 2010.
2011 was the year when I joined the band to replace Raphi’s drum throne. The musician’s wheel turned again 1 year later when Peppi left the band and Eric jumped in.
In November 2012 we once again entered the Iguana Studios to record our second full length album “Death from above”.
‘Till now we had some more concerts, for example the Beastival Festival, some gigs in Germany, one gig in Belgium… Hope there’s more to come !
Q: To find the right musicians, was it a hard task to accomplish?
A: No, not really. We have a big Metal scene in this region, so you can find musicians really quick. Most of them play in more than one band so we are all connected together. And if you can’t find a good musician, anybody of your friends will know one.
Q: What conditions were required to enter the camp of Pessimist?
A: I don’t know if there are certain conditions to join the band. But it helps if you can drink a lot and like Thrash Metal.
Q: Up until now, you are delivering Metal music for seven years, is the line-up remained untouched during this period?
A: No, the line-up has changed three times. The first one who left the band was guitarist Robin in 2007 whose place was filled by Richie. Followed by drummer Raphi in 2011 who planned to (and did) travel the world for about one year. I took over his part. And the last change in our line-up was the departure of our second guitarist Peppi in 2012 who was replaced by Eric. Now TZ is the last remaining founder of the band. At this point I’d like to say that we’re all still good friends and the guys all left the band by their own will.
Q: What about the musical background history of each one of the present members?
A: I think everyone in the band has a little different background. Of course we all love Thrash. Otherwise we wouldn’t do that kind of music. I personally like different styles in Metal. This goes from Brutal Death Metal to Swedish Death Metal, on to gay Power Metal further to Black Metal and stopping somewhere between Iron Maiden and Mötley Crüe. So pretty much of everything.
If your question was if every member has a band-history: well, not everyone.
I also play in two other bands (Convictors and Destination: Hell, two regional underground bands). The other guys didn’t had a band before Pessimist.
Q: Any novice band has its own ambitions, what about yours?
A: The most important ambition for us is to have fun and create good music. We wanna play a lot of gigs and record more albums. Earning money with Pessimist is not really our ambition. It’s more like a dream.
Q: Since the early 80s, the German Thrash scene can be described as really big. Decades later now and this style of music is still very hot, how hard to survive the Thrash Metal scene these days Daniel?
A: I don’t know if you can say it’s hard to survive. You should just do what you like. And if people like it also, that’s great ! That makes it a lot easier of course. Getting good reviews in big magazines and the reaction from the fans is great to see. That’s important for us. And we don’t earn money with our music so we don’t stand under pressure or whatever. That also helps to not think about what we must do in the future or being afraid that our next album won’t sale or whatever. So surviving is no problem for us even though we drink too much sometimes.
Q: By the way, what means Thrash Metal to you? How did you get into this genre and name me a few of your absolute heroes – why they’re so special to you?
A: Thrash Metal is just a great genre in Metal ! Its aggression and the fuck off-attitude is awesome. I like it fast and hard but also melodic. And you can find everything of that in Thrash.
I started listening to Metal when I was 13. The first bands I got into were Metallica (Black Album) and Blind Guardian (Somewhere far beyond). And it just developed, you know. If you’re interested in Metal you can’t deny bands like Slayer, Destruction, Kreator, Sodom and so on. I don’t know if I would call them my heroes but they are important to me of course. Especially Slayer and the old Metallica are so great. And every drummer must love Slayer, Dave Lombardo is God, man !
Q: Pessimist released a few demo’s during the first few years of existence, everything went as planned whether there were quite a few disagreements within ranks?
A: I don’t know if there was any plan. I think the only plan was to record something we like and just have fun. The progress within the music came from itself.
Q: What do you remember of your very first live experience? Throughout the years, did the band built up an international live reputation?
A: The very first gig of Pessimist was in Auggen (Germany) in a very small club. All the members were very nervous but it was a nice gig. All of us had a lot of fun especially the crowd. Most of our following gigs we played were in the South of Germany and Switzerland.
We also had two concerts in Austria during the years. In 2012/2013 we played in the North of Germany and at the Beastival. The only real international (because in Switzerland and Austria the spoken language is the same) gig was in Belgium some weeks ago. And we want to come back. Be prepared !
Q: At some point you wanted to go a step further and started the recordings of a full-length album called “Call Of War”. Did all progressed as was planned in advance?
A: Most of it, I would say yes. The recordings were great, also the reviews and the feedback from our fans all around the world. The result of “Call to War” makes us very proud. We also could find a label, Firefield Records, for promoting “Call to War”. But we could have played some more gigs during this period, but this is not that easy. Firefield Records didn’t support us in that point and to organize gigs in whole of Germany is not that easy if you do it by yourself. Also the time between “Call to War” and “Death from Above” was a bit too long. I hope the release of our next album doesn’t take this much time.
Q: What is the connection between Pessimist and lyrics going on about war themes?
A: I think that war themes and Thrash-Metal fit together very well. Hard music needs hard lyrics. And our singer is very interested in history. And as you know in history there were a lot of wars (to write about). But the lyrics should just describe and show the horror of war and not glorify it. We are all pacifists and we take distance of every extremism! We just want world peace !
Q: Did he have any idea of the number of copies sold of this first effort?
A: I don’t know if we have the exact number of sold copies but it should be somewhere around 500. That’s not too bad for a small band like us nowadays. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t buy CD’s anymore.
Q: So far you had three demos and an album delivered, afterwards you were asked to participate on the Baden Metal Compilation Vol. 2 album. This was my first contact with Pessimist, you nearly killed me with a brilliant song called ‘Feindfahrt’ which came to my ears as a merciless thrasher. All fairness on a stick, you guys really overwhelmed me. How did the collaboration with the Baden Metal organization come into its own?
A: That’s nice, good to hear we reached your ears. We know the guy who does that samplers. He’s pretty active in the local Baden Metal scene. One day he asked a few bands who would be interested in participating on that sampler and of course we were. By that time our new songs weren’t recorded so it was planned to put an old song on that record. But the release of the sampler retarded and so we had the chance to put a new song on that one. “Feindfahrt” was our first choice because we think it represents our new album pretty well.
Q: Pessimst’s frontman Michael Schweitzer contributes on the Baden Metal Allstars’ track ‘Badnerlied’. Surprising, still amusing song to me featuring a lot of other guests, what is your opinion on this composition?
A: I think it’s a pretty good and funny song. The “Badnerlied” is something like a “Folk-song” in its original version. And do hear that in a Metal variation is quiet cool and every musician did his part very good.
Q: May I ask for your opinion on the rest of the participating bands?
A: For me personally there are some pretty good songs on that sampler. I especially like “Für die Ewigkeit” from our friends Maersung. A great band with big potential. Of course there are some other nice tunes but nothing outstanding to me.
Q: Did this cooperation has led to the recordings of a second album?
A: No, the recording of “Death from above” was planned long before we were asked to put a song on that sampler. I think nearly all songs were already written when Yücel asked us for a song for his CD. We booked the studio about one year before we started recording.
Q: Meanwhile that second effort has been unleashed in full glory, entitled “Death From Above” belongs on top of my own list of best Thrash Metal albums released in 2013! Topics on the war remains a key objective, is this a concept album to you?
A: “Death from above” is no concept album. Just because there are songs which have nothing to do with war. But of course the lyrical theme of war is a big topic in our songs. In my opinion a concept album follows one special theme and “Death from above” does not.
Q: Released through MDD Records, feel free to introduce this label Daniel. How did you get involved with the company?
A: After our label Firefield Records (which released “Call to war”) busted, we were searching for a new label for our new release. Richie contacted some bigger and some smaller labels and Markus from MDD seemed to be pretty interested and contacted us. The chemistry between him and us was great from the beginning and his interest in the band and his faith in our music was there right from the start. So we decided to put our trust in him and we are not disappointed until now. So we think it was the right step for us.
Q: Who choose the image of the cover, what about the title and who’s responsible for the production?
A: Normally we decide nearly everything as a whole band. There’s democracy in most points that have to be decided. Before the artist started with the artwork we talked about the lyrics and what could be the title track and so on. Soon it was clear that “Death from above” would be a great title track so we chose that. Then we contacted our cover artist Markus Ruf and told him our ideas for de artwork and he did a fantastic job on that one. We are really satisfied with his work.
Q: In my review I compared Pessimist’s style with old school US Thrash Metal acts mainly. While reading my article, are you agree with me or not?
A: Most of the reviews (especially for “Call to War”) compared us with German Thrash Metal Acts like Sodom, Destruction, Kreator, Darkness... I think this is because we are coming from the same town like Destruction, have got a German band name and a song with a German title on our albums. But in our music you can find more.
You are right, we also have influences from US Thrash Metal acts. We all love Slayer, Exodus, Exhorder, Testament. Sacred Reich... But we try to find our own style and I think this works pretty well. Sure, every band is influenced by other bands. But we have the joy that every member has got his own musical background and also listens to different styles of music.
It goes from all kinds of Metal to Rock, Punk, Jazz, Country and also 90s Trash and Eurodance haha! So there are many different styles and bands in our sound and every listener can find his own comparisons.
Q: In many ways, Pessimist does not hesitate to stand out from the contemporary flood of thrash bands. This must be the result of a hard working band, how many times a week you stay in the rehearsal room?
A: Normally we only rehearse once a week. When the songwriting progress starts Richie and I jam around and see what riffs could be cool. It all flows pretty much on its own. We’re doing just what we like. Of course you try to sound a little different as there are so many bands out there that sound the same. We don’t want to be like that and I think we succeed so far, especially with our new album.
Q: It does not happen often that a thrash band is able to deliver a worthy instrumental like ‘Behind The Veil’. Once again, a certificate you guys are really good ! Who came on with the idea to work out so-called unsung track?
A: We already had an instrumental on “Call to war”. It was Richie’s idea and he wrote the whole song. I personally don’t like instrumentals that much but I think “Behind the veil” sounds pretty cool and I love the beginning as it sounds pretty much like old Metallica stuff.
Q: What song(s) would you like to mention as your absolute favourite one, why?
A: My favourite is “The last bastion”. It has everything a song must have. It has much aggression, groove, melodies, a great chorus and an awesome middle part. I really love that one and it’s great fun playing it live.
Q: How is the sale of “Death From Above” so far, satisfied with the number of copies sold to date?
A: I also don’t have the numbers sold at the moment. But I know that there are sold about 600 or 700 copies so far. So yeah, that is really great and we are pretty satisfied.
Q: How the promotion of this album is done?
A: I think it works pretty well. Our label MDD does a great job. Markus from MDD sends promotional CDs to a lot of magazines in the whole world and is spreading our word. You can also buy our stuff in the MDD shop, in some other mailorders like EMP and at some festivals where Markus goes to with his mailorder stall. Big stores like Media Markt, Saturn and so onsell our CDs too. We got many very good reviews so far and have to give interviews from time to time.
The craziest thing we have done for promotion was a signing session at the Beastival. It was really funny because we are a small band and fans (also from Mexico!) were coming to see us and wanted signatures and photos with us. We were also very drunk, haha!
Q: We are gradually approaching the end of this conversation, before we finally close the connection I’d like to ask for the future plans of Pessimist?
A: Soon we will start writing new material for our next album. And of course you always try to do your best. Playing more live shows is also a goal we want to reach. With our next album plans should be nothing less than the world domination ;-) So be prepared !!!
Q: The pleasure was all mine getting in touch with a fantastic and promising act like Pessimist. You deserve my absolute approval and am well willing spreading the band’s name as good as possible. Do you have anything left to say, than here’s your time and space. On your thrashing soul, cheers !
A: Thank you so much for your nice words and this long interview, it was a pleasure.
Thanx to everyone who reads this interview and supports Pessimist. We were in Belgium a few weeks ago and it was great. Your beer and you guys fuckin’ rock !!! Keep on bangin’ and see you soon ! Cheerz