DECEMBER 31st 2014

Welcome to Metaltitans, Guardians of Metal Entertainment Worldwide, we are here with Stephan of THANATOS, from Rotterdam, Netherlands. Thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us.

1. Can you tell us how the band came to be called “Thanatos”, when I looked it up, it said Thanatos was the god or daimon of non-violent death, is that correct or is there another explanation for the name ?

When we started the band back in 1984 we were looking for a name that was associated with ‘death’ without using the actual English word ‘death’, so we came up with this name from Greek mythology; Thanatos was mentioned as ‘the god of death’ or the ‘personification of death’. We thought that was pretty cool, it sounded original and back then no other band had chosen that name.

2. The band started in 1984, was it hard to establish yourself in thrash/death metal in the Netherlands ?

Yeah, mainly because there was no actual death/thrash scene in Holland back then, haha. We literally had to create our own scene. We were laughed at by the more established metal bands back then, who considered our music as pure noise, which was a pretty accurate description when you listen to our early demo tapes, but a few years later those same bands were opening up for us and more death/thrash bands like Pestilence, Asphyx and Sempiternal Deathreign were formed in the years that followed.

3. You were the first ever death/thrash metal band, what made you choose thrash/death metal over any of the other genre ?

Well, the first death/thrash band in Holland, not worldwide of course ;-) When I first heard Venom’s ‘Welcome To Hell’ I knew I wanted to be in a band as well. I found some like-minded guys at high school who happened to play drums and guitar and we got together and started playing the most extreme stuff we could think of. We didn’t think in terms of death metal or thrash back then but we were trading tapes with people the same age as us who happened to play in bands like Carcass, Possessed, Death/Mantas, Massacre, Wehrmacht, Necrophagia etc. we exchanged tapes and try to outdo each other in speed and heaviness.., those were awesome times…

4. Was this something you had always dreamed of doing, being in a band ?
I think I started dreaming of being in a band when I bought my first Kiss album at the age of 10 or so, but it wasn’t until Venom that I actually had the guts to form a band myself… I think I bought my first electric guitar at the age of 14 after hearing Welcome To Hell.

5. Tell us how each of the members came to be in Thanatos:

Stephan Gebédi - guitar/vocals: this is the guy who started it all I guess, haha. I formed the band in 1984 and I’m still here. I’m not the big tyrant that some people might think I am; Thanatos is a democratic band to a certain extent; we all have our say but when decisions have to made it’s me most of the time.
Paul Baayens - lead guitar ; Paul was actually introduced to me by the drummer we had back then (Aad from Sinister) he said that we should check out this guy; A: because he was a good guitarist and B: because he had a hot girlfriend, and you never know! Haha, really…

Yuri Rinkel - drums; actually I already wanted Yuri to join the band before our 3rd album (Angelic Encounters) but he was too busy with his other bands back then so he declined the offer. About one and a half year later he eventually did join the band but unfortunately after the recordings of said album.

Marco de Bruin - bass: Marco already played with Yuri in another band, so when our bass player Theo left, Marco was the obvious choice. He’s a better lead guitarist than I am, so he also plays additional guitar parts and some leads on our last 3 albums.  

Paul joined in 2000 and Yuri and Marco in 2001. So we’ve been together for quite some time now.

5. Some of the members have been busy with their other projects, did 30 years anniversary help you to return to put out a new album this year ?

These ‘projects’ like Hail of Bullets and Asphyx, became more than just projects and more or less took over our lives during the past 6 -7 years. Thanatos had a hard time, being on a small shitty label which did not promote our previous album and Yuri temporarily left the band to join Melechesh. Paul and I were really busy with Hail of Bullets (and Paul with Asphyx as well), but when Century Media decided to re-release our entire back catalogue a few years ago, the idea to come up with a new album in the same year as our 30th anniversary began to take shape. So yeah the 30 years anniversary plus the fact that we could finally release an album on a good, reliable label now, inspired us to start work on a new record.

6. How did you come to pick the name for the album “Global Purification” ?

It just came natural. The more lyrics I wrote for this album the more they seemed to be going into a certain direction. Global Purification seemed to sum it all up more or less. The title track is more or less a summary of some of the topics that come up in the other songs on the album.

7. Who created the lyrics for this album ?

Except for ‘Blood Will Be Spilled’ which was written by our bass player Marco, I wrote all the lyrics for this album. Being the singer I prefer to write most lyrics myself but every now and then someone comes up with a complete song including lyrics or a string lyrical idea which we can use. It’s important for me that I can identify myself with the lyrics whether they’re totally serious or tongue in cheek.

8. Was there some inspiration behind the writing, like horror, or WWII ?
The actual state of the world today has been the main inspiration; all the shit that’s going on and that you see when you turn on your TV or start up your computer; religious fundamentalists, manipulating governments, child abuse, suicide terrorists; it all makes my blood boil and it definitely was the fuel for these lyrics. Sometimes you get to a point where you think that the entire human race must be killed off and that this planet must be cleansed of mankind. That’s basically what Global Purification is all about. Feeling sick, angry and depressed by the current state of our world, religion, politics and humanity in general is the main theme on this album. But we did include the occasional gore/horror lyric in ‘Queen of Gore’. ‘The Demonized Minority’ on the other hand was inspired by the West Memphis 3; I watched all parts of the Paradise Lost documentaries as well as the stuff that was made afterwards and the whole thing really intrigued me.

9. You have 10 tracks on this album, what can people expect from them ?

When we started writing songs for this album our main inspiration came from albums like Seven Churches (Possessed) and Darkness Descends (Dark Angel) and I don’t mean that we tried to sound like Dark Angel or Possessed but more that we tried to get the same vibe and attitude across; just go in and record 10 fast, intense and aggressive songs and don’t give a shit whether people will call it death or thrash metal or whatever. We did include some slower parts here and there, but basically it’s a ‘full speed ahead/take no prisoners’ album. The songs come to the point pretty quickly and the album and songs sound more compact and in your face than on pour previous albums

10. I know it’s hard to pick, but do you yourself have a favourite song on this album, or do you like all for different reasons ?

Let me see….The title track, The Murder of Innocence, Feeding The War Machine and the ‘remake’ of Dawn of the Dead (digi-version bonus track) are my favorites right now.

11.  The album cover is really unique, to me, it almost looks like Jesus, with the crown of thorns, with a half skull look, with some ancient drawing surrounding it, am I right, or is there another thought behind this epic artwork ?

You’re quite right! First we wanted something that would mock several religions (Islam, Christianity, Hinduism etc) at the same time, but when the artist came up with this image we felt it looked far more iconic and less forced. We saved the other blasphemous stuff for the CD-booklet.

12. Who designed the cover for you ?
A guy called Erik Wijnands ( who mainly worked for black metal bands in the past. He also designed the latest Hail of Bullets album cover, but we already asked him to work for Thanatos before the stepped in to do the HoB artwork. He’s a very talented guy with a sick and original artistic point of view.

13. Did you give the artist some ideas of what you were looking for, or did he come up with an image that you approved of ?

We were in close contact with the guy throughout the whole process of writing and recording, so yes, there was a lot of interaction during the development of the artwork

14. What was the best part about coming together to do this album ?
Oh, that’s hard to say. One of the best moment is always the final mix when all pieces of the puzzle finally come together, but I also enjoyed being present during the drum recordings this time. Spending a couple of days in some godforsaken village in Germany and sleeping on the ground in the control room for a couple of nights brought back memories from recordings our first couple of albums. Although we didn’t smash up the place nor demolish any cars this time, haha.

15.  Do you think that this album the old fans will enjoy, and maybe bring in new ones ?

Judging from the first reactions that’s exactly what’s happening. A lot of people are calling this our best album ever. People who never heard our stuff before and just know us vaguely by name start checking out our new and older albums, so that’s a good thing. I’m not expecting Thanatos to become the next big thing in metal, but finally getting some recognition after all these years is very welcome. The reviews range from really good to euphoric sometimes, which is cool as well.

16.  You have some shows coming up:
Nov.15 2014 - Scream Bloody Scum Fest, Scum, Katwijk (NL)
Dec.13 2014 - Eindhoven Metal Meeting, Effenaar, Eindhoven (NL)
Jan.10 2015 - Turock, Essen (Germany)
But do you plan on putting together a longer tour to promote your newest album ?

We’ve just confirmed another show (April 3, 2015 in London) and we are working on more shows for next year. Hopefully we can also include some festival appearances for the Summer, but we might be already be a bit too late for that, so that will probably move to 2016.

We probably won’t do any real long tours. We also have shows planned with our other bands but apart from that we prefer to play weekend shows, festivals and maybe short tours like 1 to 2 weeks. We’re willing to play everywhere so any good offer is welcome.

17. What would be a dream tour for you, a band that you would really like to tour with ?
Haha, touring with Kiss, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath or even Slayer would rule, but on a more realistic note, it would be great to tour with bands like Behemoth, Triptykon or Misery Index, as I think these bands are really peaking at the moment, both musically and successfully.

18. Tell us something about Thanatos, that people may not know ….

Between the release of the 1st and 2nd Thanatos album back in 1992 I was about to leave Thanatos and join Gorefest because there was a lot of shit going on between the band members in Thanatos. I even played one show (partly) with them in Germany. In the end I decided to stick with Thanatos and we recorded our 2nd album. When Gorefest made it ‘big’ a year later I had some doubts about my decision of course, but our 2nd album ‘Realm of Ecstasy’ is still one of my favorite albums ever, so no regrets…

19. Do you ever see yourself “stop” playing in a band ?

Oh yeah sure. I mean the type of music we play is something different than playing in a basic hard rock or metal band. I think it’s a bit sad to see a 60 year old guy struggling to get all this fast riffing or blast beats done and trying to look tough and aggressive on stage. I’m 47 now and can see myself doing this for a few more years, but not to point where you lose your credibility. The last couple of years we’ve played shows with several reformed NWOBHM bands that I used to love in the 80’s, but nowadays they look and sometimes even sound pathetic. The songs are still Ok, but the performances and stage presence was laughable sometimes… I don’t want to end up like that…

20. What do you think is the worst thing that has happened in the music industry to date, that has hurt bands ?

Well basically the whole downloading/streaming thing. It seems like a nice way to attract new fans but in the end it’s simply ripping off the artist and giving bands a hard time. In response to that you get these ridiculous crowd funding/kickstarter actions, which is basically bands ripping off their fans; asking shitloads of money for used strings or broken cymbals or a private listening party at your home. Fuck that.

21. Is there anything you would like to add to this interview that I may have missed asking you that you want the fans to know ?

No, I think you did a good job with the interview and I’d like to ask anyone who loves pure, fast and aggressive metal to check out our new album and come to our shows, cheers!

Thank you (dank u) very much for taking the time to do this interview with us, and we wish you all the success with Global Purification.