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STÄLKER - Interview with Daif and Chris
By Wojtek Gabriel,
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Stalker speed metal band
If you're into old-school speed metal and have not yet heard Stälker's "Shadow of the Sword", please do yourselves a favour and check this album out. It's not every day that a debut release is so well received by the metal community, but in this case, it's most probably due to the sheer sincerity of the material these New Zealanders wrote and recorded. It's really refreshing to see young bands still worshipping the old gods, so we couldn't miss the opportunity to speak to Daif (vocals, bass) and Chris (guitars) and find out more about "Shadow of the Sword".
So, guys, you founded the band, put out a demo, signed with a label and the next year you've got an album out. Did you expect things to go as smoothly as they did?
D: Yeah, that's how things work out for everyone all the time right?
C: Ha-ha, when you put it like that, no not at all. First planned to have a demo out and then an EP middle of 2017. We did know we wanted material out there asap though. No one likes long waits between releases.
Any idea what made the decision makers at Napalm Records offer you a deal? I mean, apart from the fact they must have liked what they had heard, as that's sometimes not enough...
C: As far as I know, someone really liked the band and wanted to get it out there more. Just so happened they really liked the demo. He showed his boss (boss of Naplam) and got the OK.
Three of the songs on "Shadow of the Sword" are tunes from the 2016 demo. I assume you re-recorded them for the album?
D: Yeah, we did. We added a new mouth breather intro to "The Mutilator" and enhanced Nick's killer drum solo in "Satanic Panic". Fun fact: "Satanic Panic" is now 6.66% faster than on the demo. In fact, they all might be faster, I don't remember. I do know they are all played and recorded so much better though.
C: That is correct, re-recorded when we tracked the new ones.
That demo I've mentioned before was out on a cassette tape only. Not many people these days have the gear to play those on. So, why did you decide to go the old-school way?
D: I treat cassettes like objects nowadays. Ironically, I had multiple cassette decks up until around the time the demo came out, and used them to record and play my collection. As it is with any complex machinery though, when they break down there's often fuck all you can do to fix them. Since their demise I've even given up my record player. This is due in no small part to economic realities here. I just wasn't in any position to store all this stuff, you know? So, I've been forced to go digital for my music. If I get a tape or a record, it's seen for me as a thing to be looked at or a placeholder of some sort. I get them to support the artist, not to listen to. Everyone has their take on them, but that's mine.
C: I think you answered the question there with "Totally old school". All demos were on tape. As much as it is a release also, I think it suited to be put out on cassette with limited numbers. I think it is a lot better to see a band releasing physical also. Very happy to see the tape scene alive and healthy!
Did you write the album together as a band with everyone putting ideas on the table or do you have a different working scheme?
D: For the most part on "Shadow of the Sword", I'd cobble together some kinda skeleton of a song. Then Chris would storm in with the butcher's knife, cutting the fat and streamline the living shit out of it. Then all three of us would jam on it until the feeling was right and nothing stood out.
C: Yeah, as Daif said it was a collab effort. Wheather the song was started by me or Daif we both had significant input into all the songs whether it be arranging or writing. Me and Daif worked closely together and know what makes the other tick.
As much as I like the cover artwork of "Shadow of the Sword" I was misled when I first saw it and I thought you were a sword & sorcery kind of band. So, what's the idea behind the artwork?
D: We needed something that would deliver Stälker's singular force of a debut album, while visually representing the title track "Shadow of the Sword". We'd been researching posters from '80s horror and sci-fi movie releases for months, so we had a fair idea of the feeling and technical direction we wanted the album cover to go. However, it wasn't until we stumbled upon the amazingly talented Matt Stikker that we knew the vision could be realised. It all came together really quickly due to Stälker and Stikker being able to communicate really easily. We're honoured Matt Stikker was the hand behind the shadow.
The album has been on the shelves for a few weeks now. What has the feedback been so far, especially from fans?
C: It has been good! Great to see it being accepted by the speed metal community. You know you have done a good job when you see it on a lot of peoples top 10 albums for the year alongside some of your own favourites. Of course, you don't see much of the negative...
Two out of three musicians in your line-up are the Razorwyre guys. What's happened with that band?
C: Yeah, me and the drummer Nick were in Razorwyre. What happened was our singer left to move to the USA to be with his partner. I was still keen to write more music so was a good opportunity to regroup. When I found Daif had all these killer riffs and then found out he could also do vocals I was sold.
Do you listen to the young speed metal bands such as Ranger, Vulture or your label mates Evil Invaders, or are you still stuck in the '80s, worshipping your Exciter or Slayer LPs?
D: Yeah, all those guys are sick as fuck, and I totally rate them. We can't wait to get to EU and see them. It's hard as hell to find music that isn't '80s metal that is going to cut through the noise of the day, you know? As the saying goes; I don't always listen to contemporary metal, but when I do it's bands like that.
What would you say to people who think the kind of music you play is outdated?
D: The thing about music is that it's an entirely self-contained unit. It doesn't need context or outside references to make an impact on the listener. In fact, it could be argued that the less context the better. So, to say it's outdated is fine, in the same way it is to say you don't like any type of music. Music is relative only to yourself. If it's outdated, then its outdated to you. All the more power to you. Why should I care where you are on your own sick sad journey through life?
C: Good question. You like what you like. And to those saying that it's outdated probably shouldn't be listening to our record or any records in the similar vein. It's not for you. Just like newer style music is not for me, ha-ha?
OK guys, what are your plans for 2018, apart from your first trip to Europe in April?
D: Production is already well underway on the next release, so... more of the same. Bigger, badder, further, faster.
Interview by Wojtek Gabriel

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Tags: Stalker, speed metal, Shadow of the Sword
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© 1997-2019 Wojtek Gabriel. All rights reserved. Unauthorised use of any works published on this website is prohibited.
Materials may not be reproduced in whole or in part by persons, organisations or corporations without the prior written permission.
© 1997-2019 Wojtek Gabriel. All rights reserved.
Unauthorised use of any works published on this website is prohibited.
Materials may not be reproduced in whole or in part by persons, organisations
or corporations without the prior written permission.