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Interview with Sven de Caluwé (Vocals) (Aborted)

 

Interview by Alan Daly

© Olga Kuzmenko

Photos by Olga Kuzmenko

http://www.olgakuzmenko.com/

 

Alan: Hi Sven. Sorry for interrupting your dinner! Welcome back to Dublin. You’ve played here before…

Sven: Last time was with Vader was in 2012 or 2013.

Alan: The last time we saw you was at Bloodstock in 2014 and we really enjoyed your set.

Sven: Thank you!

Alan: You’ve been touring Europe quite heavily since the start of the year, and you’ve got a few more dates to go. Tell us the craziest thing that’s happened on this tour?

Sven: It’s all blurring together a little bit because it’s seven weeks with two days off. It’s been so intense, but at the same time it doesn’t feel like we started at the beginning of the year. It’s always hard to think of these things on the spot. The craziest crowd was definitely Paris. We played there on Valentines’ day. We threw heart shaped balloons into the crowd and then a huge dildo which people were smacking themselves with. So that was pretty cool.

Alan: Were you responsible for the dildo?

Sven: Yes. Of course! It wouldn’t be Aborted otherwise. We do stupid shit!

Alan: You’ve been to a lot of different venues during the tour. Is the Voodoo Lounge one of the smallest venues you’ve played?

Sven: Yeah. This one and yesterday are probably the smallest ones. Yesterday was Audio in Glasgow.

Alan: Do you prefer smaller intimate gigs like this or the likes of Bloodstock where we saw you last time?

Sven: Both have their charm. I like small clubs. I don’t like small clubs with two drum sets on the small stage where you don’t have space to move. But it’s what we have to deal with, so we deal with it.

Alan: Other than yourself, Aborted has had quite a turnover of band members throughout the years and albums. Why do you think that’s the case?

Sven: Life! When you’re touring intensively, it’s hard to find people that have the motivation and dedication to keep it up. We’ve had some lineup changes but we’ve been going for twenty years. There are bands that have had as many lineup changes in five years. It’s a very long career. People either get kids, get married, or just don’t want to do it any more, and don’t think there’s enough money in it. It’s extreme metal… I don’t have a boat. Nor do I have Beyoncé locked up in my cellar unfortunately.

Alan: Are you working on that one?

Sven: I am most certainly working on that one. Some bands do hot sauces and beers. I’m working on my own form of Rohypnol. So Beyoncé, I’m coming for you!

Alan: Do you think the lineup changes can have some positive effects on your work with fresh ideas, or do you find it’s detrimental to the band?

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Sven: It’s never fun. Though in some cases it was just really necessary for the band to survive. We’ve dealt with a couple of assholes. Most of them weren’t, but we had to actually fire a couple of people because they were impossible to work with. So in that case, yes, it’s a positive thing. But our lineup has been stable since 2012. We had Danny quit last September because he’s getting married this year, and if he kept touring, he would have lost his job. So he had to make a choice. But other than that, it’s been stable since Global Flatline. We can’t really complain that much.

Alan: You and your bandmates have admitted in the past that hatred and violence are the recurring themes and lyrical content for Aborted…

Sven: That and fecal matter…

Alan: Yes. But regarding hatred, put that in context with what Phil Anselmo recently did and the shitstorm that followed…

Sven: [Laughs] Honestly, the whole Phil Anselmo thing got to slapstick levels of stupid. I mean, he’s a f*ckin retarded drunk that did something really stupid and he’s paying the price, and that’s all I really have to say for it. I personally think that there’s a lot of people out there, bands and whatever, taking advantage of that to get their own fifteen minutes of fame, or I call it shame, taking advantage of the situation and being like “F*ck racism. And f*ck Pantera”. Whatever man. He’s an idiot. He’s paying for. Everybody can hate on him. Why are you jumping on the bandwagon?

Alan: For me… I love the Pantera stuff, and it’s hard to see someone you respect and admire suddenly come out with something apparently fascist. I’m not going to go out and destroy my Pantera CDs but you hear people saying those things…

Sven: People do stupid shit all the time when they’re drunk. I’m not condoning what he did whatsoever. I’m just saying… Before it was harder for this stuff to get known. It may have happened with so many bands that we know and looked up to. But now everybody’s got a camera. Half the time you’re playing a show, you see idiots with their iPads filming the show. You’re like “Asshole! The HD is with your eyes. Watch the f*ckin show!” Come to the show and enjoy the show. But everybody’s filming everything. Everything gets on the internet so everybody knows everything and everybody’s judging everyone and everything. I think that’s also a problem.

Alan: Have you ever experienced something similar where you said or did something on stage that you later regretted?

Sven: I make stupid jokes all the time. Everybody knows that when you come to see an Aborted show, I’m going to say stupid shit. It happens. We have a song called ‘Nailed Through Her Cunt’, obviously not to be taken literally. We were playing in Chicago and I said next “The next song goes out to all the ladies here. Make some noise. Blah blah blah. You know your job is to make your man’s dick hard, not his life”. And there was a guy that walked out of the show and wrote me a two-page essay on how I’m disrespectful to women. Women were laughing and cheering. Chill the f*ck down, you idiot. It’s death metal. We’re the musical equivalent of f*ckin horror movies and shit like that.

Alan: It’s hard to know where the line is though. Between Phil saying something seemingly fascist onstage and being perceived as actually being fascist, and you saying something that could portray you as a misogynist, and I presume you’re not a misogynist.

Sven: Absolutely not, no. It’s all in the tone and I think through social media and what not, people can get an idea of what you’re like as a band. We always post stupid and funny shit. We always make fun of ourselves. We try to get our fans involved as much as possible.

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Alan: And tell us about your forthcoming album Retrogore.

Sven: Obviously Retrogore has a lot of fascism and misogyny in it [laughs]. Maybe I shouldn’t say that. Nah, everything is kind of a throw-back on the eighties lifestyle including the artwork and the samples. We have some surprises like the limited edition, which is limited to 100 pieces is going to have a View-Master, if you remember those? With the artwork in 3D and band pictures of us as iconic old horror film posters and stuff. Ghostbusters and The Goonies and all that stupid shit. We’re going to have those old fluorescent Ray-Ban glasses from back in the day. We’re going full-on retard on the album, so to me it’s very special because I grew up in the eighties. A lot of those things are incorporated in the artwork like the Skeletor figure, and He-Man and the View-Master and the Nintendo Power Glove and all that stuff. It’s all in there. Musically it’s probably one of the darkest records we’ve done.

Alan: Have you been playing any of those unreleased songs yet on this tour?

Sven: Well, ‘Termination Redux’ is also on the album. That’s the only track from the EP that actually made it on the album, to keep the EP something special. So we’re playing that one. But other than that… We just came out of the studio, the album just got announced, so we’re going to wait until people actually know the songs. Especially if we’re playing a 35-40 minute set, it’s better to play songs people know.

Alan: Tell us about your favourite track from the album, and what it’s about?

Sven: That’s tough. ‘Retrogore’, the title track is one of my favourites, because it’s relentless and there’s a whole atmospheric groovy middle part that I really like, which is not really typical for Aborted I think, especially because of the atmosphere. The lyrics talk about a serial killer that’s obsessed with eighties movies, so he kills people recreating scenes from horror films.

Alan: How about cover tracks or bonus tracks?

Sven: No, we actually just decided to record all the songs we had that we liked. Then we picked the eleven best for the album and then there’s two bonus tracks for the limited edition, but they’re not covers.

Alan: And guest artists?

Sven: Yeah, we have Julien [Truchan] from Benighted on ‘Termination Redux’. We have Jason [Keyser] from Origin on a track about poop, and then we have Travis Ryan from Cattle Decapitation on ‘Divine Impediment’.

Alan: Cool. We look forward to hearing the new material. Going back to 2012 you had a track on Global Flatlinecalled ???????? ??????? [istochnik bolezni]. Olga here is originally from Moscow and wanted to know the Russian connection?

Sven: We played in Russia and it was really cool. I have a lot of Russian friends. I like to challenge myself with different languages. I don’t speak German, so we have songs in German, French and why not in Russian. This guy trained me a little, and I hope I didn’t f*ck it up too bad! Fortunately it’s just one sentence which means “Sick Fountain” or “The Origin of Disease”. It’s only one thing I mastered. So it’s just a little message to our Russian fans.

Alan: Who in your opinion is the greatest metal vocalist of all time. Any genre.

Sven: That’s tough. If it comes to a frontman, I’ll say Corey Taylor [Slipknot/StoneSour] because he really knows how to work a crowd. If it comes to death metal, I’ll say Frank Mullen [Suffocation], because for me personally, he’s one of my favourite all-time death metal vocalists. And as a clean singer, I’d say Myles Kennedy [Alter Bridge]. Strange choices, right?

Alan: Good choices! Is there any album you would say, changed your life?

Sven: Probably Symphonies of Sickness by Carcass and Left Hand Path by Entombed

Alan: It’s a coincidence that you mention Carcass. Jeff Walker recently said that “death metal has been in demise since the mid-nineties”. What do you think about that statement?

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Sven: I think those kind of statements are kind of redundant. What’s it contributing to the metal scene. If that’s really what you think, then why don’t you do something about it to make it better? It’s easy to complain. It’s harder to make things better. We already have enough people complaining about everything. We don’t have enough people trying to make the scene better. So rather than Kerry King complaining that there’s no more headliners and Jeff Walker bitching about the quality of death metal, how about you guys put some positive effort into it.

Alan: I think Surgical Steel was a pretty good comeback…

Sven: No, I know that. I like the album. I’m saying what’s the need of putting down… I don’t know if his intention is to put down the newer bands or whatever, but what’s the point?

Alan: Maybe he meant a demise in the number of good bands…

Sven: But there’s way more bands than there ever were playing the style. I’ll agree, not everything is as good, and let’s just say it’s easier to hear everything than it was back then.

Alan: It’s easier to access more bands nowadays…

Sven: That’s what I mean. It’s easier to find every band out there. Back then, I’m sure there was plenty of crap, but not everybody could put out an album back then.

Alan: We’re running out of time, so tell us what the plans are for the rest of the year? Any festivals lined up?

Sven: We’re doing a couple of festivals this summer. I don’t remember them, because I’m stupid. I know we’re going to be touring for the album by the end of the year because we don’t want to tour too close to this. Other than that, probably a US tour, a Japanese tour, an Australian tour.

Alan: Will those be headline shows or support?

Sven: We have options for both. If we get a really good package together for headlining, we’ll do that. If not, we’ll support and then headline early in 2017. If people still want to see us. You never know!

Alan: I think you’re safe enough.

Sven: I hope so!

Alan: Well thanks for chatting!

 

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