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Graveworm – interview met Stefan Fiori (vocals)

Stefan Fiori: “There are happening a lot of bad things and I think we are 5 minutes before 12. We are on the best way to destroy this whole planet if we don’t change our minds and go in another direction. So I really wanted to write about all the things that are happening. ‘Killing Innocence’ for me is: humanity is killing the innocence, the innocence for me is the world.”
Graveworm is al actief sinds begin jaren negentig. Vanuit het schilderachtige Brenach in Zuid Tirol (Italië) heeft de band een eigen mix van blackened death metal geboetseerd waarin ook nog eens sporen van thrash en gothic te vinden zijn. Het tiende album ‘Killing Innocence’ is ongemeen heavy. Stefan Fiori (zang) en zijn maten moesten duidelijk een ei kwijt en daarover hadden we een hartelijk gesprek met de sympathieke frontman.
Vera Matthijssens Ι 12 mei 2023

I am glad that there finally is a new Graveworm album! Congratulations, because today ‘Killing Innocence’ is coming out!
Yeah, we are really happy. We worked a lot on this album and now we are really happy that the album is out.

Yes, it has been a while. Eight years since previous album ‘Ascending Hate’, that is a very long time…
Yes, too long, but when ‘Ascending Hate’ came out, we went on tour, we did some shows, we did a lot of interviews and then we started writing some songs, but we were not happy with the songs because they were too similar to the ‘Ascending Hate’ stuff. So we worked again on it, went on tour again and did some shows again and then the pandemic came to all of us. So there were no shows, there was no work, nothing to do. So for us it was the best situation to start again writing on new songs. We are happy about that and ‘Killing Innocence’ is now out.

Then you actually have written two albums…
(laughs) We have put a lot of songs in the trash, because we were not happy with them. We spent too much time, but I think the result is good and we are happy with it and let us see what’s going on now.

Now you can support it again with gigs and tours, that must be pleasant…
Yes of course. We will play some shows now in Summer in Germany. Maybe we will go on tour after the summer. We don’t have any plans at the moment, it only seems that we have plans to go to South America next year. We are open for every tour we can get to promote the new album.

Wow, South America, that is very far right away…
Yes, but we love to be on stage, so that is not a problem for us. We have been once in South America, Mexico, before and Bolivia and it was amazing. People were amazing and we had a really good time. We have a lot of friends now there, I think it is time to go back. You can feel the energy when the people are in front of the stage. You can really feel the energy that they bring to you and they are really going crazy during the shows and this is awesome.

When you started writing new songs for the second time, was there already the intention to go wilder, because the album is pretty harsh? I mean… less keyboards and so…
The only thing that we really wanted to do was less keyboards on this album, because we don’t have any keyboard player at the moment. It is working well with two guitar players, so we wanted to focus more on the guitars. That is the only thing that we wanted to do with this one, but we never knew in which direction the songs would go when we were writing. When the songs were written, we entered the studio. Three different studios, because our drummer recorded the drums in Austria, the guitars and bass were recorded here in Italy, near our hometown and I go to Munich to record the vocals. When we were finished, we searched for a guy who was able to mix and master the album. We got in contact with Lawrence MackRory. We spoke with him and he wanted to do it and we are really happy with it, because he pushed us a little bit more forward. The sound is really heavy and it is really straight in your face.

That’s right. He is based in Uppsala in Sweden, isn’t it?
Yes right.

All of you worked with different guys as coach, you with Mario Lochert from Serious Black I think for vocals?
Yes, I really like to work with him, because he is a good friend of mine. I was alone in the studio with him, because when I am going in the studio, I am really focused on doing my job there. I really want to go there two or three days, really focussing on my vocals. I really don’t want to have other people in there, because when a friend goes with you, maybe you have to go out at night and you won’t sleep very early. All the things distract me. I really want to focus on the things I have to do.

You did an excellent job, it must be harsh for your throat…
I try to do my best. The problem was that I got surgery three weeks before I went to the studio. So I had to postpone my time in the studio, one week later, because the doctor said ‘no, better not’. I was a little bit angry, but in the end all is done perfectly and we are happy. I wanted to enter the studio because I was excited to finish the songs, but I better follow the doctor’s advice. It was last year at the end of September and in October.

When talking about the drummer, that is Moe Harringer from Austria now. That means that the former one is gone. When did that happen?
Maschtl had heart problems and he could not play. We are still in contact, we are good friends, but he told us he could not play drums anymore, because he is not ready to play due to health problems. So we searched for a drummer and we got this contact from Moe. I called him one day, we spoke a bit and I asked him if he was interested in playing the drums for Graveworm. He said ‘yes, let me try two or three songs’. He tried these songs and sent them to us, we heard it and said: yes it is a good drummer. We had a good feeling. The only problem for us was that he is living in Austria. It is about five hours from here where we live. I told him and asked him: ‘how would you solve this problem?’ and he said: ‘For me it is not a problem, because I have another band in Germany and I drive with the car there seven hours for practising and play two hours and drive back seven hours.’ He is completely crazy and for us it was the right person. We are really happy with him, because he is a really cool person and he fits perfectly in the band. It is fun to be on the road with him. I think we have the right people in the band now. All crazy and we all want the same thing. We have a lot of fun and I think that is the most important thing, because I think if we wouldn’t have any fun, then we will stop it, because we all have normal jobs. The music and this band is a hobby for us. We spend a lot of time in this hobby, but we really like to do it, so for us it is not a problem to take the holidays to go on tour.

Talking about the lyrics… are there topics about what’s happening in this world on this record?
Yes, the lyrics are really influenced by things that are happening at the moment in this world, because if you push on the TV or read the newspaper, you see a lot of bad things… wars going on in this world, natural disasters every day… There are happening a lot of bad things and me personally, I think we are 5 minutes before 12. We are on the best way to destroy this whole planet if we don’t change our minds and go in another direction. So I really wanted to write about all the things that are happening. ‘Killing Innocence’ for me is: humanity is killing the innocence, the innocence is for me the world.

Of course, the planet could not foresee that humans are murderers in the end…
Yes, especially if you have kids, you see the things a little bit different. What do we leave behind? We have a world that is polluted and going bad. I have two kids, from seven and three years old, so it is my concern.

Did you create this album more in isolation than before, due to the pandemic?
The real difference was entering the studio in different studios, because on the albums before, we all were in the same studio with the same producer. We were there at different times, but it was the same studio. Everything was familiar and this time it was really new. Of course, eight years of working on songs… I think it was a good way, because the songs are more completely finished as we want to hear them. When you have not so much time, some songs are not finished, but you have to enter the studio, you have to record and you just go to the studio while they are not completely finished.

Did you already play live with the band since the pandemic?
We had not so much shows, but last week we played here in our hometown. It was a release show for us where we played the new songs. It was cool. The place was really packed, a lot of people there, all having fun, it was awesome! The week before, we played in Germany. Now it is calm, in Summer we will play some festivals and we will see what happens next.

You have made a beautiful video for the song ‘We Are The Resistance’. It was shot on location and I saw the name of Alexander Krull involved…
Yeah it was just five minutes from our hometown, a castle, where we started playing music and we took some pictures with the castle in the back, so it was cool to take something that we had since the beginning. For us it was a good day. I think it was a good decision to go there, trying to make this video and we had some friends who are really into this Viking stuff. So we asked them if they wanted to help us doing this video. We were there for two days, filming the whole day in the castle and I think it worked out well. I really like it.

There are also two lyric videos I think…
Yes, for ‘Dead Words’ and ‘Escorting The Soul’. They are made by two different people. We got the contact from our record label and we sent them the songs and they just worked on it. We gave them completely free hand to make a cool lyric video out of them and I think it went well. I personally don’t like so much a lyric video, because you have to read the lyrics and you are not focused on what’s happening in the back with the pictures. A normal video is completely different, because you can really look what’s happening there. With a lyric video I always read the lyrics. It is not my type of thing, but I think nowadays you have to make these videos to get some promotion.

With the pandemic when everybody was at home, it has become a bigger tool than before I guess…
Yes of course. There were a lot of bands who made these live streams of the band playing somewhere at home, but I don’t like this stuff. If I want to see a band playing live, I want to feel it. I want to go there, I want to feel the energy, but sitting at home in front of the TV, it is not so much my thing. During the pandemic we spoke about it, if we wanted to do it, because the record label asked if we wanted to do something like that, but we all said no. That is not our way. We grew up with going on concerts every weekend, see the band, feel it, speak with the band after the show and party. It is not the same. We want to feel the energy of the people and after the show we always go to the people out, speaking, maybe drinking something and having fun. At home in front of the TV, I watch a movie or something, but not a live concert.

Did you discover new hobbies during the pandemic?
No, I have two kids, so that is my hobby. It was perfect having so much time for the kids. It was awesome. We played a lot. We did a lot of things and I really enjoyed staying at home with the kids, because when you are on the job, there is not so much time to see them growing up.

Daniel Hofer did the artwork and that was also the guy who did the previous artwork I think…
Yes, that is right. He is a good friend of us. He is living ten minutes from here. For us it was clear that he had to do the cover artwork, because he is a really good guy, doing great things. So we just gave him the lyrics. He had complete free hand on it and he came up with the idea with the angel. We were like ‘wow’, it fits completely with the music style and with the lyrics. It is a perfect cover for this album I think.

Did Graveworm ever play in Russia?
Yes, we played in Russia. We played in Ukraine several times. War is always something that makes no sense. For me personally nowadays it makes no sense to make a war. There are people who don’t want to go to the war, but they have to, because some people have more power and then you have to do it. I am happy that we are living in a place where all is okay, but I hope this will stop as soon as possible, because we’d love to play in Russia and in Ukraine too, because there are people who listen to Graveworm. So it would be cool to play there again.

Since you also wrote lyrics about the state of the planet, are you doing something special to contribute to save the planet?
When I write the lyrics, I am at home. Alone in my room, listening to really loud Graveworm songs, because I really need to be in the song and that has to be loud. I just write about all the things that I see, I read, I don’t understand – because a war, I don’t understand a war – it is just something for me that helps me to go through all these things. Writing is a catharsis, it keeps me sane. When I am writing, I always feel better afterwards.

Who did you have in mind in ‘In Honour Of The Fallen’?
‘In Honour Of The Fallen’ is a song for all the people who died during senseless wars. It is not just the war that’s happening now, it is all the wars that happened in the last years, decades and that is just a song for them. This is the most important lyric that I have written in a lot of years.

‘The World Shut Down’, is that about the pandemic?
No! (laughs) It could be, but it is not. Maybe when you read the lyrics, you think it is about the pandemic, because the whole world stopped, but in the end this pandemic time was – for the world – something good, because all industries stopped, all bad things stopped and the world could recover from all bad things. The song is just about when the time would come and all is crushing down, the humanity is completely swiped away.

What are the plans for the near future?
I hope that we can go on tour and maybe we will start writing new songs earlier and not wait eight years (chuckles). We could enter the studio for the next one maybe a little bit earlier. That is the goal we aim for, because – like I said in the beginning – eight years is too long.

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