Earlier this month German grind band Cause of Divorce released a split LP with Agathocles, which contains their ‘Pax Palinkarium’ EP from last year. Being on a split with Agathocles is usually a sign that a band is worth checking out, as the seal of approval from one of the longest running European grind bands definitely helps! And that’s definitely true here, as Cause of Divorce delivers a blast of fast paced riffs and in your face vocals over the course of six songs. With a clearer production than most, it’s easier to make out the individual riffs and gives the material that much more power. You probably know Agathocles pretty well if you’re a grind fan, but may not have come across Cause of Divorce before, so I sent over some questions to learn more about the band’s music and what they’re all about. Questions were answered by Marc (vocals), Christoph (guitar), and Christian (bass).
Transcending Obscurity (Chris): Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. I was able to ask both questions to both you and Agathocles, so I asked them to tell me a little about you. So to start off, tell me a bit about Agathocles. When was the first time your members encountered their music and how did this split come together?
Marc: Hello! Thanks for your interest. Well, you start with a very difficult question. What to say about a band like Agathocles? I think everyone who is into this kind of music should probably know them. I got in touch with Agathocles and their interpretation of grindcore more than 20 years ago and visited uncountable shows of theirs, because I grew up near the Dutch/Belgium border and therefore it was easy to see them live as often as possible. Together with the former drummer of CoD we decided to found our band and play music severely inspired by Agathocles’ tunes and their way of behavior in 2001. I always liked their DIY-spirit and the political attitude which they afterwards properly summarized as “Grind is Protest!” I can’t speak for my other bandmates how and when they got in touch with Agathocles, but I’m sure that they also fell in love with this old-school kind of grind-music and Agathocles somehow, someday. We surely all together sympathize with these Belgian mince-maniacs and got to know each other personally at several gigs. I remember our drummer Nuno and AG’s drummer Nils nearly boozed the bar empty at the 13Times Fest in Belgium together ‘til dawn. In sum we are inspired by AG and their DIY-spirit since we began to make music on our own and known each other for a couple of years. And after all, our guitarist Christoph asked Jan of AG whether they’re interested to release a common split. We’re really happy and proud to finally have a split with them, it means a lot to us as a band and especially the world to me.
TO: Your side of the split is comprised of the ‘Pax Palinkarium’ EP which originally came out on CD last year. For this material you recorded at Nota Falsa, whereas ‘Love The Dead Not The Debt’ and the split with Intestinal Disease were recorded at AZ Aachen Studios. What made you decide to switch things up this time around, and did you approach this particular recording any differently than in the past?
Marc: Our previous splits which we recorded at the AZ Aachen were produced by Tom Buentgens. We know him and the way he handles things very well after all these years. We just wanted to change this routine, so that we don’t come to a standstill. On our search for a new studio we finally found Siro and his Nota Falsa Studio in our hometown Aachen and fell in love with him and his studio instantly. The vibes, the equipment, the setting, his personality and the easy-relaxed mood we’ve encountered there were totally inspiring and suited perfectly to our attitude. We felt very comfortable from the start until the final mix and it was an awesome experience for all of us. Especially our agreement with Siro where we gave him absolutely free space in arranging the sound settings, which has eventually turned out to an unbelievable lucky find. He gave us a totally unique and awesome sound, which fits perfectly into the blurred ideas we had before entering the studio. It was a very relaxed and comfortable time we had under his guidance and we were totally overwhelmed with its result.
TO: Compared to your other material, ‘Pax Palinkarium’ has a bit more clarity and seems a little cleaner in tonality without losing the intensity. Was this a decision you guys made or was it more of a result of the studio change?
Marc: It results on both reasons. One, we wanted to change our sound a bit in general and then the studio’s special settings changed our sound without our assistance. In the end we were very pleased with the result and think that this cleaner and clearly acting sound fits very well into what we want to transport with our tunes. Furthermore we have learned a lot during this professional recording session and came to the conclusion that sometimes less is more; which means less noise of the single instruments = more impact of the instruments played together as a unit. (Wouldn’t believe that I ever see such words leaving my mouth, but it might be a side-effect of growing old … hrhrhr…)
TO: Most of your previous releases have been put out independently, but this split is being handled as a co-production between several different labels. How did this collaboration with so many labels come about, and do they all showcase a similar DIY spirit?
Christoph: From the moment we put out vinyl we had collaborations. We haven’t had and don’t currently have the money to do it ourselves. Roy (AAIP/ Truemmer Pogo) and Gerste (Doomed to Extinction Records/ Campaign For Musical Destruction Zine) are friends for more than a decade. I wrote letters (handwritten 🙂 ) with them. They supported us from the beginning, they live DIY. Sille, who runs Vulgar Records and Schreikrampf Zine, is a friend of Roy. Because we like his releases and zine, we asked if he would like to be part of this release. Then Sille asked Jacek (Grindfather Production) if he will be part of this release too. We have loose contact to Jacek for years as well. Cris (Wooaaargh) has been the only guy we didn´t know before. We asked him to take part on the record, because he made some nice releases and they all looked very good 🙂
Yes, they all show a similar DIY spirit. That´s very important for us.
TO: How does your writing process work? I’m curious how your material goes from that initial riff someone comes up with into a final song.
Christoph: Christian or I record an idea and upload it to our cloud (Dropbox). So everybody can listen to it and make their own thoughts about it. At our rehearsal room we play the idea in different variations and choose what fits best. When we think the song needs “something more”, we improve different spontaneous ideas.
Marc: And then it needed weeks and month until the song eventually gets into his final shape. Some parts were abandoned, some were attached and most of the parts were played way faster than before. I write the lyrics very early in that process, but it needs time until the song becomes what he finally was meant to be. And I have to change a lot of lines in the lyrics ‘til they finally fit onto the result.
Christian: In a nutshell: There is an idea and a riff. In some cases it correlates, in some other cases not. Then all instruments try to get along with that idea, that riff and the difficulty to coordinate everything at high speed. There are several trials, some beer, a night to sleep over it and then everything starts again, haha! In the end there is a rough picture of a song that still slightly will change. And even after many rehearsals there still will be some minor changes in riffing, beats, and of corpse the lyrics, since everything will speed up once we all know the structure of the new track and Marc’s words won’t fit anymore. So a new song is the result of many chefs, originating in different styles of fast music.
TO: Over the years you’ve played with a lot of different bands. What are some of the gigs that stand out the most to you?
Marc: That is something that is very hard to answer, because in all these years we’ve met so many friendly and funny people and it’s impossible to compare them. We played with many punks, crusties, grinders and metalheads and have been at so many different locations. We’re grateful for every single experience we’ve made and thankful to every new friendship we encountered during the last years. Of course there are some shows (and/or aftershow parties) we surely will never forget. Each member had their own personal “Waterloo” (which means a special gig/party with a lot of booze and fun afterwards, which he will never forget). Certainly those gigs will stay forever in our minds, on which we had the chance to play with our personal favorite bands (like Active Minds, Agathocles, e.g.) or those shows in a very special environment and atmosphere (for example: the Pallasit-Fest in Czech Republic; or on/inside the ship MS Stubnitz, e.g.). But to be honest: At last we’re really enjoying each of our live-shows and after a couple of drinks, when the ice is broken, we usually catch up some new friends.
Christian: Marc summarized it perfectly. Any show has its very own potential to be awesome. Even if it is poorly visited, we are still able to enjoy the party, drinking a lot of alcohol, making new friends and have fun on stage. But there are some exceptional events as well. For example: partying till dawn in a squatted industrial complex, listening to bad Eurodance music. Or playing in a squatted monastery, the show starting at about midnight, because the drums didn’t arrive earlier, sharing a sleeping room with another band that had to leave at 6am to get their flight to UK, a room that was way colder than it was outside of the building. And it was late winter, early spring. Or just spending the night in a really narrow room with three other bands – and we have two guys in the band that are extremely snoring. The reactions of the other bands: legendary, haha!
TO: Agathocles is known for expressing the notion that grind is protest, and I think this is more relevant now with the types of social and political issues both Europe and North America are facing currently. Where do you feel grind fits into all of this, and for those who find themselves energized by the type of message you’re delivering through your music, what can they do to make a difference?
Marc: They are right: Grind is Protest! We totally agree one hundred percent with them. We don’t want to be the “scene police” and dictate people what to think. But if we maybe stimulate an independent thought, then this would be an adorable side-effect which we won’t refuse. Music isn’t meant to transport political messages in the first place, but it can be used to transport feelings and messages. In my opinion it is quite legit to use an aggressive and powerful music like grindcore to transport thoughts about current social and political issues, but it is almost committed to transport those feelings like anger, hate and protest due to its aggressive basic mood. One person alone cannot change the whole world, but one single person can change their own world or the world of another single person. So we hope to inspire one or two people to use their anger effectively and in a positive way to change the world a little bit into a better place. This is possible: keep your head clean, stay positive, don’t serve, buy selective, pace oneself, act ecologically, act sustainable and so on. What goes around – comes around!
TO: Split releases are a bit more common in grindcore than other genres. What is it about grind that makes it so well suited to these types of releases?
Marc: Because most bands are fucking poor and not many labels are willing to fund a release, so it is absolutely comprehensible that a lot of bands share their resources in a total DIY-manner. Especially due to the fact that most bands interact in a positive and friendly spirit, because I think that rivalry and competition is a rarely spread characteristic for a music genre with such a pure and honest attitude. The length and the amount of the tracks you need to fill a LP’s side is another fine argument. Honestly I think that this behavior is also a kind of relict, a heritage of those old days when people traded their music on cassettes. Some Readers maybe wouldn’t believe, but there was a time before the Internet and mp3s, a time where we all recorded different bands on one cassette and send them via postman to our friends 😉
TO: What other German grind bands should our readers check out that they might not have heard of before?
Marc: You should probably check out friendly bands like MORBID MOSH ATTACK, TACHELESS, SVFFER, GRABEN, MORIBUND SCUM and many other bands here in Germany and also in Belgium, the Netherlands, the UK, Czech Republic… aaaahhh fuck – so much good music!!!
Christian: Marc already mentioned some nice bands. And I’d like to add VIOLENT FRUSTRATION, CAPTAIN CAVEMAN, ILL NEGLECT, EASTWOOD, CONSTANT VULSE, WEAK TIES and if you are into death metal, check out our buddies in HUMAN WASTE from Aachen!
TO: What else does Cause of Divorce have planned for 2016? With this year marking the fifteenth anniversary of the band are you thinking of doing anything special to mark the occasion?
Marc: We are lazy bastards. It’s challenge enough for us to practice as often as we can, write as many new songs as possible so that we one day can make a new record and to play as many shows as possible. Due to our limited spare time it’s hard to keep the process of writing songs and playing shows live and I would be happy if we will snatch enough new material for the studio in 2016 and play a couple of cool gigs. We didn’t plan anything special for our anniversary; in 2026 – if God wills – we’ll plan one special release after another… hahaha… Today I’m just glad about the reason that we’re still alive and active after those years and all the things that happened. Well, in Grind we Crust!
The Agathocles/Cause of Divorce split is a co-release between Wooaaargh Records, Doomed To Extinction Records, Vulgar Records, Grindfather Productions, and Aktiver Aufstand In Plastik and is available now. Look for a full review of the split and interview with Agathocles in the near future.