By Aniruddh “Andrew” Bansal
Canadian death metal band Kataklysm celebrated their 20th anniversary with a massive headline show at the Summer Breeze Festival in Germany last year, and filmed the entire event. This year, the band is releasing “Iron Will: 20 Years Determined”, an extremely detailed story of the band’s career, along with the entire 20th anniversary concert, and other bonus material. This package is set for a June 19 release date on Nuclear Blast Records. Last night, on June 6th 2012, I had the pleasure of talking to frontman Maurizio Iacono, and we discussed this DVD in detail. We also talked about Maurizio’s future plans, both for Kataklysm and Ex Deo, as well as his booking agency. Enjoy this very in-depth conversation, and check out the Kataklysm facebook page for more info on the DVD.
Your new DVD “Iron Will” is coming out on June 19th. What can fans expect from it? It seems to be quite a complete package and everything about the band’s 20-year history is in there.
Well, it’s something that we’ve been planning for a long time. We knew that the 20th anniversary was coming and we wanted to do something very special. The whole idea started with me wanting to writing a book about the music industry and my own personal experiences, and what I’ve been through with Kataklysm. But then, as it turned out, withe everything that I’ve got going on, I just couldn’t put the book together on time and so we decided to hire a director and the record label decided to do this type of in-depth style documentary about our entire career. I think it kind of represents a lot of the working class type of metal bands out there, that are either struggling or making it, just both ends of it. So, it’s very very detailed. People that have seen it have said that it’s the most complete documentary they’ve ever seen, so that’s very good to hear. It’s five-and-a-half hours and comes with our complete 20th anniversary show in Germany, which we did last summer. We headlined that show in front of almost 20,000 people. It also has the ‘Best Of’ record and the CD version of the concert too. So it’s a very complete package for sure. It’s very worth the money.
Absolutely. First of all, we’re very lucky that the record label is really behind us, and supporting all of our ideas. Because it’s hard when you’ve got ten records. New fans listen to the latest album and they’d be like, oh shit, the band has nine records before this (laughs). So it’s kind of hard for those kind of fans to go back into your entire catalog, but with this DVD, we can keep everything about the band over the years. But even if you’re not a fan, just the fact that the story behind it is really interesting, all the stuff that happens, happens in real life to a lot of bands. And also it’s true that when we want something, things don’t always happen, and I think there’s a very important message behind it. The focus of this DVD is not really on the huge Kataklysm fan. I mean, if you are, you’ve found a gold mine (laughs). But if you’re just the regular guy who listens to metal, starting a band, and wants to get some info to understand things better, this DVD is just the perfect tool for it.
You mentioned the 20th anniversary show at the Summer Breeze festival last year. Was that probably the best and most special show you’ve ever done, in the sense that you had such a big crowd and it was such a big occasion for you?
Yeah, it was the biggest headliner show we’ve ever done, that’s for sure. Playing to 20,000 people was just a really good opportunity. We negotiated to be part of that festival at the time, promoters agreed and took a chance on us. They took a chance on the whole situation, but it came out really stellar and the show was packed. It was just a great, great experience, and it was done so professionally. I was very impressed myself when I watched it. The shots are great and just a very good show. The cool thing about it is, it’s the only show we’ve ever done where we played songs from every record. It was a special show, so we played stuff from 1994-95, our first EP, all the way to our latest album “Heaven’s Venom”. So it was like a complete retrospect, you know.
So, while putting together this documentary, did you guys look at any other band documentaries to kind of study how to do this thing, or was it just like completely natural and you just put in whatever you filmed?
Well, two things. First of all, we didn’t want this to be like a sob story. It wasn’t meant to show the band in a way like, “Oh, look at us. We’re fucked up and we struggled and it was hard.” It wasn’t like that. We didn’t want to do that. It’s a good story, it’s the story of a band that’s been on its way to get recognition at some point. We’ve taken a huge risk because it’s so long, and in the beginning we were a little bit worried because we had decided to do something nobody had done before, and it’s a very, very detailed documentary. The only band that did anything close to it was Cannibal Corpse, but theirs was four hours and ours is five-and-a-half. There is also a lot of footage that’s not even in there, that we just couldn’t put because it was already too long. And also, we tried to do it in a different way as well. If you watch it, you’ll see that it’s not just somebody talking. There’s a lot of footage and there’s a lot of stuff where it’s comical. It’s a very emotional roller-coaster, the whole thing. The director Tommy Jones has done an excellent job with this thing. It was a massive job to put together and we’re very happy with the fantastic job he’s done. So far the reviews are killer, and we couldn’t ask for anything more.
Looking ahead, you have another special kind of a benefit show coming up next month in Halifax. What’s that going to be all about?
The promoters over there had contacted us, and they wanted Kataklysm to play. It’s a benefit show and supports the Heart Foundation. I think it’s Kataklysm playing one night and Morbid Angel is headlining the other night. It seems like a very cool situation for us to go there, because first of all it’s a good cause, secondly we haven’t played Halifax even though we’ve been touring across Canada for 20 years. So it’ll be really good to go there and play. Other than that, we are preparing for the support of this DVD which start with Canada and then goes into Europe where we do five open-air festivals, and then we’ll be doing a full-blown North American tour. Then Kataklysm will go on a break, because we’re working on our other side Ex Deo which is becoming more and more important for us. We’re going to be pushing a new Ex Deo record out in August, and we’ll continue doing some Kataklysm stuff too. We want to go to some exotic places where we haven’t been before, like China in November and hopefully some other markets later on, may be next year.
That’s interesting. So right now you’re working on the new Ex Deo material and not Kataklysm.
Well, we’re doing both. It’s massive amounts of work (laughs), but with this DVD coming out now, it’s really hyped at the moment, and the Ex Deo record is pretty hyped as well. It’s a very strong album, so it’s going to be both bands, and trying to juggle the touring schedules. Kataklysm has just finished a world tour for “Heaven’s Venom” that lasted over a year, and we’re following that up by releasing this DVD in between the two records, and just kind of do selective, shorter tours. More focus will be on the next record because it needs attention. So it’s going to be busy, let’s put it that way (laughs).
You mentioned the Heaven’s Venom tour, which was pretty long. If I have to ask you to pick one of two of your most favorite moments, what would you pick?
One for me that was extremely surprising in a good way was the festival we did in Indonesia. It was a very good experience because it was so far away and we didn’t know that we had so many fans out there that supported Kataklysm. And then the whole experience of visiting the temples and doing all kinds of stuff was very heartwarming. And then, when we go to Europe it’s always a blast and people there are just insane. I think the thing that would stick out the most for me, it’s more of a sense of accomplishment because I grew up listening to Ozzy Osbourne, was to be on the Ozzfest tour for Heaven’s Venom in the United States. To play alongside Ozzy and the guys in Motley Crue, it was kind of surreal and that to me was the highlight of my career, for sure.
It’s going very well. The first few months of the company was more of a structuring thing, putting all the pieces together, coming out and getting a roster going. It always takes a bit of time, but again, I’ve been in this industry for a long time and I wanted to put my own input into the industry, and I think the best way to get stuff done is when you bring in the experience you have from touring. I’ve been playing for a number of years and I’ve got a lot of friends in the industry. So I decided to do this other people. My company that works with Kataklysm in Europe called Rock The Nation, we made a trademark deal for America and joined forces with the Century Media family, and together we did this roster. It’s doing very well. The hope is to help in the development of bands, and to bring a different view of how things are done in the States. We don’t think it’s been healthy for bands, specially developing bands. So we’re bringing more of a European approach as well, which seems to be working better in Europe for bands than here. So we’re working very hard, let’s put it that way, and we’ll pave something for the future that will be really beneficial for bands.
You said that the way things are done in the States is not healthy for bands. What are some of those things?
There’s a lack of interest for small bands. America is based on the really big and the really small, and there’s not enough of the in-between. There’s problems with the way the costs of developing bands is going, because there’s so little money for them to tour that bands are just breaking up before having a chance of going towards pursuing metal as a living. In Europe, they have tour buses that can accommodate up to four bands, and when we put four bands on a tour, we save on the cost of gas and hotels, and it gives bands the chance of spreading their fan base. That’s how Kataklysm did it, and I know that if I had to pay all of my way through when I was a teenager, there was no way I would have survived. Even at the beginning when we were kids, we were used to be being put on a bus, and we were like, hell yeah, we don’t have to pay anything and we just go and play. That’s how we built our fan base and this is one thing America has to learn. It all has to come together and things need to be done in a different way than before, because I’m very worried about how the industry is going. There’s been no new bands that are breaking out there and making a big noise. Like I’ve said this before, Pantera to me was the last rockstar band. There hasn’t really been anything since then that has made a huge impact or changed the industry, unless you want to say Slipknot. But other than that, there hasn’t been anybody. We’re still worshiping all the really old school bands and there’s nothing new that’s making an impact, in my opinion at least.