Monday 12 February 2018

Interview: The Kreutzer Sonata

Chicago hardcore punk four-piece The Kreutzer Sonata is dropping their new album "The Gutters of Paradise" on February 14th, and in an interview below the band discusses their beginnings, writing process, inspiration, new album.
What made you go for the name The Kreutzer Sonata?
In early 2011 before the band was put together Adam had a handful of simple demo tracks recorded in a friend's basement. At the time it was just a skeleton of what the band's sound would eventually become. The songs were melodic with a lot of minor chords and somber/melancholic lyrics while maintaining punk aggression. Adam's plan was to use the demo to start a band but at the time he had no title for the project. An avid reader, especially at the time he had picked up a copy of Tolstoy's novella "The Kreutzer Sonata" after finishing "The Devil". The brooding mood of the book and social commentary and musical piece behind the books title all added up into beautifully dark aesthetic that he thought would be fitting for an aggressive punk band that liked to play around with lyrics and unusual melodies. When he met Karl later in 2011 it was solidified and The Kreutzer Sonata, the punk band, was born.
How do you usually describe your music?
We usually have a bit of a tough time describing our music, much less getting people to understand what our name is when we tell them in person. We usually have to repeat the name a few times then either spell it out or explain the reference to people, which we only have ourselves to blame for.
The music itself is a blend of different styles which often makes it hard to find a niche within scenes, but at the same time helps us float around between different social groups of punks, metal heads and hardcore kids.
We'd like to imagine it takes the speed and anger of street punk in the drums, the attitude and clarity of hardcore in the vocals, and the vast range of all our influences outside of punk into the guitar and bass parts while still retaining the raw energy and edge the genre is known for.
But in short we consider ourselves a hardcore punk band.
What is your writing process like?
These days, each song is usually individually composed by Karl or Adam, most instrumentation by Karl and most lyrics by Adam but sometimes vice versa. The original song produced works as more of a guideline to get the idea down on a scratch recording and shown to the rest of the band to learn. Once brought into the practice space the feel of the song usually changes up a bit, and new drum and bass line parts are added in. Things start to really come together and become something we believe in from there.
Who or what is your inspiration, if you have any?
The inspiration for the songs usually comes directly from moments of our lives and ends up being our emotional release from it. A lot of people believe there is nothing original left in this world, but we believe there is nothing as original as the personal stories you have to tell. Though the greater idea of what you might have experienced as a human has happened before, the world through your individual set of eyes has never been experienced by anyone else and those two facts make songs based off life around you unique and at the same time totally relatable. So these days we like to be as specific as possible with the lyrics and as dynamic as possible with the song writing. 
Adam had worked overnights at a 4AM bar in Chicago for years called Fireside across from the Rose Hill cemetery and a lot of the song lyrics are inspired by his experiences there.
A lot of our artistic motivation comes from writers as well. Karl is a big Herman Hesse and George Orwell fan. Adam is big on authors like Louis Paul Boon, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Flan O'Brien. At work he likes to remind himself, "T.S. Elliot waited tables."

What is your favourite piece on the upcoming album “The Gutters of Paradise” and why?
It is probably a tie between "Schlitz Faced" and "Lost at Night" both songs we were doubtful in before we heard the studio mixes of the songs. "Schlitz Faced" is a punk rock service industry banger of a song, slower than most of our songs but with unmatched energy by any other song on the album. "Lost at Night" shows the versatility of the songwriting with a big drum sound, roaring melodies and tempo changes and personal lyrics, it was our top pick for an ending to the album.
What makes “The Gutters of Paradise” different?
What we think makes this album different is we don't attach ourselves to the rules of how certain genres should be specifically played or sung. We all come from different musical backgrounds that converge in the punk rock genre and it shows in our song writing. It shows in our singing, our lyrics, the drumming that is at some points galloping, at some points spastic and at some points holding back to build up energy. It is an album for kids who were always outsiders between the normal people and punk kids alike. In that sense it is an album written by being yourself. And there is nothing in this world that will set you more apart than that.
What should music lovers expect from “The Gutters of Paradise”?
Music lovers can expect aggressive songs that aren't afraid of displaying different emotions far from the cheesy drivel of "emo" music. They can expect songs about real, experiences, real people. Anthems for living in today and songs for memories and regret. We always like the old school concept of an album, that there should be a crescendo, a rise and fall and resolution, much like a novel would have. And we have strived for that in the songs on this album while still maintaining the break neck pace our music is known for.
What kind of emotions would you like your audience to feel when they listen to your music?
Anger,reverie, nostalgia, determination, and most of all regardless of age they should feel the spirit of youth.
Which do you like most, life in the studio or on tour?
Most of us, especially Karl prefer the studio. Touring is equal parts fun and draining, not to say the studio isn't. There are definitely parts of being on the road that make you question your whole life's motivation and choices, though in the end for us we are always reassured in what we do and the people around us equally giving their lives to music. But something about being in the studio is a creative paradise even in the most stressful moments. It feels like something to aspire to. It is a brief moment of concentration and accomplishment. 
Pick your three favourite albums that you would take on a desert island with you.

Karl's top three would be "Until We Die" by A Global Threat, "Atlas" by FM-84 and "Figure 8" by Elliot Smith.

Jack's top three would be "Red-Eyed Soul" by World/Inferno Friendship Society, "Where the Sun Never Sets" by A Global Threat and "The Downward Spiral" by Nine Inch Nails.

Logan's top three would be "Paint it Pink" by Paper Mice, "Frizzle Fry" by Primus and "An Evening Wasted With Tom Lehrer" by Tom Lehrer.

Adam's top three would be "Strength Through Pain" by Monster Squad, "Grey Britain" by Gallows and "Alphabet, Alphabets" by Trophy Scars.

"The Gutters of Paradise" is available from Bandcamp here.

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