Interview with Death Reapers

Interview with Death Reapers

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Hello! Your band name, Death Reapers, has a very dark and ominous sound to it. What inspired you to choose this name and what does it mean to you personally?
Hi, when it comes to our name, it’s hard to say much because there isn’t any significant history behind it. We were around 15-16 years old back then, and we started a band. We needed to come up with a name to promote ourselves somehow. We don’t exactly remember how it came about, but we were probably walking by the lake during the summer and trying to come up with a cool name that suited us and was easy to remember. We were heavily influenced by the band Children of Bodom, hence the reference to “Reaper.”

You recently released EP “The New Beginning”. Can you tell us more about the creative process behind this EP and what themes it explores?
There’s a lot to say about the process of creating this EP. The songs “Monument” and “Emptiness” were already finished by the end of August 2021. Since we didn’t have a drummer at the time, Hubert programmed the drums electronically. The EP versions of the songs reflect how they were made in 2021, but of course, Mateusz added his own accents to the drum tracks, so they are not exactly as originally conceived by Hubert. “Mistletoe” was created around the same time and was completed before the start of 2022.

As for “Zweihänder” and the titular track “The New Beginning,” they are newer songs. They were created after Mateusz joined the band. The initial instrumental versions of “The New Beginning” were created around April. It’s probably the song we wrote the fastest. It took literally 2-3 weeks from the initial combination of a few riffs to the final instrumental version. Perhaps because it came together so naturally, with new riffs and ideas flowing effortlessly, it turned out to be a great song. We didn’t overthink the riffs and structures, so there was no risk of ruining it. The title “The New Beginning” didn’t come out of nowhere either. When we knew we wanted to record the EP with Mateusz, we felt it marked a new chapter and a fresh start for us. Initially, only the EP was supposed to be called that, but we realized it would be a perfect fit for this particular song and its theme.

“Zweihänder” was the last song to be completed. Its beginnings also date back to around April, but we didn’t finish it until the end of June when we could all gather at Mateusz’s place to brainstorm ideas and test them out live. It’s worth noting that there is quite a distance between us. We live in three different locations: Hubert, Kamil, and Filip in Przytoczna, a village where Death Reapers was initiated. Konrad is in Poznań, a large city about 100 km from Przytoczna, and Mateusz is in the vicinity of Gniezno, about 70 km from Poznań and 170 km from Przytoczna. That’s why our rehearsals as a group of five don’t happen often, but we stay in touch daily through the internet. So even if we haven’t seen each other for a long time, when we finally meet, it doesn’t feel like months have passed since our last meeting.

Going back to “Zweihänder,” we finished it at Mateusz’s place, where he contributed some ideas that helped us complete the song quickly. In our opinion, it’s a complete and really strong track. During the EP recording process, we also experienced many adventures. Initially, we wanted to rent a studio and record at least the drums there. However, after some searching, we realized that if we wanted Mateusz to play it exactly the way we envisioned, three days in the studio might not be enough. Time pressure could also hinder the recording process, and we couldn’t afford more studio time.

We can say a lot about the process of creating this EP. The songs “Monument” and “Emptiness” were already finished by the end of August 2021. Since we didn’t have a drummer at that time, Hubert programmed the drums electronically. The songs on the EP are in the version as they were made in 2021, but of course, Mateusz added his drum accents and it’s not exactly how Hubert originally envisioned it. “Mistletoe” was created around the same time and was completed before the start of 2022.

As for “Zweihänder” and the titular “The New Beginning,” these are newer songs. They were created after Mateusz joined the band. The initial instrumental versions of “The New Beginning” were created around April, and it’s probably the song we wrote the fastest. It took us only 2-3 weeks from combining a few riffs to the final instrumental version. Perhaps because this song came together so naturally, with ideas and riffs flowing easily, it turned out to be very good without overthinking the riffs and structures. The title “The New Beginning” didn’t come out of nowhere either. When we knew we wanted to record an EP with Mateusz, we felt it marked a new chapter and a fresh start for us. Initially, only the EP was going to be titled that way, but we thought it would also be a perfect fit for this particular song.

“Zweihänder” was the last song to be completed. Its beginnings are also from around April, but we finished it at the end of June when we could all meet at Mateusz’s place and brainstorm ideas together in person. It’s worth mentioning that there is quite a distance between us. We live in three different locations: Hubert, Kamil, and Filip in Przytoczna – a village where Death Reapers originated. Konrad is in Poznań, a big city about 100km from Przytoczna, and Mateusz is in the vicinity of Gniezno, about 70km from Poznań and 170km from Przytoczna. Due to the distance, our band practices with all five of us don’t happen often, but we stay in contact daily through the internet, so even if we haven’t seen each other for a long time, when we meet, it doesn’t feel like months have passed.

Returning to “Zweihänder,” we finished it at Mateusz’s place, where he contributed some ideas that helped us complete the song quickly. In our opinion, it turned out great and really holds up. During the EP recording process, we also had many adventures. Initially, we wanted to rent a studio to record at least the drums, but after some searching, we realized that if we wanted Mateusz to play them exactly as we wanted, three days in the studio might not be enough. The time pressure could also complicate the recording process, and we couldn’t afford more studio time.

Instead, we decided to buy our own microphones and an interface to record the drums in Mateusz’s garage, and that’s what we did. However, when we ordered the equipment to give Mateusz as much time as possible for recording (because we had a specific deadline for the drums), it turned out that Mateusz had sold his cymbals. He explained to us that he had been trying to sell them for a long time, but no one wanted to buy, so he took the opportunity when someone finally showed interest. He said he would immediately order new cymbals from Zildjian, which would improve the sound on the album. Unfortunately, it turned out that at that moment there was a problem with the distribution of plates from that company, and Mateusz didn’t want to spend thousands on other cymbals just because of the time pressure, so a big problem and a very stressful situation arose. We thought we wouldn’t be able to record that EP, but Kamil managed to find the last set of Mateusz’s dream cymbals. We were able to buy them, and the plate adventure ended successfully. We set a day to go to Mateusz’s in a group of three with the guys from Przytoczna to Gniezno to deliver and set up the microphones for the recording session. Filip and Hubert worked together in the same company and easily took an hour off work, and Kamil finished around the same time, so everything fit. It was Thursday, and we were supposed to leave Przytoczna around 3 PM to be at Mateusz’s as soon as possible and have some time to set up the microphones, and return early because each of us started work early on Friday. Everything seemed great; we packed the equipment into the car, got in ready to go, and it turned out that the car wouldn’t start. At that moment, time was our biggest enemy, and the fact that the car wouldn’t start was a huge problem. Hubert’s dad and a coworker came to help us. It turned out that the battery had died. We tried different things, but we ended up having to replace it. Fortunately, we managed to do it fairly quickly, but the whole action took us 1.5 hours. Of course, things could have been much worse, and we were lucky in that regard, but it was still unfortunate that it happened at that moment. As planned, we managed to reach Mateusz’s that day and set up the microphones. Everything ended happily. It was just recording drums, but these situations brought us tremendous emotions, and these are the things we often reminisce about with the guys. As for recording guitars, we managed to arrange with our local cultural center in Przytoczna that we would have three days in August for that. It suited us very well. The recordings went smoothly and were of good quality, thanks to the kindness of the center’s director. We got to know his friend, Maciej Matuszak, a guitarist from one of the more popular metal bands in Poland in the 80s-90s called “Wolf Spider.” He gave us a lot of advice and talked about his times. Unfortunately, it was our last day of recording, so we didn’t have the opportunity to put his advice into practice, but it was a very interesting and inspiring experience. It motivated us even more to take action. In the end, only the bass and vocals were left to record. Since we had our own audio equipment, we recorded these two things at Hubert’s house in the afternoons after work. Konrad recorded the vocals in the last days of August when all five of us gathered in Przytoczna because we had a concert at a local festival. Our music video includes footage from that concert, and the rest of it was also recorded on the same day. It was an incredibly exciting day for us because the concert was really big by our standards, and it was our first time shooting a music video, which was a great experience for us. In summary, the creation of “The New Beginning” took a while from start to finish, and we put our whole heart into this EP. The period from Mateusz joining the band until the end of summer (late August) was a very active and intense time for us, and it was really intense, to put it simply. We say this, of course, in a positive sense, although after the summer, everyone was already tired of it. Later came the period of releasing the EP, but there were no major adventures during that time. Initially, we thought we would be able to release the EP in October, but everything got delayed, and we ended up releasing it in February. By the end of 2022, we were literally fed up with the EP and just wanted to release it. However, the results and comments after the release showed us that it was worth it, and we feel satisfaction with what we have accomplished.

Your music has been described as a blend of death metal and thrash metal. How do you balance these two genres in your music, and what other musical influences do you draw from?
Indeed, we described our music that way, mainly on the Sightless EP. Death metal was more associated with heavy, slower sounds and growling vocals, while thrash is known for being fast-paced, with vocals that are not as heavy. Calling our music Trash/Death metal at that time seemed to best fit what we were playing because Sightless was fast like thrash but also had elements of death metal. Later on, we stuck with that name, but we think that now we’re closer to Melo-Death metal, and we’ll likely lean more in that direction. However, time and our future songs will show if that’s the case.

“Emptiness” is one of the tracks on your latest EP. Can you tell us more about the inspiration behind this song and the emotions it explores?
Well, it all comes down to an idea, or rather lack thereof. When we were recording the first part of the EP including “Monument” and “Emptiness” only the first song had the lyrics already written and prepared. Konrad was really proud of the “Monument” both thematically and lyrically so he wanted the next song to live up to it. Unfortunately, he couldn’t come up with anything at all, and we all began getting frustrated – Konrad about not having any good ideas and the rest of us because we couldn’t carry on the recording. And that’s when the main theme was born – “if we have nothing to sing about, let’s sing about it”. The whole song follows a metaphorical wanderer, lost within the mind, with some callbacks to our other songs as the ideas still left in memory, but now expended. We think the beauty of it comes from many possible interpretations – originally meant as a story of overcoming creative block and finding inspiration, it really is a song about taking a look from a different perspective and finding a solution, no matter the problem.

The addition of a new member, Mateusz, seems to have marked a new chapter for the band. How has this change impacted your music and the dynamics of the band?
Certainly, welcoming Mateusz as our new drummer was the biggest event in Death Reapers. From the beginning, we got along great. Mateusz listens to slightly different music than we do, which brought a fresh breath of air to our songs, and his skills are amazing. Even though we’ve known each other for over a year now, we’re still in awe when Mateusz plays something for us. The EP “The New Beginning” is named after the new start that came with Mateusz joining us. Previously, we didn’t play many concerts, maybe just small local ones. Since we started playing with Mateusz, our performances have reached a new level, and we played our long-awaited concert at a club and at the local festival in Przytoczna. As for songwriting and the band’s style, I think it will truly show in our future releases. The songs on “The New Beginning” were created more in the old model of our work, where Hubert wrote the drums and Mateusz enhanced them. Only now, as the songs are being created from scratch together with Mateusz, you’ll hear his influence more. We hope you’ll be able to experience it as soon as possible!

Your first single, “Fire & Glass”, was released during the pandemic. How did you manage to promote and share your music during this time when live concerts were not possible?
This is an interesting case because at that time we hadn’t played any concerts yet. We had only done one local performance without Konrad, so we played without vocals. I think it’s a strange statement, but in reality, the initial quarantine helped us with the realization of this song. We didn’t go to school, so we had a lot of free time that we could use to work on this track. Initially, we wanted to record the song as a test to be able to listen to our original music not only live and, at the same time, have an adventure recording this song – it was our first time recording. Due to the lack of equipment and resources, and the fact that it was intended only for ourselves, we recorded the guitars and vocals using a phone microphone. Hubert and Konrad handled all the recordings. We created the bass and drums electronically because we didn’t have the means to record them. Our parents didn’t allow us to meet with other friends at that time, but we were allowed to go to the forest, so we secretly met up with the guys there to record backing vocals for the chorus and create the cover. After the recording, we faced the reality that our recordings needed to be mixed, which wasn’t easy. After a week of struggles, we managed to achieve a result that satisfied us at the time. In the meantime, we decided that the song turned out well enough that we wanted to upload it to our YouTube channel, and that’s the whole story related to this song. Its promotion didn’t really exist. We didn’t know much about it. The only thing we did to get more people to see it was to share it on various Facebook groups and among friends.

“The New Beginning” features a song called “Mistletoe”. What inspired you to write a song about this plant, and how does it relate to the overall theme of the EP?
Many of our inspirations come from our everyday lives and struggles, and the theme of “Mistletoe” is no different. The mistletoe in general is a plant connected with magic and ritual, so we had a lot of interesting mythological context to build on. In the song, the parasitical plant is a metaphor for all the worries and burdens that every human carries. If left unchecked, they will grow and weigh us down even more, just as the mistletoe drains the tree it grows on. For us, the main takeaway of this song is that you must resolve the things that gnaw on you, whatever they may be, or they’ll pile up and suffocate you. It may happen to everyone, even the strongest of us so we got to fight it and try to keep a peace of mind.

Death metal often deals with themes of darkness, death, and violence. How do you approach writing lyrics that explore these themes, and what messages do you hope to convey to your audience?
Right, different bands often sing about such topics, and it’s perfectly fine. In our song “Death Reapers,” we also have a similar theme, and it fits the music really well. When it comes to writing lyrics for our songs, we like them to carry something with them, our own thoughts. Most often, it’s Konrad’s thoughts as he writes the lyrics, but when it comes to providing motifs for a particular song, everyone tends to contribute. We don’t limit ourselves to having our music confined to a single theme, but we want each song to carry some reflections from us.

As a band from Poland, what role does your cultural background play in your music and your artistic vision? Are there any cultural or historical elements that inspire you in your creative process?
It’s difficult to determine. We’re not consciously inspired by Polish culture, but we can’t say that it doesn’t influence us at all. However, growing up and living here, what we do has a certain Polish essence to it. When it comes to specific Polish inspirations, I think we can mention Behemoth and Nocny Kochanek. During the founding of Death Reapers, we listened to a lot of Nocny Kochanek, and it might have had some musical influence on us. As for the lyrical themes, we don’t want to go in that direction. Mateusz, for example, doesn’t really like them, but sometimes we played some of their songs during rehearsals. As for Behemoth, we’re only inspired by their work ethic, aiming for the highest quality, which translates into our results. Of course, we respect their creativity and listen to some of their tracks. The only thing that reflects Polish culture in us is the preference for vodka over beer, haha, but such things aren’t visible from the outside.

Thank you.
You’re welcome! We also thank you for the opportunity to share our Death Reapers stories with you.

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