In Corona Corner, we are asking musicians how the outbreak has effected them, how did they adapt to the situation, what did they learn. The south-German Avantgarde Black Metal band Stillers Tod whose name is taken from Max Frisch’s novel “Stiller” are our guests today.
Hi! How are you doing during corona outbreak?
I guess I’m one of the few musicians who don’t really suffer from the Corona crisis. The reason is, that Stillers Tod is not a live band, so Corona didn’t change much for us. In my case, Corona even helped me making progress as a musician: I finally ordered some recording material and started recording for myself instead of going to a studio; I also trained my clean singing. I had so much time during lockdown that I started writing new songs and now I’ve got enough material to fill a new EP. We’re currently recording the stuff and I hope that it will be released next year.
What have you cancelled/postponed due coronavirus?
Since Stillers Tod is a studio project, the Corona Crisis didn’t affect us as hard as bands that play live. Luckily, we finished the recordings for our album before Corona reached Germany, so the only things that were left to do were the works that everyone can do alone at home: mixing, mastering, designing the artwork, searching for labels and promoters, all that stuff. We still had to postpone the release of our new album, but not because of Corona, but because our first producer had some other problems that kept him away from working on our album for some months.
How the global coronavirus pandemic is directly impacting bands?
With Stillers Tod we are in the lucky situation that Corona doesn’t affect us very much, but of course it’s a depressing situation for other bands not being able to play live. But what makes me really angry are the political decisions about financial aids for artists: here in Germany, the government decided that artists shall not get any financial support, because they’re not “system-relevant”. For many people, their art is their only income, so the government is letting them fall into insolvency just because they do not fit into the capitalist ideal of profitable work. Humans don’t need art to survive or to gain profit, but to fill their lives with purpose. A society without art is no place to live in, and it’s disgusting that politicians don’t see this.
How are you keeping your fans during this chaotic period?
As a studio project, nothing changed for us in keeping our fans: posting much on social media, releasing music videos, selling merchandise, giving interviews and sending our albums to magazines in hope of good reviews. Since we have now more free time due to lockdown and home office, we use the time to write and record new music, and that’s the most important way to keep our fans.
What will metal look like when we re-emerge from isolation?
To me, metal suffers from being a well-accepted subculture with bands that release again and again the same albums with the same lyrical themes about some dystopian horror stuff since decades that doesn’t shock anyone anymore. Metal became a part of the seemingly shiny, perfect world we were living in, wearing the mask of acted rebellion to play the role people are expecting from it. Now, some of the dystopian lyrics that Metal bands were singing all the time became real, the safety of our western industrialized world crumbles and social struggles come to the surface, or even worse: we are affected by these struggles ourselves. I hope, that many Metal musicians gain back their anger and fear, their will to change something. I hope that Metal becomes rebellious again.
Who will suffer the most after all: musicians, organizers promoters…
I guess that it’s a very hard time for festival organizers and owners of clubs. Having all your fixed costs while losing the income of a whole year must be pretty heavy. And, as I described in question 3, it is a horrible situation for people whose art is their main job, because they don’t get any financial support by the government. But I think that bands can even profit in some way from the situation – not in a financial way, but in an artistic way: Finding new ways to promote music or to keep in contact with the fans can lead to creative solutions. Also, using the time to write new songs and record new music is a good chance.
What is your isolation soundtrack?
I have now more time to walk around in the nature, so I started again to listen to more nature-mystical Black Metal stuff such as the “Bergtatt” album by Ulver or the new debut album “Ufang” by Perchta. Adam, the man behind the Schattenpfade label, where we will release our album, sent me the “… und ewig dauert der Berg …” album by Schattenvald, that I also enjoy after walking through the woods during the last weeks.
Besides that I’m also listening to many political singer-songwriter artists such as Früchte des Zorns, Konny Kleinkunstpunk or Revolte Springen at the moment – maybe because the Corona crisis makes many political problems more visible, so I spend more time thinking about them and need the fitting soundtrack for it.
Besides gigs, what/whom do you miss the most?
I’d love to make a big release party for our new album inviting everyone who was involved in creating it, but I guess that could be very difficult.
Do you have any rehearsals during quarantine? If yes, how do they look like?
Since we don’t have a live line-up for Stillers Tod, we never have any rehearsals, but I also play in another band that normally plays live and in which we didn’t have any rehearsals for a very long time. But some weeks ago two of us met to jam and record a new song. We sat in the garden instead of our rehearsal room, so we couldn’t use any amps. Instead, we used just an acoustic guitar and my voice. To me, it felt very good to let aside all the noisy stuff for one time and to focus on the core of our music. Maybe we will do some acoustic gigs in the open with just a handful of guests in the future, who knows?
Thank you so much for your time. Stay safe!