Selbstentleibung: “make honest music without following any stereotypes” – Interview

Through personal aquaintanceship of the band I’ve been following the Austrian Selbstentleibung from their first steps. The band’s name Selbstentleibung is German for “Self-Disembodiment”, an uncommon term for suicide, however it is made quite clear throughout this interview that their music is not about suicide but in a way quite the opposite. With the first album titled Emotional Endstation (2009) and the second one Kategorie:tot (2012) the band worthily won the attention and the new album is already on its way. I asked guitarist Marrok about the coming of their new album, live gigs and what their music really is about.

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Your music is considered to be suicidal/depressive black metal. How much do you agree with this categorization? How would you describe the music of Selbstentleibung?

To say it as clear as possible: since „kategorie:tot” suicide is no longer a lyrical subject of Selbstentleibung at all! Even more our instrumental parts are quite far away from typical so called „DSBM” nowadays. For sure the combination of our vocalist’s voice and the fact that our bandname was basically an old German term for suicide makes it difficult to get this image away, but within the last four years our music and our lyrics turned into something very honest and authentic, far away from suicidal clichés.

Back in 2008 our debut-album „Emtionale Endstation” was an opportunity for our vocalist to let go of a very hard period of his life, while the music was written by our ex-guitarist, who had to leave the band shortly after the recordings. Since then the band changed dramatically and we did some kind of restart with „kategorie:tot”. Nowadays we just try to make honest music without following any stereotypes, while our lyrics are more about psychosis, psycho-terror, everyday life aggressions and our own view on modern society…

Now I would like to ask a common question: are there any bands that influenced the music of Selbstentleibung? How unique do you think the music of Selbstentleibung is and in what way?

We never wanted to sound like a specific paragon. Of course our personal taste of music is a big influence, but we all listen to a wide range of different sounds, which would be way too much to combine in one band!

I defined some kind of basic idea how our music should sound, but this idea changes continuously because we never want to do the same thing again and again. We get in touch with exciting new influences all the time, our goal is to just keep our typical elements and to combine them with some of those new influences which result in a more and more unique type of Black Metal.
Other people will always try to compare us with other bands, and of course you might be able to say „the song X sounds like band Y from 2:23 min until 3:12 min” or something like that, but I cannot imagine that you can tell me at least one band that sounds like Selbstentleibung entirely!  But that’s all just how it sounds to me, I’m sure there are some people out there who think completely different about us. In the end music is always a matter of taste.

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What is the message of the band if there is any?

We don’t follow a certain concept through all our songs, but one of the main points is to show how damaged our society is if you take a look behind the image everyone tries to sell. We picked out some extreme examples, for instance our new album is basically about people who are sentenced to life behind thick walls and barbwire in „mental hospitals” just because they said what they think. When such people are banished no one cares what happens to them behind locked doors… several drugs and psychological pressures destroy even the hardest character, their memories of better times are often the last thing that seperates them from the life of worthless cattle.

As far as I know the media doesn’t push the band so much. Was it your choice to stay in the background? Selbstentleibung is not a well known band (perhaps even unknown) in the UK. How popular is the band in other places?

Well we know that Selbstentleibung is really hard to pronounce for non-German speakers, which makes it harder to reach other countries than Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Our main market is settled in Germany, but we also have a strong base in the Czech Republic and in Hungary.
We think that our music is strong enough to break the „language-barrier” but without a big label such a developments need time and that’s ok for us, better than becoming slaves to a big company. We are ready for the next step, but not at any price!

It seems to me the first album, Emotional Endstation tries to tell a story. The songs are connected with what it seems to be monologues in German. Is there any concept behind that or this impression is completely wrong?

Yes the first album is based on a kind of monologue which was a result of some hard, very personal experiences Tötung had to leave behind. We thought it’s not a good idea to release too private details on a record, so all that stuff was transformed into a fictitious story. Nothing more to say about that…

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How are things going on with the third album? I’ve heard you are in search for a new label now.

I don’t know where you might have heard that? The new album „null I negativ” is already recorded and we will start the mastering-sessions quite soon. We are not „in search” for a new label, it is definately possible that we will stay at our current label Nihilistic Empire but of course we will have a look at other offers which we have received during the last couple of weeks. We are not unhappy with the work of Nihilistic Empire but it is always good to check out all possible options for sure.

The track list of the third album is already available on the official sites of the band. One of the titles ’201109032230’ seems quite interesting. It looks like a date and a time to me. Can you tell me a bit more about that?  Why did you choose that title?

You are right, it’s a date which means a lot to us as a band but we don’t want to explain it in detail. It was just a day in our history that changed our life as musicians and this instrumental song is our wordless dedication to that special day.

Who writes the songs? Are the lyrics the singer Tötung’s responsibility or other members of the band add to it? What are the main lyrical themes of the songs?

In 2009 (shortly after „Emotionale Endstation”) I took over the main songwriting. Our second guitarist Ragnar joined our ranks two years later he does a very important job as well. The main structures and riffs are usually still from me but Ragnar has a great feeling for additional guitars which improved our sound very well!
The lyrics for our third album were written by Tötung, Ragnar and myself. Most of them were done by one of us but this time we also did some songs together.

As I said before, our lyrics are based on personal experiences and thoughts about the world we live in. All our albums have some kind of a fluent fictitious story but every single song also stands for itself somehow.

Suicidal black metal and its lyrical themes are usually based on death and depression. Death as an abstract concept always means the end of something. How long could it keep a band alive? How long can you gain inspiration from these concepts?

I think during this interview I made it clear already that those themes are not our main topics. Our lyrics are still quite negative but they are about LIVING out there, not dying! Although our words are often quite extreme and melancholic there are always some parts which say that it is not an option to give up. Sometimes you have to read between the lines but I think in the end it would always be better to let someone die instead of yourself.

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You did several concerts in 2013. What are your plans for next year? Are you planning a tour with the new album?

Yes we had a successful year with a tour in March and some festival shows in Germany and Czech Republic. Unfortunately an already announced show in Serbia was cancelled and we had to cancel a show in Germany in December because we are currently in search of a new drummer.
Our first main goals for 2014 are the release of our new album and to welcome a new drummer in our ranks. After we solve our lineup troubles we will try to promote the new material as much as we can, so a lot of shows are already planned and maybe we can tour again as well, hopefully including some new countries!

Can you describe the atmosphere of what you create on a live gig?

I can just describe a live-situation through my eyes: The moments we spent on stage so far were among the most intense experiences I have ever made. When we start playing, my surroundings fade far far away immediately, my thoughts turn into an inner silence and I completely fall into the music. Very soon I forget how many people are in front of the stage, I don’t care if there are 10 or 1000. At the same time I feel very connected to my bandmates and you can really feel the energy of the crowd.
If you write honest music it is very easy to get possessed by the material again and again, there is a certain emotional relationship to every single song and I think people who attend our shows feel this intensity as well. We know that we are a liveband and I think people who have already seen us on stage enjoy our music in a different way at home afterwards. We also enter the stage to deliver some kind of entertainment, people payed money to see the concert so it is our job to play a show which is worth paying for! We are not the kind of musicians who act on stage like they are at a boring rehearsal, our music contains a lot of energy which we have to release on stage!

For a lot of bands suicidal black metal is only a stage persona while they live a typical normal life. How much is it true about you?

Once again, as we feel no need to commit suicide, we represent our true point of view on stage. Of course we all live a life besides Selbstentleibung and we are even not very much into typical Black Metal anymore! This type of music will always be a part of our roots, but to be honest, there are not many pure Black Metal bands out there playing really interesting stuff, most of them sound like thousands of other bands before them, no creativity left, simply worthless noise to me…

Any serious drinking habits? 🙂

A quite off-topic question but ok haha… We will never refuse a good beer, whiskey or white wine, but for me White Russian kills ’em all!

Thank you very much for your time. The last word is yours.

Thank you for your interest in our art. Stay tuned for detailed information about the release of our upcoming album „null I negativ”!

Selbstentleibung is:

Marrok – Guitars, Backing Vocals, Lyrics
Tötung – Vocals, Lyrics
Ragnar – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Ördögvér – Drums
G. Vargavind – Bass

Find the band on Facebook.

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