Hail of Bullets | Interview with Stephan Gebédi

With an all-star cast that includes prominent names from well known Dutch Death Metal bands like Asphyx, Gorefest and Thanatos, Hail of Bullets have been reloading their guns in the studio, assembling a sonic arsenal in order to engage in a relentless, blasting war of old-school Death Metal.
Guitarist Stephan Gebédi disclosed some of the strategies planned for the launching of their second fierce attack, code name: "...Of Frost And War”, their first full-length album that is on the imminence of being released worldwide by Metal Blade Records. Take cover!

HAIL OF BULLETS, the new band featuring former Pestilence/Asphyx-singer Martin van Drunen, ex-Houwitser bass player Theo van Eekelen, Gorefest-drummer Ed Warby and both Thanatos-guitarists Paul Baayens and Stephan Gebédi was born during one of those heavily drunken nights these veterans used to engage every once in a while to talk about the god old days of Death Metal. So is it an excuse for you guys to reunite and crank some serious heavy Death Metal riffs and pack a few beers along the way?

“Exactly, hehe! First we needed to find out if we all got along with each other, if there wouldn't be any clashing egos and then we simply wanted to come up with some damn fine death metal. Death Metal the way it's supposed to be, at least as we think it's supposed to sound like.”

At which point did it all become serious and the band planned to record some songs to fetch a record deal?

“Well, right from the start actually. We never had the idea to get together every week and jam together without going anywhere... as a matter of fact, we only rehearsed as a band a couple of times before we recorded our 4-track promo album. The plan was to get a record deal in the first year of our existence and we succeeded...”

All Hail of Bullets members are seasoned musicians, having played in bulky-sized bands over the last 20 years, an obvious advantage that have put them on a spotlight position since news of their formation have been circulating. Was this fact beneficial for you when to come down to sign a record deal? Did some record labels approached the band solely on the basis of your résumé?

“I would be lying if I said that it didn't gain us some extra interest, but in the end it's the music that counts. If we would have sucked musically then we wouldn't have a deal right now… it's as simple as that! There was a lot of label interest after we released our promo CD and in the end Metal Blade seemed the best choice...”

Hail Of Bullets genesis is founded on the basis of the bands members common fondness for old school Death Metal, where exactly these tastes converge? Which names do you think have influenced the band?

“I think we all love stuff like Massacre, Autopsy, Bolt Thrower, old Death and Celtic Frost. I think it's safe to say these bands have been an influence on our sound...”

Do you miss the old-school flavour of today’s Death Metal bands, whose works have a certain pristine, clean approach obviously the result of today’s digital recording technologies?

“Definitely! But we also use today's digital recording technologies. So the problem is not the fact THAT you use these technologies, but HOW you use them. There's a big risk in using triggers on drums and stuff like that, but working with a program like Pro-Tools also has its advantages. Use the technology, but don't let it take over. And that's what the big problem is with a lot of today's bands; they all sound the same, they all use the same kick drum-triggers and they all have this overproduced fat, compressed sound and that's the problem I guess..."

On the other hand, the last years has also seen an incredible resurgence of old school death metal bands like Bloodbath, Facebreaker, Death Breath, Murder Squad, etc. which most of them surprisingly features some personalities that were vital or had an important role in shaping the style in its embryonic stage. What do you think of it and the fact the genre is rising in popularity again?

“A lot of these guys have been doing other stuff, or there main bands have left the death metal-path some time ago. I guess this music is still running in their blood, so every now and then these guys get together to let off steam and return to their roots.
I love bands like Bloodbath and Death Breath, so I'm not complaining!”

The promo the band recorded last year displayed an old school Death Metal sound that bears some characteristics of past glories, like Autopsy’s catchiness, Asphyx doomy riffs and Bolt Thrower blasting-power. Will the new record entitled “…Of Frost And War” display a similar style? What can we expect from “…Of Frost And War”?

"…Of Frost And War" is a concept album about the battles at the Eastern Front during WWII. The 4 tracks on the promo were basically the first songs we wrote for this concept so they have been re-recorded for the album as well, ‘cause they are the heart of the lyrical concept. The first pressing of the album will contain a bonus track which makes the album last for 57 minutes! So besides the 4 songs from the promo you get a full album of new songs. The style of the new songs is pretty similar, although there are a few surprises like the song 'Stalingrad" which is a bit more technical riff wise and the all out doom of the final track of the album...which is one my favourites at the moment."

With regards to creating music, how do you usually approach the writing of the songs? Does any member take the lead role over another with ideas, riffs and then other members make their contributions on top of that?

“For this album Ed (Warby-drums) came up with most of the guitar riffs and even full songs; he's been very productive. Paul and I also squeezed in a couple of songs of our own and obviously we all had a say about the way the songs were structured and the way they came out in the end.”
Our songs did not come from lengthy jams, but from creating riffs and songs at home and sending them to the other guys as MP3-files. So the way we work is pretty new school, compared to our old school sound, but what the fuck... we all live quite far from each other, so this is what works best for us...”

After the release of the album, what is lined-up for the band? Will there be other records?

“Sure, there will be more albums, but first we want to concentrate on live shows now; we have a handful of great summer festivals lined up in Holland and Germany. In the fall we'll start doing club shows all over Europe, so there won't be any dull moments for us, since we're all still involved with other bands as well."

After so many years playing metal… what aspect of this type of music hasn’t stop surprising you?

“Everything about metal is still great as far as I'm concerned; when I get my hands on a nice Hellhammer box set I basically get the same feeling as when I first opened the gatefold sleeve of KISS' Alive II double-LP (well almost!). The sheer dedication of a lot of people in this scene also still surprises me. It's good to be metal!”

"...Of Frost And War" is available through Metal Blade Records.
More information about Hail of Bullets can be found at:
www.hailofbullets.com or www.myspace.com/hailoffuckenbullets