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NATRON – Interview with Max

NATRON – NECROGRAPHY: Max founded the band back in 1992, but the line-up was totally different at that time. Since then some changes occurred until they reached the current one featuring: Mike Tarantino (vocals), Domenico Mele (guitars), Corenzo Signorile (bass) and Max (drums). This line-up exists since September 1997 when Mike joined the band at last. Domenico became a member of NATRON 2 months before the release of their first demo “Force” (November 1994) and Lorenzo just did it in March 1995. They released a second demo called A Taste of Blood in June 1997, then their first full-length album Hung, Drawn & Quartered in December of the same year. The last album just came out in June 1999, and that is all… up till now!!!

NATRON covered “Message in a Bottle” by the Police/Sting. Although it changed to “Message in a Coffin”, it still is a weird choice. Why did you pick this song? Which Metal-song would you cover?

It was a joke! I really dig this band since I was a kid and we are still thinking it is a good idea to cover something really different from our style. I think it worked out well, we played it the way we use to do, but we stayed close to the original melody. We also recorded a new cover for the upcoming album, but I prefer to keep it silent, it is just a surprise, all I can say is that it is song from one of the most innovative and skilled bands in the worldwide Metal scene… you will see!

Let me guess… NILE?!

Holy Records releases a lot of avantgarde Doom Metal stuff. It is not exactly a label to release brutal Death Metal. How did you get signed by them? And are you glad with what they are doing for NATRON? What do you think of bands like SEPTICFLESH? Will NATRON change its style?

When we got signed by HOLY RECORDS, a lot of people started up with “Well, NATRON is going to turn into a trendy Gothic Doom band!” No way, they want us to play aggressive and brutal music, they really like our style and never want to change anything in our sound. They love and support our band and that is enough to me at the moment. I enjoy SEPTICFLESH, it is a cool band, we supported them on their last European tour and it was fun!

NATRON performed in the FRONTLINE in Ghent, Belgium. How do you look back on it?

I think it was great! That was the last gig of the tour, so it was like a big party between the bands. I like that place: it is small, narrow, sweaty and hot as hell! We also played there in 1998 with a local band named SERIAL BUTCHER, but I remember we were f*cking tired because we travelled all day long and we were extremely late. We arrived around 11.00 p.m. and went on stage half an hour later,… it was totally nuts, but cool anyway!

Italy is no real Metal-country, I guess. Next to NATRON and OPERA IX, are there bands which are worth mentioning?

I would add UNDERTAKERS, ANTROPOFAGUS, NECRODEATH and few more as far as the Death Metal scene,… Then we can count some other like DOMINE, RHAPSODY, LABYRINTH, TIME MACHINE, ELDRITCH and DEATH SS,… I cannot say I like all these bands, but I respect them for their hard work in the scene.

The recording of “Negative Prevails” took about 20 days. Describe how this time was spent.

Well, it took 16 days… to be fair! It was no problem to record that album, I remember it was cool: new studio, new album, new label…

Tommy Tägtgren, Peter’s brother, took care of the recording. Tell us more about him.

Oh, Tommy is the fifth member of the band, he is always interested in bands bearing something “fresh”, new… something different from the usual Black or typical Swedish Death Metal stuff he used to deal with in its production. It was like a breath of fresh air having a brutal Death/Grind band in his studio.

In your thanks list, I noticed the name Frédéric Driessens. He lives a few kilometres from where I am born. He is a real Death/Grind addict and organizes gigs once in a while. Where do you know him from: letters, gigs,…?

His address was suggested by Theo from HOUWITSER/JUDGEMENT DAY when I was looking for some serious gig-promotors in Belgium. I got in touch with him and he organized a couple of gigs at the VORT’N VIS club, he f*cking rules, man!

I also read the names ANCIENT RITES, AGATHOCLES, SERIAL BUTCHER, EXTERMINATOR and RULE OF THUMB. What do you think of these Belgian bands and what is the link with NATRON?

With some of them we just keep in touch through mail or we played some shows together, they are all good bands. AGATHOCLES and ANCIENT RITES need no further words, they are hugely known in the worldwide scene!

How did NATRON learn to play their instruments? Are you able to read music notes? Which makes of instruments do you use? Any particular reason for that?

Each member learnt to play by himself, we can read music notes and we do not have any particular reason for the choice of the instruments we currently play! We improved a lot by rehearsing almost all days!!!

How do you compose a new song?

We just jam! Nobody comes like “I have got a new song ready!”. Normally, I am used to take care of the song-structure, vocal arrangements and lyrics; Domenico takes care of melody arrangements and then we improve all our instrument tracks by an intense rehearsal until the whole song is 100% satisfactory!!!

Can you easily rehearse? I mean, don’t you have problems with the rehearsal place, complaints of neighbours, distance of living between the different members?

We do not live in the same town, but it is no problem to meet 4 days per week and to rehearse in my hometown. Sometimes we receive complaints from some families living in the street in which our room is placed. We understand it is really hard living with a bedroom close to our rehearsal room. But we have found a compromise: we play from 6 to 8.30/9.00 p.m. In this way we do not hurt anyone!!!

How did you get signed by your label? Did you get offers from other labels? Which ones?

I received the first offer from HOLY RECORDS on the phone! They called me at home after listening to Hung, Drawn and Quartered. No other labels offered deals at the time…

Can we expect a cd in the near future?

We just recorded our third album in Sweden, during May. It is again an ABYSS Studio production! It will be out in September/October 2000. Also a mini-cd within the end of this f*cking hot summer!!!

Who made NATRON‘s website?

Mike, our singer… he is a computer freak and he studies computer media at the university!

How many letters does NATRON receive a day ?

I received tons of letters in the past, especially when I was in the underground scene, I had a lot of contacts all around the world,… it was fun at the time, because I received letters from friends in every corner of the world, but e-mail just killed this way of being in contact.

How would you describe NATRON‘s music?

Pure schizoid gore Death!

Do you use certain effects on your voice/guitars?

Mike does not use anything except for a very soft reverb and Domenico uses some effects on solos, on the last album we recorded ten months ago. It had been the first time he used a wah-wah effect in a solo, it sounded unusual but cool!!!

How did you prepare before you went to the studios?

Rehearse, rehearse and f*cking rehearse all the time!!!

What else, of course. Can you tell us what happened during the recording of the cd? How long did you have to play each day?

No more than 8-9 hours each day. I think it is impossible doing more because your brain needs to be off for 12-14 hours if you want to do the best!

How many copies did you sell of the previous NATRON-releases?

I really do not know!!! The first album was printed in 1000 copies or something more and they are all sold out everywhere, I think. But as for Negative Prevails I have not got any figures from our label since a long time… it would be better if I called them one day… but I do not really care a lot, we have been regularly paid lately, so…

What reactions do you get? What do you think of your latest release yourself?

It rules, but the new one is way better than Negative Prevails! It is a killer, you will see…

How much do you ask for a gig?

Usually we ask between DEM 500 and 700 (± € 256 and € 358) per gig!

In which countries did NATRON perform? With which bands?

We played with too many bands, I cannot mention them all… We toured Italy, France, Germany, Belgium and Holland, but we look forward to playing in other countries too!

Can you describe a NATRON-gig?

Headbanging, hair-rolling and a lot of sweat on stage! Sometimes in the past we screened some horror/gore films behind the drumkit and put some gutted and deformed dummies at the four corners of the stage: it has been cool and sick, but too expensive, so we definitely quit it!!!

How many gigs does NATRON play a year?

Normally we have a European tour per album and some shows in our country. We do not play a lot, I mean… we really want to play more. To all promotors: get in touch!

How is life while touring?

Life is dirty and stinking on a tour-bus, you really would die or sell your mother for a f*cking shower, but that is the way it is… You must love it, otherwise you can stay home with your girlfriend watching TV. But these are not things we like to do… We want to “feel the road”, every time we know we are going to leave for a tour or just for a few shows, we get wet in our pants…

I can imagine you did not stay the nights in luxurious hotels. How are the sleeping conditions in general?

We also toured Europe in a car and sometimes it happened. We parked in a gas-station and slept for 2-3 hours in the car and that is sh!t if you must drive 500-600 km more and play the night after. Normally we ask for a place to sleep, but this is not possible all the time, so we end up using our sleeping bags everywhere… you know, we love to watch the stars at night, ha ha!!!

Which bands you toured with had a rockstar-attitude?

I do not remember any band we played with having a rockstar attitude, really…

In which club/country did NATRON get the best response from the audience?

I think that the show we played in Marseille (France) -during the last European tour- was the best, the crowd was really wild that night!

Do you appreciate the average organisation before and during gigs? Could NATRON count on sufficient advertisements? And do you ever have serious sound-technical problems during gigs due to bad organisation? Or does the NATRON-“roadcrew” take care of the sound themselves?

I think it is normal having some troubles on stage when you are touring without a proper technician following you in each date and mostly knowing your music. We cannot pay a sound-man, and that is a pity because we never have a top sound to express the right brutality on stage… We look forward in to having one in the future… Anyway, during the last tour we had Spencer from Holland and he did a great job, but it was for 15 days, it is not so much!

Does NATRON play covers? Which songs?

Yes, we play Message in a Bottle (POLICE) and now we have a new cover to play during the live-set: Nothingface by VOIVOD.

A string breaks… Remaining silent is no solution. How does NATRON manage to fill up the gap?

Just keep on playing until the end of the song!!!

When touring, what is NATRON leaving behind (jobs, families, school,…)? How do you solve this? How do you deal with it?

Some of us leave job, girlfriends, studies; but the real problem is to get the job again, when we are home from tour. Corenzo (bass) has not got any particular problems, he just leaves his girlfriend at home at least, as for me and Mike, we just keep on studying and we have some sh!tty part-time jobs, so it is no problem to get into normal life when the tour ends. Domenico has got a real job, he works as a techician in a factory, so every time he is out for playing, he risks a lot, but his job manager is very polite and understands. He just cannot live without his music… He has been lucky up till now, but he is afraid of future shows, this situation cannot stand any longer and when he will be forced to choose, he will have to find the right solution for this problem.

Describe a day in your life (job, spare time, Metal-activities, etc.).

Eat, p!ss, drink, f*ck, work, sh!t, play, study… and so on!!!

Compose the ultimate cd:

the vocalist of the band is: Mike Tarantino

the lead guitarist: Dominco Mele

the rhythm guitarist: Lorenzo Signorile

the drummer: Max Marzocca

the cd is recorded in the following studio: Abyss

the cd is produced by the following label: Holy

the logo is drawn by: (my ex-girlfriend) Julia Saulle

Death Metal or Black Metal? Why?

Death Metal. I do not need to say the reason…

What was the last demo you bought?

I never bought a demo… I used to trade a lot…

What do you think of all these cds being released nowadays while formerly it already was a whole achievement to record a demo? What does this tell about quality? And about the importance of money?

And I answer “Who the hell can have the money for all that sh!t???”

How do you decide to buy a cd? What convinces you: a review, an advertisement, a gig, …?

I just follow my instinct… but I just forgot the last time I bought a CD… oh, er… it was a gatefold vynil version of the first BLACK SABBATH album.

Nothing wrong with BLACK SABBATH. Which band are you listening to right now? What song do you want to be played on your funeral?

TYPE O NEGATIVE: I f*cking love this band…World Coming Down is the song I want to be played at my funeral or at least Let my People Go by Diamanda Galàs.

What are your favourite bands/styles?

I listen to a hell of things… it is easier to say what I do not like at all: Rap-music, Reggae, Classical, Black Metal, Power Metal, Heavy Metal (except for MANOWAR), Etno/Folk/World Music… and things like these!

What is your ultimate playlist?

TYPE O NEGATIVE World Coming Down
CRYPTOPSY Whisper Supremacy
GRIP INC.Solidify
TESTAMENT The Gathering

I only included new stuff, because my “all time top list” does not exist!!!

What do you think about the following styles?

Black almost nothing; Death that is the way I am; Heavy IRON MAIDEN; HardCore AGNOSTIC FRONT; Progressive GENESIS; Thrash METALLICA; Doom a funeral; Grind factories and nuclear basis; Speed oh hell, men in ludicrous pink and black striped pants screaming ; Gothic-influenced? Unlucky men with white make-up wondering about the reason of life and sh!t… man, I do not know how to answer these f*cking questions, ah,ah!!! X Straight Edge X; I enjoy MINOR THREAT… Ian MacKaye rules, but I cannot be in something with no s*x, sorry! House/techno music I do not like pills; Punk it is definitely dead; magic no comment; s@t@nism edonism!!!

What do you think of today’s Metal/underground scene?

I do not know what to say… I do not use to follow the scene, I do not like trends!!!

Are you involved in other Metal activities? Like a ‘zine, distro, compilation or a side-project? Do you have a job next to this? Or what are you studying?

I study economy at the university… I quit it for a while some time ago then I started studying again; I have some part-time jobs… I do some on PC or work as a security-man at rock discos. I never had a zine… I had a small distro in the past, but it is no more now! Yes, I play with other bands… Lately, Domenico and I supported Italian Black Thrasher NECRODEATH, we played two gigs with a Thrash Metal band called CRUENTUS.

Name the best

metal guitarist Chuck Schuldiner; metal drummer Dave Lombardo; metal vocalist Phil Anselmo??!!; live show you saw SLAYER: live at Donington 1995 (UK); movie A Clockwork Orange; book/comic An American Psycho; underground/metal ‘zine HEADF*CKER Mag. (Italy); graphic artist Jacob Leonard; cd/demo cover Reign in Blood;

Favourite beverage?

My top fave drink is Cuba Libre… mix between coke and Havana rhum!!!

Vinyl or cd or tape? Why?

Vinyl,… I am a big vinyl collector!!!

What is the available merchandise?

Who/What is the most interesting person/time in history? Why?

Jesus Christ! He is the first rockstar ever!!! As for the time I think,… this time we live in is very interesting, but please do not ask me why!

What is your philosophy in life?

Life is f*cking short… so, enjoy your life!!!

At what age did you start listening to Metal? What was the first Metal album you bought?

I started at the age of 14/15, the first album I bought was Fly on the Wall by AC/DC!!!

Which themes are suitable for Metal-lyrics? Which aren’t?

I think all kind of lyrics, but a love theme in the vein of “oh baby, I love you so much, please do not leave me alone…” and sh!t like this!

Who writes the lyrics? What are the main topics? Where does the inspiration come from?

I write all lyrics… main topics are the dark and negative side of our lives… inspiration? Gore/splatter/horror/B-movies and litterature!

Are gore and splatter so casual in your life?! Any question you would like to ask me?

What did bring you to send me a 66 questions long interview? I am sweating like hell to answer you…

What are the plans for the future?

Third new album out after the summer!

Some last words to the readers?

Thanks for the interview and just… keep on rotting!!!

Thanks, Max & NATRON!