Interviews > Hate Squad Interview
Hate Squad
Interview by Athena Schaffer

One of Germany’s best Metalcore exports, Hate Squad, are back with their sixth album, “Katharsis” (Massacre Records) . Get set for a wild musical ride indeed as the band purges a plethora of emotional demons. There is excellent musicianship throughout this catchy album. The Crowgrrl highly recommends it!

Hailing from Hanover, Germany, Hate Squad are: vocalist Burkhard Schmitt, guitarist Mark Kunnemann, bassist Bauke De Groot, and drummer Helge Dolgener.

The Crowgrrl recently caught up with frontman Burkhard to find out more!

“Katharsis” is a fantastic album! Can you tell us about the inspirations behind the title track?

That’s easy to answer: Katharsis is about “cleaning the soul” and to get rid of negative feelings like pain, anger & hatred (“let it all out, cleaning my soul from all the dust, spit it all out...Katharsis”).

What does “A.P.A.B.” stand for? (Great riffs in that one, by the way!)

Thank you. A.P.A.B. stands for “all politicians are bastards”. It’s a “clone” from A.C.A.B. (“all cops are bastards”), which is a well-known slogan in the worldwide football (soccer) ultra/hooligan scene, also used often in the Punk, Hardcore and Oi Scene. As the idea came to my mind, I searched the whole internet, just to find out that obviously nobody had this idea before and so I definitely had to use it as a title and write lyrics to it. A.P.A.B. was also the first song that I wrote lyrics for the album and it is also one of my favorite songs from the album!

What type of demonic entity is “The One” about?

The main subject of the song “The One” is about child abuse. It’s written from the point of view of an abused child. As long as I know, nobody in Hate Squad ever had such experiences in his own life, but some of us have own children, and our guitar player Marcel is working in a Kindergarden. So the subject itself was very important for some guys in the band.

The idea for such lyrics originally came from our drummer Helge (he got his first child in 2010), so we both wrote the lyrics together. By the way, this was the first time since we started that Helge and I wrote lyrics together...and we started Hate Squad together in 1993, so it was about time now ;-)

“Your Rotten Life” actually has a positive message behind it?

Of course, “Your Rotten Life” is one of the more positive songs on the album. The message is not to give up the fight for a better life, even if your life currently feels like shit! In my opinion, people that constantly work hard to opimize their lives in any way, will achieve victory over their “rotten life” one day! Most of the inspirations I get from the real life and also from very personal inner thoughts that I have. The human world is so fucked up in general and there are never ending possibilities to write pissed and aggressive lyrics! Some of my lyrics are also self motivation in some way and about the struggle a human being is involved sometimes!

Tell us more about “R3volt1on15t”?

To be honest, I don’t like really to explain my lyrics that much in general. I prefer that every listener makes his own thoughts and reflects his own life and situation and what the lyrics could mean to him in his very special way. Mainly, the inspiration behind most of the “pissed” lyrics includes subjects like: life, struggle, pain, hatred, anger, corruption, frustration, revolution, war, child abuse. The inspiration behind the more “positive” lyrics came from: friendship, good old times & friends, hope, cleaning the soul & victory... what R3VOLUT1ON15T exactly means and stands for, I don’t want to comment. Maybe it stands for the secret code of the upcoming apocalypse, hahahaha...

What’s your personal favorite song on the new album?

I really can’t choose only one song...every song on the album has its own magic and a special meaning to me. I like to have “Katharsis” as the real opener, I also like “Your Rotten Life”, “Hatebomb” and “A.P.A.B.” a lot. “Vicious Assault” and “Kill” are more of my favorite songs. Also a real important song for me personally is “Old Times...Good Times!”, it’s about old friends and awesome times we had together...in the intro to the song you can hear many of them talking in the background and you can also hear my dog Ben. He deserved to be on the record, since he was always there in the studios the whole time as we recorded the last three albums!!! Sorry, I can’t decide for only one song...I like the whole album a lot like it is as an album.

The three instrumentals are gorgeous, but unlike the rest of the tracks. (I like “Face Your Demon” best of the three). Can you tell us more about those?

There is not much to tell about. Our guitar player Mark and our former 2nd guitar player Martin came up with the ideas and I liked those stuff too, so we decided to make some short tracks out of it. I mainly prefer to listen to the whole album in a row and every time I like those tracks again...it’s a little bit like the calm before the storm!

Who does most of the songwriting for the band?

Generally everbody in the band can offer his ideas and take part at the sonwriting. But most of the music on “Katharsis” has been written by Mark Künnemann (guitars) and Helge Dolgener (drums).

Do the lyrics come first? Does the music come first? What is the songwriting process like for you?

Usually creating a new HATE SQUAD song means, there is always the music first and then I add the lyrics and the vocals to the music. Mainly the music for all the tracks on Katharsis are composed by Mark Künnemann (Guitar) and Helge Dolgener (Drums)...and the lyrics were mainly written by myself. The album has been recorded again at the Rape of Harmonies Studios (Heaven Shall Burn, Maroon, Fall of Serenity etc.) and recordings and mixing all in all took 4 weeks.

Any video plans for any songs?

No, there is nothing planned yet. If we would do a video, I personally would like to make a clip to “A.P.A.B.” or “Old Times...Good Times!”.

Any stories behind the cover art?

Nothing real spectacular. We saw the picture of the album cover at an artist’s website (Tobias Huber) and we decided to take this as the album cover, ‘cause we all like the picture. Finally I personally think that it fits to the whole album very well and makes a great cover...

Tour plans?

We want to play more live shows again, but so far just a few are confirmed...hopefully there will be more in the second half of 2012!

What is your live show like?

We have several more festivals in July and August, in Germany and Switzerland, and in September we have ProgPower USA... this will be the first time for Mystic Prophecy to play across the Ocean. We really can't wait. More gig confirmations are coming as we speak, just visit our official website as well as our official social media (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter) to learn about more concerts this year.

What is your live show like?

What should I say? Our shows are heavy, loud and aggressive, like the music.

Does your live set list contain mostly songs from “Katharsis”, or your other albums?

That depends what kind of show it is. If it’s a festival, we prefer to play 3-4 songs of “Katharsis” to present the new album and the rest are only old “hits” from the 5 earlier albums. If it’s a headlining show, we will probably play 5-7 songs of “Katharsis” and the rest will be old “hits” as well. From the old material we mainly play songs from “Theater of Hate” and “I.Q. Zero” albums or also some from “Degüello Wartunes”. We also plan to perform again 1-2 songs from “H8 for the masses” for further shows. The only album we mainly completely ignore is “Pzyco!” for several reasons.

What kinds of merch do you have available?

Not much at the moment. There is currently one shirt with our logo and an album cover “Katharsis” shirt is planned too. I also guess that a friend of us did some shirts regarding our hit song “Not my God” from the “I.Q. Zero” album. But I haven’t seen them finished so far. Hopefully there will be more merchandise available again soon.

What do you do on your “down-time” on the road? Do you bring movies or videogames? If so, which ones?

We haven’t been much on the road within the last years. I just could tell you what kind of movies and videogames I personally like when I’m at home, but I never would take such stuff with me if we are on the road... there are many better things on tour than to get lazy and watch movies or play videogames all the time. At home I have a huge ATARI 2600 collection and I like movies like “Shawshank Redemption”, “Boondock Saints”, “Hooligans”, “The Warriors”, “300”, “Life of Brian” or “Up in Smoke”.

Any long-form DVD plans?

There are many plans since years but this is not only up to our band. Somebody should be interested to finance & release such a DVD. If nobody will make a DVD soon, I will continue to upload all our material we have step by step on youtube. There are hundreds of videos from all shows we played in the past, also from all studio recordings and many other stuff like rehearsals and also much TV stuff. Like I said, it’s not only our decision...I own all that material and if nobody will release it in the near future, I will release it step by step for free and float the whole internet with all our past 500 shows and numerous other files...hahahaha.

How Hands-On are you with your Website, Facebook, and Myspace pages?

I do ALL the internet stuff by myself, all communities and also the website! We are on myspace, youtube, twitter, reverbnation, facebook, lastfm and many others...it’s much work all the time and I honestly really drowning in mails and comments and requests from people and Hate Squad supporters. I also just started a special HATE SQUAD supporter division website, everybody is welcome: would like to see many new faces there, it’s 100% free to join! We also have 10 special supporter division cities in the US (New York, San Francisco, Atlanta, Miami etc.) and the people can download badges for every city to show their support. Check it out if you like HATE SQUAD. As soon as I have the time (since I do all the HATE SQUAD internet stuff by my self) I will start to upload full audio HATE SQUAD shows, free to download for all HSOSD members! We have over 500 shows recorded as audio (and video!) files and I also have recorded round about 90% of all Hate Squad rehearsals since 1992!! So that means I will be busy ‘til the year 2100 just to prepare & upload all those files – hahahaha - sometimes this is all way too much work! But I do my best and it’s still one of my personal aims to make all this stuff open to the public… sooner or later!

Is there anything that I didn’t ask that you want to tell our readers?

First of all thank you for the interview and to all Hate Squad supporters: thanx a lot for the killer support during the last 18+ years!!! If you like Thrash & Death Metal combined with Hardcore elements, so check out our albums, especially Degüello Wartunes & Katharsis, could be possible that you like it! Don’t forget to check out and join the HATE SQUAD official supporter division (HSOSD), it’s a cool place to communicate and network for all Hate Squad supporters and friends worldwide. Eeverybody is welcome and it’s free, so check it out! I also will start as soon as possible to post complete Hate Squad live shows exclusively for HSOSD members for free download… and by the way, as an old tape trader I have surely EVERY Hate Squad show as audio and video recording since 1993, so there is much to come in the future! Just check the site out and join us...thanx to you all for the awesome support, see you somewhere on the road in 2012!!!