KATAKLYSM:  Interview with Maurizio Iacono 

face to face interview  by  dalia "gryphon_spirit" di giacomo __         


X-MASS FESTIVAL 2002 IN PRATTELN (CH) - 16.12.2002          


Maurizio Iacono and Dalia  -                   pic taken by Stefan  


GM: We are here with the frontman of Kataklysm Maurizio Iacono: first question, with the latest release "Shadows & Dust", you are having a big success with the audience and the critics, would you have ever thought this would happen?

Maurizio Iacono: I don't think so, not like this, when we finished Shadows & Dust we knew we had made a really good album, but to see the reaction of the media and the public has been overwhelming and not what we had expected. We had embraced that very much I am very happy, it has been a long ten years for us and I think finally we are getting recognized now as for the bands potential, we had worked very hard and it came out just the way we wanted it. Also the production part. 

GM: What is the story of this album?

MI: We have finished Epic, that we wrote just before this album and it did okay for us it did a lot for us and Nuclear Blast supported us, we have hype and this will only help the band get bigger but we need to do a really good album <laughs> So it was one of those situations where we decided that it was time for us to really put our efforts in 100% and do something that would be memorable and we'll become better with time I think with writing and material, we didn't want to make a very complex album we decided to do something that was easier to listen to but at the same time has melody and just combine the elements of metal and I think we have succeeded that was the major idea when doing this album but with out leaving our roots behind but doing a album that was less choatic but more understandable. And this has done really good for us. 

GM: Like you said...perfect balance between mercyless and melody to it, what passages...what is the Kataklysm formula in order to offer balanced melodic Death?

MI: I think that you just said the magic word "balance". For us, our method is not too much of something, it is to do it enough so people really get into it and then switching to different wipe, it's boring if you do always the same even the melodies but if you do too much melody it doesn't make it special because if you put too many melody in the first song, it is for the second song it is more difficult for the people to get really into it and appreciate it, even blastbeats are being recognized for it, it's something that we did a little bit less on this album but when they come up, they come up stronger because they are not as frequent so I think it is very important we have to balance in the melodies is not to make them too happy at least to make them dark and more emotional I think they'll hit more then it would if it were happy especially with a name like Kataklysm the image of the band wouldn't work. The idea of it was to make it dark and also to have ruling to it so people have to be able to feel the music.

GM: What are your impressions about this Xmas festival, playing together with Marduk, Six Feet Under...

MI : We were very thrilled when we first heard us to do it, I mean I think the other bands are very good bands and just to be part of this,  this is something that is very special for us we decided that we needed a tour that would be very big for Kataklysm something that we can play in front of a lot of people, because we always seem tour in front of 300-400,  this tour is in front of 800-1000 people
every show and this has been a very important tour for us because we are at a stage right now with this album as moved so well for us we've needed to play in front of a lot of people and I am just really suprised at the reaction of the public just our merchandise and CD's are flying out the window! I never expected it to be like this. We have always been a humble band ya know, we arrive, we do a show and they like it they like it,  but if they don't there's nothing we can do about it,  but we never come out with the big heads even I spend time with my friends after the show ya know: I go to the back and I speak to them and I ask them what did they think and I think this is a trick for Katyklysm to help us become to do albums like this and to find out what people like. So that we can do this so we could do that so that when we record another album, we can use all those elements, combine them with our own ideas and create new stuff.

GM: And in your opinion is there a difference between the North American public and the European one? 

MI: Yeah I think, the European public is more loyal in a sense that I see fans of Katyklysm since 1995 and they still come to the shows to support the band weather it is not "Album of the month" or other type of stuff, do you know what I mean? Every year we always see the same fans of course there are always new ones... we also have a good fan base in America but people seem to be more into it in Europe,  and I like that much better. If I had a choice between touring Europe or America there's no question about it : we'd choose Europe. I'd rather play in front of 200 European fans going nuts for us then play in front of 600 American fans that just like it...it just doesn't work for us and it isn't as important and Nuclear Blast knows this that's why we come often. 

<whole room laughs> 

GM: Your songs match very much the European taste, If one doesn't know you, hardly he will get the idea that you come from America... 

MI: I think that we are very influenced by European bands when we started Kataklysm, it was more in the early 90's movement of metal, late 80's early 90's I mean personally I was more into Thrash for many years then started to get into bands like Carcass more of the English bands Iron Maiden,  all the English band really influenced us alot. and the thing the melodic aspect really comes from a band like Iron Maiden and we take that and make it more dark ya know, whatever we do we put our touch on it, we don't like to take exactly what another band has, Katyklysm is a band that has many influences and it's hard to say Katyklysm sounded exactly like this band because there would be five or six bands so say we sound like these guys and these guys I think if you are able to do that you stay original because when we are not able to do that then they say hey Katyklysm sounds like exactly like BoltThrower then they'll say we are not an original band and it makes it more difficult.

GM: You have mentioned many times your label Nuclear Blast:  Are you happy being in this  label? Are you satisfied?

MI: At this moment, I am very satisfied and they have done an incredible job for us which is something you don't hear everyday, I think, from labels. But when we first started with them, they were very into Katyklysm and very much into the band, the problem I think happened was that, we relased a few records then there was a big change in the scene. Nuclear Blast then went more Black Metal oriented,  it put more money towards that scene and less into Death Metal and we were cut in-between see, Kataklysm is touch of different styles a little more of Black metal a little bit more of this but we were not full Black Metal and at that time it was only about the true Black Metal bands
and all that stuff and it was very difficult for us to obtain the promotion that we wanted. So when they told us when we were going to get tour support we figured we were going to be too small for the label and they wouldn't push us enough. So, after arguing with them for eight months we decided we were leaving and that was it. We did our own thing for a while, then we came back singing with them for the Prophecy album because they heard it and they were like "We really want you back and we promise to work it out with you we promise we'll do great promotion" <laughs> That was always the problem and they finally did it. The last three albums have been much better than we ever released,  they were really pushing it. We were very happy about that. 

GM: And your future projects?...

MI: for Kataklysm?

GM: yes 

MI: I mean right now, we are doing this tour, we are going to do the United States area in February-March and we go tour with Hypocrisy again in May, then we go on the Wacken in August 2nd we will play here at the Z7 club and it is just the day after the Wacken, Then we have another festival , so for now we are pretty much booked until next summer solid and again tonight the agent come to see me to work out another tour in September. but we don't want to tour too much, it would burn out the band. There are bands right now, where people have seen them ten times in two years and it's too much. I'd much rather have someone say yeah I really wanted to see that band rather than to say yeah I just saw that band two or three months ago,  so we have to be careful of that. We'll see maybee sometime in September,It's been almost a year away. 

GM:This seems to be a good year for Death metal. What do you think about the Death Metal scene in general? 

MI: I don't think it'll become what it was in the early 90's with Death and Obituary when those bands came out it was a very important time for Death metal. But today I think that the Death Metal bands are putting out more records that are more interesting then a lot of the power metal stuff that's coming out. But Power Metal is Power Metal is always big and traditional and whatever but I'm not really into that, but what I see in the whole aspect of the whole scene the Black Metal movement is kind of hurting right now, it's not doing as well and there's only a few bands like Marduk that are still alive and doing well, some bands like that, most of them like that would just disappear, or just what had happened with Death Metal, but lately I think that more Death metal bands do interesting albums and that's why it works so well; even of the production in this record, our guitar player did a great job for it, the sound is really full, you hear a little bit more power than a normal Death metal record has because we compared them to a lot of albums and this one is a really really thick sounding because albums like this been doing like Malevolent Creation's new album which is another great record, why is everybody now buy Death metal records who knows? The time to come out and do something, look at this package, three quarters are Death Metal bands basically I think if it weren't for America, I think half of it would be Europe! 

GM: One of the tracks on Shadows & Dust is called "Illuminati", are you interested in general in secret societies or...

MI: I am interested in it but it does put an idea in my mind that governments do not have the control. I think it's the corporations..... I think that it is the people that have money, money controls the world and it's my idea behind it, and i have used the title "Illuminati" coz i think this organization exists. I think there is an organization, I think it exists and I think there are people who think this exists and don't exist, maybe George Bush is behind of it..... But somebody behind everybody is pulling the strings and that's what I think is happening in the world, the world is controlled by a few people and these certain people have alot of money and alot of power. I do not believe the governments have control anymore. I think in America, Americans are very hated by lots of people in the world, but if you step back they normal people, they like work, for me it is because there is something behind it, it is like you see an assassination happening with John F Kennedy and you see the assasination of people who die, and you never find the people, but when you want to find the people they find them ya know, and you have a guy like John F Kennedy who decided to go up against the U.S. government to stop a war and then he gets assassinated?! They say it was the Mafia but I don't believe it <laughs> 

GM: Yes, we remember other assassinations like Nasser or Olaf Palme, thats very strange....

MI: Some people believe that the government was behind September 11th, to create unity in a country that had none. Because for me it's strange that a superpower like the USA cannot find Osama Bin Laden, the strongest country in the world have all the super high tech stuff, so, why is he not found? so maybe it is just I talk out of my ass. I say what I think and I am not afraid to say it and i'm never afraid to say what i think. All we have, is our honour, who we are and what we think, and if we lose that, we are nobody. 

GM: My favourite tracks on this album are Beyond Salvation and Where the Enemy Sleeps , what is personally your favorite track on this record? 

MI: Where the Enemy Sleeps is definately my favorite track on the album, Face the Face of War I really like alot, because of the riff part in the chorus and the chorus is very very melodic and very catchy ya know,  and it really hits hard, and, like you, I really like this album a lot, and I think most of the songs are very strong but Where the Enemy Sleeps is the only song on this album that we as a band really worked together on. Most of the time it's one person or another that comes up with the song and writes it,  but this one we all wrote it together. I think next album we'll do more and more of that. 

GM: Have you already have new ideas for the next album?

MI: Yeah, we actually have two or three songs already written, I don't know if they sound like this but they are really killer songs, and I don't know what's really happening with the band it's just one of those things when your so really into writing lyrics the last two couple of years there's just so many ideas I don't know where they come from it's just one of those....we write to prove ourselves because there are other people that believed Kataklysm was finished and that they could not do a good record anymore, and we wanted to prove them wrong,  because we know we've got what it takes to do a great record. I think that was the motivation for us to do a great record and now our motivation is to stay there,  so to stay there we have to make great albums. 

GM: Your name Maurizio Iacono sound to me Italian, and you were also the previous bass player of the band... would you tell us your story?

MI:Sure,.... My parents are from Italy, my Father is from Sicily (check spelling) and my mom is from Bari in the South of Italy. They both met in Canada because their parents moved to Canada after the war and they met there and I was born in Canada,  but I speak Italian fluently because i lived with my mother, when we go over to Grandma's house: it's like if you don't speak Italian, get out of the house! so it was one of those rules that we are to learn the Italian language, tradition is very important to us and I am very happy to have learned it because I come to Italy at least once a year, after this tour I am going to Italy, because we have family there,  and spend New Years and Christmas,  then I go back home in January. So it is very important to me to respect my roots and my tradition. Obviously the record before this,  was all about the Roman Empire.

GM: Do you listen to your music, music of Kataklysm,  when you are at home or when you are driving?

MI: Yes I do. I do listen to it, because when i'm not a fan of it, it is not right what i do, it wont be real. I do listen to it a lot. I do it mainly to be sure to do a good record. And if I am able to repeatatly listen to my own album then I know I did something good and I think that is very important to me right now. The last few records i've listen alot, and I really liked them a lot and have no regrets.

GM: So, about your ability of vocals and ability of playing the instrument, how much important is the role of the instrument in itself. Which kind of guitar do you prefer? 

MI: My drummer uses Yamaha drum kits, he feels very comfortable behind one of those kits, it is very important that we have a really heavy guitar sound, it's because we are a heavy band but it is that we only have one guitar player, and what we produce on a record we want to reproduce live, so tonight I was not happy when our amp broke then he went to switch and it just became a thinner sound for the rest of the show but like I said, that's live, and you have to deal with it, but, we use Peavy 5150 heads and that brand has especially given us the sound we needed especially the last few records that is what we use, and it has been really good to us and the bassist has always used Ampeg and that is the best you can find and that's basically it, really simple.

GM: One has the impression that there are two singers but there is only one, you, and you sing in a wonderful way because you are able to give this "double" impression  tonight live, I've seen you modulating your voice from  clear vocals down to deeper ones. It's incredible because one could think that there is some backing vocals... 


MI: It's superhuman i guess <laughing>, it's just really cool to do that. The keyword for me is "emotions".
I think it is very important I think that if you do one type of vocal and Death metal vocal is difficult because if you keep doing the same low notes then it gets boring after three songs,  because it is basically the same pattern. I like to make it different and have emotions, and when I sing, I sing like I am singing but I am using a Death metal voice and so I pronounce my words and I try to make higher notes, longer notes ya know, it is very important to me to be able to achieve that,  and I think the high pitch, the midrange and the lowends, make it interesting for the public to hear but I am doing it and it's not become boring, I believe so I hope I am right, but it is one thing to makes the band original sometimes in studio i do low and high end at the same time, so if I am doing a low part and then it's a high-end low I just use the high so it makes it different and more alive and that seems like the album..... Because these guys can't do it like that! My bass player sings loud only because he can't do it! He'll have tomato's thrown at him!


GM: What is there  "beyond the Salvation" ?

MI: This song is a personal song it's about loosing everything you have in life and then not giving up, that is what this song is about and "Beyond Salvation" is meaning that you are at the bottom and the only way to go is up and if you have that mentality you can do everything you want in life. If you do not have that mentality and it's just basically also I think this song represents Kataklysm in a way because we did do this and then we did this and for a couple of years we survived in very difficult moments and basically we were Beyond Salvation to alot of people and that we decided that we would not be like that and we are a good example of a band that we after eleven years is making more successful records than ever that is because of this and having heart and to be able to..and this song is really like that and if you really read the lyrics their really about somebody that has lost it all and will rise again in the end because last, the whole song is about the guy going lower lower and lower but the last line is, I'll rise again and that's what that means and that is my philosophy on the album. I have a very personal touch with my lyrics and i said in many interviews thats no disrespect to bands like Cannibal Corpse, Six Feet Under, Deicide and great bands like that but they talk about Satan and killing people and chopping their heads, very cool for them, they have started that, but for me my lyrics are a personal thing that people can relate to and understand and how they feel, we did a song on our last album called Manipulator of Souls and people adapted the lyrics to their own personal life in a sense, Manipulator of Souls they felt like they were doing heavy drugs and they felt that the drugs were manipulating their souls because of the lyrics they felt like it was like them and it made them stop doing drugs, people email me saying thank you, you saved my life and I'm like...wow! If i'm able to hit people like this around the world is interesting for me because it's not like to a record about "Okay the angels have come and here is the devil" and it's over... here is the song. I can not do that and I'd rather not do this, this is a waste of time, it has to be soulful and meaningful.

GM: Okay, the last question, this is our typical last question we do to every band we are interviewing for the first time...

MI: Oh, I know of this one, i know you guys from Gryphonmetal 


MI: you had email me before and I have seen this, killer, killer for the review,  killer too, I put the thing in my site. Killer.

<still laughing> 

GM: And we are proud.

MI: And you have to be proud of this...people come see you and I hope you have hits from our site. Because, a lot of big bands they come to our site and see the magazines and it's my pleasure, no problem, ya know, cool thank you for the review.

AbsE: We only do honest reviews. 

MI: It should be that way. If you think the record ranked 5 out of 10 and that's 5 of 10 in your opinion and I'm always respectful of everyone's opinion about it, but I do not respect it when journalists don't know the band and they listen to what everybody else is saying and they give you a review that was like shit because everybody else hadn't heard the record, I've had that happen to me and I didn't like it. I like people who are honest because you either say you like it or you didn't and you only become stronger from it. 

AbsE: She makes the reviews, I don't write them.

<Everyone laughs> 

GM We have a lot of persons on our team who are really honest in our reviews and sometimes we write them against public opinion,  but we are doing something that we like,  we are very very happy to say yes that I find very cool but if there is something we don't like there is no need to hide our opinion even though hundred other people say "ah wonderful fantastic the new Meshuggah". I don't know what you think of it I personally don't like Meshuggah... for example...

MI: I don't like it either


MI: They are so crazy with the numbers and the drummer will do something and the guitar would be completely different and the bass would be very different but together they are able to connect which other musicians like because musicians after a while become so interested in becoming so technical because they want to explore more variations and by exploring variations this can bring on new melodies and good emotional riffs becoming the most technical to do the most complicated stuff. a lot of bands become very technical. this is my opinion in the scene. The things Meshuggah writes a lot of bands respect that and we want to be...they have alot of hype ya know. They are huge right now in America because the son of Ozzy Osbourne went on TV and said Meshuggah rules. Because before that they weren't that big and then one guy says on TV Meshuggah rules then play the CD and play five seconds then the first week they sold 5,000 albums in US and Meshuggah was like... did they deserve it? Maybe and good for them. I will not buy the record ya know it's not what I like. It's always the same it's <makes drumming sounds> then the guy screams and then okay. It sounds a bit mechanical to me but that is my opinion. 

GM: So, The game of the Tower. there is a very high tower and on top of this tower there are three bands waiting for you. You have to save one and drop the other two from the top of this tower. For you, we do something special: YOU have to choose the bands on the tower and to kick them down...

MI: That's easy for me< laughing> i put two i dont like and one i would keep save. In that case i will put on the tower Meshuggah, Malevolent Creation and In Flames, and I will save Malevolent Creation, because they are a little bit like us, they've been around for a very long time and they don't quit and they do really good albums,  so I have to respect that plus they are really great guys. In Flames have too much money and so does Meshuggah


GM: Thank you so much

MI: Thank you very much very much for your support and for being there,  and taking the time to do this interview. 


GryphonMetal.ch  June 2001Niederrohrdorf - Switzerland

Contacts   (webimpressum)