Hailing from Essen, Germany, thrash metal band Kreator have been gracing stages around the world for about 30 years. This month, they’re back and seem stoked to play another stellar tour here in the States. Members Miland “Mille” Petrozza (vocals, guitar), Jürgen “Ventor” Reil (drums, vocals), Christian “Speesy” Giesler (bass), and Sami Yli-Sirniö (guitar) have a lot to celebrate this time around, too.
Recently, Kreator have released their 14th album, Gods Of Violence, their first record to snatch a number one spot in Germany charts. So, now they’ve hit the road to show off their new material live to fans spanning the globe. According to Mille (and many Kreator fans), this album was worth the five-year wait—a huge contrast between their first record, which had been created in about 10 days, and their 14th album. I was lucky to catch up with Mille while he had some downtime during the tour and talk about the band, music, and touring life.
How’s the tour been going?
This is one of the best ones we’ve done so far. There’s some places that have sold out and our fans are all coming out and we’re all happy to be back in the U.S.
That’s awesome to hear. What are some of the venues you’re really excited to play?
Tonight, we’re playing in Seattle and that’s pretty exciting because it’s a nice theater. Other than that, some of our favorite theaters are on this tour, like the Fillmore was really great in San Francisco.
You guys have so many albums out—so much material, how can you possibly narrow it all down to one setlist?
(Laughs) Good question. The thing is, you can’t play a song off every record. That’s impossible! We’re playing an hour and a half and with this kind of music, it’s demanding, you know? There’s a lot going on and that’s not only for us, but for the audience, too. So if we didn’t keep it to one and a half hours, we would have like a three-hour set. It’s a little hard, but the fans seem to like the current setlist and everybody that I’m talking to is happy about it, too. We put in a lot of the old stuff and of course, a lot of early stuff. But we’ve found a way to make it work.
I see. So, which song gives you the most energy when playing on stage?
Well, from the beginning to the end—well, we only pick the crème de la crème, if you know what I mean. That’s the privilege of having so many records that you can have this setlist where you can play all of your favorites and we’re playing 18 songs live so that’s definitely not a problem here, and we like all of the songs that we’re playing. I like the beginning of the show. But the setlist to me is all really fun.
You guys just released Gods Of Violence a few months ago—how do you feel about all of the feedback?
The feedback is incredible. A lot of our old fans really love it and we’ve gained some new fans which is good that we can still after all of these years, get new people to hear all of our stuff. It’s definitely great. In Germany, we charted on number one on the New Album Chart and that’s really great, so people liked this record. And what’s more important is that we like it. Because if we didn’t like the record, nobody could get into it if the band didn’t like the record.
Exactly! Because then it’d be a chore for you guys to play it out and so-on…
(Laughs) Exactly. That’s why we took our time. It’s almost four and a half years of touring and writing the record. So we didn’t rush things. That really helped. We had the luxury of taking a year off to work on the new record. And when you write music, you have to have something to sing about. You have to experience and have a life. How many songs can you write on the road, right? I mean, we don’t really write on the road anyway, so we needed that little break there.
I get it—and that’s a huge contrast between this record and your very first album. I think you did that one in about 10 days?
Yeah. The first record—you can’t compare that with the 14th record. Of course, we have 30 years more experience than when we were writing the first record. We were teenagers and nowadays, we take to many shows and record so many album, which shouldn’t be a routine. You have to keep the excitement. For me, being a musician and being in this band, we need to keep things exciting and keep the enthusiasm the same as you would as when you record the first album. You need to get away from touring life and being in the band, live life for a little bit, then come back and then we can enjoy it.
What is this writing process like for you guys?
It’s mostly demos then rehearsals. Really old school. Demos are now made up of details and so it’s a mix between of ideas, then working on it, then going back to it. It’s a long process.
You mentioned that you guys have been together for about 30 years. What does that mean to you—being able to do this for three decades? Not many bands are able to have such a great, long run.
It doesn’t feel like it, to be honest with you, that we’ve been doing this for that long. I never think about the—I try to live in the moment, if you know what I mean. I try not to think about the future and plan, or think too far ahead because you never really know what’s going to happen. You know, tomorrow, we could fall off a cliff or something, so to me, it’s been a great journey and it’s still going on. I live in the moment and to me, what’s important is that tonight’s show. And so, I’ve never really thought about it having been 30 years because once you start thinking like that, you’re done.
You guys have this huge tour coming up. So, what are your post-tour plans so far?
Well, this year, we’re going to be very busy because we have a line of festivals in Europe and we will go to South America and Australia and then go back to Germany and play maybe some more shows at the end of the year. So it’s going to be a big going-out year.
Don’t miss as Kreator pulls in to Irving Plaza on April 14 and the Theatre Of Living Arts on April 15. For more on the band, visit their site: kreator-terrorzone.de.