Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Arma Gathas interview with Vocalist: Che' Snelting. August 16, 2010.



Vista: Che, what was your first exposure to the Hardcore scene? What bands were you drawn to? Also, what was the first show that you went to & what year was that?


Che: I remember when I was much younger, I had these Music Sundays with my dad. My had a big vinyl collection with Music ranging from Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin to The Who and Chicago. I always preferred Black Sabbath to anything else, which made me a fan at a young age already. During my early teens I was into rap Music, NWA and Eazy E solo and the 2 Live Crew, The Beastie Boys, Run DMC and Public Enemy were my favorites. 2 Live Crew had a couple of songs where they used metal samples and Run DMC had Walk This Way with Aerosmith. I really liked the combination of guitars and rap. Anthrax did rap stuff back then in I’m the Man and their collaboration with Public Enemy. When I first heard Faith Nor More’s Epic, I fell in love with that band, and bought everything they had. In the early 90’s when I was 13 or so I started listening to Metal more and more. My friends in class and me used to ride a bike to Germany to buy CD’s, because it was much cheaper there back then. Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, Guns n’ Roses (who were more rock), and Faith No More of course were my favorites. When Guns and Roses came on tour with Soundgarden and Faith No More, to me that was a dream come true. Then Biohazard put out the Urban Discipline CD, I did not stop listening to that album. My walkman had one tape in it: Biohazard. After reading those thank you lists of other bands I started to take an interest in other stuff as well.  That was when I first started listening to Danzig, Sick of it All, Pantera et. Etc..My taste in metal became more extreme as well. When I was 15 I went to see my first Hardcore show, some local Hardcore and punk bands playing. I wasn’t a HC kid though. I always thought that scene was too elite. From my 15th until my 17th I experimented a lot with drugs and alcohol. I started visiting shows more and more. When I was 17 I was “in” the HC scene. The rest is history I guess. That whole first wave of metal inspired HC bands from Europe were really important. They made me want to make Music: Rancor, Congress, Liar and that last Feeding the Fire record were really important.  Merauder, Stigmata, Despair and the later Cro Mags albums were as American HC bands really important to me. Machine Head and Pantera were the important metal bands as far as me wanting to start a band goes.

Vista: "Arma Gathas"...Where did this name come from & what does it mean? Does it tie into the band & is it just a metal-as-fuck name!? Ha!

Che: Actually the name Arma Gathas was the last definite thing about the band. We were looking for a name which did not put us in a specific scene, and a name with meaning. Arma Gathas means chanting of warsongs, which my lyrics deal about. It’s my war against humanity, against myself. It’s a sort of wake up call.

Vista: Lyrically, what are some of the topics that you write about? Also, as a lyricist where do you look towards for inspiration? Is it basically life-experience or books? War? Politics?

Che: When I wrote the lyrics to the album I had a lot of things going on in my head. On one hand I was influenced by a lot of conspiracy theory stuff, and the Mayan view upon the end of the World, on the other I was influenced by everything surrounding me which made me worry, about my family and loved ones.You can say I was influenced by life and humanity.

Vista: What are your top 5 bands/albums of all time? It doesn't matter if it's rock, metal, disco...Just your top 5?
Che: It’s pretty easy for me  to answer. Although my Top 5 Changes all the time:
Black Sabbath – Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Faith No More- Angel Dust
Danzig – IV
Merauder – Master Killer
Stigmata – Hymns For an Unknown God

Vista: Vocally, who are your influences? What band inspired you to want to front a Hardcore/Metalcore band for all these damn years!?

Che: I would say, Riley of Stigmata, Jaimey of Hatebreed, Jorge of Merauder/Rag Men/Full Contact, Scott of Terror/Buried Alive/Despair/Slugfest, Robb Flynn of Machine Head, Phil of Pantera/Superjoint Ritual/Down. As far as sound goes. I knew growing up as a kid I wanted to front a band. I always wanted to be on stage and do my own thing. You might remember me as being an outgoing person. Well I am, I always have been. I love to be in the center of attention. That is just what I know how to do best. People usually  feel comfortable around me. I am just a normal guy on stage, a guy with whom people can relate to. The guy next door so to speak. There is no front man who I admire, although Scott Vogel is someone I respect a lot in HC as a front man. Whenever, wherever he always gives his 200% and means what he says on stage. Bruce Dickinson is a front man I have a lot of respect for as well, the energy combined with his age. This is going to sound weird, but I am my own inspiration to get on stage and do my thing, of course the other guys in the band are of huge help as well. After 2 years of not doing anyhting I found out a part of me belongs on stage.

Vista: As a band, how do you guys write songs? Who are the main writers, as far as music? Is the music written first, then lyrics? How does it work for you guys?

Che: This record was musically written by Simon, we worked out some stuff during rehearsals and studio time, but is was for 95% Simon’s stuff. Just idea’s he had been working on over the years, after he quit Cataract.  I had lyrics lying around everywhere, so I tried out different stuff. I had an idea on how the concept of the record was supposed to be lyrically. We decided on a particular song structure and it happened to work out with the lyrical concept. For the next record we will approach the record more as a band. We’re lucky to live in a world where there is the internet. I think without the modern day technical possibilities a band like Arma Gathas would be lost.

Vista: You & I met well over ten years ago, while my band Inner Dam was on tour of Europe. It's amazing that we are both STILL involved in the scene after all these damn years! Clearly you have forged on, band-wise, while I have changed gears from being in a band to continuing on with my Fanzine. We were young then! Thoughts?

Che: I remember myself being young and skinny and  I remember you being a bit older and a bit heavier I was ;-) Rob (BFP bassist and current BFP singer) and I put up a show for you guys in our area. The day after we went to see your show in Venlo, and ended up playing that show because some band decided not to show up.Times sure changed since then. I am under the impression that the scene was cooler 10 years ago than it is now. Although I know it wasn’t. It’s just funny being back in contact with you after 10 years! Good times! That is the one thing I love about the HC scene: it is so big on one hand and on the other it’s really small as well.

Vista: Outside of Arma Gathas, what are some of your interests & hobbies? What do you do to relax, have fun, etc.?

Che: When I’m at home I love to watch a good movie with my wife, listen to Music and I have to go to the gym, not because I like it, but because my stomach has a mind of its own. I love to read books and go for diner with friends and/or family.  This is going to sound really weird, but I love my job, I love work. So the 40 hours I’m at work is no crime for me either. I visit shows every once in a while, but there aren’t that many bands I know who I actually want to see live anymore. Best reason for me to visit shows is to catch up with old friends.

Vista: As far as the band goes, is this a full-time band? Are you guys able to pay bills, tour, etc. from doing the band?

Che: This band isn’t full time. With Born From Pain I traveled all over the place, which in my opinion brought me nowhere eventually. When I got home I still had most part of the bills to pay for, that is something I did not want to anymore. My professional career and personal life are more important than my musical career this very moment. Right now I’m at that point where I say I’d rather play a good show as a support for a bigger band and audience, than do a shitty headline show in front of 50 people where I get payed a lot of money for. This band is born out of love for Music, I’m not in it for the money. None of us is. We do what we can besides our everyday life, and that is not much. So we play 1 show every month or so in average. This works for us, that is what makes it special. That is what makes us a band unique. There are so many shows we can’t play. So if we do play a show we’re looking forward to it…

Vista: You've been in the scene for a hell of a long time. Is the scene just as big as it was in the 90's or is it better these days?

Che: I’ve been going to shows for quite some time now. As my old band got bigger, things got way more organised. The whole scene evolved into something professional. It turned into a money making machine. The feeling I still have is that the 90’s were better, kids were more loyal and had more integrity towards the scene. Back then the scene was already divided into a couple of different sub-scenes. Nowadays there are wrong people profiting from the hard groundwork a lot of those legendary bands did in the 80’s and 90’s. Kids don’t appreciate that anymore. The scene was smaller back then and people were pumped up to go to a show. Nowadays you can visit a HC show every single night, which makes kids indifferent about it. Whereas a show is always something special, it has to be something special.
For a band the organization of shows in general became a lot better. Maybe I’m just being old right now, but I think the 90’s were much better…I kind of lost interest in the whole HC Scene as well. I don’t feel the need to prove myself anymore. I found peace within myself I guess.

Vista: Best Metal band/album of all-time? Just ONE!?

Che: The best band: Black Sabbath – with Ozzy singing fort hem, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath to me is the best all time record. I have so many good memories listening to that record.

Vista: You were in Born From Pain for many years? When did you join that band & why did you quit the band?

Che: Born From Pain was Rob and my band. We started talking about starting a band when Rob’s old band (Feeding The Fire) decided to quit. Back then there weren’t that many HC bands from Europe who were influenced by Merauder, Stigmata, All Out War, Bulldoze and Hatebreed. We just figured let’s do this, play a couple of shows, get in for free and see our favorite bands for free… Especially the first years were more hobby than profession. Born From Pain was a hobby which turned into a double full time job after a couple of years, Born From Pain was really successful it took up so much time. I sacrificed everything for the band and I had to sacrifice everything for the band.
I got to this point where all the sacrifices I made weren’t giving me back all the investments I made. At a Young age, and this is going to sound weird, I achieved everything I wanted to achieve with BFP. It actually exceeded my expectations. I did not feel going through that whole club circuit again, playing in front of the same people for the “I don’t know how many’th time”. After finishing college, I decided I had to so something else with my life. I gave my life different priorities, and the band became a different priority. The emotional satisfaction was gone. The challenge was gone. All these things resulted in me estranging from the band. I did not feel at home anymore in my own band. People left, people came, people were replaced. At the end I wanted different things out of life than the other guys in the band. Unfortunately there was no solution, although I think I already made up my mind long before I actually made the final decision.

Vista: For you, what are your goals for Arma Gathas? What are some accomplishments that you'd like to obtain with this project?

Che: Arma Gathas is a band. In the beginning it was a project, but there are too many possibilities for Arma Gathas to be a project. We just want to do OUR thing. OUR conditions. WE decide. We played a couple of shows (although we have show offers coming and coming). We released our debut album on Metal Blade. We just want to do everything as good as possible. Play the right shows. Write the right songs. Get the perfect lay-out. Get a good production. We have a couple of bigger shows lined up the coming months and then we’re going to write our next record. The cool thing about Arma Gathas is the fact we want to evolve. We have our own sound, but really want to expand with different influences. We have so many good ideas. The environment is really influential. Our next goal is to record another concept album. I’m either thinking of being more political record or a record about a post apocalyptic World, which starts right where the last record stopped.

Vista: What are your thoughts on the whole internet/downloading albums for free issue? Are you in favor for it or does it piss you off when a kid from some part of the world can download your album three months before it even is released? Also, does it affect a band at your level & what does a label like Metal Blade even think about downloading?

Che: On one hand I think it is not done to just download the album without paying for it. Especially 3 months in advance of the record’s release. On the other hand I do it sometimes as well. I only buy the stuff I actually think is good, I always only bought the stuff I liked. In the past I would go to a shop and give the record a spin, nowadays I’ll DL a record and then decide whether I want to buy a record or not. I prefer buying a record from the local independent music store. I have a lot of discussions with people who think otherwise, maybe it’s just because I’m experiencing it from another side.I just don’t understand people call themselves fans, without owning an original record. That is something which always irritated me about the HC scene: kids calling themselves true, without even supporting the bands by just downloading the records without paying for it. To a band whose record is online months in advance it is killing. The discussion about CD’s being too expensive is rubbish of course. A CD is cheaper now, than it was before the whole broad band and Download thing started. So that is no argument. People want to spend their Money on other things than culture. On the other hand because people are downloading on a large scale, Sales are down for most labels and bands. Labels won’t just sign any band anymore. Labels became more and more cautious. The quality of the CD’s coming out is better as well. This has its effect on recordings and producers as well, they will have to become cheaper as well, since labels aren’t willing to pay large sums of advance anymore. They have to ensure their investments.
Looking at the bigger picture it is and always will be a form of theft. Unless you’re Robbie Williams or Dr. Dre it doesn’t matter much. But like most things in life the middle man, or the hard working band and/or label are victim to this development, which is sad.

Vista: Che. Thanks for your time. After all these years, it's great to be in contact with you after all these years. One thing that I will always remember about Europe is how friendly & funny you are! You're the best man! Anyways, is there anything else you's like to say?

Che: Same here bubba! It’s great to be in contact with you again. Let’s stay in contact. You’re by far a better man I am.  Would be cool to speak to you in person in the future. Just check out Arma Gathas’ debut record “Dead To This World”  out now on Metal Blade records if you like your music to be hard, aggressive and heavy.

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