Only seldom one gets the chance to interview one of his top-5 favorite bands. I got this chance lately, in interviewing Ro from Kohllapse. This totally underrated and overseen band now gets the chance here to introduce themselves a bit. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did.
JesusMetal: Please introduce Kohllapse.
Ro: Kohllapse is a melting pot of musical styles. Comprising of Myself and Matt Aitchison we set out to start making albums, passionately trying to deliver heavy, thought provoking music. We were like many former Death metal bands in the late 90's in trying to add some dynamics and depth to our heaviness. Kohllapse produced two albums, one self titled and then Distant Mind Alternative, which has now been reissued by Soundmass.com.
JesusMetal: Kohllapse has a truly unique sound, what inspires you when writing music?
Ro: Observing or experiencing overwhelming human emotion is what inspires me to write music. You see it everywhere. We live in interesting times, I spose there's a lot out there that's confusing and difficult to understand, for some reason writing and listening to music that explores the strength and frailty of a person provides heaps of insight into the intangible aspects of our being.
JesusMetal: How would you describe Kohllapse's sound?
Ro: Well we tried very hard to be as epic as we could on the last album, Distant Mind Alternative, all things considered with our experience and budget it turned out ok.. we had an emotive theme for each song and tried to make it as big and expansive as we could to maximise the connection with the listener. There was no intent to fit within a style, we were both metal heads so we knew the album would sit on the metal shelf in the shop, but we had a number of things we wanted to explore musically, so we ended up with a bit of everything from electronica to soundscapes like Eclipse in amongst the metal.
JesusMetal: How did you get the thought to throw in a Black metal song (An End to Pain from the Selftitled album) or a more electronic song (Real Man in Quicksand from the Distant Mind Alternative album)?
Ro: Well following on from above we just wanted to explore those musical styles a little. Scratch the itch so to say. At the time we also felt that the styles we used in those songs supported the lyrics and the emotion more effectively. Interestingly those two songs were one of the only ones I wrote the full lyrics for prior to the music.
JesusMetal: I read in an interview you improvised the lyrics for the Selftitled album in the studio. Why did you do this?
Ro: I had bits and pieces of lyrics prepared which I used for that album. We'd never done a gig or anything with Kohllapse before we recorded that one. So I was keen to get the music down first and then write the lyrics or fill the gaps on what I'd already written. I did the same thing with much of the Distant Mind Alternative lyrics. Most of them were written or finalised only hours before I recorded them. I had a much better idea of what needed to be done with the vocals once the instrument tracks were down, particularly with Distant Mind Alternative. I think on the first album I struggled a little with the whole idea of proper singing, as in melody, it was a bit scary because before that point I was a career Death metal growler at age 20. Singing was for girls, hehe. :)
JesusMetal: What was the message you wanted to bring with Kohllapse?
Ro: I'm glad we didn't set out to carry a message. For us it was more about trying to put into music our own personal experiences at the time, in reconciling our daily lives with our christian walk. We were conscious of the fact that we were young, didn't know it all and had a lot to learn so we weren't comfortable with conveying any kind of message that inferred the contrary. The response we had from people to the lyrics and music was really amazing, I've received some really heartfelt emails and letters from people over the years telling me how the album has affected them, it just blows me away and gives me comfort that my God was guiding the album in some way, and speaking to others through it...
JesusMetal: You say you didn't intend on having a certain message. Do you see Kohllapse as a christian band? If not, how do you feel about Kohllapse being spoken about in the Christian scene?
Ro: Kohllapse was always an extention of ourselves, and we were (and still are) christians, so to me yeah I see Kohllapse as a christian band. Is it a ministry? No that wasn't our intention. I think for a ministry in that sense you do need to be a pretty sound individual and spiritually mature. I think it's also important to have an overarching accountability to someone or an elder. Like I said before, we had a sense that we still had a lot to learn and were still pretty young, embarking on a ministry wasn't right for us then. Regardless of that Kohllapse did develop a ministry amongst our fans and those who we came into contact with, that's the cool thing, when it just happens.
As far as how Kohllapse gets spoken about in the Xian scene, well that's kinda out of my control. We're all different so some will have a different take on Kohllapse than others, I'm cool with whatever comes our way, we did our best!
JesusMetal: What's with the screaming at the end of Distant Mind Alternative? Why did you include this humorous part after a pretty dark and atmospheric album?
Ro: Just an out-take of some vocal recordings. I think it was just a lighter end to a fairly dark album, possibly a way of saying that we don't take ourselves too seriously as people, by that I mean we don't want to come across as the 'Dark Overlords of Metal' but just a bunch of guys having a go at doing the best album they can.
JesusMetal: Both albums were released independant, how come? Was there just no interest from labels?
Ro: We were approached by a few small labels after the first album but there wasn't anything that really suited us. We were so lucky to have a great friend who ran a distro/online music store in Texas, he was able to get enough of our albums out around the place, probably more than we could have expected with a label at that time. I think Matt and I knew that we needed to do another album ourselves to establish our sound before we looked at any deals. The cards fell our way with some Government funding to do Distant Mind Alternative so we charged ahead with that. The saddest thing for me was the label interest that was generated shortly after Distant Mind Alternative came out, there was some strong interest and a few well known secular metal labels approached me to look at options and see what we were up to. This never worked out because Matt had recently departed to pursue his own music, it wasn't a gap I could fill quickly, and the likelihood of label deals came and went. It's difficult for European and US labels to bank on Australian bands without some certainty, touring and logistics can be tricky and the local market is often not enough to support an Australian band within its borders.
JesusMetal: Kohllapse died with the leaving of the drummer. Why did you call it quits after he left?
Ro: Hmmm, tough question.... I did want Kohllapse to keep going, there was so much momentum up after Distant Mind Alternative and I felt like we had the best music ahead of us as a team, Matt and I. That momentum just ground to a halt after his departure and I found it pretty difficult to pick myself up after that. I think a lot of muso's have these types of experiences, you tend to invest a lot of emotional energy into a band when you feel like it's an extension of yourself. Music just slipped away from me at that point. I fell into a pretty decent career path, did quite a bit of traveling in Europe, Mid-East and Asia and before I knew it music wasn't a big part of my life anymore, well writing and playing wasn't. I really just drifted away from it.
JesusMetal: In your 'goodbye note' you mention Dead Sea as your next project. I never heard anything about this project. What became of it and where can I hear it?
Ro: Well that project sits safely on a hard drive somewhere. It was just a few songs I put together. I didn't feel like it was worthy of following Distant Mind Alternative so I didn't pursue it.
JesusMetal: Distant Mind Alternative got rereleased by Soundmass lately, can we now hope for a revival of Kohllapse? What are your thoughts about this rerelease?
Ro: It's amazing what comes around when you least expect it. I was blown away when they contacted me and expressed an interest in doing the rerelease. I was honoured and embarrassed at the same time, just a bit embarrassed that I'm rereleasing an album rather than producing a new one. That being said I think this is a great opportunity so yeah I'm looking at getting back on the horse, so to speak, and getting some new material together. If the music and vibe suits a 3rd Kohllapse album then my goal is to go ahead with it if the opportunity presents itself. I'm really enthusiastic about the rerelease, it's fantastic to be a part of. I'm also happy I was able to do a new cover design for the rerelease.
JesusMetal: With the reissue, can we also expect some nice merchandise, like a t-shirt?
Ro: Now that would be cool. We never considered Kohllapse to be big enough to crank out the shirts. If things go well we'll look at it for sure.
JesusMetal: A lot has happened in the scene since Kohllapse called it quits, what do you think of fellow Australian bands such as Virgin Black, Mortification and Fearscape?
Ro: Virgin Black are great, I rate them pretty highly. Clever song writers, obviously passionate musicians, I hope they get more exposure. Mortification just keep on rockin don't they. I think everyone has a different connection to Mortification, they've done so much over such a long time. My fondest memories of Mortification are more towards their first two albums. You have to respect what they've achieved. Fearscape sound like they're on the verge of really cementing their sound. They've got some great bits, and I mean GREAT, the best is ahead of them I think. There really is some great music going on down in Australia, it's fantastic that Soundmass.com is there as a portal for accessing it.
JesusMetal: Any final comments?
Ro: I hope everyone gets down to Soundmass.com and checks out the rerelease, I'm really excited about it and I'm hoping we can do this again when a 3rd Kohllapse album comes out. God Bless.
Interview courtesy of Max at www.jesusmetal.com