“Fuck the Big 4!” fans began chanting during Kreator’s set at Stage 48 in NYC last month. Indeed many fans believe that the German thrash legends, along with their tour co-headliners Overkill, have been unjustly ignored. Many fans are even quick to bill Kreator as the leaders of the “Big Teutonic Four,” along with Sodom, Destruction and Tankard. But to Kreator’s leader, Mille Petrozza, all of the hoopla is flattering but unnecessary. After all, Kreator’s vast catalog that includes landmarks like Endless Pain and Pleasure To Kill makes it hard for any metal fan to deny their influence. Yet if you need more proof of that, then all you need to do is watch Kreator’s massive new live DVD/CD Dying Alive, showing the band playing to a sold out crowd in Oberhausen, Germany from all sorts of angles (including from the mosh pit, below the stage, and even from the guitar’s point of view).
We had the chance to speak with Petrozza backstage at Stage 48 right before he was to take the stage in front of a packed crowd. During our chat, we discussed the making of Dying Alive, hinted at a major U.S. tour in the plans, and explained why he thinks the notion of creating new “Big 4” has been overdone
Dying Alive features footage of Kreator’s sold-out hometown show that was captured by 24 cameras, including mosh-pit cameras and guitarist point-of-view cams. What inspired the band to go the extra mile with this?
We just wanted to give something special to the fans, make it special. That’s basically it. If we do a live album, it should be something spectacular. Otherwise it’s not worth even doing. That’s my philosophy.
How would you compare Dying Alive to the band’s other live albums/DVDs?
This is just the most organized one. Live Kreation [the 2002 live CD] was taken from many different places, and we wanted to have one that’s taken from one place. I mean, the record has two places, but the DVD has one place, so one show. And I guess that’s the main difference. It was just very organized. It was all controlled, in our hands. We worked with the people, got very close with the director, and I had a little bit of control with how it was edited.
Besides the camera work, I was also impressed by the set list that appears on Dying Alive. Given Kreator’s enormous catalog of songs, how did you determine the set list for the DVD/CD, and how does that compare to the process of crafting a set list for a typical show?
It’s basically what we did on the last tour, on the last European run. I was focused on the last album, on Phantom Antichrist. That was basically it, we just didn’t think about how or what or whatever. We wanted to have a set list where we cover all the new songs and also have older songs.
Kreator has been considered a part of the “big four” of the Teutonic thrash metal scene along with Sodom, Destruction, and Tankard. What are your thoughts on being considered a part of this “Teutonic Big 4”?
Ah [laughs]. I love these bands, but I thought it was a little bit…There was this festival that we played and they announced it as “The Big Teutonic 4,” and we played that festival and I thought that was it. It’s not like the Big 4, and I thought it was, to be honest, a little bit embarrassing. C’mon, it’s like the “Big 4” are the “Big 4,” they are the “Big 4” and there’s no “Big Teutonic 4.” They’re nice people, I love the bands, and for the festival it’s nice. But it’s not like there’s this brand that Metallica invented and we’re just jumping on the train, it’s not my idea. So just don’t get me wrong, I feel absolutely honored that they put me there and blah, blah, blah, but I wouldn’t have done it.
With that said, you, Sodom, and Destruction really were considered big influences in metal.
For that matter, yeah.
In that regard, how do you feel about being looped into this kind of, well I don’t want to use the “Big 3,” but do you almost feel like when people talk about that it’s almost a little overdone?
It is! That’s what I was trying to say. I mean when Metallica did it, it was good. It was great, a good event, nice idea, seeing all these bands on one night. They have started it. And when we played, when we started the band, we were influenced by the “Big 4.” I mean, Metallica was my favorite band when I started, and Venom. Venom should be in there in my opinion. But they’re not, for several reasons, they haven’t released anything exciting in the last three years. So I guess, yeah the “Big 4” makes sense. But the “Big Teutonic,” I don’t know.
Any expansions on it kind of seem silly.
It is. I mean, what’s the “Big French 4” or the “Big Polish 4?” [laughs]
Give it a few years.
It will be like Behemoth, Vader, Decapitation? It’s like, C’mon!
Kreator’s done a really great job, whenever they come into the states, doing a strong co-headlining package tour (like this tour with Overkill, and last year with Accept). Is there one band that you’d really like to do a co-headlining tour with that you haven’t yet?
No not yet, but there might be something coming up if it happens next week. So there’s big news coming. But I can’t talk about it. It’s not confirmed yet, but it would be in the U.S. I hope it happens, but it’s not confirmed. [editor’s note: while this interview took place on November 23, Kreator has yet to announce plans for an upcoming U.S. tour]
[Photo taken by Liz Ramanand for Loudwire]