This years Damnation Festival lineup caused quite a stir because of said stir, the scribes at MM dragged plenty of bands away from seeing other bands for a quick chinwag. One of which was UK Doomsters AHAB.
Our Bellend (what a nickname he chose, right?) pinned the Nautical ones down to discuss Herman Li, Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and why Wales is basically a myth.
All the obvious subjects, obviously.
This is Devin Bellend reporting for MetalMouth, and I’m here with the amazing German giants, AHAB, which is awesome. For you this year, this is an exclusive UK show. How does it feel to be playing Damnation?
Daniel: It feels excellent so far, got a great slot – so we’re really looking forward to the show.
Chris: Yeah we were actually surprised to get the headliner slot on the PHD stage.
Who are you most excited to see if you get the chance to watch other bands?
Chris: I’d like to see Monarch, of course. Probably Solstafir.
Daniel: It’s a pity I missed Latitudes yesterday. I’d love to see them.
Chris: Probably some songs of Bolt Thrower. I don’t know if the venue is big enough! I think 2000 fit in there, but there’s something like 4000 people here? Otherwise I’ll have a look at our friends in Fen…
So you mentioned Latitudes. I got the chance to see them yesterday…
Daniel: “Arrrgh!!” [Throws hands in the air]
So I have to admit, I’ve only gotten into Ahab quite recently. I started with The Giant which I’m really digging right now.
Thank you for writing it! One of the things I noticed is that, for me at least, it’s all about the atmosphere it creates. I’m wondering for you guys – what’s the song writing process like; what are you trying to achieve when you write your music?
Daniel: Creating pictures like you get if you read the novel [Moby Dick]. It’s this whole atmosphere about the sea and stories about that.
Where did the fascination with the nautical themes start?
Chris: It was actually more or less a coincidence. Of course, we love to read. Back then I think it was 2004 or something. We both got fascinated in funeral and doom stuff. Back then he [Daniel] had a song, and I wanted a project, too. We’d been making music together for 20 years. I had this concept. I liked his song, he liked the concept. So we just joined forces! It grew and our first album was quite a big success back then – we didn’t expect anything of it! Funeral doom back then was quite small. Napalm were interested in it and they brought it and everyone was like “Oh, AHAB – cool!”
That’s when it started to grow. 2 years later we got the other guys in the band and since then we’ve been friends and a stable band. Mostly when we’re on tour it’s like trying to get to places one day earlier and have a big party and such.
So as you mentioned, this year is your 10 year anniversary. You’ve achieved some pretty cool stuff in the last 10 years. What would you like to achieve in the next 10. Where do you see yourself?
Chris: It’s hard to say! I mean, I’d love to play some more shows in the UK. In Germany we’re a special interest band. There’s not much space higher, but we’re not that well-known in the UK or France for example. That’d be something to achieve – to get known more in these countries. One of my dreams is to play Brooklyn in the US. That would be a small dream come true for me.
I really hope it does! One feature of your music of your music being funeral doom is that everything tends to be quite slow. How slow do you think it’s possible to get?
Chris: [In a gritty, low voice] Veeeeeeeeery Slooooooooow.
Daniel: Well, there’s space left so!
Chris: There are bands far slower than AHAB, but for me it’s like… as long as you can recognise the music as songs there are no boundaries. There are some drone bands where it’s just like [gargling noise]. It’s not really something for me.
Daniel: There still has to be a song structure, with a beat and stuff. It’s not important in my opinion to get the slowness to an extreme as possible. There still has to be a red line in it and to be… not easy listening… but possible to follow the structure.
Chris: I mean after all we’re like a rock band and not an ambient band!
You guys are working with Napalm records again. How does it feel to be working with them again?
Chris: Pretty good! Back when we started I’d send out a lot of demos, and there were some labels that were sort of interested, but Napalm was like “Yeah let’s give it a try!” And, it’s great that a label like Napalm which was specialised more in the female and gothic and pagan sort of stuff…
Daniel: Petal Metal!
Chris: …But they gave it a try. We talked with other labels of course, but when Napalm were like “that’s your offer!” we were like “Oh cool!” We stuck together because we know Napalm and I like Max [the boss].
Daniel: They’re honest guys with a realistic view for the development of our band.
Chris: They’re not like “You’re the greatest band and we can sell millions” No – they just tell you “Okay, you’re playing funeral doom. This is what you can do – and we think it can go this far”. They don’t tell you shit, and that’s important I think.
I think it’s important to have a chemistry with the people you work with in the same way that you’d want a chemistry between band members.
Chris: Of course everyone argues to some extent with the label but that’s okay. You even do that in a friendship. We struggle some times.
Do you guys have any further tour dates for the rest of the year – around Europe perhaps?
Daniel: We have a small tour in Germany. We’re playing Cologne, Hamburg and Berlin.
Chris: Next year we’re playing Portugal for some decent metal festival. (I’ve never been there!) We have something really big coming up next year which we can’t talk about because it hasn’t been announced yet. We’d like to come over to the UK and concentrate on here and France. Stuff like that! Everything else we’re open too….. [Whispers into the microphone] “Like Brooklyn. Please write Brooklyn!”
A couple of silly questions, maybe…
Chris: We love silly questions!
Given the nautical themes of your band… would you ever consider covering “under the sea” from Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” in your own style?
Chris: I’m the guy who would say “Why not” but I think the other guys would say –
Daniel: [Interrupting] I would say no.
Chris: You mean this?? – [sings] “UNDER THE SEAAAAAA!”
EVERYTHING’S BETTER, WHERE IT IS WETTER!!!!!
Chris: I know the lyrics – I could sing. Probably when I grow old like Phil Collins did. He used to be a good musician. So when I’m like 60 or something, I’ll do “Christian plays AHAB – Under the sea!” Another dream for me – Brooklyn and Disney.
How about this… You want to play Brooklyn, France and UK. How about a gig under the ocean for the aquatic creatures?
Chris: Awesome! Can you arrange that?
I think I can. I’ve got a contact number for some Krill and a couple of Lobsters. Finally, the big theme… Whales. Have you ever considered singing about Wales the country instead of Whales the animal?
Chris: Well we don’t speak Welsh….
You can pretend!
Chris: Can you speak Welsh? Can you say something in Welsh at all?
Nope. I don’t think anyone can. I think Welsh is a myth.
Chris: Maybe a cooperation with Primordial or something like that…
Okay – two musical antonyms. How would it go if we fused AHAB with someone like Herman Li and did a funeral doom power metal… thing?
Chris: Oh wow, Herman Li. Actually it was a few months and I was watching some YouTube stuff, and Herman Li was there… it was so hilarious. Probably it won’t work – but it’d be funny!
Daniel: Maybe if we just played power chords it’d work….
Chris: Our drummer, Corny, is a really fast drummer. He’s all like [Makes Blast Beat noises, Basically a Raspberry…]
Daniel: He could do this.
Chris: He could do this.
Daniel: He would do this.
Chris: He would do this.
Awesome! That’s all I have to ask you guys. Thank you very much for your time, I really appreciate it. I look forward to seeing you on the PHD stage later. Have a good one!
Find out more about AHAB: https://www.facebook.com/AhabDoom