By chance we found the four man thrash metal band Running Death at a concert in Augsburg´s Ballonfabrik. After excessive headbanging one of us ended up with a pinched nerve in his neck for weeks. We didn´t want to hold the cause of this from you, especially since we found that they were equally merciless to our neck muscles with their EP „The Call of Extinction“. We held an interview with Julian Gruber and Simon Bihlmayer.
Please introduce your band members and tell us their individual functions within the band. Simon: With pleasure! My name is Simon Bihlmayer and I´m the singer and guitarist; on top of that I do the merch and organize concerts. Julian Gruber is our other guitarist and does the backing vocals; apart from that, he co-produces, designs and takes care of the digital stuff. Our bass player is Max Brauer and he helps out with the digital material. Jakob Weikmann is our drummer and plays acoustic guitar parts. As far as song writing goes, it´s mostly coming from ideas from Simon and me. The ideas are formed into ready songs in the rehearsal room. We all contribute to the lyrics.
Since when is Running Death around, how did you find each other and are you all from the small Bavarian town, Kaufbeuern?
Simon: The first rehearsal was in 2004. Jakob, Max and I know each other since we were kids, so it wasn´t difficult to come together. The search for a permanent fourth member lasted until 2009. Since then, we´re a tight quartet! We´re all from Kaufbeuern. At the moment, our bass man lives in Stuttgart and Jakob, our drummer, lives in Augsburg. Nonetheless, Kaufbeuern is our home town and the distances aren´t problematic.
Which bands are your biggest influences?
Simon: Whew, you can´t name a mutual one. One likes more modern, the next softer… Well, to name some bands, that we are compared to often (Megadeth, Testament etc.) would be wrong. The focal point of the songs are the guitar riffs; that´s how the framework for a song begin to form. As our guitars aren´t particularly low tuned, the bass has a serious role and as such, it´s pretty traditional. Nonetheless, we can´t deny the influence of American thrash metal.
What sets you apart from other thrash metal bands?
Simon: We don´t in any way try to strive to some kind of idol. We can´t even really categorise ourselves to a genre. From the sub-genres, thrash metal is nearest, but we really just play metal, which not many people do today. For instance, a lot of thrash metal bands leave out the melody from the singing, which we could never do. There are so many bands that want to be easy listening. The best would be for each person to listen and make their own opinion.
You´re working right now on your debut album and already posted the first song „Hell on Earth“ on your website. What was the reaction of your fans and in which direction will this musical voyage go? Are you going to remain true to the style of your EP „The Call of Extinction“?
Julian: We were overwhelmed how well the song was accepted and how much support we got immediately –whether it was through social media or a „Boah, that´s amazing!“ in person. That really warmed our hearts and motivated us to rise even higher. The musical voyage is described best so: Even simpler, but at the same time, high-grade, even rawer, but simultaneously nicer and more metal, but at the same time pliable. „The Call of Extinction“ was an important step for us and when we look back, we´re happy about the things that we did better this time.
Who did the cover work and what is the meaning behind it?
Julian: Simon´s brother, Lukas –who is an excellent tattoo artist- did it; then I scanned, vectorised, coloured and all in all, finished it. The message is really simple and mirrors the name: Innocence tries to escape death –meaning all the evil in the world- and whether or not he succeeds, is unclear. Whether or not the dove escapes, or if it´s already too late, shows each person how they deal with death.
Do you already know the name to the debut album, when you´re going to release it and do you have a cover already?
Julian: It´s going to be called „Overdrive“ and it´ll be hopefully on sale everywhere in the beginning of 2015. We already have a cover, but its top secret *grins*
What are the texts about and what inspires you?
Julian: The texts have two functions for us: First of all, they should make the songs catchy, meaning sticking in the ear and easily recognizable. Secondly –and that´s more important- they should induce a certain feeling, stir some feelings and speak to the listener. As such, we write the lyrics so, that they give us and the listeners as much energy as possible. Above everything else, denouncing works very well; whether it´s about social constructs, forces of habit or just something ridiculous that throws one off his rails without really knowing why. History and metaphors are the theme in our texts. Sometimes it´s easier to draw a picture than to shout the problem right in the face.
What is your next goal for Running Death for 2015?
Julian: We want to play bigger concerts, find a great label partner and in general broaden our publicity. On top of that, we aren´t allowed to quit rehearsing until we play absolutely tight together, as well as writing material for our next album! So, there´s lots to do! *laughs*
What is the craziest thing that has happened to your band?
Julian: Our music is coming in the radio in Nicaragua, we get reviews from Australia and making music after 10 years is more fun than ever. If that´s not crazy!
You don´t have a contract with a label; what are your wishes for your label in the future?
Julian: Personal communication is very important; we really cherish people with who it´s easy to work with. When that works, vinyl and CD distribution are important, as well as national and international promotion and as a last note, simply a good reputation.
If you´re not curious by now, it´s your loss. The band offers their music at http://runningdeath.bandcamp.com for free.
Update (04.01.2015): Punishment 18 Records showed good taste and signed the guys. Congrats!