Metal Beer Horror Webzine-Interview with CHAINSAW

If you took the music of early DESTRUCTION, toosed in some traditional (and non traditional) thrash metal lyrics and added a bit of rock and roll for good measure, you would have Holland's CHAINSAW. "Smell The Saw" is a kick-ass slab of old-school thrash metal which has to be heard to be believed...killer thrash in the tradiotion of the great German bands from the 80's. They've been tearing up festivals in Europe left and right and there doesn't seem to be any way to stop these guys from playing a show, drinking some brew, and converting skeptics into rabid fans.

The band's guitarist, Yanni, was cool enough to answer my questions so read below and find out why "CHAINSAW IS THE LAW"!

MBH: How long have you been playing guitar? Were you in any bands before joining CHAINSAW?

Yanni: I am playing guitar for over 10 years at the moment I think , but in the first years my guitar playing was basically no more than hanging a guitar around my neck while drinking beer. The bands I played in before Chainsaw where basically side projects together with other Chainsaw members, but nothing serious.

MBH: How did ABOMINATIONS form? Why did the band decide to change the name to CHAINSAW? Was the material that ABOMINATIONS performed different from the material that CHAINSAW performs?

Yanni: Abominations was formed by the old Chainsaw members plus Alex, our schizophrenic drummer, but you can read more about him in the next answer. We didn’t use the name Abominatios for long, because we quickly discovered there was already another band with this name. And also Abominations wasn’t also the best name for our band. So we decided to change it into Chainsaw, which stands for raw, uncompromised thrash and roll. There are already some bands who go by this name, but still the name fitted our music and raw aggression so we changed the name. The material we performed was a more primitive version of Chainsaw, but that was just because we couldn’t really play our instruments really well at that time hahaha.

MBH: Did the group go through a lot of different members before the recording line-up of CHAINSAW was ready?

Yanni: we didn’t have that many changes in the line up, but the changes we had where pretty spectacular hahaha. We used to have a different drummer called Alex at that that time Don was still playing the second guitar. At a certain point Alex our drummer seemed to have vanished from the face of the earth, we couldn’t find him anywhere. He had disappeared totally and at a certain point we where hanging out in our local pub in Amsterdam and we saw Alex. So we immediately walked to him to ask where he had been. And suddenly he couldn’t speak any Dutch at all and could onlt talk English. He told us that his name was Teddy and he was the twin brother of Alex. He also told us Alex had an OD and went to Indonesia. Of course we didn’t believe him because Alex didn’t had a twin brother and this Teddy guy had the same tattoo which Alex used to have. But he kept telling us he wasn’t Alex, so I think he probably got struck in a kind of bad trip. Well Anyway this was the last we saw of Alex. After this we where out of drummers. So we tried to find a new drummer, but well none of them could keep up with our drinking so in the end Don took over the drums. So we had only one guitar instead of two from that point on.

MBH: Who are your influences as a guitar player? Which bands have had a major influence on the CHAINSAW sound?

Yanni: Concerning the guitar parts, my influences are basically derived from drinking absinth. Musically bands that inspire me are old Thrash bands like Kreator, Sodom, Destruction those bands realy know how to make some great thrash riffs and are a big inspiration for me riff wise. Next to those bands I also listen to bands like Wasp, Motorhead etc, they make the roll part in our Trash and Roll.

MBH: How does CHAINSAW go about writing material? Where do you guys draw the inspiration for the lyrics to your songs?

Yanni: we write our songs in different ways, sometimes Don and me make all the riffs at home and work them out, and then in the rehearsal room we add drums and bass, and Aike writes the lyrics and vocal lines on top of that. But some songs just emerge spontaneously when we are jamming in the rehearsal room and then after an hour we suddenly have a new song, while other songs take months to finish.

MBH: Early on the band was stricken by a lot of disasters (including you breaking your hand). What made you guys decide to carry on instead of breaking up? Would you like to go into any details about these disasters?

Yanni: The thought of breaking up was never in out mind, but we had our deal of misfortunes.
Of course the Alex/Teddy incident which I told earlier. But apart from this we had some more incident. It seemed every time we where on the right track something happened. At a certain point we where finaly ready to do our first gig, but then a few weeks before this gig, I got into a fight with a concrete wall. And I probably don’t need to say that the wall was a lot tougher than my fist. After this everything seemed to go ok for a short while. But then disaster struck again. Don his lung collapsed and in the hospital they really fucked up so he couldn’t drum for more than a half year. After this accident it was Magnus turn, at his work he got electrocuted and the only way to save himself was kick away a ladder he was standing on so he made a free fall. On the way to the hospital his car was hit and Magnus smashed his head through a windshield. Okey who is next, alright, Aike. Aike had the bad luck to get struck by a rare disease called old veteran disease, which is a quiet deadly thing. Think the only way he survived this was because he probably had so much absinth in his blood that it killed the virus. I think that wraps around up the accidents, at least the bigger accidents, if I would go into detail about al the smaller incidents also, I could write a whole book.

MBH: How did the band get to be a part of the Tropical Storm Tour in South America?

Yanni: A friend of us lives in Bonaire, and he arranged for us to be part of the rockfest there. The first rock/metal festival in Bonaire. He was like our Bonaire tour manager and arranged all stuff there for us, which we where really happy with. So when he asked us to play there we didn’t hesitate and bought a plane ticket.

MBH: What was the first concert on the tour like? Was the samba band any good?

Yanni: Hahaha the Samba band was really killer. They where called the Carlos Weezer band and played like salsa music, and all kind of old folks where dancing Salsa at their music. They played before us. So when we came onstage you can imagine the shock that went trough this old salsa dancers. Think the hospital had to work overtime with all the old people getting heart attacks. Luckily when most old people where all taken away, we got some younger and pretty enthusiastic public, that went totally crazy on our show. So proves that metal music beats Salsa music anytime hahaha.

MBH: The next show on the tour was the Rockfest. How did the band perform? How did the audience react to CHAINSAW? How badly did you miscalculate the jump?

Yanni: Hahaha the jump was pretty well calculated, only miscalculated the alcohol in my blood, the tropical cocktails, the length of my guitar cable, and the fact that landing on you back instead of you legs hurts. But well the audience liked it so that important, so who am I to complain about my back hahaha.

MBH: How long did you, personally, stay in Bonaire after the rest of the band went back to the Netherlands? Why did you decide to stay for as long as you did?

Yanni: I stayed like 3 months. The reason I stayed was because at that moment I was unemployed. On my old job they didn’t want to give me free days to tour in Bonaire, so I quitted my job. So when I was in Bonaire I didn’t had to go back to Holland for my work so decided to stay to do some research in how to drink and make cocktails and Venezuelan beer.

MBH: Shortly after you released the first single “Chainsaw Is The Law”. What other songs were available on this single? Why release it on vinyl instead of making a cd? What was the reaction to the single like?

Yanni: The songs that we put on our 7 inch where “chainsaw is the law” and “heavy sex maniac” we decided to release our 7 inch because we are all big vinyl lovers. I think vinyl gives music much more character and feelings. Vinyl has like a warm sound, if you put on a vinly record you most of the time listen more to it and realy sit down for it to listen the music. While cd’s are more clinical and miss the feeling vinyl has. Of course we don’t only bring out our stuff on vinyl, because with vinyl the disadvantage is that al lot of people will not be able to hear our music.

MBH: The next release by the band was a cover of the song “HammerHawk” on a tribute to the band of the same name. For those of us who don’t know, who were HammerHawk and why did you decide to cover their song?

Yanni: Hammerhawk was one of the oldest Dutch metal bands. Unfortunatly the don’t exist anymore. We have seen them live a lot and there shows where one of the best, great raw, metal, hard rock and a show with lots of fireworks. Paul their guitar player also is a friend of us and produced our 7 inch and “smell the saw” cd. So when they asked us to take part in the tribute we couldn’t say no of course, We choose the song Hammerhawk basically because it is one of our favorite Hammerhawk songs. Which we had sang along to many times at their great shows.

MBH: How did the sound come out on the “Official Bootleg”? Why did the band decide to release the “Never Surrender” single? Was it to garner label interest in the band?

Yanni: The idea behind the “never surrender was to send it to labels to get a record deal. But funny enough at the exact moment we finished the recording and still had not showed it to anyone yet we where approached by our Japanse record label. They had gotten hold on a copy of the 7 inch and where realy enthusiastic. And because we think Japan is a real good metal country and then I don’t even mention the Japanese groupies which are of course terrific we immediately took the deal. And of course the deal was pretty good with almost complete artistic freedom.
Oh yeah almost forgot about the tropical storm tour bootleg part, well to be honest the sound quality is pretty crap. But we just recorded it because the tropical storm tour was like a very special occasion and we made it as a sort of souvenir and for the real die hard fans to give them an impression of the tropical storm tour. Everything is totally unedited and you can even hear the tropical storm blowing on the cd.

MBH: When did the band sign a contract with World Chaos Productions? Were there any other labels interested in signing CHAINSAW when World Chaos came knocking?

See question before

MBH: A lot of the songs that appear on “Smell The Saw” also appeared on a lot of the bands other releases. Why use those songs instead of just writing new material? Were there any new songs written for “Smell The Saw”? How long did it take to record the album?

Yanni: Six of the songs on “Smell the Saw” where also on the “never surrender” but since the never surrender was basically only meant to get the attention of record labels and we sold very few of them we decided to put all those songs also on the cd. For the cd also we recorded all those songs again. Hahaha you won’t believe me probably but the recording took exactly 66,6 hours, and we didn’t plan this, but when we got the invoice and Paul (our producer) calculated the recording time it was exactly 66,6 hours. After this it also took a day to master everything.

MBH: How has the reaction been to “Smell The Saw” so far? Are you guys satisfied with World Chaos Productions as far as promoting the album goes?

Yanni: We received some pretty good reactions, also had good reviews in magazines, and we still receive mails from fans who tell us how much they like the cd. Until now we are staisfied with our label, it is a small underground label but they did some good promotion. For example they made 10000 colour flyer on a4 format and also distrubuted our cd to countries I didn´t even knew existed. Also when we made the cd they gave us all the freedom thats why we have such a thick colour booklet inside and also a free patch with the first 1000 copies.

MBH: Is there anything you would change on the album?

Yanni: of course afterwards their are musicaly always things you want to change, since we are now 2 years further and have a lot of more experience so there are always things we would have done different now. But stll I am realy happy with the cd as it is.

MBH: What is a typical CHAINSAW show like? Does the band have any plans to come over to the United States any time soon?

Yanni: Our shows are pretty raw and energetic and we also have some show elements in it like Chainsaws, and a lot of blood and a pig that get slaughtered during the butcher of bagdad. We always try to give our audience everything wether we have a few 100 people in the crowd or just 10. We would like to go to the states sometime but still don´t have any plans to go there unfortunatly.

MBH: What made you guys decide to use the “Smell The Glove” idea from the SPINAL TAP movie for the record cover? Who is standing there shoving the saw in her face? Who’s that model? She’s pretty hot looking.

Yanni: We are all big spinal tap fans and during the movie we where realy disapointed that spinal tap could´t bring out their cover the way they wanted it and that it got censored. So thats why we made this cover in tribute to Spinal Tap. And also because it is indeed a pretty hot cover hahaha. The person with the saw is Aike and the model is a friend of us.

MBH: Does the band have any new material written? When can we expect a follow-up to “Smell The Saw”?

Yanni: At the moment we wrote 4 new songs which we recorded in the Voodoo sounds studio (the place where we recorded our 7 inch and CD) we will use this recording to get a new record deal. Also we are working on some other new songs which are not finished yet. So next year we want to release our new cd.

MBH: Why was the track “Superstore Warrior” only on the first 1000 copies of the record? Was this the labels decision or your decision? What was the inspiration for this song?

Yanni: The label wanted the first 1000 copies to be limited and have something extra, thats why the first 1000 contain a bonus song. It was our idea to also put a patch in the first 1000 copies for our fans. The song is inspired by supermarkets and shopping and all the stress this can cause, old people blocking the hallway, long lines at the cash registry where you have to wait. And the hero in our song crosses everyline and does everything he can just to shop, shop, shop.

MBH: Why have all of the bands releases features a woman dressed up like the “scales of justice” statue? Is justice truly blind in the Netherlands or is that more of an indictment of the idea of justice all together?

Yanni: to be honnest it is a bit less complicated, we have our lady justice with a Chainsaw as a mascotte and she is just a symbol of “chainsaw is the law” from our 7 inch.

MBH: How did the band do in the “Metal Battle”?

Yanni: unfortunalty we haven´t won the metal battle but still had a great time and got some more fans through that gig

MBH: Who else played the Stonehenge Festival? How long did CHAINSAW play for?

Yanni: We headlined overthere in the indoor stage and played maybe 45 minutes or an hour, on the outdoor stage there where also lots of bands and the headliner overthere was Rotting Christ from Greece. Some other bands that played there where Gorerotted, Izegrim, Visceral Bleeding, Imperia, Enraged, Beyond Belief and Dead Infection.

MBH: What made you guys decide to record all your shows on digital video?

Yanni: last year we recorded a videoclip which at the moment is still being edited by our producer, we want to make a dvd also and put the videoclip on it, some backstage footage and live material from our digital recordings. Haha and of course we record ourselfs because we just love to see ourselfs on video.

MBH: Do you guys get pissed when they put “CHANISAW” on the marquee underneath “Puppet Show”?

Don - Hahaha, first I would fall down on the ground and lie there for an hour, laughing my head off. Then I would explain to the puppets that our band name is actually 'Chainsaw' . Backstage we would try to get the puppets drunk and Magnus will write his free style jazz exploration and with that we will fill the entire gig.

MBH: Name your favorite Metal Album, Beer, and Horror movie and explain your choices.

Yanni: Favorite metal album damn that’s difficult think have to go for “crimson idol” from Wasp although I have many more favorites, but this is an album after almost 15 years I still listen to almost every week. Hmm Horror movie, have to say Nekromantiek, not because it is a realy good movie,it is the most shitty movie i have seen actually, but because it was one of the strangest cult horrors. But what can you expect from a German horror, those Germans always make the most sick horror movies. My favorite beer, I like Hertog Jan just for like regular beer drinking or a pint of Guinness. But for special occasions beer like Duvel is also pretty tasty. Damn I am starting to get thirsty again….

MBH: Do you find that commanding “the sixstring axe that was forged in fire and steel by the devil himself” is a heavy chore? Does it have any powers? Can it shoot fire or anything like that?

Yanni: hahahah well it has a lot of special powers, whenever I hold my guitar it seems I can drink more beer and absinth than usual, attract more groupies and do some strange inhuman tricks on stage. Still can’t shoot fire, but I am working on that.

MBH: What does the future hold for CHAINSAW? Where do you see the band in maybe five years?

Yanni: Well in five years we will be rich rockstars, lying in our swimming pools somewhere in LA with a bottle of expensive champagne and surrounded by tons of beautifull woman. And of course I hope to shoot fire from my guitar by then.

MBH: That’s all the questions I have. Thanks for your time, Yanni, I appreciate it. Anything you want to say to wrap this up?

Yanni: hahah hmm after 30 questions I have to say I am a bit at a loss for words. Thanks for the interview and hope to see you all some time in the states.

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