One of the greatest and most original bands in metal scene keeps releasing their distinctive music over the years. I can´t deny that as a fan every Master´s Hammer release is like a gift for me, and so is “Kult mládí a mrazu”, the new 7”ep. Franta Storm kindly answered a few questions about the latest activities and about the remarkable past of this Cult band!
Hello Franta, thank you very much for your time, let´s talk about your recent release, the 7” EP, “Kult Mládí a Mrazu”. Can you tell us about the songs, sound and concept? Is it a continuation of the work expressed on your previous release “Vagus Vetus”?
Yes, everything is somewhat linked to a previous release, inspiration is a continuous flowing stream, but this holiday 7"SP is again some sort of diversion from our regular album line. It contains my winter sick impressions, the illustrations tell exactly what's in the lyrics and it's based on a real situation.
Like with all your releases, one element that really surprises me is the artwork, not only the cover art, but the whole artwork associated with each release is something I really praise and enjoy. What was your role in generating the art? How is it related to the music and how should one integrate the two?
I'd say the image comes first, then the text, followed by music. I wanted to have a break from my woodcutter's style so I made ink drawings. I believe it's not trendy, not aimed at immediate effect, it's just me and my world, my landscape visions. Music is very visual thing for me.
I could make the same question regarding “Vagus Vetus”, which in my opinion was the best release of 2014. Would you say it is your most mature work to date? How does it differ from your previous art?
I wouldn't say "mature" but maybe more independent, you might notice that MH rarely gave its fans exactly what they wanted nor met their expectations. People basically don't want new things and therefore musicians can't simply dare to risk. We can go more experimental because we're not dependent on music for living. The previous "Vracejte konve na místo" was more pure in style because of live drummer and specific mastering, that was positively appreciated by metal fans. “Vagus Vetus” is another step to diverse from metal and I believe this style is going to be developed further in MH.
You have released several 7”s lately, since your 7” in 2012, what is the best of releasing music under this format?
I'm doing it primarily for friends, all of the 7"SPs were quite limited editions [500 - 1000 copies]. The 7" square is a good size for creating some piece of art as present - not big to carry as an LP and not a pocket CD size, a timeless fetish, we all love it, including fans who don't own a turntable
Regarding the 7” of 2012, I really love the song “Transgalaktický řezník”, how would you describe this song? You mentioned that you will probably add the songs of this 7” on the next album but then you changed your mind, will you re-record those songs to use them in future releases or are you satisfied the way they are?
Transgalactic Butcher was my nickname given once by Martin Vrana (the painter) in an e-mail, I had to make a song immediately, I loved that idea. I think the 7"EP songs should remain apart from our serious line of albums. There is an idea to make a dedicated CD with all of the songs released on 7" so far, but now we're busy with new stuff. Anyway, the sound is just fine on the vinyls, the CD will probably need a special mastering, but nobody will hear a difference.
Will you release more splits wit Blackosh? How is the relationship with him?
It's always been fun to work with him and we will make something together for sure - a beer, a joint, a song. Blackosh is an excellent musician in the black metal genre, but always able to bring something new.
On the last split with Blackosh last year you included the song “Pod Vrstvou Prachu” that was also featured on “Vagus Vetus”, why did you choose that song? What´s the meaning of the title? The promo says the song is about two old letters…
"Under the Dust" is the name of the song in English, meaning I found the letters in the attic dusty. Two letters - one from Øystein - Euronymous, second from Count Grishnack. Interesting memories. The content of the letters was quite similar, both wanted to trade their records with some MH stuff in early 90s, and the song is moreorless about that.
I feel the need to ask you about “Jilemnický Okultista”, one of my all-time fave…where did you find inspiration for such an avant-garde album? Did you have the felling once the album was finished that it was something “big” and “outstanding”? Just like “Into the Pandemonium” meant to Celtic Frost? Do you still remember many details concerning that recording?
The Occultist is our first "digital" album, Mirek Valenta drumming on plywood pads, all recorded on Macintosh Quadra 650, 600MB hard drive, Ensoniq Mirage and Pro-One synthesizer, lot of fun and smoke in our cellar studio with Vlasta... I think it was our first artistic decline from pure metal regardless the technology.
btw. thanks for mentionig Celtic Frost: T G Warrior was one of my great idols and still kicking.
What were the reactions from your fans, press and your friends back then? How do you look back at the album nowadays, 23 years later?
Local press then and now is always the same - share readers' taste and preconceptions: complete opposite to creativity, I never made music for them. Real fans and friends are crazy enough to survive it.
Frankly, I don't listen to our old records, at least not very often. But I understand that the heritage of MH (so to speak) doesn't belong to us anymore, it's more or less the fans' property, including all the cult etc., I don't want to harm it at all. I'm just saying that it's history, and now we're here with new things. Some fans are still stuck with our demos and Ritual album - that's okay, but we love diversity and development whatever the cost.
Do you think that metal bands are too conservative nowadays to take the risk to do an album such like JO?
Precisely, I think so, with all respect to those terrific, hard working bands who are faithful to the style, rehearsing and playing live, but that's not my way. I never learned the rules for running proper metal band.
The following album was Slágry and I remember it received really bad critics, but they came from “metal journalist” so probably you didn’t give a fuck, but did you ever received bad feedbacks from fans or people close to you regarding “Slágry”? What do you think about the whole underground reaction? And how did your label back then (Osmose) react?
There is no bad review, the worst is no review at all. (At the moment we earned really mean and deprecatory critics from local writers on the new 7"SP, put in very long texts, over three pages or so, like ten times longer than my actual lyrics on it).
Back to Šlágry album: As you may remember, Osmose launched its branch named Kron-H and we were leaning towards purely electronic project with Vlasta, so the coincidence was rather lucky for such unusual album.
What memories do you have of the days you released “Ritual” and started receiving attention and doing interviews for zines from all parts of the world?
Jumping back in time, okay. But my memory is fading. For what I can say, Ritual is more popular nowadays than at the time of release. I was freshly graduated on the AAAD in Prague in 1991, doing decadent freelanced graphics, a very emotional part of my life in many ways...
Who designed your old logo and what did inspire it? At the time It was something different and [still is] original, it looks like the banner of an “ancient occult order”…
The design is my part. I don't like it much, but we keep it just for fans. It does not have any particular story behind, just simple symbols put in traditional heraldry aesthetics.
Some years ago and thanks to the “magic” of the internet I discovered the video of Géniové recorded for a TV show, do you remember how was it planned, arranged and performed? You had candles, statues and even an altar with a naked woman…
That was directed by someone from Czech TV and the band had no influence on it and we never approved it, it's truly 80's design and production. Great fun, indeed.
What do you think of other black metal bands that shared the black metal scene with you and like MH reached a Cult status, bands such as Samael, Beherit, Rotting Christ, Blasphemy, Darkthrone…did you ever get in touch with any of them?
Yes, we were in writing contact back then in the pre-internet age. I think it's great that most of them are still rocking.
Did you play any cover tunes in your early days? Was Bathory your main influence?
For some reason we never even try any cover song from anybody. But I admit we love Quorthon and you can hear its influence on our early records. Bathory was for me a synonymum of the northern dark music.
You decided to re record Jama Pekel for the album Mantras, is there a special feeling for that song? In my opinion, it is not a simply re-recorded song, as 2009 version differs quite a lot from the original recording, can we say that it is “mature” MH covering “primitive” MH?
If "mature" is a part of ageing, than one should be cautious and serious. We need to retain our primitivism and specific amateurism, but best is to not think such way, just make music and leave the theory on others. The particilar song was actually triggering the Mantras album, I told the story many times, but to put in short: when walking back from local pub with Vlasta in night on a path across a pond we heard a concert of frogs roaring a "refrain", we recorded them and used it for a re-make of Jáma Pekel, and we needed other songs to add on the atmosphere, that was our in summer 2009.
Ok, back to the present, you are releasing your work through your own label Jihosound, and you said several times that working this way gives you total freedom. Do you think that many bands will do the same in the near future? Do you think that working this way needs to take some “Risks”
Absolutely, we all have to take some risk when creating something new. We don't need labels anymore, but what we need is a good producer or at least a person who is able to consider, to judge, advise to the band, a fresh pair of educated ears outside the band. Risk is needed, imperfection, dirty sound is fine, but we can't risk anything boring.
How is the current line-up of MH, and how is the work of composition and recording?
In the second life of MH, I mean since "Mantras" album it's just me and Necrocock plus some guests on each of the albums. I do the songwriting, Necrocock is curating my ideas and adding his harmonies - sometimes just short parts, sometimes the whole melodic lines and lot of sick emotions and spirit.
What things influence you music and lyrics? Do you feel influenced by music, places, movies, books… do you think you will write a lyric about Satanism- occultism?
Not at all, we were influenced by satanism and occultism till 1991, since then we look for a broader inspiration. I like decadent poetry, painting, history, pseudoscience, heresy, halucination and real stories.
Nowadays I'm busy with some mortal-core music, Mortal Cabinet is the name of the new project so I have to listen to some Prodigy, Revolting Cocks, Butthole Surfers, Stereo MCs, Danzig and some Alabama 3 among many others...
What do you like to do when you are not working or creating music?
Arts in general, casual work on my cottage or travelling.
What would you submit as the proudest moment you've had in MH thus far?
MH logo tattoed on a beautiful back of a certain young lady.
What´s the strangest place and the most shocking place you have been?
Varanasi and Girnar, both in India.
Thanks for your time, Is there anything else you would like to add?
Yes, look for Mortal Cabinet project - it's coming this autumn.