"LUCKY MAN SEES FRIENDS DIE."
AN INTERVIEW WITH ALTAR
by Richard Karsmakers
Around the middle of the year, the Dutch band Altar shook the
foundations of Christianity with their unmistakably brutal,
straight-in-the-face death metal debut CD called "Youth Against
Christ". Propagating self-control in favour of any exterior form
of deity, they tore to shreds the audiences at various
performances. One of these performances took place on November
26th during a Dutch Metal Festival at "De Opsessie" in Bussum,
prior to which it was possible to do an interview with them.
I missed most of the actual Festival, including the actual Altar
performance, but I saw enough to see that new Dutch band
Orphanage might very well become the new doom metal band.
Orphanage, together with Donor and Elegy among others, also
performed at the Festival.
It took its time before a few Altar members were spotted, among
them vocalist Edwin Kelder. Through a cold drizzly rain I was
lead into a small van crowded with additional roadies and drummer
Marco Arends. Ozzy Osbourne was there, too, through a cheap car
audio system. The air inside the van could quite literally be cut
with a knife. It was the unmistakable smell of cigarettes and
I started the interview with my first usual question, that of
when and where these gentlemen were born.
Edwin: We were all born in Coevorden and Hardenberg, or Erica,
all small villages in the Dutch provinces of Drente and
Overijssel. We've got an average age of about, 23, 24 years. Our
bass player is the oldest, 26 or 27 or something. That's quite
old for a Dutch band member. I am the youngest; I was born on May
Marco: And I was born in July 30th 1968.
Well, would you like to give the short version of Altar's life
Edwin: Well, we started playing under the name Altar in 1990,
but we'd all been in other bands before that. We started because
we thought it was fun playing, and at first we didn't think of
releasing CDs and all that stuff. It's just about playing,
initially. And, as usual when you're not too bad, more happens.
We recorded our demo in 1992, after which we toured for a year,
among others with Grave. In July 1994 the CD was released. It's
not a spectacular story. It's just like other bands; we're
Is Altar a full-time effort, or do you also have regular jobs?
Preacher, or something?
Marco: (Dryly) Preacher...I don't think so.
Edwin: In any case it's not full-time. When you want to make
your money in Holland just by playing in a band you need to be
called BZN or Normaal, or Golden Earring. Maybe Gorefest, though
I doubt if they really earn that much. I am an art student, for
example, just started again, and the rest of the band are all
production workers. He (points at Marco) did Advanced Technical
Education but now also does production work. We don't perform
When listening to some of your lyrics, like those of "Divorced
from God", it seems that you are against a "wife and children"
family setup. Is that right?
Edwin: What I want to say is...well, most people in our
neighbourhood meet a girl which they immediately get pregnant.
Right from their parents' house they get married, and before
they know it they regret things. You have to get married
immediately because living together simply isn't done. What you
get is a divorce where the children suffer. "Look before you
leap," is what I'd like to say. I can build up a relationship
myself without marrying. I can prove my loyalty in other ways
rather than in front of a priest or something. The lyrics are
actually about the arrogance of some people who judge me because
I am not like them. After about 10 years they come back to me,
swallowed their arrogance, crying that things are not going
right. My brother, for example.
Say, you guys are against Christianity, so it seems, but if you
compare that to the Islam I guess Christianity isn't half bad?
Edwin: When you start ranting about the Islam you get a bomb
attack in your street.
Marco: Religion in general is a superfluous thing.
Edwin: I've got nothing against Christianity as such. People,
especially around where we live, need to realise that they should
be more honest with themselves instead of being hypocrites. They
don't say what they mean. That's what we sing against. But we
don't want people to slaughter Christians, that's not our goal.
But can you imagine that these younger fans, 12-year-olds
wearing trendily shocking Impaled Nazarene and Deicide T-shirts,
will maybe take your lyrics more literally? Before you know it
you get Norwegian scenes here, with murdered Euronymouses and
Edwin: I happen to have seen "Schindler's List" yesterday, and I
know you can tell a whole people to do what you want them to do
when you're popular enough. Each time when we perform there are
some guys who think we're far out, they totally get into us. It's
a danger, I suppose, but it's not our intention. Our message is:
Leave everybody alone, don't let yourself be influenced by a
Christian majority. I can imagine younger fans taking that more
literally than they ought. I don't say "Kill all the Christians",
and even if I did it would be meant just to ventilate my
Where do you get your musical inspiration from?
Marco: We just make the music and do what we like. We all make
the music together, and make that into a song.
Edwin: We tried adding some *grunge* elements, but that just
doesn't work with us. The only way that does work with us, is
maximum volume. That's music making for us: Really loud and
cruel. It's not that we follow a certain trend, because I think
that's over by now. We simply can't play anything else.
Marco: Well, you do get influenced by the music you listen to.
Edwin: We normally don't listen to death metal seriously.
Marco: Mother's Finest, Exhorder, but a bit of Deicide, too,
Edwin: At home I like to listen to some of that old death metal.
But I also enjoy going to a house party. Not that I flip out on
the music. There are two kinds of CDs: Good ones and bad ones.
You can't discuss taste. I have no specific genre prejudices.
Marco: That's different for each person. You don't really need
to belong to anything. I like hard rock so I wear a leather
jacket and let my hair grow, but I like other music too.
Edwin: I like Bjork, for example. Everybody might laugh at that,
but I like her a lot. That's just an example.
When will your next CD be released?
Marco: That is yet to be determined.
Edwin: But we're working on it. We want it to be better than the
first one, maybe not technically, but at least regarding its
intensity. We want to increase that, if anything. Even louder. I
think it might be released in mid 1995. May or June or something.
But there are no definite plans yet.
Now you're part of the music industry, is there something you've
discovered in it that you really hate?
Marco: Well, on the radio the people don't seem to mind the
wishes of the audience listening to it. That's one thing.
Edwin: I think a bad thing is that a lot of bands just get
signed. Nowadays, just about anyone can start a record label and
sign a gazillion bands. On its own that needn't be bad because
that's how we got out break, but there's also a lot of trash and
the fans have to pay for it in the end. The black metal scene is
especially flourishing like this, but most of it is crap. Well,
people just got to do what they've gotta do. But it isn't my
Marco: There are too many people looking for a quick buck,
causing too much garbage on the market.
Bert Huisjes, one of the two guitarists, joins us now. He
remains standing outside the wound-down driver's window. It
allows a welcome gust of fresh air to refreshen us a bit.
Suddenly, however, the interview level seems to drop. It's
beginning to be a bit similar to that with Entombed, quite
immature at times. I go on with the "favourites" section.
Marco: For me that's "The Universe" by Stephen Hawking. That's a
popular scientific book.
Edwin: Porn stuff. Not too literary, with plenty of pictures.
And books that caress my ego. I like the Satanic Bible, and The
Devil's Notebook. Right now I'm reading "The Antichrist" by
Nietzsche (sighs deeply). Rather philosophical. And "Aardschok"
of course (the biggest Dutch hard rock magazine, ED.). I've been
reading that ever since I first saw my dick.
Marco: Only the concert dates, the demo column and the cartoon
in the back. No more. Well, at least as far as I am concerned.
Favourite music. What CD is played most now?
Marco: For me that would be Mothers Finest, "Black Radio Won't
Play This Record" and Clawfinger's "Deaf Dumb Blind". That's good
Edwin: All kinds. At the moment especially Dead Can Dance, our
own CD, I listen to that a lot (laughs), Gorefest - though not
"Erase", "False. And that old death metal, American death metal,
like Morbid Angel, Deicide, Malevolent Creation. Well-played,
well-executed death metal. I like that.
Bert: Ozzy Osbourne...
Edwin: "Andy", though nobody knows that one probably. It's a
story about a farmer from Twente, guys like us, who goes to
Amsterdam. It's got music by Herman Brood. It's about us, sortof.
Rurals that are being regarded as dickheads. It's a nice film.
Marco: I'd go for something like "True Lies" or "Terminator" or
something. I need action, science fiction, sex, humour. When
that's in it, I like it.
Edwin: And porn flicks, of course. I watch a porn flick before I
go to sleep every night. I've got a video in my room, you know...
Marco: Before he jacks off, he means...
Bert: He's got a TV with double glazing (smiles). I like horror
films, like "Necronomicon" and "Evil Dead".
Favourite food and drink?
Bert: Southern Comfort.
Marco: Grand Prestige, a nice beer from that nice brewery.
Bert: Le Chouffe.
Marco: Nice, but Grand Prestige is nicer.
Edwin: And Mescal (?), the beer with the worm in the bottom.
That's nice, too.
Bert: But the occasional cup of coffee does nicely, too.
Edwin: We always discuss food in the tour bus. We wonder what
we'll get at the venue, you know. My favourite food is something
with a lot of spicy meat. A lot of meat, with a bone to be
discovered after a lot of eating. I am no vegetarian at all. I
think they're a bunch of weaklings, just nagging.
Marco: (With feeling) I like just about anything, *though no
Edwin, who's your favourite singer?
Edwin: Thingy...er...van Drunen, who used to be in Pestilence.
And all these old death metal singers, like Glen Benton (Deicide,
ED.) the way he does it on the CD. That was a bit of a example
for me. But normally I don't like male singers. Let's have more
Marco, who's your favourite drummer?
Marco: I don't have a real favourite, but I think the guy in
Exhorder is awesome. And the fat bloke in Death, Gene Hoghlan
(that's Dark Angel, ED.). And just about any drummer that plays
in the same genre as me. Wood chopping, but with a groove.
Favourite guitarist, Bert?
Bert: James Hetfield. Can't get around that. He's got good riffs
and he can sing at the same time. Awesome.
Marco: I thought he'd say Jimi Hendrix...
Bert: I stick to death and speed metal here. Otherwise I might
just as well name that guy in Rush (Alex Lifeson, ED.).
Marco: Oh yeah, they've got a great drummer, too (Neil Peart,
The large side door slides open, allowing bass player Nils Vos
and second guitarist Marcel van Haaff to fold and squeeze
themselves in the narrow confines of the van.
Nils: Gosh, the stench of fag ends is terrible!
From the presence of fag end stench it's only a small step to
take, via lung cancer, to the question of which kind of music
these guys would like to hear on their own funerals. A waterfall
of unstructured replies is the result.
Bert: "Buried Alive" by Venom.
Nils: Then I'd like Uriah Heep, "Easy Livin'".
Marco: Or a song from my own CD.
Bert: "Post Mortem" by Slayer.
What is the best CD of 1994 to you?
Marcel: The new one by Slayer.
Bert: I like the Prong one.
Marco: If Clawfinger was released in 1994, that would be the
Is there something that everybody around you likes but you don't
Marco: Stone Temple Pilots.
Nils: Nirvana. Piss off with those arseholes! God dammit I hate
those guys. I am glad this guy hung himself on a tree or
Edwin: Everything with grunge, all those guys with Nirvana
hairdos. You can't blame them, because suddenly it's in the Hot
100 and everything is far out, you know. The music was there
prior to that, too, but then they wouldn't listen.
Suppose, one of you could be Aladdin. Which three wishes would
Marco: A bottle of beer that would never run empty.
Edwin: And two more of those (laughs)!
Marco: We live in the "beer area", so...
Edwin: My entire life a long orgasm.
Marcel: Anal sex with Tatjana (Dutch singer with big boobs and
little talent, ED.). I've never had the pleasure of anal sex
before. Seems like quite something.
Edwin: All fun in life, times, three. And (adds, irritated) for
Ozzy Osbourne to be switched off.
Is there someone walking around that you'd really want to meet
Marcel: Tatjana (laughs). And Yngwie J. Malmsteen.
Edwin: I'd like to meet Jesus.
Bert: I don't think *he* would be too happy with that.
Marco: I'd like to meet myself.
Bert: Yeah, I know who I want to meet. The guy who nicked my
distortion a few years ago. I'd like to meet him!
Suppose Altar would go into the cosmetics business. What would
you call your first after-shave?
Edwin: "As soon as you wear this fragrance you will get blown
by the most delicious broads." And the acronym of that.
Bert: Come on, you can't call that a name?
Edwin: OK..."Blow me".
Bert: "Scent Against Christ". And "Pussy Juice" in Swedish (he
added it in Swedish, too, but I don't know what he said, really,
What is your ultimate ambition? What do you want to be
remembered by in, say, a 100 years' time?
Edwin: I hope they quickly forget us.
Bert: That our records are still sold. The one we released and
the ones we will release eventually.
Edwin: I hope my name will survive, the Kelder race. But my
brothers are taking care of that. They've got wagonloads of kids.
OK. Now some words to react to.
Edwin: Well, it's all in the name.
The holy trinity.
Edwin: The holy trinity is in yourself.
Edwin: Balkan grille.
Marco: Bomb 'em.
Nils: Get rid of it.
Bert: One bomb, no nagging.
Edwin: With gipsy sauce.
Edwin: Jihad...well, they'd better figure that out themselves,
because I don't want to get a bunch of rabid muslems thirsty for
Marco: Good clean fun.
Bert: Too many commercials.
Nils: Brainwashing with regard to music.
Edwin: Another presenter for "Headbangers Ball", male or female,
would do nicely. One that treats it more intelligently.
Marco: And someone who doesn't push her husband in the picture
all the time (he's in Almighty, ED.).
Marcel: When I bought "Appetite for Destruction" it was a cool
LP, but when they became successful I liked it no more. In the
beginning it was the ideal mix of punk and rock. No longer.
Marco: Well, they've got it made. Too big.
Marcel: Give me air.
Edwin: Just a really good band. And they're behind their music.
And that singer is a guy who calls a spade and spade and doesn't
give a toss about what others things. And often he's right, you
Goat skulls (see inside of their CD liner notes).
Edwin: That's to keep the evil spirits, Satan, at bay. And the
goat made good shoarma. I just held it in my hands to look tough.
I find it mighty macho to stand there with that thing in my
Marco: The same as with Guns'n'Roses.
Edwin: But the actual bands can't help it much. They're only
Marco: The first loud band I heard. That got it all started.
Bert: They weren't good musicians but they made cool music.
Edwin: They were the ones that started that satanic stuff. Black
Sabbath did it, too, but Venom was much more.
Do you think your home town of Hardenberg might become the next
scene, the Seattle of the nineties?
Marco: No, that would be Coevorden.
Bert: Even if they like us, the community council would prevent
it. It would never happen.
Marco: It will never be something like Seattle.
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.