1. Grüezi Menetekel and welcome to my humble webzine. It is a pleasure to feature such an unique band as Ungfell is. Your current album “Mythen, Mähren, Pestilenz” was just released. But I’m pretty sure you already got some feedback from fans and media. For example there was a feature on Invisible Oranges and there are many supporter on your bandcamp profile for your new record. So how was the feedback and are you satisfied with the reaction so far?
Grüeziwohl! The Feedback has been great so far. Most of the reviews I read were positive and the first pressing was sold out pretty fast. So yes, I am very satisfied! I mean, you don’t do this for the „feedback“ but nevertheless it’s always nice to see that people appreciate what you do.
2. I know, it is an annoying question. But for some reasons I like my interviews drawing a complete picture from the beginning to the current state, from alpha to status quo. So let’s start with the very beginning of Ungfell. Or maybe even earlier: As you showcase an sophisticated style on all instruments you play for Ungfell, I would assume that you already played in other bands before, right? May I ask in which bands you played and why you started your very own band in 2015?
The only serious project that has been going on longer than Ungfell is Lykhaeon which is still active right now. However, I always wrote quite different material too and I didn’t know where to use it. Also, I was a little frustrated at the time because things didn’t progress as fast as I wanted. It seemed natural to me to make my own little project in which I was the dictator and could make decisions as I wanted.
3. Maybe to get a short overview on your skills: For Ungfell you play guitars, bass, accordion, right? With which instrument did you start and what other instruments are you able to play? Did you learn anything new just for Ungfell or did you earn all your abilities in forehand?
In Ungfell I play all the Instruments beside the drums (and the cello on the newest release). I wouldn’t go so far and say that I „play“ the accordion, the hurry gurdy, etc. I am a pragmatic person so I learn what is needed for the record and that’s it. Anyhow, I started with acoustic guitar and then worked my way through electric guitar and bass. before that I played the flute for 8 years. Yes, 8 years. I can play the drums a little but that doesn’t really count.
4. As there are many incomplete and sometimes even false information on the internet, let’s try to clarify a few things. Despite the data on metal-archives.com Ungfell is not only you, but the duo Menetekel and Vâlant. But this seems to be just the current line-up since “Mythen, Mähren, Pestilence”. Infermità was your drummer on “Tôtbringære” and your “Demo(lition)”. I would assume that he was on your split with Dakhma as well? As the percussionists for Ungfell do not get to much attention from the internet, maybe you’d like to tell me a little bit about the history and changes that Ungfell had so far?
Infermità played drums on Demo(lotion) and Tôtbringære. On the split the drum is programmed. I then started working with Vâlant who is responsible for the drumming on MMP. I don’t really know what to tell you more. Both drummers did a great job and their drumming styles fit the albums they’re on. I will keep on working with Vâlant since the work with him went very smoothly and he is a fantastic drummer.
5. Frankly: Although Ungfell consists of two members, it seems that you are the sole mastermind behind the band. You are responsible for almost all instruments, the lyrics, the vocals and even the mixing of your records. So does Vâlant just act as a supplier for Ungfell or does he contribute to songwriting as well?
I guess you could call him a „supplier“ but that wouldn’t do him justice since the drumming is an essential part of Ungfell. Normally I program the drums and then he’ll try to play it as similar as possible. But I am always open to suggestions since I am not a drummer and he is. On MMP there are a few instances where Vâlant contributed some neat elements. I don’t mind if his influence on the drum composition gets bigger as long as he doesn’t meddle with my melodies.
6. As you are responsible for the whole songwriting, you seem to be a total workoholic. The output of Ungfell so far is really impressing. In 2015 you released your demo with six songs and the split with Dakhma which features an almost 14 minutes long track from you (more about that one later!). Your debut followed two years later and just another year past until your second album was released. That is an incredible pace for a sole person writing and recording all those material. Can you tell me something about the process? How do you manage to have such an high output?
It’s much easier to compose alone than in a band since you have nobody who questions you. That’s the beauty of the absolutistic regime Ungfell is. The process is really boring actually. It’s just me sitting around and playing my guitar, occasionally recording something.
7. Writing songs for yourself is one thing - even if its highly impressive to write three different harmonies for guitar and bass plus those additional instruments like accordeon and other medieval stuff. But how do you work out on songs with Vâlant? Do you rehearse on a regular basis? Or do you just write or program his lines and send them to him? As there are several harmonies that are interwoven I would assume that a song first gets into his final shape when everything is recorded… Or do you practice to backing tracks?
Until now we didn’t rehearse at all. But we didn’t have rehearsal space until recently. We do occasionally jam over a few riffs now and then but the songwriting process still happens as it did before. Like I said, I program the drumlines and record everything and then we add the „real“ drums.
8. For me it is quite impressive how Ungfell combines several aspects into its music. You may not be the first band to use folk or medieval elements in black metal. But you include other aspects as well. For example I hear some elements of traditional Balkan music on your demo (“Ex Clada Salus”) or even on the split with Dakhma. And for me there are many references to surf, rockabilly/psychobilly with all those heavy tremolos and reverbs on guitar and the vibe how you execute your melodies and harmonies. And of course I might extend the list of your influences to the end of “Abstieg eines Eremiten” where electronic sounds, ambient/synthwave or ebm comes into a song of yours. So how do you see your influences and how would you describe your music by yourself?
I listen to a lot of different music styles so it comes naturally that you’ll hear them in the compositions. I come from a classical background so maybe you can even hear a little bit of that in the tracks. Funnily enough, I don’t really listen to surf rock or rockabilly but I’ve heard this comparison a lot so I guess it must be true… It’s natural to have influences and mostly they appear without really being conscious decisions. I for myself think the discussion about influences is kind of boring. I mean, at the point where you listen to this kind of music you should be connaisseur enough to make out the influences. I’ll leave it to the recipient to dissect my music into pieces and put them in little drawers so they can sleep at night. I would describe my music as Black Metal with folk elements. Nothing fancy.
9. What I really like about approach on melodies is how you build up several layers around them. On the one hand it is really awesome how you combine two independent guitar melodies with an outstanding bass lick. For most metal bands the bass is just the supplier of deeper frequencies, but not an individual instrument. So I really appreciate your work on the lower strings.
Thanks man! I always thought it was boring to just do the same thing with the bass as with the rhythm guitar. For me it’s always most fun to record the bass.
10. My very first contact to Ungfell was with your debut “Tôtbringære”. But when “Mythen, Mähren, Pestilenz” was even better, I just had to get hold of your previous material. Thanks to bandcamp it was just easy to put your “Demo(lition)” and the split with Dakhma to my (digital) collection. But that’s somehow funny. Normally a black metal band tries to be elitist, releasing their music only on a limited edition tape. But as far as I know your initially released your demo and your first album digitally, having physical formats following. So you are not afraid of the internet and modern technology?
At first I didn’t think that anyone would be interested in my music. So maybe that’s why I didn’t think like a band would. I just thought let’s put it on the internet and see what happens. In the first place I wanted to put a cross on those releases so I could get them out of my system so to speak. I also didn’t have the means to release something on analogue format. I am definitely afraid of the internet since it is a horrible place with horrible people but I am not afraid of it because I am what you call an „elitist“.
11. Well, as I finally heard your very first release, I was quite surprised. There are many elements that i knew from your two albums. But for me you were not that furious nor playful on “Demo(lition)” as you became on “Tôtbringære”. And for me you even got more fierce on “Mythen, Mären, Pestilenz”. That’s really interesting, because many bands publish awesome demos and become more calm and calculated with each following release. Not so Ungfell that seem to grow only wilder and more daring with each output. Same for the overall vibe. “Demo(lition)” seems to be more melancholic than your later releases. How would you describe your development and the message Ungfell delivered with each release?
I was in a quite melancholic state when I recorded Demo(lition) so yeah, you’re right. For me it’s hard though to look objectively at those releases. They all have their place and are somehow symbolic of the life I’ve lived in those respective times. But that’s a very personal sentiment. For the listener on the other hand it’s something completely different I guess. For me the sound DID become more calm and calculated. But Ungfell also became more focussed on what it wants and what it doesn’t want to be. So maybe that’s why you didn’t process it as something negative. I don’t know man. I just write the music… As for the „message“… I never felt that I had to spell out a certain message that comes with the music. Ungfell tells tales, the message lies therein. Listen to it, go figure. As for anyone who thinks Ungfell represents some political statement or even fits in your stupid little „worldview“: Fuck off, you’re an idiot.
12. Hmmm… Maybe I have to put into perspective my last statements. Ungfell might became more playful and furious with each release. But “Abstieg eines Eremiten” is the most daredevil song you have published yet. It has the longest running time of all of your songs and it includes even some electronic and ambient moments that give the song an absurd twist. Especially if you compare it to the nightmarish and absyssal side of Dakhma that work with dissonant and repetitive darkness for their monumental 20 Minutes songs “Ascension IV”. First of all: Was “Abstieg eines Eremiten” planed as one long song? To be honest, if I give it a close listen, I hear several cesuras, often introduced with samples that might divide that epic track into numerous smaller ones.
Yes, it was planned as one song. I am just lazy. Sorry about the cuts though, my bad.
13. As mentioned before: “Abstieg eines Eremiten” was a contrast to the repetitive, nightmarish other side by Dakhma. I think you new about this harsh contrast in advance. How where the reaction of this ambivalent picture both bands created?
The split didn’t get a lot of recognition even though I got some messages from people who begged for a rerelease. The reactions where split too (pun intended). Some people liked it because it was so experimental and different, others disliked it because of the same reason.
14. As the split with Dakhma was your first release after your “Demo(lition)” I may ask: How did you get in contact? Was it due to your relationship to the H.U.C.? And may I further ask: What is the Helvetic Underground Committee? Is it about promoting concerts and publish information about the Swiss black metal scene? Is it an occult organisation or more or less just an umbrella to support each other?
We met while at the annual meeting of the H.U.C. on a ruin on top of a mountain. Alternatively we met pissdrunk in front of a McDonalds. I’d describe the H.U.C. as a creative collective. We’re a few guys whose common denominator is the fascination for (extreme) music. We try to help and support each other by exchanging knowledge about recording, layout etc. We share a rehearsing space and equipment and so on. We are autodidacts who try to do everything ourselves. This approach certainly doesn’t always produce a perfect result but we’re slowly getting there with the years.
15. Did you find the guest musicians for “Mythen, Mähren, Pestilenz” within the Helvetic Underground Committee as well? Or how did you get in touch with Minarsk and Chimael? I assume that you already knew Kerberos, because he also mixed your album afterwards?
I know them from my private life. Kerberos has been a loyal brother in arms for years.
16. You have a close relationship to your home. Your songs deal with Swiss folklore, your are part of the Helvetic Underground Committee and your song titles are partly in Swiss German. As French is another common language in Switzerland, I am not surprised to read “Condamné à Mort” as a song title on “Demo(lition)”. And of course a latin name (“Ex Clade Salus”) fits into the concept as well. But were those lyrics really in French or Latin? Even for those songs with titles in Swiss German you use standard German texts. As you used samples in all three tongues, how important is this aspect of language and unconventional characters for Ungfell?
The lyrics to „Condamné à Mort“ were written in french by me. „Ex Clade Salus“ is written in german. The part about the Swiss German lyrics is not true though. Every song that has a Swiss German title is written in Swiss German. Maybe you confuse it with the titles on „Tôtbringære“ which are partly in middle high German which was spoken in medieval times. Maybe you classified those fragments as Swiss German. The inclusion of Swiss German Lyrics is new on MMP. Switzerland is known for the excessive use of different languages so it was logical to experiment with them. In the future there will be more Swiss German lyrics for sure but I still want to write lyrics in German too. I don’t really know how I will proceed though. Maybe there will be an album just in Swiss German, an other one in German etc. We will see….
17. As said before, previously Ungfell released their material by their own. For “Tôtbringære” you had a re-relrease on tape by Graceless Recordings. But for “Mythen, Mären, Pestilenz” you teamed up with the great Eisenwald Tonschmiede. Were you tired of the totally d-i-y way? Or did you just haven’t had the opportunity to release your earlier material on a proper label? How did you get in touch with Eisenwald? Are you satisfied with your collaboration so far?
I didn’t have the opportunity and I was fed up with the DIY-way. As for how I got in contact with Eisenwald: One day I was wandering through the woods and suddenly I heard a roaring thunder. The clouds parted and from the sky a silhouette of light descended with such grace that it brought tears to my eyes. The silhouette revealed her true form to me which was that of a beautiful virgin. She floated down to me and whispered in my ear the name „Eisenwald“. That’s when I knew what I had to do. Alternatively, Eisenwald contacted me via Facebook. Yes, I am very pleased with the collaboration so far!
18. Since Ungfell introduced an extremely high pace for your releases, can you already tell me something about the near future of the band? Will there be another new album by 2019? Or would you like to release another split before? What about other formats like an ep?
I wanted to do an EP but I already have too much material… So I guess there will be another album soon. But I don’t want to release too fast and take my time and maybe try something different with recording etc. No idea when the next album will be done.
19. And of course I have to ask another obligatory question: As Ungfell is only a duo, do you play live? Or are you more a band for the studio, writing music and releasing albums?
We don’t play live at the moment. But we are rehearsing in complete formation with session musicians. Maybe we’ll end up playing some gigs, I don’t know yet. Playing live has never been my priority and this hasn’t changed. My focus is definitely on the writing part but if the rehearsals go well and I feel a live setting would work then we’ll give it a shot.
20. Menetekel, thank you very much for your time and answers. I’m really looking forward for the album by Ungfell. And in the meanwhile I will have “Mythen, Mären, Pestilenz” on heavy rotation, as it is a strong aspirant for being one of the best albums of 2018. This is the end of our chat. Feel free to leave the final words to my reads and your fans.
Thanks for your interest in Ungfell. Your support is highly appreciated! Also please support me because I want to start my own clothing line and beer brand and shampoo products and then I will sign a deal with Nuclear Blast and make terrible overproduced plastic metal and get filthy rich!