Interview with Jost Kleinert of Lay Down Rotten

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Interview by Jason Guest

Hi Jost. Thanks for taking time out for this interview. When writing and recording Lay Down Rotten’s latest album, Mask Of Malice, did you have any goals in mind?

Hi Jason. Thanks for having me. We didn’t have any goals in particular but to write and record an authentic, honest and hard album. The lyrics and the music reflect our vision that we have for Death Metal. We didn’t enter the rehearsal room or studio with any pretentious bullshit in mind. We were relaxed and open for the creative process.

When did writing start for the album?

Well, we write all the time. You cannot control your creativity. We collect ideas and inspirations, riffs and lyrics and then we start putting them together when the time feels right. Kensington, our new guitarist, brought 8 complete songs to the first rehearsal so this one was different. But then again, we have to practice and try new ideas. This has to be some kind of routine. You cannot sit down at one point and decide, “now let’s write a record.”

How meticulous are you with the songs when writing them? Are they complete before you go in to the studio?

Time is money and there are deadlines. That is why we are prepared and we have a certain recording history. So we know what we do and we know how to do it.

Were there any ideas or tracks that arose during the writing of your previous album? If so, have they changed in any significant way?

Mask Of Malice is fresh and pure! But it is a natural progression from our last record. It is darker and more centred. I think of our albums as a storyline. The songs and the lyrics tell the story of our last 10 years in Death Metal.

How do you feel about it now that it’s finished? Have you achieved all that you wanted to with it?

Yes, definitely! And even more. It feels like the beginning of a new era for Lay Down Rotten. And it certainly is! It was such a great experience making this record and also shooting the video for Hades Resurrected. Me and my brother have been writing the lyrics for the last four records. This time we wrote the most honest and darkest lyrics. It was hard and worthwhile at the same time writing those words. We placed great value on the titles and the storyline of every single song. Then we have a spoken word intro and the start of ‘Hades Resurrected’ is also very special. So, you see, we paid a lot of attention also to the details. It was a lot of work but it paid off in the end.

What are the lyrics on the album about? Where does inspiration for them come from? Is there a common theme or concept that ties the tracks together?

We, my brother and I, focused on the nature of human malice for this record. We had long conversations about what we wanted the lyrics for this record to be like. Then at first there were some fragments, some titles and choruses to begin with. We collected all our inspirations, thoughts and notes. Finally we met up and wrote lyrics every day for several weeks. Soon we discovered how exciting the phenomenon of malice is, how it manifests among us and how many character defects can be a part of malice. This is the red chord. We also worked on topics such as religion, terrorism, isolation and war. But this is not a concept album! You can also find a song called “…And Out Come The Wolves” on the record which describes our passion as musicians for this genre and our dedication to Death Metal. So there is a certain variety to find. Maybe one day we will make a concept album, who knows!

Do you have any favourite tracks on Mask of Malice? Are there any that you’re looking forward to playing live?

Hard question! I really have to say that every song of this record could be part of our live set! There are no fillers! But of course we have to make a choice which song to include in our current set! ‘Hades Resurrected’ will be part of the new set as we shot a video for this song. But other than that I really cannot state any personal preferences.

Did Daniel Jakobi’s recent departure from the band have a significant impact on the music and the band?

No. Not that I can think of! It was a good decision. Lay Down Rotten consists of 5 members. So after the break up there were 4 guys looking for a new guitarist. One call and Kensington came to join the band. End of story. It was easy and it felt so natural.

How did you decide that new guitarist Daniel Seifert was the guy that Lay Down Rotten need to complete the line-up? What was it that made Daniel stand out as that guy? Were there any other musicians that you were interested in or auditioned?

There are no coincidences in life. I tell you a funny story: days before Jacobi left the band I had met up with Kensington whom I know from my time in my first death metal band, Sarx, to have a drink on the good old days, chat and go through old pictures. He is unbelievably funny, creative and a very generous and open person. Kensington is a great musician and very reliable. He is known in the Metal scene for his song-writing skills and over the years he always had quite successful bands, one of them called Sencirow. So he was really just one call away and it didn’t take us or him long to make the decision to join Lay Down Rotten.

Can you tell us about the artwork? Who’s the artist? Why did you choose to work with them? Did you have to give them any direction or did you allow them to develop their own ideas?

Toshihiro Egawa (www.toshihiroegawa.com) designed the cover for our new record. Our guitarist, Nils, requested him and as we saw some of his cover artworks that he had done for others there was no doubt about giving him the job to realize our cover. Toshihiro just wanted to know what the lyrics were about so that he could include fragments related to the songs into the artwork. We wanted a mask to be the centre of the cover. Other than that we gave him total artistic freedom. We trusted him and had faith in the result. And it paid off. We are very happy with the artwork for Mask Of Malice.

Looking back to the early days, how has Lay Down Rotten developed since then? And are you at the point where you thought the band would be by now or have you exceeded your expectations?

You could knock me down with a feather. If someone had told me back then that we would still be here… Nothing has ever been planned for this band. There has never been a 10 years master plan or so. We are just grateful for everything that happened to us, all the great live shows, our days in studios and on the road. This is unbelievable! We have grown so much over the years, both as persons and musicians. We always did our best on a daily basis. This is what keeps the flame still burning.

Will you be touring in support of Mask of Malice? Will we be seeing you in the UK at all?

Of course we will play as many live shows as possible to promote the new album. Nothing is settled yet. The booking goes on and on and on. Who knows, maybe one day we will play in the UK!

What are your views on downloading music? Has it had any effect on Lay Down Rotten?

Well, I don’t know! Good or bad, we have to live with it. I am not a moaner. I do not complain. The live shows are the most important aspect of this whole business to me. There we sell merchandise and records. This is the only time I see numbers concerning our sales.

How do you view the impact of the internet on music? Some argue that it’s empowering as it has diminished major label dominance and allowed bands to reach a wider audience – particularly for underground bands – whereas others argue that it is making music too easily available and so diminishing the value of music as a creative and expressive entity.

Good bands still sell enough records. Real fans support their idols. There are mostly shitty bands or spoiled stars who nowadays run their mouths about how hard and unfair this business has become. I personally think that it is great that, for example, an underground band from India can promote their stuff via the internet without the help of a label.

Many thanks for taking time out for this interview. Do you have anything you’d like to say to our readers?

I would like to take this opportunity to salute all the Metalheads in the UK. Thanks for your support and dedication! Check out our websiteand our social media channels! Hope to see you soon! Stay Metal! Cheers. Jost.

www.laydownrotten.com

Click here to read Jason’s review of Mask of Malice