Criminal Interview

Hello Anton. How are you doing?

I am good thanks. I’ve been doing a lot of promotion for the new album, so everything is going fine.

Where are you speaking from? Since you play in a lot of bands and travel a lot.

Right now I’m in Santiago Chile. I am visiting my family and stuff and doing the promo down here too. Getting ready to record some stuff and to do some work in the studio so yeah. Keep being busy.

How do you organise your time? Do you have a daily routine?

I don’t really have a daily routine. I mean it all depends on what’s on schedule. Some days I’ve been doing interviews all day, but then sometimes I spent more time in the studio, so I can’t really say that I have a routine.

Do you get upset when you can’t quite nail something for the first try? Are you a maximalist?

No, I think I am rather patient. I don’t expect things to work on the first try. I wouldn’t say that.

I really appreciate that you do what you do, and you have been doing it for more than 30 years now. What got you into music back then? What inspired you?

I am coming from a very musical family. My aunt used to be a piano teacher at the conservatory and the University of Santiago de Chile, and she were teaching me and my brothers to play the piano, but I didn’t like the piano, it was boring to me, so my mom decided to give me a guitar. So I started to learn that and at first I played along to folk and pop songs and then I started getting into metal. That’s when my father got me my first electric guitar when I was about 14 or 13 maybe. And then I descovered all the great bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest and Iron Maiden and so on… So that’s what I wanted to do.

In Criminal you are the last original band member. How hard it is to separate ways with people and then find new ones?

Well, Criminal’s been going for 30 years now, so I think it’s easy to understand that it’s not possible to maintain a stable line-up for so long. And luckily when there’s been line-up changes, most of the time it was on friendly termes. Like the last line up change we had was like 3 years ago when our new drummer joined, and our old drummer just told us that he wouldn’t want to travel anymore, you know he didn’t want to tour, he was a bit unmotivated, but it was really friendly and really cool and it’s okay. We are still friends, so it doesn’t have to be acrimonious all the time.

Your latest member change was on drums. Danilo Estrella joined the band, but how did he get in the picture? Why did you decide on him?

He went to music school together with our guitarist, Sergio. And when our old drummer decided to leave, we had some gigs booked, and Sergio recommended Danilo, because he knew him and he knew that he could do the job. I didn’t really know him, I never talked to him, but I said sure let’s do it. So we got together, we practised a few times, and it was immediately clear that he was a great drummer and a great person too. He is really friendly and out-going, so we played these shows, and then we asked him if he wanted to stay in the band, because he seemed like a perfect fit.

Sacraficio” is your latest release, I think it’s great. It doesn’t really have an off song, it flows all the way through. What happens in these 12 songs? What would you say about them?

Well musically I would that say this album goes back to the roots in a way. From when the band started in the 90’s and what was going on with music back then with Sepultura and Napalm Death, stuff like that, but also in the same time it may be the most extreme album in our career. There’s stuff that almost verges on grindcore, so there’s a lot going on, but as you say it is about consistency, but it has dynamics, that’s what’s important. The music is brutal and aggressive, but it has some slower parts, some quieter parts, and it’s not like a wall of sound coming all the way through.

Since it took you some time to make this album I think we can safely say that you don’t want to stack album releases, but apart from that it’s your 9th album. What do you think when will you make another song?

We’ve been talking about it, because this album has a couple of songs in spanish, and we’ve been doing this on and off since our second album back in ’97. And our fans down here seems to like it a lot, and coincidentally a lot of reviews I read from Europe says, that the spanish songs sound extra aggressive. People seem to like the way spanish sounds as an extreme metal vocal. So we’ve been toying with the idea of maybe doing an EP of only songs in spanish, or spin it around and make all the songs in spanish and make only one or two in english. Something like that. That’s probably what our next project is going to be, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you when. We’ve been very absorbed with this album, because it took quite long to make, and because of the pandemic an everything. So I think when we got that entirely out of the system and the promo is over, then it’s probably time to pick up and start writing again.

As the only founding member of the band you’ve seen people come and go, but what I would like to particularly ask, is how many of the old songs were your idea?

I have to say that when Rodrigo, the other founding member was in the band for almost the first 20 years, he did contribute a lot to the songwriting. As a matter of fact, a lot of the songs that we play live are songs that he wrote. He was a very talented songwriter and a very talented guitarist. And I don’t have a problem admitting that.

Abysmo Films made a great video with you. Did you succeed to make your expectations and ideas real? What did you tell to Carlos Toro about what you wanted it to be?

On the first video that we did for ,,Zona de Sacrificio” I gave him a really precise idea of what I wanted, but he has got his own way of telling a story and his own idea of aesthetics and stuffs like that. And the time we had was not that long, because every band member was at a different part of the world, so we all had to record and film our parts separately. That took away a lot of time and we didn’t have much left to come up with a story and to do all that, so I pretty much gave him free rain, and when he delivered the video it was may not the exactly what thing I had envisioned. But that’s the way it goes with visuals, everyone has their own take on things, but I think it was great anyway. And for the second video he did for ,,Sistema Criminal”, I just told him what I had in mind, but just gave him total freedom to do it, and I think it came out as a very intresting video. It has very good comments so far. It’s different. It doesn’t look like a typical metal video.

Out of the previous 8 albums, wich one do you think your audience likes best? Can the 9th album change it?

A lot of our fans, especially down in South America like our first two albums the best. ,,Victimized” and ,,Dead Soul”. Of the later albums, I think ,,Sicario” from 2005 is the one that get the most mentions. It’s crazy to think, that it came out already 15 years ago, but hey, life goes on. I think the new album, from the reactions it’s been getting, I think it will rank amongts the favourites of the fans.

About your others bands, like Lock Up and Brujeira, is there any major event coming up?

Yes! With Lock Up we just announced this week a cover and an artwork of the new title of the new album. It’s called: ,,The Dregs of Hades”, and we are gonna be releasing the first song at the end of the month. Along with the video. We recorded this album entirely in the pandemic lock down, so everyone had to record their part separetaly, but it turned out really great. I am really happy with the album and everyone did a great job. You can tell that everyone was going in the same direction. And it’s going to be released at the end of October. Not sure when I need to look up the date, but it must be out on the Lock Up facebook page. And with Brujeira we’ve been working on a new album for years now. I mean the songs were recorded in 3 or 4 years, meaning the intruments. Guitar bass and drums. The vocals are being finished and we are already mixing it. It’s safe to say that it should be released in the first half of next year.

Chile is really far from us. Could you tell us about how is the everyday life over there?

It depends. Chile is a very long country. Long and narrow. It’s got very different climate zones, it’s very dry and hot in the North and very cold and wet in the South. So the life is very different depending on where you live. Almost half of the population lives in the capital, wich is Santiago, wich doesn’t make much sense. Santiago is a really busy city. There is a lot of energy and there is always something happening, but I guess I don’t live a normal life since I am a musician. Luckily I get to tour, but I know that it’s very hard for the regular people to survive and work to get by in this city. Because there is a lot of people. Due to the pandemic the economy went a but shit as well. It’s starting to rise again, but people have to do whatever it takes to survive here.

What are your personal values? Can you live your life like you want to? What other activities excite you beside music?

I think I am very lucky. This mandatory pause with the pandemic has been very hard, but at the same time it makes you appreciate what you have. And yes I think I don’t need a lot to be happy in life. As long as I am doing what I like. Sometimes I wish it was easier to get along with some people, but I do what I can. In terms of what I like is I like travelling, taking pictures when I’m out on tour and seeing cities that I am in. Other than that I like reading, watching films, listening to music. These kinds of things.

Anton thank you for everything. It’s always good to speak with a musician. Do you have a message for the fans?

I hope everyone checks out our new album ,,Sacrificio”. It’s been out for almost a week now. Obviously check out the online platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Youtube etc… And I hope to be able to see everyone from the stage. Hopefully soon. No matter if it’s Brujeira or Ciminal or Pentagram or whatever. I hope I can be there and we can have a good time together again.

The interview was taken with Anton Reisenegger on 23.09.2021.

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