Interview with Kadavar vocalist/guitarist Christoph “Lupus” Lindemann | By Christopher J. Harrington
If you’re lucky enough to have seen the Berlin-based psych rock band, Kadavar, live, then you know just how powerful and immense these guys can get. A rawness completely unhinged is the group’s greatest effect, and it reverberates like nothing else in the modern rock or metal scenes.
However, Kadavar’s first three studio albums—2012’s self-titled, 2013’s Abra Kadavar, and 2015’s Berlin—while all equally adept, never truly captured that signature intensity. Studio tinkering, odd placement, and an overall tentativeness plagued the resolution on each record. But all that’s in the past. The band’s newest record, Rough Times—out Sept. 29 via Nuclear Blast—finally sees all things Kadavar coalesce. The capacity, heaviness, and variance converge, the band’s shifting wildness finally captured.
“Everything was recorded live,” vocalist and guitarist Christoph “Lupus” Lindemann notes. “We really wanted to capture that rawness and that spark that the live experience has. Perhaps this new record doesn’t sound 100 percent perfect, you know, technical-wise, but it’s what we wanted to pursue, that gritty rock, and I’m really excited about it.”
Rough Times is meaty and grimy in all the right sections. Swift and silky around the edges and easily the most “metal” record the band have constructed. All three members—Lindemann, drummer Christoph “Tiger” Bartelt, and drummer Simon “Dragon” Bouteloup—had equal and substantial input, piecing together something that both stomps and swings. “Three individuals make up this record, and you can really hear it,” Lindemann relays. “In the past, we basically hated each other so much [laughs], trying to create songs all together with a direct process. For Rough Times, we just said, ‘Hey, let’s go home, write some songs individually, and come back and see what happens.’”
In February 2017, Kadavar finished constructing their own recording studio in Berlin, giving them a chance to really get down and build their own environment from the ground up. The studio took a few months to complete and left the band with little time to record Rough Times. The pace, though, was instrumental to its totality. “We basically had three weeks,” Lindemann explains. “It took us four months to build the new studio, and we were looking at the remaining two with a whole album ahead of us. We’re usually real lazy when it comes to recording,” he laughs, “but I think with the pressure we had on this one, we really realized it, and there was this rush to produce something real. We only did, like, three tracks of each song, and just chose the best one.”
While drifting through Rough Times, you can feel that looseness, that daring and envelope-pushing sort of surge. It’s an album that’s as sculptural on the backend as it is punishing in the front. The bass is right at the forefront, and it feels truly vibrant. “With Simon, we wanted to really showcase his bass playing and to make it a highlight,” Lindemann explains. “His sound is so dirty and raw. The last album was really mixed as a guitar album, and you know, there’s two other guys in the band, so I decided to bring the guitar back in the mix. I love the late ‘60s sound, where the rhythm is larger than the melody.”
Within all the grit and doom, Lindemann still manages to shred the ever-loving shit out of the guitar. Seeing the guitarist live is a sight and sound to behold. There are few out there who can match his daring and reckless wizardry. His tone is true, bold, and individualistic: a lightning bolt of honesty. “I don’t like Clapton or Eddie Van Halen,” Lindemann laughs. “I don’t like people who play without soul. Guys like Ritchie Blackmore, Hendrix, and Tony Iommi—those guys have been my inspiration since the beginning. I’m more of a punk rock guy than a technical freak.”