How's Covid-19 treating you guys? I think there have been fewer restrictions in your corner of the world than anywhere else?
Chris: Fortunately, we've been treated very well with Covid-19. Being an island in the middle of nowhere has to have some good points, and this was one of them. We are free to have non-restricted concerts now for 8 months.
Daif: Yeah, our biggest weakness is also our biggest strength, ha-ha!
Your second album "Black Majik Terror" was out a few months ago. What was your approach when you started to write material for that release? Did you try to top the debut album in any way?
D: We still wanted to make an album we could play live. No elaborate guitar harmonies or choirs, you know. We were looking to create a raw power that captured what we bring live. Not sure how or if we topped "Shadow Of The Sword", that's probably up to fans to decide. But we did set out to kick our past selves' ass into oblivion though. As you should.
When you were working on the debut album, you had been together for a relatively short period of time. So, was it easier to write and record this time around?
C: Definitely gotten better working with each other for sure. We had done so much in between the first album and the second, it ended up being two and a half years between releases. Ideally, we would have wanted it out sooner, but one only has so much time with full-time jobs and life.
You've done a few video clips for the new album, one of them for "Holocene's End". It's a slow song that doesn't represent your style at all, so why did you pick it to promote the album with?
C: That is correct. We thought we would branch out just a wee bit to try something new but still keep our vibe and sound in it.
D: We thought this would make a killer video. It has a real narrative/journey feel to it, which we thought would lend itself to the horror movie we always wanted to make. I think, for the most part, we totally nailed what we set out to do. If you like boobs, bogans and blood, then you should definitely check it out!
The other video clip is for "Intruder". It looks like it was filmed at some kind of trash dump. Is that right?
C: That's right! C&D Landfill here in Wellington, our home city. Our good friends Amber and Clayton, who are the main villains in "Holocene's End" and star in "Intruder", hooked us up. They love the place and the people who work there and suggested we do a video there. The guy who runs the landfill was drinking with us all day and is seen hooning around in the battle truck with everyone onboard. He loved it. After that, we went back and filmed "Holocene's End". It was over four nights, so the dude just gave us the keys to the landfill and was like, "Hey, do your worst," ha-ha!
The title track starts with a keyboard intro. Whose idea was it?
D: As a kid, I could never sit still long enough to be bothered with the church when my mum would make the family go. Normally it was a really stuffy, airless, dry situation. It wasn't until that church shifted into a more "happy-clappy" vibe when an obviously quite insane local family started doing music as part of it that I started to take notice. The music was terrible, and nobody could sing, but it was the first time I heard "music" there. It stayed with me so much through the years that I went to find out what had happened to that organ years later. As luck would have it, they were selling it, so I swooped in like a bat and got it cheap. What you hear on the intro to "Black Majik Terror" is an instrument born of insanity, which breathes arcane horror and foreboding.
The cover art by Bob Eggleton is as old-school as the music itself. Is it an existing painting you have used, or has it been made specifically for you?
C: Thank you! Sure is old school. Created by an old school artist. It is a new painting that Bob made for us. We combined some of our ideas, and his and what you see is the result. He is such an awesome dude with a huge body of work behind him. He has always wanted to do a vinyl cover, and was stoked that we made it happen with him!
What makes you write and play '80s music in the 2020s?
C: Why not!? I have a love for the '80s sound and style that there is nothing else I would want to do. I don't really see it as '80s music, even though it is, it's more the style, thrash/speed metal. I do think modern production does not fit the aesthetic of the music.
How much is the band image important for you? Do you wear denim and leather on a daily basis too?
D: What else is there to wear? I can't afford nice clothes anyway, ha-ha!
Many of the old-school metal genres have their modern equivalents. Can you imagine "modern speed metal"?
C: Oh man, I touched on this just before. Yes, I hear you. I fuckin' hate the word modern ha-ha! I mean, I'm glad there is a term for it, because you know what you're going to get. A very modern production which I think just ruins it. To other people, they might enjoy their thrash modern, but we all know there is only one way to mix thrash and that's old school!
I've got a question about how it all started for you. I think the band name was inspired by some article about "higher beings" and how they "stalk" people. Can you tell me more about it?
D: In an essay "The Positive/Negative Realms Of Higher Densities" by Michael Topper, he talks about the way negative higher densities manipulate and feed on human misery, the poet William S. Burroughs also had a story "A One God Universe" that explores the same kind of themes. Topper called this "stalking", which at the time I thought was a pretty interesting and new idea. After looking at other films and stories a little more closely though, it turns out this is one of the oldest stories out there. I think that makes it even more interesting though. "Stalker" is the name of one of my all-time favourite films, the 1979 masterpiece of Russian cinema by Andrei Tarkovsky. Totally worth the watch if you have 2 hours 45 minutes spare in your life. Funnily enough, it has the exact opposite pacing as Stälker.
Were you surprised when Napalm Records picked you up, based on just demos? I mean, underground speed metal is not a money-making genre, so how did you catch their attention?
C: Very surprised. So, this is how the tale goes. On a cold dark stormy night, we received a message in our inbox from an A&R guy from Napalm who was very interested in the demo. After chatting to him (who was fuckin' rad by the way) we found out that he wanted to sign us and release some albums. What the best thing was, he was doing it out of love for the music and not the sales that we could do for them. As you say, it's not a huge money-generating genre! Well, he asked the big boss and showed him the demos for our first album and they said, "Yes, we'll sign them". And the rest is history. They have been so fuckin' rad this whole time, awesome staff.
Before all the lockdowns started, you played a gig at True Thrash Fest in Japan. How was it?
D: The crowds are this super interesting mix of politeness and batshit crazy. Anyone who's been there would know what I mean. Everything is super professional and well ordered, but when it's time to cut loose they are ready to get bloody. Here in New Zealand, it's much more one or the other. We're much more used to constant chaos and filth and having to make do with what you have. Also... far out can they host! Amazing group of people running TFF. Can't speak highly enough of them!
OK, last question. Stälker's sound is often compared to that of Exciter, early Slayer, the early Teutonic thrash bands and so on. What is the weirdest comparison you've read or heard?
D: The "Seinfeld" theme song.