Interview with Lille Gruber (Defeated Sanity)

Posted: September 30, 2011 in Interviews
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[Originally interviewed for KtmROCKS E-Mag Issue 09]

LILLE GRUBER is considered to be one of the most unique sounding and versatile drummers in the death metal world. He is the only remaining founding member of the German brutal death metal monsters Defeated Sanity and has also played for numerous death metal bands like Cenotaph (Turkey), Belphegor, Twitch of the Death Nerve, Mucopus, Sinners Bleed, etc. Here is the interview with him:

Greetings from Nepal, Lille! How have you been doing lately?

Hey there, I am doing fine! We are preparing for the Euro tour with Gorgasm in August/September right now and things couldn’t go better!

Going back to your starting days, who inspired you to start playing the drums? At what age did you start playing?

The person that inspired me the most to play drums or music in general was my dad, who also was a musician. I grew up in a community of musicians. All my dad’s friends were musicians and I heard and saw them play everyday. So I guess that influences you as a child.

Your style of drumming draws a lot from some other elements of the drumming world and makes your sound and style unique than any drummer I have personally heard in brutal death metal. Can you elaborate on how you created your playing style?

Well, I really take music in general seriously. My aim is to make serious music, not pop music. So if you wanna make the best music you can, you will look up to the best, the top of the music world. And that includes mostly jazz, classical, folklore but also pop, rock, soul, blues, of course metal and even hip-hop, electronic stuff, etc. A good musician gets inspired by all musical art form. For how I created my style, my way of playing evolves from my preferences and what comes out is a mix of all that I prefer. I guess you create your own style in a way where you listen a lot to other drummers/musicians and then first try to imitate, then find your own way how to involve this stuff.

How do you tune such a unique set of drums?

I really just learned to really tune my drums haha, before I just worked on the drums until they kinda sounded cool for me. For me personally a very important thing is to have the snare nice and high. A too low snare drum seems too “fat” for me, a high one is nice and dynamic, also has that punch.

What kind of snare drum do you use to get that tight sound?

I use a Ludwig Black Beauty snare drum – to me, the mother of all snares. Although, I can’t even say that. I just never used much other stuff besides that cause I never felt the need.

Would you care to elaborate a bit on your current kit?

My current kit consists of 1 bass drum with double pedal (never could afford a second one plus it has no room in my rehearsal space haha), 2 hang toms, 1 stand tom, 2 crashes, ride, china, hihats and the crashes have splash cymbals and a bell on top. I like playing around with splashes now; it’s the first time in my life I had the money to afford some small cool stuff like that. It’s a Pearl Master series kit btw.

Tell us the way you approach after every album? There is quite a shift in drumming between all of your albums, each got better than the previous.

Well thank you, glad to hear that! Well I never give up and never stop doubting myself so I guess that is the reason for always improving. The general style of every album changed too – different song structure, different riffs. So that is the reason for a different drumming style as well. Also, every album had different drum sounds. None of them really satisfied me yet. I hope I can get closer to my vision next time.

How much do you think that the change in band’s lineup affects the style of music that it plays? What has been the case with Defeated Sanity?

Hmmm depends what situation you have. I think the most important is if the core band knows what they wanna do, if new members come into the whole thing they can be either “executors” or creative minds that vastly change the material. For us, when Chris came into the band his style of playing inspired more fast grinding then we had before. I remember I had to really keep up with him in the beginning. He writes less “contemplated” stuff than going for raw fast insanity, which is a nice contrast to what I was doing.

Sadly enough, quite a lot of bands use programmed or at least triggered drums on their albums. What’s your thought on programmed drumming? Were you ever tempted to use programmed drumming?

I was never tempted to do that stuff. We need organic, human sounding drums. Well programmed drumming works for a few bands, I am thinking about Heinous Killings and Mortician here. But for a live drummer to sound like a machine (=trigger¬ing the whole kit) makes no sense to me. Also lots of guitarists do it cause they can’t find a drummer but wanna release shit…. so it’s kind of “worst case scenario” thing.

What bands are you listening to right now? And what sort of music do you normally enjoy listening to?

Right now I have been on a big old school trip haha. Listening to lots of old Malevolent Creation, Monstrosity… the more thrashy stuff you know? Always listen to jazz and classical stuff on the side, but my main menu is still metal. Right now listening to Watchtower “Control and Resistance”. Immense album!

Could you name some drummers who have influenced you a lot?

So many great drummer out there, so this time I will mention a whole lot of them haha: Tony Williams, Jack De Johnette, Billy Cobham, Wolfgang Teske, Alex Marquez, Stephen Shelton, Rick Colaluca, Lee Harrisson, Chad Walls, Jon Engman, Brad Fincher, Gene Holgan, Sean Rein¬ert… the list is endless.

So what’s up with your current bands, Defeated Sanity and Cenotaph? You were in verge of touring?

Well, with Cenotaph I don’t do stuff anymore. I haven’t heard from Batu in a longer time now. I think they are working with a young line up in Turkey now and it seems to go really well with their drummer. With DS, as I said, we are right now preparing for the Euro tour starting in August. Also working on 5 new songs and writing much more material than that. I think the next album will be recorded next summer. I am confident about it.

You have been the only remaining original member of Defeated Sanity now. How does it feel to drive the band as the only founder member remaining?

Well, first and foremost it’s sad to have lost the founding member Wolfgang Teske last year to cancer, RIP!!! He was there with me from the beginning, and then decided he couldn’t do it anymore in 2008 because his fingers didn’t work that well anymore. But with Jacob and Chris, the core of the band seems like my first real band, so it still feels like this is the first line up (minus Wolfgang). It’s a great feeling to know, the 4th album is coming up and things just keep getting better for us. Also is a hard task to top each album you released before though. Songwriting-wise, we can’t top the last one, but we will try to make the production better.

Can you please tell us about each member and a brief background of Defeated Sanity?

Yes, gladly! Jacob I got to know when we were building a new line up after I came to Berlin from Bavaria. I saw him with his old band CEREBRIC TURMOIL, who made a crazy mix of math core and death metal and when I saw him play I knew he was the guy I wanna work with, he was a young fucker too, 17 years old. Chris we met a bit before when we were searching for a bass player, some bassist came to audition and brought Chris with him. In the end we decided to work with Chris but not the bass player. The latest member for DS is Konni on vocals. He was in Despondency before and we have known him since the Demo days. He is a very good frontman and singer, so we are a very strong team!

Who’s writing the songs? What are the main themes/subjects of the music?

Well I would say I am the musical director in this band. I hear lots of riffs from my band members and compose even more than that myself… and most time in my life I spend with contemplating about putting them together in a good order. This happens on the way to work in trains, at the instrument, or just walking around, or while giving lessons. Lyrical themes are all inspired by the evil in this world. Both the evil that we witness ourselves, but mainly the repugnant things we hear everyday in the news or whatever. We are just very fascinated with cruelty, violence, dark thoughts.

Are there any goals you want to reach drumming-wise?

Yeah, for sure. I try to get faster and more accurate with my double bass. But on the other side I wanna get more fluent with improvisation and jazzy stuff. If u ask me, two contradicting things… but practicing completely different things must be good for you, as you will get a broad horizon musically. I might wanna start jazzy stuff when I get old, haha. That would rule!

Anything you do besides drumming (I mean some other jobs)?

No, I only give music lessons right now (guitar and drums), it’s my job.

Lastly, any advice, tips, would you give to younger drummers here in Nepal?

Play everything SLOW first, if you wanna be able to play it fast. Also incorporate dynamics in your playing. Listen to the drummers and the bands I mentioned! And listen to them good, and then play your own stuff and try to emulate it at home while playing your style in the shows!

Thanks a bunch Lille for your kind reply ! Keep it brutal, and keep it sick.

DEFEATED SANITY:
http://www.facebook.com/DefeatedSanity

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