During the Extreme Metal Tour with Kreator, Morbid Angel, Nile and Fuelled by Fire on their second tour date in Italy (Bari), we had the pleasure and honour to interview Sami, guitarist of the German thrash metal band KREATOR. Although some "logistic" problems almost compromised our interview, we finally managed to have our 20 minute chat and discovered not only an extremely available person, but also a funny and entertaining guy, whom it is a real pleasure to talk to! Before presenting the interview, I would like to thank Yader and Lucia for their support with all the logistics of the evening, and Kreator's tour manager, Mr. Hartmann. As soon as he arrived, Sami greeted me with "Buonasera", in perfect Italian....

R6MIMB: Well Sami, first of all, thank you and Kreator very much for your availability, from Rock & Metal In My Blood!! You know in Italy Kreator have a big following...
Sami: Wow! That's nice that we do!! Yesterday in Milano we had a nice show. Thanks to everybody who came!

R6MIMB: In Italy we like the Old School, we like Kreator!
Sami: That's very nice! I can notice that from your D.R.I. shirt!! (laughing)

R6MIMB: Yeah, that's right! Ok, let's start to talk, as you can image, about Kreator's lastest effort, "Phantom Antichrist". When did you start working on this album? Did you and Mille take care of the songwriting?
Sami: Well, Mille who's sitting over there, is the main songwriter. But we spent a lot of time in the rehearsal room, this time as a band, like the whole year 2011. We didn't do many shows, just a few festivals here and there. We were really concentrating on the new songs and it took a long time...maybe it takes a long time with Kreator because music isn't written down on paper, it's all memorizing and trying out riffs...

R6MIMB: Ok, so it was a big work!!
Sami: Yeah, a really big work!

R6MIMB:  Is the "Phantom Antichrist" of the title a tangible entity, or a combination of negative events that weigh upon humanity?
Sami: It's a kind of metaphor for propaganda we hear from mainstream news, news agencies like CNN or BBC?

R6MIMB: So networks?
Sami: Yeah! Mass media networks. It's also a metaphor for that, because lots of it I believe is propaganda. It's clearly stated in the texts!

R6MIMB: It's been 3 years since "Hordes Of Chaos". How do you see that album in relation to the last?
Sami: Well "Hordes of Chaos" was more of a live album. We recorded it live at Tritonus studio in Berlin with this guy called Moses Schneider. We wanted to have a producer who was more focused on making over dubs with guitars and so on, so we spent a lot more time with that, it was kind of similar because the drums and base were also played live...

R6MIMB: So a great production!
Sami: Yeah! We spent more time with the guitars than the last time, so that's maybe the main difference.

R6MIMB: We noticed a major influence from Classic Metal than in the recent past. Was it a clear choice or a natural process?
Sami: I think it's an accident. Just an accident! (laughing)

R6MIMB: We find in the whole album a decidedly Epic atmosphere. In particular, we were impressed by "From Flood Into Fire". It seems created to involve the public! Can you tell us something about it?
Sami: Well the first time I heard Mille's idea about this song I thought, we cannot do this! This is not like us! Then we ended up putting a little thrash middle part into it and changed it around, then we worked on the video arrangement of the song. After that it actually started to sound really good! They were surprised in the studio that it ended up being one of the strongest songs...

R6MIMB: Kreator have been on the Metal scene for almost 30 years now, but from your lyrics and your music emerges an incomparable anger, as in the beginning...What is your secret?
Sami: Oh, I don't know! I guess we always take our time, there are always three or four years between records...Some bands make that mistake that they put out records all the time. It would be the wrong thing for us to do because the quality would go down. So that's the reason why it's been ok to wait such a long time...But we mustn't forget that there have also been ups and downs in Kreator's career...I guess persistence would be the right answer to that!!!

R6MIMB: How was working with the famous Swedish producer Jens Brogen?
Sami: Oh he's amazing!! He's a guitarist too. You wouldn't believe the studio he has, he has all vintage Les Pauls and Stratocasters and all the kinds of amps you can think of! It's like a dream for a guitarist to be there...I love the albums he's done with Katatonia...

R6MIMB: We have noticed there are several editions of your album. Was it a choice of your label or is it a way to meet your long line of fans?
Sami: Basically these days it's simply not enough to put a jewel case cd out, it has to be more interesting for the public to have an extra dvd, otherwise people will just go and download it....I would be interested in a record if there were extras in it! Anyway it was basically the Record Company's idea....

R6MIMB: Let's make a really long jump in the past now. Sami and Kreator in Korea. I'm talking about "Live Kreation"...
Sami: Wow! I think that was 2002, it was a festival in Kunsan, sponsored by the city of Kunsan by the Koreans, otherwise it wouldn't have been possible, because it was for free, that's why it was such a big gig!

R6MIMB: The old Kreator repertory? It's a big legacy to "manage", isn't it?
Sami: Yeah, but I don't know them all!!! I have favourites, but I don't know how to play all the songs! There is no reason for that, because on this tour we are concentrating on the new album, so it's like five songs from the new album.

R6MIMB: As we all know, you have joined Kreator during a particular moment, during the change from the much-discussed "Endorama" and "Violent Revolution"...
Sami: I guess it was a kind of turning point in the band when Tommy left. When Mille started thinking about writing the next album he was not so much thinking about going back to the roots, but that we should concentrate on doing the kind of music we do best!!

R6MIMB: "Violent Revolution" was a nice tour, no doubt about it! Just like a baptism of fire for you, with 120 performances ...
Sami: Yeah it was long, very long!! I think we're going to do a lot of gigs with this album too. We did a US tour, then we're probably going to do another one. Of course the gigs weren't all one after another, there was always a pause in between, like two or three weeks at home and then you continue...When people talk about us being two years on tour it's not true!! Of course there is a little break in between.

R6MIMB: However, a real baptism of fire!
Sami: Yeah, you can say that!!

R6MIMB: In the old repertory, what's YOUR track, the song that you feel more your own?
Sami: You mean from the albums I didn't play? Well, I like "Coma of Souls", the album basically, and then this one song, "When The Sun Burns Red". It's one of my favourites! We played that two years ago, for one tour...

R6MIMB: You like to shred!
Sami: Yeah! Well, don't we all?! (laughing)

R6MIMB: Not everyone remembers that Kreator have a little "record"! It was the first Metal band to play over the Berlin Wall in front of six thousand fans....
Sami: Yeah, there's a dvd out of that, it was just after the wall went down...I wasn't there, but when I was watching it, it must have been a historical moment, especially for the people in the audience, because they had never had the chance to go to a metal show before, so it must have been new and different for them...I sure wish I could have been there!!!

R6MIMB: Be honest, you did not expect so much popularity across the Ocean in those years, did you?
Sami: Well, the tour we did there now, with Accept, there was a slightly different kind of audience than the past tour we did there. We had big shows in New York and Los Angeles, but sometimes when you travel in the middle, to places like Kansas City or whatever, there is just no metal scene there...maybe for Bon Jovi, but not for us!!! We always have good shows in the bigger cities, like Seattle and Chicago and so on...

R6MIMB: How about the Bay Area? San Francisco, Los Angeles?
Sami: Yeah, the Bay area!! Of course, that's good for us!!!

R6MIMB: I'll remember forever the expression of Mille, at Gods of Metal , surprised by the charm of the Italian bangers, after playing "People of the Lie". An opinion on our country, bluntly. Feel free, say whatever you want!
Sami: (Laughing out loud) Well, I can't really remember that Gods of's a very long time ago, isn't it? Maybe it has something to do with Mille Petrozza, since his father is Italian and Italy must mean something to him...Of course it means something to me too, I've always liked to come here! So far we've played Rome and a lot of other places in Italy, but on this tour there are only two shows...there definitely should be more!!!

R6MIMB: Who is Sami outside of Kreator?
Sami: Well I like playing the guitar, I sometimes arrange some compositions. There are four members in the band, and I'm one fourth of it!!

R6MIMB: I know you also play the banjo...
Sami: Not really, I play it a little bit?I play the sitar, that's something I've practiced and I've played it on many albums of Nightwish and Tiamat as a studio musician, but I don't really play the banjo, I've had in my hands only once or twice...I play it like a guitarist would!

R6MIMB: Samy, Kreator and?politics! It's natural to ask about it reading your lyrics...
Sami: Yes it is! I agree on most of the things that Mille writes, but especially when we're talking about the themes in "Phantom Antichrist"...What the new album deals with is the Arab Spring and how people are being oppressed in this world, there's nothing one can do about it, but it's stuff that pisses you off! It's actually an easy theme to write about, especially for a metal band because it brings out all the aggression!

R6MIMB: Let's talk about you experience with Barren Earth...
Sami: We did one tour in the States with them and we have two albums out, and the last one, "The Devil's Resolve" came out last March, we did some festivals in England and we're on Peaceville Records, it's a British label, and they're still interested in making a next album because the record sales exceeded everybody's expectations, so we're definitely going to do another one...when I have the time of course!!!

R6MIMB: Future projects?
Sami: Well I guess the next album I'm going to be doing is the Barren Earth one, but it's hard to put the timetables together, because Mikko (Mikko Kotamaki, current vocalist of the Melodic Death Metal band Swallow the Sun and Barren Earth, n.d.R.) is touring with Swallow The Sun...he's touring right now actually! So the next project is just touring with Kreator, hopefully a lot! We're going to the 70,000 Tons of Metal Cruise, then we're going to play in Israel in January...

R6MIMB: You're not going to bring your banjo?
Sami: No, I don't think so!! (laughing)

R6MIMB: That's all Sami. Thank you very much for your availability! It was a great pleasure talking to you!
Sami: It was my pleasure!! Grazie!

R6MIMB: Just a little greeting to the Rock & Metal In My Blood community...
Sami: Well, this is Sami from Kreator and my greetings to the Rock & Metal In My Blood community would be: "Keep on comin' to shows, because it's the only way to keep the scene alive!!!!"

R6MIMB: Thank you so much! Have a great gig tonight!!!
Sami: Thank you!!

Antonio "The Master" Nasella (with the collaboration of Lucia Rossi and Yader Lamberti)