Your debut is a very conceptual record, how did it develop this way? Were you always sure that there would be certain attitudes, looks and messages you wanted to convey?
Niko Prensilevich: The majority of the songs are indeed linked by a post-apocalyptic theme. This is definitely a concept that I had in mind for a long time, a couple of years before entering the studio. I had some kind of vision when I was writing the songs; I could almost picture a devastated radioactive landscape in my mind while I was playing the guitar and writing the songs. Some other songs are more personal, like "Touched with Fire" or "Too Late". But ¾ of the record was written about the idea of what life would be like after the end of modern civilization.
Many of your songs deal with fallout/mass destruction scenarios, are there any movies that influenced you as a band?
Niko: Absolutely. Mad Max is the main influence when it comes to movies, obviously. It's the one that started it all! There are more recent ones, like The Road or Children of Men that I also love. I could also cite "Roadside Picnic", a novel by the Strugatski brothers which is fantastic, and the Fallout videogame series that I'm a huge fan of.
"My arch enemy" has a very traditional feel to it, so have many other songs … does the traditional approach activate a certain audience when you play live?
Niko: This song is surely very traditional in spirit. Mid-tempo, catchy melody and direct verses. It is one of the most accessible songs on the album. I first came up with the melody you hear in the beginning and in the chorus, and the rest was written around it. After recording the final version, I realized it sounded a bit like "Trust" by Megadeth. This wasn't done on purpose, but being a huge fan of the band, it's not very shocking I guess. And yes, I would say that it appeals to old-school crowds a bit more when played live, as they are more familiar with this style and understand what genre of metal we're paying tribute to with a song like that.
"Out of the vault" combines Trash and has plenty of memorable memories as well … was it one of your first songs as the tracklist implies or is it rather a new track? How long did you spend writing on the record?
Niko: This record contains songs that were written when I was about 16 or 17 years old: "Touched with Fire" or "Jack's Bet" for example. Others were written in the studio, like "Dawn of A New Era" or "The Alphapocalypse". It's a mix of old and new. Out of the Vault is somewhere in between, it's a song that was finished a long time before we recorded it. We put it first on the tracklisting because it's catchy and sums up pretty well what we're trying to achieve with CLAW: a balance between thrashy riffs and melodies, old-school in spirit but sounding fresh at the same time… It's also a song that talks about getting out of an underground bomb-shelter after a nuclear war, so it made sense to start the album with it.
The album was produced by Niko and Serge and recorded by Serge in his
own studio and I was wondering how he dealt with playing and recording at the same time, wasn't it too much hassle?
Niko: Serge really stepped up to the plate big time on this project: he's not only an amazing engineer and producer, but also a great guitarist!
When I approached him with CLAW, I was supposed to track all the guitar parts. I asked him to play a lead on a song, and it started from here.
He ended up playing on all the record, co-writing several songs and finally officially joined the band. It was probably the biggest project he's ever done, in terms of scope and time
investment. We spent several months in the studio, which is a luxury nowadays. So yes, it was quite the difficult job, but we're happy with the result.
"Alone" is sort a ballad that reminds me a bit of "Return to serenity" by TESTAMENT … are you paying tribute to certain groups? Which ones? Top 5 trash albums please…
Niko: "Alone" is definitely a song that is in this vein of dark power ballads that pretty much every band has in its catalogue. "Return to serenity" is a very good
example of a song that appears calm but that is still very dark and melancholic at the same time. This is not a Bon Jovi ballad for sure.
It's about a person that got separated from his loved one during a nuclear war, each being in a different bomb shelter. It has some touches of "Dreaming Neon Black" by Nevermore,
a band that I love very much.
My Top 5 of Thrash albums would be, at this minute:
1) Megadeth - Rust in Peace
2) Metallica - Master of Puppets
3) Kreator - Coma of Souls
4) Coroner - Mental Vortex
5) Testament - The Gathering
You've probably invested an huge amount of money and time to come up with such an album and on the other hand there is a lot of competition in the music biz and fans no longer buy that many albums. How do you deal with this asymmetrical input/output situation?
Niko: A lot of time and money was spent on this record, but I don't regret it at all. Even knowing that I probably won't make back half of it. It's a passion project, and the only thing that counted was the end result.
Most people don't buy records anymore, but those who do deserve a quality product. And this record will be the foundation for the rest of CLAW's career, so I wanted it to be as good as possible.
I saw live pictures of your drummer wearing a gas mask while playing, the other members wore coats and leather.
What are the reactions you get for being a theatrical band that actually wears costumes?
Niko: The reactions are pretty good so far! People find it cool that we're trying to create this atmosphere, and it shows that we believe in our concept. It adds something to the shows, I believe. The music comes first of course, but if it's possible to make it interesting visually, it's even better I think. And yes, our drummer plays with a gas mask on… We're not really sure how he manages to do it. He's a bit of a mutant.
Can you elaborate a bit on Lez'Arts Murailles? You rehearse there, right? It is also supported by the city of Genève.
Niko: Lez'Arts Murailles is an association that promotes local bands and gives them cool practice spaces where bands can rehearse. There are 5 or 6 bands that are part of it. They organize concerts, too. There's not many of rehearsal spaces in Geneva that are available, so we're very grateful to them. It is indeed supported by the city of Geneva which gives us a bit of funding to pay the rent.
Is there a tour scheduled for fall/winter? When will you guys come to Germany?
Niko: We're still in the process of booking a tour, we hope to have news to share soon. We will definitely try to play in Germany either before the end of this year or in early 2015. We're very excited about it, as it will be our first time playing in your country!
Thank you very much for your interest in Claw and for your questions, much appreciated!
Well, the pleasure is all mine.