Interview conducted by Carcassbomb
Band: Cold In Berlin
Genre: Doom/Goth Rock
New LP: Rituals Of Surrender (October 11, 2019)
Cold In Berlin started in London 2010 – how did you form and what inspired the name?
Adam: We formed from the ashes of our first band, Death Cigarettes. We were a noisy punk band, playing all the East London dive bars. I smashed all my guitars being in that band. It wasn’t meant to last.
Maya: We had lots of names we were thinking of but in the end the one that felt right was based on fond memories of a visit to Berlin, to see if we should move there. We went one October. It was freezing the entire time!
Your debut album Give Me Walls (2010) is a great starting release, it is a very different style – faster post-punk/death rock. Throughout your discography the sound gets a bit heavier and bit doomier with each release. What inspires this consistent darkening of the music?
Maya: Rituals is heavier but for me, it feels right – an evolution of our sound rather than something totally different. All our songs are dark and have similar themes on all our albums.
Adam: The state of the fucking world!
Lawrence: It feels like this was always the sound we were shooting for. It’s just taken a long time to figure out how to make it. We had to go on a nine-year journey both mentally and musically to get here. Some of our fans have come on that journey with us and it might be that they are the only people who can understand how we got from Give Me Walls to Rituals of Surrender!
Rituals Of Surrender is the heaviest yet, not just in terms of the increased fuzz but with the emotional chords struck in some of these ballads, bringing to mind some of the old tragic stoner acoustic tracks by Witchfinder General. What was the concept for this record going into writing and recording it?
Adam: It’s been a four year gap since our last record The Comfort of Loss & Dust. In that time a lot happened. Person stuff like family bereavements, hospital surgery but also good stuff like traveling around South America. We basically took a year off, recruited a new drummer and started fresh.
The concept was nothing more than write a great album. We stopped doing live shows for the first time so we could focus solely on writing.
The album was produced by Wayne Adams at his Bear Bites Horse studio. His band Pet Brick is him and Igor from Sepultura on drums making pure sonic hell. During our recording session his last product Green Lung Woodland Rites topped the Doom Charts, so knew we were in good hands. His vintage amp collection and great ears clearly produced our best sounding album.
What are some albums that inspired Cold In Berlin the most, and what are some recent favourites of the band?
Adam: Driving to shows it’s Black Sabbath and Electric Wizard. Driving home it’s The Knife and Fever Ray. My favourite album of 2018 was Drug Cult. As you probably know an Aussie supergroup of doomsters. I thought their debut was perfect.
Lawrence: I’ve always been a sucker for great tones and so the explosion of doom bands in the last few years made for an interesting backdrop to work in. But I’ve never really connected with any particular band in that genre in a deep way because of my love of great songwriting and melodies. Therein lie the two boundary points for this album.
The vocal delivery from Maya is quite versatile, switching from commanding to haunting and everything between – what was her singing background before the band?
Maya: I have always loved singing, Adam and I met at university and have been playing and singing together ever since, so it is just something I have always done. I love interesting vocal styles and the more unusual ways of getting the ‘story’ across in songs-in terms of lyrics, vocal styles and musical arrangements.
The album cover for Rituals Of Surrender is a curious piece. Who created it and what can you tell me about it?
Adam: Joseph Goddard. He’s an established artist who came to a few of our shows and felt compelled to create more work, perhaps in response. He produced a series of work titled City of Nithstang. They’re incredibly detailed collages of architecture. We loved the starkness and complexity. The imagery is obviously quite apart from the standard Doom tropes. In that way it’s more true to who we are as a band.
What inspires you to pick an artwork for a Cold In Berlin album?
Adam: The cover for Give Me Walls is an image of Berlin at the end of WWII. It’s a haunting image of destruction. Destruction happened to be an album track name.
And Yet was more a graphic design exercise with gothic iconography.
The Comfort of Loss & Dust was more considered. We wanted to recreate a long lost diary or journal of a madman. A place where thoughts and poetry sat alongside pressed insects and flowers. Like something you might find in an abandoned house covered in dust.
For Rituals of Surrender we decided on minimal packaging to emphasize the artwork and for environmental considerations.
I see you have a show planned for the album release, what goes into a typical Cold In Berlin performance and has it changed drastically over the years?
Adam: 4 albums in, we can’t play every song we’d like to now. And we’ve also had some fun reworking some of our oldest tracks, like White Horse, which we now play half time and very stripped back.
Lawrence: It’s a band that has always belonged on the stage. These days it’s all a lot lower and slower and Maya spends less time rolling around on tables or hanging off light fittings. But I think the shows now are the most powerful they’ve ever been.
Maya: I love performing live, I am often out in the audience and like to be with the crowd and see them respond to the music. If you enjoy the album you should see us live because that is really where the tracks live.
Where is the best place for everyone to buy and stream Ritual Of Surrendering?
Our label New Heavy Sounds uses Cargo distribution so here https://cargorecordsdirect.co.uk/products/cold-in-berlin-rituals-of-surrender
You can also order physical and digital via our BandCamp
Thank you very much for the interview, and for letting me preview this exciting release.
Thank you, it is a real joy for us to know that someone 9,500 miles away has found our record and enjoyed it!
Cold In Berlin’s latest track “The Power” is also featured in the growing Noob Heavy Stoner/Doom playlist