Are you crushing your soul to grind ‘nuff for Kc nowadays?
“Alex” Albayrak: Hail Soner! Well, In essence we Sold our Souls for Şalgam Suyu (turnip juice) and hoping now that this all will work out really nicely. I have not been able to enjoy the backstreets of Istanbul regularly, but try to visit as often as possible not to lose my connection to GRIND REALITY.
How did you decide to form a grind project in Turkey back in time?
I don’t know. Grind was life in Istanbul back in the 90’s. Inflation, nothing was working right, bosses weren’t paying us on time, everyone was complaining, the government was changing every year, total chaos. Grind was the only music that expressed this reality. Any bands I met with wanted to be like Man-o-War or Metallica, sing about fantasy or use keyboards. I just got angrier and angrier. I mean how someone would want to sing about dragons as opposed to ranting and raving about not having water for 7 days is beyond me.
What are your motivations behind dark humour world of Kc from beginning to present?
Honestly I hadn’t expected a music so dark and depressive from Kc until I listened the whole record. Humour is as dark in this record as black coffee in your mug. Can you shoot us with some information about Kc’s new record?
Ok, yes, it’s meant to be dark. I think that was the purpose – a dark reflection of the surroundings we live in. See, nature is perfect. Since the mind goes against this, we reap the results. And now being caught in all of it, we turn for an escape, but there is no escape. We are all trapped in a man mind made system, and it’s out of control. But there is really only one thing you can control, and know that this too will vanish very soon as well. So be quick and be wise to find that escape from within and enjoy your fish bread sandwich while you still can.
In the end of the 80’s and beginning of 90’s…Both my childhood and cold war were over in a couple of years. Phenomenal years for Turkish and world underground of metal music had just started when you passed Turkish border from USA. Can you drill some holes in the wall to show us Turkish and USA underground years ago?
The issue was back then in TR, it was almost impossible to get anything into the county commercially. (this still really hasn’t changed for metal music) Then, those people who knew about a band or music had no way of passing on that information. When I first came to Istanbul in 1989. I think many people knew of Maiden, Priest, Metallica, Slayer. I recall Aptullica would announce new bands in his comics and there were only a few underground fanzines like Laneth. Turkish metal bands like Dr. Skull, Pentagram and Metallium were known. I for one remember saying to Çaglan Tekil, “OK, Slayer is great, but check this band out.” And handed him a SEPULTURA cassette. That’s the way it was and it’s still hard today for metal fans in Turkey outside the major cities to get or see anything live.
The underground in America was similar in a way that if you were a band not on a label, you had to do demos and tape trading by yourself. Get your music out to the fanzines and hope for a show. It’s pretty much the same today but easier with the internet, which has it’s pros and cons.
There is an underground in Turkey and I actually believe it is strong and growing stronger. As long as bands continue to support one another and work together for the scene there will always be a fanbase. It really is impressive to see Turkish bands play at foreign festivals, and it is really essential that the fans in Turkey support these home acts. They will always be here. But one fucked up event like a coup d’etat, and everything shuts down. So who else is going to play if outside bands are scared shitless by the media and told not to come to Turkey? Always support your Turkish Metal underground! That is the future.
Let’s talk about your other death doom chaos. How did you start up Graveyard?
Claude and I started GRAVEYARD back in 1990. Before that he would call in to make cool requests on my Death, Speed, and Thrash Radio Show called the POWERSURGE. He was one of the winners for a contest in which we went to go see Autopsy with 11 other bands play in Buffalo, NY at a gig called The Day of Death. That was one of the craziest times of our lives and I guess from there we formed a bond, a band, and started jamming together.
Our concept was to start drinking bottles of Wild Irish Rose, press record on the cassette machine, jam and go berserk, come to in the morning, and lisen to what happened the night before. Unbound creativity! And so one weekend we played the tape back and there I was screaming “We are GRAVEYARD from Switzerland!” (since I was very influenced by Swiss and German bands at the time), and we agreed on the name.
All of our material was written in this manner with the exception of our upcoming release OPUS V which was, believe it or not, done on ONE TAKE. So that too you could say is still based purely on emotions and feelings. Nothing to do with the mind.
Graveyard was the gloominess and cultic death sound in USA underground even before no one invented that cult thing in metal underground. Why didn’t you go on?
Well, I think there were similar bands around at the time; maybe not as extreme with serial killers and politics, but back then it was the period where the “real” music started to sound nasty and disgusting. I didn’t go on because I saw that I was going to be dead if I continued in that manner. Un-metal? Perhaps you could say that, but I wouldn’t be doing metal today hadn’t I made the decision to listen to my inner-self and come to Turkey rather than off myself for black metal. GRAVEYARD’s main philosophy was “destroy yourself”. You could maybe call us one of the the first forms of suicidal metal, especially when we wrote VACATION DINNER AT THE MORGUE.
What were the ideas behind Graveyard’s return?
I had basically gotten Kuaför Cengiz back together with the material ready, and for some strange reason I had a break in December and found myself in New York at FROZEN CORPSE STUDIOS visiting with Claude floating the idea of trying to do new GRAVEYARD. He had just recovered from carpal tunnel surgery and really had no specific intention of doing anything. However, that evening we just received word that Lemmy Kilmister had died. Claude is a big fan of HAWKWIND and I just turned to Claude and said, “Come on man, Lemmy….”
He picked up the Gibson, cranked up the Marshall and went off. So again, as you can see there were no ideas behind GRAVEYARD’s return, it just happened. The rest is now what you’ll find in our new album OPUS V.
What are the lyrical concepts of Opus V by Graveyard? What things did you focus on?
OPUS V is straight out raw political death noise. It goes right into this issue of what the fuck is going on in the world – plutocracy. There is a lot of association with mankind’s dark past as well as an even darker future. Dysfunctional governments and political systems controlled by corporate interests, the robot masses who believe everything they see on TV, profits made from war and weapons sales – it all gets really ugly fast. The Vinyl EP is a shortened version of the full length we’re planning to release sometime in the fall. Essentially, if you are familiar with our work you will see that it has a bit of everything we’ve done in the past but just ONE song and a complete mind trip. I’m really happy with the way it came out. The gatefold art is awesome, and for me, just a perfect follow-up. Graveyard will always attract the disenfranchised and most marginalized fanbase. That how we we always were and how we shall remain.
How did you begin to listen to music and started to be a metalhead when you were a kid?
As a kid, I was really into the Beatles and a lot of different rock bands. One day in school, I think in 1982, some senior girl walked up to me and said “Why don’t you listen to REAL music?” and put an IRON MAIDEN – KILLERS cassette in my hand. I think I was shocked and scared at the same time, but that was the start.
From there I think I picked up the RoadRacer compilation called METAL BATTLE and went on to buy MERCYFUL FATE’s – MELISSA.
I learned a lot about new bands by recording and listening to college radio metal programs. So like SLAYER, EXODUS, METALLICA, METAL CHURCH were all favs.
Then I started singing some SABBATH tunes with a basement band at a good friends house, but it just wasn’t heavy enough for me. I wanted to do some radical stuff, even back then.
Things got really fucked up when I found POSSESSED, DESTRUCTION and KREATOR. There was absolutely no one that I knew of who listened to that music back then, and the college radios station would only play them once in a blue moon. That essentially drove me to want to start my own radio program when I went to university and eventually create my own music.
Can you tell us about KC’s formative years?
As for Kuaför Cengiz, I had been living in Istanbul for some time and of course just hanging out at Kemancı wanting to do something in metal. Slayer was coming for their first concert in Turkey and I was walking to the open air theater with a Bulgarian drinking buddy (JORO). On the way to the show we got talking about bands, and I had mentioned my times with Claude and listening to GOATLOARD. JORO turned to me and said, “yea, Mitch Harris did vocals on that album.” That took me by surprise because I didn’t know anyone on the planet besides CLAUDE and myself who actually knew GOATLORD. Right then and there I asked him if he played any instrument and he told me he played bass.
From there we both joined CATAFALQ during their start-up years. That was nice, but not our style, so we ran into KUAFÖR CENGiZ and agreed that that would be our grind core band. The events which followed are to long to talk about here, but that’s how it all started.
Again, the idea here was that we weren’t interested in making music that fans dictate or what was popular that time. We did what we felt was true. For me that is the opportunity metal music gives to kids who want to stand apart from the mainstream.
What is the cruelest event that you have just observed in life this week? What was it last week?
There can be no cruelty if you have acceptance. No matter what the situation if you accept it, everything will be as is. I think this is the main thing I learned from living in ISTANBUL.
This interview like music as well has brought me back to recollect the past and I appreciate you bringing me there, however all things past are only reflections of the mind and essentially not real. Now, what one has done in the past can have very real effects on your life today, that’s where one has to be careful. There is no cruelty at this very moment, and if you really look at it yourself the moment NOW IS ALWAYS PERFECT.
In old gang world of Ottoman empire, barbers were the contract killers to assassinate people with razorblades. What do you think about this? Is Kuaför Cengiz (The Coiffeur Cengiz) probably a grandson of them?
Ha, ha and his name of course Cengiz, which of course comes from Genghis Khan the root of the TURKS. So we say “The barber cuts hair and Cengiz cuts heads.” So Kuaför Cengiz you could say comes from a lineage of great barber assassins of the Ottoman Empire. He’ll never be a Eddie or Vic type of character though, he’s just part of every day REALITY.
You have just released both Graveyard and Kuaför Cengiz ‘s new hellspawns. Can you pass on info about release?
So since the material is not long enough for LP we decided on making it a split EP. We are on PROF SNY records out of the Czech Republic and this release will be ONLY ON VINYL because that is what we love. I remember my days at the radio station, and all I wanted to play was vinyl. Towards the end, the labels started sending CD’s and I that’s when I called it quits. Not that there is anything wrong with CD’s, but for me, VINYL is more lasting. The split is a GATEFOLD with great art. Something tangible you can pass on to your grandchildren.
I know you are influenced from the cultural chaos and social depression, misanthropy and hard life of slums of the cities for Kuaför Cengiz. Can you tell the similarities and differences about and bad conditions of life in the slums of USA and Turkey?
I guess there are bands that write about the mean streets and slums of America but that unfortunately is usually covered by the so-called Hip Hop scene. In America this line of poverty is more clearly defined by race. I feel in Turkey it’s a bit different because it’s all so nicely mixed together. In Turkey you can get by on a meager salary. There is a lot of social support, if you want to call it support. In America, if you don’t have money you really are in debt, a slave, and in a difficult situation. I really can’t understand how some people in Turkey still dream about coming to America. Everything is not what it’s like on TV. And it really irks me to see people lining up for coffee at Starbucks, eating at McDonalds, or drinking Coca-Cola. Kuaför Cengiz points this out in the music. It’s not about going and burning down a KFC or pouring bottles of Jim Beam in the street, but about appreciating and being grateful for what we have. Because if you don’t support it, it will disappear. Believe me when I tell you that they are not lining up in America to drink Kurukahveci Mehmet Efendi or waiting in line to eat Lahmacun.
Would you like to tell your all time favorites in 4 steps?
1980’s -1990’s -2000’s -2010’s –
It’s hard to break things down that way. If I looked at the number of complete albums which were my favorite by a given band over that period of time the list would look something like this.
JUDAS PRIEST==>CORONER==>DARK THRONE==>BLUT AUS NORD
(there are way too many bands that come in at a close second)
We have just come to an end. Last one for you. What are you plans for your musical projects?
Thanks a lot for your time and support. You guys at EXTREMINAL have been doing such dedicated work in Turkey for quite some time. Never stop!
I would really like to play the new Kuaför Cengiz live and give our diehard fans an unforgettable experience. We’ll see what happens after that. STAY TRUE!