Endseeker’s Ben Liepelt Talks DIY Horror Videos and Social Realities On ‘Mount Carcass’ (INTERVIEW)

German Death Metal band Endseeker had only just started touring for their album The Harvest when Covid grounded touring, but now, they’ve put together their follow up album, out April 16th, and will be launching it with a record release party on April 18th. The band have been working with Metal Blade since The Harvest. If The Harvest showed the band developing their musical chops in terms of composition and layering, 2021’s Mount Carcass is decidedly more direct musically and more outspoken lyrically. As the band has commented before, they are not political, but with Mount Carcass, we get plenty of matter-of-fact social commentary on the craziness of the world that was always there, but global struggle has merely amplified. 

Their title track, and album title, is a reference to the hollow rewards of climbing Mount Everest, an effort that has become a grisly industry, and several other songs on the new album tackle real-world topics. But the lead single and video for “Unholy Rites” will remind you very clearly of the love of humor and the love of horror that ties Endseeker together. And in the end, Mount Carcass is an album the band devised to have fun playing, which you’ll be able to view in action on April 18th. Guitarist and songwriter Ben Liepelt spoke with us from his guitar and horror-themed office about scaling Mount Carcass during a pandemic year. 

Hannah Means-Shannon: I saw your unboxing video for the recent exclusive band logo guitar pedal, and I thought that your office was incredibly cool looking. 

Ben Liepelt: I love little things, tons of stuff to discover, everywhere. I think that makes a room really cozy. This is my man-cave and it’s full of bones and skulls.

HMS: The dressed skeleton was pretty amazing.

BL: It was an old Halloween decoration, and after the party, I hung it up in my office and started to dress it in the Sepultura flag and stuff. 

HMS: I noticed that you seem to like horror stuff. Are you a horror fan?

BL: Yes, I’ve been totally hooked on horror stuff since I was a kid. There’s a funny story from when I was five or six years old. I started to collect bones. I asked my mom to wash them off so that I could keep them. I had this little box full of bones that I used to carry around with me. One time I met some other friends on the playground and I had this box with me. I opened it up and everyone was totally disgusted, saying, “Oh my god! You’re sick!” I was a little lonely at that age.

HMS: It was very tolerant of your parents not to take you to a therapist right away.

BL: [Laughs] It was the 80s. Parents didn’t give a shit! 

HMS: That excuse works very well.

BL: The 80s were awesome. 

HMS: The “Unholy Rites” video is out with the single, and I understand that you were heavily involved in directing and creating this video. Was this the B horror film you’ve always wanted to make?

BL: Yes, sure. We have done horror videos before, even for the first EP we put out. I like that cheap horror stuff, with DIY. I like to improvise and splatter fake blood. It’s fun. The song had zombie lyrics and we thought it was the best song to go out first because it has a Death Metal party vibe to it. It’s a pretty uplifting song. I also really wanted to make a cool video with us transforming into zombies and zombie cheerleaders. Whatever we could do in one day. It’s not high end but it was fun and it’s supposed to look cheap.

HMS: So you had picked up skills previously that helped you plan this one?

BL: Yes, it’s my profession. I’m actually a video producer. So it’s my daily business, though not with horror stuff. That was the fun part.

HMS: It’s a very cool video and it’s a lot of fun when the band transforms. It also has a lot of humor.

BL: My favorite moment is when Juri loses his fingers during the solo and he holds up the plastic hand with an amazed look. When I edited the video, I was laughing pretty hard at that moment.

HMS: Not all horror is funny, so why do you think you’re attracted to the humor also?

BL: I think we’re pretty funny guys. We are not dead-serious guys. We laugh a lot when we’re on tour and when we hang out or meet with fans, it’s always funny. We have no need to pretend to be tough guys. This is who we are. We want to have fun. We make music to have fun, not to be bad boys or something. That’s for someone else. I think this video shows that.

HMS: I think it gives a solid impression of the band. Every video needs a severed arm being thrown around. It did remind me, for a moment, of Nirvana’s famous video for “Teen Spirit”, which was the first big video to use a high school setting in a dark way. 

BL: Oh, yes, right. They had cheerleaders in that, too. I had forgotten that.

HMS: I saw there was a reaction video to your video! What do you think of that?

BL: I’ve seen videos from them before, and I have always thought they were entertaining. Suddenly we popped up there, and I thought, “How cool is that!” We’re such a small band from Germany, and someone from Canada picked our video up. That’s pretty awesome. The stuff that they pointed out showed that they got it.

HMS: Your video has really arrived if someone bothers to make a video about it. Can you tell me more about your record release party on April 18th?

BL: Yes, we’re doing a livestream on April 18th and we are planning how to set it up. We don’t just want to go onstage and play for an hour, we want to make it a little more interactive with viewers. There will be some alcohol involved. To be honest, we’re not the biggest fans of streaming concerts. This will be the first one that we play. Death Metal in an empty club is tough. Instead of playing shows in 2020, we focused on songwriting, but now we can’t just release a record without having a show. We’re just trying to make it cool, which is what we will do. We actually played our last record release show at the same club, and it was sold out, with over 400 people. This time it’s going to be empty! We just have to get into the mood and it’ll be cool.

HMS: What’s the venue? 

BL: The Knust in Hamburg, which is a very old, traditional venue. It’s one of my favorites. They have a great stage and great sound, with cool lighting set up. We’re glad that they asked us to play there. We hope people chime in and get tickets to support the club and the whole scene, since the live clubs are suffering as well as the band.

HMS: That’s a particularly positive outcome for record release parties.

BL: We all have to make sure that the clubs survive this and are still there after the pandemic. When everyone wants to tour again, if the clubs are dead, there’s nowhere to tour. We want everyone to get through this. Also, I think so many professional touring people have left to find other work, and I’m not sure they will want to take the risk of getting back into touring when all of this might happen again. There’s not much financial support for those people, and it’s ridiculous. There’s a possibility that professional knowledge will be lost.

HMS: Yes, that there could be a gap in knowledge when crew members leave and that link in the chain is lost for the next generation. I think the band was interrupted in touring for the previous album. Will you be focusing on both albums at the release party, or just on Mount Carcass?

BL: There will be a big focus on the new record because it’s fresh to us and we really want to show that. There will be some songs from the last record on the set. But as you said, no, we weren’t able to tour the last record fully. We played maybe twelve shows for it. Over 35 shows for 2020 got cancelled. When you find yourself in the situation of writing the next record without touring the last one, it feels a little weird, like cheating on your girlfriend! [Laughs] It’s hard. But we’ll definitely focus on the new record.

HMS: My unhelpful suggestion is that you play twice as many shows when you come back! 

BL: That’s a good idea. I prefer playing more, shorter shows, rather than super long shows. 

HMS: Previous album The Harvest was a big milestone for the band and the band described it as a “more grownup sound” that you had reached. What are the differences there between The Harvest and Mount Carcass?

BL: Mount Carcass just happened. It was very easy. We didn’t overthink things too much. The Harvest, by comparison, is a little heavy. It’s more Progressive, and there’s more going on in the songs. There are more complex song structures that require more from the listener to get into it. Mount Carcass is a little easier in that respect. We focused on the basics and it was supposed to be fun when we played it. Somehow it turned out to be simpler, but a little more open and wild at the same time. 

It’s hard to describe. I think it’s more free. Maybe for The Harvest we felt a little more pressure because it was the first record that we released with Metal Blade. And when you sign with a label like Metal Blade, it’s a teenage dream coming true. So then you’re super ambitious when you dive into the song writing. Here we’re a bit more relaxed. Due to Covid, the songwriting was very different. We weren’t interrupted by any shows or tours. There was just total focus, unlike previous records, which were written between shows.

HMS: Maybe with The Harvest, you paved new roads for yourself, and having done that, you were then more free to explore them.

BL: Yes, maybe. Besides all the shit with Covid, that songwriting was the good part.

HMS: This album is very outspoken in some ways in comparison with other albums. I understand from previous statements that you’ve made that you are not a political band, but that each band member does have their own feelings about these things. What about the conspiracy theory aspect in “Merciless Tide”? I have to say that I love this song. I love the fact that someone is talking about how dangerous this can be and why. 

BL: We have a lot of those conspiracy theories going on over here [in Germany] as well, and a lot of celebrities have chimed in on this. It got pretty spooky, and at some points, quite dangerous. I think when I wrote the lyrics, I was fascinated by what people choose to believe. At the end of the day, we all choose. When I wrote the lyrics, I tried to write them from all perspectives. The perspective of the narrator changes within the lyrics. So whatever you believe, you can read the lyrics in the way that you want. 

That’s basically what all the conspiracy theories are about. You accept things as a fact, or you argue against it as if it’s a fact, or you say something is not true because you don’t believe it. How you can you convince anyone that the Earth is not flat when they say, “I believe that it’s flat.” You’re getting into a religious area where it’s not knowing, it’s believing, and you cannot argue against that. You can’t convince anyone if they believe something.

HMS: That’s that strange area where human communication just breaks down, regardless of what your personal beliefs are. Everyone has beliefs, even if they think they don’t, so we all have areas where we shut down communication.

BL: Everything is fine as long as no one gets hurt.

HMS: Yes, and that’s the danger zone, when it comes to how human beings treat each other. I did also want to mention the parallels between “Mount Carcass” and Mount Everest. I saw some news items about Everest, probably after you recorded the album. You were really up on how Everest has become a huge industry that leads to death and destruction. And lots of trash that’s hard to remove from there.

BL: Yes, and the something like 200 corpses that are hard to remove from there. 

HMS: What makes this an apt symbol for society right now?

BL: Well, it’s expensive to get up there. I think it’s something like $40,000 to get on the mountain. It’s overbooked, so it’s packed with climbers who die up there just to be able to tell everyone, “I’ve been on Mount Everest.” With our society, it’s the same. You have to climb higher and be more successful, and all this stuff. There are many parallels between climbing Everest and our capitalistic society. You have to climb over corpses to get to the top. 

HMS: Any what do you actually attain by managing to do it? It’s a sort of vanishing goal. Clearly this must be a pretty important idea to you to choose it for the title of the album as well.

BL: Yes, we felt it was a strong image.

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