The Art Of Catharsis: An Interview with HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY

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In my everyday life, I’m often asked why I listen to Metal at all. When I then answer that metal covers every conceivable emotional facet for me, it is often laughed at. As a matter of fact, I’m comfortable in this scene because I have the feeling that I’m not alone with certain experiences. HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY, with their albums, have always managed to give musical expression to specific emotional situations. In this respect, the emotional scope here is particularly far-reaching for me. For that reason, I’m very happy that I can now present the following interview to you out there. Read for yourself, which levels of feeling we visited and why M.S. and J.J. are like an old married couple.

Huge thanks to for providing these photos from the concert in Erfurt!

HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY, Erfurt; Pic by (c) 2023

SV: What is the biggest strength your music has?

M.S.: It is honest.

J.J.: The honesty also makes the music rousing and innovative. Our music is also different from the music of other Black Metal bands, where I think that they actually sounds quite cool, but I’ve already heard it 500 times somewhere else already. Without wanting to adulate ourselves, I think that we have a good understanding of melody and that’s why we just sound different.

SV: When you say that your music is honest, what is the main source of inspiration for you?

M.S.: I think you are influenced by almost everything that surrounds you. Whether that’s music, everyday events, or even the Covid-period, for example. People always assumed that you had so much time to write new music, but nothing happened. There was simply a lack of input and accordingly nothing new was created. Sitting at home every day in lockdown was just too repetitive and you didn’t find any inspiration.

J.J.: It’s quite good if you also have rest periods to be able to implement music sometimes. But in terms of inspiration, it was not good.

M.S.: It’s a certain form of catharsis for both of us to work through things and I turn a lot of my own life experiences into melodies. It’s easier for me to express my feelings in music. We then combine that with J.J.’s lyrics and that’s how our songs are created.

SV: Are the certain messages that you want to portray and is it important to you that they polarize to a certain extent?

M.S.: Polarization is not important at all, quite the opposite. Many people always say that it’s all so depressing and others say that they can identify with the lyrics very well because they have gone through similar things and it helps them to work through the difficult phase. That is also a very nice aspect, we don’t want to drive anyone to suicide! It’s about coming to terms with experiences and if it helps people, that’s even better. We don’t want to make superficial beer tent music.

J.J.: It is important to me that the texts are heavy and thought-provoking. It shouldn’t be anything simple. Philosophy and literature should also not be simple, but should move people and inspire reflection.

SV: Would you say that your music is always dependent on the context of its time or that it is something independent, something transcendental even?

J.J.: It already has a certain Zeitgeist. Especially with the lyrics it’s like that, because they simply arise out of a certain situation. It’s hard to deny that. Behind every song there is a story that refers to a certain point in time, even if some things repeat themselves, of course. Certain life situations occur repeatedly, for example when you are estranged from people close to you or you experience separations. Perhaps that also has something universal about it.

HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY, Erfurt; Pic by (c) 2023

SV: In December, you re-released your first two albums. What was is it like working on these older materials once more?

M.S.: I found it very interesting, because the time gap has been relatively large with 10 and 8 years. At that time, with the possibilities we had, we did what we could and now we wanted to re-record the songs and give the whole thing something current. We also play the songs live from time to time. Back then we recorded the songs in the bedroom…

J.J.: Our possibilities are completely different today than they were back then and that was cool that we could work on that again. They are good songs and we asked ourselves how they would sound if we recorded and produced them on a more professional level. 

At that time it was not necessarily amateur work, but we just exhausted our possibilities. We managed to keep the basic ideas and moods of the songs. We didn’t completely rework it, but rather tried to stay true to the origin. 

My voice sounds completely different today than it did 10 years ago and is much more durable, which apparent by the fact that the songs sounded better on stage than the original version did. We didn’t want to miss the opportunity to take advantage of that. 

In addition, we have a more dynamic drum sound on the new recordings, because we had a real drummer in a real studio.

M.S.: That also gives the songs more depth! You don’t have to decide between old and new. There are both versions and everyone can choose their favorite.

J.J.: It was also a bit weird for me, because I was dealing with the old texts again. The person I was back then doesn’t have so much to do with the person I am today. But I was able to put myself in these situations again very well, even if one would express some things differently today. But once again, that is the question of the spirit of the times.

SV: 10 years have passed since the release of your first album and you have accomplished a lot in the Black Metal scene, and Metal scene in general. What does the success, that you worked so hard for, mean to you?

M.S.: It’s very nice when the work you put in is also appreciated and that’s also something very important for us. The music we make is not just a little hobby on the side, which we live out for an hour a week, but has a very great importance for us. The fact that we have steadily worked for it and have gained a circle of fans as a result is a really good thing. When you hear from the fans that the music has a significance in their lives, it’s a proud feeling.

J.J.: In itself, I don’t really care about success and I don’t think about it that much. But as M.S. said, it’s really cool that something you put so much heart and soul into is rewarded like that. I’m not a little kid looking for praise, but it’s a good feeling to know that your work is bearing fruit and that people can relate to the lyrics. We have been told many times that we help people through life crises with our music, which has often been the case with me. To hear that you have such an impact in the lives of others is a great feeling.

HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY, Erfurt; Pic by (c) 2023

SV: What has been your most memorable band moment in recent years?

J.J.: For me, it was when we had a prolonged period of built-up differences during the Trauma album, but we were able to settle that and come out of that situation stronger.

M.S.: We were like an old, married couple!

J.J.: Yes! Exactly! We just argued about all sorts of pointless things, but we were able to pull ourselves together again. Our friendship is also stronger than before. That was a very memorable band moment for me. 

There are also concerts that you look forward to more than others. When you play 80 concerts a year, you’re not always overly euphoric before every gig. We have the opportunity to travel to countries and regions that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to get to, like South America, and that’s very cool.

M.S.: Repetition is the constant enemy and if you only make one album because you are in a band, then you have to think about whether it makes sense to continue.

J.J.: Some bands that sing in their native language also have a certain language barrier and inevitably get stuck in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and don’t get around much. That didn’t happen with us, thank God. The fact that we have English lyrics has already had an influence on the fact that we have come further around. There are always countries that we haven’t played in yet.

SV: Like many other bands, you were forced to postpone the tour numerous times. What does it feel like to finally be able to play it?

M.S.: Before the tour started it felt very weird, but now that we are on the road we are very happy with it. It’s going well, the other bands are really friendly and we have a nice atmosphere.

J.J.: If we had to postpone the tour again, we would have canceled it completely. You plan something, the album is out for a long time and to play a release tour for two years is also kind of weird.

M.S.: We also booked the tour at a time when it wasn’t clear how the restrictions would develop and that led to some important cities not being included. The dates were simply taken over, where we thought in retrospect that it might have been better to start the whole planning over again. But it’s going very well so far.

J.J.: Personally, it all fits well, too. Sometimes it happens that it turns out that two or three people don’t get along well. That’s hard to avoid on the tour bus. Not everyone can get along with everyone all the time and fortunately that’s not the case on this tour. The personal level fits quite well and you look forward not only to the concerts, but also to everything around it.

HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY, Erfurt; Pic by (c) 2023

SV: Which songs are your favorites to play live?

M.S.: It changes all the time. If you have a song in your set for a long time, you might sick of  listening to it all the time, even though it might have been a favorite at one time.

J.J.: I also have to say that some of the fan favorites, like Calling The Rain, I can’t even listen to anymore. It’s a good song, people want to hear it, but when you play the song so often and the lyrics are also emotionally heavy because you associate a lot with it, then I’m a bit glad we don’t play it anymore. But there are also songs that we’ve been playing forever, like Sing For The Damage We’ve Done, which is still a lot of fun. It just always fits. I also think it’s pretty good that we finally have And Oceans Between Us on the set list. When you start working on an album as a musician, your favorite songs change every now and then. It also happens to me that songs don’t appeal to me at the beginning and then when they are finished, they are my favorite songs. But that also changes often. If you don’t play a song for one or two years, it can feel different once more.

SV: If you could wish one more thing for the future of HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY, what would it be?

M.S.: That it continues to harmonize well with us, that we don’t lose the joy of it, that we still see other parts of the world and that at the same time we organize the whole thing in such a way that you don’t have to cut back in your private life. 

J.J.: That would be the optimal situation, that’s true. We’re all in our early 30s, M.S. got married recently, I’m getting married in two months and so almost everyone in the band will be married then. It’s all compatible, but you need tolerant partners so that it goes on and is okay for everyone. 

M.S.: If you play tours and have the thought that you have to neglect your partner for that, then of course it’s not nice. Fortunately we have very understanding partners. 

J.J.: It’s also one of my main wishes that we can continue like this and live out our creative lives without being a couple of failed existences in a few years who have given up everything else for their art. 

M.S.: We also don’t want to be a band that makes music because music has to be made. You see that more often with older bands who produce music just so they can put out a new album every two years and make a living from it. But that lacks the heart and soul and we don’t want that. 

J.J.: That, for me, has nothing to do with the actual intention of the music.

SV: If you could give your fans one message, which would it be?

J.J.: Be bold and talk to me!

HARAKIRI FOR THE SKY, Erfurt; Pic by (c) 2023

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