Into The Dual Universes of Thulcandra and Obscura
Into The Dual Universes of Thulcandra and Obscura
Musician Steffen Kummerer is about to bring not one, but two of his bands to North America for a massive cross-country tour. Tech metallers Obscura will be hitting the US highways once more while the black metal entity known as Thulcandra will be making their debut here in the States at long last! Also joining the tour will be Fleshgod Apocalypse and Wolfheart, and this trek will include a local date at The Regent deep in the heart of downtown Los Angeles on March 16th.
In the interview with Highwire Daze, Steffen announces a brand new Thulcandra masterwork about to be unleashed via Napalm Records as well as the excitement of touring within the dual universes of his two very profound and uniquely different collectives at the same time. Read on..
We’re here with Steffen Kummerer from Thulcandra and Obscura. First of all, what are you looking forward to the most about your upcoming tour here in the States with not just one – but two of your bands.
It’s not only about the two bands I’m performing with, but the entire package I think is something really special and really cool. The idea came up when we thought about a year ago what bands we’ve never toured with before. It was a task of five minutes before we came up with Fleshgod Apocalypse from Italy. I’ve followed their path for many, many years and I have a huge respect for the workload they did in the last 10-15 years. And for whatever reason, we only played festivals but never toured together. So that was the initial idea. And when I heard that Wolfheart had to cancel two of their tours due to the pandemic and all this Covid outbreak awhile ago, our agent mentioned that we could take this band on tour as well.
And to round out everything, I saw that this is a package that is not only focusing on death metal or technical death metal – it’s a little more open minded and also shielded a little bit towards the black metal scene. And I thought this would be the perfect time to bring Thulcandra over to North America for the very first time. That’s a long story in a few sentences, but that’s how it came together. I’m very, very excited – and I think this package as a whole has something very special and is something you don’t see every month in your town.
Is this the first time you’ve toured with both your bands together on the same bill?
The last European Tour before the pandemic in 2020 consisted of a similar lineup – so I also did double duties with Obscura and Thulcandra – and we had Fractal Universal from France and God Dethroned from The Netherlands touring with us. So, I have my experience in doing double duties – it’s simply the joy of making this kind of music with two different bands. They are a very different kind of music, but the people behind it are just awesome characters and people you would like to hang out with – and why not bring both of your bands?
To be honest, I’m really looking forward to it, because playing with Thulcandra is entirely different than with Obscura. Obscura is a band that is very demanding and proggy on a very high, technical level. It’s really hard to go through that and deliver it live. Thulcandra, on the other hand – it’s all about intensity. It’s all about a real rock and roll feeling. We are not working with an in-ear system, we have real amplifiers, and just play with the crowd. This is a completely different world and I love both. I grew up with both styles of music. Also, I founded both bands 20 years ago and longer. This is what I do from the very beginning as a whole. So having both worlds and all of your friends in one place I think is the best thing that can happen. A couple of shows are going to be sold out already, so everything is done right.
I was going to talk about your current album A Dying Wish, but you are about to announce a brand-new album. What is the title and tell me a little about it.
The album is called Hail The Abyss and it’s pure rock and roll. And to be honest, A Dying Wish has quite a sad story behind it – one of our closest friends passed away in 2020. We tried to do a couple of shows for this album, but since we faced a couple of issues regarding this pandemic, and many, many concerts got cancelled or postponed – we haven’t been able to tour really, really hard on this record. Therefore we used to time to write a new album, and that came together super quick, because we had the same team, the same musicians, but also the same engineer – Dan Swanö from Unisound Studios.
This combination simply worked very well on the last album, and now with the new one, we knew how to work with each other – it’s nothing new. Therefore, everything came together super natural and smooth – and it went well. And we get this chance to play North America, so let’s combine everything. Let’s combine a North American tour in support of A Dying Wish, but at the same time, we are already promoting the next record which will be released on the 19th of May. So timing is on our side, and I’m really looking forward to this little bit different approach of music we’re delivering here. I’m looking forward to playing all those shows.
Are you doing new music for Obscura as well? Have you had a chance to record anything new?
The new album was released in late 2021, and we are going to write new music after this tour. So maybe 2024 will be the earliest date to release something new, But at the moment, we are touring in support of A Valediction and we switched the setlist a lot. So we’re playing a couple of songs we’ve never played before and we’ll play some new ones – but everything is focused on the new record. That’s definitely something that sums up with Fleshgod Apocalypse quite well. I hear those guys are playing a couple more technical songs they never played a long time ago – and we are looking towards the high speed stuff that we haven’t done in a while.
And is there any story behind that album title A Valediction?
It’s quite similar. During the pandemic, I lost a couple of family members. I lost my entire band so to say – I had to renew my entire lineup – and I left behind all of this. It’s a long story in a few words, but leaving all this behind opens some new doors, and sometimes the future is more exciting than the past. This is more less what sums up with this album. And it turned out quite well.
We changed the producer. We worked for a long time with the same group – we worked with Relapse Records from the United States for more than a decade, but now we switched to Nuclear Blast. We recorded the album with Fredrik Nordström at Fredman Studios in Sweden, which was also the very first time we produced an album outside of Germany. For us, this was all quite new, but looking back – the album was recorded in 2021 – it was everything done right. I wouldn’t change anything and I’m very, very happy how it turned out. And fans love it – it’s the most successful record we’ve ever put out. If you like the music you do by yourself and it’s successful at the same time, it’s not that wrong.
2023 marks the 20th Anniversary of Thulcandra and the 21st Anniversary of Obscura. What goes through your mind that you’ve been doing anything for 20 years?
I always channel my focus on those two bands. Obscura was the very first band I founded at the age of 17. I started playing guitar in March 2002 and in October of 2002 we founded Obscura. That was the very first band I founded. And the second was Thulcandra. I never worked on any side projects – I never put my energy into too many guest appearances, solo records, or all of that crap. I always kept focusing in those two bands. Both of those two bands are working in entirely different universes – the music is very different, but in some way, it balances out everything I would like to do in music.
If I would like to do pop music, then I would do pop music – but I grew up with all kinds of heavy metal – death metal, black metal, thrash metal, and everything beyond. This is where my origin is – where my heritage comes from. Writing music for those two bands is something that fulfills me entirely, and I’ve very happy to do be doing that – and I hope I can write a couple more records in the very soon future. All in all, I love what I do, and I want to continue for the next 20 years…
(Interview by Ken Morton)