S= MAT - FLO
G= FOUAD ILIAS
B= JULIEN LELUC
The band was founded on Lake Geneva shores in 2007. Sigma Records issued the band’s May Not Be the One You Want EP in 2010 followed by the Nurturing Conditions For Rupture EP in 2012. In-between there was a live demo called Destruida Camagüey. The group and France-based Juggernaut issued a split in 2008. Art Gates Records issued Kess’khtak’s Unwritten Rules Prevail EP in 2018.
KESS’KHTAK - UNWRITTEN RULES PREVAIL – ART GATES
Having enjoyed the ferocious grindcore of Kess’khtak’s newest EP, Unwritten Rules Prevail, courtesy of Art Gates Records and made it Metallian’s Album Of The Month for September 2018, Ali “The Metallian” invited singer Mat and guitarist Fouad of the Switzerland-based act to Metallian Towers for a conversation to find out more. The results are below. The band is rounded out by bassist Julien, drummer Adrien and second singer Flo. – 22.09.2018.
METALLIAN: Congratulations on your new and impressive EP, Unwritten Rules Prevail. Could you sum it up for our readers? Let's pretend you were reviewing this album.
MAT: Thanks a lot for your appreciation. That’s cool man! We have received amazing feedback on this record since its release. It seems we have done a good job. So this new EP contains seven tracks with about twenty-five minutes of music. It is a mix between death metal and grindcore. If you are a fan of bands such as Misery Index, Napalm Death or Rotten Sound this shit is definitely for you.
METALLIAN: Could you explain the reason for having a hidden track or rather hidden music?
MAT: Well, it was just made for fun. Our bass player, who takes care of the whole recording and mixing sessions, kept some failed vocal takes and put it together. We thought it would be fun to put it at the end of the record.
METALLIAN: How does the new EP differ or compare with the band's older material?
MAT: I think Unwritten Rules Prevail is more direct, aggressive and rougher than our previous releases. All the songs were composed in a relatively short period. Each one goes faster than the previous. We can say that this one sounds more grindcore than death metal or even hardcore compared to Inbreeding of 2015. However, that wasn’t planned. This development simply came by itself.
METALLIAN: The band has a new label. How did the band and Art Gates Records come together? Is this a one-off collaboration or is there a longer-term contract?
MAT: They discovered the band through the web and were interested in releasing a record with us. We worked on the details and that was it. I admit it was an easy-going situation. We just inked a deal for this EP for now. Maybe we’ll deal again with them for the next record, maybe not. We don’t know for now. Time will tell.
METALLIAN: And finally, the question all our readers have been waiting for. What the heck is a 'kess'khtak'?
MAT: Kess’khtak is not a thing but a word. It’s an Arabic insult written in common typography. The translation means something like ‘I fuck your sister’s pussy.’
METALLIAN: I think as a band’s purpose and concept you will have much success in Oklahoma, Kansas and Georgia down in the good old USA. This answer and explanation makes one go back to Inbreeding. All of a sudden there is a dissonance between the monicker’s meaning you described above and the sombre Arabic intro and outro of the same name. Is this meant to be ironic?
FOUAD: No it’s not. The band’s name is pure fun really, nothing serious. As regards the intro, we wanted to offer something that differs from the songs and had this idea in mind for some time. We asked a friend to perform it. The results surprised all those who listened to the album. This was our aim.
METALLIAN: What are the 'unwritten rules'? To what does the title refer?
FOUAD: The title relates to the fact that tacit rules govern and that power prevails, namely over justice. It is an acknowledgement or a reminder, but also a denunciation.
METALLIAN: That is a salient point that one wishes more artists would explore. Still, while this question was initially meant only in the context of the music it can now extend to the lyrics and the title as well. As you pointed out, the obvious comparison to Kess’khtak is to early '90s Napalm Death. So is that a fair comparison?
MAT: One hundred percent OK with that although I wouldn’t write off the Enemies Of The music business album (smiles). Napalm Death has always been a great source of inspiration for us musically, but also in terms of attitude and state of mind: brutal, explicit, but always with a comic touch. Once when we played together, Barney came on stage to sing Lowpoint with us, good times indeed!.
METALLIAN: Speaking of shows, the band toured Cuba. How did this come about and how are the fans there?
MAT: Yes, that’s correct. In fact, we went there twice, in 2011 and 2016. Everything began when Thierry “Coach” Glerr the singer of Deadly Sin Orgy, who is a friend of us, met David Chapet, a French expatriate guy who has lived there for twenty years, during his vacation in Cuba. After some rum-flavoured talks they built the Brutal Tour and we took part in the second round as the first edition was in 2010. We spent really good times there. The audience was really crazy every night. We played in front of an average of 400 to 500 people and I can say that the Cubans really loved our shows. For the record, we recorded the show in Camaguey and released it as an independent live album called Kess’khtak Destruida Camaguey. You can find it on our Bandcamp page.
METALLIAN: Speaking of touring, let's imagine that the band is offered two tour packages. One is a 'Retro Pop' package featuring Emperor and Aqua. The other is a 'Retro Radio-Oriented Soft Rock' package featuring Metallica and Chris Rea. Which tour package will Kess'khtak jump on?
MAT: Hmm… it’s a very difficult choice my friend… On the one hand there’s this amazing band Aqua which deeply contributed to the music history with their incredible tune Barbie Girl. It features by far the most militant lyrics I’ve heard. The second one features the original Italo-Irish guitar legend C. Rea himself who basically went back from the Road To Hell! Hard to choose between the two. Even if I know neither Emperor nor Metallica I think we will go with the Retro-Pop one. We’ll fit in perfectly!
METALLIAN: The band partying with the Barbie girl in a plastic world then… I see. Looking at the band's photos it seems that the group does not care for an image or persona. Is that correct? Does the band not want to be like Manowar getting corporate sponsors and having local prostitutes on stage at every show? As a bonus, you could also stop writing music and issue music and metal-free albums with names like Kings Of Grind. So, what do you think?
MAT: (Laughingly) Kings Of Grind, that sounds pretty good! Well, you absolutely get the point about KSK. We don’t really care about our image as a band because we are in the band, or on stage, the same as we are in our daily life. We don’t need make-up, cosplay, fireworks or whatever the fuck some bands use to give themselves a genre, a style or worse credibility. If you play music to show or prove to others who you are, do it by killing everything on stage, not by putting on eye-liner.
METALLIAN: You may have just cost the band quite a bit of cash. The marketing representatives for Lise Watier and Shiseido were just about to hit ‘send’ on their e-mails to you when they saw this interview.
MAT: That’s not good, man! As we just cover the amount of money we inject in the band we always need more cash for the parties! Give them our contacts!
METALLIAN: Corporate sponsorship by a cosmetics company is hilarious. What is next and upcoming for the band?
MAT: Playing gigs as much as we can to promote URP. For now we have a couple of gigs planned here and there and we plan to book one or two tours in 2019 if possible in countries where we’ve never been! So if you’re interested to book a KSK show in your hood, drop us a line and we’ll try to make that happen.
METALLIAN: Many say Metallian is the best music website in the world. Others say, it is the best website overall. How do you see this debate?
FOUAD: It is for sure an existential question we should all be trying to answer. I don’t think it beats cooking websites though! By the way, thanks a lot for your time and your support. Our full discography is available for free download on kesskhtak.bandcamp.com. Check it out. Peace. Love, blast beats!
We almost nixed this interview and threw Mat and Fouad into the moat with the alligators based on that final answer, but Ali “The Metallian” is a graceful and tolerant being so we proceeded based on that and the band’s ferocious grinding. Check this act out.
If you enjoyed this, read Napalm Death