INTERVIEW: Paula Damnzal – Küntsquäd

Interview by Dan Catania

Küntsquäd - Paula

Dan talked to Crustydeath Metal outfit Küntsquäd from Melbourne about their tour, label signing and what is planned for the future!

Metal-Roos: Since the release of your self titled album back in February 2023 which followed with the Vomitorium Compendium Tour. Kuntsquad has received positive feedback on your record and your live shows.2023 has been a very productive year for this band with the momentum, hype and the signing with record label Wormholedeath Records. Was your reflection of the response from the Metal Community so far?

Paula: Yes, it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster since it’s come out. The metal community has been outstanding in terms of its support, particularly overseas and we’re pretty stoked about the positive reception it’s had, in places like Europe and the US. We were not really sure how it was going to be received, particularly from people who knew us from previous projects and we were hoping people would get on board with its quirkiness, particularly because it’s such a typically ‘Australian’ sounding production. It’s quite an ‘in your face’ sounding recording, with little fuss and quite raw in terms of its sounds, almost chaotic at times. We were quite interested to see if people could see where we were going with it, and more importantly, understand that we were not intentionally going for a standard genre, at least not one that could be pigeonholed easily. Nevertheless, it’s been very interesting seeing different reviewers picking up on the various elements/ influences in the different songs. From death metal to crust punk and everything in between. Generally speaking I think most reviewers got the fact we were going for that extreme form of a chaotic auditory experience.

Metal-Roos: If you can go back 12 months before the release of the record. With the planning of the album, the tour to support it and all the other work that goes involved. The goals that were set up at the time and how it transitioned to now. Has the band goals exceeded what it is now?

Paula: Initially we were keen just to record something for our followers, particularly as they had been asking for some product of sorts. So we really only intended to do a small run and take it from there. But it clearly morphed into something bigger once we decided to shop it around. Having 2 overseas record labels interested was really not something we were anticipating, let alone expecting. Our thinking has shifted significantly… we have transitioned from not really having much aspiration and being quite jaded with the whole ‘industry’ from a marketing perspective, to one where we now have had some faith restored in the power of people’s collective appreciation of what the band has to offer and all the possibilities that may bring with it.

Metal-Roos: Kuntsquad got any memorable highlights from the shows they performed this year?

Paula: We have had a few highlights actually, obviously the tours of the east coast of Australia have been amazing. Playing the MUDU in Adelaide, 2 shows in Brisbane, Gold Coast etc… But Sydney in particular, the sikkest time was had, with the standout moment when the Rev himself ( Kriss Hades /Sadistik Exekution) turns up to our gig with camera in tow and the generosity of his good time a plenty. Playing with such awesome bands along the way of course always makes the drama worthwhile.
In Melbourne the highlights were our launch night at the Tote, with a sell out crowd, but also the other would have to be the gig we were invited to play on for Kene’s (3pbs fm) 20th anniversary of his Burning Bitumen show. It went off, and the man himself is an absolute legend and gentleman who has been a staunch supporter of the heavy scene and of Küntsquäd since day dot.

Metal-Roos: What was the most popular song from the band from the feedback with the media and pundits that have seen your shows?

Paula: The standout playlist songs so far have been Necro Nightmare , Xhrist, and Gods of War. Generally our heavier tracks have had the most attention, nevertheless, we cannot deny the fact that live, songs like Vomitorium Compendium, Black and Fuck are quite popular, purely for the absolute chaos that ensues at the end of the song Fuck, in particular , which always gets a rise from the punters. We enjoy a fair bit of chaos and irrelevant dribble and banter, and so do our followers from our understanding, clearly cos they be a tad mental line us. Our followers are pretty loyal and know what gets a rise in us.. win win situation haha!

Metal-Roos: After listening to your debut album. There are a lot of death metal and punk elements to the Band’s sound. For me personally, it’s got that Murderdolls, Misfit kind vibe to it. What are the maior influences of this band’s creativity and songwriting direction?

Paula: We are avid fans of quite an eclectic number of death, black, and crust punk bands from new to old, however, we cannot deny that we are more so influenced by old school bands such as Sepultura, Napalm Death, Cannibal Corpse and Discharge, even though we sound nothing like those bands, the influences are undeniable.. after all we’re all old school that way. The band members bring with them certain unconscious biases and influences that ultimately will dictate how they approach the songs and the process of a finished piece. We’ve all got quite eclectic tastes in music, but the commonality is that we all enjoy extreme music. The sounds of this record are a throwback to 90’s metal with a twist. It wasn’t something that was contrived, rather it is a reflection of my songwriting, and how it has evolved over time. My belief is that every recording should be a progression of what was done previously and whilst that’s not in my fore thinking when I write a song, it’s definitely a process of elimination. I’ve always sought to revisit and restructure riffs as I go so that I avoid repetition if possible. That’s not always achievable, but it is a definite thing I try to achieve.

Metal-Roos: The production of the album is awesome by the way. To create that sound with all the elements of the instruments involved. I personally love the guitar tones on it, the vocals sit there nicely along with the whole mix for my listening pleasure. Did that evolve while in production stages to create that presence?

Paula: The album was recorded in March 2022, ( released 1 year later) at Goatsound studios with Jason Fuller ( ex Bloodduster) so we were quite confident that he’d be able to get the vibe and sounds we were looking for. He delivered in spades and with little fuss. We were not hugely interested in an overly processed or polished product, like most of the Euro metal bands, rather we wanted raw organic sounds that would tear your head off. So whilst that was achieved, in retrospect, there would be some things I would change, but at the end of the day it was always going to be about how much money and time we could afford to spend. It was also conveniently mastered by Jason as well. As far as the recording process is concerned, it was really done in a stock standard way.. drums, and bass, guitars and vocals last. We did a bit of tweaking along the way, and Jason liked to do mini mixes as we went along. We used Jasons Orange amp head which was an absolute ripper, and I used my mesa as well. Ultimately combined it achieved that contrast we were after in terms of a brutal chunky rhythm sound between the 2 guitars.
The ultimate aim for me personally in any recording, is to try and capture that brutality of a live performance.. not sure we achieved that but it’s close. Jason then mixed the whole thing, without us, then we’d touch base and see if he was on the right track. I think he prefers to do that and whilst that sounds strange, I think ultimately it worked to our favour, given that idea that ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’ scenario. Mixing can be an absolute mind fuck, and tired ears can reak havoc. The most important part is the overall sound, not the nit picking that can happen at the final stages of that process. I’d never done it that way before so it was interesting to say the least.

Metal-Roos: As I mentioned earlier with the signing of Wormholedeath Records. What enticed the band with the signing of the label?

Paula:As mentioned, we weren’t really expecting to receive any interest in the recording, nevertheless, when Wormholedeath came on board to support the band, we were particularly impressed with their approach and ability to see beyond what even we were able to comprehend in terms of the international exposure for a little known Aussie band, and one who had done no major shows or supports for international touring artists, no festivals and really no independent touring. We were lured by their distro network, in Europe, US and Japan as well as the fact they have some pretty epic and eclectic bands on their label already. They have shown faith in the band from day one and continue to do their best to support our growing fan base around the world.

Metal-Roos:The year is not over yet and Kuntsquad is heading down to Tassie. Is this the first time the band is heading down to Tassie? and what are you most excited about doing this gig?

Paula: All our tours have been epic, so far and of course, we enjoy touring a lot. We are not strangers to the whole process of releasing albums and touring them, as most of the band members individually have had previous experiences in doing this from past projects. Nevertheless, Tassie in particular, is a fond place for me personally (Paula) for many reasons; one being that I have quite a few Tasmanian friends here in Melbourne who play in high profile bands ( I won’t name drop here haha) and they are just legendary down to earth, nice people and always a pleasure to play alongside with and for. But also because it is the place where my previous band VH, experienced the most chaotic and sikkest gig ever … let’s just say there was literally a sea of carnage as far as the eye could see. In a small venue in Launie where the punters were packed in like sardines …there was sweat, blood and carnage in the pit, from all angles starting from the broken window next to the side stage where punters were trying to smuggle themselves into the peeps hanging from the rafters. The publican was not happy . Fun !

Metal-Roos: With all this momentum for Kuntsquad this year is going strong. What does the future hold going into 2024? Will there be a follow up album or is the band looking at doing a tour overseas to extend their brand of music?

Paula: We plan to follow up our CD with a new release, which is at this stage looking more like it will be an EP, however, potentially more depending on how productive we can remain in the next few months. We would like to release some vinyl if money permits because we are all vinyl fiends in the band, however, this will be dependent clearly on our ability to generate funds to cover such an indulgent product. I believe we will be touring overseas next year if some good will and fortune comes our way. Europe would ultimately be where we would head off first. It’s exciting even to be able to say we would be doing that, but we are sooo doing that! We hope to continue to promote our debut CD and tour the new one as well both here in Australia as well as overseas if all goes to plan.

Metal-Roos: I’m excited to hear that Kuntsquad is coming up to Sydney in December for Battlegod Productions’ “Rockdale Metal Fest”. It will be my first time watching this band live. What can I and others who have not seen Kuntsquad before expect from your live show?

Paula: Indeed, it will probably be our first headline festival anywhere in Australia at this point in time, so really looking forward to getting to Sydney again in front of an all-ages crowd.

Our shows are never to be taken too seriously, despite the uber grim content matter that is apparent in the lyrical and auditory experience. We are often told we are heavier and more extreme live, whatever that actually means, I’m not sure of, but one thing is for sure, we will bring it, the full force of absolute chaos and heaviness to tear your flesh from its morbid body and throw it to the snakes to be eaten as refuse. We were once described in a Metal-line zine ( EU) review as……
“Brutal…..inhaling the corpse smell of a corpse, dumped by the dirt road, that’s Küntsquäd “ if you know you know. That’s what we will deliver.