This e-mail interview with Kai Sattelkau of the German grindcore band Depression was done by Chris Rohde in October 2004.

Depression is one of the oldest European death metal / grindcore bands who are still around today. All the way since 1989 they have been struggling hard in the underground. Band leader and founder Kai Sattelkau took some time off his busy schedule to discuss various issues with our reporter Chris Rohde. [The Editor]

First off Kai, thanks for your time. I know that at this time you and Depression are extremely busy. Maybe busier than ever before. Depression has hit its 15-year anniversary. That’s a long time for an extreme band to exist. I can only think of a select few bands that have lasted as long as Depression, while staying true to their original ideals, and keeping the integrity of the band. How has Depression lasted so long?? What has pushed you, and the band to continue??
First of all, thanks Chris for doing this interview! Well, when I started the band, I never expected to celebrate the 15-year anniversary some day… It was always our goal to stay true to ourselves and to play the kind of music that we are dedicated to, in heart and soul. I suppose the main reason why DEPRESSION lasted so long is that I started it all by myself as a solo-project. I hadn’t (and still haven’t) had to make any compromises! Not with the music, not with the artwork, not for any other reason. It was/is my baby, a strong part of my life, to be honest, and I will not miss it anymore. Another reason is the friendship within the band. Marc and Ron are also 110% dedicated to DEPRESSION, and so we are a united force! When one person is out of power for some time, the others take care of him and DEPRESSION goes on!! And of course the fans, friends, and freaks out there!!! The underground scene still satisfies me and I get so many letters from all over the world from people telling me that they love our music and that DEPRESSION helps them to carry on in daily life, and THAT pushes you always to the max!!!

I think that fifteen years in the metal underground is quite an accomplishment, but even more so is the fact that Depression has been around for all those years without performing a live set in front of an audience. That alone is amazing. Why hasn’t the band ever performed live?? Why now after so many years?? Also, since you play all the instruments for the band’s recordings, who’s going to play the guitar and bass on stage on the 17th and 18th of September at the DEATHFEST in Wermelskirchen??
In the beginning we did not play live, because I started it as I said as a solo-project. So I had no chance to play all instruments by myself at the same time, haha! Then, with Marc together, we tried to find musicians to join for live-gigs, but in our area (a small town) no one was willing to play that kind of extreme music!! So after a couple of years we gave up looking around… Years later I moved to another town, so that rehearsals would be very difficult because of the distance, etc. But NOW, after 15 years, we are ready to enter the stage! We thought it would be a perfect moment to celebrate our first live-show. I will concentrate on the drums and the screams, Marc will growl and play bass-guitar, Ron is doing the main-grunts and our long time producer Matze Klinkmann will join us on guitar, because he’s known us for many years and knows the attitude behind DEPRESSION and so on, so it was the best choice!

From the early stages in the existence of Depression you have guided this band. It has been your brainchild. The music that you play is brutal, uncompromising grind/death metal. Are you as uncompromising as a person when it comes to your band Depression?? The band started off as a one-man band (you alone), then Marc Miekeley was introduced as the voice of Depression in 1993, four years after you started the band. This was because you weren’t happy with your vocals, but was it still difficult to extend the Depression family past yourself??
Well, I don’t think so, that I’m so uncompromising within the band. Of course, I wrote almost all songs and arrangements, I am responsible for all artwork and layout-stuff and I’m doing the most interviews. But I am not a dictator, haha. The very good thing is, that Marc and Ron accept this and like what I create, so that I can do what I want and they create their part of DEPRESSION (lyrics, etc.) and it totally fits 110% ! It was not difficult for my ego to extend the DEPRESSION family! It was my very own choice, so I WANT to have Marc in the band for sure!!! He is the PERFECT DEPRESSION vocalist and we have nearly the same music taste. So it makes DEPRESSION even stronger!

Then almost ten years later Ron Sanders joined as a second vocalist, how did Marc feel about that?? Will Depression ever become a full unit??
Interesting question! Well, it was no problem at all !! Marc, Ron and myself are good friends for years. Ron did some backing vocals on the split-10”LP with Rot in 1999. And also on the split-CD with Haemorrhage. After that we all came to the same result, that his voice totally fits to DEPRESSION and that the “battle” between Marc and Ron makes DEPRESSION stronger! So it was no big deal to have Ron as a permanent member in the band. Marc has absolutely NO problem with this, as he was the one who came up with this idea first! Ron joining DEPRESSION was NOT because I wasn’t satisfied with Marcs growls anymore!!

After fifteen years, are there more people in your area that would join Depression?? When you first started the band, you couldn’t find anyone that had the same passion that you had for grind/death metal. If you were to start Depression today, would the band have musicians for each instrument?? Has grind and death metal become more popular in your area of Germany??
Yes, nowadays there are many people who wanna join us and ask for that! We got a lot offers for the position of the session-guitarist for our first gig!! But Matze was the one and only person who definitely made sense and fit to us. He was our first choice! Oh, difficult question, if DEPRESSION today would have musicians for each instrument. To be honest, I don’t think so. When I started DEPRESSION in 1989 I also played in other “real” bands with musicians for each instrument. But DEPRESSION was my very own creation and that make it something different to a regular band. Don’t get me wrong, I will not say that DEPRESSION is something outstanding, but I want to point out, that the sound of DEPRESSION and the complete “image” would be something totally different if it is just a usual band!!

The underground is where you and Depression have been since day one. How do you and the band survive?? It must take a lot of dedication, passion, and integrity to carry on. I’ve also noticed that the band is going to soon have t-shirts available (finally), but you seem to be worried that people will think you have sold out, or that it’s rockstar-behaviour. Why?? Are the hardcore fans really that critical??
DEPRESSION is dedicated to the underground scene! That is the reason why we have survived ´till today. It was NEVER our aim to make a big career with DEPRESSION and our music. We wanted to be part of the scene and to be part of the underground movement. So we are quiet happy that we are still active after 15 years and that DEPRESSION is still underground and have this integrity (thanks to our fans!!). YES, it takes a lot of dedication, my friend, that is true!! But we have this passion for the music and so it is no question for us to always carry on as good as possible. Yeah, finally we have Shirts out for the first time!! A lot of people asked us about Shirts since many, many years. We thought it would be a good moment to have Shirts available at our 15-year-anniversary. To be honest, yes, some of the die-hard fans are that critical… Everyone should know that DEPRESSION are no rockstars and that we didn’t sell out, but you always have these freaks who think that an underground act must not have shirts available. But these people are NOT DEPRESSION fans, they can’t be…

I’ve read many times that when Napalm Death changed their early grindcore sound to the more straight ahead death metal on Harmony Corruption, the hardcore fans turned on the band, saying they had sold-out. Are you or have you ever been worried of this reaction from the fans?? Especially when you released the song “Depressionen”, with some clean vocals, and a slowed down tempo. That was a drastic change in speed and aggression compared to the early Depression material. Any comments?? I must add that “Depressionen” is a wicked song. Reason alone to buy the “Chronische Depression” album!!
I remember the situation with Napalm Death… Well, the earlier stuff was grindcore, then they turned to Death Metal. This is a step into a different musical direction (not far away indeed, hehe…) and of course it comes to discussions and different opinions by the fans. I personally like Harmony Corruption a lot!!! It is a great album with killer songs. But I like the old stuff, for example From Enslavement To Obliteration way more!! Napalm Death stood for cool grindcore, and with Harmony you cannot say this to 100% anymore. To come to the point: To me, they did not sell out, they just changed their direction a bit. I never worried about that with DEPRESSION. We don’t change our musical direction in any way. Since the very beginning we play a mix of Death Metal and Grindcore, with Noisecore, Punk, Crustcore, Black Metal and even some HC influences! All combined with Groove!! That’s DEPRESSION ! The song “Depressionen” is something special ! It is NOT a new direction from DEPRESSION and everyone should know this. It was meant as a one time thing for the 10th anniversary. I will NOT limit myself because of a few die-hard fans that will not accept this!! I personally love this song and I get VERY different reactions about that!! Most people like it a lot and said that it’s something new and interesting. And some people don’t like it or even hate it. Well, I can live with that. Thanks a lot for your nice words about this song. So I notice that you understand what it’s all about. Thank you.

Who creates your cover art?? Most of the cover art is wicked!! Dark, evil pictures, but why is the "Schatten" EP, and the "Böses Blut" CD cover art seem so tranquil?? Nice pictures, for such devastating music. Any comments about this??
I am responsible for the cover-artwork and the layout-stuff. I always try to have different covers for such kind of music. I was (and still am!) bored by the 1.000.000 splatter/gore cover’s with an open head or car-accident. From the very beginning I’ve tried to have something special, something untypical. Yes, the “Böses Blut” Cover is not dark and evil at all, haha ! But it has a special meaning: “Böses Blut” is a German word for hate and/or war between two persons or parties. And directly translated it means “Evil Blood”. I am vegetarian and theses sheeps will be slaughtered some day, and their blood will be spilled. I had the idea to the “Schatten” cover in my mind for years! There was this awful and old oil-painting full of clichés on the wall just where the sofa stood from my grandma… I was sure every real metal-fan would hate a painting like this, so I thought it would be perfect for a DEPRESSION cover, haha! And it also has a meaning (like all our covers and album-titles): “Schatten” means “Shadows”. The mountain in the back causes a big, dark shadow for the house in the front, even when the sun is still shining bright. It means that the nature has still its power and that human beings have to live with that. The nature is the real god on earth!! These wicked covers are a trademark of DEPRESSION after all these years, and I already have the cover-artwork finished for the 15th-anniversary CD coming in 2005. Watch out, hehe !!”

Now onto some of your personal influences. I know these questions always get asked in interviews, but it’s still cool to know who have inspired musicians/bands?? For you personally which bands did you first listen to, who inspired you?? How about today, which bands stand out for you, and why?? What would be your fantasy show, what bands would you and Depression love to play along with (any band past or present)??
Yes, this is an often asked question, but I totally understand it, and it is always good to point out why DEPRESSION sounds the way we sound, right?! The first Metal band I listened to (but that was NOT any influence!!) was AC/DC back in 1987. It was something absolutely strange to me, but I was fascinated from the very first listening!! I never heard the atmosphere, the aggression, the power and heaviness before. Then I started listening to Judas Priest, W.A.S.P., Manowar, Saxon. But after a short time I was searching for more extremity, so I became a fan of Sodom, Metallica, Testament, then Sepultura, Death, Possessed, Bathory, Napalm Death, Necrony and so on. THAT was the music style I was looking for !!! It caught my heart and soul and ´till 1989 I am dedicated to brutal Death Metal and Grindcore! So the bands that influenced DEPRESSION a lot are Blood, Agathocles, Rot, Autopsy, Impetigo, Impaled Nazarene, Disrupt, Mortician, Grave, Fear Of God, Unleashed, Gut, Master, Terrorizer, etc. etc. you know it, I could continue here for weeks, haha. Today, I´m still totally into these bands, but I also love Necrony, early Entombed, early Suffocation, Sarcófago, Carnage, early Brutal Truth, Incantation, early Demigod, Crematory (the Swedish ones!!) and stuff like that. But these bands didn’t have much of an influence on DEPRESSION. As you see, almost all bands are from the late 80ies/early 90ies. That was the best time for music, in my personal opinion. But luckily there are some other killer bands around these days as Funebrarum, Kaamos, Coercion… and some split-up-jewels from the past like Hetsheads, Crimson Relic. Ok, I stop here, haha! Oh, a fantasy show would be together with Bathory!!! As they are my all-time faves!!!! But as Quorthon sadly died a few weeks ago, it will of course never happen. Quorthon, hail to you and we will meet again in Valhalla!! R.I.P. … And I would like to play together with our influences, all the bands we have split-releases out with and the bands we covered on our records. So we can do quiet a couple of gigs then, haha !

Grind seems to be one of your biggest influences, what is it about that style of music that intrigues you so much?? Have you followed the ever growing Spanish grind scene, with bands like Unsane Crisis, Overnoise, Looking For an Answer, Hashassin, etc. . . .. .??
To be honest, my main influence is Death Metal. It is kinda strange that DEPRESSION has always been declared as a Grindcore act. Yes, I understand this, but grindcore is only 50% of DEPRESSION, the other 50% is Death Metal, and they are my roots. But DEPRESSION shouldn’t be just a Death Metal band, the mix of Death and Grind with a lot of Groove is what I love and how we should sound ! Call me a wimp, but I don’t know any of the above mentioned Spanish grind bands… Certainly I know Denak, but if I listen to Grindcore, I prefer (as always) the old-school style like old Napalm Death, Rot, Fear Of God, etc.

Now I’m going to name a few names, could you please respond with whatever comes to mind first:

Black Metal:
Hopefully the trend is over someday… Not really my cup of tea because of the attitude and these kindergarten-corpse-paint-and-swords pictures that are boring since 10 years!! They copy and copy and copy themselves all the time. But there are some bands I like: Vintersemestre, Dark Throne, Horde, Isegrim, early Dark Funeral, early Emperor, early Immortal…

GREAT band !! Very fast and outstanding at their time. “Helga lost her head” is brilliant. Too bad that they had such crappy sound and not more records out…

Kai Sattelkau:
30year old guy who likes music, his daughter and her mother, motorbikes, long hair… mainman from DEPRESSION.

Cannibal Corpse or At the Gates:
I LOVE the first three Cannibal Corpse albums! Killer albums and Chris Barnes rules. All other stuff from them ´till today is boring and has nothing to do with their classics. Where is the spirit?? Corpsegrinder fits to Monstrosity, not to Cannibal Corpse. At The Gates are ok. Their last album has some great moments, and their first Mini is cool, but all together I prefer Grotesque.

Ozzy Osbourne:
Fuckin´ Prince Of Darkness! One and only Black Sabbath vocalist. Totally damaged by drugs but he has good humor. He is a commercial item, produced by his wife.

Bad illness, hopefully no one will get it anymore… Underground-dedicated groovy Death/Grind band since 1989. One big part of my live.

The country where I come from and still livin´ in. Nothing to be proud of. Good living-standard, but I will move someday to another place in Europe and spend the rest of my life there… don’t know when and where at the moment. Scotland, France, etc.

That about wraps this interview up. Thank you Kai for taking time to answer my questions. I hope that your live performance goes extremely well for you and Depression!! Do you have anything else that you want to say to the people reading this interview?? Will you re-release “Chronische Depression”, at least for me??
Well, Chris, thanks really a lot for the very cool and in-depth interview!! Respect. I always enjoy interviews like this. Thanks for your interest and time you spend with DEPRESSION. Yeah, our first gig was cool. The reactions form the fans were great and it was a big party for us and the audience! Thanks!! I want to say thank you to all readers of this interview for your interest in DEPRESSION. Keep the underground spirit alive and stay fast, heavy and brutal!!!!!
So long,

out now:
++ DEPRESSION / MESRINE split-CD on 2+2=5 Records !!
++ DEPRESSION / MESRINE split-LP on Power It Up Records !!
++ DEPRESSION T-Shirts !!! limited edition, black, XL

still available:
DEPRESSION "Ein Hauch von Moder" 7" EP


Links of interest: