23rd Grade Of Evil - 13/06/2012

23rd GRADE OF EVIL started their career as Morbus Wilson in the nineties. Their debut album ‘Corematic’ was critically acclaimed in Switzerland and abroad. After a break and after having designed a new concept the band reformed in 2004 as 23rd GRADE OF EVIL. They recorded their debut album ‘What Will Remain When We Are Gone’ in 2009 at the Little Creek Studio under guidance of V.O. Pulver (Pro-Pain, Destruction, Gurd, Headhunter, Fear My Thoughts). Pro-Pain's Gary Meskil contributed backing vocals. The album was released and distributed in collaboration with Non Stop Music Records and Quam Libet Records and got positive reviews in metal magazines throughout Europe. After many successful shows, some of which with Pro-Pain and Sepultura, the band started writing songs and lyrics for the second album.


The band's second full lenght album ‘Bad Men Do What Good Men Dream’ was also recorded at V.O. Pulver's Little Creek Studio. The twelve new songs turned out to be more melodic and catchy, but still are groovy and aggressive. The album was released through Artist Station Records.



In order to get to know this band a little better, we tracked down Alex (guitars) and Tom (bass and backing vocals) to answer some questions. Here you can read what they had to say to the readers of Metal-Experience.com


First of all, could you start this interview off with a short update, an introduction of the band, the origins of its name and how you guys got together?


Alex: We basically know each other a long time! The band started in the early nineties under the name of Morbus Wilson. We broke up after 4 years - shortly after having released our first CD and after having won a Swiss competition in the category Thrash. After some years of silence we got back together in 2005. We felt that we and the music we were writing from then on were no longer the same. So we decided to change our band name. I incidentally read an article about a book on the psychology of serial killers and mass murderers and I bought that book. In his book “The Anatomy of Evil” Psychiatric Professor Michael H. Stone describes the psyche of serial and psycho killers and assesses the severity of their crimes on a scale. Stone’s scale has 22 gradations…Looking at the kind of crimes that are sometimes happening around us we came up with the idea that Stone’s scale must have an open high end…thus the 23rd grade of evil.


Which approach did you choose to create ‘Bad Men Do What Good Men Dream’, did you go for a more raw exposition, something more reminiscent of your previous other works, or something altogether different?


Tom: Well, after having finished the recording sessions for our previous CD ‘What Will Remain When We Are Gone’, we knew that we were in need of a second guitar player to reproduce the songs in a live situation. He (Markus Flury) was soon found and gave us the possibility to write even more melodic guitar lines. So, Alex started immediately writing new songs and they sounded stunning. That was what we wanted our new songs to sound like... catchy, with more melodic hooklines but still aggressive and full of anger. I hope we achieved that objective.


What was the songwriting process like for ‘Bad Men Do What Good Men Dream’? For instance, did someone come in with just a riff, or complete songs?


Alex: The technical progress helped us to change the songwriting process completely. In the beginning we were just jamming around in the rehearsal room and we had to somehow remember good riffs and catchy tunes or we would record those ideas on a simple tape recorder. Since I bought a home recording system I basically write all the music at home, I record it (including some drum tracks from a drum computer) and then I burn CDs to spread among the other band members. Then we rehearse the songs and do some fine tuning on them.  Before a CD production we usually end up with more songs than we need. So we then do some kind of selection, which songs we like most, which songs fit together and so on.

The lyrics emerge at the end. It usually starts with some catchy chorus line that inspires us to a whole storyline.



What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘Bad Men Do What Good Men Dream’, any elements you definitely wanted to include on the album?


Tom: There were a few things that we wanted to have on the album. First of all we wanted to improve those melodic guitar lines, then we wanted Zeno to sing some hooklines instead of screaming the whole time. He really did a good job. He's still screaming like he wanted to shout down the whole world but compared to the previous album there are some parts where he uses his natural singing voice which gives some variety to the new record.


Could you describe the implications of the title ‘Bad Men Do What Good Men Dream’, what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?


Alex: The title goes back to the aforementioned book “The Anatomy of Evil” by Michael H. Stone. One important factor in the psyche of a serial killer is that he often wants to cross the barrier between thinking of doing some (horrible) things and really doing those (horrible) things. Ted Bundy for example – whose last interview before his execution inspired the lyrics to the new CD’s last song “23” – was very much into violent porn. He had the urge to go beyond looking at it and doing it himself.


Could you please describe the implications of the titles of the new songs, what do they stand for and is there a special meaning behind them?


Alex: Let me begin with the lyrics I wrote:


“You Don’t Know” is about lack of empathy. Empathy should be a human quality, something that makes us different from animals or plants…but often there’s no such difference and a frightening lack of compassion!


“Take My Life” is some kind of dark-romantic-love-hate song: There is nothing more left but my life…so take it and set me free.


“For Better Or Worse” is inspired by relationship struggles especially when relationships are ending. Often at this stage you would do everything to keep it alive but it makes no sense anymore.


“23” is inspired by Ted Bundy’s last interview before his execution. He was one of the serial killers who came to fame…As one can learn from this interview, he was just the nice guy next door but inside there was a very destructive part of his personality and unfortunately he needed to let this evil side of his come out.


Tom: “Blinded By Confidence” is about someone who's unable to trust his feelings and who fears the evil and a malicious intent behind everything.


Malicious gossip has it that maybe I worked up some kind of God complex. However “I Am Your God” is about the thoughts of a pathological criminal with... yeah, right... a God complex.


Having evil thoughts sometimes is a part of the human nature. Only good men can reflect upon these thoughts and put them into relation with the ethical values of our society. Quite different from bad men... “Bad Men Do What Good Men Dream”.


Mentally disturbed criminals often believe that they are stronger than the major part of society. They are convinced to be privileged or maybe chosen. Therefore all the weakness around them makes them feel sick and they wish to make the weak disappear. That's what “Lullaby For The Weak” is about.


“Scream And Shout” is one of those songs where the listener can choose the message. Is it about sadomasochistic sex practices or is it about the psycho chopping up his victims and enjoying their agonized cry?


“Two Days A Weak” is probably the most personal song I ever wrote. It's about the fear of a father to lose his son in consequence of a divorce and his frantic effort to manage the situation.


“Get Out Of My Way”...yeah... this is my lyrical reckoning with my ex wife. I love to play that song live.


“All My Lies” is about that kind of musician that is always on the hunt for a good fuck after the show. It contains some kind of warning to all those lovely, beautiful and passionate ladies out there coming to concerts: Don't trust the blandishments of those so called rockstars. Usually they only want to sweet-talk you into something. ;-)



How important is it to you that people pay attention to your lyrics, apart from listening to the music?


Alex: The fact that we are printing our lyrics in the CD booklet tells that we give the lyrics some attention. There is a story behind each song but the lyrics can be interpreted in one way or the other. It’s always in the eye of the beholder. If a listener can identify with some lyrics or if the lyrics stimulate the listener to make his own thoughts about a subject it’s cool. But we don’t mind if fans are just listening to the music without bothering too much about the content.


Can you give us a little background information on the songs? Is there a story behind them?


Tom: Each song tells a story. As a main subject we explore the reality and anatomy of evil in all its facets. And this time the lyrics also reveal very personal and incisive stories from the real world of evil. But still we leave room for the listener to interpret the story behind it.


What is the utmost important ingredient for a song according to you? Is there a typical way in which your songs come into being?


Alex: The key factor to me is really writing a song and not just putting some riffs together. It might be old fashioned but I very much pay attention on the structure of a song: I have been raised with all the classic rock stuff and I very much like it when a song has a verse, a chorus and a bridge. Honestly – it is big fun to scream the chorus at concerts together with the band, isn’t it? Thanks to our second live guitarist Markus we were able to incorporate more melodies into the songs. After our first CD ‘What Will Remain When We Are Gone’ – which is by the way still available – we were asking ourselves where the journey would lead us. It was clear that becoming harder or faster or more brutal was not the right way for us. So we took the more difficult approach of incorporating more melodies but at the same time not losing the aggression and the anger of the whole sound. It was clearly an aim to sound more “modern” than on the first record which was more old school Thrash Metal


Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics? What are you personally into?

As we make the evil a subject of discussion, writing lyrics comes naturally to me. The evil is surrounding us … and I do not mean only the real cruel stuff like mass murderers and serial killers. Be sure, going through a divorce can be a very bad thing and sometimes it feels like torture. Maybe this trivial kind of evil is the real 23rd grade of evil... happening behind closed doors?


Are there any particular bands which have been a big influence on your song writing, metal or otherwise? Which album was your biggest musical influence, one that made you think “this is what I want to do!”?


Alex: I cannot say that there are particular bands that inspired me, but I listen to a whole lot of stuff including other musical styles than Metal. I think my whole musical background influences me. Of course today I also listen to the actual Metal stuff. The album that kicked off everything is ‘Rockin’ All Over The World’ by Status Quo. That’s the first real guitar music I was into, I have seen them several times and this record opened the door for me to this beautiful world!


How would you describe your own music and what are your musical influences?


Tom: Well... we started as a Thrash Metal band and I'm sure you can still hear the influence of those typical Bay Area bands. But we are also very much into the Metal of the seventies and eighties when it all began. Bands like Judas Priest, Black Sabbath and the Scorpions knew and still know how to write awesome songs with smashing guitar riffs and memorable hooklines.



What have been the highlights and low points throughout your career?


Tom: We started as Morbus Wilson in the early nineties, won a national competition and released our first record. Then Grunge came around and no one cared about a Thrash band from Switzerland anymore. That led to our breakup. Quite a low point, isn't it? Concerning the highlight... well, you're holding it in your hand. It's called ‘Bad Men Do What Good Men Dream’ ;-)


Could you respond to the following terms in just one word or sentence?


Metal: Forever!

Underground:  Important – where it all began!

Internet:  Connecting the world

Religion:  Useless! Believe in yourself!

Politics:  blah blah

The Netherlands:  Oranje!

Swiss:  Quality (also in Metal)


What makes 23rd Grade Of Evil different from the other thrash bands out there?


Tom: We're old! Hahaha!


What is your opinion on the metal scene these days? What do you think of the overload of bands at the moment and is there anything missing in the scene?


Tom: The scene is actually more vivid than ever and that's fantastic. There are so many young and talented bands out there. Thanks to the internet everyone can discover magnificent music even if it's not released through a record label. I think that good music will always have the chance to come out on top. That's natural selection.


What can we expect from 23rd Grade Of Evil in the near future, any touring plans?


Tom: On 22.06.2012 ‘Bad Men Do What Good Men Dream’ will be available in stores. We are hoping for good feedback from the press and the fans. Hopefully we will find a slot as supporting act in a tour package later on this year. Maybe that also will give us the chance to play in the Netherlands.


Anything left to say to our readers?


Tom: Be careful what you dream.




Tom -  Bass

Steve - Drums

Alex - Guitars

Zeno - Vocals



2009- What Will Remain When We Are Gone

2012 - Bad Men Do What Good Men Dream