If brutality and gore is your thing, then you shouldn’t miss out on Undergang. I had a chance to interview vocalist, David Mikkelsen and he filled me in on the current news withe band, life on the road and his thoughts about the band’s gory, heavy, disgusting, death metal sound. So, check it out below:
XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?
David: We’re currently on a month long full US tour alongside NECROT supporting the release of “Misantropologi” and I’m answering this interview in the van on our way to Raleigh, North Carolina. We’re 12 days in the tour and have a little less than 3 weeks left to go still.
XS ROCK: How long has the band been together?
David: We formed the band in June 2008 and it was originally intended to be a 5 piece but when the original intended bassist and vocalist never showed up to the first rehearsals but swapped things around and just made the band work as a 3 piece. We’ve since then released 4 albums and several smaller releases in between and toured a lot around the world and have no intentions of slowing down.
XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?
David: Since I was around 10 years old and I proper discovered the world of music and I’ve always wanted to see where that world could take me in life. Back when I was a kid a group of friends and I decided to start a band and we all chose what instrument to play and started practicing or taking classes. The band never happened but it was my introduction to picking up a guitar and playing in several bands over the years till we formed UNDERGANG which is the band I wanted to start and play in since my early teenage years, it just took some time and the introduction to the right people to play with to get it going. Listening to and playing music has been a bit part of my life and always got me through various stages of life and issues. It’s not really a choice to play music anymore but my way of living and I love it that way.
XS ROCK: What is your music background?
David: I don’t really have much of a background besides discovering various genres and bands through friends, older kids growing up, the music section at the local library, radio and MTV and such to begin with. My older brother introduced me to the world of music when I was 10 years old just after our mom passed away and possible due to the rather emotional time that was for me it meant something real special and I soon started digging into what the world of music had to offer and feel in love with the world of extreme music.
As for a instrumental background I have one year of private guitar classes when I was 12-13, some class with several others at a local youth institution the year after and then a kind of music border school when I was 15. Everything else is self taught which is likely why my ways of writing are rather simplistic in a way.
XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?
David: A picture of festering low-end nastiness for simple minded creeps like us to enjoy. An audio painting of a mammoth slowly rotting away in all of its stages of decomposition and larvae infestation.
XS ROCK: What are your immediate music career goals?
David: No real goals, just plans of more releases and tours. Possibly new variations of our death metal presented on releases and hopefully to play in new countries we haven’t visited before. All of that should come to fruition too unless something severely changes in our lives and therefore get’s in the way. We’re road-dogs and we really just want to get as much cool shit done while there’s an interest in us and we can actually do so. Who knows; maybe no one will give a shit about us in 2 years and then I’d hate to look back at things we could have done when we had the chance but didn’t do.
XS ROCK: What are your long-term career goals?
David: I try to never plan too far ahead as life can offer many unexpected twists and turns, but I hope to be able to keep producing and releasing deadly releases with UNDERGANG and to continue touring the world. We have no intentions of stopping or changing what we do, so we’re just taking things one day at the time and seeing where the stream of life takes us with its options and offers.
XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
David: Both are things that I enjoy for sure, but playing live is where I feel the best about our presentation of our music plus that high it can give you to be one with an audience who digs what you do too can be a bit enchanting and addictive as well. I do enjoy the writing process too where we put the songs together down in our rehearsal room near the lakes in rather central Copenhagen too. It’s always fun to see how things end up as several of the riffs I write may change when our drummer tries to understand them and add his own take on how the rhythm section could go. The actual act of recording our music in a studio is likely my least favorite part as I’m a hard judge on myself and therefore I usually end up rather frustrated though a lot of the process why it’s my guitar playing or singing that is being recorded. But I can also enjoy it, so it’s not all awful, haha.
XS ROCK: What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)
David: Our lyrical content is in Danish and evolves about death in all of its various forms, be it the act of dying, murder, torture, dark perversions, suicide, body snatching, cannibalism, stages of decomposition, self mutilation, etc. Just all sorts of death in all of its gory glory.
XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road?
David: That’s something people are always curious about but in reality a lot of touring is just sitting/sleeping in a van and hanging out at the venue of the show, party somewhere afterwards, sleep and then repeat. One thing could be a show we were playing in Compton, California, in May 2011 where all of these Hispanic kids suddenly started fighting inside the venue (Okay, it was a Mexican restaurant) as we were setting up on stage to play. I remember seeing people lying on the floor and being kicked in the head by others wearing military boots and shit, then the owner of the bar came up to us and said we had to pack down and leave, to what I responded that we’d come all the way from Denmark so we sure as hell would still deliver a show to these people. He told me the cops were already on their way and if we didn’t leave we’d be arrested too, so we packed up and left quickly, haha. Other than that just a bunch of stupid moves with trying to bring weed across borders and having to eat it or hide it in my underwear while being body searched by cops and shit. Hiding under blankets to avoid extra tickets and toll with ferries and dumb shit. And then all the things one forgets because of a lot of heavy drinking and other dumb things having taken place in the past now nearly 10 years of the band being active.
XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?
David: Video messages to their friends/girlfriends around a show, autographing “strange” parts of their bodies, kisses in photos, coming on stage with their band and doing guest vocals to a song of theirs I’ve never heard before and such dumb things. Drunk people can lose their boundaries every once in a while, haha. Most people are nice and polite though.
XS ROCK: Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?
David: My mom never got a chance to know of where music would take me, but my dad has always been very supportive towards things I’ve done in my life and are always curiously following me in my actions and doing around the world, which I’m grateful for as we have a close bond still to this day. He doesn’t really understand and certainly doesn’t like the music I write and play, but he’s proud of me getting out there nonetheless. My first guitar was an acoustic one passed down from my mom’s days as a hippie and my dad bought me my first electric guitar when I was 14 or 15 too. Just a cheap used knock-off fender Stratocaster, but still my first electric guitar and I still have it standing n my bedroom at home.
XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?
David: Ugh, that varies a bit I guess. Right now I enjoy playing our newer songs off “Misantropologi”, such as songs like “Efter obduktionen” and “Klynget op I en galge af egne indvolde”. But going back and playing older songs like ”Kogt I blod”, “Kronisk betændelse I tarmene”, “Englemagersken” or “Når børnene dør” is always fun too. Luckily I still enjoy playing most of our songs.
XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?
David: Going all the way back to when I picked up and instrument it was likely bands like NIRVANA, ALICE IN CHAINS, THE OFFSPRING and such, but with death metal it was the discovery of MORBID ANGEL and GRAVE and eventually AUTOPSY that got me in that direction. The brutally and darkness of the music won me over immediately and I started digging deeper and deeper into the underground scene there too and all it had to offer. I’m still in love with it and dwelling well there.
XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
David: Probably not too many people would come out, but in a perfect world they would for the touring package of UNDERGANG alongside our friends in DEIQUISITOR, NECROT, PISSGRAVE and TORTURE RACK. Off the top of my head right now at least, haha.
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
David: Rather than pointing out a certain moment I’ll say that our ”career’s” greatest accomplishments are having done the things we’ve achieved from networking hard over the years in the underground as well as all the friendships we’ve made across the world. This band has given me the option of visiting and experiencing a lot of countries I thought I’d never would visit and likely never would have had it not been for the invitation to travel there to play. I’ve seen many cool places and met many, many awesome people, got to work and play with great musicians and engineers thanks to UNDERGANG and that’s what I find to be the most rewarding of our musical accomplishments.
XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
David: Well, UNDERGANG isn’t exactly an institution we can live off so we all have day jobs on the side of the band. I can and will only speak for myself but my day job is only to be able to maintain a living while not on tour as it’s nothing I have a passion for, quite possibly also because it’s as a janitor at a college. I’ve never had any line of work I wanted to get into or a certain education I wanted, I’ve always just wanted to be a rocker. The way things work with that now suits me fine, though I would like to benefit more from the band as I spend so much time on it every day, but having the band being driven by passion rather than business also suits me well when it comes down to it. That being said, I’d love to be able to dedicate myself full time to the band. Maybe one day. Maybe not.
XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
David: I’m the bands only guitarist and when I can I play on Peavey or Marshall cabinets with a Peavey Valveking 100 amplifier set on the clean channel and then I use a Boss Mega Distortion 2 pedal. That’s been my set up for years now and I like it’s simply, dry and heavy sound. I’m not 100% sure what gear the others use, so I’ll stick to what I know here.
XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?
David: I feel like things are pretty good these years, a lot of cool bands around, both new and old and everything is pretty busy and happening right now. A negative thing could be that there perhaps are a bit too much going on at the same time so some things might get a bit overlooked because everyone can record and release an album nowadays and everyone wants to be touring all the time, so people get more selective with what they focus on and/or attended, myself included.
XS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?
David: It is unknown to most people that every time something bad happens in this world it’s because I’ve touched myself. And that I came up with the invention of breathing. You’re welcome.
XS ROCK: If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
David: As swampy, gory, heavy, disgusting death metal with the importance of good riffs in focus.
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
David: Check out or new album “Misantropologi” available from our labels Dark Descent Records (US) and Me Saco Un Ojo Records (EU) or from us at shows. We’re currently promoting the album across America and we’ll continue with European tours and one-off shows in the fall and winter of 2017-18. Drop by and say hi if we come by your town.
XS ROCK: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS Rock!
David: Thank you at XS Rock for the interview and interest in our band. Support underground death metal.
D. M. / UNDERGANG