Criminal : Interview with Anton Reisenegger

Bloodstock 2011 is almost upon us, and in the last of our articles in the run-up to the UK’s biggest metal festival we caught up with Sophie stage headliners Criminal, a band huge in their native Chile but still relatively unknown to European metal fans.

That could all be about to change…..

Criminal will be a new name to many of CackBlabbath’s readers. Can you tell us a little about the history of the band ?

The band was formed 20 years ago down in Santiago, Chile. That’s South America for all those not too versed in geography. We had a pretty good start supporting bands like Kreator and Sepultura and our albums sold really well, not least due to some heavy airplay on the South American MTV’s metal show. However, things went tits up with our label and at some point Rod (ex-guitarist and founding member) and I decided to move to Europe and start over again.

How would you describe your music ?

It’s very aggressive thrash with some death metal and hardcore influences thrown in for good measure.

And who are your biggest influences ?

At first we were influenced mostly by Bay Area thrash such as Vio-Lence and Forbidden, but also more aggressive stuff like Slayer and Kreator and some death metal. Also I would mention Carcass and At the Gates.

After building a huge fanbase in South America, how did it feel effectively starting again in the UK when you moved here in 2001 ?

It was quite hard because, not only did we have to build a new career, we also had to build new lives. It was extremely difficult at times, maybe more so than we thought. And it also took some time until we found the right line-up.

What were your first impressions of the UK fans, are they very different to those in Chile ?

Well, the Chilean metal audiences are infamous for their intensity and craziness, so at first I thought the UK audiences were a bit cold, but once you get them warmed up they can be just as crazy as the Chileans!

You still have a massive following “back home”, is it frustrating that although you keep plugging away and releasing consistently strong albums your breakthrough in the UK has never quite happened ?

It is frustrating, yes. The thing is, unfortunately good albums and shows are not enough, you’ve got to know the right people, you’ve got to spend more time promoting your band than actually playing music and so on. To quote The League of Gentlemen, “it’s a shit business”!

Could that be about to change ?

There have been very positive signs, and a show headlining the second stage at Bloodstock could very well be the turning point in our career. Also everyone who’s heard our new album absolutely loves it, so if the stars align our third decade might be pretty cool, haha!

You’re playing the Bloodstock Open Air Festival soon, looking forward to that ?

Fuck yes I am! We are all really excited. It’s our first-ever UK festival appearance, and for it to be headlining the Sophie stage at Bloodstock is just incredible.

How did the slot at Bloodstock come about ?

Our mate Dean who works for Terrorizer and who had booked us to play in Birmingham put our name forward and luckily we got the OK.

You’ve shared a bill with many of the big names in Metal, anyone at Bloodstock you’re particularly looking forward to catching live ?

Exodus is always killer, At the Gates obviously, and also Devin.

And what’s next for Criminal, any more live shows lined up ?

The week after Bloodstock we’re going to Germany to play the Summer Breeze festival. Later in the year we will do some more touring in mainland Europe and hopefully we’ll book a few shows in the UK as well.