If you are into some of the most brutal old school death, grind metal, then you must definitely read on. Metal Maidens got in touch with Susan Geri: the face, the fingers and the brains of one of Hollands' leading old school death metal outfits: DESENSITISED. What’s it like for a lady to survive in the world of the bloody, gore, dark underground of death metal? She went where no other ladies dare to go, and all the bloody details can be found here. Besides that, Susan also informed us about her band, that is about to release their new album “Virus Of Violence”. So put away your scalpels and stop peeling off the skin of your grandmothers dead body, or stop digging up your grandfather. Grab a chair and become infected with the virus of violence, spread by Susan and DESENSITISED. One of the leading ladies in the death metal scene from Holland tells her story.
Please tell us how you got in touch with each other....
Susan: "We all knew each other (except Martijn) from gigs and so on. I knew Wilbert from his previous band DEFCON ONE and Jeroen from the local recordstore. When we were looking for a new bassplayer, we put up an advert in his store and he reacted to it. Martijn joined us after Jeroen auditioned in another band of his. Jeroen heard and liked the way Martijn played and asked him to join DESENSITISED instead, which he did."
Who came up with the band name and what does it mean?
Susan: "I came up with the name. It means that you are not sensitive anymore. People have become hardened to what used to be shocking and I think this is something contemporary. We live in a desensitised society."
Why did your previous band CATAFALQUE actually call it quits?
Susan: "When we recorded our first CD, we talked about changing our name as there was another band called CATAFALQUE and one called KATAFALK. We wanted a fresh start with a new name. So we didn’t really quit, but just went on under a new name."
Which bands can we see as an influence for DESENSITISED, and why?
Susan: "For me it’s definitely CARCASS. I just love their music, the way they write songs and the way they play(ed) and sound. The others are also into good death and grind bands. Wilbert for example is mainly influenced by vocalists like Jeff Walker (CARCASS), Frank Mullen (SUFFOCATION), George Fisher (THE MONSTROSITY YEARS) and Bret Hoffman (MALEVOLENT CREATION). Jeroen’s influences are mainly old school death and grind bands like EXTREME NOISE TERROR, TERRORIZER, NAPALM DEATH, PUNGENT STENCH, OBITUARY and so on.”
How would you describe the music of DESENSITISED?
Susan: "Heavy, fast, groovy, some melodic touches.”
Who writes the lyrics for the band, and what are they about?
Susan: "For our new CD “Virus Of Violence” we had a wide range of writers, haha! Our previous singer Steven wrote the lyrics for four songs. I wrote the lyrics for six songs, we have one song for which Jo (our first singer in 1995) wrote the lyrics, Jeroen wrote the lyrics for one song and even Sven of ABORTED wrote the lyrics (back in 1997) for “Introspective exploration”.”
What was the reaction like of the press towards your first MCD “Thriving On Carnage” (released in 2002) and how many copies were sold of this MCD?
Susan: "In general, the reactions were really positive! We sold thousand copies and wanted to print another five hundred, which unfortunately didn’t happen, because the guy who ran our label had to deal with some serious health issues and therefore couldn’t do it.”
Your next album “Bought Beauty” was released as a split CD, through a Czech label. How did you get in touch with them and did you get much support?
Susan: "We got in touch with them via a Czech magazine. As we didn’t have many labels to choose from at that time, this was basically the only option. Looking back I would have preferred to have released the CD independently, as we really didn’t get any support whatsoever. We hardly saw any reviews and we don’t even know if and how well this CD sold….”
Why did you show those mutilated breasts on the cover of this release? Wouldn’t it have been much more fun to show the face of some of our Dutch celebrities like Conny Breukhoven (formerly known as Vanessa) or Patty Brard, and make fun out of them? After all, they did try to buy their beauty, and they didn’t do it because they suffered from a disease (breast cancer) or something like that. Which might be a good reason to ‘buy back your original beauty’ in the first place
Susan: " Initially, the plan was to have a fresh facelift on the front, but we couldn’t find any pictures of that, so we chose this option. Yeah, haha, Vanessa would have been great on our cover, although I doubt whether foreigners would understand the joke. When could you buy back your original beauty? I don’t think you could, because people who’ve had an operation thought they weren’t beautiful in the first place, so they can’t buy back what’s never been there, I think."
The artwork for your releases is very different each time. Can you tell us who decides which artwork is chosen for your albums, and how you make those ‘final’ choices?
Susan: "We usually talk about an item for the cover and start looking for pictures. The “Thriving On Carnage” picture is actually a holiday snapshot of mine, haha! We went to a place called Sedlec in the Czech Republic and visited a bone chapel there. I thought the pictures were so cool, that we used them for our cover.”
In February 2005, you recorded a new album called “Virus Of Violence”, which will be released later this year. In which way has your music developed since the mini CD, in your opinion?
Susan: "I think there’s more variety. The songs are still very fast, but sometimes a bit more melodic because the integration of leads. Personally I think, that the songs are more well-structured as well.”
With which bands did you share the stage already?
Susan: "We’ve played with bands like ARCH ENEMY, PUNGENT STENCH, SUFFOCATION, THANATOS, HOUWITSER, PROSTITUTE DISFIGUREMENT, DISASTRUS MURMUR, ROMPEPROP, CLITEATER, PYAEMIA and many more."
What can people expect, when they come to see DESENSITISED play live on stage?
Susan: "An energetic show!”
What has been your biggest gig so far?
Susan: “The one with ARCH ENEMY last year."
And your most successful gig?
Susan: "I guess the one at Prilpop. The crowd was great!”
Do you also play covers live, or do you stick to your own-penned material only?
Susan: “No, we only play our own songs.”
If you could go on tour with any band of your choice, which band would you choose and why?
Susan: “I think ARCH ENEMY, as I really like their music and they are all very nice, relaxed people.”
There must be some nice stories to tell about the live shows you did. Maybe you want to share some of these funny moments with our readers here?
Susan: “There are a few, yeah. At one gig Martijn wanted to adjust his hi-hat stand, while playing. While doing so, he hit a button on his trigger module and for a few seconds we had a nice cowbell effect during “Torchure”. haha. Last week I wiped the hair out of my face at the end of a song and lost my pick because of that, while Martijn already wanted to start a new song. I was just able to stop him in time and could start “my quest for the lost pick”- hehe!”
Have you got a specific goal set for DESENSITISED, and if yes, what is this goal?
Susan: “To be appreciated and recognised as a serious band. We know that we will never be able to live from this music and that isn’t our intention either. For us this band is a serious hobby, which we all love and we’d like people in the scene to know about our music.”
We got in touch with the band through our mutual friend Kim Hendrix, who told us about you. How important are the fans for the band in general?
Susan: “Extremely important. I mean, we play this music because we love it, but to say that we only play for ourselves would be hypocrite, because you want others to appreciate what you’re doing. When we’ve played live and people email us afterwards how much they liked the gig, that gives a lot of satisfaction.”
What are the future plans for DESENSITISED?
Susan: “Our priority at the moment is to have our new CD “Virus Of Violence” released. We had an (oral) confirmation from a great label, and we just had to send them an email for the contract. When we did so they suddenly blew the deal off, because of financial reasons. We hope to be able to do a tour in the future.”
If a well-known top 40 band would offer you a lot of money to play in their band and tour all over the world, would you take up on their offer?
Are there any interesting gigs scheduled in the (near) future?
Susan: “We were looking forward to our gig with EXHUMED this weekend, but unfortunately they’ve cancelled their tour, so we can’t play with them, which is a pity as it’s a great band!”
Metal Maidens ‘zine is completely dedicated to the women in the (hard)rock and (heavy)metal scene. Do you feel that women still need this special kind of attention, or do you think female musicians are already getting the recognition, that they deserve so well?
Susan: “That depends. I think, a musician should get recognition for what he/she is doing and not because of their gender.”
Is there anything you’d like to add to this interview, maybe we forgot to mention something that is essential for the story of the band?
Susan: “I can’t think of anything really important you might have forgotten to mention.”
Do you have any personal messages for our readers?
Susan: “If you’re into old-school death /grind, check out our music and website [http://www.desensitised.nl] for more interviews, MP3s and a video. Hope to see you at one of our gigs!”
The last words are for you and DESENSITISED, Susan!
Susan: “Spread the virus!!”
Interview by: Toine van Poorten/courtesy of Metal Maidens, October 2005.
*Thriving On Carnage (Bleedin’ Hemorrhoids records; MCD July 2002)
*Bought Beauty (Grodhaisn productions; split-CD June 2004)
*Virus Of Violence (in production; CD 2005)