Interview with Zachariah songwriter, guitars, bass & vocals of Kratornas conducted by Dale Roy February 2017…

I was pleased to hear about the return of Kratornas and the band relocated to my homeland of Canada!! Kratornas has returned and have taken large steps in progression with their musical maelstrom of violence. After listening to it I felt compelled to do an interview with Bruno and learn more about the band and the new album. Bruno and I were in touch pretty regularly from the mid to late ‘90s until the early 2000’s. So this interview really feels like two old goats in the UG scene are sitting by a campfire catching up after nearly 20 years since our first contact...


Zachariah how is it going my metal brother?! We lost touch for some years, so this interview is a good chance for us to catch up.

Cheers Dale! Thanks for having me here! Yes, it’s been awhile…

Let’s start at the beginning of it all. What was the area like where you grew up in your early years? You lived at least in the early times of the band in the Negros Island region of the Philippines I believe. I remember early on in our contact you referencing the jungle often; did you spend a lot of time in the jungle there? When did you discover metal and become possessed by it? Were there many other people in your area into metal? What were some of the first fanzines and demos you ordered or tape traded for? Did you attend any live shows?

It was an isolated area and stinking hot but when it rains, it rains a lot (ie: flooding). Also very humid – primitive conditions all year round. This ‘jungle’ is like a 3 hour drive from where I live and there’s nothing up there once again except those waterfalls and urban legends for entertainment. I discovered ‘metal’ when I’ve heard UFO ‘One More for the Rodeo’ then I’m on my own early 90s. I forgot the name of the zine but that’s A4 center stapled and has Knight, Death and the Devil cover on it. There are hundreds of scattered addresses written in small fonts. It pushed me further writing overseas – this includes ordering by sending well hidden cash and tape trading. After a month I got all these fat envelopes filled with Xeroxed flyers! I think that’s 1991 or 1992 (very young at that time). It won’t happen again and it’s great to experience ALL of that. First CD received on the mail was Mortuary ‘Blackened Images’, first pressing. No idea how I got that since we don’t have a CD player at that time…

When did you pick up your first instrument and how long afterwards was Kratornas born? The band originally started briefly as a 3 piece band - why did this not work? Did the original line up experience leave a bad taste in your mouth and make you want to continue on as a one man band or did you just have difficulties finding new members?

The line up didn’t work because the drummer wanted to twist all things with excuses – also very ambitious and chases fame, likes to appear on TV, all that attention seeking shit. The bass player (actually a guitarist and their frontman) happened to be a yes man – they’re “best friends” so I’m the ‘odd man out’. Not really my band per se, but they ask me to join since their original bassist (a junkie) left them too. Then I took over, but the frontman (since it’s his band) feels degraded being a bassist and never liked the new direction that I want: writing own songs. Nope, only covers and very lazy! The way I look at it, it seems that they just don’t know what they really want and they literally don’t have anything – not even a drum stick! That’s it for me. Months after that, finding the right person (at that time) is like finding needles in a haystack. So instead of wasting another year, I have no choice but to continue all alone. As for the other guys, I haven’t seen them since 1997, good rid’nz!

From 1995 thru the early 2000’s you recorded and released a series of demos. What equipment did you use in those primitive days? Do you have some good memories of this time creating material and recording? Do you feel this was a good period for you to learn and progress your skills in songwriting?

I only got a double tape deck with 2 mic inputs for all the demos. I don’t know what is the ‘right’ way of doing it but I just do it : I record the first guitar and play it on the first deck while I play the 2nd guitar as it records both of them – it’s been overlapping like that until the song is done. How many overlapping, I have no idea. The final stuff sounded like a leaking water tank but I can only use what I have (absolutely and I think you did well considering what you had to work with - Dale). At that time, we are like being introduced to ‘new technologies’ about 5 years late. There are no good memories to recall in any of those except for typhoon hitting my area in 1990. No power for like a year, then another one and another one – I’m actually looking forward that we sink underwater and start fucking mermaids but too bad it didn’t happen.

You have made comments through the years that you have no desire to go and hire out a studio and engineer. You have been slowly buying recording and mixing equipment over the years. So the question is what sort of equipment do you have now? Do you prefer older equipment or newer digital based stuff? How much do you feel your knowledge and skill with recording and mixing has progressed over the years?

I got all the needed equipment (ie: consoles, real amp heads, cabinets, etc) and they are a combination of digital and analog – will be adding more hardware soon if needed. Most people look at ‘home studios’ like it was a laptop and a guitar but that’s not exactly the case. Home studio owners spend money on all these and carpentry is needed in setting up a ‘special’ room for it. I’ve also gained ‘knowledge’ when I enrolled in an audio mixing course during my stay in Vancouver. It wasn’t serious at first since I only want to kill time but it all started from there. Knowing what to do now, I can make this album sing with all the sparkles but didn’t do it. What I did is make it dry and dirty instead! Ironic maybe but it’s good to know what to do now rather than taking a shot in the dark like what happens with the previous albums.

During the early days you were releasing Kratornas stuff through your own label Ligum Dulum Productions. Was this a real record label by that I mean did you release anything besides Kratornas materials? Did you only release cassettes on this label or did you do vinyl or cd as well? Any plans to revive Ligum Dulum or has Grathila Records replaced it now? Do you handle Grathila on your own?

Strange that someone from an isolated country town and not even having a decent print shop would consider doing this last 1994 but you get the idea. I’m not calling any of these as a ‘label’ ‘though. I can’t remember what exactly happened back then but I just stopped – 2001, I guess. Grathila is a joint effort with me doing all the emails because I simply can’t do the mailorder anymore. I’ve done it before and there’s too much work involved that takes you away from your instrument. Other than this, I’ve no time meddling with stupid customers who files a dispute just because the item got delayed for 1-2 days! Happened a lot in 2009 when Manila was jackhammered by a strong typhoon and most of the parcels were put on hold due to heavy flooding. This time, it’s the other guys (living in separate countries) still willing to mail the stuff while I take care of all messages. It’s all fast and easy to synchronize with all these technology nowadays.

If you could recommend to those reading this 3 Kratornas releases that you are most proud of and represent the band the best what would those be? After all of these years you have written a lot of songs, what subjects do you find you write lyrics about the most? Are there any uncharted subjects or concepts you want to write lyrics about one day in the future?

They could start with ‘Devoured by Damnation’ but there’s nothing to look back after that. Can’t recommend anything from the demos not unless if they want something that sounds like radio static then they can dig it themselves. The subjects of these three albums were mostly about Endtime Prophecies. If there’s any other interest then that would be a picture of a very violent alien invasion (Interstellar Doom) – and dystopian society.

What kind of movies and literature are you into? Do you rely a lot on the internet and cell phones in your life? Do you miss mass letter writing contact like the old days or do you prefer the convenience Emails, texting, facebook etc… Do you have any other hobbies that have nothing to do with music?

My preferences on movies and literature were the same. Occultism, Unsolved Mysteries, Negativity - stuff like that. I say that I grew up in isolation in a forgotten town and my only way of skipping time is by watching a lot of Satanic/Horror films via Betamax and listening loud Heavy Metal! I’m also reading (bought?) those that are considered to be “dangerous books” but I’m not going public about it. The past is good but I’m not against technology, especially email (never cared about the rest). FB is good if you want to spread something since all you need is that software and automate everything as a private message and flood hundreds of group in one go. People respond to this. Why they don’t have any idea about that being a bot is beyond me. However, if you’ve sent… say like, 2000 messages, and you receive like 150+ replies then how can you read that? I’m not wasting time reading any of that! This kind of sort is also a good medium to play with people. I don’t mean play with apps. I’m talking about ‘playing’ with people (hehe), this will come very handy on a slow day. Texting is fine too but I’m not using it. I’d rather call. All this technology will be the reason to wipe us out soon but that’s alright. For hobbies, I worship guitars. They are the Devil’s instrument and I want to surround myself with it. For now I got like 19 electrics and 2 basses – all in different specs and tunings. Understandable since Philippines forbid all these things back then. I don’t think I’m having any interest that is not connected to music. How about gambling? I’m addicted to slots! Or sluts, depends on how you look at it…

The band stopped for a time, six years I believe. Why did you put down your instruments and turn off your knobs with Kratornas at that time? Did you lose your passion or inspiration for the band during this period? Did something about your move or new surroundings spark the re-activation of Kratornas?

One of the reasons why I want to relocate is to gain access to instruments, etc. In order to get that, I have to stop everything to focus on one thing only: processing the papers. Immigration is not easy (Fuck brother tell me about it, took me 7 years to become a permanent resident in the US!). If you’re from the Philippines, it is a hundred times difficult getting a visa. After that, let’s add the fact that I keep on moving from country to country. I spent three years wandering and collecting passport stamps before I made my way here. There’s no chance splitting my attention to anything music related. I should pick only one otherwise I will end up not picking anything. Taking away all the seriousness out of it, this also includes living a very reckless life like over speeding interstate, sky diving, and making an appointment to ‘see’ someone (if you know what I mean). All that noise will not happen again. Now I’m like isolated in the middle of nowhere drinking beer. That’s right, it’s all very quiet around here, the way I really want it…

So being that I am Canadian and grew up there for my first 23 years I was surprised by your move. I have some curiosity towards your adjustment or assimilation and opinions on living life in Canada. So please, if you can go into some detail on any possible culture shock you felt? Are you starting to feel comfortable there and feeling like it is home now?

I’ve lived a few Western countries before settling here in Canada and Philippines were actually very ‘Americanized’. Everybody can speak English and even the way of life, from the Arts to the Cuisine is partly American. Only bad and humid, third world style! I can’t be bothered by adapting to a new culture or maybe too many culture clashing all at once. Maybe when I was in England, they drive on the left there, but even that isn’t a big deal. I can spend a week (maximum) adjusting to anything, after that I’m good. Home is subjective too. I’m certain that I don’t like staying in one place for a decade but moving is not easy so only time will tell…

What are a few things about Canada that you dislike or even hate? A few things about Canada you like or were surprised you like? What are the main things you miss about daily life in the Philippines? Do you miss living close to the sea? Have you become a hockey fan yet? J

What I like in here is that it is very quiet. Again, many will call it ‘depressing’ but I don’t know about that because I hate being surrounded by many people with a passion and this is the kind of environment that I really want. What I don’t like… maybe frozen pipes and icy roads, but that’s the way it is. I did watch a game once while I’m still in Vancouver and actually made a bet. I don’t know if it was Hockey that I like or the gambling once again. I’m not missing anything from the Philippines. Back then I’ve never thought about leaving the country, but after I’ve left, I couldn’t care less about what’s happening in the Philippines.

So knowing Canada like I do, you moved from a tropical type environment, with palm trees and jungles, to the cold winter extremes of mid western Canada, which are filled with flat prairies and farm lands. How did you decide Canada was the country you wanted to move to and how did you end up in Saskatchewan?

Anywhere in Saskatchewan is fine by me. I’ve spent a year in Vancouver and “never like it” in there too. There is nothing wrong with Vancouver, of course. It’s all just a matter of preference. Now what’s good here is that this province seems to deter 90% of new migrants from coming over. That’s good! That means lesser people – which I like, and being in a farm is actually more of a ‘home’ to me rather than wandering within the forest of skyscrapers, so this is where it’s at (I can understand that I liked in Philadelphia but did not like it so I moved into the less populated mountains and like it much more - Dale).

I am also curious how have you adjusted to North American cuisine? Do you try to still find and prepare traditional food from your homeland? What are a few things you miss eating from the Philippines and conversely what are some of your favourite NA foods? Are you pleased they recently opened the first Jollibee Restaurant (which started in the Philippines of course) in Canada?

I’m not looking or preparing any of that Filipino cuisine to be honest. For some reason they’re just very hazardous to your health like what we call Pork Sisig or Lechon – both my favorite – but I haven’t seen any of that since 2013 (until now) and I’m not missing anything. It’s a piece of work and cost twice than those locally produced. No adjustments needed as long as it is not one of those ‘processed foods’ then it’s all fine by me. Besides, I’m not really of a food person. Jollibee and all the other overpriced ‘Filipino Stores’ here were meant for other reasons: (a) meet in there, (b) feed the homesick and (c) nostalgia. Back in the Philippines, I think I’ve been to ‘Jollibee’ like 50(?) times, all my life and those were late night / emergency purchases. Except for the mascot, there is no difference between them and McDonalds.

Did you bring very many possessions on your move such as recording equipment or your collections of cds, tapes, vinyl? If no, what did you do with your old stuff, sell it or store it?

I didn’t bring any on my first trip but only a hard drive with all the important files and ripped MP3s of albums that really matter to me. Recording equipment is non existent back then but I’ve regretfully sold that Jackson Kelly online – loose money on shipping but never cared since I’m running against time at that point. At least, it found a new home and a new owner to take care of it. Be noted that the area is very humid and hot all year round. If you got something sitting in one place for a while, rust will eat it. You are better off smashing that guitar to someone else’s windshield than letting it sit in there and get damaged while doing nothing. All the ‘collection’ was shipped in separate groups and they’re all here now.

Having operated Kratornas solo for so many years I wonder if you find many people in the scene have a negative stigma towards one man bands? I find unless the one man behind such bands is quite skilled in each instrument and has some proficiency and objectivity while recording / mixing (as they are often recorded at home alone on a computer) it ends up sounding lopsided, lacking cohesion and thin at times. Do you agree with any of that and how did you work to avoid those pitfalls with Kratornas?

I end up as a ‘one man band’ in 1995 because there’s no choice and since then I haven’t avoided any of that. I am inside the pit myself. Back in 2007, I’ve separated a room for ‘recording’ but that doesn’t help anything since there’s no decent recording equipment to begin with. I think the problem any ‘one man band’ have is that people are like being programmed not to like it. A quartet could go out with a bad mix and use a drum machine but hey, that’s ok. If a one man band does that, then everything changes. I don’t mind digging one man bands (actually bought a lot) but that’s probably because I want to know what’s going on, etc. With technology, things are easier now than what it is in 1994 but any ‘one man band’ who keeps on listing celebrity guests remains as a big question in my book. Where’s the ‘individualism’ in that.

I must admit with the new album I was very pleased to see a new Kratornas recording with a human drummer! I am not really a fan of drum machines, but I do understand for many one man bands it becomes a necessity. I saw at one point on your website recently that Kratornas will never use a drum machine again. So how much better do you feel the final result of the new recording is by having a human drummer?

There’s no point continuing ‘alone’ once again. Drum machines were like a perfectly aligned one note machine gun. There’s no pulse, no flaws and will not stop unless you ‘programmed’ them to. That’s why the previous albums were repetitive because the riffs were written according to the capacity of the machine that I am using. It is an old and physical drum machine. Not the one that you tick - I’ve tried using a trial, thinking it might be different but it’s still the same. There’s even more work involved now that I’d rather watch paint dry than waste my time ticking those boxes. Kratornas contently went to the grave by itself last 2010. It’s still good as dead as we speak that’s why I always stand by my statement that if there’s no drummer, then there’s no new music coming out. The pressing plant is there, the equipment is there, but if there's no drummer then use a drum machine?? Not happening. So yes, all things rely on the drummer. It was all resurrected because I found one. Otherwise, I'm all living quietly here. For all I know I'm just lucky getting this album out without even doing gigs or promoting it myself. If in the future that there will be a conflict on schedule, etc, then heh... why bother...

Do you regret over the years being a one man band not having the ability to play live gigs or do you not really care about that? Do you have any intentions with a drummer in the band now of playing live in the future?

The only thing to look back is that why I haven’t relocated sooner. I could have probably done more (and better) stuff and met the right people, etc. I got the option to leave last 2002 but can’t remember why I didn’t pursue that. I don’t mind playing live but what is happening BEFORE and AFTER that is the one I detest the most. You must be a real people person to do this kind of stuff. Not to mention the amount of work involved in doing this is something that I’ve no interest dealing with. I got nothing to all the bands doing this but Live / Touring / ETC is not what I wanted since 1996. To each his own I guess…

You wrote recently you hired basically a session drummer for recordings but recently your website seemed to change to GB Guzzarin being listed now as a member? If true, what changed your mind and is it strange now after so many years having another member besides yourself in the band?

It was posted like that because I thought it’s a done deal after we’re done with things. We didn’t even have a ‘band photo’ and the one that circulates right now is a last minute shot after we’re done recording drum and bass. After the mastering, I’ve sent him the files and all the emails started changing from there. Second, ‘GB Guzzarin’ is a name that will not change no matter what. I’ve already got links of those who offer the same - just in case things go south. If there will be a new drummer, then he’ll also be tag as ‘GB Guzzarin’. If I can find the right bass player, I won’t hesitate adding one too. For now, we’re good. Session musicians are not guaranteed and are not an easy deal like what people thought it was. Most won't allow their name being changed. That's like charging you a grand and get their real name to be credited. Very cool double whammy greed right there but that's a no deal for me. This actually became as a business platform now. There's a site where you can hire an "A-Lister" to play on your songs. Fucking terrible! It's like buying that person's name to slap it on your record and get accepted! So yes, for now, I'm good with this one…

Did GB Guzzarin write any of his own drum parts on this album? Will Guzzarin be involved in the creative process with songwriting in future? Do you think it changed the outcome of “Devoured By Damnation” very much compared to what it would have been with you using a drum machine once again?

Literally, I didn’t see him wrote anything, aha! I think it’s all up in the head. There is a demo so there’s already a pattern then we crafted everything as we go. Then we record takes after takes from rehearsals, listen to it afterwards and find out what to do next. I like the fact that he can easily do what the song needs. I simply tell him what to do here and there but we’re on our own during the final take. Pretty basic for most bands but it’s a whole new process for me and the difference is obvious. With a real drummer, it allowed an all out violent album and not inserting a mid-tempo track in the middle of this chaos. Drum machines won’t allow this; otherwise all blasts will sound the same and there’s a need for a slower track to be put here and there (ie: previous albums). I’m not into ‘controlled blastbeats’, there’s no such thing and just an excuse of someone’s incapability. It’s fast to very fast then sudden hooks to slow to fast again, no excuses!

Your new album, the third so far entitled ”Devoured By Damnation”, has been released after a long seven year break since the release of your second album. Have you been slowly writing riffs and skeletons of songs over these years or did you write it all after you decided to revive the band? How long did it take to write the material?

‘Devoured by Damnation’ was done in a month (including all rehearsals, etc) and not 7 years, haha! I remember not able to pick up a guitar due to busy travelling from 2010 until 2014. It was a whirlwind of… I don’t know how to call this.., “too many things happening all at once”? Haven’t played guitar those 1st three years of relocation and haven’t written anything either. Besides, half of the songs on this album were already written and released 20 years ago as a demo. I can’t remember how long did it take me to write the rest but I’m not spending years after years ‘making an album’. I’ll leave that to the ‘perfectionist’, who, do nothing but nitpicking their songs but still not able to release a perfect album. Maybe they didn’t know that there will always be people born not to like it. You can’t please everybody, that’s human nature. A band could spend 10 years (plus a million dollar budget) only to be dissed by someone working on a minimum wage that happens to have a 'review site' and/or running a 'label', haha! So regardless whether the album is written within 8 years or 8 days or 8 hours, when it hit the streets, they are all the same so what’s the point? Nothing. Just gather all the hate and put it into music – that’s the forgotten way of ‘songwriting’...

How long did it take for you to record the new album? Did you have a specific order you recorded all the parts ala all the bass, then all drums or do you record all the instruments and vocals of an entire song then move to the next one? What mistakes in the recording process have learned from in the past that you applied to the new recording?

I record the main guitar as the very first, then WE record drum and bass along with that – LIVE, if you know what I mean. It was all easy and all done very fast. 12 hours, more or less, because some of the riffs were so fast that we have to do a couple of takes to make drum and bass sit in there ‘tight’. The next day, I recorded 2nd guitars, etc and it’s all set to be mixed. No editing, just mixing and keep the flaws! Add five more days and it is all done, ready for Mastering. I think the mistakes ARE… not thinking clearly ahead! The 12 hour bass/drum recording is not intentional, it was an accident. The first mix ends up problematic too but I think I’ve fixed it last minute. Then the artwork came into play, ETC. It wasn’t supposed to be like that but there’s no more time left. There’s a lot of mess going on but that’s alright…

As people will know from my review, I feel the new album is large step forward in quality for Kratornas. I know in the past this was something that was always important for you to progress and get better all the time, so do you agree with my opinion on the new album that you achieved this? Are you satisfied with the reactions so far to it?

The reactions, if you mean the reviews… well, I don’t like ‘correcting’ people about what they think. Let them say what they want. They can like it or hate it, doesn’t matter. On the other hand, this album also ends up on some people’s “best of list”. I never really cared for this fancy stuff but that didn’t happen with the 2nd album so maybe you’re right about the ‘progress’ thing, I don’t know. To be honest, I have never really sent out a single promo myself. I hired someone to spread the pest for me. Downside is that I have no control with all those promos so it’s most likely ending up on a person (from any zine) that I really don’t know. I’m surprised you got one too. Funny how things have become after all these years but that’s what is going on nowadays, so…

I would ask you about future plans for Kratornas, but I know from past interviews you do not plan for the future and whatever happens happens. I could ask more questions but this is starting to feel like a marathon so I will wrap it up now. I just want ask where people can find your merchandise to purchase?

I don’t believe on ‘planning’. It’s just not the ‘reality’ for me. I’m more like of a hedonist that gets the pleasure of today and never cared about tomorrow’s little things. I end up living in Canada without even planning it but I know what you’re trying to ask here; so maybe the ‘plan’ is embedding hate in music and spread it. That’s it from me, NO OBLIGATIONS. I’m not here to ‘compete’ (for the lack of word) and literally got nothing to do with any of that time wasting bullshit. I’ve been out for six years not caring about the world, there’s no way I’m caring about it now. It’s easy to get misinterpreted, especially if you’re not active in the ‘communication department’. Replying by email only and done once a week is too much for nowadays standards, etc. I got a lot of things going on right now that I can only laugh. I’m not here to ‘innovate’ either. I’ve said it last 2008(?) and always stand by my statement. I know what I want and pleasing people is not one of them. All merchandise were setup on this little indie shop just in case people want to buy one.

Finally I want to say I am honoured to finally feature an interview with you in Canadian Assault. Thank you for all the time you put into this. Final words are yours…

Eternal thanks to Dale Roy and to anyone reading this interview! SPREAD HATE!!  





The Kratornas (Select) Discography 

Realm of Goatlust Demo, 1995

Enorht Eht Nihtiw Si Taog Eht Demo, 1997

The Onslaught of Battledemons Demo, 1999

Tribal Satan Demo, 2006

Over the Fourth Part of the Earth CD, 2007

Four Concentric Ways of the Ancient Cult  Split CD, 2007

Monoliths of Annihilation Split 7" EP, 2008

The Corroding Age of Wounds CD, 2009

Death Rules Supreme - Tribute to Mortem CD, 2010

Deathpuzzle 7" EP, 2012

Dead Burning Christ Single, 2016

Devoured by Damnation CD, 2016




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