Monday, October 22, 2012

Mike Cress of The Scarlet Claw talks music and books

Hey Mike, thanks for coming by to chat. How did The Scarlet Claw come to be? Is it named after the Sherlock Holmes story?

Yes, the band is named after the very first Sherlock Holmes movie from 1944, we even used the slogan “New thrills! New terror!” on the very first image we released online. I was the vocalist of the industrial metal band ‘Gilo’ for  almost 10 years and when I parted ways with the band I decided to start a new band with my former band mate Niels Vissia, we found the rest of the line-up pretty quickly and released our first EP within 6 months.

Do you write most of the music and lyrics or is it a collaborative effort between band members?

I normally write all of the lyrics myself, guitarist/vocalist Mark Overmaat helped me write the lyrics for one song, “Revelation”,  which will be on the new album. The music is written by both guitarists and myself.

Your music is pretty hardcore, where do you find your inspiration for the themes in your music?  And the musical influences that helped shape the band’s sound as it is today?

 The lyrics from the new album are all about coming back from being defeated, threatened or suppressed by tyrants, dictators, religious leaders and fanatics. I get my inspiration from watching the news and basically everyday life. Also, as an atheist, I write a lot about religion. Not to convert people but just to give my opinion on the matter. One of my favorite quotes is one by Douglas Adams from The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy: “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”

Living and growing up in Europe doesn’t automatically mean that you’ll grow up listening to European bands, we don’t share that “patriotism” with people from the United States, however, the death metal bands from Europe have had such an influence on modern death metal bands from all over the world  that when you’re a metal fan you must own at least one album made by a band from Europe, in our case that would be At The Gates and In Flames. 

What instruments do you play?

I started playing bass-guitar at age 13, started playing guitar and drumming a year later. Found out I could growl like Max Cavalera from Sepultura, at a friend’s house when I was 17 years old. My friend had a metal cover band and the singer was late so I took the microphone and screamed my lungs out, everybody, including myself, was shocked! My first show as a vocalist was 2 years earlier at a Nirvana tribute night where I played bass and sang the entire Incesticide album.

Any favorite live music venues?

The city I live in, Hengelo, The Netherlands, has a new music venue with 3 different stages and bar. It’s only 5 minutes from my house and I’ve seen bands like Lamb Of God, Fun Lovin’ Criminals and many other there. My band rehearses in the same venue so it’s pretty cool meeting acts like Public Enemy while we take a break.

What’s a typical week for the band?

We have a weekly rehearsal, every Sunday 11 am – 3 pm, we usually get together once or twice a week for song writing. Our drummer has 2 other bands so he rehearses with them too. I own a booking/band-management agency so I’m quite busy with that plus I train MMA 4 times a week. Our guitarist Mark is also a booker for my agency and our other guitarist, Niels, has his own media company.  It’s quite a miracle that we play the amount of shows that we do and find time to record music.

Do you have a band that really inspired you as a kid, made you say “Wow, I want to do that!" One that you still listen to today?

More than one actually. First there was Metallica,  the ...And Justice For All album made me want to make metal myself. After that I discovered Biohazard, Life Of Agony, Pantera and many more. The first time I saw Pantera on stage at Dynamo Open Air in 1998 it really changed my life. I knew that being on stage is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

I hear you are also a writer! What genre do you write in? If so, can you tell us a little bit more about the stories?

I started writing short poems and lyrics for my bands, most lyrics were short horror stories and I began wondering what happened after the lyric ended so lyrics and poems became short stories. I had a dream one night and the day after the same dream, that became a short story which kept expanding. Every now and then I work on the story and have done that for the last six or seven years. It’s a space opera , not many people know about it or have read anything, only a few and they were really excited to read the rest of the story. It’s a great way for me to escape every day pressure and get lost in the story. I think it will take me at least another six or seven years to finish it but I’m in absolutely no hurry. 

What book really inspired you as a child that still makes an impression on you today?

That would be Frank Herbert’s Dune and anything Douglas Adams and Stephen King wrote.

Lightning Round!

Horror movies or Comedies?

Favorite male-fronted band?

Favorite female-fronted band?
Lacuna Coil

Favorite guitarist?
Mark Morton (Lamb of God)

Favorite vocalist?
Phil Anselmo

CD you are listening to now?
There are two albums on repeat: The Hunter by Mastodon and Cognitive by Soen

Vodka or whiskey?
None, I’ve been sober for 9 months now

Pepsi or Coke?

What’s next for Mike Cress and what’s in the queue for Scarlet Claw?

I’ve just started the Leviathan Agency and contracted the first bands. The Scarlet Claw will record their first full-length album in December with a European tour starting in April 2013 and I’ll continue writing on my story. I need more hours in the day! 

Where can we find and buy the Scarlet Claw’s music?

You can download our first release “Black Orchard” for any price you wish to pay for it at

The Scarlet Claw on Facebook: