About Me

Interview with Kontrust

Heavy Metal and Rock genres are not strictly for metal heads and rock fans. Kontrust blends and combines this and much more, by incorporating Reggae, Soul, and Jazz into their music, and are able to deliver unforgettable tracks and concerts. 
The Crossover band from Austria, after a long hiatus, just released their new album called Madword, which encompasses what’s been going on with the world, historical themes, more Lederhosen, and preparing the upcoming concerts for next year.
Manuel Haglmüllerk and Julia Ivanova, the Redhead Singer, talked with Metal Imperium concerning not only Kontrust’s new album, as well as Julia’s rising career to becoming a music star, their personal music influences, the insofar highlight band’s career, and, of course, why the stage outfit that fully represents Kontrust.
Aside from delivering powerful and interesting messages, each album is distinct from the other. With a few changes in the lineup, Madworld undoubtedly brings back the Austrian band, showing that they’re still rocking and kicking out loud.

M.I. - Let’s start with the band’s name. Correct me if I’m wrong, but 20 years ago you were called Suicide Mission, and then changed to Kontrust?

Manuel: This is almost correct. It was 22 years ago and there had been some lineup changes too, so it was not the same people involved, which is why we completely changed the band name also and actually by now there's only two founding members left from Kontrust, which is Stefan, our male singer, and me.

M.I. - Despite being categorized as Crossover, if you had to describe Kontrust’s music style, would you say it’s a bit of everything such as Rock, Metal, Folk, Jazz, etc.?

Manuel: Yeah, kind of. We’re actually making music which is very colorful. We experiment a lot with different styles, different elements, different influences and all of that is a mix and a very blend together. So, actually the band’s name Kontrust really fits that style, because it's just very colorful and different.

M.I. - Even though bringing different genres to the audience, can we say that each album is entirely different from the other?

Manuel: Yeah, of course. They're all unique and I think this applies to this one now, Madworld, which will be released on the 3rd of November, especially because we, first of all, took a long break when it comes to studio. Two albums, the last one was in 2014 and due to all these circumstances, and again we had many, many new influences, new styles, new genres that we tapped into, it applies to this album, especially that it's different than the others.

M.I. - Not many Rock and Metal bands incorporate Reggae! King of the Rising Sun, from Welcome Home (2005) is truly unique. Do you find challenging to bring different music styles to the hardcore metalheads?

Manuel: No, I think that's actually not a problem at all. I think especially metal heads really are open minded and at least they're open minded enough to enjoy some change, not some standard hardcore Metal stuff, but also to appreciate the funny, crazy style that we create, especially for example, on festivals when the crowds are just jumping, moshing and celebrating with us, it's just a positive energy that we provide and they appreciate it.
Privately within the band, of course, everybody has his or her own taste, own style, but what he or she listens to in private life, let's say, and the genres go range from pop to Jazz, to Reggae to hard Rock, of course, to classical music. The influences that we get from all of this is, again, very colorful.

M.I. - What are Kontrust’s music influences?

Manuel: For me, personally, I'm mainly listening to rock and metal music. The main influences would be from Korn, Rage Against the Machine or Soulfly, stuff like that, but also, especially when I was in the writing process for Madworld, I listened much, much more to electronic music, and, actually, you can hear that in Madworld, because I really tapped into experimenting with synths, for creating my ideas and bringing my ideas to the other guys. I guess it's also a variety of different styles and genres too. Probably, Julia has some other genres that she loves to incorporate there, right?
Julia: Yeah, I mean, I'm actually very adaptive in music and although I was not so involved in some writing process, for me, it's easier to work with already some ideas which the guys provided and out of it I could create some, in my opinion, better variation for vocal lines, which was my part partially. For example, the same happened with The End song where the vocal line for chorus I created out of my head, but based a little bit on an idea that Stefan just made. Everybody liked it and we left it the way it is. It's also, of course, I can say I’m influenced by many music styles, as Manuel said. I love to sing Jazz, I love to sing Rock, I love to sing Pop, Soul and some other stuff. Many, many musicians and great singers of the world are also involved in this like my favorite (band) Queen, for example, Freddie Mercury or Tina Turner or Christina Aguilera or Adele or Lady Gaga, or even Sebastian Bach, for example. It’s a mix of everything, hard to say who is who.

M.I. - It looks like a few band members have a history degree background. Who’s the history buff and why the historical themes?

Manuel: History, I think, it was Gregor who actually studied history, but I guess everybody is interested in history within the band. I don't actually know where you got that Information from, but I think it was only Gregor who studied History.
Interesting. I did not actually know that this delivers the impression of somebody studying history, and if you're referring to the lyrics, Gregor is not so much involved in the lyrics writing, so I guess that's a coincidence.

M.I. - Lederhosen is traditionally your outfit. Is this a homage to your home country?

Manuel: Yeah, of course. I mean by now the Lederhosen have become our trademark. It’s not only our stage outfit, it's all developed, of course, like in the video Bomba from the album Time to Tango, which we published in 2009. This video was kind of a breakthrough for us. It got viral and widely popular all the way through Europe and that's actually how we made the step into the, let's say, more professional music industry, and how we got an international standing. So, the Lederhosen just stuck.

M.I. - It’s the year 2023. So far, what’s the highlight of your career?

Manuel: For me, personally, it was the show at Woodstock Poland, in front of 300.000 people. It was definitely the biggest show we’ve ever played and just an amazing experience to have such a huge crowd in front of you, and people are celebrating, moshing to your music. I will just never forget it.

M.I. - The X-Factor was your stairway to heaven. Looking backwards, was this the career you always wanted? 

Julia: Yeah, let's say the X-Factor turned out to be my main kick to the world, because that video became very viral, and although it happened three years after my performance, but it really still works for me. People still get to know about me in that video and I can say that I guess in the end of the school, I wanted to be a cartoon maker. Then, it turned out ok. I guess I'm a singer, I'm a musician so I like the musical person I am, but the understanding of that fact came later. I don't know if I can still say that’s my main plan, my main goal. I will follow my dream, follow my heart, and follow what I was born for. Only one way.

M.I. - Kontrust’s latest video “The End” is quite political and delivers a powerful message to the world. Do you felt the need to create and share this video due to the conflicts happening in Eastern Europe and more recently in the Gaza Strip?

Manuel: There’s definitely a relation also, of course, because of Julia's background for living in Ukraine, for I think a decade or something.
Julia: 11 years.
Manuel: Yeah, 11 years. Well, the video, or the song, actually, also covers a lot of other topics, not only political, which are serious, which, you know, are just a part of everybody's life. Let's say it's a concern for everybody, and I think the whole track really fits to the album Madworld, so the title speaks for itself. When we wrote the album during the last few years, we kind of tried to sum up all of our impressions and experiences that we made in the last decade since our last album. This is how the whole story line developed and is now summarized in Madworld, and I think The End definitely is one of the more serious tracks that delivers this kind of message to the world, who just went nuts in the last decade.

M.I. - Your first concert to present the new album will be in Vienna. Any upcoming concerts or European tour next year?

Manuel: Yeah, in Austria, we played a lot of a few selected shows this year and after the release show on the 2nd of November, we also will play a small gig, also in Austria and the booking for next year is running on hot, I don't know how to say it, but it’s running. We cannot tell anything about that yet, because we are still in the middle of the booking process at the moment.

M.I. - You must come to Portugal! Would you like to share any message with our readers and your fans?

Manuel: Personally, I really love Portugal. I've been there a couple of times on vacation, and we are really, really looking forward to finally come there. The sooner the better, because we get a lot of requests from Portugal, so we hope to see you soon on stage.
Julia: I would like to say: Guys stay positive, stay Rock ‘n Roll, stay Kontrust, listen to Kontrust, buy our new album, go to a Kontrust concert!
Manuel: Stream the music videos, stream it on Spotify and share it with everyone!

For Portuguese version, click here

Listen Kontrust, on Spotify

Questions by André Neves