“Have you ever been to Austria? If you do, you’ll have to check out the lederhosen! They’re really comfortable!”
Kontrust take absolutely no shame in their infamous image. They are a six-piece band from Vienna, Austria, best recognised as a six-piece all clad in lederhosen, with frontwoman Agata Jarosz’s dress and blonde plaits plucked straight from backstage at a production of The Sound of Music. Their dress sense is a somewhat a blessing, considering how their metal sounds collide with rap, folk, electronic, and who knows what else, thus inducing a reluctance to introduce them by their genre, as vocalist Stefan Lichtenberger explains to Noise Cannon.
“Everybody is asking us ‘What is your genre?’ and even we don’t know. We just call it ‘crossover’. A little bit of this one, and a little bit of that one, because we are six individuals and we are quite different, and we listen to different kinds of music.”
Now in their tenth year together, 2014 brought Kontrust’s fourth album Explositive, recorded over the course of 15 months of ‘intense work’ – something to be expected of a band who have a difficulty in pinning down a universal taste from each member. However, nobody seems to take too much issue to the situation. “We have different influences, but we all still like listening to rock and metal and so on, but everyone has their own little music style that he or she is listening to as well.”
This isn’t to say that the process isn’t totally without incident, as the song selection process for their releases is a potential (read ‘inevitable’) nightmare, if only due to band members’ ironic sincerity and trust in one another. “I think the only problem is that we are a very democratic band, and there are six musicians. That sometimes makes it really hard,” Lichtenberger says honestly. “We recorded songs that are not on the album that are the favourites of one or two members. In the end, everyone is satisfied with it. The songs are not released yet, but we will continue to work on them.”
Such a mature approach might not be expected of a band who would inevitably be associated with playful intoxication. Single ‘Hey DJ’, as a four-minute rant for metal, does nothing to shake off that conclusion. It’s a verdict that began with the video of breakthrough hit ‘Bomba’, consisting of the band at their most stereotypically Austrian, against the rolling hills and mountains, beneath glorious sun, and set to their unusually eclectic, heated lunacy. The budget on ‘Bomba’ appeared not to cover additional windmills and sheep, something resolved with sock puppets in 2012’s ‘Sock n Doll’ and animation in their latest video for Explositive lead single ‘Just Propaganda’.
Kontrust’s genre divisions, reliant on independent opinion and work, seem to continue into video production, with ‘Just Propaganda’ created with little input from the majority of the band. “I only saw it a few days before the release. It works for me though, so everyone has a lot of trust in each other. It’s not necessary that all six of us are involved in every project.”
The new animated video consists of hypnotized, drooling, headphone-wearing goats, and cross-sections of their tired brains being rapidly tied in knots. The sight of lederhosen-clad robots with amplifiers for heads, guiding the poor goats to be slaughtered in the ‘Lederhosen Maker 5000’ machine, confirms that there is some kind of political irritation. By the time the characters’ head explodes in a crimson shower of blood and guts, it’s quite apparent that they really are angry after all.
Lichtenberger explains the Kontrust agenda: “People are listening a lot to radio and watching TV and surfing the internet, and there are a lot of stories or hoaxes coming up. It’s about spreading stories without really checking whether there is any truth in them. No one is asking a question about them,” he says. “This is what is really annoying sometimes, and I think it’s becoming worse and worse. There is an overflow of news media. It’s more or less a ‘propaganda war’. We still see what’s going on in Syria or Iraq and all this ISIS stuff, but you don’t get an objective view on these stories.”
All of a sudden, the perfect sync of the hundreds, plainly marching to the beat makes much more sense, even if the robotic traditional thigh-slapping dancing is not. However, if one wants to make sense of that in person, Kontrust have their eyes on the UK for their upcoming tour, as Lichtenberger says: “We are looking forward to coming to the UK, so please come and visit our shows.”