It is no shame if you have never heard of KRASHKARMA before, but that is going to change before the month of July shows on your calendar. Because on June 23rd, this krazy duo from hell (their hometown is Los Angeles, how controversial) will launch their new album “Falling To Pieces” on Rockshots Records. But before that, Niki Skistimas (vocals/drums) and Ralf Dietel (vocals/guitar/bass) will already have crossed the Atlantic Ocean to join Butcher Babies on their European tour, starting in Hamburg, Germany on June 18th. We got Niki off the drum seat to answer some questions for us.
INTERVIEW BY: HENK VAN NIEUWENHOVEN
Hi Niki. Please take us to the very beginning of KRASHKARMA. When did it all start?
I was playing drums in Ralf‘s band Suicide Holiday for a few tours and we decided that we wanted to expand our musical vision and add new elements that would include more of me singing and contributing in the writing. We wanted the name to embody the dynamics between male and female, yin and yang, etc. KRASHKARMA also represents the idea of experiencing life in the moment and learning the lessons immediately so you can move on to the next one without causing any harm.
KRASHKARMA wasn’t always a duo, right? When did the change come and why?
We came from traditional band structures and planned to keep it that way at the beginning. We started out as a 4-piece. As time went on and we began to travel internationally a lot more, we decided that a 3-piece was just as powerful and a lot less stress. We had a few different bass players that would play with us based on their availability. We had a year full of touring coming up, a song on the radio and some big festivals to play and neither of our guys could do it, so we had try outs for a new person. He lasted for the first leg of the tour before we had to cut ties. It wasn’t a good fit. We got another guy to do the next leg, but he had a back injury that flared up on the way to the first show which was 20+ hours away. We dropped him off at the airport with a plane ticket back to LA, called every musician we knew, couldn’t get anyone to play, so we had to make a new plan. This is the moment I believe KRASHKARMA was really born. We had to reinvent ourselves completely and try it out on a stage in front of 5000 people the next day. Sometimes the path just chooses you.
Your first album “Straight To The Blood” came out in 2010, followed by “Paint The Devil” in 2015. What can you tell us about these two albums?
Ralf and I have always been the main song writers, but we were still a 4-piece during the writing process of these 2 albums, so the style reflects that.
The next album “Morph” (2018) and the EP “Storm” (2021) are the only two releases on the same label. The aforementioned ones and your new album “Falling To Pieces” are all on different labels. You’re not very sedentary?
We have only ever licensed our albums out to labels for distribution purposes. We released “Morph” and “Storm” on our own label because there are more options in today’s ever changing landscape of the music business. We do most everything ourselves and own all of our music. We are releasing our upcoming album “Falling To Pieces” with a label out of Italy called Rockshots Records. We are hoping it proves to be a good choice and that they will be a good team to work with.
It took you five years to come up with a new album that will be out on June 23rd through Rockshots Records? What happened?
We were set to release an album in 2020, but the world literally shut down. So, like a lot of artists we used the time to be creative and reevaluate our approach. We wrote a bunch of new music and released an EP in 2021 with 8 singles that we recorded during the pandemic. In 2022, we were on tour most of the time and when we weren’t, we were working on “Falling To Pieces”. Once we decided to work with Rockshots, we had to move the release date back even further. It’s just the nature of the beast, but we weren’t just sitting on our asses for 5 years that’s for sure.
Do you write all the songs together? How does that work exactly?
Yes, we write everything together. Our inspiration comes in a lot of different ways. Sometimes it starts with a guitar riff or a melody line. Others we have a topic that we want to write about or a style that we want to explore. The beauty of having male and female vocals is that the possibilities are endless. Finding the right voice for each song is a craft in itself.
On the cover of your new album “Falling To Pieces” there’s a dark angel with red wings that is literally ‘falling apart’. Is this meant as a metaphor?
The angel on the cover portraits the feeling of being lost in darkness, floating between the stars and feeling as though she is slowly falling apart. It’s a lesson in letting go of the past and embracing the future unknown.
Let’s go through some of the tracks on “Falling To Pieces”. Especially the ones with the odd titles. Please tell us more about these songs.
“15 Minutes Of Pain”: This is a play on Andy Warhol’s “15 Minutes Of Fame”.
“Tapdancing Through Minefields”: I actually used to tap dance and we thought it would be really cool to add that element in a song. The lyrics are about finding peace in otherwise pretty ugly circumstances.
“How God Lost Her Virginity”: This song touches on the abuse and exploitation of women and how that time is coming to an end. The future is feminine.
“Orphans In Zombieland”: The song starts with a quote from the movie Night Of The Living Dead and initially reminds one of Tool. The 1968 film was picked up as a socio-political statement in which a black protagonist defends himself against a growing number of zombies. In our song, the ‘zombie plague’ is racism, which is a worldwide infection that must be stopped.
“mONSTERS eXIT tHE hOPELESS”: The abbreviation of the title is METH (Crystal Meth). A terrible drug that has plunged many into the abyss. It is a song about addiction and personal impressions that we have collected from a close acquaintance.
Does “Survive The Afterlife” feature Metallica’s Lars Ulrich on drums as in the videoclip on your Facebook page or was that just a jam?
That was just a TikTok duet.
You also did a song called “This Is The Way” with footage from the Star Wars series The Mandalorian. Fans of the movies and series?
Yes, we are big Mandalorian fans. We really enjoy making fan art for the communities that share in our passions. We like to connect with people on a level that celebrates different art mediums… especially film and television.
Besides that, you have also done a couple of covers, like Judas Priest’s “Painkiller” and Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper”. Will you be doing more of this?
Always.. We love doing covers just for fun.
For those who have never heard any KRASHKARMA song before, how would you describe your sound and why should anybody buy the new album?
KRASHKARMA is a Los Angeles-based band and are almost certainly the only metal duo with a female drummer and vocalist and a single guitarist/bassist. From behind the drum kit the energetic Niki Skistimas keeps the rhythm rock-tight as she delivers her seductively-charged vocals. Meanwhile guitarist/bassist and co-vocalist Ralf Dietel brings the material to life with his unique Frankenstein guitar/bass creation. Never before have two people created a sound so immense yet so vibrant.
You are the singer and the drummer in KRASHKARMA. Is that difficult to do at the same time and how long have you been doing this?
I started singing and playing in this band. I used to do a few backrounds here and there, but nothing like I do now. It’s hard, yes, but I love it.
The “Falling To Pieces World Tour” will start on June 2 in France and takes you to five different countries spread over six months. Is it your first travel to Europe as KRASHKARMA and will there be more dates added?
We play in Europe quite a lot, but are always adding new countries. We update the dates quite often at the moment and you can always find the most current dates on our website or any social media platforms. Just search KRASHKARMA.
Final one: between now and the release date of “Falling To Pieces”, are you going to make a new video? For which song?
We will be releasing 3 music videos before the release date. One for the title track which is already out, one for “Survive The Afterlife” and one for “15 Minutes Of Pain”. We will also do a video for “Voodoo Devil Drums” shortly after the release.