Famous Firsts: Kataklysm

We chat to Kataklysm frontman Maurizio Iacono about sneaking into a Napalm Death concert at 16 and why they billed themselves as the ‘heaviest band in the world’ in the early days.

**What was the first album that you ever bought? **“The first album I ever bought was Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All. It was because of the artwork, really. I was listening more to hard rock at the time, you know when you’re starting to get into heavier stuff, and I went from Michael Jackson to Metallica. Back in the day we had MTV that used to play all the rock videos and what’s how I got into it – watching these crazy guys with long hair, and getting into some of that stuff like that. So I went to the record store after someone told me about this band Metallica, and I bought the record. I saw the hammer with the blood and I was like, ‘That’s it, I’m sold.’ I loved it. And I loved Cliff Burton’s bass solos and all the crazy shit he was doing that I’d never heard anybody do before. From that point I started getting into playing an instrument, which was a bass at that time. So that would be it for me – Kill ‘Em All.”

What was the first single that you ever bought? “Probably Beat It by Michael Jackson. Who didn’t buy that? Everybody can say whatever they want, but this is a guy that wrote everything himself. Everything that was on his records came from inside his head. He would sing every part to the musicians and say, ‘I want this as a bass. I want this as a drum. I want this as the guitar.’ Who does that, and then comes up with a huge worldwide hit like Beat It? If you’re open-minded about music you have to see that he was a great artist.”

**What was the first gig that you went to? ** “I went to a lot of open air festivals in Canada when I was growing up there and I don’t remember exactly what bands were playing, I just remember always being around music. But my first metal concert was Napalm Death. They were touring with Godflesh and Nocturnus. We’re talking years ago – I was like 16 or something – and I couldn’t get in the club because it was an over 18s show, but when the security guard wasn’t looking I climbed right between him and the fence and I got inside. That’s when I first got hit with the heavy stuff, and I’ve been stuck on death metal ever since. Everybody on stage seemed larger than life and the whole thing was so loud and crazy, it was a different world. At that time the movement was young too, and it was a different time. After that my next show was Slayer and Testament, and that sealed the deal for me.”

What was the first gig you ever played? “It was at the Jailhouse Café in Montreal. The year was 1992, and it was a disaster. We went out on stage as kids without any experience. We’d written four songs at that time, and we went on as the opening act and played all four songs. For us it was a disaster, but at that time we were so extreme that I think people saw us and just thought, ‘Holy fuck those guys are crazy’, and people loved us right away. We thought we sucked. But it was a great experience with the people that were there. I remember flyering the city, which back in the day was all you did, and we advertised ourselves on the flyer as ‘The heaviest band in the world’ to get attention. I guess people came out and heard our wall of noise and thought, ‘These guys are crazy.’ So that’s how Kataklysm started.”

How was the first Kataklysm tour? “I’ll never forget it. It was 1995 for Sorcery – our first record with Nuclear Blast – and it was in Europe. Flesh Crawl were opening, we were second on the bill, then it was Sinister, Brutal Truth, Cathedral and Deicide were headlining. It was a big package with about two weeks worth of shows, and it was incredible. That’s when Deicide were at their peak and about to release Once Upon The Cross. We played to packed houses every night, and it scarred us for life! Ha ha! I remember we flew over, and you could still smoke cigarettes on planes – that’s how far we’re going back. It was the first proper tour we ever did and it was so intense, it was over and we were on a plane going back home before we knew it. We were kids on the other side of the world playing to people who knew our songs. The first show was in the Czech Republic and we played to 2,000 people. I remember thinking like, ‘This is happening for real right now.’ I’ll always remain humble about where I started. We were completely knocked off our feet and sold into rock ‘n’ roll for the rest of our lives.”

Kataklysm’s new album Of Ghosts And Gods is out 31st July via Nuclear Blast.

Pre-orders available here.

Matt Stocks

DJ, presenter, writer, photographer and podcaster Matt Stocks was a presenter on Kerrang! Radio before a year’s stint on the breakfast show at Team Rock Radio, where he also hosted a punk show and a talk show called Soundtrack Apocalypse. He then moved over to television, presenting on the Sony-owned UK channel Scuzz TV for three years, whilst writing regular features and reviews for Metal Hammer and Classic Rock magazine. He also wrote, produced and directed a feature-length documentary on Australian hard rock band Airbourne called It’s All For Rock ‘N’ Roll, and in 2017 launched his own podcast: Life in the Stocks. His first book, also called Life In The Stocks, was published in 2020. A second volume was published in April 2022.