I realized that I still haven’t published my phone interview made with Tankard’s Gerre in September, so here you go people! It clearly shows he’s an easy-going and easily likable guy.
Interview with Andreas “Gerre” Geremia (Tankard)
Interview for Metalegion Magazine by Estelle on the 4th of September 2014
Thrash, fun and beer. (laughs)
In what aspect do you think you are different from the other old school thrash metal bands?
I think the main difference is that we had a lot of humour from the very beginning of Tankard. We called our second demo just ‘Alcoholic Metal’ because at the time there were a lot of new metal styles, black metal and speed metal, and posers against all the others… And you know, we never took ourselves too seriously, we always had a lot of fun and I think it wouldn’t really fit for us to have an evil kind of image or something like that.
We have a lot of serious lyrics, a good combination of funny stuff and serious stuff, but we still have a lot fun in playing that kind of music. I think this is the biggest difference between us and some other bands.
In one of your earlier interviews when someone asked you how many albums the band plans to do, you said that in a case of beer there is space for twenty bottles. You just released your sixteenth album, R.I.B. (Rest in Beer) – are you still determined about doing four more?
At the moment it looks like it. (laughs) We still have a lot of fun, we still have good things happening, we keep going now for 32 years and I can’t see the end with the band, I could not imagine my life without Tankard – so I guess the case will be full some day!
How much work and time does it take for you to record one new album? You seem to go pretty easily with it, even besides the fact that none of you is a full-time musician.
This is a very hard period for us, but it’s actually not planned to put out a new album every two years. I mean I think it’s cool releasing a new album two or three years in between, but now R.I.B. is out, we’ll see what we’ll do with the next album. I think it will take another ten or twelve years to keep Tankard alive for the 20th studio album to get the case full.
How is it different to work with Nuclear Blast from how it was when you were at Noise, Century Media or AFM Records?
Nuclear Blast is the biggest one among the heavy metal labels, they have a lot of power, so I think this was really another step forward for Tankard. They do a lot of promotion stuff and it was really a kick for Tankard, we are very very satisfied and hope that we can stay much longer with Nuclear Blast.
The cover of R.I.B. is kind of an obvious reference or ‘recommitment’ to your classic album Chemical Invasion, as well as the continuation of some of the lyrics and the insane professor character. Is this a sign of the fact that you are not willing to distance yourselves from your roots, from the simple and primitive thrash metal?
No, we never distance ourselves from our roots. You know, it was a funny idea to bring the mad professor back on a cover, but I think this album sounds different than Chemical Invasion. The story is totally weird because the professor failed in ’87 to stop the chemical invasion and now he’s back to take revenge on mankind and poison everybody with free beer. I actually really like the stuff that we did back in the eighties, but I’d never do that again in these days because a lot of things have changed with the sound and everything. Tankard is a band that never forgets about its roots, we always play a lot of old songs live, yet we always try to do a good mixture of old and new stuff.
Could you choose one song from the new album and describe what it means to you?
This is a very personal song on this album, it’s called ‘Hope Can’t Die’ – it’s one of my fave songs on the record. I lost a very good friend two years ago, at that time you have this confusion of feelings, anger and sadness and hope, “what did go wrong?”, “could I have helped?” – something like that – a mixture of emotions I had two years ago when I lost that very good friend of mine.
In the song ‘No One Hit Wonder’, you are asking “Where the hell did we go wrong” and saying “We played our asses off for more than thirty years, but now our patience’s gone, we want cash, keep the beer!” – is this just a fun track again, or do you (to some degree) mean what you are saying with the song?
Noo, this is a totally fun track again. That was my idea, because it’s really interesting to see that there are some musicians who only had one song in their lives and they can live all their lives from the money for it because the track is always played in the radio. And of course, Tankard will never do a ‘one-hit wonder’ song, because we played that long, so the idea was born to call this song ‘No One Hit Wonder’ and of course the lyrics are totally funny.
Besides the funny lyrics, you have some serious stuff going on in the lyrics again, for example in ‘War Cry’, ‘Hope Can’t Die’ or ‘Clockwise to Deadline’. Do you want or try to prove the fans that you also have this more mature side of songwriting? Or do you think that if they still haven’t noticed that Tankard is not Tankard only because of the beer, it doesn’t even matter?
We had that kind of beer-image since Chemical Invasion, we did everything for it, but later on we wanted to get rid of it – we totally failed in the nineties of course. Nowadays we do a lot of jokes about our own image, we see it with lot of parody and stuff like that. Since Chemical Invasion we always had a good mixture of serious lyrics and funny lyrics – if you watch the news every night and if you walk in the world with open eyes, then it’s not only fun, there are a lot of bad things happening on this planet.
We will always write also some serious stuff – first of all we are a band with a lot of humour and a lot of fun, but we are also a band that can play serious songs on stage while having fun. But we would never do an album only with fun lyrics.
As you said with your album Two-Faced from 1994, you began to try getting rid of this concept, of this image that the band built around beer, still, nowadays you accepted that it probably became the largest characteristic of the band.
In general, do you guys usually stick to the key things that seem to work for you, or do you still have the desire to try something new?
We never have a plan when we start the songwriting, about which direction it goes. For example if we did the next album totally seriously, nobody would believe that it’s Tankard. Somehow the old Tankard is reduced only to this beer stuff and we did everything at the beginning for it, but now we have to live with it, and as I told you before, nowadays we make a lot of jokes about our own image, so of course nobody has to take it so seriously. We really can live with that Tankard is sometimes just reduced to this kind of beer image, but we still keep on going, writing good songs, trying to do the best and hoping that the fans like it and expect Tankard to continue the music.
How seriously do you guys take yourselves when it comes to writing and recording a new album? Do you just have fun during the recording, or are you rather the hard-working types?
The songwriting and the recording stuff is very very hard and needs a lot of work, of course sometimes we have the moments in the studio when we are laughing and having a little bit of fun but it’s 95% totally hard work, you really have to concentrate on it. To tell you an example, I don’t drink any alcohol in the studio. I just open my first beer when we finished, when we are in the last minutes of finishing the last song.
Now that’s dedication!
Counting from 2000, the lineup of your albums are always the same. Have you ever thought about having some kind of a refreshment?
We are now together since 1998, especially with our guitar player Andy, he wrote most of the songs on the last couple of albums. I could not imagine to play with another member in Tankard, so I hope we are all getting old together.
I read that you are working as a social worker together with drug addicted people, can be an interesting situation for you day by day! Can you draw influence from the happenings at work for the lyrics of the band?
No, I would never do a song about that because this is my normal work and Tankard is a totally different world and I don’t really want to mix that.
In the end I’d like to know: Is there any question that no one asked you before, and you would like someone to ask it from you?
(laughs) This is a really good question. I did so many interviews and now I had to think this over for a moment. Nobody asked me, actually nobody knows that I was a really good football player when I was young, and I really wanted to become a professional player. And nobody asked me about that! When I was getting older around 15-16, the partying started and then my career as a football player was over.
But concerning the music and singing, I think if you asked me that question at the moment, I would have to call you back in two hours maybe. (both laughing)
Thank you very much for the interview Gerre, have a good time with Tankard and put out some more albums because we are curious about you!
We will, thank you very much! Just so you know, we hope to go back to Hungary one day. Thanks for the support and have a nice evening!