“This might be our catchiest, heaviest, most brutal work” – Paul Mazurkiewitz (Cannibal Corpse)

Interview with drummer Paul Mazurkiewitz from Cannibal Corpse

Interview for Metalegion Magazine by Estelle on the 19th of October 2017

Hi Paul, thanks a lot for being down for the interview! Could you tell me a bit about your 3 most favorite albums?

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Slayer – Reign in Blood (1986)

That’s a tough one, a one-day answer. There are a lot of influential albums of course. But if we’re gonna stick with the heavier stuff, the bands that really got me wanting to play this kind of music, I’d say my Nr. 1 would be Slayer – Reign in Blood. Probably most people say that (laughs). But it was such a big influence for us, unbelievable. Especially that album in particular. Hearing Dave Lombardo’s drumming, that’s what made me wanna play like that. We were already fans of Slayer with their previous works, but hearing Reign in Blood just took it to a whole another level and it made me wanna try to emulate that. So that is probably the most important album in my career. Nr. 2 would probably be Metallica – Ride the Lightning. That was such a very influential album as well. It came a little earlier that Reign in Blood but when we were getting into music and Metallica was a new band and we were hearing this as teenagers for the first time, it took us to another dimension. “Whoah, what is this?!” So of course we were fans of Kill ‘Em All but then again, Ride the Lightning took it to another level. I remember hearing the song Creeping Death for the first time, it was playing on the radio and we didn’t know what this was, we got to know they were Metallica, the new album comes out, “wow we gotta see them”. Just very influential. And Nr 3 would be Sacrifice – Forward to Termination. It was such a great thrash album every time I hear it to this day, it gets me going.

Red Before Black is your 14th full-length album. What was your main goal you wanted to achieve? What do you think distinguishes this record from the other 13?

The main goal is always just releasing the music, really. We were just excited to create new stuff and get it out to the people. It’s the way we’ve done things and the way out mentality goes: We’re just writing the next batch of songs. There’s no big skin behind it other than we wanna do good and a little better than the last time. That’s what we’re always striving for and trying to do. So that was our goal, to write the next better song. To keep going forward in our songwriting, in our musicianship and all that. And I feel we have.

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Cannibal Corpse – Red Before Black (2017)

I know I worked extra hard on this record, more than on any other so far and I work hard on all! For some reason this time around my mentality was “no rest whatsoever, go go go, double time, triple time” – I just wanted to do better than I ever have personally. The other guys are writing most of the riffs and the songs and when we’ve got three great songwriters spreading it all around… I mean we’ve got some diverse stuff and those guys write some amazing material. But I think on this record, to me it’s just a combination of what we’ve been doing our whole career. I listen to the songs and the whole definitely has more of an old school vibe to it, a little more of a thrashier vibe than our previous releases. So I look at it as a full circle. I tend to look at it as the best of all Cannibal. From the beginning to the 13th album, put it together, work hard, write some great songs and then you’ve got Red Before Black. I think it just stands out because the songs are so tight and precise, great brutal riffs. So I think this might be our best work – our catchiest, heaviest, most brutal work with a great guitar sound.

You even stated in the promo material that this album has got the rawest sound you’ve ever had. And I agree, it does totally sound old school!
Could you tell me about your most beloved song on the album? I’d love to hear your vision of the song, of the lyrics, some instrumental passages or a story in connection with its creation.

I guess the one that stands out to me in particular is Destroyed Without a Trace. That was the song that I had the most hand in. If you know much about the band you might have noticed the last few releases I ended up having myself more of a song that I wrote; if you see the credit it’s usually me and Rob or me by myself. So Destroyed was the one that I came up with. And the way I wrote that song was very interesting: I collaborated with Rob but this is the first time I ever wrote a song (or any of us for that matter) just by playing the drums. I had everything in my head, I wrote the arrangement, the riffs basically in my head, and I was able to play the whole song with nobody (laughs). Cause I wrote it by myself just on the drums. I worked on it for a couple of weeks by myself and then I just said “hey Rob, I wrote a song, I just need you to fill in the blanks here”. We went piece by piece and I showed them how I meant it and in couple of days we had the song done. Very interesting. But I’m so glad the way it turned out: Starting from the skeleton, just me playing a drum beat, to building the guitars and solos and putting the lyrics over the top. It turned out really good, I’m really proud of this song. But I love all these songs, all of them were fun to play and I just worked hard on all of them. Shedding My Human Skin is another one of my favorites, it’s such a great groove. The first one, Only One Will Die is another one that was so much fun to play.

It’s no surprise that the imagery of this album consists again of brutality, aggressivity, death, blood, gore, torture etc. Do you have any limit or border when it comes to lyrical themes or imagery?

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Cannibal Corpse (2017)

I don’t know, we just do what we do I guess. We really don’t touch on religion of course I mean we dabbled very little on one or two songs a few years back but that’s so minor. We don’t talk politics either. To me it’s all open if it needs to happen though. Personally, I am a father, I don’t wanna talk about murdering children, but at the same time it’s all fiction and it’s Cannibal Corpse. If I look at a song like Remaimed from the new album that Pat wrote and then I sat down and wrote the lyrics (I actually wrote the lyrics for six of the songs), I end up writing a pretty brutal story here. That’s talking about things exactly that I’m not very thrilled about personally. But like I said, it’s fictional gore, fictional horror, it’s not made to be serious so I think it’s okay. But yeah, it’s tough. In-your-face, completely brunt brutal lyrics, there’s nothing to mask and nothing to hide – we still have those but I think we like to be a little bit more of a horrific and read-between-the-lines kind of thing. But I would think pretty much nothing is out of context. It’s Cannibal Corpse, we just write what we write. I’ll just move onto the next question.

Some bands really take in into consideration what kind of a message they convey not only through their music but also through their press statements. Do you guys have a “press-plan”, do you negotiate between yourselves before the release of a new album or in a doubtful situation about what you will tell us about it?

That’s done through the record label and a third party, a guy that does an interview and then he pieces together what you read in the PR release for a new album. Of course we have the say what’s gonna go out to the public, if we’re unhappy with something we say it of course. And yeah, maybe some things we’re not gonna touch on. Some things don’t need to be mentioned I guess. We get the basics out what we feel the people need to know and if they don’t need to know, we won’t tell them.

After your first Demo “Cannibal Corpse” you have always been at Metal Blade. Did you ever receive requests from other labels and if yes, what makes you stay at Metal Blade?

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Cannibal Corpse (1989)

Metal Blade was the only label that showed interest in us. When we were formed and made our demo tape, we had a guy helping us out back in the early days in Buffalo, New York. He wasn’t our manager or anything but he was running a record store and knew some people. And who did he know? He knew people at Metal Blade because the president at Metal Blade is from Buffalo as well! So he had a connection, we had our guy that knew a guy at Metal Blade through the whole city. I think we sent our tape to ten labels or something, mainly smaller independent ones plus Relapse and maybe Roadrunner. But I know this for a fact, the response we got back was from Metal Blade wanting to sign us. So what do you do? As a young band that’s hungry and ready to make music, you get an offer and you take it. You take it because this could be the only opportunity to get your foot in the door. Luckily Brian Slagel at Metal Blade liked the demo and we got through some red tape there that was all we needed. As time went on: “Hm, we’re a small death metal band. We’re starting to do well. Metal Blade behind us, okay.” They’ve given us complete creative control, they were not interfering with anything we do musically and that’s what we needed. So if it isn’t broke, why fix it? That’s what we’ve been dealing with out whole career. It turned out to be more of a friendship than a business relation I guess. So I think it worked out well.

You are in the band since the very beginnings. Can you please tell me about your personal favorite and most unfavorable moments in the band throughout your whole career?

Almost everything has been a positive for us, beyond-our-wildest-dreams kind of a thing, so just the fact that we are still here after 30 years being arguably the biggest death metal band in the world, that’s enough right there. That’s amazing. We never even thought of any of that. So everything that has happened from day one to now is just remarkable, unbelievable and incredible (laughs).

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Paul Mazurkiewicz

Not many negatives, luckily. There were only some personal negatives and I guess the biggest one for me is being on tour about 20 years ago and getting stabbed with a key after the show in my abdomen. That wasn’t very fun. That’s probably one of the craziest things that have ever happened to me. It was back in ‘94 I guess, we just started a tour with 3 other bands, we were second show in, we just finished the show in Holland. It was a little town, 2 in the morning, everything’s completely dead, everyone left. And all of a sudden there’s a fight outside our bus. It happens to be a couple of guys from our band and our crew fighting some people. We’re like “what the hell is going on here?”. It ended up being five or six drunk guys looking for trouble basically. And they started with the wrong people, it was 25 of us. I’m not a fighter, I didn’t need to be involved in this, I was a bystander watching what’s going on. There was a bunch of yelling, a couple of crew guys involved… The next thing I remember, those guys are coming at me and all of a sudden I see blood and my side hurts. “I just got stabbed, I’m gonna die”. Five seconds go by and I realize it hurts and bleeds but I’m gonna live. Ambulance comes, gotta go to the hospital. This was the second show of the tour and we had like 30 more to go. But luckily everything turned out well, the tour went on and I was able to play. But yeah, that was probably the worst thing that happened to me. Not fun.

Which other band in the genre do you look up to? Is there also a band you have any stress or tension with?

Well I love Slayer, I mean that’s my influence, so how can I not look up to Slayer at all times? But any other bands, bands that came out around us, we know them and they’re friends. You can have that friendship and camaraderie and all that bands like Suffocation, Obituary or Morbid Angel; bands that have been around for 30 years that gives us some positive thoughts. I don’t even listen to any new bands at all though. It’s cool there are bands that were influenced by us I’m glad, I feel happy but I just don’t listen to a lot of that. So the bands that I still look up to are my “hero bands” that I grew up with. If we’re gonna play at a festival or share a stage with a band like Iron Maiden, man it’s Iron Maiden! I don’t look at them as peers, they’re above me. That’s the way I think. But yeah, it’s really cool that we’ve still got bands going after 30 years, keeping the old school alive, keeping the death metal going.

You are touring very actively promoting Red Before Black, from November in the USA and from February in Europe. What are the most satisfying moments while on tour?

Playing the show. It’s always cool going to places and different cities and everything but we’re there to perform and play for the people. That’s the most important thing. Once you’re up on stage and you’re seeing the fans and their reactions: that’s why you’re there. A lot of them are going to be new fans. Seeing the excitement on the face of new fans that never saw you before, that’s always gonna make you feel good. Just making people happy. If we can make anybody happy in a positive way, how can that not make you feel like you’ve accomplished something in life? So that’s what it’s all about.

What about your further future plans?

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Paul Mazurkiewicz

We will be touring pretty much all of 2018. If you look at how our cycles have gone, we tour for almost two years after an album. I can see that happening, that’s out immediate future. And that’s all you can really do at this point. I mean, I think we take it day by day now. We’re 30 years in, we’re not a new band looking ahead to the future, the future’s here. Now it’s like “how long have we got?”. Who knows? We’re all feeling healthy and we’re still all mentally on the same page so why can’t we just keep going and doing it for another 20 or 30 years who knows, right? We’ll see. But right, at this point in our career we gotta just take it day by day now. We’ll do these tours and more than likely the plan will be doing the tour, starting the record and doing it again. Just like we’ve been doing our whole career.

Paul, thank you very much for the interview and for your time. I wish you all the best reactions to Red Before Black!

Thank you and have a good night! I’m sure we’ll talk again soon.

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“We do what we like and that’s why we decided to do Thrash Anthems II even without Nuclear Blast” – Schmier (Destruction)

Interview with vocalist Marcel (Schmier) Schirmer from Destruction

Interview for Metalegion Magazine by Estelle on the 2nd of October 2017

Hi Schmier, thanks a lot for agreeing to the interview and for your time in advance! How are you?

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Schmier

I’m a little bit stressed because we are having the video clip launched today with Pänzer and everything is a bit last minute, so hopefully no mistakes are going to happen while I’m doing the interview.

That sounds stressful for sure.

It wasn’t planned that the Destruction and the Pänzer releases come so close together but I have no choice because the Pänzer release got pushed back, it was going to come out in September originally. For the Destruction release, we didn’t even know that Nuclear Blast would release the album because first they didn’t know if they wanted it, then they declined and now that the album is finally done they want to release it. I was surprised that they wanted to do it already in November, I expected it to be the beginning of next year or so. But on the other hand I am happy that I’ve made two albums that I really like and can promote them now. So I shouldn’t complain, it’s just that it’s a lot of work right now. In between the live shows… I also broke my arm lately which didn’t help for the good time schedule. But it’s getting better, I got surgery right away and now I will just have to get some therapy and it will hopefully get back to normal soon.

I wish you all the best on that, get better soon! Right to Thrash Anthems II: According to the Pledge Music page, the new Destruction album was supposed to be a self-release, but it will be released in an alternative version via Nuclear Blast. How did Nuclear Blast get involved in the release in the end?

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Destruction – Thrash Anthems II (2017)

First of all, for them a best of-album didn’t sound good enough. They said they didn’t want to do this, that they were not interested. So we decided to do it ourselves and I guess they were surprised that we decided for Pledge Music, that we were confident to do it by ourselves and finance basically the whole album on Pledge Music. We were like “we’re gonna see what happens”. We did the production too and when the album finally was done and Nuclear Blast asked me to listen to it, they were like “oh my God, it’s great, we would like to do it” and I was like “come on guys, first no then yes”, but on the other side I’m happy that they do it because Pledge was already there to finance the album. Because of all the money for the production and everything, Pledge gave the fans a special edition and very limited edition also. They did 50 vinyls only, only 130 t-shirts and only about 600 CDs. It’s the smallest Destruction first edition that ever came out of any album. But of course it’s nice to bring out the album afterwards, it consists of a classic thrash setlist, and that’s one of the reasons why we did the Thrash Anthems II. Because of course a lot of fans were asking for a second part but also for us it’s nice to have a thrash setlist with classic songs through which young fans can get into the old songs again. That was the plan.

The old classic thrash songs are paired with a more modern, more polished production on Thrash Anthems II. How do you expect the reactions to be?

I think the production is pretty rough, it’s a little bit hard and we have a lot of young fans that like the new songs of Destruction. We’ve been doing this one bonus track in 1999, one bonus track on the Destruction album which is an old song. And we re-recorded the old song. And it’s gotten great reactions. On our last album, Under Attack from 2016 we put Thrash Attack, the remake again and the reactions went like “oh my god Thrash Attack, best track of the album”. I think young fans will dig this, older fans will dig this and to of those fans who don’t like it, you don’t have to buy it. It’s not a must if you don’t like re-recorded songs. First of all we do music for ourselves. We started Destruction because WE wanted to play this kind of music. The music wasn’t famous when we played it and this kind of music will never be as famous as you think it would be. We do what we like and that’s why we decided to do thrash anthems even without Nuclear Blast on the first place. I like this album a lot, I think it was a good decision that we did it. If you like older albums, you listen to older albums but if you’re open for a more brutal sound, listen to the new one.

Destruction wrote on the band’s Facebook Page that “the band itself never ever has put more work in an album as in this one”. What was the hardest part of working on the record and what differs it from the previous ones?

When you go into the studio, it of course all costs money and when you do a Pledge campaign, it only pays at the end after the album came out. But until then you don’t get any money. We had to keep this whole thing alive: We had to pay the studio, the production, all the vinyl and the CDs that are being manufactured, and of course we did all those videos.

We did those video clips that showed the band and the production, which is a lot of work. You have to film it, cut it, edit it, upload it and stuff… I’m not a computer engineer so we had to hire somebody. It was all in all the effort that we put into it that made it so hard.

Sounds like a lot of work indeed!

One other thing, we had to go back to the roots and relearn some songs. Some songs didn’t even have the lyrics anymore because they were so old. 90% of the Destruction lyrics from the old albums on lyrics pages from uploaded by fans were all wrong. Tommy [Sandmann – ed.], our first drummer found some original lyrics again so we could recreate the songs. On the first albums the vocals were really noisy so that you cannot hear every word, some are impossible to understand. It was a long fight to get the lyrics but we got them together and I was very happy in the end. Until we had the final sound, the remixing took a couple of weeks because we wanted to have a very impressive guitar tone on the album. So it was a couple of months of work in between the tours, after the American tour we came together and finalized the Thrash Anthems II. It was a lot more work than we thought it would be in the beginning. We thought it would be easier but at the end we were doing all the record label work and the pre-financing.

Now at the end of the Pledge campaign we have to ship the CDs worldwide, we cannot just do it ourselves because that’s not so easy. We ship some CDs from England and some of those still didn’t arrive in South America. Those CDs were shipped two months ago. So it’s kind of complicated to make everybody happy in this campaign and of course when your audience doesn’t get what they ordered they get impatient and they blame the band. In the end it’s not our fault, it’s the fault of the fucking postal services in South America.

destruc016pr.jpgDid you learn something from working on an album all alone?

It was a big lesson in world trade and manufacturing. We usually do only the production and the artwork and give the rest to the label, and yes now we had to learn a lot about all the stuff in between. So thank you very much but we’ll never do it again, not if we have Nuclear Blast. We are at the best record label of the world so I’m glad to have them. I can recommend this kind of thing to young bands though. If you have no money but some fans who can finance your album, this is the first step not to make a big loss. Most bands are pre-financing their albums and then have a couple of thousands of euros minus on their bank account. That will maybe never recover. So it’s not so easy. But I’m happy we had a lot of fans help us to finance the album and not coming like “blah blah blah”, even though sometimes they were like “oh no, I thought it was only a Pledge campaign and would never come out at Nuclear Blast” but we never said that. Blast declined the album and then at the end they wanted to have it – I would be stupid if I wouldn’t give it to them. It’s a great album.

Which old song was the most enjoyable for you to play again for the record?

A lot of them we didn’t play live back in the day so I can only think of The Antichrist. It’s the only song of all those songs that we played frequently. We also played Black Death in the last years, it was also a big challenge because it’s a seven minutes long song. It was a challenge to redo the song.  A lot of the old songs we had to relearn to get the feeling back: From those songs I like Black Mass a lot and Confused Mind also.

Can we expect you to play these live in the future?

We really want to do that. I think we maybe wanna see the result how the fans like them to find some of the new favorite tracks of this album and then we can put them into the setlist. We don’t want to kick out others songs, though, we don’t want people going like “oh my God you didn’t play Total Desaster”. About this record, it will create some remembrance of the old stuff and a new face of the old songs. I want to play Confused Mind, Black Death and Black Mass live. I like United by Hatred a lot too, it’s a song we didn’t play since ‘87.
First it would be cool to see how the reactions are to the album. So far we only have the reactions from the Pledgers, which is a couple of hundreds of people. The whole process of recording and we could choose the songs also. We learned some new tricks of producing. It’s a never-ending learning process and it was interesting also for me to redo the vocals.

What about your future plans? Do you maybe already have material done for the next album?

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Pänzer – Fatal Command (2017)

Actually not, we did Thrash Anthems II and it was hard work – if you do something like that, you don’t really want to focus on something else. I was also writing on the Pänzer album right before Thrash Anthems II and I didn’t wanna make everything too much. Also, for Destruction we saw in the last few years that it’s better for us if we don’t do too much albums in a row. We did that since ‘99, we did albums every 2 years it’s easy to have no more fun at writing songs like that. The new album is going to be recorded maybe at the end of 2018 and released maybe 2019. That’s what I would say is possible. But maybe next week I start writing new songs and then the album is done earlier, but you have to be in the right mood for that.

What would you tell about the new album of your other band Pänzer to those who don’t know the band yet?

It’s a tribute to the original heavy metal style, to the NWOBHM. If you like the good old 80s’ sound, you might like Pänzer because it has all the classic elements like up-tempo in the way of Judas Priest and Angel Witch and so on. My vocals are a little bit more melodic and catchy. It’s classic heavy metal with a pinch of thrash in there. We really enjoy doing this, it’s something besides my main band. I’m glad I found some guys I can make music with besides Destruction. Something like this refreshes your musical inspiration.

ALL TIME FAVORITES
What are your three favorite albums of all time? Can you tell us a few words about them and about why you like them so much?

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Judas Priest – Unleashed in the East (1979)

Number one has to be Unleashed in the East from Judas Priest. When I was a kid, I saw the cover and listened to the album for the first time and it was the definition of heavy metal for me from this point. It was heavier than anything else – the looks, the sound… It changed my life completely in many ways. Another really important album is Kill ‘Em All from Metallica. It was the first real speed metal album that came out in 1983. The stuff they did back in the day was exactly what we started half a year later with Destruction. When we wrote the first songs for Destruction we already knew that Metallica would be very special. So their first album Kill ‘Em All was groundbreaking for me, something new, ‘cause it kind of mixed punk rock and heavy metal together. And to name a punk rock band as well, I would name Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables From the Dead Kennedys. Dead Kennedys were a part of my life because they wrote really critical lyrics. They were criticising the government and the society and as a young person, it was really important for me back then. Most of my friends didn’t care about the political situation etc but I did, and Dead Kennedys was my favorite punk band for America. I listened to a lot of English punk too but Dead Kennedys was very special to me.

I can see you even covered a Dead Kennedys song, Holiday in Cambodia on Thrash Anthems II! If you could go back to any point in your career and you could say, now I’ll change something, what would it be?

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Destruction – Release from Agony era (Steamhammer/SPV promo)

I don’t think it’s good to change the past. I am where I am now because stuff happened. When Destruction kicked me out in ‘89, I was on the worst point of my life. I had to relearn a lot of stuff, “rethink” my friends. I learned that fame comes fast and goes fast also. But I also learned a lot of things about my own confidence and I put a lot of effort in my future music-wise. I think without those breaks, problems and fights I had in the past I wouldn’t be the same person. I wouldn’t change stuff I think: life goes the way it goes and my inspiration is what I do today, I do it right for a better tomorrow. It’s ridiculous to think about things you regret because I am so glad I can still do music and Destruction has brought me around the world several times. I wouldn’t want to change a single thing I think. I’m a lucky guy.

What’s the funniest question you’ve ever heard?

There was rumours that I did porn movies back in the day when I was out of Destruction. I said “no I didn’t know I would have been a porn star, but interesting that you ask” (laughs).
Otherwise, I’ve already talked about basically every aspect of my life in interviews. I would say 15 years ago not everything was talked about, especially when Destruction split up there were a lot of questions, for example “Why did you leave the band?”. I just answered “I didn’t leave the band, I got kicked out”. I just wonder how come interviewers don’t know this because this is a big part of the history of Destruction. Sometimes people still ask me this.

Is it stressful sometimes that you have to talk about yourself so much?

No, it’s a part of the job. I like to talk to people. But at the end of the day when everybody asks the same questions, it develops into a weird circle of repeating yourself. Sometimes you just think about how many times you’ve said this specific thing today. But sometimes people have cooler questions or are curious about details. I just hate starting questions like “Okay, can you tell us how Destruction started?”. Dude, it was 35 years ago, go on Wikipedia and read it yourself. If you put your heart into your job, into doing interviews, you prepare yourself, right? Some people are just doing the job and asking irrelevant stuff, that’s what I can’t understand. But I’m a musician and not a journalist, and I think everyone should do what he/she can do best.

You are right. Okay, thanks a lot for your time Schmier! I wish you all the best with the launching video today and with both of your bands!

It was a pleasure. I wish you all the best too!

“A lot of the lyrics on this new album are all very reflective of the world that we live in” – Karl Willetts (ex-Bolt Thrower, Memoriam)

Interview with vocalist Karl Willetts from Memoriam

Interview for Metalegion Magazine by Estelle on the 19th of February 2018

Hi Karl! First of all thanks a lot for being down to talk to me even at this late hour! My first question would be, what would you say is the most satisfying thing you’ve ever achieved along your career?

That’s a really good question, interesting. I haven’t been asked that one. It’s been lots, along the way through my 30 years of working within this industry. There’s been a lot of things that I consider to be high points. Those are quite genuinely often the firsts. The first time you’re doing anything is when you really achieve something, a milestone in the career. That’s what I always remember the most. So for me, even before I was in the band Bolt Thrower, I heard their music in the radio: That was a really big deal, my best mates’ band playing on the radio. But for me personally, I think recording the first album, that was a phenomenal experience.

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Bloodbrother Tour (1990) [Photo from Tshirtslayer]

Also doing my first show, I remember doing my very first European tour which was back in the 80s-early 90s with Autopsy and Pestilence. The first time beyond our little island in the UK. That was a massive game- and life-changing experience, to realize there was such a big potential and big market for what we were doing. Such a lot of people enjoyed what we were doing beyond our small environment. So these were some of the early highlights of my career.

And gig-wise, when we finally got to Australia with Bolt Thrower. That was in about 1993-94, I was standing on the beach in Perth watching the waves crashing in and I thought “Well, this is quite strange. We actually got to the other side of the world playing this extreme kind of strange music and we’re even getting paid for doing this, this is amazing”. So yeah, those were the biggest highlights that come to mind. But at this point of my career doing Memoriam, everything is a big highlight. It’s an amazing experience. I’m very lucky to be able to do this at this stage of our lives. It feels like a privilege, to be able to do what we’re doing. And that’s really down to the support we get from the people, the fans, the followers, however you wanna call them. So we do appreciate they give us the opportunity to do this. And every day is a highlight at this point – it sounds cheesy but that’s the way it is.

ALL TIME HIGHLIGHTS…

Could you select up to 3 albums (it can be less or more, it’s up to you) from any genre that you consider your all-time favorites and tell me why you consider them personal highlights?

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Antisect – In Darkness, There Is No Choice (1983)

In the late 80s, that’s when I started getting into extreme music. And what was happening in the UK back in those days was the kind of old anarcho crust grind scene. That’s really where my sphere of influence developed. It was a starting point for me in my career and my interest in extreme music. So I have to point to an album from a band called Antisect and their album called In Darkness There Is No Choice. That was a massive influence to me. It really set me on my road to my political point of view. This was also the time in which the whole tape-trading was going on, the precursor to the internet in many respects, global sharing of information on cassette tapes.

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Sacrilege

Also, back then I used to go to gigs regularly at a local pub. One of the bands back then that were really influential to me is Sacrilege, with Lynda “Tam” Simpson as the main vocalist and Damian Thompson as guitarist. Those two were an absolute massive influence to me musically. I was at a Sacrilege gig in around ‘87 and it was one of those lightbulb-moments when I was watching them: “I want to do this. I would love to be a band up there on a stage, doing what Tam’s doing.” I think that was one of the main catalysts for me wanting to be in a band. So I definitely have to name Behind the Realms of Madness from Sacrilege. One of my all time favorite albums.

 

And of course Slayer! When I heard the first offerings that they put out on Show No Mercy and Haunting the Chapel, those were the albums that were really influential. Specifically Haunting the Chapel had a massive effect on me. So those were the 3 protagonists. I think I’d probably have to include the Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath album, it has to be in the top 4-5 as well. They are the legends from my hometown and I am very proud of their musical heritage here in Birmingham.

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Memoriam – The Silent Vigil (2018)

Now let’s talk about your new album coming out at the end of March, “The Silent Vigil”. It’s a pretty awesome one! This record is a lot less affected by sadness compared to “For the Fallen”, instead you’ve become more aggressive and raw. What did you have in mind?

Very perceptive of you. Definitely, I think as you noticed the first album that we released was a document of the time. As all albums are kind of recording the emotions that are going through your life at that point. And the first album was written as a tribute to our lives’ tragic loss of Martin (Kearns, drummer of Bolt Thrower from 1994-97 and 1999-2015 ed.). He’s the catalyst of why the band got together in the first place. The first album is almost a tribute to him directly. And that’s what all the actual songs contained. All the elements that are in there, they are written from a place of mourning, grief and sorrow. Sadness. That was the aspect of For the Fallen. And this new album reflects the way we feel again, it’s almost like a journey, a grieving process, effective by time. Time’s the thing that makes it easier ironically. And things change.

Could you try to describe the album’s identity?

This album I think goes onto the next stage of the mourning process. It’s a part where you’ve lost all the initial shock and the sadness and the sorrow, and you’ve got to get a bit more angry about the situation. So I think there’s a lot more bitterness and anger in this album, it’s a lot rawer as you say. Maybe even more emotional in some respects. There’s a different kind of raw emotion to this one, it’s a lot angrier.

The new album is moving into a new era lyrically as well, with themes that are a lot more reflective about the world that we live in. Lyrics about the real world, things that I think are important to talk about. War has been the center theme, that’s what I’ve written about. There might be a sub-context to the lyrical content involved but the main interest has always been about war. On the first album I did a couple of songs that were moving away from that area but with this new album, The Silent Vigil the lyrics are very different. They are beyond the formulas I’ve been writing in the past. There are songs on there that are based on real theories, real things that are happening in the world around us right now. By that I mean, there are songs on there that have a large amount of social-political comments about the world. They are very concerned about the global rise of the right wing and the fascist ideology which seems to be gaining a massive voice across the planet that we live in. And that really scares me.

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Karl Willetts [Photo: Vivien Varga]

I think voice needs to be raised against it, we can’t just turn away and ignore what’s happening all over the world. As an artist, as a vocalist and as a lyrical writer I think it’s my position to stand up and say something about that. It’s important to me. And I enjoy that challenge of writing lyrics that are not specifically in my comfort zone. It’s quite good to be able to break free of these chains and have that kind of creative freedom, to be able to write about things I think are important. So along with the songs that have large elements of social-political content which are about equality, freedom, racism and all those issues, there are also songs on there which are about transition, about moving forward, about trying to create a new future. These things are very reflective of what the band is trying to achieve as well. That’s how I feel about what’s happening in my life. That’s what we’re doing with Memoriam, we’re moving from the past and trying to develop a new identity, our own band, our own thing.

Could you select a special song from The Silent Vigil and share your vision on it?

There’s a song on there that is about my personal experiences with my mother. Nothing Remains, that’s about the issues of dementia, a mental illness, which is a massive growing issue in the world within our aging population. That happened with my mother about a year ago and it’s been a devastating experience, not just for her but for me and my whole family. A massive impact. So I’d say a lot of the lyrics on this new album are all very reflective of the world that we live in: They are all based on real issues that are important to me.

That’s totally understandable.

But that’s just the lyrics, of course musically there is also a big difference to the first album: There’s lots of tones and textures and new ideas on this new album. I think the first album is great and as I said a document of the time but we were very much aware of the expectations on us to a certain extent; people were quite interested to hear what we are gonna do. There was a certain level of expectation on us so we wanted to say “Hold on. We’re not gonna be doing a Bolt Thrower Nr. 2 or a Benediction Nr. 2; we wanna do our own thing, we wanna create our own identity”. But at the same time, we were still kind of in the shadows and the chains of the past on the first album.

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Memoriam (Karl Willetts, Frank Healy, Andrew Whale, Scott Fairfax)


So The Silent Vigil is moving forward – I think we’ve managed to come out of these shadows and create something that is more Memoriam-ish.
We are more comfortable with our own identity as a band right now and that’s expressed in different tones and structures of the songs. There’s lots of different varieties on there. The overall production is a lot warmer as well, we’ve used the studio this time with real amps in it. We feel the last album is great but certain elements are too overcompressed and maybe too digitalized in many respects, we’ve used quite a few samples on there. But we move free from those with the new album. The album has got a lot more warmth and depth to it. I think the reals amps enhance the rawness, the warmth and the depth of the music. That’s really been a big difference for us and we are very happy about the way it has come together. That was a long answer, wasn’t it? (laughs)

It was, but you answered some other questions of mine as well so I guess it’s a win-win situation!
Okay so I just love the album cover, it’s a typical mesmerising Dan Seagrave artwork with lots of details, beautiful colors and an old school death vibe. As far as I know with Bolt Thrower you’ve never worked with Seagrave, how did the idea come this time?

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Some of Dan Seagrave’s works

That’s right, we’ve never worked with Seagrave with Bolt Thrower. There’s a little story about why we were using Dan Seagrave and it’s basically because we are trying to recreate that old school vibe with Memoriam. Call it a midlife crisis if you want but we are trying to recreate the feelings of energy, creativity and joy in how we felt when we were in a band for the first time. That’s the bottom line of what we’re trying to do with Memoriam. And I think we’ve achieved that by the book at this point. However, the reason we used Dan was because when we first got together as a band, we all sat down before we went into the rehearsal room and we thought “Right, let’s see what we all wanna get out of this band. What would be the greatest thing we could actually get from doing Memoriam?” I said I wanted to play at certain places in the world where I haven’t played before. I think (Andrew) Whale(, drummer – ed.) mentioned a few festivals he wanted to do; Frank (Healy, bassist – ed.) he wanted to record at certain studios… And Scott (Fairfax, guitarist – ed.) came along with the fact that before he dies, he wants to record an album which features a Dan Seagrave cover. So we managed to tick that box quite successfully, twice now. But yeah, we approached him and gave him a very brief idea of what to do and that’s how he came up with the first album cover which is absolutely amazing. And you may have noticed on the second album cover, following the theme of the actual contextual idea of the album – grief –, the album cover reflects that as well. On the first album cover the coffin is being paraded across the battleground – funeral procession. The album cover of The Silent Vigil shows the coffin in the center of focus, lying in state with all the minions and supporters, followers standing there and watching, paying homage to the fallen leader (whatever you wanna call him, whatever’s in there). So yeah, we’ve got an idea what we’re doing with this. So I’d say the album cover’s theme just reflects the process of grief.

Do you already have any plans in mind for the future?

We are all ready at the point where we are starting to work on Memoriam’s next album. We work in an incredibly fast pace. We have a trilogy in mind for Memoriam: We’ve already engaged Dan’s services and we’ll team up for the next album cover, too. We’ve got other ideas beyond these three albums as well but our intention is to move forward and get another album out at some point in 2019. To complete the trilogy.

That sound really good Karl! Looking forward to it.  

Yes, exciting times for us here in Memoriam! We’ve got a lot of gigs as well, doing a lot in between. We’re just enjoying every moment for what it is ‘cause we’ve realized that life is short and you don’t know what’s around the corner. So you have to take everything you can, roll with it and enjoy life. That’s what you have, just enjoy life to the maximum and have as much as you can, while you can. And we’re doing that.

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Karl Willetts

Nice words, I’m happy for all of you guys! Some other subject now, as far as I know you have a Cultural Studies degree from the Birmingham University. It’s clear from all your lyrics and previous interviews that you have an interest in discussing about ideologies, ethnicities, globalization, and in general, politically engaged cultural issues.

Cultural Studies was the only school of thought in the 70s and it closed down ironically a year after I finished my degree course. I think they just realized it was kind of developing a lot of critical cultural thinkers and critical theorists. Which wasn’t doing the system any good, really. But yeah, I had a great time at Birmingham University. I did that because I left school with no real qualifications. When Bolt Thrower first started and was getting quite popular, I did a lot of A levels and my qualifications. And then when I left the band, I really wanted to go to university and experience that life. So doing that course was fantastic, it almost kind of contextualized the ideas and lyrics I’ve been writing previously. And made sense of them for me. It was a good grounding for me to get all these different ideas of social theory as well. There was lots of postmodern theory, classical social theory. I’ve also spent a year doing a bit of Russian culture, African studies and things like that. Issues of gender and race. So I think that’s really how it formulated my mindset and developed my ideas and maybe gave me the confidence to write the way that I do.

Did you ever think about working in a different field connected to your studies?

The ironic thing about Cultural Studies was that there was such a lot of deconstruction involved in what we did. I came away from the course thinking that academia generally is just a lot of self-justifying bullshit (laughs). Writing things about stuff and not really engaging with real life. That’s what I generally got from my degree course. So I never really wanted to pursue my academic career any further than what I did: I think the three years at university were more than enough for me. And I’ve taken away those ideas and applied them in a much wider context and I feel like that’s a better way forward.

For the end: What do you think is your most spoken sentence?

(Laughs) It has got to be a wrong word really, or like “War Master” or “World Eater” (laughs). I think my personal favorite line is the two lines in Powder Burns “Psychological technique / Invincible no pain”. Psychological technique, I really like that line for some reason. That’s one of my favorite lines I’ve ever written.

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Lynda “Tam” Simpson of Sacrilege

I’m also particularly proud of the song Last Words on For the Fallen from Memoriam, which we did with Tam from Sacrilege. She came with the idea and that was a kind of crowning highlight moment. A highlight moment of my career that I forgot to mention! It was great to get her involved because she was the reason I wanted to do this in the first place. There are some lines in that song that are quite touching as well.

Thank you very much for your extensive answers and your time Karl. I wish you all the best on your way forward with Memoriam and have a good night!

It’s been really a pleasure! Thanks for you time and your support. Good night Estelle!

“My aim is to stay healthy and to keep my whole environment positive” – Bernemann (ex-Sodom)

Interview with Bernd Kost (“Bernemann”) from ex-Sodom

Interview by Estelle for Metalegion Magazine on the 7th of September 2016

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Bernemann – then and now

Hi Bernemann, thanks a lot for taking time for our interview with Metalegion Magazine! At first I would like to ask, looking back at your career in Sodom since 1996, do you think you could have done anything differently or in a better way?

It’s a difficult question. I guess after so many years you will find a couple of things that you maybe could have done better but finally everything has happened as it has and with that I am very happy today. I am satisfied with where we are right now with the band and I guess I don’t want to think about what I could have done better (laughs)I am happy with my life and I guess next time I would also do everything in the same way.

That is for sure great to hear.
If you could describe it in 5 words what you would like to express with the general image of Sodom especially regarding themes in connection with war and aggressivity, what would you say?

Tom is doing the lyrics and so he is mostly writing them about war. It’s a very heavy subject for me: I was born in this generation but my parents and grandparents lived and survived during the war and in my family besides them many people died who served as soldiers. When I was a child, I grew up with stories about the war. My parents and grandparents told me about everything that happened during the war time as they were children. I was always very impressed – this doesn’t mean that I like war though. If you read Tom’s lyrics, very quick you will understand that we hate war. I guess that Tom wants to remind people with his lyrics like in Ausgebombt: “don’t forget about how violent and cruel war actually is”. Just never forget it. And so in this meaning, I can live with it as we are not a band that glorifies war or violence.

ALL TIME HIGHLIGHTS…
Could you select up to 3 albums (it can be less or more, it’s up to you) from any genre that you consider your all-time favorites and tell me why you consider them personal highlights?

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Queen – A Day at the Races (1976)

Today I am just listening to heavy metal but in the past I did listen to other genres, I grew up for example with glam rock in the 70s. I was always very impressed by music, I bought my first vinyl when I was 9 years old: a very different music genre, I guess it was from the glam band The Sweet in the 70s. Later I loved Queen, they were very important for me being a musician, and the record that especially impressed me was “A Day at the Races”. But since many years I’m only listening to hard rock and heavy metal music. Of course Slayer – “Reign in Blood” was a milestone for me and an also really important favorite of mine is the record “Parallels” from Fates Warning.

You are in the band since ‘Til Death Do Us Unite came out. This particular album wasn’t the most popular one among old school fans of Sodom – do you think this also formed the picture in the fans’ heads about you yourself?

I was actually very happy with this CD. Of course when we recorded ‘Til Death Do Us Unite, the album was not sold so successfully like Agent Orange or many others before in the 80s. But before, after the years Sodom was calming down a little bit with Masquerade in Blood or Get What You Deserve. I guess with this Sodom was on a very difficult path and for me personally there were too many other influences this time. They also lost some fans, especially when they released Masquerade in Blood. And I know when Bobby [Konrad “Bobby” Schottkowski, drummer of Sodom 1996-2010 – ed.] and me came into Sodom and recorded ‘Til Death Do Us Unite, slowly we had to build up the fan-base again. And I remember very well that many people told me that after the release of the album that they became interested in us again. So I was actually happy with ‘Til Death Do Us Unite, even if I know it didn’t sell that well. I guess it was a sign for the fans that Sodom is a band again and now slowly we will come back.

Do you also feel that after this more difficult period that you described you did manage to get back on track?

Absolutely. Today as we are going to shows and walking to the rehearsal room, I feel now Sodom is again a unit, and a very strong one. Especially now with Makka [drummer since 2010 – ed.] – I know him for a very long time, he’s not only a drummer but also a friend. So we do have a good relationship to each other, we work very hard and I guess that’s what makes Sodom to have a very strong line-up even today.

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Sodom – Decision Day (2016)

BERNEMANN UNVEILS… “Decision Day”
Your new album, Decision Day came out at the 26th of August 2016 at Steamhammer records. Could you select a special song from the new record and share your vision on it, or maybe explain the lyrics, refer to some instrumental parts or tell me about the creation of the track?

I guess one of the last songs that I recorded was Belligerence. This song is my fave from the CD even though we all have lots of favorites from the album (laughs). We have a big problem figuring out the songs we wanted to play from the album because we just love all of them. This is not always the case, but this time especially. So we are really happy with all the material. For me Belligerence was an excellent song to record, because there are some nice acoustic mixed with some very fast parts, just a furious song. I remember I had the idea for the opening riff; one day I was back here in my small home-studio and was just jamming and as the idea for the riff came I immediately got goosebumps. In the first moment I thought I maybe remember this from another band because I like it so much, and I was like “wow Berni this is just a cool riff”. That riff is my highlight from the CD.

Was it like that with the songwriting process of Decision Day as well that Tom wrote most of the lyrics or did you guys collaborate too?

Usually, most of the time the song starts with the guitar. I have an idea for the guitars and then I meet with Makka, our drummer in the rehearsal room and we are working on the basics. We collect all the ideas and make the structure of the songs, we jam a little bit and then if we have the idea for the song more or less ready, then we come to Tom and play together in the rehearsal room and Tom thinks over the lyrics. Tom is always doing the lyrics alone and he always comes up with them after the song is done, so we always start with the music.

sodom.jpegI always had the feeling Tom was the one who always lead the the band and decided about a group of things. Have you ever thought of maybe wanting to have more attention  regarding the fact that Tom is getting the largest part of it?

Thank God I don’t get most of it! (laughs) The point is, Makka and me have regular jobs, I personally work in a factory. If I had more attention I wouldn’t have the time to pay attention myself to all the things surrounding me. Now that we are talking for example, I came back half an hour ago from my work and now I am giving an interview. If I could do all the interviews and all the promotion stuff that Tom is doing, I wouldn’t have the time for myself. Tom just lives from the music and so he does have enough time, and he’s the face of the band since many years – I don’t have a problem with that. I love to be the ‘man behind’ who is responsible for the guitars and I see myself also as a songwriter. Even if I never wrote any of the lyrics this is enough and absolutely okay for me, we never had a problem about this in the band.

That is great to hear if there is a balance in the band with regard to this question.
A bit of a different subject now: You collaborated with famous German schlager singer/actor Roberto Blanco in 2011, making a commercial intended to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease. As far as i know he also joined you on stage at various gigs (including Wacken 2011) for a metal rendition of his song ‘Ein bisschen Spaß muss sein’. How did the idea of making the commercial come and what is your opinion on it, looking back to it?

First of all we were really surprised when the management of the singer Roberto Blanco asked us if we want to work together. I know him since I was a child, he is very popular in Germany so I was really surprised when we got this offer to make this video clip together with him. We liked the idea very much, we didn’t get anything for making the video so this had nothing to do with the money, it was funny to do the job and it was for good reason.

At this time my mom also got Alzheimer’s disease so I know what it means if old people have this sickness. This was also one of the reasons why I liked this idea, and especially together with Blanco doing this funny clip, we enjoyed it very much.

Do you have any more fresh ideas in connection with Sodom that have never been done or applied before but you still keep them in mind?

In general no, I was very happy with the way we were working in the last years. We had a bit more time for writing the songs, that was very important. Maybe we should pay a bit more attention to the arrangement of the songs. Now we are able with the modern recording equipment, so we can prepare many many ideas at home and then simply meet in the rehearsal room to play together. But sometimes in the past I had so many ideas that I wasn’t able to record right away so they got lost. In the last years everybody has got a PC and is able to record right away if an idea comes – this makes life a bit easier.

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Bernemann in 2009 – Photo: Baconmusic

I hope that we can still find the time in the future for the songwriting. I guess you cannot actually plan for the future but the most important thing for me is to have good ideas, to stay inspired, to have a good mood everywhere what’s surrounding you, to have a good life with your family and no problems with your job. My life is much more than only making music, and if everything around me turns out good then I am also able to write good songs. This is of course wavering, in the last years I had many problems with losing my job for example. But as long as you yourself are in a good mood – and that’s the secret – and are happy with your life, you can keep on going further and writing songs that fans like. This is my aim, to stay healthy and to keep my whole environment positive and then everything will happen by itself.

For the end: Did you think about what would have been becoming of you if you wouldn’t have started out with playing music?

One day after a live show of Sodom in Bulgaria someone among my friends asked me this question and I told them that I think I would be a really good tourmaker. And everybody was laughing “Oh Bernemann, sure, tourmaker” but I am actually already a tourmaker, for sure not a full-time musician. I would do that gladly.

Thank you very much for your time Bernemann, I wish you all the best with Sodom’s new album Decision Day but especially with the tours you will be making! Have a great time in Italy as well!

Estelle, thank you very much, I appreciate it.

MERCILESS (Swe) video interview

I’m incredibly happy I got the chance to interview Merciless (Swe) at the Fall of Summer festival 2017 – check the result here! Topics include: Euronymous, Deathlike Silence, Morbid’s Dead, bad decisions, Fredrik Karlén, the ending of something and Kate Winslet. Enjoy!

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“Everyday was bitter cold” – Christopher Bailey (Infernäl Mäjesty)

Here you can read my interview done with Infernäl Mäjesty vocalist Chris Bailey revealing background information for my first video album review, concentrating on the band’s first cult album ‘None Shall Defy’. In case you missed it, watch the album video review here!

Interview with vocalist Christopher Bailey from Infernäl Mäjesty

Interview for Darkness Unseen by Estelle on the 20th of July 2017

11200889_1417535335231992_3281858844037743033_nHi Chris, thanks a ton for doing the interview for Darkness Unseen! You were a confident standout band from the Canadian scene back then besides the big thrash(/speed) bands like Exciter, Razor, Anvil, Voivod or Sacrifice on account of your more brutal sound and salient engagement with satanic themes. Did you guys know any other band nearby with a similarly more violent approach as yours that you could even share ideas or jam together with?

Back then when we started writing the music for None Shall Defy we were really isolated. Our rehearsal space was out in the North West corner of the city and we met there regularly to rehearse and write music. Everyday was bitter cold. We had friends in other heavy bands but we never jammed together. Before I joined Infernal I used to go see all the bands you mentioned play live at clubs, they were a big influence on me. Steve and Kenny used to play in a band with (Sheep Dog) before he joined Razor but other than that we never really hung out with other bands in the area. The atmosphere back then in Toronto was competitive.

Even if it happened 30 years ago, can you recall any interesting, memorable or funny stories from the time of the recordings of None Shall Defy? Could you just describe the feeling that surrounded you every time you got together and the goal you had in front of your eyes with the music you were creating?

InfernalMajesty_liveOne of the most memorable experiences recording the album was walking through the front door into the lobby of Metal Works Recording Studio in Mississauga, Ontario owned by the great Canadian Heavy Metal band Triumph. It was a combination of elation and nervousness. I had never played in a band before Infernal and now we were in the studio with a lot of people expecting results. It seemed like one minute you’re answering an ad in the Toronto Star Classifieds, then the next minute you’re standing in a state of the art vocal booth. It was a world I had never seen before. My world until then was a smoke filled rehearsal space, the walls lined with egg cartons, recording on a 4 track portable studio while we jammed, which we did a lot. We also met regularly to discuss band business and shit. We all had the same common goal and worked well together. That’s why to this day its still a mystery as to why Psyco and Nemes just disappeared shortly after the release of the album. Before I finish writing the book [about the story of Infernäl Mäjesty] I’ve started I hope to have more insights into this.

Did you notice any band(s) that formed after your release ‘None Shall Defy’ that might have got either their music or their habits/practices influenced by you guys? For example I’m thinking of them also doing frequent readings of the Satanic Bible, taking over elements from your imagery, etc.

Over the years we have been humbled and grateful  to hear the great tributes from the album. We hope that the younger generations of metal maniacs discovering their call for the first time are influenced by our works and inspired to write music. Like those before us we are driven by the same instinctive passion and creative nature that leans to the dark side of life. To be inspired in each owns unique way from the gift of our forefathers. We are creatures of the world we live in and exposed to. I was 17 when I joined Infernal Majesty. I was influenced by many of the greats back then in their infancy. Slayer, Venom, Manowar, Exciter, Bathory, I can go on and on. This was already embedded in my brain when I added my contribution into the creation of None Shall Defy. Satan has always been a powerful subject that fascinates me today as much as back then. Now it’s a historical exploration that keeps me up reading at night.

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Christopher Bailey (Infernäl Mäjesty)


Your lyrical themes are based on satanic imagery, occultism and horror (films) and they all convey a strong message against the vision of God. You also stated in one of your earlier interviews for example, “
I believe that until all religion is abolished or reduced to small pockets of insignificance, there is no future for mankind”. How old were you when you first discovered you possess these views and what made you start thinking this way, if I may ask?

I’ve always been a big fan of science and nature. It is just natural to me to ask why. At a young age I began to question the existence of a god. Through my late teens I was Agnostic which lasted until my late 20’s when I realized this is all cookoo bananas. I became a believer of nothing but the physics of the natural world. I don’t believe there is a god of the bible. It requires a complete separation from reality and common sense to believe in its words. Leviticus seems to have conveniently been ignored. It’s all illogical. There has not been any ocean’s parting lately or video of bushes spontaneously combusting. It seems in biblical times this was a normal thing, but now god decides to keep his great powers on the down low. Good grief. There has never been a time more important than now to focus on preventing people from dying.

How important is it for you that fans of your music identify themselves with the views Infernäl Mäjesty is spreading in their lyrics?

It’s a bonus if they can relate to our lyrics but it’s more important they just like the songs. We spend a lot of time and energy agonizing over lyrics so it would be cool if people like the message, but not mandatory. We are into getting out and having a good time, bottom line.

bandphoto2.jpgAs we can notice from your band photos from your early period and also on your tour in 1998; besides the spikes, chains and bullets you had such hairstyles that can remind us of glam, causing an interesting contrast between the music you played and the way you looked like. Do you think an explanation is necessary for the hairstyles or did you not purposely want to deliver us a message with your looks at all?

I think it’s a reflection of the era. We wanted to stand out and let our personalities shine. Kiss was the flame when it came to our appearance. When you 10 years old listening to the Love Gun album, staring at the cover for hours it has a lasting impression.  We came from different musical backgrounds but all under the Heavy Metal tent. We had a common goal at the time to write the heaviest, satanic thrash metal music known to humankind.

If anything, probably the only aspect that got a little critique about ‘None Shall Defy’ was the album cover and we can’t deny it surely catches one’s eye; in my personal opinion to the band’s advantage. What is your own opinion on it?

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None Shall Defy (1987)

You are exactly right, it catches the eye. This was the intention. We wanted it to stand out. When we commissioned the artwork we described to the artist, Fred Fivish, that we wanted an image of Satan tearing through the fabric of space revealing hells inferno on the other side. Everyone really liked it. Admittedly I was a little disappointed, but overtime I began to change my opinion. Looking back now I wouldn’t have changed a thing.

How satisfied are you with the reactions on your new album released this year, ‘No God’ so far?

We are thrilled with the reaction its receiving. The reviews have been excellent. Honestly we did not expect this strong of a reaction. We anticipated the worst and hoped for the best. It’s so difficult to know what will happen with reviews.  We didn’t try and break any new ground, we just wanted to bring back some of our roots into the music and focus on a dark heavy atmosphere and flow.  Its out now on High Roller Records. They are awesome to say the least. We new we were in good hands when they chose Good Friday to release the album worldwide.

If I know it correctly you had your last live concert in 2011 in Canada, performing ‘None Shall Defy’ in its entirety with Corpsegrider from Cannibal Corpse. Now that the new album is already out I’d like to ask, is there ANY chance of us being able to see you guys somewhere in the near future?

Its one of our highest priorities. We are working everyday trying to get things figured out, to bring our show on the road. I will have some major announcements soon. Everything we do is up on our Twitter feed, Facebook Page and Instagram or you can sign up to our newsletter for the latest info. Now you mentioned Cannibal Corpse, yes indeed the Corpsegrinder showing up to do a set with us was phenomenal. There is lots of video up on YouTube if anyone hasn’t seen it yet and the entire show will be up on our YouTube Channel soon.

Is there anything else you would like to tell me about?

Just to say thank you, I really enjoyed this and a shout out to Hungary. When we toured with Malevolent Creation and Vader in 97 we fell in love with you. We can’t wait to return.

“I never felt myself forced just to write about the pirate stuff as it could be too limitating musically” – Rolf Kasparek (Running Wild)

Interview with Rolf Kasparek from Running Wild

Interview for Metalegion Magazine by Estelle on the 26th of August 2016


Hi Rolf, first of all thanks a lot for taking the time and doing the interview with me for Metalegion Magazine, much appreciated!

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Death or Glory (1989)

Which album of Running Wild do you think was the most crucial or significant one in your personal career and/or in the fans’ opinion?

I would say Death or Glory – we had a lot better conditions concerning distribution, that was the next step for us as we sold pretty much more than we ever sold before. It was a very big step forward for Running Wild. And Blazon Stoned was the next step, it was the best sold album of my career. It was a truly important album that made the status of Running Wild.

Rolf, you are the only so to say “old” member in the current lineup of Running Wild. To what degree does this affect the songwriting process for the newer albums?

This time we had pretty much more time to write and to collect the ideas than I had for the albums before. It happened not intentionally, I just broke my shoulder so I was “knocked out” from the world for one year and that is why I could really make up my mind about the cover and the lyrics; I really could collect everything that was coming up to me.

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Rolf Kasparek (1989)

When I was doing the record and writing the songs back then when my shoulder was again moveable and I could finally play guitar, it turned out to be a great situation because I could pick out 11 songs from all these ideas (I had about 30-35 basic song ideas) which are still all different from each other. Every song should gain something to the album that the others couldn’t, in order to have a wide range of style. I had the time to work on the small bits of pieces and the arrangement of the songs.

Rapid Foray is more complex in a way than the earlier albums by reason of the basic ideas. Also, I haven’t used studio before we started out with the record. It was a pretty much relaxed working situation even if it was hard work to achieve all that we finally did with the album. But it was a great situation for me to have the time to work out the bits of pieces, the details of the songs.

You mentioned that you broke your shoulder in the beginning of 2014. As far as I know you also needed surgery in Germany from one of the best doctors to repair it – During that period, have it ever crossed your mind that your career as a guitarist could be in danger?

No, because it was totally cured as I reached to the point back then to play guitar in the proper way again. In the first place it was the best doctor that I could get. It was just a coincidence that I landed there in this hospital but he was the best doctor to work on a shoulder in whole Germany (laughs). And I just told him that I’m a guitar player, I’m a musician and I need to use my shoulder. And he did a really great job then, the operation went well.

It took me about half a year just to get to working on Rapid Foray again because of having to have a second operation half a year later. I could already play guitar but not in a proper way, I couldn’t work for hours: 3-4 hours a day was not possible, in the beginning it was like half an hour here and there… I simply worked on the ideas and was picking out songs for the record.

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Rapid Foray (2016)

ROLF UNVEILS… RAPID FORAY

This section of our magazine would basically mean a song by song explanation or just an explanation of one song, focusing more on the lyrical and instrumental side of the song(s).
Could you share your vision of a song, explain the lyrics, refer to some instrumental passages or tell how the song was created…? It’s up to you.

I was interested in doing the last song on the record, the Last of the Mohicans. It was a really important one mainly because of the idea of doing a song about the novel from James Fenimore Cooper. I already had the idea in 2000 while writing the Victory album but it was not coming down, it was not the quality I wanted to have and that’s why I put it down again and again. And when I started out with the Shadowmaker from 2012 I had the idea to the song again, but on the other hand I had another song called Dracula which finally made it onto the album. On Resilient from 2013 it happened in the same way, I had the idea to write the Last of the Mohicans but there, as the last song, Bloody Island made it onto the album.

While writing Rapid Foray I finally did have the time to do the song, I figured out very early a lot of ideas for it concerning my working situation because of my shoulder.

And the story it tells – I know the story since I was a kid, had to see it in Germany, we had this kind of tradition in the 60s and early 70s. Before Christmas we had these 4-piece movies about a certain adventure topic that was sold by German TV to French TV, so different TV stations got this together. There was one film called the Hawkeye Movie and another one was the Last of the Mohicans, which is one of the stories of this book.

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James Fenimore Cooper – The Last of the Mohicans (1826)

I was really impressed by the story because it was a battle on the one hand, and on the other hand it’s a very adventurous case. I must have been around 9-10 years old when I saw it for the first time and I was simply impressed. There were a lot of movies coming up with the story but telling it from a different kind of view, a different kind of perspective.

I wanted to do this song and I figured out that the story is too complex to tell it in just in 5 verses or so. I just had to figure out what was the main point to me from the story and this is the loss of Chingachgook [one of the three frontiersmen, among the main figures of the film – ed.]. He not only lost his son but he lost his culture, he lost his present, he lost his future, he lost everything. His pride… Everything that was important to him that made up his life so far; he had to start at a new point from then on.

And that was the point I had my focus on while writing the lyrics and telling the story. I also had to tell it musically and that’s why it turned to be such a long song because it’s such a complex story.

Now it’s understandable why it is the largest song on the album with a running time of around 11 minutes. The song, as you also mentioned, was clearly influenced by the 19th century novel written by James Fenimore Cooper. What lead you to adapt this particular novel into a Running Wild song and also, do you think it fits entirely into the Running Wild pirate image you built up over the years?

rw5I always brought in different kinds of ideas on the albums because I never felt myself forced just to write about the pirate stuff as it could be too limitating musically. Also, if you only write about that kind of certain topic just have certain melodies in your head and certain musical ideas. Back on Death or Glory we had a song called Battle Waterloo which also was a part of history. From time to time I’m just doing different stuff because there were also some songs on the album just like Victory of Guns which is just a normal rock ‘n’ roll song. So I never felt myself forced to just go ahead for this kind of image stuff.

The story of the Last of the Mohicans takes place in the 18th century, but the pirate stuff did too. So it fits in that case as it is a part of the story and so it is a part of what happened then. The indians were pretty much in the same kind of situation as the pirates were. They had to fight for their lives and for the right and had to see how they pull through this. The first place there was a war between England and France about North America, they just wanted to keep their hand on that, so that was the basic story back then.

We can notice that the lyrics after your 1987 album Under Jolly Roger were intensely researched. Where did you get the inspiration and especially the information for the lyrics?
What does the whole pirate image mean to you and how did you get yourself into it?

Everything started with the song Under Jolly Roger. I was watching TV when I came around with the idea of the song, there was this advertisement for the movie called Pirates (1986) written by Roman Polanski. And there was this scene where the flag was rising up and I found it beautiful. “Wow Under Jolly Roger, a great title for a track!” – It started with that. I became especially interested in this stuff when I was writing for Port Royal. And I just love books about that. Totally different kinds of books about different pirates, about history, about theories, about shit, about everything that had something to do with the life in the 18th century. It was all about that pirate stuff on the Caribbian. And I had a lot of books where I could pick the stories from, stories that all come from reality. Just as our song called Calico Jack.

rw-jollyrogerAnd sometimes our songs are coming up with imagination about the topic. If you have a look on the new album a song like Black Skies, Red Flag has nothing to do in the first case with the reality, just has this kind of red flag as a symbol for the pirates that they will show no mercy at all. We have the real pirate flag in our minds with a skull and crossbones. But actually every pirate had his own flag back then.

So there’s totally different stuff that comes from that. And sometimes I’m coming back to that, I had all the ideas for the new album and one of them turned out into a song called Black Bart, which is a song about Bartholomew Roberts who was the most famous and the most successful pirate of all time. He was mentioned in the story of Treasure Island and he was real. It was not just imagination, he actually existed and was a very strong character; there were a lot of different things in his character that were not at all usual for that time. He was never drinking alcohol – what a weird situation for a pirate (laughs)! He was always sober, all the time. And he was gay, for the 18th century he was gay! He was very very open, he didn’t hide it, he was never hiding. And it was very strange for the 18th century to do that. The crew was really onto him, he was also relentless, a really tough guy. And so that was the story I was coming back to, I was just going for the books again and I found a story about which I haven’t had a song written yet, I figured he would be a great character to do a song about.

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Running Wild (Death or Glory era)

Rapid Foray also brings back some of the memories from the classic Running Wild period. Your previous two albums (Resilient, but especially Shadowmaker) didn’t convince entirely many older fans of yours. Was this something you were looking for this time, to make peace with the older fans?

No, not really. When I was going through all the ideas I had for the album, I figured out that there were some parts that had some more trademarks from the late eighties-early nineties. But I was not heading down when I was writing the songs, when I was collecting the ideas. I never said to myself “you have to write songs like back then” – that simply wouldn’t work. If you try to do a copy of a song from 25 years ago, there would not be coming any good song from that. If I got a great idea that sounds like that and I got this feeling and I got this kind of spiritual thing going around what you feel about the pirate stuff or the metal that you consider to be classic for Running Wild… It’s great when it’s there. You really can rock on that and you can go and work on the bits of pieces to make it to be a great track. And that’s what I did. But I never said to myself that I had to write songs like that. I don’t think that would really be ending up as a great record. The record was just the way I was feeling when I was writing and collecting the ideas and when I was picking the songs for the album. I figured out very early when I was working on the tracks themselves that a lot of songs had trademarks from the classic stuff.

I agree with you on that that you couldn’t simply copy a song from back then because it wouldn’t work out the same way.
As you also mentioned earlier, you had more than 30 songs completed for Rapid Foray. If I can ask do you sometimes use portions or complete songs that were not featured on the previous album(s)?

This was the first time that I had so many ideas for an album. If you have a look back into the early days Death or Glory etc. – those were really the songs I had that I put on the album. I couldn’t pick from such a big “pool” from which I have the possibility to do that today. There were a lot of ideas I had to put down because they didn’t fit to these 11 songs. But that doesn’t mean they are not great songs. Meanwhile I was writing the material and was working on the production itself, I had a lot more ideas for the next album that I had to put down and force myself to forget them. This is a kind of pool of creativity I have in the last 2-3 years which I never had before in my life. There are a lot of things going on, a lot of ideas are just coming and I really can’t stop it (laughs). It’s totally different because before, I put down Running Wild as it was really hard for me to write the songs and get the proper ideas for a good track. It was really hard work, but today it’s just coming like a river.

That’s for sure great for us fans to hear!

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Running Wild at Wacken Open Air 2015 [Photo: apesmetal.com]

About “putting down” Running Wild as you said, the last time you played live was on Wacken Open Air in 2015. Was it because your last show in 2009 also happened to be on Wacken? Also, do you plan to give concerts anywhere else seeing that so many fans are kind of dying for you?

I was just starting out working on the new album and we got the idea from the Wacken guys to do a show there in 2015, festival headlining. We felt like it was a great idea to do that but we had to find 2 new members for the band as it was just P.J. [Peter Jordan guitarist – ed.] and me at the time. We figured it out but after that I had to go back to the album to finish the recording.

About concerts, we are not doing touring but we will play on a lot of festivals the next year. So we just get all the offers and we sit down and consider all of them and see what we can do, what festival is suitable for us concerning the fees and the possibilities. We plan to bring a full set from Running Wild on the stage. This is all planned for the next year. It is also the plan maybe to do 2-3 shows around the next Christmas, 2017. This is the next plan and now we are working on that. Now we are pretty much involved in interviews and the promotion for the new album. We will just sit down and see what we can do about 20 different offers from festivals all over Europe.

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 A fan’s Running Wild-themed leather vest

That’s awesome to hear that there is a chance of seeing you!

You guys are also really active on your Facebook-site when it comes to marketing, for example you have an album where you upload fans’ pictures with their Running Wild tattoos and reliquia. What was the most surprising way of a fan showing his respect towards Running Wild that you’ve experienced?

The fans are so loyal to Running Wild, even if we talk about 32 years now because it was in 1984 the first album which was revealed for the public. I see so many people getting tattoos from Running Wild, some of them even more than a dozen. It’s a statement that Running Wild means a lot to them and it is a big part of their lives and makes me proud. Also if you take a look at how many musicians claim to be influenced by Running Wild, even if they are fans you never came across with because they are doing different music themselves. In Flames for example, they have grown up with my music – they are making totally different music themselves but are saying “you were a milestone for us because you’re the reason we started out making music”. It makes me proud to see the next generation rising. Or Sabaton, they also claim to be great Running Wild fans and have grown up with my music. Handing over the fire to the next generation – I am really proud of that.

rw6About fans and about being proud of fans being so loyal: Do you feel like you ever disappointed either your fans or yourself with any of Running Wild’s records?

You know the fans are a big part of Running Wild, we would be nothing without them. That is for sure: they bought the records, they bought the tickets… They made the band great and this is what it’s all about. You always have to have the focus on that these people were loyal to the band through the good and though the bad times, and it makes me proud to be a part of their lives. For example once we got a letter from an American soldier who was fighting in Iraq and he said what brought him through all these evil things going on there was to listen to Running Wild all day long. And this means a lot to me to be the help for people through situations, to feel better, to make it through.

All time highlights…

For the end could you select up to 3 albums that you consider your all-time favorites and tell me something about each one? (For instance when you have heard it for the first time, why you consider it a highlight or some sort of memories when hearing it.)

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Judas Priest – Unleashed in the East (1979)

Firstly Unleashed in the East from Judas Priest: Priest is a starting point for me for heavy metal in the reality. When this album came out, everything started and one year after that all the NWOBHM started. We are called since then a heavy metal band because we were called before some kind of a hard rock band. Listening to KISS and AC/DC…

What also was really important for me is British Steel. It’s an all-time classic for me, THE most heavy metal album of all time. It just sums up everything that heavy metal means to me.

Thank you very much for all the interesting things you told me Rolf, all the best to you in the future and looking forward to seeing you sometime in 2017!

Thanks for the support. Have a nice day!

“As long as you’re challenging yourself, you’re going to get better results” – Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth (Overkill)

Interview with Bobby “Blitz” Ellsworth from Overkill

Interview for Metalegion Magazine by Estelle on the 11th of August 2014

Hi Bobby, thank you very much for doing this interview for Metalegion Magazine! Firstly I would like to ask, are you satisfied with what you have done throughout the years? What do you think could have gone better?

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Bobby Blitz – then and now

I suppose now Overkill is getting a lot of attention, chart positions have shown that we have a popularity of the scene in thrash, not just for us but for many of the other bands. It’s something that is very special in the current day. So I think that there’s obviously a little bit of a difference; in the early days we were getting attention based on the genre’s newnessand creation at that time as the scene was developing, but now I think we are probably getting as much if not more attention based on its longevity, and let’s say value in the current day.

This is a thing I’ve done as an adult – my whole adult life. It’s over a 30-year period now that I’ve been playing in Overkill. I never really think about what could we have done better, I think the key here is that if we felt that there was a mistake, we would comb upon that mistake the next time. This wasn’t a band that sticks terribly to that one way describedas unpopular, this was something that you didn’t want to do, and we always found ways to make that happen. The drive was the popularity of the scene, so I think that the choice was made, the dice was cast, it was really simple for us: this is what we wanna do, so I don’t really look at it as what we could have done better, I just kinda look at it as we’ve always tried to count what we can improve on what we would like to do, and I think that someone there might say that is the key of our personal success.

You guys are extremely hard-working – the band puts out the new albums every 2 or 3 years, tours like mad, you also run a chocolate shop with your wife – and despite all these you never stopped thrashing. What do you feel was the worst period to exist as a thrash metal band?

You know, just the fact that you’re here this is a great thing. I think there was a period in the nineties when it was harder to retain a record field and harder to keep it growing. Not ’94, ’95, ’96, because there was still a great underground popularity of the scene, but then grunge came in and put a big dirty footprint on the metal scene – it became unpopular and went back to the underground, so it was a little bit harder than when its creation happened and what now happens.

168_photo.jpgBut when I think back of those times, just because it was harder it doesn’t mean it was unsatisfying. To some degree, it was more satisfying because of the new methods we looked to put into it; still there were record deals, still there were tours – we never stopped touring, we never stopped recording records and we never were without a record deal. And this was due to our own work, we were writers in the band and we also self-managed during this period of time. So we made good moves, they were hard moves at the time but when I think back on them, I think of them as the most satisfying days based on the fact that a lot of people couldn’t do this, but obviously we could.

Some vocalists who I interviewed so far said that they don’t really consider themselves or feel like musicians. Do you?

Obviously there’s music here because I write the melodies to the popular music, so each vocal has a melody. Now what’s telling the correctness what to sing, it’s more how I interpret that, so sure, that becomes my musical input to it, therefore of course I’m one of the musicians in the band to complete the formula.

Besides singing, you also play the bass. Did you ever consider really playing in a band as a bassist?

I did for a while. I was in university or high school at the time, watched the others bass and I loved the bass gear, and played in cover bands. When I was in university, it was because we were trying to meet girls. It’s really simple, it’s something to do on the weekends. When I was in high school, it was because it was cool, it wasn’t anything, it was just fun. But I wasn’t just playing the bass, I was singing tunes like a ZZ-Top song, we were playing music that was popular at the time. So yeah, I had played as a bassist in those bands.

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Overkill – White Devil Armory (2014)

Your new album, White Devil Armory is close to being as energetic and dynamic as you were back in the eighties, similarly to the past few albums of yours such as The Electric Age or Ironbound. In one of your earlier interviews you said that The Electric Age is something like two-dimensional – it has the speed and it has the aggressiveness, but it doesn’t have the groove. Did you plan White Devil Armory to be similar in this aspect?

I think that when I gave that answer, that was for sure my commitment to add a certain groove to what I am to it, not the groove, the vocals in between that the other guys were doing. So for sure I did, and I think Overkill is made up with different elements, and even though I’ve highlighted The Electric Age as a two-dimensional record, I do feel it’s a great thrash record, I really think that it was really something special for 2012. So sure, I instilled groove in that.

There’s not a lot of talking when it comes to Overkill’s planning for a new record: I think as long as you’re challenging yourself, you’re going to get better results. And I even think that White Devil Armory contains more of that groove coming with the thrash than The Electric Age did.

What was the newest thing you guys added to the recording of White Devil Armory?

67-og.jpgWe have a formula, and I do think that when the formula works that’s something that we stick to, let’s say maybe trying to improve upon it – I find that when I record demos along with touring, on the tour bus, then I get really good results. That’s something I’ve been doing for a few records now, I just like to have something I can record with. There’s an energy you can’t fake when you come on stage. I’m coming on stage in San Antonio, on the Overkill/Kreator tour, and two hours later I’m in the back of the bus and I’m recording down some demo vocals to the song ‘Pig’. It’s going to come out with a live energy, because that’s the last thing I did on Overkill’s live show. So I think that’s probably the newest thing that I personally add to this: that I like to record several demos when I’m doing live shows.

You have two new clips recorded for the songs ‘Armorist’ and ‘Bitter Pill.’ Could you tell me a few words about the making of them?

We recorded them in New Jersey with Kevin J. Custler (Hatebreed, Testament, Suffocation. He previously worked with Overkill on the “Electric Rattlesnake” and “Bring Me The Night” clips – ed). We shot ‘Armorist’ in a really old factory with big windows and with a lot of natural light. On the same day we did ‘Bitter Pill’ in the bowels of a separate section of the complex, in which the walls were actually carved out of the bedrock.

Is there anything that you do not like to do when it comes to making a new album?

I can’t say it specifically. As time goes on, it becomes easier, but then at other times, it becomes harder and I think the hardest part is non-repetition. Writing a song or my part of the song like ‘Freedom Rings’, let’s say “oh, it shouldn’t be minutes,” because that’s what I would have done in 1990. I don’t like thinking in it, I’m just trying to push myself out of the box. And that becomes a little bit harder, and sometimes it becomes something I don’t want to do in that particular time because it would be easy to put 1990 into ‘Freedom Rings.’So I think the idea is that the satisfaction comes when you still push yourself. And when you pull it through, it seems like this is a harder test than doing it the natural way as in 1990.

As far as I’m concerned, your early covers (especially the ones done under the name Virgin Killer) were mostly punk songs, including selections by the Ramones and The Dead Boys. Did punk music stay with you in any way?

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Early days of Overkill

It’s funny because with the whole Virgin Killer thing, I think there was one gig that we ever did under that name. I think Virgin Killer lasted as a name for this band for about 36 hours. (laughs)
I do think that the punk stays with it, I think that this band back in that era when even the name Virgin Killer was around was a fan of NWOBHM, and some punk rock stuff. And we were kind of the child of those two genres, we were into the Tygers of Pan Tang, or Europe, also Tank and we were also into the Sex Pistols or The Damned. The result is Overkill between those two kind of genres, and I think we surely carried with it. So when I hear songs like ‘Pig’ off the new record I hear that punk word, so I hear “it’s all yours,” I hear kind of an odd groove that is still there. So for sure I think that punk would stay with us for the duration of our career.

Not long ago you said that you like this modern vibe to your newer albums, and I also read you are usually a fan of new school thrash metal bands and this whole new scene going on nowadays. Is there anything you miss from the old times? Can the feeling be the same for you nowadays?

Good question. I do like most of the new stuff that comes out, I like it obviously because it’s reflective of us and reflective of the a scene that was from the past, and something that I was a part of, so it’s obviously easy for me to like it – it’s not something that I had to search for, it showed up and I was like “wow I know that!,” and that’s where my attraction leads to. What’s different is that it was created in another time, if it was from 1985 or 1987, whether it be Overkill or Megadeth or Death Angel, it was being created then. I think that becomes the main difference, the thing that it’s probably missed. It’s more of a reflection to me, which is cool to me, but what was being created, there was a certain danger, risk, excitement that went along with it, that was unexplainable.

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Overkill – The Electric Age (2012)

Would you ever consider taking a fresh face, a young guy in the band?

Right now the youngest guy is like 46 (laughs), and it’s funny, I would call him the ‘kid.’ But what we are sure about is that this line-up jams pretty well and I think the evidence is there in White Devil Armory, The Electric Age and Ironbound. This line-up is probably the strongest Overkill line-up, today. When The Electric Age was created, we figured out how to keep it loaded. And at some degree that’s more important even than its creation, at this particular point in our career. In a way it was necessary, I don’t see why not, I don’t think it’s a wrong thing to have the right guys, specifically in the right place.

After overcoming cancer, a stroke and 34 years, is there anything you can think of that could stop you from thrashing and going on with Overkill?

Well, I haven’t had a heart attack yet. (laughs hard)
You know, I had a really unique time, a dirty cancer period I went through, and now I’m over 15 years cancer-free. I was a sober individual at the time, I hadn’t drunk in many years or taken any drugs. It was a cool time for me because my head was clear during this episode. I didn’t tell I had cancer, I was just sitting in the bar and enjoying my time, I was a person that was hanging out with guys from motorcycle clubs who were also sober guys. I remember sitting with this guy, we were sitting in a bar with our bikes behind, both having cigarettes and he said to me, first, “You shouldn’t be smoking if you have cancer,” and, second, “It’s not the problem, it’s getting through the problem.” And it was like I was hit with a word of light: right, it has nothing to do with the problem, it’s getting around the fucking problem, going through it, going over it. It gives another side, I mean I’d like to be put on the other side of the problem, but I have to be able to get through it.

bobbyblitz3.jpgAnd it gave me a real good perspective on where I am with regard to lives and I think it was a great lesson for me to learn because I knew from that moment that it had nothing to do with the problem, it had to with me getting through to the problem. I don’t think that there is anything that could stop me with regard to if I can physically do it, I will do it. I love Overkill, this is my drug, this gets me high. So if I can get through my problems, then I won’t be stopped by something.

Is there anything that you would still like to say about White Devil Armory?

Somebody asked me “Could you tell us why people should listen to White Devil Armory?” and the only thing I could come up with was “Because I said so.” (laughs)

Thank you very much for this honour and for your time Bobby. I wish all the best to Overkill, keep thrashing!

Thanks for the support!

Announcements and announcements

Reasons for not being active pt. #a lot.

So dear everyone, first of all I would like to apologize for being completely passive when it came to posting in the last months. The main thing is that at the beginning of April I moved from Budapest, Hungary to Leipzig, Germany and as you can imagine unfortunately the main point before my eyes was not moving forward with my blog and getting stuff in connection with my hobbies done but adjusting to a different country and doing all the administration required for it, trying to get used to my new job, new language and all the people I keep getting to know day by day. I kind of would be able to feel settled already but I just moved again into another apartment with some of my friends inside Leipzig so I don’t – also what makes the whole thing harder is that I’m doing a night job and even though I do enjoy it (just like everything else) so far, I definitely have to practice a lot of time management in case I even wanna have social life or get any stuff done, let that be administration or handling anything I care about, including reviews/interviews.

Being happy in Leipzig. Such a perfect city

I do have a feeling that this will change soon tho, as I feel like writing stuff again already especially becaaaause…:

The first issue of Metalegion Magazine I’ve been doing interviews for in 2014-15 is finally out and available for free download, featuring my interviews made with John & Donald Tardy from Obituary, Bobby Blitz from Overkill, Andreas “Gerre” Geremia from Tankard and Marc Grewe from ex-Morgoth along with a few reviews written under the name of Estelle. HERE you can find it – in case you like what you read & see, I would be happy about having the word spread. :)

I also got a few more names already with whom I will surely do an interview as we are planning the 2nd edition of the magazine: Sodom, Running Wild and Destruction, plus a lot of more band and festival ideas among which a lot will probably be sorted out. Couldn’t be more excited. :D

Soo hopefully I won’t disappear for months again and will be able to put some energy in writing, I love doing it and wouldn’t like seeing something I’ve done slipping away. :) Until then!

“The different types of music I’ve played have had satisfied different aspects of why I like playing extreme metal” – Dan Lilker (Nuclear Assault, ex-Anthrax, ex-S.O.D, ex-Brutal Truth)

Interview with Dan Lilker (Nuclear Assault, ex-Anthrax, ex-S.O.D, ex-Brutal Truth)

Interview by Estelle at Brutal Assault on the 5th of August 2015 

Hey Dan, first of all thank you so much for doing this interview with me! First I’d like to ask, if you could go back to the very beginning of your metal career, would you do anything differently?

Dan: Maybe making decisions about signing to certain labels, but not artistically. I’m completely satisfied with the paths I have taken even though I could have maybe sold out and made money or something; but I couldn’t really do this, it would go against my heart. So now I can’t think of too much I would do different as far as a musician. Maybe some business decisions, but not as an artist.

Out of all the bands you were involved in, which one was the most fun to work with?

Dan: This is a difficult question because the different bands I’ve played with have satisfied different feelings inside me: thrash metal is fun, you’re drinking beer and smoking weed; if you’re playing black metal it makes your hair stand up (this is such a special feeling), or if you’re palying grindcore, it’s like there’s lightning in the air. So the different types of music I’ve played have had satisfied different aspects of why I like playing extreme metal. As far as having fun, it’s difficult to have fun playing black metal because you must stay in a very serious vibe – and it’s hard to because sometimes something happens and you have to laugh, something falls over or I don’t know. (laughs)

I’ve read that you are still kind of satisfied with how your first record with Nuclear Assault, Game Over sounds – as I’ve noticed that is not something common among musicians. Do you want to recreate the same vibe and sound both on an album and live or can you accept the fact that we don’t live in those times anymore?

Nuclear Assault – Game Over (1986)

Dan: Honestly, I think the guitar sound on Game Over is not distorted enough. But this was the analog days – and now we live in a digital world. We accept the fact that the old process of recording is different now, but we have technological advantages; it’s much easier to fix a mistake immediately instead of having to start from the beginning. The sound of analog recordings had a special real warm sound to them that’s hard to recreate digitally, but there are ways to imitate this.

John Conelly (vocalist of Nuclear Assault who just sat down next to us): How hard is it?

Dan: What’s hard?

John: Well, to recreate the sound of old recordings. How hard is it Dan?

Dan: Are you being perverted? I’m talking to a woman, have some taste for Christ’s sake! (John’s laughing)

[To John who was hoping that I’d do the interview with him instead of Dan:] Aren’t there any conflicts in Nuclear Assault because of Dan being the center figure?

John: Nah, no problems.

Dan: Nobody wants the attention, I just have to take it.

[To Dan:] Seeing the huge success of and interest around Anthrax counting right from Fistful of Metal, don’t you ever feel awkward for being fired from the band in ’84? Didn’t you ever think about going back?

Dan: I was asked to leave Anthrax – I didn’t have the opportunity to continue with them, they told me to go. So it doesn’t matter. I called up John and said “we have to start a band” and that’s how Nuclear Assault came. Anthrax’s music went to a more commercial direction than I think I would have enjoyed playing; but it’s all okay, everything happens for a reason – that’s what they say.

Daniel Lilker

Daniel Lilker

I’ve read in one of your earlier interviews when a guy asked you about your further plans with S.O.D. that you said “the more we do, the less special it becomes”. Is this a general view of yours or does it only apply to S.O.D.?

Dan: Absolutely. S.O.D. was kind of a weird thing where we just didn’t have any idea it was going to get popular, we just said “oh, we’re just gonna play some pop-rock songs and record them” and the more you try to recreate that, it would become less. We had a surprise attack at the time, you can never repeat that. So just forget it, just be happy with that and don’t try to milk the cow too much.

It’s clear that you do not like today’s metal – still, have you found any new bands (let it be thrash or anything else) recently that did surprise you or gave you something you haven’t really heard before?

Dan: I can’t think of anything in the recent past that I’ve heard that was totally original, but it’s understandable because people playing thrash metal in 2015 have a lot of influences. When we started, we did our own thing to get things from hardcore and maybe a couple of Slayer riffs or whatever, or maybe more Venom, Hellhammer or Discharge. The point being, it’s harder to be original 30 years later.

Nuclear Assault (1986)

Nuclear Assault (1986)

[To both of them:] What is the thing that you mostly miss from the old days when it comes to music?

Dan: I’m not sure I miss anything from the old days. Maybe just the fact that back then everybody knew each other. There was a community, and now it clearly is exploited.

John: We got to play with Exodus on a fairly regular basis. We saw the guys in Testament often too, great guys, fun to be around.

[To Dan:] You are not only a bassist but a really diverse talent as you also play the guitars, piano, drums and you’re a vocalist as well. Where does all this come from?

Dan: It’s the same source. I played piano when I was five years old and heavy just came in later. But playing music – whatever you’re doing –, it’s all from the same well. It depends on what instrument you are using at the time and of course I’m not the best guitarist or anything, I’m a bassist. But I write songs on guitar because it’s easier to explain to the other guys.

John: The nice thing is that we both have a qualification in classical music, we speak the same language. So if I tell Dan “do you need something in E-minor and 6/8 time signature?”, he knows what I’m talking about. A lot of people don’t even know what E-minor is – it’s odd because they are really good musicians. For Dan and I it’s like common vocabulary.

Do you want me to ask a particular thing from you?

Dan: “Why are you guys so handsome?” – I don’t know! Or: “Why do you do what you do?” – Because we don’t give a fuck.

Okay guys, thanks for taking the time and doing a quick interview, also thank you for your nice show!

Dan: Thank you!