Very happy birthday to the one and only Uli Jon Roth! :)
Very happy birthday to the one and only Uli Jon Roth! :)
30 years ago today, Sodom released their second classic thrash full-length, ‘Persecution Mania’. What to say; let’s hope we are looking forward to something more quiet and less dark than a Nuclear Winter this year!
I still owed you a fan footage from Chaos Descends so here you go people! You can turn on the English subtitles if you like.
You can probably expect something similar from me from the French Fall of Summer Festival I’m attending next weekend – Can’t wait! :)
Report by Estelle on the 2nd of September 2017
Dreamlike location, prominent lineup, pleasant mood, killer afterparties, Cuba Libre and a children’s railway. What more could you possibly want?
The first band I decided to see on the festival were the death metal band Vorum playing on Friday from the Åland Islands (belonging to Finland). Their crushing 30-minute full-length Poisoned Void from 2013 already got my attention a few years ago from which I got the chance to see songs live for the first time. Just as expected, Vorum played hard and with defeating energy, creating a base cheer for me that never went away ‘til the moment I arrived home after the festival.
After Vorum came the German King Diamond-worshipping Attic with their live ritual. To my surprise their well-composed, high-standard live performances authentically give back the feeling and also the quality of their albums. Attic continuously receives critique about their base idea being unoriginal and simply a replica of both the King Diamond style and sound – however, in my personal opinion, as they model King’s approach on such a high standard, one can simply be pleased to hear more of a style that not every band would be able to recreate.
Order Attic’s new album ‘Sanctimonious’ here.
After Attic came some long-awaited rigid German-style cruelty with Venenum, creating a frore atmosphere. Just as the last time I saw them, the German death metallers concentrated on their new album ‘Trance of Death’ filled with all this ugliness; these atmospheric solos, melodic riffs, unexpectable breaks and tempo changes, driving the audience into madness. To my sadness, they have not played anything from their world-class EP ‘Venenum’, even though their song Bewitched Craft could be the best death metal song written in the 21th century until now in my personal opinion.
Don’t think the new album is not worth investing in, though: Buy it here.
Later came the Polish death metallers Mgła, who I have never seen before and from whom I was expecting a lot, partly based on the everlasting hype surrounding them. Unfortunately and rather surprisingly I could not get myself engaged with the band and was not moved by their music nor by their sound.
Luckily and this time not to my surprise, right after them we got to the highlight of the festival in form of the USA heavy/doom band Cirith Ungol. Cirith Ungol’s show was far more collected and composed than at Keep It True this year, the band members were in sync the whole time and one could just see the excitement and joy on their faces on stage. I lost my mind over how Tim Baker’s voice and energy level does not seem to lower since the 70s and my face was all upon the grin about all the band’s classic songs coming after each other, all getting delivered in album quality live.
Their setlist was diverse and contained indeed every classic that one could expect from them, including the 3 encores Master of the Pit, King of the Dead and Cirith Ungol. Unbeatable.
Afterwards, before getting lost among all the people and cuba libres in the afterparty-tent, we had the chance to hear some raw black metal tunes from the Canadian Sortilegia, pounding us completely into the ground.
The first band I got to see on Saturday were the alternative A Dead Forest Index from New Zealand on the Nature stage. Alternative has never been my thing, the whole thing seemed simply too artsy to me, making me unable to identify myself with the music or the feeling the members wanted to transmit through it. However, it still was a pleasant feeling to chill at the side of an abandoned toilet-blue pool in the sun, in the woods, listen to the two classical guitars and experience something I have not experienced before.
They were followed by the Norwegian black/sludge band with hardcore punk elements, Okkultokrati, who played on the main stage. To be honest I expected some more from them and found them rather mediocre live, leading me to the uncomfortable situation of choosing booze over a band.
Right after them I looked into Night Demon – even though I’ve never been a huge fan of them, I got to understand why others are. It shows just as well from the way they present themselves as from their stage properties that they know how to sell the band. Vocalist “Jarvis Leatherby” [Jeff Hershey, new bassist of Cirith Ungol since 2016] is one of the few people by whom I feel like they were directly born for the stage: he’s absolutely energetic, has fun at what he’s doing and has something in his attitude that attracts the audience. The huge death figure walking up and down on stage was thought to be contributing to attracting attention.
I walked into the crowd of Dread Sovereign with no expectations previously only hearing their first album some time ago, and was pleasantly surprised by how fast they got me engaged. Just by looking at the crowd one could have thought Dread Sovereign belong to the first wave of doom bands from the early-mid 80s – it shows how authentically they play their music as a doom band formed in 2013 if they are able to get the attention of the older generation who could have been among the crowd on an early Saint Vitus or Candlemass gig.
I was then ready for the savagery of Deathhammer. I got exactly what I wanted: pounding energy, brutality, speed and drunkenness; just as usual from frontman Sergeant Salsten [watch my video interview with him on the festival coming out in a few days]. Besides the strong, varied riff-flow and the incredible amount of devastating power it was entertaining to see how Salsten just does not seem to give a damn: After introducing the following song he started to doubt/question himself and was not afraid of also expressing these doubts toward the crowd by the gentle question “What the fuck?”.
As the next act I got to see the USA death/black/thrash band Absu. They provided us with a combination of catchy thrash riffs, rotten blackened vocals and Proscriptor’s insane, bestial drumming, not leaving us any time to recover from the previous Deathhammer’s fierce effect on us.
I did indeed try to understand something from the music of the upcoming German ambient black ( D O L C H ) until I left with the thoughts of “Okay one doesn’t have to understand everything”.
Despite my expectations, experiences and the previous band, I was really much able to get myself engaged with Sunn O))) this time. I have already seen them at Brutal Assault in 2015 where I left with no traces of the band’s impact on me, however, I was curious how a small(er) festival and two years’ time can change the experience of seeing them live.
Even though the drone/noise/black metal/doom metal/dark ambient band’s insane frequencies reach as far as you can see, one gets so much more in contact with them right before the stage as one is also able to observe their movements and the lighting; and where the frequencies are so strong you feel them throughout your whole body and get an ear-pain after 30 minutes.
It contributed to getting involved that I could not leave the dark, gloomy, haunting lyrics out of consideration as Hungarian vocalist Attila Csihar [see also: Tormentor & Mayhem] sang, muttered and moaned in all possible tones and pitches in our mother tongue, Hungarian for the most part.
After around 1,5 hours as everyone gradually came to the feeling that this gloomy, oppressive atmosphere never ever goes away again, Attila winded Sunn O)))’s performance, all the emotions and concerns one developed during the show, as well as the experiences of the previous festival-days up with an indescribable, bloodcurdling screech.
Sunn O))) is definitely not a band preparing one’s mood for the last night’s afterparty. In spite of all my expectations, in my case the band carried out the effect they are making music for: I felt myself far too emptied, weakened and disturbed for some time to get myself together and carry myself over to the afterparty tent.
Even though I still can hardly imagine myself listening to Sunn O))) at home, I indeed gained respect toward and got curious about them and I can only recommend giving them a chance as soon as you have the opportunity to hear and observe what complete darkness and eeriness sounds and looks like.
And now, to sum up…
Strongest standout bands: Cirith Ungol, Sunn O))), Venenum, Attic, Deathhammer
+ dreamlike and kind of easy-to-find location; smooth organisation & communication; prominent lineup; pleasant mood; great people; decent sound; decent food; killer afterparties; CUBA LIBRE; children’s railway going around the festival area
– for the first time ever: nothing mentionable
Recommendations: Go! Go! Go!
Find more information at: http://www.chaosdescends.com/
Photos were used by ‘Estelle’.
Review by Estelle for Metalegion Magazine on the 13th of Januar 2017
Genre: Black/Speed Metal
Label: High Roller Records
Date: March 13th, 2015
Irön Kommander – Vocals, Bass
Genözider – Vocals, Guitars, Drums
If I wanted to follow the same route Bulldozing Bastard decided to take (why not get right to the point and flood people with all my thoughts immediately at the beginning), I would say: As Under the Ram begins you know straight away what to await; however, as the album rolls along you notice that these assumptions also have not been changing nor evolving in any way.
On the one hand it does mean you get what you expect and that can always be considered a positive aspect, yet on the other hand you do not receive neither any variation nor anything new that has not been done numbers and numbers of times before in the last 49 years since the genre heavy metal with the founding of Black Sabbath came into existence.
As the two German black/speeders start with their newest 2015 record, the pounding aggressivity kicks immediately in the face of the listener and does not let us out from this grip of flowing, streaming violence until the last song of the record. They are masculine, speedy and energetic while delivering the filthy, straight songs where elements of rock ‘n’ roll mixed with a little punk, NWOBHM, speed and black metal also turn up.
I do have to state that the music itself is enjoyable, whilst they are so primly trying to be old school and evil while playing their absolutely primitive but catchy songs with dirty blackened vocals in the vein of old Venom, Bathory, the Italian black/speed/thrash masters Bulldozer (judging by the name ‘Bulldozing Bastard’ apparently the largest influence on them), Motörhead and some Tank that it nearly comes over comically and in a stereotypical manner.
Their song titles, labels of the band members and lyrics are similarly somewhat cliched aiming to (simplified) come near to the old way of representing obscurity; a good example would be the 3rd track ‘Mayhem Without Mercy’: “And as I pass through the seven gates / The fullmoon’s shining bright // For tonight, I’ve witnessed glory / Sorcery and might”.
And to continue being picky by coming up with a final negative angle, the flooding rage also results hearing almost no transition and so not getting the chance to make a difference between the songs as one already got deeper into the album and got used to Bulldozing Bastard’s (fresh and intense) sound.
However, at the very end with the last, slower and longer song ‘Once The Dust Has Settled’ with more melodic guitar lines and some Iron Maiden feel to it we do get a bit from the lacking variety, what’s more the song also seems to be more thought-out and better-worked-out as the other slashing tracks of the album – a bit of a deduction after the continuous ripping for the previous 25 minutes.
On the whole Bulldozing Bastard’s Under the Ram from 2015 is a rather enjoyable disc with some likable catchy riffs saturated with melodic fast guitar sounds built in here and there, with hearable decent bass lines as well as a dynamic, fresh sound and energy of two spirited German maniacs.
If one does not expect any groundbreaking idea but a schema that follows the old way of songwriting involving a few banalities yet enhanced with an actual youthful sound, I do recommend having a go at the record.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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?
I 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.
And 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.
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!
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.
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.
About 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.)
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!
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.
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!
I realized that I still haven’t published my phone interview made with Tankard’s Gerre in September, so here you go people! It clearly shows he’s an easy-going and easily likable guy.
Interview for Metalegion Magazine by Estelle on the 4th of September 2014
Thrash, fun and beer. (laughs)
In what aspect do you think you are different from the other old school thrash metal bands?
I think the main difference is that we had a lot of humour from the very beginning of Tankard. We called our second demo just ‘Alcoholic Metal’ because at the time there were a lot of new metal styles, black metal and speed metal, and posers against all the others… And you know, we never took ourselves too seriously, we always had a lot of fun and I think it wouldn’t really fit for us to have an evil kind of image or something like that.
We have a lot of serious lyrics, a good combination of funny stuff and serious stuff, but we still have a lot fun in playing that kind of music. I think this is the biggest difference between us and some other bands.
In one of your earlier interviews when someone asked you how many albums the band plans to do, you said that in a case of beer there is space for twenty bottles. You just released your sixteenth album, R.I.B. (Rest in Beer) – are you still determined about doing four more?
At the moment it looks like it. (laughs) We still have a lot of fun, we still have good things happening, we keep going now for 32 years and I can’t see the end with the band, I could not imagine my life without Tankard – so I guess the case will be full some day!
How much work and time does it take for you to record one new album? You seem to go pretty easily with it, even besides the fact that none of you is a full-time musician.
This is a very hard period for us, but it’s actually not planned to put out a new album every two years. I mean I think it’s cool releasing a new album two or three years in between, but now R.I.B. is out, we’ll see what we’ll do with the next album. I think it will take another ten or twelve years to keep Tankard alive for the 20th studio album to get the case full.
How is it different to work with Nuclear Blast from how it was when you were at Noise, Century Media or AFM Records?
Nuclear Blast is the biggest one among the heavy metal labels, they have a lot of power, so I think this was really another step forward for Tankard. They do a lot of promotion stuff and it was really a kick for Tankard, we are very very satisfied and hope that we can stay much longer with Nuclear Blast.
The cover of R.I.B. is kind of an obvious reference or ‘recommitment’ to your classic album Chemical Invasion, as well as the continuation of some of the lyrics and the insane professor character. Is this a sign of the fact that you are not willing to distance yourselves from your roots, from the simple and primitive thrash metal?
No, we never distance ourselves from our roots. You know, it was a funny idea to bring the mad professor back on a cover, but I think this album sounds different than Chemical Invasion. The story is totally weird because the professor failed in ’87 to stop the chemical invasion and now he’s back to take revenge on mankind and poison everybody with free beer. I actually really like the stuff that we did back in the eighties, but I’d never do that again in these days because a lot of things have changed with the sound and everything. Tankard is a band that never forgets about its roots, we always play a lot of old songs live, yet we always try to do a good mixture of old and new stuff.
Could you choose one song from the new album and describe what it means to you?
This is a very personal song on this album, it’s called ‘Hope Can’t Die’ – it’s one of my fave songs on the record. I lost a very good friend two years ago, at that time you have this confusion of feelings, anger and sadness and hope, “what did go wrong?”, “could I have helped?” – something like that – a mixture of emotions I had two years ago when I lost that very good friend of mine.
In the song ‘No One Hit Wonder’, you are asking “Where the hell did we go wrong” and saying “We played our asses off for more than thirty years, but now our patience’s gone, we want cash, keep the beer!” – is this just a fun track again, or do you (to some degree) mean what you are saying with the song?
Noo, this is a totally fun track again. That was my idea, because it’s really interesting to see that there are some musicians who only had one song in their lives and they can live all their lives from the money for it because the track is always played in the radio. And of course, Tankard will never do a ‘one-hit wonder’ song, because we played that long, so the idea was born to call this song ‘No One Hit Wonder’ and of course the lyrics are totally funny.
Besides the funny lyrics, you have some serious stuff going on in the lyrics again, for example in ‘War Cry’, ‘Hope Can’t Die’ or ‘Clockwise to Deadline’. Do you want or try to prove the fans that you also have this more mature side of songwriting? Or do you think that if they still haven’t noticed that Tankard is not Tankard only because of the beer, it doesn’t even matter?
We had that kind of beer-image since Chemical Invasion, we did everything for it, but later on we wanted to get rid of it – we totally failed in the nineties of course. Nowadays we do a lot of jokes about our own image, we see it with lot of parody and stuff like that. Since Chemical Invasion we always had a good mixture of serious lyrics and funny lyrics – if you watch the news every night and if you walk in the world with open eyes, then it’s not only fun, there are a lot of bad things happening on this planet.
We will always write also some serious stuff – first of all we are a band with a lot of humour and a lot of fun, but we are also a band that can play serious songs on stage while having fun. But we would never do an album only with fun lyrics.
As you said with your album Two-Faced from 1994, you began to try getting rid of this concept, of this image that the band built around beer, still, nowadays you accepted that it probably became the largest characteristic of the band.
In general, do you guys usually stick to the key things that seem to work for you, or do you still have the desire to try something new?
We never have a plan when we start the songwriting, about which direction it goes. For example if we did the next album totally seriously, nobody would believe that it’s Tankard. Somehow the old Tankard is reduced only to this beer stuff and we did everything at the beginning for it, but now we have to live with it, and as I told you before, nowadays we make a lot of jokes about our own image, so of course nobody has to take it so seriously. We really can live with that Tankard is sometimes just reduced to this kind of beer image, but we still keep on going, writing good songs, trying to do the best and hoping that the fans like it and expect Tankard to continue the music.
How seriously do you guys take yourselves when it comes to writing and recording a new album? Do you just have fun during the recording, or are you rather the hard-working types?
The songwriting and the recording stuff is very very hard and needs a lot of work, of course sometimes we have the moments in the studio when we are laughing and having a little bit of fun but it’s 95% totally hard work, you really have to concentrate on it. To tell you an example, I don’t drink any alcohol in the studio. I just open my first beer when we finished, when we are in the last minutes of finishing the last song.
Now that’s dedication!
Counting from 2000, the lineup of your albums are always the same. Have you ever thought about having some kind of a refreshment?
We are now together since 1998, especially with our guitar player Andy, he wrote most of the songs on the last couple of albums. I could not imagine to play with another member in Tankard, so I hope we are all getting old together.
I read that you are working as a social worker together with drug addicted people, can be an interesting situation for you day by day! Can you draw influence from the happenings at work for the lyrics of the band?
No, I would never do a song about that because this is my normal work and Tankard is a totally different world and I don’t really want to mix that.
In the end I’d like to know: Is there any question that no one asked you before, and you would like someone to ask it from you?
(laughs) This is a really good question. I did so many interviews and now I had to think this over for a moment. Nobody asked me, actually nobody knows that I was a really good football player when I was young, and I really wanted to become a professional player. And nobody asked me about that! When I was getting older around 15-16, the partying started and then my career as a football player was over.
But concerning the music and singing, I think if you asked me that question at the moment, I would have to call you back in two hours maybe. (both laughing)
Thank you very much for the interview Gerre, have a good time with Tankard and put out some more albums because we are curious about you!
We will, thank you very much! Just so you know, we hope to go back to Hungary one day. Thanks for the support and have a nice evening!