When the very first, shy and vague gleams of hope to make this interview possible appeared in the distance barely perceptible, I instantly felt myself in the position of that infamous Buridan's donkey which died of hunger unable to choose one out of two equal haystacks. Indeed, how could any die-hard Thrasher choose between SODOM and KREATOR to focus an interview on? Whose logo should this feature be graced by? Though the scale of my personal preferences has always been tending to drop into KREATOR's direction, it would have been an unpardonable stupidity to miss an opportunity of recounting his SODOM days with the man responsible for such gems as "Expurse Of Sodomy", "Persecution Mania" and "Agent Orange". The fact that nowadays Frank is not retired from Metal yet, being busy with his new band called MYSTIC, could by no means be ignored either. Needless to say that in the end I came to the most natural conclusion (which, to tell you the truth, was quite evident from the very beginning): to make it neither a KREATOR nor SODOM feature but Frank Gosdzik's one. I believe the man really deserves it, for his input into the Treasure-house of Thrash is very hard to exaggerate. Even though these days he prefers to use his real name instead of the one that used to make the hordes of Thrash fans salivate foretasting some hellish guitar overkill, nevertheless he still prefers his hair long and his music heavy. The way our Metal has always been supposed to be. The way it really was some time ago… Just before we'll start, I'd like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Frank's former colleague (and "Ticket To Mayhem" should by no means be forgotten either) Joe Cangelosi for making it possible, as it was exactly him who happened to be so kind not only to help me to locate Frank, but even to arrange this interview. Thank you, Metal bro, your help is highly appreciated. And now no further delay is admissable, for today is the day when the first record of Frank's new band is due to be out. Let's wish it to be up to the high standards of the man's previous works – the ones we know literally by heart.
I wonder what led the living legend of German Thrash to exotic Brazil? Football, coffee, women, TV serials? Well, seriously, Frank, how did you end up so far away from your Fatherland?
“I was a little fed up with Germany, used to live there for my whole life and wanted to live in a different place. Since the first time I played here with KREATOR I liked Brazil and always wanted to stay here for a longer time, to live and meet all these different places.”
And how do you like it there, is Brazil really a great place for the old Thrashmeister to relax? What are you doing there to earn your living?
“I like it pretty much over here and I think it’s a beautiful country that has a lot of things to offer. I'm trying to get ahead with my new band called MYSTIC, recorded a 5 track EP and I'm doing as much shows as possible, there’s a lot of people getting interested already over here. Release date is the 11th of May.”
Who was the one responsible for putting a guitar into your hands? Looking back, would you like to express your gratitude to that person for all the great times or rather curse him for all the bad times that music brought into your life since then?
“After a show of AC/DC in 1980 Mr. Angus Young impressed me so much that I bothered my mom to buy me a guitar (it was right before Christmas), so finally she bought one for me, that’s how everything started. I really appreciate it, thanx to Mr. Young and, of course, my Mom.”
Would you be so kind to take the previous question and replace the words “putting a guitar into your hands” with “introducing you to Metal for the first time”? Thank you in advance. Excuse me torturing you with such cliche questions, but it’s always interesting to learn those dull things when it comes to those musicians whose music you’ve been enjoying for some 15+ years, you see
“I started listening to Rock’n’Roll very early, 6 or so, with 12 I liked more and more Hardrock, like DEEP PURPLE, RAINBOW, old SCORPIONS and of course AC/DC, a little later JUDAS PRIEST, SAXON, IRON MAIDEN, also MOTÖRHEAD, then ANVIL, MERCYFUL FAITH til I heard SLAYER’s “Hell Awaits”, that was cool stuff, at that time I started playing fast riffs.”
You are mostly known as the prominent Thrash guitarist, but what about any other styles of Metal or even not Metal music at all. Have you ever tried yourself in anything different?
“Oh yes, I am open minded for any kind of music, besides Metal I experimented a lot with other styles, like Blues, Funk, a little Jazz-Latin, percussion-atmospheric-psychodelic, mystic-world-music.”
How accurately does your guitar playing reflect your character, your inner self? Could you, for example, express yourself in, let’s say, Blues or Classical guitar?
“Yes, I could definitely express myself in Blues; I love this music like Johnny Lee Hooker, Carlos Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, that’s how I started playing guitar, with blues. I like a little bit of Classic music too like Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, but I prefer Jazz-fusion.”
Shame on me, but except for the name of the band you played in before joining SODOM I have no idea of your “Metal career” previously to that. Is there anything interesting I should have known? What kind of band was VIDEA, any records, etc.?
“How do you know about WIDIA??? It was actually kind of like a JUDAS PRIEST cover band with some own tunes like Judas, Saxon, classic Metal style. I never did a show with that band in 2 years that I played with ‘em, ha ha ha…”
What’s the story behind your famous nickname? Was “Blackfire” invented to fit SODOM’s traditions or had you used it before joining the company of Herr Angelripper and Herr Witchhunter?
“No, I definitely didn’t use it before, I had to get a stupid name like them, ha ha ha, Herr Angelripper forced it on me. When I left them, I left the name too, but the fuckin shit still glues on me till nowadays.”
When offered the vacant position of the guitarist in SODOM, did you have many doubts about accepting it? You see, none of your predecessors managed to stay in the band for more than one record, so weren’t you afraid of becoming just one more “one-record-employee”?
“When they first asked me to join them, that was when “Obsessed By Cruelty” was out, I said no thanx, it’s too noisy, but Mr. Witchhunter really wanted me in the band, and I thought I could write tunes my way, I also wanted to play ‘LIVE’ on stage badly, so I joined them.”
Both Tom and Chris are not often talked about as of some very nice and amiable persons, to be honest. Then would you like to destroy this awful and unfair mistake regarding their reputation and defend your ex-colleagues by telling some good stories about how great and friendly persons they really are?
“I don’t wanna talk bad about them, cause I also had good times. The only thing at my time it was a little unprofessional working, and the timing of the drums weren’t correct, further their attitudes, that made me leave the band.”
You must have been the first Sodom guitarist who could handle his instrument really well; at least it was your guitar that has given SODOM’s music some professional touch. What about some provocation then, eh? Would you like to go as far as claiming that you were the one whom Tom and Chris should have been grateful to for the success of their band?
“At that time I was pretty inexperienced and young, but always tried my best and practiced my ass off while they preferred to drink beer ha ha ha, I wrote 98% of the music. I always worked pretty hard and steady.”
Do you have anything interesting to recount about your 1988 tour with WHIPLASH? What was your impression of SODOM’s companions during it? Being their die-hard fan for years, I’ve always been very frustrated to see how underrated this great band is. How was it to play with them? Tony Portaro, for example, has very good memories of this tour, so what about you?
“Oh yeah, that was a fuckin great and funny tour. I became instantly very good friends with the guys and their manager Kathy (better than with SODOM), especially with Joe Cangelosi, with him later I’ve played for a while in KREATOR and still have contact. Yes it’s true, man, a fucking great band that was always underrated; it’s a pity, a big hug to them brothers. “Beat the Meat” Tour´88 still rules.”
Having recorded with SODOM its strongest records you chose to leave the band at the peak of its popularity. I’ve heard a couple of explanations of that decision of yours, but can’t remember any coming from you directly, so would you mind making any comments about that here? It’s always the best to learn such delicate things at fist hand, you know.
“At that time, after we recorded “Agent Orange”, I couldn’t stand it anymore, playing with those guys, so finally I left the band. I was already thinking about coming up with my own band, but at the same time I hung out with Mille from KREATOR. They also had problems with their guitar player Tritze and so we both thought it would be a good thing to play together.”
It seems like KREATOR were very eager to get you in their ranks, as they even agreed to pay to SPV those smart-money you were sued for breaking your contract. Just out of curiosity: in which sum did SPV value your guitar talents back then?
“Good question, man, there are not many people who know about this. That fuckin money-sucker Manfred Schuetz from SPV made me pay 40.000 Deutsch Marks (at that time around 25.000 $US). The good thing was that KREATOR helped me out and shared their money with me, a really good friendship, we didn’t give a shit about the money and showed the bloodsucking label-bosses the sticky finger, we only wanted to conquer the world with our music. Til today I really appreciate it to the guys.”
How were you accepted in KREATOR and waved good-bye in SODOM?
“They accepted me really good and it was a very good friendship with the guys, while the SODOM guys were pretty pissed off.”
In SODOM you were the only guitarist, so was it hard to get used to share those duties with another guitarist in KREATOR, especially as skilled and original one as Mille?
“It was a little new for me to learn Mille’s riffs, but I got into it pretty quick and after 3 weeks of rehearsals we played the “Extreme Aggression” Tour in the U.S.”
Was it hard for you to keep to your own style of composing and playing guitar while joining SODOM and KREATOR? I mean both bands already had several records out so have you had to adapt your playing to their existing standards or were you totally free to do whatever you wanted?
“With SODOM I played my style of Thrash-Metal, which was a little different than the albums before, so I was pretty free. With KREATOR I shared riffs and ideas with Mille which worked pretty good, I always took my freedom for me and still take it if people like it or not.”
Haven’t you ever find it a bit unfair that the other people has always been in the spotlight while your lot was to lurk in shadows of such vivid persons as Tom Angelripper and Mille Petrozza?
“I never had a problem with that, for me it was always more important that the whole band came out good and played fuckin tight together.”
Have you ever considered the idea of creating your own band while playing in SODOM and KREATOR? For both bands you were a kind of newcomer at some point, that could be pretty irritating feeling, I guess
“Yes, at the end with SODOM I wanted to do my own band and already started sharing musicians around me. With KREATOR I was pretty satisfied and didn't really thought about my own band. After I had left ‘em I of course started my own projects and bands.”
Taking in account virtually everything – music, concept, relations between band members, management, live gigs, etc., which of the bands was more yours? Was it SODOM or KREATOR where you were feeling yourself more comfortably, more “at home”?
“It was definitely KREATOR, where friendship, unity and professionalism were upfront.”
How considerable was your impact on the quite experimental nature of the “Renewal” album? Who was the main initiator of its rejection of more or less safe formula of “Extreme Aggression” and “Coma of Souls” which could easily secure the band’s new record the same success and sales figures as those two aforementioned albums had?
“My impact was pretty considerable on tunes like 'Reflection', 'Karmic Wheel', 'Depression Unrest'; I tried to create some more atmospheres. I didn’t play on “Extreme Aggression”, on “Coma of Souls” we were sharing riffs, I also took part on most melodies on that album.”
Contrary to SODOM, with KREATOR you were sharing their definitely not the best times, both for the band itself and for that kind of Metal you were delivering in general, so I wonder what the atmosphere in the band was like in those hard times?
“With KREATOR I went through good and bad times and we always sticked together, like in 95 when it was even hard for IRON MAIDEN, we played in Romania with.”
Have you left KREATOR disillusioned in the band’s future or in the future of once so strong Thrash in general?
“No, nothing of that. We had different ideas at that time that didn’t fit together, everybody’s personality developed in different ways and it was better to split.”
Were you the one to make all the decisions in both SODOM and KREATOR on your own, would many things have been done differently then? What exactly would you have been willing to change about those bands’ development?
“I guess there’s not much to change, both bands did it their way.”
What do you usually feel coming out on stage? Isn’t it something one can never get used to, something one is always very excited and a bit nervous to do?
“Right before the show I always feel like taking a piss, it was always like this, I don’t know why, kind of nervous, excited, but after the first tune it is getting all right and ready to kill, ha ha ha.”
Is there any difference between Frank Blackfire and Frank Gosdzik? How much the scenic Frank differs from the “civilian” one?
“There is no difference, I’m always myself.”
When it comes to Thrash, has it ever been anything more than just the style of music you play, have you ever seen it in terms of lifestyle or anything like that?
“If you live the power of the music, the high energy, sure it’s a lifestyle, if you don’t take a bath in 6 days, ha ha ha…”
Can you say, loud and proud, that you did manage to carry that fire of real Metal throughout all these years and still keep it burning deep inside your heart?
“Honestly, there was a time when that flame burned very low, the power of that music-lifestyle kept it still burning.”
What’s your most favorite album with your own participation and what particularly are you so proud of about it? And what about the least favorite one then?
“I think I still like everything I recorded, because it was always a reflection of those different periods of my life. Maybe there are some favorites but there’s nothing that I would deny.”
I guess your current band called MYSTIC must be quite a “dark horse” for the most people reading this, so why don’t make it some heavy promotion right here and now?
“O.K. There's going to be a 5 track EP out on Ma 11th, but as we don’t have much distribution at the moment, people that are interested could get more information about it from our homepage www.mysticband.cjb.net or an e-mail to email@example.com. The track list is: 'Insane Human Race', 'Strange Ways', 'Peter Gun', 'Ordered Life' and 'Beautiful World'. I would call it a mix of traditional Thrash-Power Metal.”
Are you still in touch with any of your ex-colleagues from SODOM or KREATOR?
“No, I am not, the last thing was a call with Mille, I don’t have any address (if you read this, send me an e-mail, Mr.P.!)”
Have you heard KREATOR’s latest album, "Violent Revolution"? Having listened to it (if you have at all, of course), did you regret at least for a moment that you weren’t playing on it? Would you like your guitar to be there on that record?
“Yes, I heard it, I think it goes pretty much back to what we’ve done in 1990 with a modern touch. I could imagine playing on that album, but I didn’t regret.”
I’ve got a kind of theory (very long and dull one, of course) about the development of our beloved Thrash throughout the years, but here I’d like to simply outline you its main idea in short and ask for your opinion on this subject. I believe it took Thrash some ten or so years to realize that any kind of development or trying to expand its borders is simply contra-indicated to it. You see, all the attempts to mix it with any genres, be it Death or Industrial or Progressive, whatever failed miserably: its real spirit was gone, plain and simple, so the result was unlistenable, at least for the old Thrashers. Now the old bands who once created this genre go back to their roots and, voila, Thrash (real Thrash) is back. To sum it up: no innovations are needed in this style, no fresh blood is accepted, conservatism is the word that should be placed onto its banner. Well, would you like to make any comments, pro or contra?
“Yes, man, you’re right, kind of make Thrash-Metal play faster (Death) takes away the power, I also think it's the most brutal style of Metal.”
Anyway, would you like to wish anything or give any advice or whatever to those who were too young to take part in creating Thrash scene back in the 80’s, but now are trying to hold it’s banner high and keep it’s old traditions?
“Listen to old SLAYER albums, that’s where it all begun.”
I wonder if you ever felt that your child’s dream of being a Rockstar (or you didn’t have any?) were finally fulfilled? And have you ever behaved like the one, by the way?
“I’ve never seen myself as a Rockstar or behaved like one, more like a Guitar player that loves to play, especially live on stage.”
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