Hello Frank, can you introduce yourself to us a little more?
“Greetings Mortuary, hope all is going well in Slovakia these days?! Well, what can I say… my name is Frank Stöver, I’m 43 years old and I’ve been working in the underground for quite a lot of years already (since 1983 / ’84 to be exact)… Since December 2000 I’m running the online version of my old print zine VOICES FROM THE DARKSIDE now… Nothing more to add at this point, so I hope this will do for a start?!”
How many people actually work on the Voices From The Darkside?
“Well, I have a staff list of approx. 40 people, but most of them don’t really contribute anymore… people come and go, so I would say that currently there’s probably 5-10 that are really helping me out.”
Can you still remember how have hit you the idea to begin to do fanzine? How was the first number done, how many pieces? Which was the very first interview you did?
“Yes, I do remember that… VOICES FROM THE DARKSIDE originally was a column in a German Metal magazine called Horror Infernal… but I received so much material for it, that the space became too limited. I then decided to start up a zine on my own. The first issue came out in 1993 and was printed in 500 copies. The very first interview I did? Hmm… I can’t recall anymore, sorry.”
What were your feelings for the first print numbers in terms of enthusiasm? And how can you see it today on your webzine? Where can you see the biggest difference?
“Honestly spoken, I wasn’t too much impressed with the first issues… in retrospect I consider them more as a learning experience rather than issues that should have been released already… But, to my big surprise, people were really giving me a lot of positive feedback on them right from the start already, so I kept things going. With the webzine it’s basically pretty similar. The early version of it was total crap, as I didn’t know shit how to do a website… These days it’s still very unprofessional, but there’s so much content now, that it would take ages to re-work all of it for a better looking site… and I don’t have the time to do that, so, I decided to keep it that simple and focus on the content instead.”
Why did you switch from print zine to webzine?
“Because running VOICES as a print zine became a real pain in the ass and a financial suicide (the money I got when I sold the finished issues didn’t cover the printing and postage costs at all)… plus I was pretty much fed up with the whole scene at the time. At the time when I stopped the print issue, it wasn’t already planned at all to continue on as a webzine later on… that happened more or less by coincidence.”
When you first started VFTDS on the web? How did you manage the graphics? Did you prove to make the websites immediately?
“Like I already mentioned, the early version of the website was pure crap… I had some friend who gave me a crash course in how to do a simple website and everything started from there… but things became easier the more time I spent on it and nowadays I’m even working fulltime as a webdesigner for a living ; -)”
Have you copied interviews from fanzine to the webzine? How did you do it?
“Not in the beginning, but over the years people kept asking me for the old print issues, which are all sold out for a long time, so I decided to re-publish some of the old interviews on the website again, like for example the one with Cronos from VENOM or ABHORER. But it’s always a pain in the ass as the original text files don’t exist anymore, so I had to scan the stuff from the print issues and afterwards re-work the whole texts again as a lot of it had errors in it (the quality wasn’t really the best and the font size often too small for a scanner).”
Now let’s go back a bit to the past, when you first came to metal? What were your first favorite albums and how have your musical tastes been evolving gradually?
“The first “heavier” band I was listing to in the 70s was THE SWEET from the UK, who are considered a Glamrock act these days… well, their outfit might have been “Glam”, but the music definitely had a certain heaviness to a young boy like me (I must have been 9 or 10 years old then). Later I discovered KISS and became I die hard KISS fan (I am still these days!)… so, the very first album I bought myself was KISS “Alive”… From there it always turned heavier… first the NWOBHM with bands like TYGERS OF PAN TANG, SAMSON, SAVAGE, BLITZKRIEG, SAXON, IRON MAIDEN, DEF LEPPARD, JUDAS PRIEST etc. to the first wave of Speed and Power Metal (METALLICA, VENOM, EXCITER, ANTHRAX, OVERKILL, ANVIL etc. etc.). Later on came the more brutal bands, like SLAYER, BATHORY, SODOM, HELLHAMMER, DESTRUCTION, KREATOR etc.”
Can you write which metal album is best for you and why?
“No, I can’t because there’s probably a couple hundreds that I still really like, sorry.”
Certainly you have a good overview of the scene from its beginnings, what is your view to the difference between scene of 80-90’s and the current one?
“Well, even though there’s still a lot of excellent bands coming out these days, it isn’t as exciting anymore as it was in the early days. You gotta remember that back then each band still sounded completely different and all the genres that we have these days (Speed, Thrash, Black, Death, Power, Pagan, Doom, Symphonic, True or whatever Metal) still didn’t exist. So, whenever a band came up, in most cases it was always something fresh and exciting… And I really miss that! Today you basically just say: “Cool band in the classic INCANTATION style” or “those guys deliver the good old Swedish Death Metal like early ENTOMBED” or something…”
Are you receiving any responses from the people who read VFTDS webzine?
“Yes, and it’s great! Especially ever since it has turned into an online zine I get feedback from all over the world and a lot of them even tell me that they own all the old print issues… which is kinda weird, because no VOICES issue was printed in more than 1.000 copies. Well, from what I’ve heard there’s even VOICES bootlegs out there, which is really flattering… I would really love to see one myself…”
Why did you choose the name Voices From The Darkside? Have you been inspired by the Morbid Angel’s debut and their third song title?
“Exactly! I have always been a die hard MORBID ANGEL fan and in honour to them adopted one of their songtitles, but changed it around a bit, because to me the zine was always supposed to be a VOICE from the darkside, rather than VISIONS ; -)”
Which other webzines you read and which one is your fave?
“I will be totally honest with you: NONE! I simply don’t have the time to read stuff in front of a computer… I mean, working fulltime as a webdesigner and running the VOICES website is definitely enough already for me… sorry!”
Do you think today’s metal maniacs are still interested in reading interviews and reviews? Seems to me this matter is in a quite decline, most ones will download some music, and that’s the only thing what they do…
“I didn’t experience that myself… True Metalheads always seem to be interested in reading about new releases and checking out interviews with bands they like… and after that they probably search for free downloads of those bands, hahaha…”
Which interview do you appreciate most and why? Which one was hardest to do?
“I don’t really have a favorite, sorry… but of course it’s always way more exciting to do an interview with Tom Warrior or Cronos than with a band that has just released their first demo… The hardest to do? Hmm… I have no idea. In the end they all worked out and that’s what matters the most to me.”
Can you mention some interesting events happened at interviewing the bands?
“I hate to disappoint you, but nothing really spectacular happened while I interviewed bands, sorry. I simply don’t consider having dinner with David and Trey of MORBID ANGEL or Jeff of CARCASS belongs into this category, so…”
Is there a band you would like to do interview with but for some reason you can not?
“Yes: KISS! But they probably wouldn’t agree to do an interview with a webzine and musically wouldn’t really fit into all the Black & Death Metal acts anyway, so…”
You made a lot of interviews with excellent bands. It is not always easy to communicate with some of them, especially those great ones. What are your experiences?
“Never really had any problems… my experiences were: the bigger a band is, the more professional they act and therefore those interviews were always very easy going and interesting. Back then I did most of them in person, when a band toured overhere, when they came on a promotional tour or simply by phone… Nowadays it’s all done by email, which is a lot easier as you don’t have to listen to the interview tape anymore and type all the stuff they told you ; -)”
Which ones you did at live?
“Lots of them… MORBID ANGEL, CARCASS, KING DIAMOND, VOIVOD, SLAYER, CELTIC FROST, DISMEMBER, DEICIDE, MASSACRE, EXODUS, GRAVE, IMMOLATION, METALLICA (in their earlier days), POSSESSED, FORBIDDEN, SACRED REICH, OVERKILL, SEPULTURA… the list is endless as I was working for a whole bunch of magazines already, so it wasn’t really difficult.”
How often do you update VFTDS?
“Mostly on a daily basis… unless there’s nothing new to add…”
Ok Frank, it would be all from me. Wish you luck in the next work on your webzine, if you have something on your mind, you have the space. Thank you for answering my questions…
“Thanks a lot for the opportunity, Mortuary. Looking forward to see the final result of this interview! For more information on VOICES FROM THE DARKSIDE check out www.voicesfromthedarkside.de or www.myspace.com/voicesfromthedarkside
Cheers & all the best for NECROSPHERE!”