DEATHROW is another German Thrash Metal act from the 80s that still lives on in the memory of many Metalheads around the world after so many years. Especially their early works are still being praised as rather influential classics and constantly get named along the lines of releases by fellow Thrashers ASSASSIN, VIOLENT FORCE, EXUMER and so on. So, needless to say that a feature on them was really overdue… Luckily Laci got in touch with two of the band’s former members (guitarist Sven Flügge and drummer Markus Hahn) and delivered a very detailed interview that should answer (almost) all of the questions concerning their history… Read on.
Hello, first I’d like to say thank you very much for the opportunity to do this interview, I hope it’ll be fun. Sven, were you very surprised about the letter I’ve written to you?
Sven: "I was indeed surprised. No idea how you found me, Sherlock…"
I wanted to do a very detailed interview because DEATHROW is one of my favourite bands. This formation is definitely a cult act and in Hungary there are many fans of this group. Shall we begin now…?
Sven: "Ok, let’s start!"
You started your career with the band SAMHAIN: how old have you been back then and did you know each other before? What bands inspired your minds back then, what kind of groups influenced you?
Markus: "We were between 17 and 20 years old. Sven and I knew each other long time before already, the same goes out to Milo and Thomas as well. When we founded SAMHAIN we all knew each other for a few weeks only. We used to listen to all kind of different music styles, be it Hardcore-Punk, Thrash Metal or even Rock and Pop."
Sven: "Markus and I used to quit our educations, bought a VW transporter and on the 3rd October 1984 we drove down to Düsseldorf which was about 300 km away from our home. We knew a bass player there called Oliver Boersch. This guy got us in touch with Milo and Thomas. Our first meeting took place in our transporter. Back then those guys looked like if they had thought "Shit, these are damn crazy maniacs!”."
What do you think about your early rehearsals, how did you like your rehearsal room and how often did you rehearse a week?
Markus: "The first rehearsal room was in an old cellar bunker below the earth. It took us a long time until we could rehearse there finally. For a long time we used to rehearse four times a week."
Sven: "That bunker once used to be a 12 square metres big freezing room. Markus and I used to live there trying to keep all those mouses that lived there away from us at night by putting a few biscuits into the middle of the room. Once I even smashed a mouse that was crawling next to the wall behind the cardboard of eggs that we used to stick to the tiles. Our first rehearsal was on the 31st October 1984, this also inspired us to choose the band name SAMHAIN."
You used to record two demos called "Lord Of The Dead" (1985) and "Eternal Death" (1986). Did you have any studio experiences before? What songs were featured on these tapes and what kind of reactions did you get concerning these demos?
Markus: "Sven and I as well as Thomas and Milo used to play in other bands before founding DEATHROW. With those groups we already had recorded some demo tapes in our rehearsal rooms back then. "Lord Of…" was just a rehearsal room demo as well. The first professionally recorded demo "Eternal Death" meant being in the studio for the very first time for everybody of us. ‘Riders Of Doom’, ‘Samhain’, ‘Violent Omen’ and ‘Slaughtered’ were the tunes that were featured on this tape, the reactions have all been positive."
Sven: "Well, I wouldn´t call it a "studio demo”. Actually the tape was recorded on a four-track-recorder in our rehearsal room. Not too long before Markus had started playing double bass and you could easily recognise that when listening to the final result… the double bass parts sound more like the staggering of a drunk horse!"
Did you trade any demos with other groups? Did those tapes make your name better known? Did you earn many positive critics in the underground scene?
Markus: "We traded tapes with all those groups we played live with. Back then fans liked to spread and collect demos, that’s why the name SAMHAIN got popular pretty fast and we definitely earnt our first successes."
Sven: "By trading demos we got our first label contract as well. At our first gig in the "Emscherschule” in Altenessen we got to know Mille of KREATOR. He liked the show so much that he took our demo to Berlin when he and his group recorded their first album. He played the tape to Karl of Noise and finally everything went its way as it naturally had to…"
When and why did you change your band name from SAMHAIN to DEATHROW? Did you intent to prevent confusion with Glenn Danzig & Co. due to the use of this name? Were the demos still released under the name SAMHAIN at all?
Markus: ""Eternal Death" was released under the name SAMHAIN. Because of the demo we got that record deal with Noise who forced us to change our name because there was already another band called SAMHAIN in the USA around. And in order to prevent struggles and confusions, we changed our name into DEATHROW."
You came from Düsseldorf and in my opinion this city once used to be some kind of "Metal paradise", do you agree with me? How was the Metal scene of this town in fact? Were you friends with i.e. WARRANT, WARLOCK or ASSASSIN? As far as I know, you once used to share a rehearsal room with ASSASSIN, right?
Markus: "Sven and I moved from Bremen to Düsseldorf because we used to see much more perspectives and possibilites concerning Metal there than in other German cities. And that definitely turned out to be true. The Metal scene was very big, there used to be Metal pubs and many opportunites to play live. WARLOCK and WARRANT rehearsed in the same cellar bunker like us, but there was not much contact so to say. But we were very close friends to ASSASSIN, they had their rehearsal room in the same floor like us."
Sven: Düsseldorf only was a part of the whole. In fact the scene was very hot in the whole Ruhr area – just think of i.e. Essen, Duisburg, Bochum, Dortmund…"
Did you send your demos to some labels and fanzines as well? Do you still remember how the contract with Noise Records came all about? What other bands were operating under the sign of Noise back then? Do you agree that this label once used to be a totally excellent Thrash Metal record company? Noise used to support the Thrash scene very much, right?
Markus: "We sent demos to several fanzines back then. When KREATOR saw us live, we got to know each other and became friends. They took our demo in order to play it to the guys at Noise and they only said positive words about DEATHROW. That’s why Noise got in touch with us and offered us a contract. Besides us and KREATOR also RAGE, HALLOWEEN, RUNNING WILD and TANKARD were operating under the Noise banner. This label did a lot for Thrash Metal back then."
You released four albums which I consider as damn cool pieces of Thrash! I now want you to speak very detailed about every release. Who wrote the lyrics as well as the music, what were the lyrics all about, how did you like being in the studio, where did you record those albums, who was the producer, who mixed, mastered them? And are you satisfied with the sound of every single release? So please speak about everything that comes to your mind concerning these albums. Let’s start with the first, totally awesome "Riders Of Doom" record that was unleashed in 1986! Whose idea was it to include the instrumental ‘Hell’s Ascent’? (instrumentals back then seemed to be some kind of good old German Thrash tradition – just remember VIOLENT FORCE, ASSASSIN or LIVING DEATH albums…! – Christian)
Markus: "There was no real "idea” behind the inclusion of ‘Hell’s Ascent’ on "Riders…" as this instrumental was created in a similar way like all the other tracks as well. The only problem was that we had no idea were to place the lyrics in this song, so we decided to leave it as instrumental tune."
Sven: "We never tried, to give songs a certain "direction”. We always used to throw all our ideas together and melted everything together until we had the feeling that this would be the ultimately best solution. Sometimes it turns out to be something that gives you a good feeling when you just leave it as instrumental."
Did the song ‘Samhain’ refer to your past?
Markus: "No. ‘Samhain’ didn’t have anything to do with our past band name, the lyrics refered to the title itself, which symbolises the day of the lord of the dead."
Did you re-record any demo songs for "Riders Of Doom" or did you only play new stuff? How many new tunes were written for this album?
Markus: "We used to re-record those four tracks of the "Eternal Death" demo, together with five other tunes. All songs were created at about the same time so that we didn’t have to write any new tracks especially for the LP."
I’d say that the album / the songs were pretty harsh, rough, savage, fast and aggressive, but the listener could also get aware of some harmonies, melodies, like in i.e. ‘Dark Tales’. The riffs were worked out in a very fine way, the solos were ok as well. What’s your opinion about this record?
Markus: "In my opinion the LP "Riders Of Doom" offers clear, direct and fast Speed / Thrash Metal with some melodic influences of four young and hungry musicians that didn’t care for anything."
Sven: "I can only agree with that statement. Unfortunately we didn’t have any studio experience back then and relied on the producer. With a better sound the record would have sounded even more powerful."
I consider this record as one of the most important Thrash / Speed albums and I’d say that this release used to have a very strong impact on other groups.
Markus: "Yeah, that’s right. Many years later this album was mentioned in interviews of other bands over and over again. I´d say that, if the sound of the LP would have been better, "Riders…" would have definitely turned into a cult record indeed (fuck the sound, it’s cult however! – Christian).
The album was also released under the name "Satan’s Gift" with a different cover. What were the reasons for this?
Markus: "Satan’s Gift" used to be the LP cover of the record that was meant to be released on the American market. We still up to this day don’t know how this cover reached the European market as well, neither do we know what mistake caused this."
Sven: "I used to hate this shitty "Satan’s Gift" cover. "Riders Of Doom" was the cover we were all very proud of, but as a young band you didn’t have a say in anything back then. Noise used to decide that behind our backs und didn’t care about how we thought about this kind of behaviour. Most of all I’m sorry about those fans that bought that record without knowing that they had actually bought the same record they already had at home decorated with just a different layout."
One year later (1987) "Raging Steel" was put out. I got to know DEATHROW back then with this album because it was broadcasted on the Hungarian radio. This once used to be a Heavy Metal show and I had the opportunity to record the whole album.
Markus: "Our first two LPs were very popular in East European countries and they were on top of several Metal charts for a very long time."
Sven: "Not only East Europe was very curious about DEATHROW. Surprisingly, we got much mail from the USA. Especially the College radios in the Bay Area played our songs on rotation! The tunes of "Riders…" were labelled as "Punkmetal” over there…!
In which way did you develop on "Raging Steel" compared to "Riders Of Doom"? Did the songs become more mature, what things were different within the band?
Markus: "The niveau of the music itself got better due to constant rehearsals and many live shows, which is obvious when you compare both LPs. The sound of "Raging Steel" is much clearer, cleaner and the songs are better worked out and much more clever. The character of the band itself didn’t change much, it still was heavy as fuck, fast Speed / Thrash Metal."
Sven: "I considered the guitar sound a bit too weak, it should have been a bit heavier! However, still up to this day I consider this album as great. It was incredible fun to play those songs live on stage. Unfortunately there were again some problems with the cover: A fellow of us (hello to Mark!) used to draw an awesome cover that was meant to decorate our album that originally should have been called "Scattered By The Wind". But Karl of Noise told us that we couldn’t use the cover. He offered us some rough scaffolds of covers of which we had to choose one. The "Raging…" cover used to be the "less worst” choice of a selection of bad artworks, that’s why we decided to take it. What a fuck! However, this time the label managed at least to take just one cover and not two like in the case of "Riders…" which made us happy… We then let some t-shirts print with the "Scattered…" motive, financed by ourselves. And exactly this shirt was the best selling shirt of DEATHROW ever!"
Why did Thomas Priebe leave the band after the album’s release and how did you get in touch with guitarist Uwe Osterlehner? Did he play in any other Thrash groups before?
Markus: "We regretted Thomas’ split with DEATHROW incredibly! He couldn’t identify himself with life as a musician, everything was too much for him, so it was his own decision to leave the band. Uwe got in touch with us through an ad in a music mag, and we came along together very well right from the start. He didn’t play in any other band before."
Sven: "When Thommy parted ways with DEATHROW back then, I was sure that this band would never be the same like on "Riders…" and "Raging…" anymore again. Something like this would only work with four Thrashers that didn’t care of anything at all, Thrashers, that used to gather some really bad experiences with the music business a few times before."
In 1989 your third album "Deception Ignored" was released: did Uwe take part in the songwriting process? Did he contribute any tunes, solos or riffs to the final outcome?
Markus: "Uwe used to contribute parts to nearly all songs on "Deception Ignored". He formed the new direction with his ideas and style. Sven and Uwe fit together very well!"
Sven: "But I have to state that we definitely had not enough time in order to grow as a unity. In order to be able to put out a good DEATHROW album we additionaly should have had at least two more years time in order to become a musical unity like it was the case when Thommy was part of the band. That’s why we still were very different kinds of musicians. I used to write songs straight away from my mind, Uwe used to do it the more "technical” way."
Do you think that "Deception Ignored" used to be another step forward for DEATHROW? Would you say that this album tended further towards into the Progressive Thrash corner? Did you change your style, your songs and the structures of every track consciously?
Markus: "The LP was definitely our musical highlight. With the help of Uwe the process of majurity was speedened up and finally came to an end. "Deception Ignored" was the best selling LP from DEATHROW and in my opinion it offered technically high appealing Progressive Thrash Metal. The LP sound was very great as well but there used to be a very big difference to "Riders Of Doom" concerning the style of music itself."
Sven: "Partly I see the whole situation in a different way. A logical development could have been only the case when we had had the time to melt into a new DEATHROW together with Uwe. On "Deception…" you cannot hear DEATHROW in my opinion, but an excellent guitarist who likes complex song structures (Uwe) and three other musicians that obviously lost their roots and that were playing on this record in order to fulfill a contract. Seen from a technically point of view, the material was awesome, but in my opinion there weren’t real songs anymore but a continued series of very technical and mad parts instead. I hated most of the music, honestly said. However, at last we were able to realise our cover ideas and the sound finally was like we had imagined it. I had often asked myself how "Riders…" would have sounded with this fine production!"
Why did you disappear after the release of "Deception Ignored" for a period of about three years? What did you do during this long break?
Markus: "After the release we were touring and had some severe problems and discussions with Noise, a label that continued to treat us very bad. Finally we quit the record treaty and from this time on we were searching for a new deal. During this long time we played many shows, produced a single called "Towers In Darkness" featuring three new songs and checked several label offers in a very critical way."
Sven: "Due to the fact that we were independent of any contracts, we at last took the time to become a real band. In order to continue to work together with Noise we would have had to tour with SABBAT in England on our own costs. So we said "fuck you!” to Karl of Noise that meanwhile turned into a money-hungry asshole!"
"Life Beyond" (unleashed in 1992) used to be your last album, right? I personally think this was your most mature release, it sounded very technical, varied and progressive.
Markus: "In my opinion "Life Beyond" was a musical step back to the style of the first two LPs. That means that we used to play straight, powerful Thrash Metal once again and the production of the record was very, very fine!"
Sven: "That’s how "Deception…" should have sounded like. Unfortunately also in this case the label again proofed to be a total letdown! Again we had two cover artworks: our own (that I indeed considered as very great) and a totally stupid monster-artwork that I saw for the very first time in a record store. This was totally fucked-up! After that I only felt the urge to quit everything!"
Let’s talk about those shows you did with RISK – how did you like those concerts, how has the atmosphere been at these gigs, were the fans enthusiastic about your stage appearances?
Markus: "Maybe you’re mixing something up here because we only played one single show together with RISK in June 1992 in Spain at a big open air festival. Bands that appeared at this show as well were POLTERGEIST, ACCUSER, SODOM and CORONER. There were about 3,000 fans in a soccer stadium and the atmosphere’s been overwhelmingly marvellous!"
Sven: "You forgot to mention ALCOHOLICA from Spain which was a very funny band!"
With which bands did you play live / did you share tour-busses? In which countries did you play? As far as I know you always missed out my home country Hungary in your tour schedules, right?
Markus: "We used to play single shows together with many groups, but I cannot mention every single name of these acts. Back in 1986 we were on tour with VOIVOD and POSSESSED through Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. In 1987 we toured Italy with CORONER, in 1988 we toured Germany and the Netherlands with TANKARD. And in 1989 we again toured with TANKARD through Germany and England, whereas we toured Germany in 1991 with PSYCHOTIC WALTZ."
In my collection there’s a bootleg that was recorded on the 21st June of 1986 in Altenessen, which seemed to be a show with a fine, aggressive "thrashing" mood. Do you remember that show?
Markus: "Back in the years 1986 and 1987 we were permanently out to play gigs, so I can’t remember every single concert, and I can’t remind the show you mentioned above as well."
Sven: "Damn Markus, I’m very concerned about your growing Alzheimer’s disease these days… This used to be the very first gig in DEATHROW’s history and we played together with VIOLENT FORCE from Velbert (Hi to Lemmy and Steif!). There was no stage, so we had to stand face to face with the fans. Of course we were pretty nervous, but the people were very enthusiastic about us and turned the whole event into a huge party."
On this cult bootleg you also played a song called ‘Blood Red’ that was not featured on your first album…
Markus: "We had already heard quite often about this ominous track and many people asked us whether they could buy this tune somewhere. Actually we did never write / call this song ‘Blood Red’, the truth is that there has never ever existed a track with this name! There was only one tune called ‘Jaqual’s Wall’ that we didn’t put on our first LP, we played it only live at our first gigs. This track didn’t have the quality to be featured on "Riders Of Doom" as well and finally it disappeared from our playlist. We even didn’t record it on tape so that actually it doesn’t exist anymore at all!"
Sven: "One of the reasons for this strange situation and confusion may have been Milo’s legendary announcements during gigs. He always sounded like having swallowed a bedspread before."
I guess you also played some fine open air / festival shows, right? So did you prefer club gigs or festivals, what did you enjoy most?
Markus: "I personally didn’t mind where to play, everything was very exhausting."
Sven: "Considering the shit you played live on stage it’s not a surprise that it was very exhausting for you. You should have seen him live on stage – total madness!!! I personally prefered the gigs in smaller clubs much more. I especially remember for example that show in the "Scum” club in Holland during that tour with POSSESSED and VOIVOD. The venue was sold out and it was so hot that small rivers of condensation water was dripping down the walls. That was pure energy!"
What do you think about the cover artworks of all those DEATHROW albums? I personally consider the artwork of "Riders Of Doom" as one of the best covers of all time…!
Markus: "The covers of "Riders Of Doom" and "Deception Ignored" finally came about how we once imagined, those artworks of "Raging Steel", "Satan’s Gift" and "Life Beyond" were released against DEATHROW’s will."
During the 80s there were lots of small underground labels like i.e. Scratchcore, Hot Blood, Aaarrrggghhh, Atom-H etc. So do you remind those small companies?
Markus: "Some of these labels wanted to sign us for putting out "Life Beyond", but we never came to terms concerning financial matters."
Sven: "Looking back nowadays I think that having signed with one of these companies DEATHROW would have had a 100 % better life back then. Labels that cut their bands’ artificial freedom are total bullshit!"
In the middle of the 80s was the best time for Thrash Metal. What are your remembrances like concerning those days? How did you experience the underground scene, what fanzines were around back then etc.? Could you please tell us very detailed about this certain period of time?
Markus: "The years 1983 till about 1990 used to be an incredible and non-comparable time for Metal. New styles kept on developing, from Hard Rock to Heavy Metal, from Speed over Thrash till Death and Black Metal. Also the Metal styles apart from these "main streams” were interesting, I just think of i.e. Hardcore Metal, Punkcore Metal or Hyperspeed Metal. At the end of the 80s also Doom and Gothic Metal joined this healthy scene, there always used to be something new around. That’s why there was also a huge fan community and Metal clubs, furthermore we were also very infected by several underground fanzines from all parts of the world. I’m definitely glad and proud of having been a part of this generation and this period in music history."
Sven: "Yeah, that’s definitely right!"
Why do you think was Thrash Metal so popular and how would you define this special kind of music?
Markus: "Honestly said, I did never think about this too much yet. The scene was simply there, grew incredibly fast and we enjoyed it. To describe Thrash Metal is nearly impossible – you have to feel it, you have to be a part of it, you have to identify yourself with it!"
Sven: "Thrash Metal has to come straight from your mind, it must have energy. Back then I personally considered most Metal bands as too soft and Punk as too one-dimensional. There had to be something somewhere in between for me. On the one hand I liked the melodic groove of groups like RIOT very much, and on the other side I was fascinated by the huge energy of DISCHARGE. I think that Thrash Metal used to be able to melt both elements in order to blast the ears with one piece of utter greatness."
What do you think about the first (KREATOR, LIVING DEATH, SODOM, DESTRUCTION) and the second wave (i.e. PROTECTOR, DARKNESS, S.D.I., VIOLENT FORCE, DEATHROW, VENDETTA etc.) of German Thrash Metal? Did DESTRUCTION & co. reach levels of popularity that acts from the second wave were never able to come close to?
Markus: "In my mind there was no first and / or second wave. Like I tried to describe earlier, the scene, the music and the fans recreated themselves over and over again, it pushed itself forward. Many different music styles melted together as one and thus created new directions again, new people that were into these sub-styles came up etc. Still up to these days I’m watching what’s going on in the scene very intensely. The Metal of the past experienced many metamorphosis, and there always used to be enough sub-styles for every single different taste. For me Thrash Metal is immortal!"
Sven: "That’s the same with me. Furthermore the Thrash Metal groups back then didn’t care a shit about their popularity."
The absolutely best area for German Thrash Metal once used to be the Ruhr area, do you agree?
Markus: "Yes, there’s nothing wrong with this statement. But I don’t know any reasons for this."
Sven: "Probably this phenomenom is based upon the fact that a huge part of the popularity there consisted of pretty normal workers like you and me (hehe, I just remember that fine LIVING DEATH song right now… – Christian). The economic miracle was passed by since a very long time and the people got more and more aware of the fact that they’d only be exploited and fucked-up by political and economical forces. Most of them had any kinds of shitty jobs that they hated, just in order to survive and pay the bills. Of course huge aggressive feelings were raised due to these circumstances, and Thrash Metal used to be the right outlet!"
What do you think were the reasons that some bands quit after having released only two albums (I just think of i.e. EXUMER, VIOLENT FORCE, ASSASSIN or VENDETTA)?
Markus: "I got no idea."
Sven: "Due to my own experience I have to blame the music industry above all. Thrash musicians were idealists that only wanted to do what they wanted to and that wanted to have some fun. Then such a fucking label comes and wants to take control over you. They want to tell you which songs to put on the album and what tracks should better be dropped, how the cover has to look like, how you’ve got to present yourself live etc… That’s all bullshit! It’s not surprising that one day you can’t stand the business anymore…"
Besides the Teutonic also the Bay Area Thrash groups from the USA were very popular back then. But what do you think were differences and similarities when you compare both sub-scenes?
Markus: "The situation for German Metal acts was much, much more difficult than the sitation of US American groups and due to the fact that we were Germans it was very hard to compete with those bands. Everything that was coming from the US was cult, more "up-to-date" and better than German acts. It was a strange behaviour of the fanzines that were always discriminating German bands. I don’t know why this actually was the case, but it was a fact that we had to struggle to survive and didn’t have a too easy life…"
Sven: "The situation remained the same up till nowadays. Everything that comes from America is being hyped, despite the fact that much of the stuff from over there is total garbage! But that of course it wasn’t the same with the Bay Area groups that were definitely awesome. However, it was also a fact that there were not too many differences when you compared German and US American acts. We used to get to know some of those guys, which were equally mad like us, perhaps even a bit more freaked-out…"
What do you think were the reasons why Thrash Metal used to return back to the underground back in the late 80s / early 90s, why did this kind of music lose its popularity?
Markus: "It didn’t lose its popularity!"
Sven: "I agree!" (well, even though it was never really gone, in terms of popularity Death Metal definitely took over at the time – Frank)
When and why did DEATHROW split up at all? Were there any musical and / or personal problems involved? And what did you do when everybody had to walk on his own path?
Markus: "I don’t know exactly when we split up. We used to part ways with Noise, due to the fact that we had gotten too little support from them, furthermore they betrayed us. And exactly this happened to us again when we were operating under the sign of the WVR label. In the end we even sued them for having released the "Life Beyond" cover without our agreement. Finally we gave a fuck about the whole bullshit that was starting once again, we were exhausted and disappointed. In the end our split as a band was the music industry’s fault. We all left each other as good fellows and up to this day we’ve stayed in contact. Sven and I founded the studio Locabase, Milo has a job in the software industry and Uwe has a music studio in Augsburg."
How would you characterise every single band member from back then?
Markus: "Sorry, but that´s too difficult for me!"
Sven: "We always used to be good fellows till the end. I don’t think that a good working band cannot exist if this ain’t so. From time to time we meet each other nowadays, drink a few beers and talk about stupid things. I don’t believe in bands that only meet in order to rehearse and that besides this don’t have anything else in common."
What do you think about nowadays’ scene, what do you think are the differences compared to the "glorious" 80s scene? In which way were there changes in the curse of time and what kind of music do you like to listen to at home nowadays?
Markus: "Meanwhile I really listen to everything. When the music’s well executed, when it has a great refrain and doesn’t suck, I don’t mind what kind of style it is. But mainly I listen to Doom, Gothic, Thrash / Death Metal, and sometimes even a good Hard Rock CD runs in my player."
Sven: "It’s similar with me, sometimes I even listen to Ray Charles or Bob Dylan! Nowadays’ scene’s simply lacking the pulsating feel ready to set off a bit. However, there are still some fine bands coming out of this scene over and over again…"
What do you think about the fact that DESTRUCTION used to reunite five years ago? Also HOLY MOSES, ASSASSIN, VENDETTA, IRON ANGEL or NECRONOMICON are active again nowadays…
Markus: "I think that’s ok, but it’s not too important for me."
Sven: "When those guys really have fun doing this, it’s ok. But this wouldn’t be my cup of tea, honestly said…"
Have you already been able to check out the latest works of HOLY MOSES ("Strength, Power, Will, Passion"), DESTRUCTION ("Inventor Of Evil") and ASSASSIN ("The Club"), what do you think about these albums? I have to say that these full-lengths don’t have much to do with the early masterpieces. Especially ASSASSIN’s "The Club" was a huge disappointment for me…
Markus: "I was able to check out ASSASSIN live on stage twice this year. The gigs were really awesome, but I also consider the new CD as very bad. But the current albums of HOLY MOSES and DESTRUCTION are really strong, I think!"
Sven: "Unfortunately I haven’t been able to check out any of these records. But it doesn’t mean that an album is bad when the sound is far away from the early works of a band…"
Didn’t you ever think about reforming DEATHROW? It would be great to listen to a new "Riders Of Doom"…!
Markus: "Forget it!"
Sven: "Not in this life! We used to have a great time and we reached something we can be proud of – that’s enough!"
Will your albums be re-released with bonus tracks one day?
Markus: "The idea is there, but we don’t know when this finally will be realised, it’s a very uncertain situation…"
Sven: "When there are confirmed release dates you’ll be the first one to know this, I bet you!"
Two years ago Markus used to do an interview for a German fanzine called "Carnage". Can you still remember it and do you often get interview offers from fanzines and fans?
Markus: "We’re still answering interviews up to this day. Mostly we answer questions from fanzines from East Europe, but there are also some single fans that want to know more about DEATHROW’s past. However, I can remember that "Carnage" thing, but it’s very far away…"
Sven: "Alzheimer’s disease, here we go again…!"
What do you think about fanzines? Do they play a big role in the worldwide underground scene? In which way can fanzines nowadays support groups? Did you read many fanzines back in the past and do you nowadays still continue with having a look at some of these publications?
Markus: "Back in the DEATHROW days the influence of the big music magazines used to be very important, which meant that if you had no good critics concerning live appearances or LPs, you could easily figure out these critic’s further affect on the selling figures… For us as a true to the bone Thrash Metal band it was hard to survive, but in some way we always managed to get some positive reviews – however, we sometimes even got some harsh critics. But all in all we didn’t mind about what the magazines wrote about us – we simply played the music we felt! However, there were still some stupid reports that pissed us off very much indeed. Since back then till these days I still read Metal magazines regularly, in order to be informed about the scene…"
How would you define the term underground respectively being underground? What do you think, were DEATHROW an underground or a popular group?
Markus: "No idea. We used to be present in all kind of areas – in the underground, on a popular level and somewhere in between."
Sven: "Underground mainly means to me to keep on doing whatever you want – it doesn’t matter what some other people say or write about you! Considering this, DEATHROW were a real underground band. When fans and journalists like the whole stuff, you´re on the best way to become popular."
What are your personal favourite songs and albums of DEATHROW?
Markus: "Pew, you’re coming up with some heavy questions!!! I personally consider "Deception Ignored", despite the fact that it was our best selling record, as our worst album. My favourite one is "Raging Steel’" whereas "Life Beyond" and "Riders Of Doom" are similarily strong."
Sven: "That’s my opinion as well. My favourite songs are ‘Scattered By The Wind’, ‘The Thing Within’, ‘Pledge To Die’, ‘Riders Of Doom’, ‘Samhain’ and ‘The Remembrance’."
Let’s come to my last question: how would you summarize the whole career of DEATHROW? Have you been able to reach everything you wanted to? Did you have a loyal fan base? How did you personally experience being a member of DEATHROW?
Markus: "Well, Sven and I left our homes when we were about 18 and 19 years old, just in order to make music and to stand on stage. We used to give up everything and break up all contacts in order to realise our dream. Luckily all this came true, we managed to realise everything in the way we had dreamt of before. Thus I look back into the DEATHROW-times having a satisfied feeling inside of me. Up to this day there are still some DEATHROW-fanclubs over here in Germany as well as in other countries."
Sven: "There’s nothing to add to these words!"
I hope that my questions weren’t too boring and I’d like to say thank you once again for the opportunity to do this interview. One of my dreams got realised doing this interview! I wish you all the best! Please tell us your final thoughts right now!
Markus: "Keep on thrashing!"
Sven: "Believe in yourselves, do everything you ever want to and kick everybody’s ass that wants to change you – kick ass and keep on raging – yeah!!!!"
Interview: Dávid László
Translation: Christian Wachter