“Excursion Demise” (1991) and “Weave The Apocalypse” (1993), the first two full length albums from Danish Thrashers INVOCATOR, were long out of print and pretty hard to find. But thanks to Hammerheart Records both records have now been re-released as remastered 2 CD editions (with bonus material) and on vinyl (each one of them in three different colors). For the following interview we hooked up with original guitar player Jakob Schultz, who told us alot about the early days of the band…
Greetings Jakob, hope you’re doing well and you’re in a good mood to go back in time with us a little bit to re-live the early days of INVOCATOR?
“Always a please to remember the good old days.”
In 1986, prior to INVOCATOR, there was supposed to be a band named BLACK CREED… Was this already with the original line-up of INVOCATOR? How did you four all get together? Did you all know each other prior to playing music already? Was BLACK CREED the very first band for all of you then?
“There was a band called BLACK CREED. It was the band that changed name to INVOCATOR. It was Jacob Hansen and Simon Melsen, who was the main machine in BLACK CREED. They got together with Finn Poulsen on bass and Søren on guitar. In 87 they left the band and Simon and Jacob looked for new members. During that period they considered changing the name and right when I joined they changed it to INVOCATOR. We met through the local record shop where the owner Jørn Hundebøll put us in contact. Jacob called me and told me they looked for a bass player. I said I played the guitar and they also needed a guitarist. He sent me a tape with 3 songs from the rehearsal room – ‘The Return’, ‘The Omen’ and ‘Certain Death’ I think. I liked it and I joined and I knew this guy Otto Hansen, who came along as bass player. He couldn’t really play bass, but he learned it. Personally I maybe had played guitar for half a year at that time. The songs where really simple back then, so we began rehearsing and made new songs and it worked out great. With this line-up we played the first ever INVOCATOR show 12-12-1987. We recorded the show and sold it as our first demo. Then we used the money to get into the studio to record “Genetic Confusion”. All still the same line-up.”
What can you tell us about BLACK CREED in general? Was it musically already compareable to what you later did with INVOCATOR in any way? Just more immature of course… Did you already have any original songs written? And have you played any live shows with BLACK CREED?
“I was never in BLACK CREED, but it was the same songs we played after changing the name to INVOCATOR. It was very simple Thrash Metal style songs and we kept on playing some of the songs in INVOCATOR for quite a while. I think the song which survived the longest from that period was ‘Certain Death’ which we also played live with our new members later in 89. It was original songs. But we also played covers of SLAYER, POSSESSED, S.O.D. It was of course much more simple than what we evolved to but I think we grew from that and there always is some kind of string to the old material to the new.”
What was the reason that you didn’t continue on with BLACK CREED? Was it just a name change or did you start something completely new? What made you use INVOCATOR as the new name of the band? Is there a story connected to the band name’s origin?
“Simon and Jacob decided to change the name. BLACK CREED was just not a great name they thought. INVOCATOR was inspired by the title from the band called EXORCIST and their album.”
The first release of INVOCATOR in 1987 was an official live tape, which was supposed to finance your first real studio demo… Did you already play many shows at the time, prior to having released anything? Or did you already spread any rehearsal tapes through the tapetrading network?
“That concert was the first INVOCATOR concert ever. Also the first time I played live personally. Not many rehearsals were spread through tape trading prior to that, but I know Jacob traded some BLACK CREED and early INVOCATOR rehearsals with some other traders.”
Apart from ‘Restraint Life’, the live tape just featured songs that you didn’t use anymore later on plus covers from POSSESSED and SLAYER… What can you tell us about these songs? Why didn’t they make it on any INVOCATOR studio release? Were SLAYER and POSSESSED your main influences at that time?
“‘Feast Of Blood’, ‘The Omen’ and ‘Certain Death’ were very old and some of the first songs Jacob Hansen wrote back when the band was called BLACK CREED. We developed our skills quick and wanted to do stuff a bit more advanced. We also wanted to present new songs and material which we thought represented the band even better and showed the direction we wanted to develop the music towards. SLAYER was always a major influence for us along with DARK ANGEL and of course what we grew up with, bands like POSSESSED and KREATOR.”
The line-up at that point still featured Otto Hansen on bass and Simon Melsen on drums, apart from yourself on guitars and Jacob Hansen on vocals and guitars… What can you tell us about those two? Why didn’t they only last in the band until you had recorded your debut demo “Genetic Confusion” in 1988?
“Simon wanted to try something else. He dropped out and later began playing guitar instead of drums. Otto moved and probably didn’t have the same ambitions as Jacob and I.”
All four songs on that demo (‘Dismal Serfage’, ‘Insurrected Despair’, ‘Restraint Life’ and ‘The Scars Remain’) were again exclusively featured on that release… What was the reason for that? Weren’t you satisfied with them anymore after the demo had been released or was it more like, you wanted to keep songs exclusive to each release?
“It was just because we developed musically all the time and pursued to write new better songs, so no reason to record those again. Actually ‘Insurrected Despair’ was re-recorded and was released on the Witch Hunt compilation LP.”
How popular was INVOCATOR at that time in the national and international underground already? Did you get a lot of fanzine coverage for the debut demo already? How many copies did you sell of it and did you support the release with live shows as well? Were you an active live band? Any standout gigs that you still recall from back then?
“The demo was very well recieved and we got only positive reviews from all corners of the world. It also lead to some more show where we supported ARTILLERY and played a small tour called “Slow Death” with bands like FURIOUS TRAUMA and MENTAL DECAY.”
When and why did you split-up with Otto and Simon exactly and how did you get Jesper M. Jensen and Per M. Jensen on board as their replacements? Had both already been playing in any bands prior to joining INVOCATOR?
“They wanted to do other things. Per saw us and wanted to leave his band EXTREME FEEDBACK and he took Jesper with him who also was in that band.”
How much did your second demo “Alterations” from 1989 help in increasing INVOCATOR’s popularity? To me it seems that this demo became way more popular in the underground than its predecessor, so did you also spread and sell a lot more copies of it maybe?
“It helped a lot. We sold about 2000 tapes and it went to no. 1 on the Metal Forces demo list. This was very popular in the underground. It was a honour that the readers of Metal Forces chose it as demo of the year. It was a list with very great bands such as ATHEIST. So yes we where proud but we also worked hard to spread the word. It was a success and helped to gain attention all over the world and also we got booked for show outside Denmark a lot more. It was in that period we visited Holland and also Sweden where we played with ENTOMBED, EDGE OF SANITY and MERCILESS.”
Compared to the recordings of your debut demo, did you have a different approach in the sudio when you recorded the material for “Alterations”? Was there anything you wanted to change this time, which you weren’t satisfied with anymore from the recordings of “Genetic Confusion”? How much input did your newest members Jesper and Per have on the songwriting?
“We had a new line-up, probably the best ever. We had developed a lot as musicians and the songs were taken to a new level and went in the direction we wanted. More brutal, more aggressive and also more technical and varied. It was an all new approach with the new drummer and bass player so we had a lot more confidence and knew alot more when we entered the Backstage Studio again. We had more precise ideas about how we wanted the sound to be and we suceeded in that, because the production is a lot more like we wanted it to be.”
I suppose “Alterations” was also responsible for INVOCATOR’s deal with Black Mark Productions, wasn’t it? Did you also get any other offers that you refused or that fell through for some other reason?
“We worked a bit with Wild Rags but it never happened. Bit of a rip off actually. We played live with ENTOMBED and EDGE OF SANITY in Norrkoping, Sweden in December 1990. EDGE OF SANITY just had a deal with Black Mark and Boss was there to see them live. We got to talk with him and he liked our performance and wanted to sign us. We didn’t have any other offers at that time, so we went for Black Mark.”
Before you entered the studio to finally record your debut full length “Excursion Demise” in mid 1991, you first of all recorded three songs for a promo demo… Tell us a bit more about that. Was that some kind of pre-production recording to let Black Mark hear what the new INVOCATOR songs sounded like or why did you record those songs?
“Yes, it was only meant for Boss. He asked if he could hear some new songs and we did that tape and send it to him, and then we signed the deal, because he liked it a lot.”
All of the songs from that promo demo later on also made it onto the album, together with three songs from the “Alterations” demo (ok, its title track just became the CD bonus, but still…). So, did you consider them as your strongest songs at that point or why didn’t ‘Pursuit Of A Rising Necessity’ (from “Alterations”) make it to the album?
“Yeah maybe we thought that ‘Pursuit…’ was not strong enough for the album plus we had new songs we wanted to put on the debut album.”
Did you write ‘Excursion Demise’, ‘(…To A Twisted Recess Of Mind)’, ‘Forsaken Ones’ and ‘Schismatic Injective Therapy’ exclusively for the album, after you had been signed, or did you already have these songs finished at that point?
“I can’t remember how long into the process we where – I think we worked on them after the deal was signed but not sure. But yes the new songs were of course meant for the album.”
The recently released Hammerheart Records re-release of the album also includes a furious re-recording of ‘Insurrected Despair’, a song which originally appeared on your debut demo… when did you record that and for what reason?
“It was re-recorded as a bonus track for an EP for Wild Rags who wanted to release the “Alterations” demo as an EP. We wanted to have that song on as well. But Wild Rags ripped us off so eventually we used the song for the Witch Hunt compilation “Believe In Church And Agonize”. ”
Talking about that re-release… have you been involved in it in any way as well? Are you satisfied with the way it turned out? What do you think of Jacob’s remastering and the overall packaging?
“Yes, Hammerheart has worked closely with Jacob and myself about the re-releases. They have done a very good job. It sounds and looks astonishing.”
The INVOCATOR demos, that were included on the bonus CD of the re-release, had previously already been released as the “Early Years” and “Alterations From The Past” compilations from 1994 and 2015 respectively, so it seems there’s still ongoing interest in the early material of the band after all those years. Have those two compilations been sold out already? What was the reason that “Early Years” came out with two different covers back then?
“”Alterations From The Past” is sold out – it will be re-released next year by Emanzipation Productions. “Early Years” – I really dont know because I was not in the band when that got released.”
When and why did you split up with INVOCATOR after “Excursion Demise” and did you still follow the band’s career after you left? Do you like any of the releases that came out later? Are you still in contact with any of the old members these days?
“The other members wanted to change things and have Perle play guitar instead and go more into the groovy sound. I was not interested and I left and continued with MACERATION. I think “Weave The Apocalypse” and “Through The Flesh To The Soul” are very good albums. I was also playing a few of the songs from “Weave…” which we worked on before I left. I am still in contact with Jacob.”
Were you still part of the band when the two cover songs ‘The Eternal War’ (ARTILLERY) and ‘The Promise Of Agony’ (DARK ANGEL) were recorded? Were those songs supposed to be featured on some tribute albums or have they just been recorded as bonus tracks for some release?
“No – they recorded them as bonus songs for the “Early Years” album.”
In 2016 the “Live Odense 04-11-89” CD was released via Distorted Harmony Records from Mexico… was that really approved by the band? Was it a limited edition release?
“They asked if they could do it and the recording was already out there on YouTube, so we thought: why not and let them do it. There are people who like that kind of releases.”
Ok Jakob, that’s all. Thanks a lot for taking the time to join us on our little trip back in time. The last words are yours…
“Thanks a lot for the interview and good to see you continue to work hard in the underground.”