After I found out that Martin Missy, the first singer from the ancient German Thrash band PROTECTOR was nowadays living in Stockholm, Sweden I managed to track him down pretty easily for this talk about past and future glories…
First of all Martin, we need to start with the beginning, that’s the usual way of doing things I assume. You joined PROTECTOR in ’87 after they recorded a demo. How come you decided to join them and did you know the guys well before?
"Well, I had heard the first demo by PROTECTOR some months before I joined the band and immediately liked the music. I even wrote an article about PROTECTOR in the school paper I was writing for then. Back in those days, and especially in a small town like Wolfsburg! It was a big thing to have recorded a demo tape. So when Michael asked me if I wanted to join the band, the answer was easy."
Did you play in any bands before PROTECTOR?
"Yes, at the time Michael asked me to join PROTECTOR I was playing in a Speed Metal band called INZEST. The guitarist and the drummer of that band had played together with Michael in a Black Speed band called DEATH ATTACK before; probably the first of it’s kind in Wolfsburg. I had played in 2-3 other ‘project bands’ before INZEST, but it was INZEST, that was my first real ‘serious’ band."
You hadn’t been in PROTECTOR for long before you were signed to the ATOM-H, can you tell us a bit more about the signing to this label? It seemed to have been pretty rushed.
"We sent a demo tape to them and, as far as I can remember it, they answered very quickly, that they were interested in meeting us and signing a contract with us. So we went to Düsseldorf, talked to them, and then we signed the contract. I remember that they told us, that when they had listened to our demo, they decided to sign us, a few seconds after that they had heard the intro (!) to the demo."
How was the feeling of having and record contract? I’d assume you were all pretty young then and probably you didn’t have much experiences with this. Would you say in retrospect the contract was good or bad?
"It felt a little bit unreal, because it all happened so fast. Only when the record was in the stores, and letters from all the corners of Europe started to arrive at our Fan Club, I realized what had happened. It was really cool to have a record deal, even though we didn’t get much money for the records we sold."
What I heard about the ATOM – H label was that a certain Jürgen Engler of DIE KRUPPS started it. Is that true? And was he seriously into Metal? I remember he used some of the guys from ACCUSER for his own project too.
"Yeah, that’s true. I didn’t even know who he was, before he told me. I remember that I found an old article about the first line-up of the KRUPPS (they were playing some kind of Techno pop in the beginning of the 80’s) in one of my old music magazines. After the time at ATOM – H he started the “new” KRUPPS that played Industrial Metal. I never asked him if he really was into Metal, but I assume it, because he had started a record label for Metal bands."
The “Misanthropy” mini LP was released pretty fast after it was recoded, for me this is an outstanding piece of Thrashing brutality. What were your own feelings for this epic release? What did you feel you achieved when you released this? It must have been a big thing to have a vinyl out in those days?
"The “Misanthropy” mini LP is my personal favourite album made by PROTECTOR. It’s raw, and the sound isn’t as good as on the other records, but that’s the way Thrash Metal should sound like, I think. And of course my feelings towards this record are also formed by the fact, that it was our first release. I feel proud to have participated on that record and it was a fantastic feeling to have a record out. And as I said before: it all felt some kind of unreal. Even today I sometimes look back and ask myself: Is it really true?"
So did all your expectations come true with this release? Did it sound like it intended to? Did t sell as much as you hoped?
"I was very pleased with the sound and that it sold a couple of thousand copies. The only thing I was a little bit disappointed of was the cover artwork. I had made a drawing of the cover and sent it to the record company, so that they could give it to a professional artist, so he could make a cool, better version of it. But in the end it was almost identical to the original drawing I had made (only in colour)! I had expected a little bit more…"
The first time I heard you were also in the autumn of ’87 when I visited Mick Harris of NAPALM DEATH. He had an advance tape with the mini LP, so were you guys good friends with NAPALM DEATH back then or?
"I remember that we had some contact with Bill Steer (by letters). But as far as I can remember, we didn’t have much contact with them."
So after this you played some concerts, but I got the impression you were not really an experienced live band. How did you face the facts that you had to play live?
"You’re right. We played our first gigs just shortly before the record was released. Of course it was exciting to get on stage (it always was and still is!), but I don’t think it was a big problem for us. We only played in small clubs or halls and there never were that many people in the audience back in the early days of PROTECTOR. And we didn’t play too many gigs either, maybe 8-10 each year. It was a pretty smooth start for us, so we could collect some live experience little by little."
One of your first gigs ever was with the mighty SODOM. How was it for you to play with them? Were you big SODOMANIACS or were you friends with them? Or
"Michael had the SODOM Fan Club for a little while (his name and address is on the album cover of “Obsessed by Cruelty”). The first time I met Tom Angel ripper was in the Bochumer Zeche. I remember that he was a little sad that I had chosen the name “Misanthropy” for one of our songs, because he also had wanted to do a song with the same title. And I actually met Tom again in the beginning of 2002 here in Stockholm! SODOM was on a tour with KREATOR and DESTRUCTION (great concert!) and after the gig I went to him and asked him if he remembered me. And though almost 14 years had past since we last saw each other he remembered me! At least that’s what he said, hehehe. Together with Schmier, Mille and a bunch of fans and friends we went to a local rock club and talked for some hours. I came home at 4 o’clock in the morning and had to go to work only some 2-3 hours later, but I didn’t care. It was great to meet him again. To answer your questions: Of course it was big for us as newcomers to play with one of Germany’s biggest Thrash bands! And even though they maybe weren’t what you could call our “friends”, we (and especially Michael) knew them pretty well."
Well, I guess you must have had some good friendship as the mighty Angel Ripper appeared on the next full length on the track “Spacecake”. Tell me about how that worked out. And how serious were the lyrics meant to be? Did any accuse you of drug propaganda for instance?
"I got the idea to the lyrics when we where in Amsterdam to play a gig. In the pub of the hall we later played our gig in; they had a bowl of Space cakes. I never ate one of them, but I thought the name was funny, so when we came home, I sat down and wrote the lyrics. Fortunately none has ever accused me of drug propaganda. I was just young, and didn’t think about a deeper sense in the lyrics to this song. I never wanted to do any drug propaganda with it (see “The Most Repugnant Antagonist of Life” from the “Urm the Mad” record). I really don’t remember who had the idea that Tom should sing a “duet” with me on “Spacecake”. Well, I’m really glad that Tom did it. I remember that Michael and I drove him home after we had recorded the song (we recorded “Golem” in Bochum and Tom lives in Gelsenkirchen, which is not too far from there)."
Tell me about the concert you did with SODOM (again!) where Angel Ripper joined you to do “Spacecake” on stage. That must have been fun! Do you know if there are any bootlegs of this in existence?
"That was really fun, and actually the only time we performed the song together with Tom (at least as long as I was a member of the band). I remember that I saw a videotape of the concert once, but I’ve never heard a bootleg from the concert."
In reference to the meeting of Angel Ripper. What do you think when you see Angel Ripper is still doing the same stuff as he always did, he never wimped out and remained faithful. Do you regret that you didn’t follow his foot steps? (At least you must respect the man for his dedication…)
"I respect Tom a lot! I’ve heard people who have complained about his “Onkel Tom”-project (I’ve never heard any songs from them), but I think it is cool that he’s still going strong with Sodom…for 20 years now! No, I don’t regret that I didn’t follow his footsteps. You need to be a special (strong) kind of person if you can be “on the road” for such a long time, and I don’t think that I possess that strength."
“Golem” was also a masterpiece, but what about the cover, it looks pretty much like an HELLOWEEN cover don’t you think?
"Hehehe, I’ve never thought about that, but maybe you’re right. I never really liked the covers of PROTECTOR. I always expected something more from the artists, something like the covers of “Pleasure to Kill” (my favourite!), “Scream Bloody Gore” or “Emperor’s Return”. But I think that the “Golem” cover still was the best of all the PROTECTOR covers."
In ’89 you left PROTECTOR for a while. Why did you do that? I heard you were pretty annoyed when you heard about the appearance of PROTECTOR at the METAL MANIA festival in Poland?
"Well, I left PROTECTOR for personal reasons in early 1989. After that they went on a tour with WEHRMACHT and in April that year they played in Katowice in front of a big, fantastic crowd. And yes, that is the thing that I regret most, that I never got to sing in front of these thousands of enthusiastic polish maniacs! Hansi told me later he had tears in his eyes after the gig, and Ede was so enthusiastic that he was close to give his bass to people in the crowd…"
You did come back to do the “Urm The Mad” album. Why did you do that?
"Suddenly the inspiration was back, and I wanted to work with Hansi, Michael and Ede again. I felt that I still had some ideas to lyrics that I hadn’t realized yet, and when the guys asked me to come back, I didn’t hesitate to be a part of PROTECTOR again."
But again you left and you did your final gig in Düsseldorf later the same year. So why did you leave again for the final time?
"I have to admit that at that time I wasn’t enthusiastic and inspired enough to be the singer of a band that was on the way up in the German ‘Thrash Metal elite’. I didn’t rehearse much with the other guys, cut my hair of (blasphemy back in those days!) and showed only little interest in the band. So one day in December 1989 I heard from somebody that they were rehearsing together with Oliver Wiebel on vocals."
So after that how were your feelings towards the other guys in PROTECTOR and extreme music?
"There were no hard, or bad feelings from my side towards the other guys in the band, but I hadn’t that much contact with them after December 1989. I remember that I helped Oliver to write some lyrics though. All the lyrics on “Leviathan’s Desire” and four lyrics on “A Shedding of Skin” are written by me though it was never mentioned on the record cover, and extreme music? I loved (and still love) it! At least the ‘old gods’, my favourites at that time were bands like MORBID ANGEL, CELTIC FROST and POSSESSED."
Even if PROTECTOR still released quality material after you left I must say the best albums are those you appeared and they remain classics in extreme Metal genre for me. So what did you feel about those later PROTECTOR releases? Did you bother to check them out or did you just not care?
"Thank you! It’s great to hear that people still appreciate the early work of PROTECTOR. I didn’t listen that much to the three studio albums PROTECTOR released after 1989, but I think the songs are o.k. I bought all the records except for the “The Heritage” record. I forgot to buy it when it came, and now it’s not possible to get it anymore. Scheisse, I would have liked to have it in my collection…"
In ’94 when Michael Hasse, the man who formed PROTECTOR, died the world thought that PROTECTOR should rest in peace. Still Marco Pape used the name PROTECTOR for future projects, that was kind of blasphemy I think…. What do you say?
"My feelings towards that are split: on the one hand I think that PROTECTOR should have changed their name when there were no more members of the original line-up left in the band, but on the other hand I also think it was kind of cool that someone kept the legacy of PROTECTOR alive."
The “Lost In Eternity” anthology CD was a nice tribute to Michael, were you involved in that release? (Besides singing of course)
"No, I wasn’t involved in the “Lost in Eternity” record. I think none of us was. I didn’t even know about the plans to release such a ‘Best of’ record. I learned about “Lost in Eternity” through an advertisement in the METAL HAMMER, if I remember it right. Nevertheless I think it is cool that they released it. As you said: it is a nice tribute to Michael and all the work he, and the rest of us, had put into the band."
The band also recorded another version of “Kain & Abel” on a later date, what did you think of that?
"Yes, that was on the “Leviathan’s Desire”. Well, I thought it was a little bit unnecessary, because in my opinion the original version was good enough, but still I helped Oliver with the additional lyrics to that song."
As the ATOM H label is no more does that mean no one has the right to the PROTECTOR albums? That anyone can release them without any legal problems or?
"To tell you the truth: I really don’t know! After I left PROTECTOR I didn’t care about who had the rights or not. If we would have been a really big band, and we would have earned a lot of money by selling our records, then the situation would have been different. PROTECTOR and big money are two different worlds…and as far as I’m concerned, people can release the records again, as long as it’s in the original spirit (no techno-versions or whatsoever)."
Many releases lately are re-mastered editions of old classics, would you like to see the PROTECTOR albums re-mastered or do you think they sound fine as they are?
"Even though we never had the “perfect sound” (does such a thing exist?) I always thought that the sound on the PROTECTOR albums was o.k. I think that they reflect the spirit and the sound of “those days” pretty well. In other words: A re-mastered edition is not necessary in my opinion."
If we jump back to when you left the band for the final time how come you did not join any other band back then? Were you not interested or what?
"No, I wasn’t. After PROTECTOR I played in some project, and cover bands (in one band with Ede on bass!), but the inspiration and energy to work with a band like PROTECTOR again, was not there."
So now after all those years you are fronting a new band in Sweden – RUINS OF TIME, please present your new band and why you wanted to sing in it?
"Yes! After almost 12 years I felt that something in my life was missing. I had a job, an apartment, lots of friends…but I missed to write lyrics, and to play in a Metal band. One day in October 2001 I went to a local record store and checked out some ads for musicians, one of the bands was RUINS OF TIME. I contacted them, met the guys and listened to their songs, and a week later I was a member of the band. RUINS OF TIME are Juan Araya on drums, Oskar Göransson on bass, Christos Konstandinos and Mathias Öjermark on guitars, and me on vocals. The band exists since 1997, and has released two self produced CD’s: “For a New Dawn” (1999), and “Timetraveller” (2002). Earlier this year we finally found a bass player and played our first two gigs here in Stockholm. It feels great to be back again, and you can read more about the band on the homepage http://welcome.to/ruins_of_time."
I read that you still had the leather / spikes wristband you used in PROTECTOR; maybe it is time to use that again, huh?
"Haha! Yes, that would be cool, but I have to admit, that I don’t know where the spikes are now. I think I lost them when I moved to Sweden. It’s sad…but I still wear my old PROTECTOR trousers (the ones with all the badges on them) when I perform with RUINS OF TIME!"
When you joined RUINS OF TIME did the other guys know about your past in PROTECTOR?
"The first month that I was a member of Ruins of Time I didn’t tell them that I had played in PROTECTOR I only told them that I ‘had been playing in some other bands before’, and when I finally told them, they didn’t know whom PROTECTOR was. When I was in PROTECTOR, they were only 10-12 years old, so I think it’s understandable that they had never heard about my old band."
And for those who don’t know, why the hell did you end up in Sweden any way?
"My mother is from Sweden, and when I finished working in a bank (!) in Wolfsburg, I thought I could try what it is like to live in my mother’s homeland. I’ve been living in Sweden since 1995 and I like it a lot! No plans on moving back to Germany…yet."
Finally, the most important question of all: your name, Marty Missy, how the hell did you end up with that? Missy is not very masculine is it? Hehehehe.
"Hehe, yes that’s true! It must sound very funny to English speaking persons. I think the name is from France originally (there is even a small village in the north of France that is named “Missy”). I tried to find out where the name comes from, and what it means, but I wasn’t successful."
Thanks and cheers!!!!
"Thank you for doing the interview with me, and Metallic greetings to all the young and old PROTECTOR fans out there! Thank you for your support through all the years, past and present! You’re all welcome to check out my new PROTECTOR Homepage http://listen.to/protector, and don’t forget to sign the guest book!"
This interview originally got published in SLAYER MAGAZINE # 18 and was used with kind permission.