SATHANAS started out back in the 80’s as a four piece, featuring Paul Tucker, Mike Smith, Dave Smith and Bill Smiley. Back in those days they released their classic demo "Ripping Evil" which already gained them worldwide recognition. Unfortunately this line-up fell apart shortly after. Mike and Dave went on with ACHERON while Paul started BATHYM. BATHYM released the "Into Darkness" demo in 1990, followed by the "Demonic Force" 7" EP, on the French label Thrash Records. After that Paul reformed SATHANAS, adding new bassist Bill Davidson (who’s still a member of the band today) and drummer Jim Baker to the group. Paul took over the lead vocals and the band went on to record their 1995 debut full-length "Black Earth", which got released on After Dark Records. Unfortunately the label went bankrupt so that SATHANAS switched to Metal Merchant Records out of Chicago who were supposed to re-release "Black Earth" with three extra tracks the same year. But Metal Merchant Records also went under… In 1997 UK’s Conquistador Records put out the band’s second album, "Armies Of Charon" and in 2001 SATHANAS recorded a MCD entitled "Cruentus Diabolos" which will be released by Drakkar Records of France now (originally it was supposed to come out on Pulverised Records, but just like their previous labels also Pulverised was running into financial difficulties). In July 2001 Blackmetal.com showed interest in SATHANAS and signed them for the third full length CD "Thy Dark Heavens" (the label also re-released "Black Earth"). Which finally leads us to the present time. From Beyond Productions out of the Netherlands recently put out a very cool compilation album of all the old SATHANAS / BATHYM material, entitled "Jaws Of Satan", while the band itself returned to the scene with a new 3 song promo CD, which also includes a cover of BATHORY’s ‘Raise The Dead’… Time for us to finally honour this legendary act with a bigger feature. So, good ol’ Stefan didn’t hesitate for a second, contacted mainman Paul Tucker and returned with the following interview right away…
Horns up, Paul!!! What’s the latest news in the SATHANAS legion???
“Well probably that we are working on new material for the next onslaught, this will kill the other material. Much heavier, but still in the old school style. I think people will be satisfied. Also we are playing the Autumn Equinox Fest Oct.19th in Manhatten, New York. Should be killer!! Checking out some labels, should know soon on who will release the CD. Possible title could be “Hex Nefarious”.”
The discography one can look at on your website suggests that SATHANAS are quite a long time around, but I think only few know the whole history of your infernal horde. So please sum up your band’s biography and tell me in what bands you played besides SATHANAS!
“SATHANAS formed in ’88, released a demo “Ripping Evil”. Did a few shows. Split up due to personal problems. Members went to ACHERON and members went to BATHYM. A few years later, I decided on reforming SATHANAS again. Since people were asking about it. So we made a rehearsal. Sent it to a couple of labels. First serious label was Afterdark Records. We recorded the “Black Earth” CD for them. Then they went under. Same with Metal Merchant Records. Conquistador Records decided on releasing the “Armies Of Charon” CD since we had new material then. So they did. Sold well, didn’t have that great of promotion though. So we decided to go with Blackmetal.com for our next release “Thy Dark Heavens” in which they also released the unreleased “Black Earth” CD. Now we released a new MCD on Drakkar Productions.”
How do you think has SATHANAS developed musically through the years? I only know “Armies Of Charon”, the demo compilation “Jaws Of Death” and the fantastic “Thy Dark Heavens” album and those releases differ a lot from each other, how would you describe SATHANAS’ musical changes and style?
“In all ways. But we try not to get too technical. Stay the older style. It is much more brutal. That’s what sets us apart from others. Well, “Armies Of Charon” was produced by a different engineer than the “Thy Dark Heavens”. We are using the same one for our next CD. “The Jaws Of Satan” CD was a bunch of 4 track recordings. That’s why that’s different.”
How were the reactions on your past releases throughout the scene all these years? Did any bigger labels show interest in the SATHANAS stuff ? What do you think about signing to one of the big commercial labels like Nuclear Blast or Century Media?
“When “Armies Of Charon” came out few people said much about it. Now it seems to be a cult classic, which is cool. We were experimenting with the “Thy Dark Heavens” CD, guitar sounds etc. Our next release will be more of the older “Armies Of Charon” sound. Although it will be clear and raw! Yes, there were a lot interested, but when it came to record they said, well we changed our minds or after listening to your style. But now, sure if we even want on a bigger label, they might want us to change. SATHANAS will not change. I’m in contact with Nuclear Blast and Century Media. See what happens.”
How important are the lyrics in SATHANAS? Do you have any special message you want to deliver or do you want them simply to fit to the music? Are there any lyrical topics you find extraordinary interesting?
“We are not trying to preach to people through our lyrics. We enjoy writing about the occult, Satanism, ‘cause we are interested in dark subjects, we play Black / Death Metal. What else are you going to sing about. We are not trying to send any messages just that this music was made for the devil and he is our inspiration. Just dark thoughts of demons ripping churches apart!!!”
Many of SATHANAS’ lyrics deal with hell, darkness and other devilish topics, but how deep is your interest in Satanism and the occult? Are you influenced by LaVey or Crowley? Do you get inspired by occult or satanic works???
"Yes, we have a lot of occult ideas in our lyrics. No actual LaVey or Crowley ideas. Maybe some here and there, a lot from other books. Even Clive Barker. Lots of inspiration from older movies on occult also. Vincent Price for example. He was a Satanist (and one of the best actors I ever saw, check out “Witchfinder General”, if you don’t know him! – Stefan) and played an evil one in movies. Certain idea we get we write down. If they sound good we use em.”
What do you think about religion in general? Do you think it is still strong and important in our society? How do you think can one weaken or even destroy the Church’s influence? Have you ever had any negative experience with christians???
“I think it’s a big waste of time. At least for me. But that’s my opinion. Just live life the best you can. Fuck what people think. Whatever you do they will say the Devil made him do it. Sure blame it on the Devil. That’s their way answer to everything. But if it was good then it is God’s will. I say go with the Devil. Writhe in Sin!!!”
Do you have any personal favourite SATHANAS song or do you like them equally? Is there one you wish you would have never recorded???
“That’s tough! We have the older classics like ‘Jaws Of Satan’, ‘Palace Of Belial’, which people are screaming for us to play at shows. But I think I have some new faves like ‘Lead Us Satanas’, ‘Damnations Gate’ are a couple ones that will be on the next CD. The ones we haven’t recorded will probably be recorded in the future anyway. Maybe even better.”
What experiences did you have with the producers (e.g. Buzzy Beck) you worked with already? Do you have one you favor? Do you like working in the studio???
“Yes, Buzzy was the best we had so far. I think we are going to stick with him. He recorded the “Cruentus Diabolos” MCD and the “Thy Dark Heavens” CD, LP. It rolls right along in the studio with him. He knows what we want. Plus he likes the music. That helps. Get some producer that hates this music and says that’s the best I can do with it just to get you out of there.”
What do you think about the Death Metal scene today??? Especially Death / Grind like BRODEQUIN or DYING FETUS is quite trendy at the moment, what do you think about those bands and Death / Grind in general? Do you like their Hip Hop-style clothing or do you wish the true old school spirit would return (spikes, chains, leather…)???
“Not really sure. I mean I don’t know where it is going to go. You will still have the die hards Black, Death Metal heads. But this shit New Metal is also taking over. I don’t know much about Grind. Don’t really listen to it. I personally don’t care about what they wear. We were over in Europe last year. A lot of older Metal heads were at our shows wearing the denim jackets with patches, leather spikes. I fucking loved it!!!”
The US has many amazing Black Metal acts right now, like Wind Of The Black Mountains, Thornspawn, Summon or the legendary ABSU. In my opinion those bands know what the essence of Black Metal is about – pure blasphemous hatred and darkness. Would agree to that??? What do you think about those bands and Black Metal in general?
"Yes! A lot of these Satanic Black Metal bands come out and sing about the woods and trees bla bla bla! That’s not fucking Black Metal to me. It has to have occult topics.”
Do you think that old school Black and Death Metal can once become some sort of trend as well??? What do you think of trends in general? Do Black and Death Metal belong to the Underground???
“Yes! The thing is also these new bands saying they are old school are getting signed. But they are like, have my age. They probably don’t even know who HELLHAMMER is. I think the true Metal will come through so I don’t worry about trends. Death and Black Metal should probably stay somewhat underground. That’s what makes us apart from the fucking fag New Metal shit.”
Considering the long time SATHANAS have been around, I guess you must have quite a lot of live experience. Can you tell us a ridiculous or disgusting anecdote you experienced on tour? What does a SATHANAS show offer the fans? I think you toured Europe once, how was that like and will you return here once in a while???
“Probably watching my drummer throw up in Holland. Quite funny I thought. Also a bunch of drunk Russians was trying to talk to us on the train. Couldn’t understand a thing they said. And they didn’t get the hint to sit down and leave us alone. Almost got into a fight with them. But the conductor came and told them to sit down. SATHANAS shows will have fucking head banging and lots of ripping Black / Death Metal in your face!!! We plan on coming to Europe again next year." (That’s fucking good news!!! – Stefan)
What bands would you like to play with live someday? Are there any legendary acts or bands that have already disbanded you would love to open for???
“Ahhhh!!! EMPEROR would be cool. But they split up. Enthroned, Slayer, Motörhead, maybe. Bands we have played with are Nile, Incantation, Immolation, Deceased, Macabre, Nunslaughter and tons of underground bands.”
Are there any Metal legends you would love to work with if you could??? Maybe Cronos (VENOM), Mille (KREATOR), Tom Araya (SLAYER) or even James Hetfield (METALLICA)???
“Cronos would be great, also Mille. We are doing a KREATOR song on our next CD. I would have to say the best would be Quorthon of BATHORY.”
What are your biggest influences and all-time faves???
“Venom ,Celtic Frost, Possessed, Sodom, Iron Maiden, Sacrifice to name a few. The originators.”
Are there any young, talented underground acts you know and would recommend???
“Not off hand. After hearing a lot of the Black Metal trends coming out I took a break from new shit. But I’m sure there is.”
What were the latest albums you bought? Are you a vinyl junkie or do you favor CDs???
“The last album I bought was KREATOR “Extreme Aggession”. Got it used / good deal. Also INFERNAL MAJESTY “None Shall Defy”. Great album. But I have it on LP. Needed to get the CD, since my needle is broken. I do collect vinyl, but CDs also, so I don’t use the LPs.”
Are there any bands or labels you absolutely despise, because they ripped you off or are arrogant dicks???
“No labels ripped us off. But a few delayed our releases. Afterdark to mention. But it is hard to find a serious label. Since they start making money and instead of putting into the label they put it in their pocket. Then things go down hill. Actually the bass player and I are starting a label in the next year or so. So I’ll see what I can do in this field.”
Do you think one is only Metal, if he looks “Metal” (long hair, spikes, leather or jeans vests with patches…)???
“No. I know tons of clean cut people you would never think would be into this music. Some are good friends of mine. That don’t mean shit. The music is what counts.”
If you could ressurect someone, whom would you bring to life again?
“Vlad Tepes. Cause he was a bad motherfucker!!!”
What’s your biggest dream or wish for the future???
“If I had a dream it would be to start a label promoting extreme bands. And have major fests etc.
Any last words to the fucking maniacs out there??? Anything you wish to add? What will be Sathanas next steps and musical offerings and when can we expect some new stuff???
“Keep an eye out for our next CD. There will be news on it and its release at our site www.geocities.com/sathanas1, Expect new CD in January 2003!! We will be recording it in a month!! Keep the metal flowing!!!”
Interview: Stefan Franke
Intro: Frank Stöver