Sickos TEARS OF DECAY recently completed their first CD for Cudgel Agency called ‘Saprophyt’, a cool piece of brutal Death Metal the American way. With this record they once again proved that the East Frisian scene is alive and kickin’! Consequently, I had to ask their singer "Mr. Deichkot", Michael Eden, a couple of questions. He turned out to be a humorous interview partner indeed but didn’t reply in English, so what you get is my first attempt to translate a text into English. Hope you enjoy!
How did you get in touch with Heavy Metal? Was it a certain record, a concert… ? Which was your first Metal record and your first concert ever? And who is responsible for your first fix of Metal?
"About 15 years ago I discovered bands like IRON MAIDEN, HELLOWEEN, METALLICA, RUNNING WILD, PRETTY MAIDS, etc. Somebody from my handball team used to listen to that shit and I was fascinated. Well, very soon he lost his interest while I stayed in the scene. I started listening to Metal fairly soon but I never had the money to buy anything, so I guess my first record was INCUBUS – "Beyond The Unknown" or EXHORDER – "Slaughter Of The Vatican". My first concert was KREATOR around 1990. Might have been earlier, who remembers? I had my first shit with two days, hehe. As I already mentioned, a guy from the handball team is to blame, I was about 14 years old. But actually a classmate influenced me much more by playing SLAYER, KREATOR and ANTHRAX to me and finally taped the first DEATH album for me. That was it for me! That sound never let me go again. I guess there are many people around who feel the same, although I saw many come and go. Many were just surfing along on the wave, but very soon I lost their sight."
What made you start a band? Was TEARS… your first band or did you play somewhere else before? If so, what style did you play back then?
"Christian from ANASARCA, now MEATKNIFE, had founded a band called MISERY DEATH back then. There I sang and drank. Christian and I were always partying, hehe. I was kicked out because I couldn’t grunt in those days. Quite a long time ago, I was around 18 / 19 years old, so that must have been around 1992 / 1993. Long, long ago. We were already playing Death Metal, fairly old-school. I had joined the band only because Christian was a friend of mine, otherwise I wouldn’t have dared."
Tell us about the founding days of TEARS… when and how did you meet the other guys, was it always the same line-up, how did you decide on the style you would be playing together? Did you have the same favourite bands and if so, are they still your No.1 heroes?
"Well, the history of TEARS… is so easy and yet so complicated, just like the menstruation, hehe (referring to a rather silly commercial on German TV – Ramon). Henne and I met at a party and were friends immediately, although he was three years younger than me. We had both some experiences from other bands and wanted to start something together. So we rented a bunker where we were drinking and listening to music. In 1997 Henne recruited our drummer Dirk who was only 15 or 16 years old at that time. We started playing a little and drinking even more, hehe. Henne knew Steffen from his band MISTRUST and we had two guitarists, a drummer and a singer. Just missing a bass player. For a short time we had one and a second singer, but somehow that didn’t work out. Well, the band went to Wacken to party and there a completely drunk Henne brought us Jörg from Rheine, played something to him and he was absolutely enthusiastic about it! We became friends very soon and finally, TEARS… was born. We always had the same line-up and it’s gonna remain like this, because it’s all about friendship within the band. Of course everybody does his own thing and there are disagreements, but you can always rely on the boys and you don’t have this very often anymore these days. The style came up naturally as Henne writes the music and everybody has the same taste, the American style, but also things like VADER or KREATOR. Of course we have our favourites, but I can only speak for myself, but in general everybody in the band loves: CRYPTOPSY. Nothing comes near, maybe the godlike SUFFOCATION, but nothing else. Henne and I have more or less the same taste, but he also likes SLIPKNOT and KORN, etc. (grmblfjx! – Ramon) I’m the Death / Grind freak and I love it when somebody’s blasting, hehe. I’m not a musician, so it’s just the general impression I’m interested in. Dirk likes everything, he also plays in a Punk band. Jörg is a big Grind fan: CARCASS, old NAPALM DEATH, EXHUMED. Steffen listens to everything in the Death Metal sector, even the melodic stuff and sometimes even Gothic! This mixture makes our sound."
Where did you get your incredible drummer? Great Death Metal drummers must be growing on the dikes of East Frisia everywhere…
"Yes, that’s right, everywhere else they’re growing on the trees but here… Probably this has something to do with the romantic North Sea, hehe. No, Dirk is a natural talent because he plays many other instruments as well. It’s really great luck that we met him and he even improved since then! We’re happy to have such a fast drummer because this way we can increase brutality. Sometimes he has to become a little slower because our guitars can’t play that fast! If you consider him coming from the Punk scene that’s even more amazing! But Dirk from DESPONDENCY and INGURGITATING OBLIVION has become impressive as well, ANASARCA’s drummer is another fast guy, the drummer in MORSGATT / FEARER / SATANS BLOOD is great as well and the drummers from MEATKNIFE and NEPHASTUS are getting better all the time, too. Probably because of the good maritime air, hehe."
What were your first steps as a band: did you start recording right away or did you rather play live? Was it all original songs from the beginning or did you play many cover tunes?
"Well, of course we started rehearsing like any other band. Then we played our first gig over here in Emden together with ANASARCA and then we decided to record a demo, more or less just for us and our friends so that we had released something. Then Cudgel approached us and the rest is history. Reviews were quite cool and so everything went well. We started writing songs immediately and never did any covers, probably because we can’t rehearse very often, only once a month."
Did you release any demos prior to "Redemption"? If so, how did they sell or did you send them out for promotional use only?
"No, we never released anything before "Redemption". That was our first record."
How were the reactions on "Redemption", did you sell many via mail or did you rather sell them at gigs?
"The reactions were very positive, you can’t put it differently, we didn’t really expect that. We got rid off all the CDs. Most of them of course to friends and at concerts. At first our own CD-Rs, then the Cudgel pressing. We sold 100 pieces to Pagan Winter Productions. Because of their and Cudgel’s promotion we played a couple of gigs and sold the rest. We can really be content with that."
How did you get your deal with Cudgel Agency?
"Well, sometimes you just have to get on the people’s nerves and everything works out. I simply sent out a lot and Cudgel was the best label we could get, the only one as well, hehe. We had other offers, mainly labels from foreign countries, but that seemed to be a little risky. Cudgel is more like a family you can rely on for sure. That’s why we’re so glad, and our friends from PROFANITY are with Cudgel, too as well as KADATH (Hi, Gesuz) who we know, and of course Nasenluder Ronny and his gang (MALEDICTIVE PIGS). The label is really cool because Jens and Besen are real freaks. Unfortunately they live in quite a distance, so we can’t meet very often."
I was lucky enough to see you live at the Ear Terror Festival last year and was quite impressed although Henne had severe technical problems with his guitars everybody was going crazy. So I guess you like playing live a lot? Or was it just the atmosphere of your hometown Emden?
"Yes, we like playing live. I mean, that’s what it’s all about! I mean, if you’re a fan like me you want the band you love to give everything they got, no matter how many people show up. That’s what we’re trying all the time. The gig in Emden was even better because there were so many friends around. Henne’s problems unfortunate but didn’t take away our fun. You somehow have to cope. Personally, I love playing in Switzerland above all (Greetings to everybody, you know who you are – Metal Die Hard Front Bern), because the people go absolutely crazy and don’t watch your fingers all the time, instead, they go mad both in front of the stage as well as on stage. We always take the long hard trip upon ourselves in order to get there. Kill, fuck, die!"
Talking about playing live… what do you prefer: playing live, writing songs or recording songs? Why?
"Of course I enjoy playing live the most because you get the chance of meeting people and making new contacts. You always meet people as sick as I am. I would love to be playing every weekend, but then my wife and my daughter to come would probably kill me. That would help nobody, maybe my employer, hehe. Live you’re so close to the audience and you get this special feeling."
How do you write songs? Do you jam in the rehearsal room or do you sit down and take a sheet of paper and a pencil…
"Because we don’t have the time (and it won’t be getting better) we write the songs at home, meet at the rehearsal room and go crazy. Henne recently moved to Walsrode, Dirk is going to do his civil service in Hamburg and Jörg lives in Bochum anyway, so we can rehearse every 3 weeks only. Usually Henne comes up with the ideas and then we work on them until everybody is satisfied. Then Jörg gets the song and and states his opinion. We’re an absolutely democratic band, that’s the way it should be, I couldn’t do it differently."
Musically, how did you approach the new album "Saprophyt"? I heard a few people complaining that the guitarists were not really tight on "Redemption". Did you hear those voices as well and take them seriously?
"Well, we always have problems with the guitars when recording. "Redemption" was our first recording and we didn’t have any experience and the guitars’ co-ordination doesn’t sound quite perfect. With "Sapophyt" we improved that, unfortunately the guitars turned out to be not loud enough. Somehow there was no other way. I mean, we’re satisfied the way it turned out and we know we can do better. Kai (from HARMONY DIES – thanks, Burschi) re-mixed it once again. He came here from Berlin just for this. He really knows how to do it. Pluto from Poserslaughter Records mastered everything and now we’re really satisfied and we’re waiting for the reactions."
Can you inform us about the lyrics of the new album, e. g.: what does "Saprophyt" mean, what inspires your lyrics generally and what inspired you for the lyrics this time? How important are the lyrics for TEARS…? What about ‘Kill, Fuck, Die’? A message to Blackie Lawless and W.A.S.P. about their worst album ever?
"Sapophyt" means corpse eater, not human but organic. It’s a great name, short and catchy. Jörg wrote the lyrics, turning against society. I wrote the rest of the lyrics. They’re against religion and their existence, the existence of god and and against society. Rather socially critical. I don’t like gore lyrics that much. I mean, I like them, but they don’t fit for TEARS. This time they’re even printed in the booklet. They’re important to me because I wrote them, but they’re not important for TEARS. The music stands in the foreground as long as there is no right- or left wing propaganda involved. It’s the blasting that counts, we’re not writing any ballads! I wrote ‘Kill, Fuck, Die’ to thank the people from Switzerland because they always supported us. ‘Kill, Fuck, Die’ is their war cry. Once again: greetings and stay as you are! The lyrics are about Death Metal and the underground."
What’s the story behind the title track and the hidden track? They’re both called ‘Saprophyt’? And why "hidden" track? It’s right after the outro (thank god, I hate hidden tracks!)
"Well, first of all: the hidden track is called ‘Schuppenficker’, hehe, a fun song, probably I made a mistake when I wrote down the track list for you. The song follows right after the outro and will not be mentioned on the CD’s track list. We wanted to record a funny song because we like making jokes, hehe. Live it’s always a hit and we do have more of that sort. Maybe one day we might record those songs but not under TEARS OF DECAY but TUNTEN OF DARKNESS. It’s just fun, dedicated to the porn movie of the same title."
Unfortunately I only have a b/w cover of the new CD, but I don’t think I like it very much. Who is the artist and in what sense is it connected with the lyrics and the music on the album?
"The cover was made by Thomas Westphahl, my boss at Necromaniac zine and I like it a lot! We, especially Jörg, wanted to have something in the "Scum" vein and Tommy did a great job. It’s supposed to portrait the corrupted society and it’s closely connected to the lyrics of "Sapophyt". Of course that’s a matter of taste, but we like it. It’s different from all those gore covers. I think he did a great job and he designed the covers for FEARER, MORSGATT, MEATKNIFE, etc. The CD will be released with an 8 pages booklet he designed as well."
What are your plans for the near future? Any touring activities already confirmed or maybe a festival, for example Cudgel’s very own "Fuck The Commerce"?
"Unfortunately not. I would love to play the Fuck… but there are too many bands that applied this year. Maybe next year as we have played there in the past already. Due to the time we only played one gig this year but that’s gonna change. In June we’ll probably play in Wermelskirchen, in July there will be a short tour with our friends from GOREZONE of two or three dates. In September we’ll play at the ‘Morbide Festspiele’, then a weekend tour and a festival in France in November. We’re ready to go 100% again!"
What’s your opinion on the current Extreme Metal scene in East Frisia? It wasn’t always as vivid as today, right? What are your favourite bands around?
"Well, the East Frisian scene is just absolutely great, you won’t believe it. I made a sampler with East Frisian bands two years ago, but the scene became even better, especially concerning the brutal stuff. ANASARCA are taking a break right now but there are MEATKNIFE, MORSGATT, FEARER, NEPHASTUS, GALLERY OF DARKNESS, DESPONDENCY, INGURGITATING OBLIVION, ACT OF FATE, BK49… they all make great, sick music. The scene is unbelievable! I get along very well with everybody and I’m always trying to push them who wants to know more about it, contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org or take a look at www.deichrecords.de! That site will be improved very soon, I’m running it with Torsten Nieland from ACT OF FATE / GALLERY OF DARKNESS / GOREZONE. The scene has greatly improved and I like them all, especially DESPONDENCY because they play this DEEDS OF FLESH style. But today I will receive the new GALLERY OF DARKNESS and I’m really looking forward to that. Long live East Frisian underground! Oh, NEPHASTUS is a Black / Death band with potential as well."
Maybe I shouldn’t ask about politics, but as it affects us every day, I don’t want to get around it today: I heard there are quite a few Nazis, especially in Emden. But at the Ear Terror festival I didn’t spot any. How do you keep the scene clean, do you have any trouble with that? This topic used to be discussed in the big magazines for some time on a general level, then it disappeared all of a sudden.
"Yeah you spot those brown Nazi pigs everywhere. I’ve become a man of the family and don’t go to town in the evening very often anymore and prefer going to concerts. But there is a Nazi scene in Emden and East Frisia, but they don’t dare to try anything big. Every now and then somebody gets beaten up, but they have to pay back for sure because normal people strike back. You don’t have to be a left wing extremist to hate Nazis, I really have to make that clear. Usually only violence helps. Until now I have never been caught by them, don’t know why, maybe I was always at the right place at the right time, but I know many who were beaten up. Fortunately the police is better prepared by now, they arrest them. At concerts in Emden or Leer they don’t show up because we stand together and they would get some serious trouble. Fascism is a problem of society, parents and teachers have to know their responsibility. I mean, you should confront your kids early with pictures of concentration camps and tell them what foreigners did for our country, etc. You can’t blame the youth for everything, although everybody is responsible for his own deeds. You know how it feels to be accepted in a group and that’s just the same for them. The last means is violence. I despise violence but sometimes there is no other way. Punishment for such deeds should become more strict. I’m against the brown swamp. That’s why I did the sampler "Never Again – German Death Metal Bands Against Fascism."
Please tell us a funny story connected with TEARS OF DECAY.
"There are no funny stories because we’re having fun all the time, hehe. I can’t offer anything to you right now. You’d have to ask the people we were on tour with, like PROFANITY and MENTAL ABERRATION, hehe, they could tell you a couple of stories. We’re a party band, not quite as we used to be, but we’re booked for the fun, hehe. Talking shit is our hobby and there is nobody normal in the band, as soon as one of us enters the room, off it goes, mental aberration starts."
Here is some space in case you have to mention something I didn’t ask about
"Okay, Ramon, thanks for the interview and go ahead with Voices… cool online mag. Release it as a printed one again! Greetings to everybody I know, especially my wife Helga whose birthday was on the 18th of April. Today she’s going to celebrate it we will be playing there. Support the underground, fight Nazis and produce many children, Death Metal needs new blood. Send questions about the scene and orders of the "Never Again" sampler to my email address. Keep your heads up, visit our concerts and all the others, drink a lot and stay clean. Our CD will be out in June or July." Contact: www.tears-of-decay.de