Hi Volker! What’s going on there in Germany nowadays? What are you going to listen to on the background, while answering the same annoying and repetitive questions you’ve been asked about many times in the past already? (HELLHAMMER – "Satanic Rites" here now!)
"Right now, LORD VICAR – "Fear No Pain" is playing on my stereo. It’s basically the only record I listen to at the moment, at least here at home. In the car I listen to old Hardcore stuff from the 80s, like KILLING TIME or JUDGE. I don’t like too many records that come out nowadays…"
Ok… So what’s going on with WARHAMMER these days? I’ve seen some flyers of your upcoming gigs with great bands like CHILDREN OF TECHNOLOGY recently. Do you perform live a lot nowadays? Are there any plans for a German or European tour to support the new album?
"Well, things are going well for us these days. It is / was a good concert year, with the Finland tour in April / May and in December we will be in Italy again for the third time and also play a festival in the Netherlands. And with the first new album since many years, I’m happy with the way things are right now!"
Glad to hear that! Talking about your new album "No Beast So Fierce", which you’ve just released – who wrote the music and who wrote the lyrics for that one?
"The music was written by our bass player Christoph, who can (of course) also play guitar. The track ‘Total Maniac’, which is up on our MySpace site, was written by me. I wrote all the lyrics this time."
Yeah, it would be weird if all the music was written by a bass player who doesn’t know how to play a guitar, haha! By the way, I was really surprised to see that the older the band gets – the younger members join it. How is it to work with guys who are twice younger than you and Rolf (the drummer)?
"To me it’s the perfect combination! Young blood and old wisdom, hahaha…No, honestly, it works just great. Our younger guys are more connected to the new Metal crowd than I am."
I’ve noticed that the situation is similar in the APOKALYPTIC RAIDS camp as well, hehe. By the way – what’s your opinion about this (in my opinion – killer!) Brazilian band?
"I like the album "The Third Storm" a lot, their older stuff was mediocre to me…"
Is there any chance you see you sharing a split? I think it would be fuckin’ great!
"Honestly never thought about that…"
Great that I gave you this idea then! Talking about APOKALYPTIC RAIDS – in an interview I did with Leon – he told me that it took him more than a decade to make his plans come true and create the thing that is APOKALYPTIC RAIDS. I’ve read in some Russian interview that you’ve taken part in some obscure Speed Metal band called REST IN PEACE already in the 80s. Did you want it to be HELLHAMMER-inspired already back then? Why was it split and are there any chances to see it reissued?
"REST IN PEACE was classical German Speed Metal, it had nothing to do with HELLHAMMER at all. I’m trying to find our demo tape these days, but so far it seems that it may be lost. If I find it again, I will transfer it to CD and make some copies for people, who are interested in hearing it."
That would be nice, count me in! You’ve always had killer bands in Germany and still have also such killer newer bands like NOCTURNAL, OLD, HELLISH CROSSFIRE and more. What could you say about the local scene nowadays vs. in the 80s, from the point of view of shows, unity of the bands and bangers in general etc?
"I don’t care about many new bands, most of them bore me to death. And I’m fed up with "Old School Thrash Metal", because every second band plays that style right now. What I can see right now, is band members becoming arrogant in a stage, where they just have a demo CD out and they already act like rock stars. I can’t understand such "mentality" at all. In the 80s the people were also more open-minded and tolerant than today’s crowd. You can read up on my thoughts about such behaviour in the lyrics to ‘Total Maniac’, 2nd verse…"
Yes, I saw it. Talking about your lyrics, I’ve often noticed that some songs are just re-done HELLHAMMER songs. There are of course more original ones, like ‘The Conqueror Worm’ on the previous album and ‘The Tunguska Riddle’ on "No Beast So Fierce" of course, but on “No Beast So Fierce”, in songs like ‘Warriors Of The Cross’ and ‘Total Maniac’ you even used titles of older works of WARHAMMER as parts of the lyrics. How important are the lyrics in an album in general for you? How long does it usually take you to write / (or rewrite) a song?
"The lyrics are very important to me! ‘The Conqueror Worm’ is based on the movie "The Witchfinder General", like you said, and in the United States it was released under the "Conqueror…" title. I liked the sound of the words and the fact, that this specific title is not so well-known, so I named the song this way. And I just love the movie! The new album has a lot of references to both HELLHAMMER and WARHAMMER. The reason behind this has to do with the fact that this is our 1st new album since 2002 and I wanted to point out that my love for HELLHAMMER and my own band is still as strong as before the break-up in 2002, maybe even stronger. The time it takes for me to write the lyrics for 1 song differs extremely. ‘Imposters For All Times’ took me about 10 minutes, and I still love the lyrics. But sometimes it takes me hours to find one single word that fits perfectly…"
By the way, have you heard my HELLHAMMER-inspired (well not as much as WARHAMMER, hehe) project HELLMENTOR?
"It sounds a bit strange, with bizarre vocals, but interesting and unusual!"
Hahaha, thanks! Before I go as far as the times before you discovered Metal or were even born, let’s go back to the new album’s topic, haha! Personally I was a bit surprised to see such a bizarre artwork. The previous albums’ artworks weren’t as simplistic as this one. Who drew it and are you satisfied with it?
"Well, the idea obviously was to go back to our first album or the HELLHAMMER-record. I think that the cover artwork for "The Doom Messiah" was a good drawing, but too far away from HELLHAMMER, and Nuclear Blast fucked up the artwork for "Curse Of The Absolute Eclipse", when they put the drawing through the computer. You can hardly notice the exploding earth anymore, the way it looks now! Helena Hoffmann from Munich did "No Beast So Fierce"… And, yeah, I like it a lot!"
Well, there’s another question I fell compelled to ask concerning this sick artwork. Is it only my fucked up imagination, or could it be that the gas-mask on the "crucified death" (well it’s not SITTING death, is it?) inspired by the "bestial war vomit goat gas mask Black Death Metal" stuff like BLASPHEMY and the likes?
"The gas mask was Helena’s idea. I don’t know if she’s into BLASPHEMY or their artworks, but I doubt about it."
Do you know what Christoph’s main inspiration was during the process of writing these songs? (If only HELLHAMMER, so at least be more exact, hahaha!)
"Well, this is what Christoph told me: "There wasn’t any purposed or focused inspiration. I usually orientated myself on old WARHAMMER songs. Together with the feeling of how to play such kind of songs that I obtained during the years with WARHAMMER, there was an unconscious source of inspiration, which I didn’t calculate or made thoughts about in the time before starting to write…"
As far as I know – Florian (Thrash Attack zine / Dying Victims Productions) is going to make the tape version. Who’ll be responsible for the vinyl? Will all of them feature the same artwork?
"High Roller Records from Germany is putting out the vinyl, with a bonus 7" EP, containing 3 cover versions. Yes, the same artwork will be used for these 2 releases as well."
Could you please spill more light on the covers that are on the 7“?
"Well, on the A-side will be ‘Sphynx’ by the German band POISON. I won’t reveal the 2 songs on the B-side yet, just wait and see (or hear)…"
Killer!!! I definitely will hear it! By the way, in recent years WARHAMMER’s materials got reissued on CD format through the Polish Metal Mind label and on tape (dunno who did it). Are all these official and approved releases? Was only the debut bootlegged?
"I think Metal Mind got authorization from Nuclear Blast, but I’m not sure. The tapes that came out are official and with our approval. The bootleg from Chile of "The Winter Of Our Discontent" is the only "real" bootleg I know of."
Talking about bootlegs – they’ve played a very important role in the destiny of HELLHAMMER. Have you been collecting them during the years, or do you still stick to the old original demos or dubs?
"To be honest, I don’t listen much to HELLHAMMER anymore, because of the millions of hours that we tried to search for the right guitar sound etc. in the various studios. I’ve ruined it for me personally, so to speak. And the various releases, bootlegs, whatever, never bothered me much…"
Now you really surprised me! And still, what’s your opinion about "Demon Entrails"?
"Looks beautiful, with many cool pics. The sound though is not spectacularly different than it always sounded."
Soon the HELLHAMMER book is going to be released as well. What are your expectations and what do you think about Fischer’s views on this project, that seem to change only when he notices that there’s probably more interest in this band than in 90% of CELTIC FROST stuff and it could bring easy cash?
"Yeah, he denied it for ages, and now it’s okay. Maybe it’s for money reasons, but, to be honest, I don’t care!"
And have you ever got any feedback form Warrior or from Ain? If yes, what do they think about WARHAMMER?
"I have read what Tom said about us in TERRORIZER mag. Well, everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, so I have my own thoughts about WARHAMMER – and he has different ones…"
Is there any chance to see "The Winter Of Our Discontent" released on vinyl again? And will the "Live Massacre" DVD be reprinted? In general – what WARHAMMER releases / merch are available nowadays from the band or other official and honest distributors?
"I hate "The Winter Of Our Discontent", so I won’t put any effort in a re-release. The "Live Massacre" DVD was supposed to be re-released by Largactyl Records, but they have broken up contact with us, so I don’t know what’s going on with those guys… Nuclear Blast made digipak re-releases of "Deathchrist", "The Doom Messiah" and "Curse Of The Absolute Eclipse"."
What is that you hate about "The Winter…" so much?
"Well, first of all, the production / sound. The guitar sounds like shit and the bass is just too much / too loud. And I’m unhappy with my part on this album: you can’t try to sound like Tom Warrior and not make one single "Uh", scream or anything in that direction. Haven’t you noticed: the only thing you hear from me are the lyrics, nothing else. And the beginning of ‘Devastion Of Silent Resistence’ would be perfect for everything, screams, howls, etc. Now it’s totally boring as hell, because it feels like years, till my vocals set in…"
Talking about the DVD – I must admit I was expecting it to be way more interesting, to see more interaction with the crowd, more crowd (!) and at least some Thrashers going really wild and not just a bunch of them banging their heads near the stage form time to time. Does it happen often that the crowd is so calm and harmless during gigs in your area?
"Well, I think I can explain that, because you’re right. The whole "Steel Meets Steel" festival, where the DVD was shot, had very few visitors. And it was structured in a way that 2 bands played at the same time, on 2 different stages. And we played simultaneously with VORTEX from the Netherlands. And VORTEX played this festival the year before, and the organisators made an election like: "Which band do you want to see again in 2007?". VORTEX won this election. The stage where they played was much smaller than ours was. I heard there were approx. 50 or 60 people watching VORTEX. Like I said, the festival was not well frequented. We played in the big hall in front of a small audience, because, after all, more people wanted to see VORTEX that night."
Now back to the past, if you don’t mind. As far as I’m concerned – you weren’t that satisfied with the earlier works of WARHAMMER, since you claimed that it didn’t sound similar enough to HELLHAMMER (I disagree!). How do you record your songs nowadays and what’s your personal favorite WARHAMMER release so far?
"Like I said earlier, I can’t stand "The Winter Of Our Discontent". From our old albums, I like "The Doom Messiah" the most. But my new favourite is the actual one "No Beast So Fierce"… And the people know that I was never the one to say that about every WARHAMMER album when it came out! I think the guitar sound is just insane this time, we never had a better and more brutal sounding guitar! And Christoph wrote fantastic riffs! We did something new with the trilogy that ends the album, but basically no HELLHAMMER / WARHAMMER fan will be disappointed."
Now – 2 inevitable questions! What actually happened between you and Frank "Necros II" Krynojewski?
"Well, I won’t talk about that. We were friends for a long time – now we’re not. Everything, that happened back then, concerned only the band members, so it’s not in my interest to share it with any interview readers."
The 2nd question is about your cooperation with Nuclear Blast. How did you manage to reach such a summit as this huge label? Did they show much support back when WARHAMMER was signed with them?
"We would have NEVER played WACKEN two times back then without Nuclear Blast, I think. And some other good things were also possible with their cooperation. We were first on Grind Syndicate Media, which are distributed by Blast, and then the next logical step was to try it on Blast itself. We decided to do the new one ourselves, because now we own a lot of CDs that belong to the band and I can sell my own stuff at concerts. The big labels give you 50 copies, they are sold very quickly and then you have to buy your own CDs, and this time I wanted to do it another way."
And as someone who has experienced both the D.I.Y. and the label-supported way, which in your opinion is better for the band, especially today, that CDs hardly sell?
"It both has arguments for and against. The main reason for the decision to try it ourselves was the fact that any label would give us about 50 CDs or so, and then you have no more to sell at your own concerts. But as far as the distribution goes, a label can be the better choice. Of course, only if they get their ass up and really try to support the band, which is not always the case, as I’ve heard over the years. Anyway, we try it ourselves this time and see where it will lead us. And it’s too early now to say whether it was a good or a bad choice."
I’ve always wondered what attracted other people to HELLHAMMER so much. Personally in my case it was the raw and ugly atmos-fear and monster-like sounding overdriven bass sound of "Death Fiend" and "Triumph Of Death" demos. What made this band so outstanding for you?
"They were very different than all other bands. Their limited musical quality gave room for extremity, darkness, brutality and rawness. I am proud to create similar music, and although I could picture myself doing other Metal stuff, WARHAMMER will remain the most important thing I have ever achieved musically."
So, are there any chances to see you taking part in any different band in the near future?
"I’m planning something at the moment, but it’s way too early to tell anything concrete, just an interesting idea that crossed my mind. But I’m not sure if it’s gonna be a "band"…"
Well, now probably the toughest question – what’s your favorite HELLHAMMER song EVER?!
"No, that’s an easy question for me: ‘The Third Of The Storms (Evoked Damnation)’, the version from "Apocalyptic Raids"."
Now it’s gonna get only easier… Favorite 10 albums ever?
"Here are my 20 favourite Metal releases, if that’s okay for you, in an alphabetical order: BATHORY – "Bathory", CARNIVORE – "Carnivore", EXCITER – "Heavy Metal Maniac", HELLHAMMER – "Apocalyptic Raids", IRON MAIDEN – "Iron Maiden" / "Killers", IRON MAN – "Generation Void", LIVING DEATH – "Vengeance Of Hell", MANILLA ROAD – "Crystal Logic", MERCYFUL FATE – "Don’t Break The Oath", METAL CHURCH – "Metal Church", MOTÖRHEAD – "Beerdrinkers", NASTY SAVAGE – "Nasty Savage", OMEN – "Battle Cry", RUNNING WILD – "Gates To Purgatory" / "Black Hand Inn", SAVAGE DEATH "Mass Genocide" demo, THE LORD WEIRD SLOUGH FEG – "Traveller", TWISTED SISTER – "Under The Blade" and WHIPLASH – "Power And Pain"."
Well, I’m out of questions! Any last words, beside "Only Death Is Real"?
"Every WARHAMMER fan, who feels awkward towards us putting out a new album: give it a try at least and then decide for yourself. Anyone’s opinion, who dislikes it after listening to it, will be respected. But check it out at least, I’m sure, most of you motherfuckas will love it!! Thanxx to you, Sergei, for this interview!!"
Interview: Sergei Pismeny