This year's greatest news was definitely the long awaited Sacred Reich reunion! What made you guys decide to work together again?
After getting together to work on the re-release we thought it would be fun to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the original release of 'Ignorance' and do some shows.
Has the re-release of the 'Ignorance' album got anything to do with the forthcoming reunion gigs, or would it be released anyway, even when there were no reunion plans or whatsoever?
We had been planning on re-releasing 'Ignorance' and 'Surf Nicaragua' for a while. It took longer than we expected to put all the pieces together. With it coming out in '07 instead of last year it coincided with the 20th Anniversary of the original release and a good excuse to do some shows and have a party with some old friends.
You reunited for the first time back in 1997 which resulted in the live album 'Still Ignorant'. Exactly what went wrong back in 2000 to finally pull the plug, only three years after your first reunion?
I don't know if I'd call drummer Greg Hall joining the band again in '97 a reunion. We were offered some gigs and our drummer at the time Chuck lived in Boston. The promoter called Greg and got us all back together. So we were playing and decided to record a few nights and it turned into Still Ignorant. We had been playing for a while and things just seemed to be winding down. I hadn't written any new songs and the enthusiasm for what we were doing wasn't there. It's not so much that things went wrong it just felt like they had run their course.
Let us dive into the past a bit further. In 1986 to be exactly. You released the 'Draining You Of Life'- demo and were asked by Brian Slagel (Metal Blade) to record some stuff for his 'Metal Massacre VIII' compilation album. What can you say about those early days? Did the 'Metal Massacre' recordings lead to your record deal with Metal Blade?
We did our demo and then our original guitar player Jeff Martinek left. Greg had been in another band with Wiley Arnett (guitarist) and asked him to join Sacred Reich. Metal Blade heard our demo and wanted to put the song 'Sacred Reich' on MMVIII. We wanted to re-record the song with Wiley playing and we had a brand new song we wanted to record as well. So we recorded both songs with the new line-up and Metal Blade liked the new one. They wound up putting 'Ignorance' as the first song on Metal Massacre 8. They got a good response to the song and offered us a record deal soon after that.
A year later, you released 'Ignorance' Sacred Reich's highly respected debut album. What do you think of this album nowadays? If you would do it again, what would be different?
I like the record. It is fast and heavy. It is definitely of it's time. Some of the lyrics are a little silly, but that record was written when I was 16 or 17. I hear a huge Slayer influence, which is not a bad thing. Greg is an awesome drummer. I wish the guitars were a little louder. Still, pretty good for a debut record.
When the album was released, did any of you guys think that the album would have such an impact, and that it would be re-released in such a beautiful package exactly twenty years later?
We were happy that anyone would buy it! We still are! We have been fortunate to find an audience that appreciates what we do. The fact that anyone is still interested 20 years later is amazing to me. We are very lucky.
Songs like 'Death Squad' and 'Ignorance' are still Sacred classics. These songs will definitely be on your set list, aren't they?
Of course. When people come to a show they want to hear certain songs and we want to oblige them. We can't play every song we ever wrote, but by now we know what the people want to hear.
A song that also will be played live is of course 'Surf Nicaragua', the title track of the mini CD released in 1988. This mini CD (also included on the 'Ignorance' re-release) showed a slightly different sound. The hardcore influences were gone and the band sounded much more mature. What made you guys decide to leave the 'Ignorance' sound behind?
It sounds like a cliché but the answer is natural progression. We were moving forward as songwriters and adding new elements to our sound. We tried to get better both lyrically and musically.
In 1989 you played for the first time at Dynamo Open Air for over 20.000 metalheads. The absolute highlight in your career?
It's got to be right at the top. I can't think of anything that tops it, but there have other shows that stick in my head for different reasons. The first time we played Dynamo was just a special moment for us. There was a level of acceptance on a much larger scale than we were used to. The day was perfect, from the beautiful weather, to the crowd reaction, to the other bands we played with who were very cool. I put on 'Alive at the Dynamo' the other day and started laughing. There is a part when I ask the crowd what do you want to hear? and loud as shit you hear them yell Death Squad!. That was cool!
The DVD from that concert (the third disc in the package) is great. Both band and fans are totally crazy. I bet you did lots of fans a very big pleasure by releasing this video, especially for the Dutch metal fans!
I hope the people that were there remember it as fondly as we do. As for the people who couldn't make it to Eindhoven, now they can at least see the show.
Your second album 'The American Way' was your world wide break through album. Are there any plans for a re-release on that one?
We would love to, and we're trying to get the rights back to that record. It's pretty messed up that the record is out of print and the record company won't print some up, or at least grant the rights to someone who will. It's very frustrating.
In August you will be back in Eindhoven when you play in the Dynamo club. What can we expect from that gig? Will you play only songs of your first three releases ('Ignorance', 'Surf Nicaragua' and 1990's 'American Way')? Can we expect any brand new songs perhaps?
We will focus on the older songs. We don't have any new material, so sorry, no new songs. Hopefully we won't suck! (laughs). I just expect to play some fun gigs and have a good time with everyone.
After the European gigs, what will happen than with Sacred Reich? Any plans for a new album?
After these shows we have nothing planned. We have all moved forward from the band days and Sacred Reich is not the priority it once was. I really don't see a new record in the future, but we will continue to pursue the rights to the older records and hopefully be able to release 'The American Way' at some point. I just say lets enjoy it while it lasts.