Hails and welcome back on the thrash front and the new album 'God May Show You Mercy… We Will Not'. Let's go back in time a little bit, to 1983 when Minotaur was born. At that time German thrash was in great development and brought a new generation of bands, so at least no one can say that Minotaur was trying to copy Kreator for example. It did however take a few demos until finally in 1988 'Power Of Darkness was released. At that time the genre had taken form and a lot of bands had more or less established their names. That was of course a disadvantage for Minotaur! What was the reason that it took five years to release your first full length album?
Well, several line-up changes hit us back, and we hail from Hamburg, not from the “Ruhrpott”. All other bands becoming famous during that time hail from Essen, Düsseldorf, Velbert, Aachen etc. Not even one band was based in our northern area of the republic.
If I'm correct you also had some back luck with Roadrunner Records. I can imagine that it was a great disappointment for you, seeing that some of the colleague bands that started at the same time had already gained a certain status! How do you look back at that period?
You are right. It was a bad and hard experience seeing Violent Force and Paradox releasing albums during the same time we got a written contract with RR too. Cees Wessels hated us for the reason that we gave the contract to a lawyer looking through it and changing some of the contract items. For that reason we never released an album on RR. Today I'm happy that it turned out this way.
Eventually you ended up releasing 'Power Of Darkness' yourself as a very limited edition. To be honest, Minotaur belonged to the bands that rang a bell, but I didn't remember and after going through my old cassettes for hours I found a few tracks of 'Power Of Darkness'. However, up to this day those are some of the finest thrash from the eighties. What was at that time your motivation to play this kind of aggressive music?
I think we all grew up with “new” American bands as Slayer, Possessed, Exciter, Dark Angel, Death, Hallows Eve, Anthrax, and this music mixed up with the old NWOBHM stuff turned to sound like Minotaur.
Unfortunately Minotaur belonged to the category “Long-forgotten” bands like Iron Angel, Living Death or Deathrow. All of these bands, as well as Minotaur, showed great potential but never managed to get as far as Germany's giant-trio Sodom, Kreator and Destruction. Have you ever wondered what would have become of Minotaur if things had gone differently back in the eighties?
Maybe we could have been as big, famous and well known as Kreator and Sodom, but I think what we did was okay. It was true and it is still true. We don´t think too much about new songs. It's still 1, 2, 3, 4 let's go, and it's the same way if we gonna play live. We don't need no pyro shows or 20,000 watt lightning riggs. We just go out kicking ass and having a great time with the audience.
For the five following years after 'Power Of Darkness' you released a few demos, but in 1993 the band vanished from the face of the earth. What can you tell us about the spilt?
After the POD release we officially released only one 7” single ('Towards My Eternity' / 'Total Decay' released on Remedy Records). In 1992 we all had so many private and/or health problems that we thought it would be better to take a rest. In 1993 I reformed Minotaur with a complete new line-up and we recorded and released the 'Welcome to...' album on Molon Lave Records. After the release we toured on the roads of Europe till 1995. During that point of time I decided to stop the `taur experiment and gave the `taur a time to sleep. In 2001 Andy, Alf and me met the first time again at Wacken Open Air. After nine, ten or eleven beers we thought it should be a great idea to wake the ´taur from his sleep and then we really started songwriting and rehearsing again.
The first sign of life came with the four-way split EP 'Don't Burn The Witch…' with Toxic Holocaust, Evil Angel and Goat Messiah! When did you start thinking about bringing Minotaur back to life and of course what was the main reason for that.
See a little bit above question. The reason or the thing that got me moving was something which is hard to explain. I didn't want to leave the scene I've been in for about the last twenty years without setting a mark or so. I did a great goodbye show with the Totment guys as they invited me to the Metal Bash Festival 2004 and saying THANX to me for spending the last nine years together. I really appreciated that, but I thought that I was a loser when not even trying to get Minotaur back on its feet.
That brings us to the new album 'God May Show You Mercy… We Will Not'! Of course it is obvious that real thrash has been making a comeback during the last couple of years, so some people might call your return as “convenient” and a good way to make some money or something! But listening to the new album we can clearly hear that it's not the case. For hell's sake! Listening to the album I thought that time had stood still for the past twenty years!!! The band has not changed a bit and that's a real relief to be honest. It even makes me wonder if the tracks were written twenty years ago and never got released…
Thanks for the nice words. That was our driving force. We wanted to do an album sounding like good, true old school thrash metal. We tried to do the songwriting in this way, we recorded nearly everything live (without any dubs, keys etc) and we even asked our old producer Joszi Sorokowski (who recorded the POD with us) if we would like to produce a new album with us. He had not recorded any album during the last ten years, but he was in a frenzy as we asked him and so the story goes.
What can you tell us about the recording process? I mean, the album sounds raw and old school and so intense that it's like you recorded the album in one take. It also looks as if you didn't want anything to do with modern recording techniques or equipment!
See again...answer above. Yeah, you are totally right. Nearly every song was recorded live and as one take. We rent an old building with a huge cellar and recorded these powerful drums there with tons of room mics giving that sound. We never wanted any computer programmed drum shit samples, 47 splitted guitars and harmonized vocals. We are old school and we are true to be.
Next to your own songs the album contains a cover version of W.A.S.P.'s 'Animal 'Fuck Like A Beast'. I find it a bit remarkable that this song was written in the same year that Minotaur was born! But anyway, didn't you plan to record Judas Priest's 'Grinder' instead?
How could you know that? Yeah, we did Grinder too (as some other stuff like HM maniac from Exciter also), but we did 'Animal' a few times during soundcheck for live shows and anyone knows the lyrics: ”I got pictures of naked ladies lying on my bed”, so we chose this tune.
From the music and lyrics nothing has changed and Minotaur is still an aggressive thrash band with fitting themes. But when you look at yourselves as musicians and the vision and enthusiasm that drove you to make music; what is different now than the mid-eighties?
For this question I speak only for myself. In the 80ies I'd have liked to be more successful. For now I'm happy to play in this band with Andy and Alf. We are having a great time being out playing live. I'm enjoying it much more than twenty years ago. These days we even got hotels to sleep in, getting paid for playing, having free food & drinks. It's just a memorable time to me.
Of course the whole situation with downloading stuff shouldn't be unfamiliar to you. It goes without saying many musicians are angry and displeased with this “piracy”, but don't you think that for smaller, newer or less-known bands like Minotaur this can also have a positive effect? I mean, this way you can reach a bigger audience, who otherwise would never had heard your music! And of course, isn't it much like the whole tape-trading thing back in the days?
I grew up in this tape trading era. We all were happy that friends gave our demos to friends, other musicians etc. So the whole thing got wide exposure. I think the Internet and downloads are nothing else. Okay, it has become more and more, but 20 years ago we thought it was cult and cool and OK and these days we going to want to fuck the Internet. I think it doesn't work this way. Without our website, news and shop fans worldwide wouldn't have that fast chance to get in touch with the bands, buying merchandise etc.
In your years of absence, did you keep an eye of what was going on in the scene? In Particular also what your old colleagues like Andreas Babuschkin and Lars Ramcke did and are doing with their bands Paragon and Stormwarrior.
Well, we are meeting often at metal shows in Hamburg. We are saying hello, having a beer together, but then everyone looks after his own band. Both Paragon as Stormwarrior releasing albums, being on tour, but I cannot say anything about their actual success. To be honest I don't give a shit about theses bands.
In my opinion the whole (Scandinavian) melodic thrash thing that kept growing in the second half of the nineties killed the true essence of thrash. Your opinion on this matter please.
I think thrash has to sound brutal, aggressive, like a fistful of metal. I don't like double twin guitar soli in thrash songs. If I want to hear this I take an Iron Maiden album.
How do you look at the scene nowadays? Do you have any favourite new bands or are you still listening more to the old stuff?
I listen to old stuff for about75 percent ,but new bands as Nocturnal, Omission, Witchburner, Hellish Crossfire, they also rock the scene.
If I'm correct I Hate Records will (finally) re-release 'Power Of Darkness' later this year. Can you tell us more about this? I mean, will the album have only the original tracks as the 1988 version or can we expect some demo- or unreleased stuff as well?
Well, you can expect the old and original POD which we going to remaster before the release and you can expect four brand new Minotaur songs that are never recorded or released before. It will be remixed by Joszi Sorokowski again! That was one of my wishes. I wanted the people buying the re-release having something new. I don't want anyone to see Minotaur as a rip-off band. We had so many offers on our website for the POD CD that I agreed t o re-release it, but only with this feature.
Now that the ball has started rolling again, what is the next chapter the Minotaur story?
We are doing the recordings for the POD re-release late summer this year recording some bonus tracks ('Banished And Forsaken', 'Praise Hell, 'Metal Mayhem 2.0' and 'Wasted'), playing some festivals and then we will start writing new songs for the new album.
As far as I could see there is only one gig planned until now and that's in October! Any chance we will see the band on some festivals in the summer and in clubs around Europe in the fall?
Contact us and we will come to the place you want us to go. The gig in Italy is really one for our die hard Italian fans who support us live on the streets of Europe since the beginning.
Well, I guess we can wrap it up for this time. But of course if there is anything left that you'd like to mention, please go ahead…
Thanks for the interview. Enjoy our album, and if you like us to play your area, dare to contact us through www.minotaur-thrashers.de.