So how are you doing on this cold winter night?
I'm doing fine. I've just arrived home through all the snow and storm. We have to fly to South America to play in Venezuela and Colombia tomorrow morning, but looking at the situation, I'm not expecting good things. We just go to the airport anyway and see what happens. That's also unfortunate for the fans in those countries, because in general they have to wait for a long time to see their favorite bands.
By the way: congratulations with losing so much weight; almost sixty kilo's!
Thanks! Well, that was something I decided to with a good friend of mine, because we were both too fat. So mostly it was due to health reasons.
Your eight was kind of your personal trademark though…
Haha, my personal trademark would be my big nose. And Tankard's trademark is of course our good music, haha.
And of course congratulations with your new album 'Vol(l)ume 14'. I must say that with the first two songs I had a bit difficulty to get into the feel of the album. These songs are a bit more experimental and somewhat more melodic. But from ' Fat Snatchers' onward it's a typical Tankard thrasher and every time I listen to the album it becomes better.
Haha, I especially love the first two songs! They are catchy and go really into year head and I really like them. But yeah, everybody has his own favorites. In my opinion these are also real Tankard songs. Although we changed producers for this album, it's still Tankard. It has Tankard on the album cover, so it must be Tankard inside as well.
And there comes the fuck-up in my review…
Wait a second! You changed from Andy Classen to another producer? It didn't say anything on the info sheet of my promo and to be honest I don't hear much difference in the sound. So I assumed 'Vol(l)ume 14' was also produced by Andy Classen…
Yes! We were very happy with Andy and we worked together really well. But we also wanted to try something new and something different, so we decided to go with Michael Mainx this time. He has made several number one hit records with Böhze Onkelz. He was strong guy and especially vocal wise we worked a lot. He wanted to get the best out of us. If it worked out better or not, I don't know. That's what the fans have to decide. But the way of working was of course different, but I can tell you that I'm really satisfied with the result.
Well, I think the fans – including myself – are also satisfied. After all these 28 years, Tankard has always remained Tankard and you have never really changed your style. Of course there might also be people out there ripping on the album because it might be more of the same again and complain about it. I think the beauty is that you have stuck to your guns, so to speak.
That's true! Maybe some parts are a little bit more melodic but I agree with you that it's still definitely Tankard.
I also mentioned in my review that it's like you've always kept to your two original loves: thrash and alcohol..
Haha! Yeah that and of course: fun. Tankard is a band with a lot of humor. Of course we also deal with more serious subjects as well, as we did on the last couple of albums. We wanted to have a better balance between humoristic stuff and serious stuff. 'The Agency', 'Condemnation' and also 'Black Plague (BP)' are more serious subjects, 'Black Plague (BP)' for example deals with the catastrophe on the Gulf of Mexico. We did a little word game and gave a new meaning to the abbreviation of “BP”, haha!
I also love the word-game you did within the title 'Becks In The City'… By the way, is there also a serious tone about the songs, because of the whole speed dating hype?
Haha, yeah! Initially we wanted to call the song 'Speed Metal Dating', because that's what the song is about. But this is purely a humoristic song about the whole speed-dating thing.
You've had a very long, interesting and successful career as far as thrash goes of course. But what keeps you going after all these years, except for the love of music?
The most important thing with Tankard is to have fun together and keep the same spirit we've had since the beginning and just do what we love. We all have regular jobs, so we don't have to make any money with our music, so we are totally independent from it. I think that's very good for Tankard, because there is no pressure when we start working a new album, and we don't have to think about how to work to realize an amount of sales. So everything we do, we do it from out heart and this is how we've always worked. And that's how we keep it interesting for ourselves as well. There was one guy that asked me what was serious in Tankard and what was humor. I mean, the music is always very serious for us, but the rest is about having a good time. The most important thing is to keep having fun playing together and that keeps us going… and of course the fact that we are the ugliest band on this planet, haha.
Having said that and putting it in context; is that what the song 'Weekend Warriors' is about?
Yes! This is also one my favorite songs on the album. The beginning of it is sad and I had the idea to do some clean vocals on it and then it transforms into a strong thrasher.
The song 'Brain Piercing Öf Death' is also one of my favorites, and it also reminds me a bit of Destruction! Was that the intention by the way?
Well yeah! Schmier was in the studio when we recorded the song, so we invited him to do some vocals… Naah, just kidding, hehe. I don't know if it sounds like Destruction though, it wasn't intentional.
Hehe, ok something different then: you know, you guys have always done what you've done, kept to your thrash roots and didn't care for any trends or whatever. You're also not trying to say what is “true” and what not or anything about new thrash bands…
As you said: we just do what WE do! We never have a plan when we start working on a new record and we just see how things work out. I never let out anything about what other bands do, because I truly believe that everybody has the right to do their stuff and do what works out best for them. I listen to a lot of music and have a couple of thousand records and I'm still a big metal fan. But I never talk about other bands or criticize them. I like some of the new thrash stuff that's been coming out lately, like Bonded By Blood, Fueled By Fire and Alcoholocaust. But in the end, we've been around since 1982, have survived all the bad times and our still around doing what we do. If people like it, ok and if they don't, that's also ok.
But do you have a strong opinion about band's that fall back to the eighties sound, or would you say that people should try out new things as well?
Well, looking at Tankard, we had the eighties sound because of course we were making records back then. You can say that the kind of music we play is old school thrash metal, but with a new modern heavy sound.
You've been in the scene for decades now and have seen the landscape of heavy metal change. What are the greatest differences if you compare the scene now to the mid-eighties for example?
In the mid-eighties everything was new and almost revolutionary, while nowadays there are more different directions. I'm glad to have been in the scene for so long and we're still here and love this kind of music. I never would have thought about still being in Tankard after 28 years, but nowadays I also can't imagine a life without Tankard. I can't imagine listening to anything else in twenty years or so.
When do you think that for you it's the time to say that it's been enough?
When I don't have the spirit and fun anymore. Let me put it this way: if you look at the cover of the new album, it's a case for twenty beers and you see fourteen full bottles of beer in it. This means that this is the fourteenth full-length studio album, so I think you can expect at least six more Tankard studio albums.
By the way: why is the second “L” in the title written in between brackets: (l)? Is it Internet language or something? Because usually this combination would make a heart, which might symbolize the love for beer…?
Haha, let me explain this to you: in German the word “Voll”, with double L, means that you are drunk! So that's the whole idea behind it; just a little word game.
And with that question we are forced to finish the interview, because the phone connection keeps getting disturbed due to the bad weather circumstances. We apologize for the sudden ending!