TARTAREAN DESIRE WEBZINE
One of the three tombstones of early Teutonic thrash metal and a fundamental monument in the history of metal as a whole, Sodom has been a steamroller that never wears out for over 25 years now. Their recent DVD release "Lords Of Depravity" is one of the most ambitious and comprehensive DVDs ever released, documenting the band's history from day one from a very unique perspective.
On January 16th, 2006, chief editor Vincent Eldefors talked to band leader and the only remaining founding member Tom Angelripper over the phone.
How are you?
I'm fine, everything's ok.
You have recently released an extensive DVD collection of your history as a band, what has the overall response been like?
It's been great, we've had a lot of reviews. A lot of people say that it's the best historical DVD they've ever seen because it's three hours documentary and two hours concert movie. It's the best I've ever done and it's been a lot of work over the last three years but for me it was important to make it complete, you know and not just interviews and a concert movie. It was important that all the ex-members had the chance to tell something about Sodom. So I'm really satisfied with it.
Have you stayed in touch with the former members or was it difficult finding them again?
Yeah, thar was a problem, you know, because for example Chris Witchhunter he said "I don't want to do it, you kicked me out of the band so now I have to hurt you." but I said "You've got to do it, you were in important part of the band and played the first ten years of Sodom. It's not just for me but you get a chance to tell something about what happened.". So I got in touch with every member I could find. There was for example "Strahli" I could not find because I don't know where he lives, you know. I haven't seem him since he left the band in 95.
When did you come up with this idea?
The first idea was to record the Wacken 2001 show and just do an interview from backstage but the producer said that's not enough for a band like Sodom. Sodom is a cult band, we have a big history. We tried to put videos together and went through hundreds or thousands of photos to make it a complete documentary of the German band. That was my idea too but it was the problem with the money, you know. I don't get so much money from the record company but I do it.
Many people may think that you are going to retire when you release a complete history DVD like this.
Retire? No, no. There is so much work you know, the last three years I've worked so hard to finish this DVD. People have asked for a new album, tours... We have also recorded a new album, we are going to mix it next week. It's coming out in the end of April and then we are going to start a big European tour. Sodom is always going, we came back from a US tour last week.
It has been twenty years since you released your debut album. Is it still as much fun as it was back then?
Yes, it's my life, you know. People ask me for inspiration of the new album, I'm always looking forward, you know. I always do it, it's my life, you know. And it's not just because of the money because it's getting more and more heavy in the metal scene but we've never stopped doing it, you know. We always have a lot of ideas for new songs, new ideas for shows, for albums, you know. I'm always in the music scene and you will hear it on the new album, it's the best one we've ever done. We always have a lot of dun when we rehearse, go to the studio or touring. It's not just a job, it's a kind of passion to me.
What do you think you would be doing if you didn't play in a metal band?
I don't know..., maybe I would try to stay in the music scene, in management. But I'm a musician you know, I hate the business around. So what would I do if I stopped doing music, I don't know, I think I would die. It's the end of my life. You can expect us to do this for the next 10 or 20 years.
Do you think you have lost money from illegal downloads?
I don't know, I think it's a kind of promotion. I think you lose money but for many people, like for example when we played in Bangkok in Thailand or Vietnam, people don't get the chance to buy any stuff you know. For many people around the world it's the only chance to listen to music. I don't like the people who want to make money. I think the real Sodom fan don't want the download, they want the complete booklet, the complete original CD. It's a problem in the whole industry, I think a lot of pop bands are going to lose money but not us.
What has changed in the music industry during these 20 years do you think?
It has really changed a lot. You can also see that on the DVD, when we started in the 80s it was like a family. There were not so many different styles of metal music coming out every month. Here in Germany there are hundreds of bands coming out every month in many different styles. In the beginning of the 80s it was like a family. When there was a Motörhead concert or AC/DC, Maiden, Priest or whatever everybody was going. I always look back and try to keep the spirit of the 80s. The music is getting more commercial and also the magazines like for example Rock Hard here in Germany. That sometimes makes me mad.
Do you keep track of new bands?
I never listen to them... I get some samplers and new albums but you know, I'm a really old-school heavy metal fan so I listen to the old stuff. There is too much new coming out so I never have the time to listen to everything and I don't have the money to buy it.
Do you still have the same favorites as when you started playing?
Yeah, my favorites of all time are still Motörhead, Venom, Tank, Jaguar, Raven and the NWoBHM bands. When I first started listening to metal it was Rainbow, Deep Purple, AC/DC and that kind of stuff.
You have worked with Steamhammer Records / SPV for most of these years, it must be a great label?
Yeah, it is. When we left in 94 I think for G.U.N. Records and the Drakkar label and then we came back to SPV. It's just a label, you know, and you can't compare it to SPV in the beginning. You get more support from the record company, that's a big difference. But I'm glad to be at a good record company. I know a lot of bands who don't get a new deal you know so we are really satisfied.
Why did you leave in the 90s for G.U.N. and Drakkar?
Oh, I don't know. G.U.N. Records changed a little bit and signed bands like Guano Apes for example. Really big selling German bands and they kicked out all the metal bands. The promoter of the record company said: "We don't want any Rage, Kreator, Sodom or whatever. Kick them out, we want to have commercial bands like Guano Apes and H.I.M..", big selling bands at this time. They never believed in metal, they never supported the metal bands. SPV or labels like Nuclear Blast are really into metal, you know. SPV has a lot of pop bands as well but they have always believed in metal and Sodom were one of the first bands in 83 who ever signed with SPV. That is something the record company would never forget, you know.
Why did you leave SPV?
Well, it was the chief of G.U.N. Records who said: "Come to G.U.N. Records, we are a new label and we want to support you. We want to bring out the metal bands and push you up.". But in the end they did nothing, you know. We recorded "To Death Do Us Unite" and "Code Red" for them and it's one of the best Sodom albums but we never got any promotion, no big tours. It's better to work with a good label and also a good booking agent. The problem at Drakkar / G.U.N. was that the booking agent and manager was the same person and it couldn't work. They were not serious. Other bands like Rage and Kreator left the G.U.N. label too.
You have just returned from a North American tour, what was that like?
That was a small US / Canada tour because we've never had the chance before to tour the US. It was the first time so it was special. When we played in New York for example it was crazy, people had never seen Sodom live. They were surprised that we were still working hard, acting on the stage. The tour was very successful but it was just a couple of shows. We want to try to get a bigger tour when we have the new album out. That was really great, I like American people. We also plan a South American tour but the time is right for a big US tour.
Do you have a strong fanbase over there?
Yeah, really strong, I signed a lot of albums. But it was only a short tour. We have to go to the west coast and do more shows, you can tour eight weeks because America is so big.
Why was this tour so short?
They didn't know much about Sodom. The promoter said "we got to check because Sodom has never toured the US before" but now he was very successful and got his money. In America it's just about the money, it was difficult to find a good, serious promoter.
What do you think about your touring partners Finntroll?
It's something different to Sodom. Sometimes it's like Swedish folklore, sometimes it sounds a little like Onkel Tom. It's like a party band but it's not really my style. It's not my favorite band. I listened to them and saw their shows but it's not my music. But they try to do something new and different, which is why they're getting bigger and bigger in Europe. It's a really nice band, we think about touring with them some time again.
Are there any specific places you want to play where you haven't played so far?
I would love to play Australia. The promoter said that when we play Tokyo in Japan it would be possible to go to Australia for a couple of shows. Why not, I think Sodom is famous worldwide, everybody knows us. If we find a serious promoter we will go everywhere. Another dream is to play in Vietnam because we've never had the chance. We have tried but the political system don't allow any Western metal bands to play there. There is a very strong metal scene.
Do you have any title for the new album?
Yeah, the title is just "Sodom".
Do you have any song titles ready?
Yes, but I can't tell. We're mixing it next week and then we get the master tapes to the record company in the end of January. The cover is already finished and I hope it's coming out in April.
Who has done the cover art?
It's not Andreas Marschall but a Russian artist I got to know when I was in Berlin. He is a really great artist. I saw a lot of pictures and art from him and I was very satisfied. He's not famous in the metal scene but he wants to do more for metal bands. He was the best painter I've ever seen and the cover is really awesome. I didn't want to do it with Andreas Marschall. He is famous and all but he always does the same style.
Do you know for how long you will be touring after the album has been released?
There's no special tour plan, we want to see first when the album comes out but we want to try to tour everywhere. The next thing we're going to do is a small tour with Onkel Tom in March. In April we are going to do a short East European tour - Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary... I think we are going to play a couple of festivals in the Summer and a big tour is going to be in the autumn or in the end of the year maybe.
Why has it taken so long to record follow-up for "M-16", is it because of the DVD?
No, it's not because of the DVD, it's a problem with the record company. Since "M-16" came out the record company has been waiting. We have to sell more, we have to sell more, we have to sell more... When we reach a certain point, when we have sold enough albums we get an option another album. I don't like it, I want to bring out another album every year but the record company don't want to pay the money every year. We have a lot of material, you know, in 2002 and 2003 we had a lot of material for a new album but the record company said we had to do the live album, then the DVD and then a new album. I think people are waiting too long, 4 years for a new album.
Do you have any plans for a new solo album at this point?
We have no plans but a couple of new songs. But we have no record deal. Dezperadoz [previously known as Desperados] have signed a new deal but I'm no more the singer of that band because I've never had time to put as much power as I want into it. So Alex is doing the music and singing himself. We also want to record another Onkel Tom album but we have to wait for some offers. We just want to record the new songs and find a new record company.
What does a normal day look like in the life of Tom Angelripper?
I stand up in the morning... I have a couple of hobbies, sometimes when I can find the time I like to go hunting. I have some own forest and own district where I go. I have a family with two children and there's a lot of stuff to do in the house. Going to rehearsals, studios, tours... Being a musician is a fulltime job.
How often do you rehearse with Sodom?
Two times a week we try, three times sometimes. We rehearse more for touring or studio sessions but we try to meet two times a week, talking, drinking beer, making music, coming up with ideas for new songs. But it's our job, you know.
Now I'm going to do some namedropping so please tell us what you think about the following:
Oh, one of my favorite inspirations.
It was one of the biggest metal bands in the world. Now I don't know, the latest album I didn't like so much. I like the old albums like "Master Of Puppets". The first albums are a big inspiration to the entire metal scene. What they do now is just to make money, they're a commercial pop band, you know. I'm waiting for a new Metallica album going back.
One of my biggest inspirations. When Venom came out in 80 / 81 with the first album "Welcome To Hell" it was a new era for me. They were the first band to do a new kind of music and the first album is one of the heaviest albums ever. That was a big inspiration for me at the time but we tried to make it heavier and create our own style. I heard that Venom and Chronos are going to do another album and I'm really surprised.
I think Motörhead was my most favorite band. The last good Motörhead album for me is "Another Perfect Day" in 86 or 87, I don't know [it was actually released in 1983]. But he's still around. I'm surprised that Lemmy is on the stage again, he's 60 years old and touring, releasing new albums. That's really surprising and he's one of the biggest rock 'n' roll [stars] in the world, you know.
I like Deep Purple. They were one of the first hard rock bands I listened to. Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin are the best hard rock bands for me.
A Norwegian black metal band.
I've never heard them. There are a lot of Norwegian bands but I've never listened to an entire album.
Good band. One of the metal bands who never give up. They released a good album "Enemy Of God", touring... Mille is always in the scene, he never gives up.
It's the same but I think Kreator are more successful now. Schmier is a good friend of mine. One of our dreams is to tour with them again, all three bands. Schmier is really interested in doing it but I think Mille wants to go his own way.
I like the show. I've seen them live many times. I'm not so much into the music but the show is really powerful. It's the biggest I've ever seen and Rammstein is one of the biggest German bands. I like the pyrotechnics but I'm not a big fan.
Wacken Open Air.
For me it's the biggest festival in Germany. You can see many fans from different styles - you can see old-school bands and new bands. I'm always at Wacken every year. It's a big party all the time.
Do you have to watch other bands at festivals?
I try to see the bands that I'm interested in because there is not so much time. We have a lot of promo to do.
George W. Bush.
Oh, I hate him. He's a real warmonger and I also told the American people. I said "the next song is dedicated to the president of the United States of America - it's called 'Remember The Fallen'". I don't like his politics.
He's really cool but he can not change anything. He has no political decisions to make.
A big inspiration for painting covers, writing lycirs and so on but I'm not so interested. I was more into people like Aleister Crowley, you know, in the early days of Sodom.
But not anymore?
No, it will only hurt you. If you get too interested in it you get sick in the brain. I need to write about what happens in the world, when watching TV you get a lot of inspiration.
You can't stop it. I'm Catholic, you know, but I'm not really. I think religions are the reason why there are so many wars in the world.
Have you thought about writing more Sodom lyrics in German?
In the last few years we haven't done it so much. We need a really good idea to do it. I've also thought about doing an entire Sodom album with German lyrics but that is what I'm going to do with Onkel Tom, you know. That is why I have a second band.
That was about it, any final comments for the readers and your fans?
Yeah, I want to thank everyone for the support all these years. We are going to play the Sweden Rock Festival. We played the Metalboat Festival in Sweden and the promoter there said we got to play at the Sweden Rock Festival - the biggest festival in Sweden - and he told me that we got a chance to play there. That would be great. I know we have a lot of fans in Sweden so I want to thank you for the support and it would be great to play there.
Thanks a lot for the interview and good luck with the new album!
Yeah, I hope to see you. Bye.
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