Review & Photos by Erwin Van Dijk
Mario’s Metal Meeting is a festival organized by the Mario’s Metal Mania webzine. This edition is the third festival and the first I’ve attended. The reason why? Holy Moses of course! Holy Moses does not need an introduction. You thought Arch Enemy was brutal? Think again! Holy Moses started in the Eighties as the first female fronted thrash metal band. And, more important, in an era where women were supposed to be Eye Candy in glam rock video’s or groupies back stage Sabina Classen sounded more brutal than a lot of other thrash bands from the eighties. With Girlschool and Warlock (Doro´s first band) Holy Moses was one of the very few bands with women in the line up that sounded like the boy bands and not as a gimmick or boy fantasy. Because Mario’s Metal Mania is oriented at the brutal underground stuff this Sunday evening is all about Thrash. Yep, it is Thrash time! Many things from the eighties have become popular again the last few years, including the Next wave of Eighties Thrash Metal. The first two are the girl less younglings from this decennium while Acrostichon and Holy Moses are veterans from the last millennium. Hyades is a band apart with more experience than Hatchery and Sanity’s Rage. Acrostichon is a female fronted thrash band from Tilburg (Killburg). They broke up a long time ago and this is a reunion gig. You can compare Corinne a bit with Marloes from Izegrim who is also responsible for the grunts and bass. Another thing: patches are mandatory! This was the second largest concentration of Denim jackets with lots of heavy metal patches I’ve seen this year (although I think the Heavy Metal Maniacs Festival will break the record) Sabina is the queen of denim with patches by the way but she left hers home today. (like me – the cats had used it as a mattress) I missed first band due to hangover the size of the Andromeda galaxy. The second band was rather boring and I did not like the style of the singer. I did not waste space on my memory cards either for this band. Hyades did a lot better. The name Hyades is derived from the Greek Mythology (Ὑάδες) and means “The rainy ones”. They are a sisterhood of nymphs that bring rain in the autumn. Well, we did not see any chicks on stage nor it was raining outside. What we got was a band from Italy who clearly had much more experience than Sanity’s Rage. The music itself is maybe not that special but like bands such as Municipal Waste it works live. To satisfy al the wearers of denim with patches Hyades did a nice version of the Beastie Boys “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)” The Beastie Boys haven’t done this song live since 1987 so this it the closest you can get! (and Holy Moses has covered this song ages ago). Acrostichon – Singer Corinne Van Den Brand here on the left- was founded some twenty years ago and disbanded 10 years ago. I’ve never seen them live during the nineties. Back in those days Acrostichon was the first female fronted death metal band from the Netherlands. Today Acrostichon has returned for a single reunion gig (although I suspect the lady and gentlemen of Acrostichon simply have missed being onstage). Suddenly the floor was filled with family, fans in faded Acrostichon shirts and small kids. One of them was very good in crushing plastic beer cups like the way my hero Dirk Jan crushes gnomes in the Dirk Jan Comic. Compared to the thrash of Hyades Acrostichon’s death metal was slow and sluggish. No music for a moshpit but a vast wall of sound. Like many death metal bands the musicians were doing their thing without much show. Singer Corinne was clearly enjoying herself. A good gig but maybe a bit outdated qua music and presentation. This is the second Holy Moses – Singer Sabine Classen pictured here on right – gig at the 013 in two years. Last year (2008) this band was the opener for Obituary at the main hall of this venue and now they are the headliner in the small hall. Is this bad? Not really. It is better to rule in hell than to serve in heaven. Take Lacuna Coil. In 2006 this band was the headliner on the main stage of this venue and last year they were the opener for some crappy band named Bullet for my Valentine. How low can you go? And Sabina still has a large ring binder for all the song texts. And it took (traditionally a while) to build the drum kit. The current gigs are still based upon the album “Agony of Death” from 2008, which is one of my favourites of that year. And what can I say about the gig? For starters, my hangover did not bother me the moment the band started. As usual Holy Moses did a great gig. Sabina also gave some young kids at the front row some extra attention (must be her mother instinct I suppose) Unlike many other musicians on stage you always get the feeling that Sabina is one with the fans instead of a performer at work. I like that.
Interview by Tony Cannella
In the past 30-years trends have come and gone in the fickle music industry, yet German thrash metal legends Holy Moses remain. They may not be the biggest band in the world or have achieved a huge worldwide fan base, but for over 30-years they have remained true to themselves and their core audience, and whatever you think of the band, they deserve respect. Recently Holy Moses issued a 2-disc compilation to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the band. Lead vocalist Sabina Classen and bass player Olli Jaath were kind enough to talk to us about it and other things involving Holy Moses.
First of all, congratulations on 30 years in existence for Holy Moses. Please tell us about the recently released 2-disc compilation.
Olli : Many thanks. We sat together in the Absurd Studio in Hamburg and listened to all records except the latest one (“Agony of Death”). We looked for the songs which the fans want to hear and those which are great but not so common. Additionally we checked our fan club network. I think we found a good balance. It´s great to have the old tracks now in a great sound robe. All of them sound much heavier and better than on the old records.
Are you doing anything else to commemorate such a milestone?
Olli: Well. Not really. We are looking forward to playing our next shows. We already started the songwriting for the next studio record. So we are busy to do our next step.
How do you feel about the 30th anniversary? Do you ever get a chance to reflect on the past 30 years?
Sabina : I feel wonderful with the 30th anniversary. I am reflecting a lot of times about the past 30 years. Especially when we recorded the album, a lot of memories came back into my mind. I remembered names and situations with the band and I was laughing a lot of the time to myself because we did so many things without knowing anything about promotion, marketing and management. I did the things like I was feeling, sometimes really naïve. But I think this keeps us still working on. I think this is the wonderful thing with Holy Moses; we only do what we love to do.
How did you both come to join Holy Moses?
Sabina : It is a real true and funny story. My boyfriend Andy was playing in our school band Holy Moses – Andy Classen – and I was sitting in the rehearsal room and listening to them. One day, bandleader and boss Ramon Bruessler (bass) fired the singer and so Ramon said to me – “Hey Sabina, you are sitting here, doing nothing, go to the microphone and sing”. I answered to him “I can’t sing”, but he gave to me the microphone and I had no other choice and I did a deep growl, I was wondering to myself what came out of me, and I thought, now they know, Sabina can’t sing. Ramon got a big smile on his face and responds to me – “do it again”, I did it again, and he said “Sabina, you are the new singer of Holy Moses“. I thought, this guy is kidding me, but it was true. It was the date, 3rd December 1981, and since this date I am the singer of Holy Moses.
Olli : Sabina and I have known each other since 2000 and I joined Holy Moses in 2006. Sabina asked me to help them out for some gigs as a bass player. Normally I play guitar. Besides Holy Moses I play the guitar for my other band Reckless Tide. After Thomas entered the band I switched from bass to guitar.
How do you feel Holy Moses has changed and evolved in the last 30 years?
Sabina : I think we did always what we were feeling. I have many sides in myself, and the most important fact is I am not thinking about it, I just do what I like to do and feel.
Olli: Holy Moses went through many musical changes. Heavy Metal, thrash metal, death metal, Punk, Hardcore but the thrash factor was always the dominant part. Nowadays I would say that Holy Moses stands for a more complex kind of thrash metal with a heavier weighting on hook lines and melodies.
Can we expect new material from Holy Moses soon?
Sabina : My guys in the band are working already on new material, and I am always writing lyrics. So I can work on my daily impressions about life.
Olli: Yes, we are already collecting ideas and riffs for the next record coming out 2013. So don’t worry.
When Holy Moses first got together, who would you site as your influences?
Sabina : I really don’t know. At the time I just loved Black Sabbath, AC/DC. I did not have so many albums, and I was not listening so much to music. I think my life influenced me always, and this is still going on, all that I am doing is coming deep from my soul.
For you, what has been the highlight so far?
Sabina : My highlight is that I am doing Holy Moses since 30 fucking years, so my highlight is really to do all these years. I was able to visit so many countries and getting in contact with so many people around nearly the whole world. I think getting in contact with so many cultures is the biggest highlight you can get in your life.
Olli: My personal highlight was our tour through Japan in 2009. It was our first time and it was very great to meet all the people, discover the country and play all the shows over there. I hope we can come back very soon.
Any low points?
Sabina : Yes, like life can be, but each low point lets me get more energy and experience for my life. I think everything in your life is something you have to do, to get into the next level of your life..
Olli: Yep, our tour with Benediction in 2008. This tour, thanks to our former booking agency MAD, was horrible and done without any organization. The tour bus broke several times including a fire, venues didn´t know that we are coming, no advertising, etc. Everything bad you could imagine happened. The cool thing was the great relationship between the guys from Benediction and us.
Sabina, You were one of the – if not the – first women in extreme metal. Do you feel like an influence or inspiration to others who have followed?
Sabina: Yes, I really know now, that I was the very first growling and extreme music woman in metal. And I think this is also a milestone and something real special. I feel great with it, if anybody – male or female – got from my music and my strength power and energy to do also steps in his life, to be happy.
Sabina, I read somewhere that you are also involved in managing bands. Can you please tell us how you got into that and are there any bands we should be on the lookout for?
Sabina : I did some years, a kind of helping hand for some younger bands. But I stopped with it, because I love to have my music as a kind of hobby, to work on myself. In my other life, I am working as a natural humanistic psychotherapist and this is what I love to do for my profession.
Which do you prefer, the management or performance end of things?
Sabina : The only thing is to perform on stage in metal – and doing management is nothing for me anymore. I am not a really good manager, because I do not like to be in stressful situations with people, so I do not like to make hard business decisions.
You also joined Doro on stage for her 25th anniversary. What was that experience like?
Sabina: Yes, I joined Doro on stage – often times – she is a really good friend of mine since the 80s, and every time when we have the chance to sing together, we always do. To be on stage with her on her 25th anniversary was a really great moment, Doro is a great woman.
Obviously the music industry has changed since Holy Moses first began. What do you feel has been the biggest difference and most positive development in music over the past 30 years?
Sabina : Ha ha ha, yes so many things have changed, but not Holy Moses – and one thing of the wonderful new world is the internet, so I can be in contact with our friends all the time. About the bad things I do not want to think about it, I take the development like it is and a try to always make the most positive out of it.
Who are some current bands that you like?
Sabina : I still love all the stuff like Ozzy Osbourne, but also I like my mates from Kreator, Destruction, Sodom, Tankard and Doro, Slayer, Tom Gabriel Warrior and still Venom and Possessed – but I am listening mostly in my silent moments to world music.
Olli : I am still a fan of the bay area thrash metal. Bands like Exodus, Testament and Anthrax influenced my play. I still like the last outputs of these bands. To mention newer bands I can say Havoc and Warbringer.
Sabina, in the mid to late 90s you also fronted a band called Temple of the Absurd and released two albums. What is your opinion of those albums today and do you think they might ever get re-issued?
Sabina : It was a great time with Temple of the Absurd and I learned a lot of things for my life. It was really a time of a Rock’n’Roll life, and I think I will have this always in my soul and mind. I do not know yet, if we will re-issue these albums.
At that point, why did you opt to form a new band and put Holy Moses on hold?
Sabina : At that point, some things changed in my life in private ways and so I had to do a new step in my life and I was feeling that I had to have some experiences, and like my motto – Just do what you feel.
What can we expect from Holy Moses in the future?
Sabina : Holy Moses
Olli : A new record and hopefully many live shows.
Thank you Sabina and Olli for taking the time to answer these questions and congratulations on 30 years, here’s to 30 more. In conclusion, is there anything you would like to add to this interview or say to the fans?
Sabina : So many thanks for supporting us over all these years – and being behind us, and giving us the chance to go on with something we love to do.
Olli : Many thanks for all the support over all these years. We will see you on tour. Thrash on!!
Label : Steamhammer Records/SPV
Review by Tony Cannella
To commemorate their milestone of reaching 30 years, German thrash legends Holy Moses recently went into the studio to re-record 20 classic songs from their history, as well as two brand new tracks. The whole collection is titled “30th Anniversary: In the Power of Now” and not only is it a reminder how long this band has been in existence but also the strength that their material has maintained over the years. Sabina Classen is the mainstay in Holy Moses and I believe she is one of the first females to utilize the extreme vocals technique and 30 years later, she’s still got it. This compilation includes 20-songs re-recorded with the current Holy Moses line-up, spread out over two discs and features over an hour’s worth of unrelenting, uncompromising music. In addition, two new songs were recorded, “Borderland” and “Entering the Now” which fit right In with the rest of the intensity of the material. Some of the songs that have been re-recorded are “Clash My Soul”, “Jungle of Lies”, “Finished With the Dogs”, “Reborn Dogs”. “Defcon II” and even more recent songs like “Disorder of the Order” and “Master of Disaster”. It all makes for a thrashing good time. A lot of times when a band re-records older songs, it means they have run out of ideas or it is a cash grab. I don’t believe that to be the case with this Holy Moses compilation. It is good to hear some of these songs get updated with the proper production. Besides, with all of these different sub-genres: opera metal, symphonic metal, etc. (which are all great), it is good to hear good old thrash music again and Holy Moses are one of the best ever at their craft.
Rating – 85/100
- Clash My Soul
- Jungle of Lies
- Finished With the Dogs
- Symbol of Spirit
- World Chaos
- Lost in the Mace
- Welcome to the Real World
- Near Dark
- Reborn Dogs
- Defcon II
- I Feel Sick
- Nothing for My Mum
- Disorder of the Order
- Corroded Dreams
- Entering the Now
- Creation of Violation
- Decapitated Minds
- Master of Disaster
- Sabina Classen – Vocals
- Michael Hankel – Lead Guitar
- Oliver Jaath – Rhythm Guitars & Backing Vocals
- Thomas Nietsch – Bass
- Gerd Lucking – Drums
Interview by Ary R.
Cadaveria is one of the most famous Italian black metal bands ever. A new album will be released soon and I had the chance to exchange some words with the resolute frontwoman, Cadaveria, who has explained in short what Cadaveria means in the “horror metal” music scene and what’s music for her.
Hi Cadaveria, welcome to Femme Metal.net. How are you? You’ll release your new album this year and it’s called “Horror Metal”, it will be released via Baker Team. Would you like to reveal something about it?
Our new album entitled “Horror Metal” is already in stores, since January 31st 2012. We are really excited about it as we are very satisfied of how we worked and about the final result. Fans and critics seem to have the same opinion. All the tracks have been written with our new guitar player Dick Laurent. I can say this new entry brought new energy in the band and let us approach to Horror Metal songwriting with a great enthusiasm, as it was our debut album. This feeling can be perceived in the sound, that has been renewed, without distorting its nature. This is surely the most obscure, sick and complete album Cadaveria has even released.
Cadaveria is an italian black metal band, founded in 2001 and you come from a reality that was previously formed by Opera IX. Would you like to give us, shortly, a little biography of the band, for those people who still haven’t listened to your music?
When me and Marçelo Santos (aka Flegias) decided to start a journey into the Metal music it was 1990. After some clumsy hardcore efforts, we entered Opera IX, bringing the female growling voice to the metal scene’s attention. In that period just Sabina Classen from Holy Moses was known in the scene. In 2001 we split up from Opera IX and decided to found a new band, ‘cause we felt we had more different ideas to propose in this musical circle and wanted to unbound ourselves from the stereotypes of the genre we had played with our previous band. From that day on we have ever been in creative ferment and full of new initiatives. Even if in ten years we released only four albums, we think to have done our best and now we can look at our past albums with no regrets. We have got great satisfactions from the gigs we played abroad, in Europe and Central America, and from the fact the number of our fans is still growing day by day.
As I’ve said, this year your new album will be released for Baker Team. I know that, previously, you had a record deal with Scarlet Records and right after with Season of Mist, that have released your previous album, “In Your Blood” (2007). How was born the collaboration with this label?
When we recorded our debut album “The Shadow’s Madame” Scarlet Records showed an immediate interest towards Cadaveria band. With them the cooperation continued also for the second full length. When we were going to release our third album “In Your Blood”, we had a look around, to see if we could embrace a larger market and reaching more fans with a foreign and well structured label. Season of Mist answered it was interested in producing the album. It seemed a good idea, also ‘cause this label has a division in the US. But being a larger label it was less interested in a specific and targeted promotion. For this reason, with our fourth album “Horror Metal”, we decided to come back to Scarlet’s home, that in the meanwhile had created Bakerteam, a division of the main label, more focused on out style. Now we feel at home, we work with our friends and all is more simple. With renewed spurs we are now working better and all of us is doing his best to promote this new release.
Your style is coined as “horror metal”. Could you please explain who had the idea to stick this name to the sound of the band and above everything, the reason why about it?
To be honest I don’t remember exactly who used this definition for the first time to describe our sound, maybe Scarlet Records itself in the period of our debut album release… Anyway, what is sure is that, since then, all fans and critics started using this term to identify Cadaveria style. We liked this, ‘cause finally horror metal doesn’t mean anything specific, ad we love not to be classified and restricted inside a specific genre. If you listen to a Cadaveria album you can find many influences: from the first Black Sabbath to the most recent Tool, passing through Celtic Frost and Death. You know, every label is too tight for this, while a vague term like horror metal is perfect to play our game. Finally with this last album we have played with the word “Horror”: many lyrics have been inspired by horror movies, as well as the band pictures… and the atmospheres you can perceive in these eleven new tracks are surely dark, sick and horror-oriented! So, nothing better than Horror Metal to come back on the scenes after five years!
Cadaveria is surely one of the few italian black metal bands that became famous in a quite extreme and perhaps little-known music scene in Italy. How was the idea of creating a band that has your own name born?
Well, when we went and play abroad with Opera IX, fans welcomed us shouting “Cadaveria, Cadaveria…”. After the split for me and Flegias was simple and natural to use my nickname for the band. This created a sort of continuation, as the singer is always the same. For us it was important to be recognized by fans and that fans knew which were our origins.
You are a very curious band, since all members have the name of a “bad guy” or a movie title by David Lynch. Who started the idea of having an “alter ego” for the band? Especially, how the choice of various “nicknames” was born?
Also in this case we didn’t think about this so much. We are great fans of David Lynch and we love his movies. The ‘bad men’ of his movies have spine and are more interesting than good characters. They remain in your mind as Lynch is used to create a sort of caricature for bad guys. Our music genres is, for definition, bad, disturbed and sometimes abstract, exactly like Lynch’s movies. On stage, as well as on the cinema set, who is under spotlights is an artist and, as artists, we love to play with our image, we like transforming it and we like to be theatrical. So we used Lynch’s bad guy names as the role performed by an actor. Each Cadaveria band member chose the name according to his taste and considering the temperamental affinities with the movie character.
Ok, let’s go back to the album. I’ve got a little chance to listen to it and I was under the impression of having seen some references to atmospheric gothic metal, thrash metal, death metal and especially black metal; in short, there is a bit of everything. How did you decide to try all these styles on a unique album?
Well I have already explained this mix of genres, while I was talking about the term horror metal. This mix can be found in all our albums. Probably this time it is more tangible and evident.
You are known for your image, for being a resolute and powerful woman, but also for your kind of singing that is sometimes more melodic and sometimes it becomes “growl” and aggressive. How do you balance everything? How do you train your own voice?
When I started shouting on the microphone it was just a dirt and rotten growl. Along these twenty years I experimented new vocal solutions, shifting my limits, in order to use and mix the clean vocals and the growl in a more harmonious way, sometimes adding a third way, that is the screaming, a sort of middle stage between growl and clean (or, if you prefer, a more feminine growl sang doing a melody), that is more theatrical and emotional. In all these cases I’m in continuous studying and development. The balance is a question of mind, this duplicity reflects my way of being. My mind tells my body how to emit the voice.
I should admit that this album is very chameleon: there’s a lot of different genres, a very good production behind it, a good mixing, all elements that differ themselves to the previous albums, like “Far Away From Comformity” and “In Your Blood”. How the production of the album has been and especially how was the album born?
Yes, the composition process for this album was a bit different from the ones used fot the previous CDs. Dick Laurent, Marçelo Santos and I composed the most part of the songs. The following phase took place in the recording studios, where Frank Booth developed all the arrangements. We dedicated a lot of time to the production, with Killer Bob at the mixer, in order to create that powerful and rough sound you can listen in “Horror Metal”. All this requested hard work and long time, but we were not in a hurry and our final goal was to go near perfection.
If you could introduce the record with your own words, which words would you use to present it to the fans or to the press?
The most obscure and powerful album even released by the shadows’ madame!
What kind of meaning does this record have for you? What is it for you?
It is the umpteenth birth and like all child birth is the result of efforts and sacrifices, but finally the product gives you a great satisfaction and the memory of the efforts disappears. The more the result is good, the most satisfaction is amplified.
How do you think will it be the reaction of the fans for this new record? Do you think it will be appreciated?
The vast majority of the reactions are extremely positive, and this let us understand we worked the right way. Sure, the detractors are always under the corner, especially if there is a girl singing, but we are accustomed to this and, above all, without rumors you would not be nobody.
Have you already scheduled a European tour or something “big” right after the release of the album?
No, by now we are just doing some live shows and festivals in Italy. Foreign offers are arriving, but it is early to advertise them. We will spread them through our Facebook page and on our website as soon as all will be defined.
This was my last question. Thanks so much for your time. Would you like to tell something to Cadaveria fans and to our readers?
Thanks a lot for the space you dedicated to us. I would like to invite all readers to check out our new album “Horror Metal”. If you cannot find it in the music stores of your city, you can get it online, directly from our website.
Interview by Tony Cannella
After almost 30 years in the music business you would think that Doro Pesch might become jaded or cynical. Not so. Through it all she has managed to keep a positive attitude and nobody works harder than the German metal queen. In speaking to Doro one thing is abundantly clear, she is the most genuine, down-to-earth and above all the nicest (okay that’s three things), people you will ever meet. In early December 2011, she was kind enough to answer a few questions and here is what she had to say
First let’s talk about the 25th anniversary DVD. Tell us a little about it, and how do you feel that it has finally come out in the U.S.?
I’m so happy that it is finally released in America. It was definitely one of the happiest days in my life, and definitely one of the biggest days we’ve had musically; it was such a great, awesome night. We prepared for the concert for the whole year, and to build the stage took a whole year. The Warlock we had on stage was one of the biggest highlights; it took about nine months to build. In the 80s we always had the backdrop with the Warlock painted on and this time I thought for my 25th anniversary, I wanted to have a really, really big sculpture and it took like nine months, and the guy told me the day before that it might not be ready tomorrow night, and I said it has to be ready because that’s the big day! We had so many great guests, all the people who meant so much to me, people I grew up with and people I admire and respect. Yeah, we had tons of great guests there. To start, the first guest performance was Bobby Blitz (from Overkill). I think Bobby is one of the greatest front people, he has so much energy and is always so powerful and always has a great vibe. He was the first one who came up as a guest, it went really, really great and the fans loved it. So I was really relieved that the first guest went over so great. From there on, my old Warlock band members came up and we did like a little reunion and then Jean Beauvoir came on, Axel Rudi Pell, Chris from Grave Digger, and The Scorpions – Klaus Meine and Rudolph Schenker they came up and we did “Rock You Like a Hurricane” and “Big City Nights”. That meant so much to me. When I started with my first band we always heard about The Scorpions and read about them and I knew they were one of the biggest bands in Germany, so the first time I saw them was in 1986 at the legendary Monsters of Rock festival, actually we did two in Germany and one in England at Castle Donington. It was a phenomenal line up, it was The Scorpions, Ozzy Osbourne, Motorhead, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi and Warlock, it was unbelievable and in Germany The Michael Schenker group was playing on it, so many great bands. So it was the first time I saw The Scorpions and I thought “Wow! If we ever could last that long, and always put on a great show like that”, I was really inspired. It meant a lot to me that they came to my 25th anniversary. It just took one phone call, I called Rudolph Schenker and I said, “Hey, I’m planning this celebration for the 25th anniversary and I just wanted to know if it would be at all possible if you guys had the time and come celebrate with us, and he said ‘you know what? Give me a date and I’ll call you back, and then he called back and said “Yeah, we’re coming”. We played a song with Tarja Turunen “Walking With the Angels” and it went over great. We did the full metal female version of “Celebrate” with all of the great ladies of metal which I think was one of the mega highlights on the DVD. We had many, many more guests and we did “All We Are” with everybody and the stage almost couldn’t hold all of the people, it was so crazy, the fans were singing along, then Sabina Classen from Holy Moses and Liv from Leaves’ Eyes held me up in the air. It was so touching, I cried because it was so great to see all of the fans with their happy faces. It was a 3 ½ hour show non-stop and it was so great to celebrate with my friends and dear fans. The fans came from all over the world from America, Argentina, Brazil, Greece, Italy, and Spain from everywhere. It was one of the greatest days of my whole life and I’m so glad we could record it. We did a couple of release shows in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago, they went great. New York was packed, it was sold out, of course I live in New York most of the time when I’m in America, and it’s like my hometown.
Any chance of any additional U.S. dates coming in the future?
Actually, I think it will be next year. We do our next tour in December in Germany and then I wanted to finish the album. I think it will be next year, I want to do a full tour, but there are no dates at the moment. I definitely want to make sure that we finish the record first.
You are currently working on the new album, right?
Yeah, we are well into production, we have some killer songs on the way, some of the songs I played live. One song is called “Raise Your Fist”, the title might be “Raise Your Fist in the Air”, but I don’t know yet, it might be like the second “All We Are”. We will continue working on the record in January and it will have some heavy, great fast songs and some beautiful, touching ballads. We can probably expect the first single in spring and the album around summertime.
You did a run of shows in October/November, how did they go?
Yeah, we went all over Europe. We started in Moscow, Russia, which is one of my favorite cities to play in Europe. We have had the chance to play countries where it wasn’t possible in the 80s, there’s like a huge fan following and it’s great. So we started in Russia and then we went to Poland and that was great, the fans were so excited and it was a hell of show, then we went to the Czech Republic, then Spain, Belgium, France and we played shows in Germany, it went really, really well. We started the European tour after the American dates, and everybody was happy, it felt good. The machine worked really well, it was well oiled and all of the songs sounded really good. The band played great – I am always so proud of them. We had a lot of great experiences, met a lot of cool people. We made a lot of new fans, I think, and some of the younger fans who saw us for the very time, that was actually very exciting. We played some songs that we haven’t played in a long time, like for example “Without You” off of the “Burning the Witches” album, which was a really nice surprise. Then the new song “Raise Your Fist” went over really well. We played the Wacken anthem “We Are the Metal Heads” which is always a good song to sing along to. We played many, many encores, as long there wasn’t a curfew, sometimes we played 2 ½ to 3 hours a night.
It must be nice have such a huge catalogue to change up the shows from time to time.
Yeah, every show is different. There are always fans that follow us on the whole tour, so they can always expect something different at the shows.
You have a tour of Germany coming up this month (December 2011), right?
Yeah, actually next week. The guys are flying in tomorrow and there will be two days rehearsal and then we leave on Wednesday. In the next couple of days we are starting, and it’ll go up to Christmas, then I will go back to the States and continue working on the album.
What about the new Christmas single, “Merry Metal Xmas”?
We just released the Christmas single on the 9th of December. You can get it online, through Nuclear Blast and it is also coming out on vinyl, which is a cool thing. It is a duet with Tom Angelripper of Sodom. The cover is very cool, you see pictures of us when we were little kids celebrating Christmas, some funny pictures and then you see some photos of us today. It’s a real good song. It’s a fun song to sing along to.
Who are you working with on the new album?
I am working with Andreas Bruhne from Sisters of Mercy, who I have worked with the last few years. We have some great songs in the making. I’ve worked in New Jersey already with Mike Goldberg. Yeah, there are some other people I am working with. I don’t know who will mix the record; there are some big names so it should be very interesting. I’m just In the middle of weighing all the options and of course I want to get all the songs done. There are some good people who will be coming into the picture, I want to have some great guests and stuff, but I don’t want to say who because then it wouldn’t be a surprise, and it wouldn’t be good if didn’t work out. But yes, there are some great guests in the making.
One of the coolest things that have happened in the past year was when you joined Dio’s Disciples with former members of Dio for some shows in Italy and Spain. What was that experience like?
Oh Tony, it was so awesome and I was so happy when they asked me to fill in for Ripper Owens, I had the chance to fill in for Ripper Owens because he had to go to his daughter’s wedding. I did the Spain gigs and it was one of the greatest experiences and it was such an honor to play with all the cool guys from Dio’s band like Craig Goldy, Simon Wright, Scott Warren and James Lomenzo was on bass, Toby Jepson was the other singer. It was so great to be a part of it, and such a great honor and I was so happy that Wendy Dio thought of me to fill in for Ripper Owens, I was so grateful, so thankful, I love Ronnie James Dio and I’ll always loved him and I was so happy to stay somehow close to the Dio family and I definitely felt part of the family, I felt so welcomed and they were so supportive. Going on stage in front of all the people, it was a wild experience, I always have stage fright, but then it was hardcore. They were so kind to me and I think we did some killer shows together. On one hand it was very uplifting, but on the other hand it was very emotional and sad. It was a very, very intense emotional experience. I am still not over the fact that Ronnie is no longer with us, but it’s great to have his music. I am always thinking of him and it was such a great honor to be part of it and sing all the beautiful songs. I gave my all and I wanted to make the fans happy. Some of songs I fell in love with all over again, songs like “Catch the Rainbow”, that was my favorite song, every time I sang it together with Toby Jepson, it was so powerful. On that tour everyone’s vibe was so cool and so loving. It was unforgettable, so phenomenal to be a part of it. Of course nobody can sing as great as Ronnie, and we always tried to give our best and to keep his spirit alive.
In the past few years you have been a guest on albums by bands like After Forever, Sister Sin and Girlschool. Do you like doing stuff like that?
Yeah, I love it! I love being a guest on other people’s records. There is actually a great connection and friendship with those bands, and usually when we tour together we stay friends, with our support bands or bands we meet in a festival situation. I love it. Girlschool I’ve known since the early 80s and Sister Sin, they actually opened up for us, and I know they are getting a huge following in the states. I’m always happy when people have the right attitude, and they have what it takes. Liv (from Sister Sin) is a great lady and she was actually on our 25th anniversary show in Düsseldorf. She was part of the full female version of “Celebrate”, than she asked if I could be a part of this Motorhead cover they were doing and I said “Oh Yeah, I would love to do it” and we went right into the studio, the same with Girlschool and there is some other bands that I’ve done some work with Saltatio Mortis which is a really great band, last year I did something with Grave Digger. Yeah, I love doing stuff like that.
Are you aware of the Warlock tribute album “Tribute to Steel”? What do you think of it?
Yeah Tony, I think it’s been out for a while. I think some bands did a great job; I love the version of “Für Immer” from the Scandinavian band Sabaton. I think it’s wonderful. The record company put so much thought into it. It was cool idea and a total surprise to me. It came out great.
Speaking of Warlock do you think you might do anymore special shows with them in the future?
At the moment there is nothing planned. I’m concentrating on the upcoming tour (December 2011) and then next year finishing the album. We are still in contact, I still talk to Michael (Eurich – drummer), I saw Niko (Arvanitis) at the fan-club meeting and he always comes to the concerts when we play close by. I don’t know, some people would never want to do it anymore. The bass player (Frank Rittel) is the first one who gave up music; he gave up playing bass, so it’ll probably never be the original line-up anymore.
Does anybody know whatever happened to (original guitarist) Rudy Graf?
No, the last I saw him was many years ago. I loved Rudy, he was a great guy, great musician, but I haven’t seen him in a long time. I invited him to the 25th anniversary concert, I left messages but I don’t know I f I had the right number, he never returned the calls, so I don’t know if he ever got the messages, but I definitely invited him.
Final question. Thank you for doing this interview. Is there anything you would like to add to the interview to wrap it up?
Yeah actually, I just saw Motorhead a couple weeks ago in Germany and there is a new Motorhead DVD out called “The World is Ours” and there was a part where I hopped on stage with them to perform “Killed by Death” a couple of months ago in New York. Wow, I was so happy that it made the DVD. The New York gig was awesome. I just saw it, it just came out and I am sure the die-hard Motorhead fans know about it, so maybe the fans would want to check it out. I definitely want to give the fans something great on the next record, I hope they love it as much as they used to love songs that mean so much to them. I would love to have like another “Triumph and Agony”, which is always one of our greatest albums and greatest memories. I definitely want to try my best to please the fans and make them happy. I definitely put my heart and soul on this record and I hope they love it, and I hope that we will see each other very soon. I deeply appreciate all of the fan support, and I love the fans more and more every day. They are the reason why I can continue doing this and always fight for the music because of the tremendous support and love of the fans. Sometimes it’s really, really hard but I can never give up because there are so many people out there who support us, even in spirit or in their hearts. The fans are the most important thing in my life and will always be. I wish the fans a merry metal Christmas and a killer, happy and healthy New Year and I hope we see each other really soon.
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