DEATH STRIKE – Paul Speckmann

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Interview with Paul Speckmann

Conducted by: Carlos M. Llanas

If you ever listened to Master or Abomination, chances are you know about the mastermind behind it all, Paul Speckmann.  Born in Chicago, Illinois, Speckmann spent his time writing and performing all through the 80’s and continues to play shows today.  Sure, he toured with Master and released some killer albums, but before Master’s reunion there was something else…something wicked…something relentless.  I’m talking about Death Strike of course.  As vicious as it is raw,  Death Strike’s "Fuckin’ Death" was the kind of album that you heard and immediately thought "What the fuck? This is wild!"  and that’s exactly what it was; A wild ride from a genre of metal unheard of for that time.  Paul was kind enough to share a few words with and we were more than happy to have him.  Here he is…Paul Speckmann.


Thank you for taking the time to chat with Paul.

It’s always a pleasure to speak with you guys and share my thoughts with the world! Opinions are like assholes, everybody has one.

You are currently promoting the reissue of Death Strike’s "Fuckin’ Death". Tell me, How is it going so far?

From what Matt tells me the reviews are good and people are buying up the CD’s, hopefully the vinyl will sell as well. The vinyl will be re-issued in some collectors vinyl editions as well as a bonus seven-inch of the noisy sounding rehearsals. This is really like a Punk seven-inch in every sense of the word. But this is a must for collectors and it’s chance to hear some rehearsals of the band from the storage unit in Mt.Prospect, Illinois in 1985. 


Labled one of the earliest recordings of Death Metal.  "Fuckin’ Death" is fuckin’ fantastic.  The speed and ferocity of this album make it a must own for any metalhead. Tell me, How do you think the fans will react to this reissue?

Well it’s definitely a chance to get the original Nuclear Blast recordings once again from Dark Descent at a reasonable price, for one thing, as EBAY was selling original versions for over 50 euros a piece which is quite ridiculous if you ask me. I mean on the otherhand you can just download it for free across the net, but it has a cool new packaging and some killer liner notes and stories from back in the day, and some never before seen photo’s of the band. For true fans, this is a killer re-release and the silly yellow is gone from the cover as well.


You also added four rehearsal tracks to the reissue.  Did you have these recordings stored for such an occasion? Or was it spontaneous decision?

Actually, these are just rehearsal tracks from a cassette player and the sound for me is a bit atrocious, but it still nevertheless captures the intensity of the rehearsals anyway. It let’s the listener know that we were onto something in the Spring of 1985. This was a spontaneous decision for sure.


I noticed the song "Master" on the new release.  Has this version of the song ever been released anywhere else?  Or will this be a first for fans?

This is a first for fans as this was long before the recordings of the demos as well as the final release from NBR.


It also comes with an eight-page booklet with a foreword from Olivier "Zoltar" Badin from Terrorizer Magazine and new photos.  It really is a great treat for the fans!  How long did it take to put all of this together?

It took a few months but as I said I am very pleased with the way Matt and Dark Descent put the package together, and after reading the liner notes from Zoltar a smile came to my face for sure.

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"Fuckin’ Death" went from a demo in 1984 to a full album release in 1991 via Nuclear Blast Records.  How much difference can we expect from the Nuclear Blast release to the current reissue?

Looking at the CD, it’s night and day really. The CD packaging was originally rushed and the actual product fell by the wayside with NBR. By this time, they were only in music for the money to promote the next big bands on their label. But any musician knows that this is the name of the game with labels. Many people told me they bought the NBR version of Fuckin Death in the 1 euro bargains bins some years ago.


Have you ever thought about resurrecting Death Strike back from the dead?

I talked about this with original guitarist Chris Mittelbrun, but he has another life. A wife, kids and family figure into his scheme of things. I don’t think he was really ever serious about the band. He was more interested in who the next hot chick he was gonna date.


Do you still keep in-touch with Kirk Miller or John Leprich?

John wrote me several years ago and then never wrote again. He was asking for  copy of the recording and I of course agreed to send one, but never heard from him again. Rumours suggested he was dead, so who knows. Kirk sent me his side of the story for my upcoming book some years back.


Did you ever get the chance to play "Fuckin’ Death" live?

Never. The band existed for a few months and ended rather abruptly after Bill Schmidt came into the fold in July of 1985 an we were once again Master.


I read in another artical about an Abomination reunion in November of this year.  How are you feelings about the 17-date Euorpean tour?  Any Possibility that fans in the U.S. will get a chance to see this live?

I am looking forward to a chance to play all the old killer songs again. This will be a pleasant change from playing the same Master songs I have been forced to play for the last twenty-five years. Change is a great thing from time to time.


In another interview conducted a few years ago, you stated that there would be no possibility of an Abomination reunion due to the passing of guitarist Dean Chioles.  What changed your mind?

Interest by the venues and the fans in Europe played a big part in changing my mind. It’s a tribute to Dean anyway as far as I am concerned. I miss the hell out of that guy.


Was it difficult to find someone to fill Dean’s shoes regarding his guitar work?

Yes, but I have manage to find a killer Italian virtuoso and he will be killer on the stages of Europe. I will announce the lineup very shortly.


Do you have any memorable stories of you and Dean?

Unfortunately, you will have o wait for the book for this.

Where would be the best place for fans to get their hands on some cool Master/Abomination/Death Strike merchandise?  Is there a site they can visit to support your work?

Fans can buy stuff directly from Dark Descent Records, Doomentia Records or from me personally at my facebook and website. I have shirts and copies of all the CDs available.


Are you still actively seeking new members for Master?  It was a sad day when I heard that Master called it quits. Master never called it quits.

I wrote the promoter from the show in Israel and explained that the players in Master are concerned with getting paid, beyond anything else, and this still holds true, but I never really said the band called it quits. In the end I paid the promoter back for the flights over 1000 euros and the story was blown way out of proportion. In the end Misery Index told me there were only 150 people at the gig.


How do you like living in the Czech Republic? Would you ever live in the U.S. again?

The Czech Republic is my home until the end and there is more freedom in Europe and has always been I am afraid. So I will only return for gigs in the future, but never to live there again. I found my American Dream here in Europe for sure. People get rather upset about this, but many of these people have never left their parent’s own backyard.


What’s next for you Paul? Any other big plans for the rest of the year besides the Abomination reunion?

Master has several concerts and festivals in September and Mexico in December followed by another European tour in the spring. I may also return to the USA for nother trek in 2012 with American players. South America is also in the works for Master at the moment, so the train travels on.


Thank you very much for the interview Paul. I wish you the best of luck and we hope to hear from you soon!



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