Interview with Thomas of Backwater by Helias

Interview with Thomas of Backwater

by Helias Hello, Thomas, how are you? First of all, congratulations on your last official album album “Take Extreme Forms” which is going to be released by January of 2014. Of course I’d like to ask you a couple of questions about it below. Which are the main influences on the ‘Backwater’?

Hello Helias, many thanx for the congrats for we are very proud to have another album going after such a long time! Well, I really can’t describe what our influences are. It is of course inspired by the current sound of “modern” bands. For example I like Machine Head, Heaven Shall Burn or Ektomorf a lot! In general we don’t try to sound like any other band. I write songs directly out of the belly while trying not to use the brain too much! This means I make sure that the riffs do not sound a song of any other band. So it’s only natural that the musical roots which are to find back in the 80ies still dominate our overall sound! I think this makes it unique!

BACKWATER 2 If you have only one word to describe the entire ‘Backwater’, which word would that be? And why?

Maybe “Tranquility”, hahaha!!! At the beginning of “Backwater” we were so keen to reach the unattainable. By keep on trying to fulfill the self-set dreams or goals we were so often disappointed! You even can hear that especially on the first album “Revelation”! Here you can feel downright the anger and anarchism that moved us then. Nowadays there isn’t any longer that pressure or a certain need to reach the metal Olympus. The whole situation is much more relaxed than before. This is also reflected in our current music! It’s a bit slower and tidy. Just much more relaxed. What does the ‘Backwater’ name mean for you?

Initially we wanted to choose a band name, which isn’t that typical violent or bloody like many band names of our colleagues. Achim, our former bass player and shouter always has been a big fan of the band ‘Status Quo’! There is one song of them, we both liked or like so much which is called ‘Backwater’ – so the name of our band was found. No big meaning or profound thoughts behind! Just a good sounding name, that’s all! How did you get into playing music?

The idea to start a band came up in 1980/1981. That was the time I met Achim the first time. At this time Achim and me were pupils in the same class in school. So we bought our first, cheap and used bass and guitar and started to learn how to play the instruments on our own. Achim and I always have been big fans of hard music and we wanted to try if we are able to make music with our own hands! We were so keen to stand on a stage in front of a yelling crowd :-))! What do you do when you are not playing with the band?

I live a rather normal life with family, job and everything that belongs to. But music still occupies the largest space in my heart! As you can see after all this time I’m still captured by playing music. Believe me – I still would prefer living by making music but unfortunately this „dream“ never became reality! What’s your opinion on other kinds of music?

I am really open minded regarding other music styles. You can say – I listen to all music which sounds good to my ears. No matter what kind of music! Of course there are some boundaries. There are some musical styles I can’t hear for just one second – german “Schlager”, Techno, House and many other pure electronic stuff is a no go! Certainly I listen the most to music as hard as possible! Which are the plans of ‘Backwater’ for the future?

First of all we really hope that our latest album “Take Extreme Forms” will be accepted by the people who knows BACKWATER since the early days! On the other hand we even hope more that the album gets what it deserves! Fair and honest reviews without any references to the earlier albums! Everyone should recognize that the last album “Final Strike” was released in 1985! That means 28 years full of experiences, changes and impressions! We also will try to play gigs in 2014 as much as possible! Do you know any Greek metal act? Are there any Greek metal bands that you really like or want to share the stage?

There is Firewind (is this a Greek band or only the guitar-player? ☺), Excremation, Septicflesh, Descending ……puh, just a few which occur to me at the moment! Of course there is SUICIDAL ANGELS! I like their music and I could imagine or wished to share the stage with them! Well, what’s different in this latest album regarding to the previous one? Please tell us about the approach that you have chosen to create this album and production of the album. What’s the feedback of the new record till now?

Well, “Take Extreme Forms” differs almost in all matters by its predecessor “Final Strike”! It’s still raw and noisy but let’s say more “catchy”! The allover speed-level is reduced! Let me try to explain it! By getting older you’re musical likes and the way you are “thinking” about writing music does change more or less! Nevertheless I still listen to the same music as before, but my musical mind has become more “open”! That’s unavoidable!!! Making music is partially a reflection of your actual situation or even the condition of your inner feelings! Besides of that you are constantly exposed to new influences or impressions. And this changes all the time! So it’s only consequentially that your manner to write music changes, too! After a long time of being inactive I had to find out, that I have to make some “noise” again, because there was that itchy feeling under my skin again.


It took me some time to find the following band members: Olli Hirsch – vocals

Thomas Guschelbauer – guitars, backing vocals

Miguel Di Muzio – bass, backing vocals

Lothar Lauble – guitars, backing vocals

Steffen Gottwald – drums

At the beginning (about 2 years ago) we even had no concrete plans at all but time after time more and more songs arouse and we decided to record them. We thought that this stuff is too good to stay locked up in our rehearsal room! The recordings turned out so bold that we decided to search for a record deal. Fortunately “IRON SHIELD RECORDS” was of the same opinion and offered a contract! There were a few offers, but “IRON SHIELD” showed to be the right one! The release date is set on the 17th of January in 2014. So there is not yet much feedback. But the few are consistently positive! Can you tell me a little more about the lyrics, did anything particular inspire you?

There are a variety of inspirations and lyric themes. Some are pure tales, one song is just a funny story, there are reflections of the grievances in our world and similar things like that! Most of the lyrics have been written by our singer. We do not put so much weight on the expressive power of our lyrics. It’s still rock’n roll and we certainly don’t want to award the Pulitzer Price ☺ How important is it to you that people pay attention to your lyrics apart from listening to your music?

To be honest – we don’t give a damn, if anybody likes our lyrics or not! Sometimes you write a song and you find the fitting lyrics and it’s definitely a good feeling to get positive feedback on both – the music and the lyrics. But in most cases people like a song for its melodies and its tension as a whole construction! So it’s not really important to us that people pay extra attention to our lyrics. The main task on the lyrics is to put a “face” into a song and to keep it together! I think that the voice of the singer and the way he sings is much more important than the sung words itself! And now I would like to discuss about some deplorable events. We are in the end of 2013 and three big metal personas have passed away… Ronnie James Dio, Peter Steele and Paul Grey (SLIPKNOT) and finaly Jeff Hanneman (SLAYER) . Are the last 4 years the most donsie years of heavy metal?

Unhappily this is the way nature often chooses! We all will miss them as musicians! Personally I miss Ronnie James Dio even as this warm and very kind person he always was! Six months have already passed after Jeff Hanneman (SLAYER) passing away. What would you like to say about that?

I think without Jeff it’s getting really hard for SLAYER to continue with their very unique songwriting and sound! What do you think of today’s music industry in general?

There are a lot of people who say that the music industry is the same profit-oriented industry like any other! That’s not my opinion or let’s say this shouldn’t be so!!! After all they deal with “art” or at least with the creative output of someone’s mind and feelings! Music influences billions of people, makes them happy or helps some to endure the everyday life! It is a crying shame, that almost every music label is only interested to make lots of money instead of spreading good, handmade music among the people! Is technology part of your life or are you still a “romantic”?

Meanwhile you don’t have a chance to avoid having technology as a part of your life! But it’s everyone’s decision to define the quantity of technology you will use in private! For example – my mobile telephone is an old one even without a camera! I only use it to communicate personally ☺ The World Wide Web is very useful on one side, but on the other side it’s very dangerous, too! I have beholden that heavy metal changes through the decades. Heavy and Thrash metal dominated over in 80’s, Death, Black and Power metal in 90’s and Metalcore and Nu Metal in the 00’s in general. 2010 was the beginning sign of the new decade. What do you see for the future?

I think, there will always be bands playing hard and “handmade” music! Some styles always will stand out more than others! But I’m sure, that none of the mentioned music directions above will completely disappear. So what? Quite the reverse – many young bands try to sound as “old” as possible anyway! There will be enough bands playing rock’n roll until the end of all days! What’s your opinion on downloading?

If someone likes to – please, be happy! I prefer to put a CD into a player while holding a booklet in my hands!!! Don’t misunderstand me – downloading does not mean to rip off the songwriter (as long as it happens on a legal platform) But in this case I am “old-fashioned”! If you could pick only one musician to work with, who would that be and why?

Maybe Robb Flynn of MACHINE HEAD? I like his songwriting and above all I love his voice and the way he sings! Could you respond to the following terms in just one word or sentence:

Thrash metal: Still one of my preferred musical styles

Greece: Problems (Please apologize)

Politics: Nowadays society unfortunately doesn’t work without it

Black Sabbath: Godfathers of heavy metal

Prison Break (tv series): ? I don’t know it

Greek Metal Scene: Distinctive Thank you for this interview. I wish to ‘Backwater’ all the best!!!

It was a pleasure to me and many thanks, Helias!!!  Hold on to your dreams and never trust the authority! Hard music will never die as long as you keep the flame burning! I’d like to thank everybody, who supports and follows BACKWATER!!!


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