Heart of Steel: Interviews

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Interview With Messiah
Interview By Arto

The Swiss metal scene in the 80’s used to be flourishing and got a lot of interest, respect and attention because of several awesome bands like Coroner and of course the legendary Celtic Frost. Besides those two bands, the local underground extreme metal scene was damn vital bringing a lot of more and more brutal death/thrash bands, such as Messiah. In the early 90’s the band got signed by Noise and put out a number of albums and toured with Deicide until they split up. Massacre Records recently re-issued the old back-catalogue of the most obscure and nihilistic stuff of Messiah titled “Hymn To Adramelin” and “Extreme Cold Weather” with the bonus tracks added. Both the cult releases basically stand for the most brutal stuff from the early days of the Messiah career. Because of the re-issues of the first two album the founding member Bröggi shed some light on the history of Messiah from the early 80’s till now for Metal-Rules.com


Good day to Switzerland, what’s up there?

Hi, well... first I am welcoming all readers of metal-rules! I am proud to talk some words to you of the old times related with the re-releases…..

 

 

All right let’s get to the main issue to deal with: The history of the outfit from its early days in the mid 80’s, and of course, the two re-issued albums Hymns to Adramelin and Extreme Cold Weather. But I guess it is quite logical to start the whole interview in the chronological order. The band was founded in 1984 by you and the singer at that time R. Tschoesi, and recorded the first official demo titled PowerThrash. Could you tell a little bit more about the founding of the band?

…"once upon a time" In the beginning, each of us three original members started playing it`s instrument a close time before MESSIAH was born. No one had lessons with the instrument and we were only inspired by our feeling and the mixture of our favorite bands. Tschösi was more in the extreme of the early 90`s bands, I preferred more the classical metal bands; Jazzi liked more of the old school metal. First, it was not planned to found a band - we just rehearsed with fun and a great feeling.

 

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I can’t help asking if you picked up the band’s name from Hellhammer’s “Messiah” track?

Yes, that`s not unright, but as we decided to became a band after Tschösi began playing the bass also (we didn`t find a bass player), we wrote our first lyrics and were influenced with themes of personal interestings of critical religion, anarchism, self feelings of freedom in each life situations. The name MESSIAH was the symbolic and perfect pseudonym we found. Yes, it's from the HELLHAMMER record, but not as a copy of the idea, only because it was the ultimate symbol like a mirror of our ideas!

 

 

As far as I am able to remember there used to be a couple of other bands named after Messiah, at least one of them was from The States and used to stand for the Christian background. Did these other Messiahs bring some unwanted problems for you, apart from people confused them to each other quite often like me?

I know two other MESSIAHs: one is the band from the states and the only problem is that the right of owner of pseudonyms in the states is not the same like in Europe. Our cd`s of the newer MESSIAH released under Noise, were titled as "The MESSIAH" or "MESSIAH AD" - but I give a fuck of this `cause our history started early in Europe and such as I know this was very first. And it`s not that important because the style of music in his difference tells all about. The second Messiah is techno-dance shit or something and they loosed the case with the record company Modern Music/Noise because we had the evidence of owner of the band-name first used in 1984.

 

 

Then in 1986 you entered the studio to record the second demo in a row called Infernal Thrashing which was spread around the underground thru several die hard death/thrash metal tape traders, giving an opportunity to you to process the first studio album Hymn To Adramelin?

messiah-pic7.gif (9629 bytes)The Infernal Thrashing and former tapes also were not made with the idea of direction to get a deal. At this time I think we didn`t realise what we started really. Tapes were the only way we had to get in contact with the scene and personally for me it was a bigger moment to hear our sound on tape than later on the albums. The "kick" for recording the first album was given after first shows together with Celtic Frost and a roadie of them "DINOSAUR SURREMANN", who founded the CHAINSAW MURDER label.

 

 

How important did you view the flourishing tape trading phenomenon for the existence of Messiah in the 80’s and why not even nowadays?

I think the times changed in the scene like in all things in life, but I must say that I lost the newer period of the underground scene of today. Sure, a little I can see, but I don`t really know if it`s maybe me that changed or the underground. It lost something of the "nostalgic" and special feeling. I think today it`s easier to record a CD very fast with technical possibilities an qualities and a lot of bands are doing this - but who know them? More bands with extreme sound have the possibility to get a deal, not so MESSIAH in the 80`s. Tapes were our base of existence and as we played with the newer MESSIAH in former DDR or Poland, the fans knew our tracks only from the tapes - but very well!!

 

 

Both the demos sold approximately 200-300 pieces in general, but nobody knows how much it got spread all around?

Yes, don’t ask me how much copies were around.

 

 

The first press of Hymn To Adramelin was limited to 2000 copies with the entire black cover and later edition was limited 5000 with the red cover, why were those copies limited to certain amount and especially with the different front cover colors?

As I remember, only to make a difference to the first edition because it was sold out very soon. And, CHAINSAW-MURDER was a small private-label and it was only the money spent that was possible and no one of all of us thought that the debut sell that good (relative for that music in that times).

 

 

Then Extreme Cold Weather was unleashed in 1987 via the small Chainsaw Murder Rec and also limited 12000 copies with the blue vinyl. Did it cost a lot after all to print different versions of those albums for you ?

No, that had absolutely nothing to do with the Debut on CHAINSAW MURDER REC.

 

 

Did you record both the albums in Switzerland, or did you hire a studio and producer in Germany and how did you carry out all the recording methods of the albums from the beginning to the end ?

Both albums were recorded in the same 8-track-studio in Switzerland (home-town "Baar") and we had no producer and the owner of the studio never made a metal-record. So we had to learn the simple technique of that recording studio and did the recording`s and mixing by ourself! Again, inspired by our own feelings without any influence of other productions.

 

 

Hymn consisted of nine tracks whereas Extreme Cold Weather had seven, which became a milestone of the career of Messiah of which the Messiah cult and legend status are known among underground freaks still recognizing. It is obvious you gotta be damn proud of those early albums because people seem to remember best with these outputs?

YES! And I want to use this opportunity to say thank you to all the people and old fans and also to the new young freaks who discover MESSIAH in it`s early days and it makes me happy to know that our old feeling of music is still alive (in my mind it`s too!)

 

 

I managed to get a hold of those albums via traditional tape trading because it used to be damn hard to track them down up here in Finland due to the lousy distribution, as both the albums were released by a tiny record Chainsaw Murder Rec.. I gotta admit being unaware of the whole existence of that label. What kind of label it was anyway? Did you run it by yourself ?

No, as I explained before, the owner of the label was a friend of ours (DINOSAUR) and he spent his money to realize our first albums and making possible the recordings of other bands like EXCRUCIATION and PENTAGRAM.

 

 

Another small unknown underground label of that time called Nuclear Blast had put both the albums on the same cd and unleashed it in 1990. How did this come about? Were you aware of this kind of releasing both the albums? Did this come as some sort of surprise to you?

Nuclear Blast wasn`t that big as today and they were interested for re-releasing our debuts on CD, `cause at that time the albums were sold out (except bootlegs). But we were not happy with that releases, `cause the way it was done is not MESSIAH-like, not original, seeming like sold out….We were not happy with this.

 

 

After releasing the debut album, Messiah did a bunch of gigs in several countries supporting bigger and smaller names. What kind of reception did you receive on gigs and did you have a loyal fan base in certain countries like in Germany and Switzerland ?

MESSIAH became to be an absolutely live-combo and the first official gig we played was with CELTIC FROST Dec.85` in Switzerland. For this show, a lot of people came from Germany and first we realised that we had fans knowing our tracks from the tapes. More and more we did shows in Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy and Switzerland. MESSIAH became more a live band and the shows were that brutal in the early times I never had the experience later with the newer MESSIAH on tour like with DEICIDE in the 90`s. MESSIAH had a fan club in Germany called "Thrashing Madness Fan Club."

 

 

By the time Extreme Cold Weather had hit stores, the line-up started changing and finally Messiah ceased to exist. Actually what were the basic reasons for the split up? Did you get tired of battling with guys who left the band and then finding and recruiting new faces to the ranks?

messiah-pic3.gif (8475 bytes)As I remember the fact was that we had personality problems and differences of the style of music we played. Tschösi and me had more and more differences of playing cause he liked to became more chaotic and extreme, whereas I prefered the extreme sound also, but not to much grindcore-like. With the later MESSIAH - albums I had done my direction, but the best mixture would be the technical of the newer MESSIAH combining the old style.

 

 

The era of 1985-87 used to be glorious years of the brutal and aggressive thrash/death metal stuff and the Swiss metal scene was basically know for two bands Coroner and Celtic Frost, even though there were a plenty of killer bands, such as Apocalypse. Apparently Messiah never tried to achieve to the same big league with Coroner and Celtic Frost, staying more in the underground level?

CELTIC FROST and CORONER had deals and a professional background and played more tight. MESSIAH were more chaotic and not in contact with bigger concert-organizers, and labels etc. But we were well known in the underground-scene and very, very close to the fans. And that was the base of our existance and what we and the fans liked.

 

 

Messiah rose from the grave in 1990 with the entire new line up, which didn’t last that long because both the guitarist and the drummer quit. Did you face some kind of personal problems causing their departure?

Not directly personal problems, but that new era of MESSIAH was started with the idea of more professionalty than in the older times and in front of new recordings there were some line-up changes.

 

 

PsychoMorphia came out via Noise during the same year, but how did you manage to get the deal with Noise? Because of other well-known bands like Kreator and Celtic Frost used to be on the same label?

messiah-pic4.gif (19502 bytes)The PSYCHOMORPHIA tape had a good resonance from NOISE especially because the intros and outros and we knew that we had a free ticket to do our thing with NOISE and the first time we became an offer to realize a professional production - so we signed. It has nothing to do that other bands like Celtic Frost or Kreator.

 

 

The four track PsychoMorphia ep hit the stores presenting the more brutal and aggressive Messiah. Were you basically pleased with how brutal the result finally turned out?

messiah-pic8.gif (9527 bytes)Yes, PSYCHOMORPHIA is a very good bridge from the old to the newer albums!

 

 

Then came Choir Of Horrors, and a year later Rotten Perish. Both the albums used to stand for the more standard thrash/death metal, but how do you view those albums done for Noise? Were you pleased with the final result? Do you think now afterwards those albums could have been a little bit more death metal oriented?

messiah-pic9.gif (11961 bytes)I speak only for my opinion and as accompanist of 99% of all ever done MESSIAH titles, but I like Rotten Perish most cause the difference between brutality and silent atmospheres. Each Album has it`s own "band and history" and the results are like mirror of each times. Except the UNDERGROUND album. I like all of them an it dosn`t matter if these records had do be more thrash or more death metal and you can believe me, that we never oriented us on a style before we went to the studio. It`s just what we liked play to this times witout to say "now we have to do a more death-album."

 

 

The last album titled Underground 1994 featured the Therion vocalist doing all the vocals. Well were you totally pissed off at getting a new vocalist having no background that much that decided to find a real professional vocalist to handle all the vocal duties?

After the split with the bassplayer - the singer Andy Kaina also left cause he was a very, very good friend of his. We searched for a new shouter and tested and rehearsed without success.

 

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How did Christopher Christofer Johnsson come up?

We met him first as THERION played with us in Poland and we get in contact and had big fun on that festival. One year later, I organized a THERION show in Switzerland and as we didn`t find a vocalist for MESSIAH, I asked him if he would made that new album with us as session-shouter and so it happened.

 

 

Then Messiah ceased to exist once again. Well the standard question: What made you decide to quit Messiah permanently back then?

messiah-pic2.gif (11323 bytes)No problem. That's the most asked question. The best answer you get if you listen to the UNDERGROUND album.  Don`t you think that`s not MESSIAH, more like another stranger band? For me, the slow death of the band entered before we started with the recordings. I was tired and the identity of MESSIAH was lost definitely and as we had discussions about the lyrics: I gave up. I think it was like a new band and I was the only MESSIAH buddy left, and so I decided to engross the sudden death - finally!

 

 

In fact, I was kinda surprised to learn that Hymn To Adramelin and Extreme Cold Weather have been re-issued by Massacre records. Did the Massacre staff approach you suggesting to reissue these old albums ?

No, I got in contact first because I saw old MESSIAH shirts in the METAL MERCHANT. Later we talked about the re-releases, `cause there were a lot of new fans that never had the chance to get the old albums. And old fans prefer the vinyl-version `cause the Nuclear Blast version is not original.

 

 

Are you about to resurrect Messiah for the third reunion, because of having got a deal with Massacre and the old albums got their prestigious reissued versions?

Definitely NO! I am in contact with the old and new members an we discussed a reunion, but we decided definitely that we don`t want to fall in the same corner like a lot of the 80`s bands. We made a rehearsal session with the old and newer member together this summer and now it`s the possibility that we will play ONLY ONE ULTIMATE BIG SHOW, (SWITZERLAND or SOUTH-GERMANY) next Year, without reunion thoughts!

 

 

Speaking of the reissued albums, both the albums contain a lot of bonus and all kinds of exclusive material recorded on gigs and demo tracks, and of course some previously unreleased tracks. Can you tell a little bit more about those reissued albums for all the readers?

These re-releases are the original versions of the 86/87 albums and not like the strange Nuclear Blast split version of 1990. HYMN TO ABRAMELIN contains all the interludes and the original sound, also EXTREME COLD WEATHER contains the live-side like the original. The bonus-tracks are taken from the original demos, and specially on H.T.A.M. contains unreleased unofficial first recording from the very first beginning. Each of us started playing his instrument not long before MESSIAH was founded and it doesn`t matter that this songs are very raw and unprofessional. Fact is that these titles show the very first beginning with an unique sound and very brutal vocals. Also as bonus added were songs from our very first gig with an old friend of mine, playing the second guitar (Stony-R.I.P.)

 

 

As for the albums released on Noise, do you have full legal ownership rights to those albums or has Noise obtained the needed legal basic arguments to have them on their own catalogue?

All rights of the MESSIAH songs on the NOISE albums were now on Sanctuary records, Modern Music exist no more longer under that name since 1999 - I think.

 

 

Before quitting the interview it is kinda necessary to ask if you are still into the metal and follow the current metal scene closely?

Oh no, since 1995 I lost the contact in the metal scene and it started again one year ago that I found a new fans interested in MESSIAH and the scene. I also didn`t use my English during the past few years and hope you understand my little weird phrases.

 

 

I for one thank you for having the opportunity of doing the interview of Messiah for www.metal-rules.com, and of course the last words are definitely yours.

I specially like to thank all the old and new fans cause without you the existence of MESSIAH never became that real! We were inspired by you in our old and newer times and MESSIAH is a mirror of that great feelings we lived.

 


Band Website:  www.messiah.ch