It has been 12 years since your last visit to Finland in 1990 at
the Giants Of Rock festival. You played there with such bands as Running
Wild, Pretty Maids, Uriah Heep among with others - remember?
90? Yeah, there were all kind of different bands. Uriah Heep were
very cool. I can remember their show. It was a cool Open Air festival
Yeah, I guess it was. I was there, too. I remember there was a
huge three meter wall in the front of the stage where I was hanging on
and yelled "Nuclear Winter" several times and then you said
"You got it… Nuclear Winter", I dived back off from the wall
to the audience...
Hah-ha-ah!! It was really fun to play with Uriah Heep there; they
were one of my fav bands when I was a young boy, y´know.
This ´war´ theme has been the main thing for you since you
released PERSECUTION MANIA, but then later on you started to deal with
more subjects about Satanism and stuff. What was so fascinating about
writing war topics back then? I mean, Motörhead does it, Slayer does it
and Sodom has been doing that for many years thus far as well?
This war theme has always been around us. If you read newspaper every
day and watch TV shows every day, there is always a war raging. I just
wanna describe wars; I can't write anything about World War II because
of Germany. I use the Vietnam War because everyone knows something about
it. If I talk about Vietnam, everybody knows what I mean. Every war,
Vietnam War, WW I and II, Gulf War, Bosnia crisis are all bad signals.
We want to awake everybody up and say: “C'mon stop the wars! Do
something!!” But you can't do that something; you just can't describe
how bad it is. At that time we did BETTER OFF DEAD the Gulf War was
If there is no more war, then I would have to write about the peace
What kind of process was it to get the new album done?
It was important to write even better songs for the new album and it
was important to have choruses in the songs. That's very typical for
songs on M-16. If you listen to it once or twice so you will never
forget them at all. There is "Genocide", "Napalm In the
Morning", "I Am the War" and "M-16" dealing
with the Vietnam issues. The album stands for the real Sodom classics
and are really straight.
The songs are really simple to understand and you kind of never
forget them. I really am satisfied with them. Maybe the production could
have been a little bit better, tho. Probably we will record our next
album at another studio, so we will see what happens, but overall I am
really pleased with it and especially when people have been telling
liking it and compare it to AGENT ORANGE by saying that this is the best
album we have done after AGENT ORANGE. That’s their opinion and…
mine, too, he-he!! But I feel proud when people are saying so. They say
that Sodom is back and this Thrash Metal revival, but we have always
been around and never walked away.
Does your interest towards war topics come from your own
experiences, like you must have done the military service?
Oh no no… It was too long time ago. The military service has to be
done in 15 months. I am not really interested in the military stuff. I
am not a military expert. Maybe I am an expert with guns and weapons
because of the hunting, but no, I am not really interested in the
military. Actually I don't need any militaries and a lot of money can
spent on better things.
But do you however agree that these military lyrics fit to the
concept very well as far as these aggressive aspects of your music are
Yes. That is one of reasons why we visited to Vietnam last year
because I wanted to talk to some people who really fought in the war,
but to see Vietnam - and I wanted to see all these people and talk to
them. There is also a huge war crime museum and famous architecture
systems. I didn't get that much information about the war ´cos people
weren´t that talkative over there. You know the war is over, but now
the war is getting more commercial. People in Vietnam are making the
money with the war; there are a lot of American products for example
Coca Cola, Martini T-shirt and so on. It is getting really commercial
indeed and they make the money, but I still think it is somewhat ok.
I read some interview ´bout you like a couple of years ago when
you played at the Milwaukee metal fest that you were interested in
writing some lyrics about animal rights as well, is that correct?
Yeah, I have already done that in a song called “Silent is Consent”.
It is about the killing of the whales. That's really bad. Well, I kill
deers because of the hunting, but it can't be compared to the killing of
the whales. Every year you have to kill deers because of the population
is growing up too much, but for me it is totally senseless to kill
whales. There is no reason why to kill. This way they will really die
out. That makes me really angry.
So you have a personal touch to topics like killing animals?
Let´s just say that I don't smile when I go to the forest with a gun
and kill a deer, but someone has to do it anyway. But you really can't
compare it to the senseless killing of animals. It is not senseless when
I kill a deer, y´know. Of course it is sad cos another deer comes
behind the fallen one.
You just said you are not able to write lyrics about the World War
II because Germans are sensitive people about this matter. What about
such brothers of metal like Lemmy Kilmester from Motörhead, Jeff
Hannemann from Slayer as they both collect the military stuff from the
WW II. Just wondering has Lemmy been asking for any military stuff from
I know a lot of other guys who collect these symbols of the WW II - just
collecting, y´know, without having any political opinion involved with.
I don't know what Lemmy's political opinion or Jeff Hannemann´s either.
Americans are sometimes very strange. Sometimes they use symbols to look
they have like Iron Cross and so on.
I do know Lemmy is a real serious collector, he is really interested
in the German history and all the stuff of the war and reads the books.
He is really interested in the war themes. I don't know Jeff Hannemann's
opinion, maybe just wants to use to show people "maybe I am
fascist" or then not or something like that. If someone collects
that stuff, there is not always any political opinion. It is kind of the
GLORIOUS OLD DAYS
Ok, I guess you must have been asked several times about the war
things by now, so I think it is about time to jump into a time capsule
and return to the early days of Sodom. When you started out Sodom, I
guess you were heavily influenced by Motörhead, Angelwitch and Venom. I
think the Venom influences still reflect in your mind because of your
little bit yes, but when we started to do music for Sodom, we tried to
create our own style. We tried to make the music without any influences,
but you can't do that without getting any influences. I was a big Venom
fan in the beginning and Motörhead - yes. We tried to make the music in
our own way and tried to get it heavier than Venom. That was our aim
when we started. As for the name Angelripper, well ok, it was a fashion
at that time: Witchunter, Grave Violator, Aggressor, Destructor. It was
kind of in fashion, you know. In the lyrical way, it was really
interesting to pen about the Alistair Crowley stuff and other magic
things, but it gave me nothing, so I changed the lyrics on PERSECUTION
What do you actually think of your first album IN THE SIGN OF EVIL
now after several years it was released?
We played three songs tonight. I am standing 100% behind every single
song on that album. I am looking forward to doing something from
OBSESSED BY CRUELTY for the new kids, but OBSESSED BY CRUELTY was really
strange. I can't hear exactly what I played there for you at this time.
It was really strange…
So you are very proud of those albums, I mean, OBSESSED BY CRUELTY
and IN THE SIGN OF EVIL, ´coz those albums were sort of a head start of
Sodom and put the whole metal scene wondering who are they indeed, where
are they coming from and so on…
Yes, yes… these two albums interest a lot of younger bands. Young
metal bands and fans are really interested in the beginning of this kind
of music. That makes me really proud. There is even a tribute album to
Sodom on the CODE RED album and a lot of bands have recorded their
versions of the Sodom material and that makes me very proud. Sodom was
definitely one of the very first Thrash Metal bands at least here in the
Before the mini-album you recorded a couple of demo tapes; one was
called VICTIMS OF DEATH and the other one was titled WITCHING METAL. I
found out that both demo tapes would have been released as a bootleg-CD
called SATAN´S CONJURATION? You may probably have got a better idea
about this than us, so kill our curiosity… NOW!
there is one vinyl single called SATAN´S CONJURATIONS which is a live
recording from 1985 - and not from 1984; from one of the first shows,
but there is also a CD called SATAN´S CONJURATION with both demo tapes
and another live recording. It is a real bootleg and nothing else. I
have seen a lot of Sodom bootlegs around and we can do nothing. But I
still am very proud. I never got the original mastertapes of the demos,
so if somebody is really interested to get a hold of these demo tapes,
then let them buy the stuff as those bootleg things if they so wish…
I did some investigation before starting doing the interview and
learnt that you would have had some kind of previously ´unreleased
(!!!)´ album called PRETENDERS TO THE THRONE and that album would even
have included one extra track which is not on the OBSESSED BY CRUELTY
album?! So would you enlighten us what is exactly the whole truth behind
this album anyway?
We recorded this album twice actually, I mean, OBSESSED BY CRUELTY.
The first version was recorded in Berlin and the record company said
that: "No, it is awful - …so bad and shit…". We had to
record it twice and the second recording we did nearby in Nurberg,
Germany. This recording has one bonus track because we had another
guitar player called ´Saitrool ( I gotta admit that I am not that
sure about the spelling of these names - AL…)´. It was a
completely different recording and as for that trash press made in
Berlin, it was just for the US import. And it was a mistake of the
company as they changed the tapes, so there was a complete new recording
of OBSESSED BY CRUELTY.
How large was the edition for that one?
I don't know… Hmm… Maybe 5000 for the US press I guess. Later the
second recording came out on CD and the first press came out on vinyl as
the US press.
Then came the SODOMY AND LUST album - followed soon by the great
PERSECUTION MANIA album. Both albums are definitely some sort of the
highlights of the whole Thrash Metal history whereas AGENT ORANGE was
definitely the most successful album from Sodom to date as far as the
selling figures of that album was concerned. And then you headed out for
the tour with Sepultura. I remember having reading a lot of reviews that
people said Sodom sucked and Sepultura was great, but I guess nowadays
it is completely opposite?
That was a really big and successful tour, but the problem was that
after the tour Sepultura got really big, really famous - and Sodom have
always stayed on the same level. And I like the Sepultura guys. There
were rumours that we got in the bad contacts with them after the tour.
No, no way... It was a really funny and successful tour after all. I
wish them all the best.
And yes - you are right, for me AGENT ORANGE was a successful album
and for me it is the best album personally that we have ever done. After
PERSECUTION MANIA came out and it got really successful, our previous
record company wanted to have kind of a sequel to PERSECUTION MANIA, but
we did AGENT ORANGE that is simply AGENT ORANGE and not PERSECUTION
MANIA part II. For me AGENT ORANGE is much more real album because we
wrote the material already before BETTER OFF DEAD. But the record
company wanted to have the same good selling as with PERSECUTION MANIA.
There was a little commercial thinking behind again, I can tell. So, for
me AGENT ORANGE is the real best album. It got really what it deserved -
and it is a really special Sodom album.
How do you like their current situation now when Max is no more
involved with them and they have gone totally down if their ´REAL
breakthrough albums (i.e. BENEATH THE REMAINS and ARISE, that were…)´
could be drawn out from the shades of the godly past times of the band
Do you mean the new Sepultura line-up or…?!
Yeah, I do mean the current one...
Noohh… no way!! I am not a fan of them any longer!! When we made
the tour, ARISE was out (actually it was when BENEATH THE REMAINS
-era. Ed note.) and it was such a wonderful Thrash album. I hope
Sepultura could go back to the real Thrash some day. I like their new
singer; he sounds rather ok even if he is not really a Thrash Metal
singer. I hope they could do a reunion thing with the one and only
original Sepultura line-up some day, though. I would never mind that -
it could be up to them, however.
But in my opinion Sodom have always been loyal to its own sounds
very well during all these years and I think that's one of those reasons
why people admire you Sodom as a metal band so much these days according
to all those articles what I have read from the press; Sodom have ever
neither changed its own musical direction nor jumped into any bandwagon
and you have managed to stay away from all these trends and just been
doing your own uncompromising Thrash Metal from one year to another -
never selling your true soul for the sake of sort of commercial
got it all right. Sodom have never been trying to be trendy or
commercial. What's ´commercial´ anyway?! If you sell more albums, that
doesn´t automatically mean you could be any commercial than others. But
as one fact still remains the same, we never change our music; we never
want a record company to come to say that: “C'mon… this and that
song is too slow and should be more commercial...”. We have always
been going in our own way and writing the music what we feel good to us.
That's it. That´s how it has been for us during all these years really.
But in the middle of the 90's you had a very tough time to go on
because of new waves of metal were coming up and a lot of new bands were
coming out whereas at the same the whole Thrash thing was wanted to
forget and that time you had some problems with the line-up, too?
Yeah, that was a period when we always tried to get our music much
heavier; more aggressive in the Sodom way. That's why YOU GET WHAT YOU
DESERVE and MASQUARADE IN BLOOD are the heaviest Sodom album ever done!!
They are really hardcore and especially MASQUARADE IN BLOOD is a really
fuckin´ brutal album because we always said Sodom is the heaviest band
in the world...
At that time you had Atomic Steiff on the drums and previously he
had been in Living Death, Violent Force and so on. But in this magazine
(Tales from the Macabre) he criticized you very heavily, so that makes
me wonder what kind of relationship do you have with him - or did have
with him to be more precise?
Really bad, he always wanted to get the money…
As far as I can remember this particular mag which I´m holding in
my hands at the moment, came out back in ´98 or something… And here
is the article where he criticized you quite a lot indeed...
Yeah, that's it. It was always ´the money-money thing´ for him. He
got so much money that he has never got before in his life. He is a real
asshole. He got a big chance in Sodom for a long time, but he was always
after more money and money. I gave so much what I had. If I had given
even more money to him then I would have had to get to the work.
Everybody in the music scene knows that he is a real asshole, just
attempting to make money constantly and only money; that´s really all
he cared for. These guys here in the pic (a few dudes in a Sacred Chao
promo pic), he had that kind of contract with them that he would have
got all the money and other guys wouldn’t have got anything. He was
really greedy after all… I gave him my best in the band and supported
him as much as I could, but he was such a greedy asshole. I gave him the
best in the band and the best support, but he didn’t care for that at
all and just ripped us constantly off.
What about Witchunter; I guess he left the band because he didn't
get along with you because you are the chief in the band of course...
And he had problems with alcohol...
Well, yeah. He really got problems with the alcohol; he cancelled
shows, studio jobs and was pissed off all the time, didn't want to go to
tours and I had to go forward and not back, so I had to kick him out of
Sodom. We were together over 13 years and had really good time together,
but he was getting so stupid all the time.
By the way, did Chris Witchunter participate in some Bathory
rehearsal session in the mid-80's? I heard this strange rumor about it…
Yes, but he never recorded anything or touring with him. He just
visited him for a couple of days without any results. Then he came back
and said: ”NO BEERS” over there, he-he!!
Well, have Sodom had any problems with some ex-members of the band
in the past?
If you are talking about Blackfire, he left the band. There was no
really problem ´coz I have to say that we were really a good band at
that time. I gave all the best support to him and he was a great guitar
player, but he saw bigger chances in Kreator to go to America. He left
Sodom three weeks before we started working with AGENT ORANGE. He played
a couple of years in Kreator and got kicked out of that band, too.
And then he formed a black metal band called Black Messiah?
Yes, he did.
And nowadays lives in Brazil?
Now he lives in Brazil - yes. I have seen Andi Bricks a couple of
times and he does the music for himself - being more focused on Tracy
Lord's power Gothic. He went his own way.
THE METAL SCENE OVERALL…
Have you ever had problems with the police? I mean you have a very
interesting video called "Fuck the Police" where a nasty
looking officer has some beating thing going on...
He-he... No, no… it is not personal at all. I had some problems
with them for some years ago when I drove a car and I was a bit drunk.
Nowadays when I see a police I just go away.
So what are you planning on doing for the future, by the way?
We try to keep the package together to make some more shows in Greece
and we will probably do some gigs in Russia and obviously in South
America as well. We also have plans about the new Sodom album and a DVD.
You have also your own solo project and you sing in Desperados.
How important are these bands for you compared to Sodom? Have you had
any other side projects during these 20 years or so?
At the time I have a lot of ideas for the new Onkel Tom album, but I
don’t find the time cause we have so much to do with Sodom which is my
main band and my life. Onkel Tom is very popular in Germany and it is so
funny to do. I try to bring it out in the end of this year.
It´s very sad to say that Desperados get no deal! The second album
is entirely recorded (MARCH TO DESTINY) but nobody is interested in
releasing it. I don’t know why ´coz, for me it was the best newcomer
album for the last years. But I guess it is all about the business…
By the way, I saw your adventures in Grand Canary on Viva doing
this Onkel Angelripper thing...
This is another project. I am doing a new album this year. It is
completely a funny project and I like doing it. It is really funny to
pull audience to the stage and sing and drink the beer together with
them. Yeah, it was funny to go there Canary, cos there is always a lot
of drunk people...
How do you view the current metal scene, cos it has been changing
a lot during all these past years?
think the metal scene is divided to several sides. It is no longer any
family like in the 80's when the metal scene was a big common family.
And nowadays everybody is trying to go his/her own way. That is also a
reason why it is over the top. For example, when we are doing like
German beer drinking songs, everybody likes it and when we played at
Wacken last year, everybody was like a big family and liked the music
and drank the beer. That's ok. That's the reason why I do this music.
Nowadays the whole metal scene is completely commercial. Hundreds of new
bands are coming every month and everybody wants to make some money in
this business. The 80's will never comeback, that´s for sure…
Have you ever pondered why these three particular German Thrash
Metal bands in question i.e. Kreator, Destruction and Sodom have become
so popular and huge that people are constantly talking about them,
leaving some other great German bands more in the background like
Deathrow, Tankard, Assassin, Living Death, Poison and so on. I think
it´s just strange that people don't remember them at all…
These bands never got the power to continue their music. Well, for
example Kreator and Sodom don't have a proper deal with our record
company; we have to make a deal every year. That was a problem for
Assassin and Living Death. They couldn't continue their careers because
of having no deals with companies. They never got the power to make it.
But I wanna do this thing indeed. Of course, I am married and have kids,
but this music is also a big part of my life and that´s what I really
wanna do until I die.
Well what do you think about these reunion things, I mean for
example Exodus, Vio-lence, Death Angel, Agent Steel, Candlemass,
Necrodeath and so on ? And oh yeah… Destruction as well, heh...
Yeah, I know... If they got a chance to make a good album that would
be ok. I do know there is a lot of reunion bands put together to make
some money. If there is a real reunion and comes up with a really good
new album, that's perfect. There is always a little bit commercial
thinking on the background, but even that's ok anyway. If you live for
the music you have to get something. Destruction did a really good album…
and Agent Steel, too. Agent Steel is a real wonderful band and I am
really looking forward to hearing some new material from them again and
I have already heard of the new Venom release that´s supposed to come
out this year. If these reunion bands do really good albums, then I have
nothing against it.
Did you manage to see Exumer last year at Wacken?
Exumer… yes, I did. They were really good onstage…
Welll… yeeaahh... Actually they were on the bill of this tour. They
lost the support from their record company cos they couldn't do that.
They simply just didn't get the money for this tour which is kind of sad
(In this part of the interview Tom Angelripper started taking a
closer glance at Tales From The Macabre mag… ed. note!)
WO-HOO… Bulldozer!!!! They were one of my old fave bands. I have
all of their albums myself.
What about other Italian bands like Necrodeath, for example…?
Yes!! Have they come back, too?! Actually, I don't have that much
time to check out new releases any more...
Yes, and they have done two totally excellent old school Thrash
Metal albums since they came back. I guess you - in spite of lack of
time, however, do follow the scene from time to time by checking out
some metal magazines occasionally at least, right?
Yes, I get a German magazine called Ablaze for free every month which
is the biggest black metal mag over there. I always do read it, though.
All right we wanna thank you for sharing some of your time with
us, so… (-eh?!) danke schon Onkel Tom!
Danke schon und bitte schon… and metal fuckin´ rules!!!!!!