When talking about Swiss metal, it is more than common Celtic Frost pops up for obvious reasons. Besides Celtic Frost, Coroner is another important metal name coming out of Switzerland. The legendary three-piece unleashed five albums in a row before calling it quits. Therefore, the return of Coroner was truly anticipated amongst metal fans. The Swiss thrashers had been invited to headline the Afterburner event at the Roadburn festival. Before Coroner hit the stage, we had the tremendous opportunity of talking to the drummer Marky Edelmann aka Marquies Marky about the past, the present and the future.
Interview and pics by Arto Lehtinen and Timo Hanhirova
Good morning Mark.
So how’s it going?
Good, good. Still good.
You arrived here last night and maybe had a couple of beers and then you went to bed?
More or less, yeah.
RETURN OF CORONER
So you are doing a number of shows during this year.
You are doing Roadburn and a number of other festivals, like Wacken, and then you are coming to Finland for Jalometalli and then playing in France. How did you pick up these festival dates or are those festival dates more a random thing that you selected?
Yeah, it’s actually a random thing. They asked us to play there. We checked out if it makes sense. We do it or don’t.
Did the whole reunion thing start out when the French metal festival Hellfest asked you to play there?
Yes. This one and also Maryland Deathfest, in Baltimore USA. That was actually the two first festivals. Actually the very first festival was Hellfest. That was actually the kickoff that you decided to do this.
You have been asked several times, to get back on stage. When you vanished 20 years ago, festivals and booking agencies have constantly asked you “when you are coming back?”. What made you change your mind to say that, “Okay, now it’s time to bring Coroner back into action?”
It basically took such a long time because it was basically mainly me; I was just scared that sound shitty after such a long time being not able – especially for myself, I’m talking for myself – not able to perform this anymore because I haven’t played any drums in fifteen years except for a short time with Apollyon Sun. But that was the only thing that I did so for me it was just I could not even think about trying to go back on stage and try to play the songs I didn’t play for such a long time. For me, we stopped at the right moment and I felt like, “It’s good like it is and if we come back now we could just destroy the legacy,” if you want, so it took quite a long time to decide. So yeah, after years and years we felt like, “Let’s give it a try.” Actually what we did is we rehearsed three songs, I think, just to see if it makes sense, if there is any chance to fly back to the old times and it came out pretty good. It was a surprise for myself. Then we said, “Okay, let’s give it a try.” I’m very glad up until now that it’s turned out very good. We had a lot of fun and I hope the crowd as well.
How hard was it, actually, to get back in the groove?
There were two things, you know. First of all, I had to remember the songs because it’s of course not written down so it was like, “What part comes now?” But it was not so hard as I thought because somehow your brain just puts it together somehow and your hands go somewhere just automatically.
It was still in the muscle memory.
Exactly. It’s a funny feeling sometimes. The other thing was the condition, you know, it’s like I was 24 when I was recording and now I’m 47 so I was a bit afraid if I am able to play 90 minutes, but it was also just a little time.
Did you have to check out some Coroner songs to recall how you played it?
That was sometimes – Especially if I had to play in keys or something. That was maybe more a problem for these guys because what they played so fast, it’s really hard to hear it out of the record, to hear what is every note and what’s the bass playing while the guitar’s playing, so yeah, of course it took a while.
All these thrash bands of the ‘80’s like Celtic Frost, Voivod and Exodus have come back, of course people assumed that sooner or later Coroner will come back, because of all these old bands are back. Did you pay attention to that and thinking “All those bands came back – What about Coroner?”
Of course not all of them because I was really out of the scene completely. But of course I knew that Celtic Frost was doing a reunion because I was in contact with Eric Ain, I see him very often. He’s also living in Zurich, really close by where I live. And I though they did a really good job. I was also a bit curious about how it would come out, but I like the whole style they set up for the reunion, like how they look, also the sounds they did and I think they did everything perfect. It’s a shame that they quit after such a short time and after such a long preparation. It was too short. It’s a shame. Of course, I can see now how many bands were back. I was surprised suddenly I saw Voivod which are also old friends of ours. I don’t know if you know that we were on the U.S. tour ‘86’ with Celtic Frost and Voivod, that’s where we met. We were on the road for two months together. So it was really cool to see those guys again. And also, at all these festivals we met many other people we hadn’t seen in a very long time like Kreator, and so on.
Are you overwhelmed and surprised to see how the people have taken the comeback of Coroner?
I have been more than surprised. Yes, that’s absolutely the case. Also, I was surprised to see all these clips you can see on You Tube and people discussing this. I was like, “Wow! They didn’t forget us.” I thought after five years we were away and just a few would go like, “Yeah, there was a band called Coroner or something like that.” “Yeah, Coroner!” So it was a big surprise and I am very happy. It’s very touching. It’s cool.
You mentioned last night that after this year you are finished.
I think so, yeah, because on one point there are no more shows we can play, I guess. It can be that there’s going to be one show next year or something but basically this every month there’s one show. I think on one point, that’s it.
But you don’t know about the last show yet?
No, I know it’s the last year in Switzerland we’re going to play in June at the festival because now we play enough in Switzerland. I think we played five shows in Switzerland. It’s enough. It’s such a small country, it doesn’t make sense to go on until there are ten people only to see us. So it’s okay for Switzerland. But all the other countries, I would love to play in South America, we have never performed there, so we are working on this. Hopefully it turns out and we can play in Brazil. It’s cool to play in Finland. We never played there, so that’s what I like best is playing somewhere we’ve never been before, that’s a cool thing.
Do you feel that Coroner is more successful than twenty years ago?
I think now people are attracted to us, because we haven’t been around for such a long time. I think right now there’s a little bit of a cult and people like to see the show, but not more popular. It’s really hard to say for myself. I can’t say. I’m happy that people come to the shows. That’s all I can say.
FROM DEATHCULT to GRIN
“R.I.P.” was the first album and before that you got the demo out called Deathcult. When I was doing the tape trading back in the day, twenty years ago, I got some other songs f:ex “Arrogance In Uniform”. What’s that song? It’s basically on the demo package, but it doesn’t belong there or any album.
I think at some point there was some misinformation and it went the way – No, it was not on the demo tape. I think we recorded it during the recording sessions of R.I.P. or even later but I’m not sure or was it on PUNISHMENT? I’m not sure. But the song was never on the demo tape. The demo tape only has four songs. Actually tonight we are going to do a special, we are going to play one song off the demo tape we never played live in our career. So tonight is the first time we are going to play “The Invincible.” I was totally surprised to see Tom yesterday and was like, “What are you doing here?” So he just came to visit, I think, The Obsessed. So that would be a fantastic opportunity that he could actually sing. That would be the perfect thing, but he had to travel back home today. Ron’s doing a good job so I’m looking forward to play that one.
You recorded those first albums in Germany, but when you started working with the Morrissound guys and what made you work with them?
Exactly, yeah. We really liked how Death sounded and everybody said “You need to check out these two guys, the Morris brothers in Tampa, Florida.” Of course at that time, Scott Burns and then Johnson were doing a lot of this kind of music. So for us it was exactly the sound we wanted because we were not so satisfied with PUNISHMENT FOR DECADENCE somehow. We wanted to get another sound. So it was really cool that we had the chance to do the mix for NO MORE COLOR at Morris Sound. Unfortunately it never happened that we could record there because it was too expensive but at least Tom Morris was coming over to do the engineering for MENTAL VORTEX. So it was great to work with these guys. The Morrises are such great guys, really calmed and very concentrated. It was a good year, so it was very, very nice to work with them.
It started getting trendy because everybody went to Morrissound.
That’s true, but one the other hand it was nice to go to Florida.
How did you explain to the record label that you wanted to go to Florida to cooperate with them?
They also realized that they do a good job. Some of the bands that everybody really wants to listen to like Death or Morbid Angel, all these bands that are going there to record. So they thought it was a good idea for us.
Coroner in my opinion got a little bit more technical on albums, how did this evolution happen?
It’s hard to say because for me it’s actually less technical. I think the maximum we did on “R.I.P.” is totally crazy. If you listen to all these fast-play things I think we slowed down a lot basically and it helped a lot that we more and more played live. As we recorded “R.I.P.” I think we played one show or something like that. Two shows before we did more, so we had completely no experience playing live. Afterwards, more and more we were also on stage with, for instance, Sacred Reich. They played at the same festivals, and we realized the level of these guys. They had played 300 shows up until then and you can see it on stage and it was merciless and we were totally shaky, so nervous and we found out, “Okay, that’s very important.” And then finally we could play on tours and stuff. Finally, we found out it’s the song writing we did on the first album: It doesn’t work live very good. We always had the feeling that “It’s too much. It’s too complicated.” So we started to concentrate more on things that are more powerful to perform live and are more fun to play, things we enjoy more than just being completely at the end after every song.
The GRIN album was a little bit different – It was your last album and somehow it just vanished. It didn’t come out like the previous albums. The new styles in the metal thing, like grunge and death metal became more popular. Did those new styles drive you away from the metal world?
It’s hard to say because we never really – And that’s the truth – We never really thought about what we gotta do. It just came out somehow. During the live performances, what we felt, what we got inside the studio, it just made us do the things we did so it’s hard to say what direction we went with GRIN. It also depends, some people are more into the old Coroner style while others like much more what we did on GRIN. Sometimes from country to country. I think in France there are a lot of people who like the MENTAL VORTEX sort of thing. The United States people like the NO MORE COLOR stuff. Hard to say. I used to be a huge Kiss fan and as they came back with the original line-up with the masks and that kind of show I was into. I went to the show and for me I just wanted to hear ’74 to ’78 or something. That’s what I wanted to hear. I was not interested at all in anything that came out later from Kiss. I didn’t like them at all, especially as they put off the mask it was totally over. I thought they were ridiculous, but I loved the very early stuff of Kiss. So I’m just the same, I want to hear early good things.
What about other metal bands like Motorhead, Iron Maiden or stuff like that? Priest?
I used to like Iron Maiden when Paul Di’Anno was still the singer. I kind of liked them at that time. They were actually a supporting act of Kiss once, 1980. They had so much less space on the stage because they had to set up in front of the huge Kiss thing. It looked like they came straight out of the rehearsing room. It was so funny. I never thought they’d become so big as they are now. Of course Motorhead, I always liked Motorhead a lot. One band I always liked a lot was Mercyful Fate. I think they had a major influence on my music. I really liked Nasty Savage a lot. You can also hear some Nasty Savage in the Coroner songs if you listen closely. So what else? Angel Witch I liked a lot. Too many bands. Venom of course was a big thing, especially very early.
In the ’89 you played behind the “Iron Curtain” with Kreator and Sabbat and got a video out, what kind of thing was going behind the “Iron Curtain” and playing in East Berlin when the political climate was completely different than nowadays?
Yeah, but it was just at the time when you could already feel it starting to collapse, you know. You could already feel it was a matter of a few more months and it’s going to be different. We experienced real tough times because we always went to West Berlin to record so you always had to – I think from Dortmund you had to drive to Hannover. You had to drive through the eastern part in order to get to West Berlin. The west was an island in the middle. So we made it our experience with East German customs and there was still the wall where you could see at night there were these strong lights they had in between and all this. So we kind of were used to all of this. The difference to play there was that people were extremely excited. We could feel how much they appreciated that there were bands like that coming over. It was the same, we played once in Katowice in Poland. There was still the “Iron Curtain” and it was the same, crazy, big stadium. We played in front of so many people like never before. It was like that’s how it is if you’re a real rock star.
I was pondering because you are the three-piece and playing on a big stage. How can a three piece fill up a big stage?
You always have to walk from side to side.
Tommy has to walk everywhere.
Exactly. He walks from the left to the right and the right to the left. It’s mainly the music that keeps people busy but we’re not a band that is jumping around too much because I think we’re busy playing with what we’re playing. So there is not so much time to do other things show-wise.
SPLIT UP AND LIFE AFTER CORONER
What was the reason why Coroner after all split up or went on hold for so long?
Just because the time was right. We had done this, slowly we also had the feeling that with this style we were attracting – You have a backpack filled with all these things you had done in the past and all these people want to hear this and that and it was getting too tight to express. It was just the right time. Everybody wanted to do different music, which Tommy did. He joined Clockwork, a band that was more like crossover music, sounded a bit like Helmet. Actually, they already started when we were still together. So it was just time. We felt like we didn’t want to stop when no one wants to listen o us anymore or something like that. It was like, “Let’s stop now.” It was good.
Before when you were vanished from metal you played for Apollyon Sun for a short time, but then – Did you quit the whole music scene completely and focus on other things and did you play some techno things?
Yeah, I was completely away from the metal scene and I went totally into the electronic music scene. We did several projects with synthesizers. It was called Supreme Psychedelic Underground, S-P-double O, and the other one was called Knall Kids, like Knall, the German word for “bang” and kids. I also put out for both projects we did records. So yeah, it was very, a lot of fun at that time. It was for me very cool. I could start to compose myself. I could not just play drums or do beats. It was possible for me suddenly to do bass lines and other things. So it was a new world opening up and I’m glad I did this. I actually have no problem to go from one to the other music style. For me, it’s just music in general; there are so many things you can try out. Now, it’s the same for me coming back after this time with the laptop and all this cable stuff. It’s so cool to be back playing handmade drums. I really miss that a lot.
You played for a very short time in Apollyon Sun. Could you tell more about Apollyon Sun because you came into the band replacing the previous drummer?
They had a female drummer. I don’t know if she left the band or they made her to leave the band – I’m not really sure what happened – But anyway Tom asked me at that time if I wanted to join the band. At first I didn’t want to play anymore drums. At the time I was more into the techno thing. Then after a while I said, “Let’s give it a try” and that’s what we did. But it ended up, it was a lot of programming actually. I was more playing drums along a drumbeat or synthesizers, all in an electronic drum kit. So it was kind of strange for me from the beginning. I really liked the music. For me the only problem was it took a bit too long between the song writing, the recordings, and the release of the first record. It took probably was about two years or so. So the air was out. It took too long. It’s also a shame because I basically liked the style we did at this time.
Was there some kind of Celtic Frost ghost looming behind Apollyon Sun?
No. I think – Yeah, we did one cover version of a Hellhammer song, “The Messiah” for instance, so there was a connection of course because of Tom. Tom was the main guy in the band. Of course, there is somehow a relation to Celtic Frost in terms of he is the songwriter of most material. He was the songwriter of Apollyon Sun, so of course there is a connection. But I also think we got that record deal so fast because people knew of course of Celtic Frost and maybe it helped a little bit but I’m not used to being Coroner so it was kind of easy together to get the proper deal.
As to the Coroner vocalist Ron, he dropped off from the map entirely because he didn’t continue playing in other bands, he just vanished.
He did actually drop off, it was the same. We didn’t see each other — we probably didn’t see each other but for one time per year or something like that. And I think he also tried out some things with electronic, like synthesizers and stuff. Basically, it never left his home so we was off the map completely, off the radar.
I remember reading some really old Coroner news and there was a mention that he is a house painter.
Yes, his father has a painting business, so he used to work there. That’s true. You have to do jobs to survive in expensive Zurich.
What about Tommy, he is running a recording studio nowadays?
Did he start the recording studio after he left Kreator or how was it?
Yes, I think so. You’ve got to ask him afterwards, but I think it was about that time. The studio is in another city, or it’s actually a village, and then he moved and now he has quite a big studio, very professional. The first one was a little bit, you know, trying out things but now it’s a really good studio.
Did you try the first rehearsal for Coroner at his studio or did you try out some new ideas with Coroner at his studio?
No, no. We did not because the main reason is that it’s about a 30 minute drive from downtown Zurich so it was by car so it would be too complicated to go there to rehearse so we had to rehearse in the bunker in downtown Zurich. No, we did not try to do things.
Has it crossed your mind about writing some new riffs and testing just for some fun?
No, we didn’t try anything, but of course we had the question of, “Are we going to record something new?” I think Tommy would be up for it as well as Ron but we don’t want to do it for several reasons but for me it’s okay to do this. I would try at it doing probably just one song that we can put maybe on the DVD. We are planning a DVD filming all the shows during this reunion as well as what we do tonight and we want to combine this with some old footage from the first show, ’86 or ’85 in Zurich, and all the things we filmed during tours. We’ve got to put these things together. We’ll put out a DVD and maybe it will have an extra new song.
Tommy played on two Kreator albums ENDORAMA and OUTCAST. What kind of relationship do you have with Kreator, because he left Kreator – Well I don’t know, if it was a mutual decision or did he want to leave Kreator?
You’d have to ask him. I didn’t really follow at that time but we met Kreator twice in the Bloodstock Festival and Hellfest and it was just a big “hello,” just like we were such good friends. I don’t know really how was the relationship between Mille and Tommy as they split but for me there is no doubt that it’s one of the closest friends we have. Ever since we toured in the U.S. in ’89. I was so happy to see them again.
Every Coroner album came out on Noise Records. Most of the bands had deals with Noise Records back in the day like Celtic Frost, Kreator, Helloween, but all of them left this label piece by piece, but instead you stayed on them, how come?
Yes. Some of the bands like Helloween were much more successful. They were selling a lot of records. As far as I remember they somehow signed another contract with EMI or something like that, a major, while they were still with Noise Records and then what happened, I somehow recall that they were blocked from Noise Records. They blocked them; they were not allowed to do interviews for one and a half years or two years or something like that. They could not do anything because they broke the contract. Something like that happened so they were trying to dry them out. I think other bands, yeah, they switched to other labels. I think Kreator went to GUN or something. So I think some bands, their contract was just fulfilled. They had maybe three years or whatever then they had a chance to switch to a maybe bigger label or – I think with GUN the thing was from Boggi Kopec, there was manager, Kreator, and Coroner at the same label. He was also doing a label afterwards. It was the people that you know so for them maybe it was a good choice. There was a friendship also with these guys compared to Noise, it was a bit tough to deal with that.
When I talked to Andy Sneap, for example, he told me that they would have needed more guidance from someone to help to sign with a right deal. A deal was not that ideal for the band as they were young and misguided somehow.
Yeah, I remember we just signed all the papers and we found out that we also signed a publishing contract with Darkwings, which was owned by the same guy, Karl Walterbach, and we signed everything and years later somebody said, “Why are you also with the publishing – “ We were like, “Yeah, we signed already.” It was like, “No, you can go to another publisher, you can have a much better deal than this.” We didn’t know this was possible, we thought we had to do this. There was just no information. Of course, as a young band we were so happy to have a record deal at all. With Noise Records, where Celtic Frost was and some other bands, it was the perfect thing for us and it turned out that many good things happened also with Noise Records. Not everything was shit, but as I mentioned before, they didn’t really inform the musicians about their rights, to have the maximum benefit.
LIFE AND METAL IN SWITZERLAND
How do you like living in Switzerland ? I interviewed Tom Gabriel when Celtic Frost was here, and he made quite critical claims about Switzerland, that people are selfish and that money’s everything.
Oh yeah, that’s true. We are under the command of rich people basically. They tell us how much money we have to spend for things because they can keep the level very high. They are able to pay 5,000 francs for an apartment. So if there are enough rich people that can get these apartments, all the apartments are going up with the price because there are people that can pay. All the other people have to pay somehow. They have to pay for McDonald’s twice as much as when you go to Germany or all these things. Everything is more expensive: a drink in the club costs you around 15 Swiss francs. That’s about 12 Euros. Everything’s expensive so that keeps you busy. You have to work all the time just to follow the basic things, insurance and the whole bullshit. Yeah, but on the other side we also live in a world that has a lot of comfort and things, clean water, clean streets, everything is fixed. So we should not forget about this. We have no crisis, we have no war, nothing like that so I think we should not just complain but see the good things, you know. I feel it’s nice to live there. I can jump in the river and swim there. It’s not polluted and things like that. I appreciate this.
Do you think it’s a benefit for Switzerland not to belong to the European Union right now?
Yeah, now of course. The people who are fighting hard for Switzerland to join the European Community, they are a little bit in the background now. It’s like, “Okay we should probably wait another year or two.” So yeah, I think it’s good that it never happened.
As for the Swiss metals, I have seen a plenty of bands from Switzerland like Krokus and even Gotthard and of course Celtic Frost. But in general everybody remembers of course Coroner, Frost of course and then Samael, Messiah, Apocalypse, Poltergeist, what else? Nowadays Eluveitie.
Eluveitie, yeah. They used to called Asphyxiation, you probably remember those guys. There was Drifter, and Lunacy so there were a few bands. One band that is very important – It’s not a metal band, but it’s still another band that I think is the best Swiss band of all time is the Young Gods. They are amazing. They are good friends and it’s just amazing. Such an intense live show, fantastic musicians, they have great ideas, fantastic band. They should be much more talked about than they are actually. It’s a mystery that they never made the real big breakthrough. I think they were touring with Faith No More once many years ago. Now that’s the point – I think they did a U.S. tour. I’m not sure.
But tell me, what’s the secret of success of Gottard as everybody’s a huge fan of theirs – I have seen them a couple of times and didn’t get the point.
Well, it’s music from many people in the stands I guess. What do you want me to say. It’s another world, so I wish them good luck. It’s a shame that their singer died. It’s sad.
Celtic Frost and Coroner, Samael have brought metal out of Switzerland, but what’s the reason that the newer bands haven’t managed to get out of the country?
Well, except for Eluveitie, you know. Actually, it’s amazing how they start through like that but it’s hard to say. I think maybe because there are so many more bands than at the time we started, more bands than there were around our time. The other thing is it’s also hard to survive for bands because of the people downloading the music for free. There’s no more sales of CD’s. Record companies, they don’t sign bands anymore, or very few, because they’re afraid to spend much money because no one buys CD’s. It’s a tough business. I’m glad I don’t have to start a band right now.
We are talking about Celtic Frost all the time and I have to ask you because there is a story that Coroner was formed by Celtic Frost’s roadies. I guess it’s a myth ?
No, the thing is we were already existing before as a band but we were good friends with the guys from Celtic Frost and I was doing already then sometimes a job as drum roadie for Reed St. Mark and it was cool for me to go real quick to Belgium or something and play shows. It was always a lot of fun. Then later there was a request to join them on the U.S. tour and that was like, “Wow. I’ve never been in the U.S. before” and then going on tour with bands like Voivod and Celtic Frost for two months, travelling through the whole United States and Canada, it was like a dream come true. As well it was cool that we were able to give away our demo tape and then promote Coroner because every time that we interviewed like we are doing now I jumped in like, “Hey, I’m from Coroner,” so it was a pain in the ass for all the writers. But it helped a lot so we were quite known in the United States before we recorded the first record. Also, it helped that Thomas did the vocals. He helped a lot. It’s not like we were roadies and then we became a band. It was the opposite.
What did you think when you heard the COLD LAKE album for the first time ? Your PUNISHMENT FOR DECADENCE came out in the same year.
Again, it’s like everybody does what he wants. It was in this moment the right thing for Tom. He wanted to do that this way. I respect Tom, everything comes out.
Which one of the Coroner albums is your favorite?
It’s really hard because they’re all my babies. It’s hard to say. I like a lot of MENTAL VORTEX and GRIN. I like the later ones, but that’s logical because we always corrected something that we didn’t like on the previous records. When you finish with the mix you’re always a step further like, “Ah, it’s too late now but we’ll do it on the next one.” So that went through the whole thing, you know?
Any certain song that you like to play live because of it’s fun or because of the crowd reaction?
Sometimes we have a bad crowd reaction on a song we don’t like to play and the opposite. I like to play the song but the crowd reacts badly. It’s hard to say. I can just say I like to play “Serpent Moves”. It’s a song I like to play. It’s nice to play on the drums for me and now with the latest one we’re going to do “The Invincible” because it’s a very doom, slow song. When I listen to guitar music it’s mainly stoner doom music such as Goatsnake I like a lot and Saint Vitus and Electric Wizard and things like that. So it’s great for me to play tonight that is so old and we never played it. It’s good for an old man like me, my heart.
Well you’re younger than Dave Mustaine
There is still hope I guess.
Alright, the time is up, but welcome to Finland.
Good. We’re looking forward to that.
The official Coroner sites: