The unholy triangle of the German thrash metal is completed by the interview with three members of Sodom here in Metal-Rules.Com. Sodom went a real turmoil in the line-up changes when a couple of previous members were let go and replaced by three new/old guys. Above all, Frank Blackfire’s return to the fold made the old school fan extremely pleased and Husky being the longtime German “metalhead” was recruited behind the drums, but the biggest surprise was to enlist the second guitarist in the lineup. The renewed Sodom visited Finland in last June, and Metal-Rules.Com had a pleasant task to talk to Tom Angelripper, Frank Blackfire and Husky.
Interview and pics by Arto Lehtinen and Marko Syrjala
AT RAINY FESTIVALS
You just finished a great show here at the rainy Nummirock Festival, Finland. How did everything go in your opinion?
Angelripper: It’s cold. It’s really cold. I never had a festival with so much rain like this.
Not even in Wacken Open Air?
Angelripper: That year, it rained for maybe two hours and then there is the sun coming on. It’s changing a lot of time.
We were at Wacken 2015 last time. It was catastrophic, because there was all that mud over here… It was just horrible!
Angelripper: If you get this kind of weather at a Festival in Germany, they cancel. There are so much security and details. I think in Germany they would cancel it. I’ve played everywhere, at every festival in Germany, and I have also have played at some festivals where the show was canceled because of weather when there’s a strong wind coming, or there is a rain coming to the stage. That’s too dangerous for the band, for the musicians, for everybody who is working on the stage.
THE NEEDED CHANGES
What’s the big thing now is that you have a new Sodom line-up. How things are different now since you announced the news?
Angelripper: We had to reset the band to something completely new. As we’ve got some festivals in the summer, we have a tour booked already in November with Exodus, Death Angel, and Suicidal Angels. I had to reset the band something completely new. I also had to catch up some shows, but I don’t complain there. We have to do new songs, we have to do a new set list. It’s also the reason, why I have new musicians because I want to change the set list. It’s very easy to explain. Tonight we played a couple of songs we’ve never played before, or at least for 30 years.
At which point you started to think that the band needs to change?
Angelripper: It was already a couple of years ago, I think I thought about it a couple of times. Every time, when I was traveling with those two guys, it was in my mind. I didn’t want to do it anymore. But it was also a very hard decision, because Bernemann played in the band for 20 years and Michael already actually is 7 or 8 years. Sometimes you have to change. I need more a new input. I need fresh ideas. I need more help. I need a band who is interested in doing some special setlist or something.
There was a lot of discussions on the Internet after you announced the changes. Some comments were positive, but some were really negative. How much do you follow those things, what people keep saying about the band?
Husky: On the internet, everybody has a big mouth. Then when they stand in front of you they are saying different things.
Angelripper: When Bernemann left the band there was a big shit going on in Facebook. But that’s my decision. I never said I’ll keep them because I didn’t want to keep them. I do what I want, it’s my band. I formed this band in ’82 or ’81, I don’t know when exactly. If I think if I want to change somebody, I do it. It’s not just me or just a guitar player or the drummer. It’s a project. I’m not the best thrash metal singer in the world. People are going to say, “Tom, you’re the best thrash metal singer in the fucking world.” I’m not the best bass player in the world. I know. I just fill the holes the guitars need. It’s my job.
PUTTING THE NEW LINE-UP TOGETHER
Sodom played the 35th-anniversary show in Bochum in December of 2017, featuring three former guitarists Josef Dominic, Andy Brings and Frank Blackfire. Was that an evening which made you make the final decision regarding the changes?
Angelripper: Yes. Frank played in Bochum session, the 35 years Anniversary show. It was a great show and the people told me that it was great to see Sodom with two guitarists and it was amazing and that’s what it really was. I asked Bernemann if he wants to accept a second guitarist in the band and he said, “No way. I don’t want to have a second guitarist.” I said, “But it’s my decision to take a second guitarist into the band.” If he would be more kindful and say, “Okay, we can try a second guitarist and then we have more chance to do some special songs, where we need two guitarists.” But he didn’t like the idea. That was the thing.
I would say that it’s a great decision that you now have the dual guitarists because it gives you so much more space, freedom, and strength on stage. Do you agree with that?
Angelripper: Yes. There was a couple of songs you have to… My bass guitar can’t replace a second guitarist. I try, but I can’t. I think that was the main reason. I know the three-piece bands like Motorhead which were great in the beginning, it was my favorite bands like Tank. A three-piece band. But we have so many songs which we had to leave out of the set because we couldn’t play them live. I wasn’t that satisfied and then I did a phone call to Frank asking, “Do you want to come back?” And he said “Yes. I have time”. And there’s Husky, he’s a big Sodom fan, and our new guitarist Yorck Segatz. He’s a totally unknown man. I was thinking, why don’t give somebody a chance?
How is Yorck’s background? Did he play other known bands before joining Sodom?
Angelripper: The Beyondition, that’s the band. They’re a very big band in Germany. NOT “Laughs”. There is a big underground scene in Germany and there are so many bands around, so it’s difficult. He’s also been a guitar tech and sold guitars at the shop. He’s a great guitarist. Check him out.
Husky: Actually I offered myself to him, Tom. When I heard that the two guys will leave the band, I offered my help. I work for the booking agency and my boss had sent me the info a day before the official announcement. He sent me the message that we have to put it online. I wrote to Tom, “What’s wrong?” I told him if you need help for that time you don’t have a drummer. I can step in.
You also play with Asphyx, Desaster and few other bands. How do you find time for all these bands?
Husky: At the moment I have Desaster, Asphyx, and Sodom, but for Desaster we will have the second drummer now, so I play one or two shows next year with them. The other drummer will play at the other stuff. It’s only Asphyx and Sodom, which is…
Is Sodom the priority now?
Husky: It’s not. Asphyx is on the same level, Asphyx doesn’t play that much, playing one or two shows a month and the rest is for Sodom
NEW SODOM MUSIC COMING
Tom said earlier that you’re working on the new Sodom EP. How is the process is developing?
What kind of stuff can we expect from you guys this time?
Angelripper: There are different songs because Frank has a different style of playing the guitar or arranging songs than Yorck for example. There’s one song from Frank, which could have been on AGENT ORANGE. It’s kind of the same style, the same sound, and so on. The songs from Yorck are more crust punk.
Husky: Yeah, those sound more like YOU GET WHAT YOU DESERVE. It’s like that kind of stuff.
Is it true that AGENT ORANGE is still the best selling thrash album ever coming from Germany?
Angelripper: Maybe, but I never get exactly how much we sell it. I never got a gold record for it. I have signed so many covers and booklets from AGENT ORANGE so it should be more than a than a million “Laughs”. But if you’re going to look at the exact numbers, you have to look at the exact numbers of sold records from the record company.
AGENT ORANGE AND PERSECUTION MANIA
When you worked on the AGENT ORANGE album, how did you come up with all the riffs and songs? The album is still almost immortal among the young fans.
Blackfire: It came up very naturally. It was just us playing and I was practicing every day. We were trying new riffs and it was all pretty natural. It was like all my ideas, I let them flow and I was rehearsing with Chris Witchhunter every day, and so it came up pretty natural. My ideas that came out, we were practicing over and over, until we went to the studio.
What is the biggest difference between AGENT ORANGE and its predecessor PERSECUTION MANIA from your point of view?
Blackfire: I think the very first thing we recorded was EXPURSE OF SODOMY, it was only three songs. It was actually my very first recording in a studio. I had never recorded professionally in the studio before, only in the rehearsal room with different cover bands. But I had never been in a studio before and I had to be tight and everything. When I joined Sodom I had to play a little fast, picking stuff. I had like three months or something to write three songs for the maxi single. It was pretty hard for me playing like that first. “Conqueror”, for example, was pretty difficult to play in a studio, but I finally made it.
How many times did you have to try before you got the perfect cut for that song?
Blackfire: I don’t remember. Harris helped me a little, but I tried my best with the fast picking. Then I was like practicing and playing shows, everything. I was getting more into it, more used to it. You know, playing fast and yeah. We came up with some new songs for PERSECUTION MANIA, and maybe I was still like involving myself in thrash metal and everything, and with AGENT ORANGE, it went even better. Everything went better and the production was better. In the studio, everything went better. We did everything a little better I think. The riffs and ideas, everything was better. From my side, it came out really natural. I’d say that my ideas came really naturally.
Angelripper: I think that the last Sodom album DECISION DAY is a great album. I love it. It’s a very good album. But AGENT ORANGE, I think the big difference compared to the older stuff, is the style of guitarist how Frank got to write songs or how he wanted to play the guitar. When we now rehearsed first time together after all these years and he played “Sodomy And Lust”, the song sounded exactly the same like on the EP or on the album and it was the same when we did songs like “Nuclear Winter” for example. Frank has a completely different style to play guitar compared to Bernemann. I think Bernemann is a great guitarist. It’s what I always thought, but when he was playing songs from the ’80s, it wasn’t the same. I want to get a sound from the ’80s coming back to the new products. We also think about recording the new album in a real studio or at least mixing it in a real studio. It’s possible to mix an album with your own computer, but it’s not the same. If I get a chance to fulfill my dreams or my ideas, I want to do it. I don’t want to just talk about it, I want to go to the studio recording or mixing an album as we did back in the day.
At the time you were in a studio and wrote a song and recorded “Ausgebombt”. What kind of process it was? Because it’s simple, but also very catchy tune and one of your most famous songs?
Angelripper: Maybe we’re going to write a new song like that this time, I don’t know. That was in the ’80s. You cannot carry to nowadays writing songs. We want to keep the spirit of the ’80s and we try to think as we did in the ’80s. When you start writing songs, you got to rehearse. “Ausgebombt” is not my favorite song, but people love it.
How about you Frank?
Blackfire: Everything came out natural and those songs like “Bombenhagel” or “Ausgebombt” were pretty easy. “Bombenhagel”, there are two parts. “Ausgebombt” has like three parts and something else. Sometimes less is more, I think. I think sometimes the easier stuff is better or people like more the easier stuff with like three riffs. Yes, we got hit like! I don’t know. Before you release it, you don’t know how other people like it or if they hate it.
How about “Remember the Fallen”? That’s the key song of the album for many fans around.
Blackfire: The same thing, yes. It’s like very easy stuff and people get into it very easy. It’s like something that stays in your head and in your ear. It’s the rhythm and melody.
Angelripper: The good chorus lines, that you listen the first time, you’ll never forget. On every album, we have a couple of very good chorus lines that people understand and they can remember. If you listen to those songs once or twice and you never forget it.
Husky, you’re a big Sodom fan. How do you see these albums PERSECUTION MANIA and AGENT ORANGE? How do you rate them?
Husky: I think AGENT ORANGE was the… When you listen to PERSECUTION MANIA and AGENT ORANGE, AGENT ORANGE was the next step. There was no other way than AGENT ORANGE. That production is more highly polished, but it was still not too overproduced. It was a good metal album with great songs and there are only hit songs. That’s the reason why it was in the charts and stuff. For me, my favorite album is PERSECUTION MANIA, but I understand that AGENT ORANGE is the best selling Sodom record. That what’s we had commercially. At this time I think it was just the perfect album, the perfect time. Because everybody wants to have like a hard album, but with good sound and great songs and it was AGENT ORANGE.
Angelripper: It’s not my favorite album. My favorite is CODE RED or GET WHAT YOU DESERVE. Those are heavier albums. We’re going to rehearse more songs from TAPPING THE VEIN and GET WHAT YOU DESERVE and put those in a set list. These guys, they know every Sodom song. With the new stuff, I think we want to go back to like one great riff, we want to have a song with a great riff and then build a song around that and I think that’s a good way to work. You only need one great riff and then you do a song. That is what I missed a little bit with Bernemann. He was a great guitar player, but the real metal riffs were missing sometimes.
THE BREAKUP OF THE CLASSIC LINEUP AND FRANK’S KREATOR ERA
Sodom reached the success with AGENT ORANGE – The album was great, but some of you guys didn’t get along and Frank left the band. What happened back then, why it all went, how it went?
Angelripper: When he left the band, the story is boring. Everybody knows the story. He told me that he did find a better job in Kreator and he feels more comfortable in the band. Yeah, that’s what. He was gone.
How about you Frank?
Blackfire: It was really like this and I didn’t feel comfortable anymore. At first, I wanted to make my own band and I talked already with Drakkar promotion people about it. Then, I don’t know, I was hanging out with Mille from Kreator and some other guys. At that time their guitar player left, it was the closest thing to join forces together somehow. That’s how it happened.
You played on three Kreator albums: COMA OF SOULS, RENEWAL, and CAUSE FOR CONFLICT. Those albums are totally different when you compare each other. COMA OF SOULS was a pure thrash album, RENEWAL was something “strange” and CAUSE FOR CONFLICT was really brutal stuff. How do you rate those albums from your point of view? Those are all classic albums now.
Blackfire: I think COMA OF SOULS was more like a modest style of EXTREME AGGRESSION and more melodic maybe. RENEWAL was totally experimental. We did something totally different and a lot of people didn’t get it. They thought, “What’s that?”, because they weren’t used to other styles but thrash metal. We added more other influence atmospheric stuff, a little bit of everything. But it was kind of like a feeling thing, that we felt like this at this time. We wanted to do something like that and yeah. Maybe people got it wrong, but nowadays I talk to people that really ask me, “What did we think about the time we came up with songs like that?” Because it’s so different from COMA OF SOULS for example. I guess it was hard to understand when it came out. But if you listen to it over and over, you can find out a lot of different things that we had.
We interviewed Mille some time ago and he said, “To be honest, I’m always saying that the whole RENEWAL thing was an artistic decision. But the truth is I was then smoking too much weed then and voice was gone”.
Blackfire: That’s right.
Then you played with Joe Cangelosi on the CAUSE FOR CONFLICT album. I guess that was different and brought more different style into Kreator compared to Ventor?
Blackfire: Exactly, there was much more brutal and Joe is an excellent drummer. Joe was fucking awesome. For me, this guy is one of the best thrash metal drummers ever. The best drummer. He was fucking good on this album.
You also had a connection with him before because you did a tour with Whiplash back in the day.
Blackfire: Yes. Ever since then I know Joe. I always met him in the United States when we were on tour and that time he was in Germany, so it was easy to get together with him. He joined the band later.
Tom and Frank, when you released TAPPING THE VEIN and other albums in the early ’90s and RENEWAL came out the same time. Do you think that the metal audience were completely changed? Death metal was becoming a really big thing at that time. When RENEWAL came out, people were used to listening to Morbid Angel, Carcass and the stuff like that.
Angelripper: Sodom never thinks, “what we’re going to do next?” We never think about what happens in the scene. Is death metal coming more popular next or black metal? We just do our thing. I know TAPPING THE VEIN is more death metal influences than any other Sodom album as we’re improving, but I never think “How can I balance? I have to do more black metal. I have to do more death metal?” We never think about it. We just do the music we like. There is no inspiration coming from those things. We never think about other bands, this band is doing this and that band is doing that. I never did that, never. When we go to rehearse, we write songs. That is the secret. No inspiration. Or who inspires me most? Okay. Maybe it’s Lemmy playing the bass. But these guys don’t inspire me in the way when I want to write songs and I write lyrics.
Blackfire: I think we were not playing for death metal, maybe it was after our time. We were like maybe inspiring like the death metal bands. We don’t get inspired by death metal bands.
Angelripper: Frank is also a guitar teacher. Kids come and “I’d like to play, maybe a black metal song, a death metal”. I want to play own tunes. I know he knows what death metal is like or black metal. He and Frank are not more in the scene, there are so many bands coming on every line. I don’t have some money to buy all the song or I don’t have time to listen to it, but I know what black metal means. It’s all I know what death metal means because we started with it. When we started nobody was talking about death metal.
Husky: It’s always funny, when we go to the rehearsal room, we’re always talking about bands and those two guys…
Angelripper: This is a good band, this is a good band. The last album I bought was Slayer’s DIABOLUS IN MUSICA. It was an album I bought on our Germany tour. The new Slayer album. It’s the last time I’ve ever gone to a record store or whatever and buying an album.
How do you see that thing, Frank?
Blackfire: Me too, it’s the same thing. I am more into like ’70, ’80 stuff. I don’t have the time to listen to all those bands. I’m doing it maybe only, if a student of mine wants to play this song, like whatever. Death metal or black metal. I try my best. I’m not a death metal guitar player nor black metal or whatever, but I’ll try it. I try to help them with that and do my best.
But you once played with a black metal band called Black Messiah?
Blackfire: Yeah. But I only played the thrash metal parts. The black metal part was all strings and the threading, I couldn’t play that. That’s not my thing and I told them; “Maybe you should get somebody else?” I can play the thrash parts if you want, but excuse me!
Angelripper: You can also play death metal songs.
Blackfire: I could play it if I practice, but… I prefer to play blues!”Laughs”
When you left Kreator, you moved to Brazil for many years. What made you move back to Germany?
Blackfire: I guess the main thing was a financial problem. I couldn’t earn enough money in Brazil to survive, so I got back to Germany. To continue my career here.
Did you get the idea to move to Brazil, because of Kreator played a couple of times in Brazil? I have seen some videos where Kreator played there with bands like Korzus and Krisiun.
Blackfire: Yeah. I was inspired by Brazil, I liked it really and my idea was like to stay there for half a year or a year. Actually, it was six years that I stayed there. To know the country, the people, to learn the language and everything and it was a really good experience for me.
Husky: I love Brazil.
Have you been to Brazil?
Husky: Yeah. I played in like four tours. Desaster and one with Asphyx. I know so many guys there and I loved Brazilian bands like Krisiun and Dorsal Atlantica. Korzus, Vulcano, Holocausto, and Sextrash.
Did you play with Bywar?
Blackfire: Yeah, possible. Yeah. I remember the name and maybe the guys too, but I am a little maybe ignorant. I can’t remember all those bands. Maybe yeah.
You’re now playing with Sodom but are you’re still a member of the Assassin too?
I guess you haven’t recorded anything with Assassin by now.
Blackfire: No, not yet. They’re working on new stuff right now, but I have to work on the new stuff with Sodom. It’s for me the first thing. If I have some time, maybe I can write one or another song for Assassin too. Let’s see, I don’t know. If it happens, okay.
THE FUTURE AND TALK ABOUT FRIENDSHIP
Angelripper: The new Sodom EP will come up before the tour because we’re going to print tour dates on it. It’s going to be like a maxi EP or whatever. We are looking forward because it’s a long time ago that we toured. As long as bands are playing little shows, I can’t pull an album.
You have more dates coming up?
Angelripper: The next year, it’s going to be a Sodom year. We’re going to play everywhere. We try to do as much as we can. That’s what I miss sometimes, that we do more touring. I want to spend more time with the band, but I also want to spend time with my family. I have to spend time with my friends and I want to spend more time with the band.
You said in the beginning that you didn’t feel that that previous lineup wasn’t a real band, can you explain that?
Angelripper: Yeah. Witchunter for example, he was one my best friend. It’s not just making music it more about being together and drinking beers and talking about everything.
Husky: That’s not what we started on. For example, we meet each other during the week sometimes, and then before we start rehearsing, we’re sitting there for an hour and just talking.
Angelripper: Talking, drinking beer. It’s the best way. If the band members are also friends…
Husky: You’re getting more connected.
Angelripper: Bernemann and Makka weren’t my friends. We never found time to get out and drink some beers. We’re just talking, just talking. Just being together.
Husky: We drink too much sometimes
Angelripper: You know, Husky, he’s a friend of mine, I know that. If you go out and you go to a bar, drink a beer, talk. Not only music, but we can also talk about everything. It’s not just music. That is what I think is the spirit we’re getting back on. That is the spirit of being a band. Sometimes I think the band was just a job for Macca. I think do the job to make the money. That is not the thing. It’s not only the money or doing a job. Being in a band means more, there has to be a more friendship. We have to get one, you have to combine together. We have to be one, one band.
Husky: It’s also being proud. For example, today we noted that Sodom is not the biggest band in Finland, but we still have a lot of guys in front of the stage and they do circle pits and stuff. That’s what great when you see how they react when you go on stage. For example, we left yesterday very early from Germany, arrived here. We had to pay a lot of euros for some beers and back in the hotel get some drinks. All that stuff and for example, I have to leave tomorrow very early to play with Asphyx in other show and little stress for me. When you’re on stage, this 45 minutes, one hour on a festival and you see all the guys freaking out. That’s the main thing. It gives a lot of money, that’s the thing. It makes me proud to see that someone is headbanging to my rhythm. That’s important.
TALKING ABOUT LEMMY
How hard is for you when Lemmy was gone?
Angelripper: Yeah. I saw Lemmy two weeks before he died in Dusseldorf. I saw him there and Berlin in Germany. I remember, there was a guy who asked, “You’re getting a guest VIP and backstage passes, can you get me another one?” I said: “I’m just going to buy my 50 euro ticket and get my beers.” I bought a beer and go in and then I saw Saxon and Girlschool. Then I went to see Motörhead just like I did in ’81. Then when I saw him I said, “I know, this is the last time I’m going to see him.” I get some money to go to Berlin show on the next day. I saw him on the stage once again and a couple of weeks later I get lots of messages, I don’t know who wrote those, saying “Lemmy died.”
I know what you mean… I was taking photos of him in Helsinki and I saw his eyes very close through a lens, and I told everybody, I said, “Lemmy’s not there anymore”, because he was basically gone already.
Angelripper: He was gone already. I don’t want to die on a stage. If you have cancer and you just have maybe two months of time left, you don’t want to go on stage. I want to die in bed “Laughs”
I think Lemmy knew what’s happening and he wanted to stay on the stage and die on the boots on. That was his goal.
Angelripper: Die with the boots on. Yeah, I know. Lemmy, he knew exactly how much money there was. They sold all the shows, the tickets. They know exactly how many people get their living for that, making money with touring and merchandise. He wanted to fight until the end, because of the crew and all the people who are going to get the money. It was very, very sad. Nobody is going to help you. If I am so sick and I know I’m going to die, I don’t want to go on stage. He stayed on tour until the last hour to save some money for the crew, for the management, for the band. I don’t want to die like him. I want to die in bed. If you realize, maybe he was 70. If you realize, I’m 60. I want to do it for me or for the fans and when I can’t do it anymore, I have to stop. Then the party is over.
We can conclude the interview, but we thank you for the time for doing this and other bands guys.
Angelripper: Thank you.
The official SODOM pages
SODOM LIVE PICTURES FROM NUMMIROCK FESTIVAL