Heart of Steel: Interviews

Metal-Rules.com Interview with Minotaur
Interview with Joerg Bock and Andreas Richwien
Questions by Arto Lehtinen

When speaking of the German thrash metal, usually three names pop up to everyone’s lips, namely Sodom, Kreator and of course Destruction. However the German thrash metal scene has always been known for being some kind of cradle of the old school thrash metal since the early 80’s. But in the middle of the 80’s, the whole local metal genre had more to offer than these three names, as stated a little bit earlier, like Deathrow, Tankard, Assassin, Accuser, Holy Moses and of course a bunch of smaller and even more aggressive bands.  For example, Minotaur, which started out at the same time as those big ones, but never managed to make any huge breakthrough, but instead the band remained loyal to the underground thrash roots.

I recently had the opportunity to ask a few questions about the reunion and released demos from the band’s drummer and the vocalist.

Minotaur rules - Thrash Attack !

Good day to the cradle of the thrash heavy metal realm. What’s up there in the camp of Minotaur?!?!

J: Well thanx for welcoming us back. Everything is quite fine these days. We’re pretty busy with rehearsing and preparing things for our new demo. Pre- recordings are done …



Let’s set off by firstly taking a historical glance at Minotaur. The whole band was founded in 1983 when German thrash metal started getting its shape and a lot of new bands started popping up from cellars by having more and more brutal music and image. Secondly, the current generation of metalheads are more or less unfamiliar with Minotaur - at least I assume. So could you politely shed a little bit light on how everything started and what kind of following did you get among the thrash metalheads at that time?!?

J : We started ‘Taur in 83 after we all got the chance to listen to the first Metallica, Anthrax, and Possessed demos. We all thought that this only could be the future experience after what Germany had brought forth so far, such as Accept; Scorpions.. etc….So we decided to put something brutal together from Germany … In the same way as Sodom, Kreator, Iron Angel and the others…



The first Minotaur demo, “The oath of blood”, actually wasn't unleashed until 1986. How is it possible that it took 3 three years for you to put the first demo out. I mean, when other well known bands were founded at the same time as you, they got the first demo out within a couple of days, then signed a deal and played a lot of gigs all around?!?

J : From 83 till 85 we had several line up changes and of course I never wanted to do something totally stupid as playing live with a crap band. I still think that should be as professional as possible. In ‘86 we were the only band entering a professional studio to record a demo. All the other stuff was done with a 4 track recorder or so. Maybe this was the wrong way to get well known pretty fast and so called “rich & famous”, but in my opinion, our way was better. A lot of German bands wrecked down, even well known acts such as Destruction had problems to survive all this.



But getting a deal without any suitable label apparently turned out to be a hard task for Minotaur.  As you continued doing more demos, the next one in a row was “The Slaughter Continues” in 87 and then came “Power of Darkness” in 88… Great pure aggressive thrash metal indeed. The band should have deserved to have a deal, but did labels approach offering deals why did you continue the making demos?!?

J : We had a deal with Roadrunner, but we weren’t too happy with their conditions, so they cancelled the whole thing and we were forced to do nothing for over a year. This was much more than a pity for us. Otherwise, we had problems with our old management and also personally. All this made us more professional when working during that time, but definitely not easier. We….I…..tried to be as good as possible.



Speaking of the demos, didn’t you release an untitled demo in 1988 featuring tracks like "Sacrifice of the Unbelievers", "Total Decay", "Dodd Shall", "Tales of Terror".. I am asking because I didn’t find any piece of information on it from the official Minotaur site?!?

J : This was the official demo from 86. ”The Oath of Blood”….and “Dodd shall” is called “Daddschal” which is a Buddistic name for antichrist.



In 1988, you took a real financial risk on your own by putting a self financed and produced album out limited to 2500 copies and of course was sold out immediately…Didn’t that album get any labels confirmed about talents, skills and ability of Minotaur?!?

J : During that period of time, none of the labels were interested. Too many shitty and fucked up bands on the scene destroying the whole bizz, so even real bands had problems to survive, but these days – Even after “Power of…” got released on the cd, the quality still shows it’s true face. Minotaur was pure power thrash back in 88 and it is still now.



Then you unleashed an ep 7" consisting of two tracks by some tiny label?!? Could you tell a little bit more about that ep?!?

J : The “ Eat Metal” Ep was formerly recorded for Turbo Records, but during the recordings we decided not to continue working with them, so we looked for someone else to produce the stuff. Jörn from Remedy Records was more than involved in the project, so he put out the 7” single in late 88/89.



After the ep, the whole band kinda vanished without leaving any traces.  Did you put the whole band on hiatus or what happened? As far as I know you were around in the early 90’s without releasing any new stuff?!?

J : Well from the release of the single till 91/92 we did a lot gigs but nothing was released on vinyl or so on. Then one big bang and a first split, but I reformed the band pretty fast and in early 93 we recorded and released “Welcome to….” as an album. Not too many know about it, but it is still a great ”non original” ‘Taur album.



However Minotaur have done an incredible lot of gigs all around Europe…Sweden, Portugal, Poland and in general Central European countries, but according to the your website, you still recall the tour down there in Portugal. I can’t help asking about how you have been able to arrange those tours, because you didn’t have any record label and any suitable distributors in other countries?!?

J : We arranged most of the gigs with the help of fanzines and/or local organizers. And we never did it because of the money, as a lot of the shows that we played were more or less for fun, food & drink. We never got rich while doing the tour in Poland. We got paid in sloty for food, drinks and hotels and just earned enough dollars to buy gasoline, and so it was in several countries around Europe.



What is the biggest difference between the metal crowd of the 80’s and the current decade?! Is the metallic passion and magic still at gigs where the crowd still bangs their heads and do the stage diving or is the whole atmosphere basically dead from your point of view?!?

J : In my opinion things haven’t that much changed….. Only the big bizz got into metal and the commercial stuff goes on and on. To be honest I still live in the 80s/90s scene. I hate nu metal bands such as Limp Bizkit, etc… To me there are a also bunch of shit bands like Nightwish etc….. I still prefer thrashing metal, which is "metal" to me.



In the 80’s you used to do gigs with several big names for example, Sodom, Messiah, and several other ones. What kind of treatment did you receive and how did you get along with these big bands?!?

J : Most of them were pretty cool. Bands as Rage, Sodom, Samael, Nihilist/Entombed were quite cool party dudes. Also the French, Agressor or the Danish, Invocator. We had lotsa fun with them. But bands such as Helstar, Hades etc were not so party oriented ones.

A : To be honest, we have also met “people and bands” who are REAL assholes – real rock stars hehehe.  Sometimes I think myself, "who do you think you are…"!!!!



Can you still recall the wildest and craziest gig ever done and why, where and what happened?!?

J : Sorry, but after playing about 200 shows with the band I can hardly tell ya any story's from the shows.

A : Hehehe I could write a book about Jörg.



In the wake of the current flourishing reunion boom, even Minotaur returned back to the lime lights and all the old releases, mainly demo tapes, have been re-pressed on the high quality cd format.  How much of the old stuff did you have to re-produce to get the better quality and what else did you do to the renewed demo tapes. Do these renewed demos on the cd contain some extra tracks?!?

J : The real & official “Best of…” cd never got released so far. I allowed Metalion from Slayer Mag and his Head Not Found Records to put this compilation together with me. But because he suffers from financial difficulties, nothing has been released so far. It’s only been an idea to do the demo stuff with some unreleased tracks and live songs etc… The only thing working these days is the re-release of the old demos as 7” singles through “To The Death” Records in Sweden.



When the decade changed from the 80’s to the 90’s, in my opinion, the whole thrash metal era kinda died all of a sudden, several bands announced about quitting and taking short or then long breaks, until in the end of the decade, a bunch of defunct bands of the 80’s were reformed and have done tours and albums, but how do you view the whole reunion boom, do you think all these reunions are justified?!?

J : Yes and no. If people think and live for Thrash like Schmier from Destruction… Then I think a reunion is ok. But I still think the Exodus return was a fake. Even none of them had long hair anymore. Also Agent Steel - and I really like their “Omega Conspiracy” album – was so fucked up in a reunion. Razor’s live at Wacken, they played before I entered the stage with Torment (the other band I use to play in) - What a fake….



The triple thrash of the German metal bands in question Sodom, Kreator and Destruction became very huge on their own way and rose above other bands. There were a lot of other bands trying to reach the same position like Living Death, Holy Moses, Accuser, Deathrow, but never got the same status just leaving behind to gather the dust, did this situation somehow bug other bands and have you pondered why even the younger metal generation just talks about these three bands?!?

J: Maybe ???!!!! I should ask Larz our bassplayer, he is 19. He should know this. I will pass this question on.

A : I think these bands were very popular and the other ones were more into the underground. Some German bands followed the thrash wave from `85 till 90 and wanted the same success, but many of them changed their style on their 2nd album. We have never changed our style during all those years and I am very proud of this. We still try to put the old spirit into the new songs



What made the German thrash phenomenon so special?  Was it because it was one of kind and really unique. Was it because there was a lot of great bands?!?

J : Well I don’t know. ( ?????? AL)

A : There were no extreme bands which would have played as hard as Metallica or Exodus until a bunch of kids started to play more aggressive and faster stuff. This started in West Germany because we were bored of the national metal scene with bands such as Scorps, Accept etc… We had enough clubs and an audience who supported this kind of music and it's always a good mood without any kind of violence. That’s different with other countries so nobody stopped gigs or something like that…



Well I can’t help asking about your opinions about the newer albums of the German triple thrash :
Kreator : Violent Revolution
Sodom : M-16
Destruction : The Antichrist

J : I have not heard much from these albums yet. Ask Andreas…

A : The new Kreator is very cool and it brings back the roots of older albums. But, sorry I haven’t heard the new stuff from Sodom or Destruction. A friend of mine downloaded a few songs from Destruction`s comeback album and those songs are cool but I don't like the modern album sound!



The demo releases of Minotaur have been spread throughout the underground tape trading scene during the last three decades by now and always reached new traders… But do you view the internet as a great tool to spread the Minotaur stuff.  How much has the internet helped to get more attention and a new fan base for you?!?

J : For ‘Taur, the internet was and is one of the mighty medias to chose from. In a short time, we got over 500 page hits after the site opened and this gave us a little more back up to return and to make it really happen.



Do you think these media formats in terms of mp3 and videos are more like a great advantage for the extreme metal bands to get more attention?  It seems like the whole metal community has gone through the labyrinth of the internet?!?

J : I am not too much in conformance with the internet thing. Andreas does in ‘Taur, but he shows me things to give me an idea of what is possible and for bands as Minotaur it is great to have a great opportunity to come back.



Minotaur recently visited the studio, processing a new demo.  I can’t help inquiring on how the studio sessions actually went and what the result was.  What kind of thrash assault can be expected from the new output?!?

J : So far we are pretty lazy while sound-checking things for the recording. But expect a thrash attack like the old Slayer and Kreator. No modern thrash sound – a more rough sound.



Could you give me some detailed information on the demo, how it can be ordered and of course the price and where!!!

J : We are still working on the new demo. So far we got a lot of new songs together titled ”Full Speed Ahead”, ”Into Oblivion”, “ Till Death”, ”Damager” “Hate Last Forever” and ”It’s War” and a cover from Priest’s “Grinder”. This is the first time that 'Taur has recording a cover song.



The Minotaur line-up has undergone several changes since the band was founded in 83. Do you still keep in touch with the former Minotaur guys or is the relationship somehow inflamed between you?!

J : I still have pretty good contacts to the former Minotaur people like Chris, our first bass & vox, also to Marco Scharfenort, and to the others I have lower contact like phone or fax, in which I contact them usually a few times during the year.



All right before ending the interview, I've got to find out what sort of stuff you usually crank up in the stereo?!?!

J : Ok - Ya wanted it (Hope ya won’t get mad):

Agent Steel - Omega Conspiracy cd
Queensryche - Operation Livecrime live cd
Rush – A Show Off Hands live-lp
Vixen - Made In Hawaii Ep
Iron Angel - Winds Of War Lp
Angel Witch – The first Lp
Hallows Eve - Tales Of Terror Lp
Bathory - Enter The Eternal Fire (from Sign Of The..)
Exciter – Heavy Metal Maniac Lp


All the best to Minotaur and danke for the interview and the last words are yours as usual!

J : Thanx for the interview too and sorry for the delay - I am a little bit personally out of order during the last few days because my wife is expecting our second baby!!

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