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Dit is een lang interview, dus laten we de introductie maar kort houden. Tussen ’86 en ’88 bracht Voivod een drietal albums uit dat niet alleen de sound van de Canadese band definieerde, maar ook vorm gaf aan het hele genre. Die albums zijn sinds kort weer verkrijgbaar. Drummer Michel ‘Away’ Langevin was dan ook meer dan bereid om Lords Of Metal te woord te staan en terug te kijken op meer dan 30 jaar thrash metal. Er werd echter ook vooruitgekeken gedurende dit gesprek van meer dan een uur. Naast het ophalen van herinneringen aan opnemen in Berlijn, Killing Joke, Noise Records en de vroege jaren van de thrash metal, was er namelijk ook nieuws over nieuwe tours en zelfs een nieuw album.

Door: Martin | Archiveer onder speed / thrash metal

I hope you don’t mind if I start by asking a few questions about another band: Tau Cross. It seems there is a new album coming up. Also, a European summer tour was announced recently. Can you tell me a bit about that?
Hold on, I have the schedule right here. We are releasing a new album at the end of July (July 21st). Right after that we will leave for Europe. The first show will be on July 29th. It’s quite a short tour, of about 10 days, mainly in Scandinavia. It should be really fun!

Will you be playing in The Netherlands?
We’ll play in Rotterdam on August 5th. That’s our only Dutch show.

That sounds plain and simple. My plain and simple response is: see you there!
It will be fun. Tau Cross is a pretty fun bunch of people. We toured in the US last year. The tour was very well-attended and we had a great time.

What can we expect from the new album?
It’s going to be a double vinyl album, which is also going to be available on CD of course. It’s pretty much in the same vein as the first album, but I find it a bit more eclectic. It’s still a mix of crust, punk, metal, doom, with a bit of celtic stuff in there. People who loved the first one will also really like the second one.

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Away in 2017

You played at Roadburn last year. I loved the show. How was that show from your perspective?
We were pretty impressed, almost intimidated even, because the room was so big. While we set up our gear and did the sound check, the place filled up, and it turned out we packed this big venue, so we were extremely pleased. It was also quite a thrill to see bands like Neurosis and G.I.S.M. play there. It was my third time at Roadburn and I really hope to go back very soon.

Let’s talk about the Voivod reissues now. It’s great to have these albums available again. What made it happen?
It was actually a project that started 10 years ago, when Sanctuary Records had the rights to the material, as they had just bought the Noise catalogue. I was working on this for a couple of years, going through the whole Voivod archives, digitising VHS tapes, cassettes, photos, artwork, etcetera. Then, Universal bought Sanctuary and the rights to the material were in limbo for a few years. When BMG ended up with the Sanctuary catalogue a few years ago, they contacted me to finish the project. That allowed me to add quite a few elements to the bonus material that comes with the three albums. Altogether this took about 10 years, so I am really happy it’s out now. I think that, with the rerelease of our first demo, ‘To The Death!’, from ’84, on Alternative Tentacles, all of our material from the eighties is available now, if you include the material on the ‘DVOD 1’ DVD. This means that all the Iron Gang Factory material is now available, which is quite a relief. The next mission is to have ‘Nothingface’, ‘Angel Rat’, and ‘The Outer Limits’ rereleased. We are working on that.

It’s great to see you’re working that hard on making everything available again. It’s really annoying when you cannot get your hands on some releases, unless you’re willing to pay a fortune for a second hand copy.
Yeah, the whole catalogue has been available on i-Tunes, but it’s good to have everything available on physical formats, as many of the real fans will still prefer that. For us, it’s great to have these items at the merch booth. They usually go really quick there, especially now that there are vinyl releases again. Vinyl seems to be really popular right now, and these albums hadn’t been available on vinyl for quite a while.

The albums have been remastered. How much control did you have over this?
BMG did the remastering, but they did send me samples that we listened to while we were on tour with Vektor, in the USA last year. They sent me a bunch of CD-Rs right before the tour, so I brought them along and we tested them along the way. I think that the sound has improved a lot, mainly on the CD releases, as they sound a lot better than the eighties CD releases.

It seems there’s this great balance between keeping the original sound intact but also adding some clarity and power to it.
The releases definitely deserved a bit of an upgrade from the originals. I made the comparison between the vinyl releases and I noticed there is definitely a bit more gain, but also it seems there are just more frequencies on there. Apart from that it’s very similar. However, on the CD releases it seems like they mixed the albums again. This definitely didn’t happen, but what I mean is that… Well, when ‘War And Pain’ was remastered for the 20th anniversary edition, I heard things on that release that I couldn’t really hear before. As soon as the intro started, I noticed that the sound was much richer. Something similar happened with the reissues. I’m quite sure BMG had access to the master tapes, because it sounds really, really good. The same goes for the artwork: it’s identical to the original releases, which makes me think that they had access to the original files. I did supply a lot of photos and drawings from way back, but the front covers are most probably the originals.

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Voivod in 1986

Maybe it’s nice to go through these albums one at a time. Obviously, I would like to start with ‘Rrröööaaarrr’. How do you look back on that album, 31 years later?
It was an extreme album, a lot heavier than ‘War And Pain’. I put a lot of double kick parts on it, more so than the other releases in the Voivod catalogue. These were the big thrash metal years. It was very exciting. We just came out of a couple of rough years, living in downtown Montreal, without a record deal, and we were pretty poor. Then we got the deal with Noise Records. We played this show in Montreal with Celtic Frost, and they took the rough mix cassette of that show to Noise Records, which led to a deal for three albums. Then, everything happened really fast. We released an album a year, did a world tour every year, with Celtic Frost, Possessed, and Kreator. All in all, I have very good memories of the Noise years, but the ‘Rrröööaaarrr’ album really expresses the struggle of almost living on the street at the time, in the hardcore scene of Montreal. It’s a pretty heavy album. Just like ‘Killing Technology’ and ‘Dimension Hatröss’ it’s very much influenced by the Cold War.

Nowadays it’s almost easy to forget the Cold War was going on at full scale at the time.
Around ’86 - ’88 a lot of stuff happened. There was the Chernobyl explosion and also the Challenger explosion. Reagan had his Star Wars project. Again, things were going really fast musically but in terms of technology we were seeing the world evolve, especially in terms of high tech weaponry. Of course we are seeing a very similar scenario nowadays.

I was born in 1980, so I only remember bits and pieces of those days, but I do remember there were quite a few protests against long range missiles here in The Netherlands. I grew up next to a NATO base, so it was kind of hard to miss that. Nevertheless, it’s hard to imagine that this happened about 30 years ago, especially the Iron Curtain. The most salient memory of it all is David Hasselhoff singing on the Berlin Wall.
[laughs] Well, something that is very connected to the Noise years is recording in Berlin. The Music Lab studio was right by Checkpoint Charlie. We tried to get to the other side of the wall several times, but we never managed. They basically told us we looked too funny! We’ve always had a special connection to Berlin, even to this day. When we play there, it’s very special for the band and the audience.

The liner notes of the reissues also explicitly mention Einstürzende Neubauten, who are from Berlin of course. Was that also a factor for you back then, recording in the town that brought forth this influential band?
We had already been listening to a lot of industrial back then, but we were pleased to learn that Harris Johns, who ran the Music Lab, had engineered some of the Neubauten material, so he introduced us to sampling technology and a lot of new techniques that helped develop the sound of the band. We didn’t overdo it, but we definitely included some industrial elements in our music, starting with ‘Killing Technology’.

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Voivod in 1987

That’s a nice bridge to that album. One thing that strikes me, when comparing ‘Killing Technology’ to ‘Rrröööaaarrr’, is how much tighter you became as a band. How did that happen over the course of a year?
When we started to jam together in 1983, only Piggy really knew how to play. Blacky and I had some notions, but we really became good because we rehearsed non-stop, every night, between ’83 and ’89. On ‘War And Pain’ there aren’t that many double kick parts, because I didn’t really know how to play like that. By the time we did ‘Rrröööaaarrr’, about a year and a half later, I was really good at it. By the time we recorded ‘Killing Technology’ we became really good on our own individual instruments. When it came to rehearsing, we were very disciplined. On ‘Dimension Hatröss’ it became so tight that it’s almost like it’s on a click track, but it isn’t. The tracks were played live in the studio, with some overdubs, but we pretty much picked takes on which everybody was playing well. I don’t want to sound pretentious, but we became really good at playing the music we wrote. The first time I heard the ‘Build Your Weapons’ best of collection from BMG, which spans the ’86-’88 period, I was impressed by the differences between the first song and the last one. It sound like quite a different band, just between those few years. We improved quite a lot between ‘Rrröööaaarrr’ and ‘Dimension Hatröss’. We lived together, we worked together on the concept and the music, and we rehearsed every night. It was almost too much at some point. Eventually, around the end of the eighties, it became harder to feel united. Fortunately, we got a deal with MCA that allowed us to move to separate apartments and rehearse a little less. As a result, we only released an album every two years though, so it’s a fine balance.

It must be really hard, on a human level, to be around each other 24/7.
It helped a lot that we were childhood friends, but eventually we sort of lost the connection around ‘Angel Rat’. That’s the first time when the band was split up. It’s kind of normal, though, when you think that we were in our twenties. It can be pretty explosive when you’re that young. It was pretty hard to keep the band together for decades. I admire ZZ Top!

Absolutely! They must have arguments though, from time to time. It’s impossible to imagine they don’t. Probably about the beards.
Yeah, they must pull their beards when they fight.

I’m really amazed that you managed to be on the road almost non-stop and still write songs for those albums. How did you do that? You must have been busy all the time, rehearsing live sets, writing new songs, rehearsing those, etcetera.
It was pretty insane. We usually recorded the demos for those albums in our apartment. The most difficult part was that we basically had to write all the material before going on tour, because immediately after those tours we would be going into the studio, in Berlin. When we signed with Noise, ‘Rrröööaaarrr’ was more or less finished, and we recorded it in Montreal. Then, we were told we were embarking on a US tour with Celtic Frost, in ’86, and we did a European tour with Possessed in the same year. At the end of the tour we would go straight into the studio, so we had to write ‘Killing Technology’ before going on tour with ‘Rrröööaaarrr’. Then, as soon as ‘Killing Technology’ came out, we did a world tour with Kreator to promote the album, but, again, we had to write ‘Dimension Hatröss before leaving on that tour. So… pretty intense. We really lived it, working 24 hours a day on these albums. It was like this for a few years, and it was basically the only way to achieve that.

On the live CD that comes with ‘Killing Technology’, there is actually one song off ‘Dimension Hatröss’ in the set: Tribal Convictions’. Did you do that a lot back then, bringing completely new material into the live set?
Before going into the studio, we would test some of the new material on the road. Some of the material was modified on the road, and also we would rearrange some bits in the studio later. There are often several versions of songs. On the reissues I tried to include as many demos as I could find for all those albums, so you can hear those different versions.

Let’s proceed to ‘Dimension Hatröss’. Obviously, I’ve been listening to it a lot these days. I must say I was blown away: the album sounds remarkably fresh and contemporary for something that was recorded almost three decades ago! When did you realise you had something in your hands that was this timeless and influential?
We didn’t really realise back then. We didn’t overthink the whole thing. I was really influenced by Omni Magazine and Discover Magazine. They were basically trying to predict the future. I took elements from that. Snake was more street punk oriented. This sort of grounded everything. It’s still SciFi, but it’s also really connected to the earth in a way. Nowadays the nightmares from back then are recurring, in terms of terrorism and media manipulation, disinformation, destruction of the earth. Back then we thought about Chernobyl. Now it’s Fukushima. Global warming became a big issue, and it still is. Of course, the threat of nuclear weapons has remained a factor. At some point in the nineties, during interviews, people made me feel I was some part of the past, because I was still talking about these problems. According to some people I was being negative. I reminded them that the nuclear weapons were still there and that high tech weaponry was starting to become really, really crazy. I mean… if they don’t intend to use them, then why are they working on them? Nowadays, all of this has come back to the front line and the headlines. It’s really worrisome. We talked about a dystopian future, and right now it seems we have arrived to it. I’m still a happy-going fellow and I am just enjoying my life though!

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Voivod in 1988

It’s funny how not only the subject matter, but also the music and the production sound so fresh. The only other album I can think of that is so timeless, is the first Killing Joke album. It could have been recorded yesterday. What’s the common denominator here? It seems that predicting a dystopian future makes for fresh music!
I never really thought about it, but the common factor seems to be the search for new sounds to reflect that future. This certainly accelerated the process in the studio for us. This might be the same for Killing Joke, who have been hugely influential for Voivod. We really listened to them a lot in the vans, in the tour bus. I still listen to them today and invited them when we were curating Roadburn a few years ago. They caused quite a riot, which is perfect, in a way, haha.

I remember that show very well, haha!
Killing Joke is probably the most closely related to Voivod for many people, maybe together with Die Kreuzen and some progressive rock, like King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator.

One thing that ‘Killing Joke’ and ‘Dimension Hatröss’ have in common, is the fairly dry, direct production. It’s often the reverb, especially on the drums and the vocals, that makes it possible to date an album. Was that a conscious decision at the time?
I must say that was mainly Harris Johns’ approach. I think that he realised that, whenever we showed up in his studio, we already had a lot of touring behind us, the songs were ready, and we wanted to forge our own sound. He wanted to capture that sound and energy, without fooling around with it. That’s what you get: what you hear on those Noise albums, is what we sounded like. I’m very happy with that. Later on, during ‘Nothingface’, ‘Angel Rat’, and ‘The Outer Limits’, we fooled around with studio effects quite a lot. It became a bit more psychedelic because of that. The Noise albums, though, are pretty raw and honest.

And there it is: psychedelic. A word used many times in music, but, it seems, with a very variable definition. I already asked a few people how they define it, and if it’s not too much torture I would like to ask you the same: what does ‘psychedelic’ mean to you?
For me it goes back to early Pink Floyd material, that we covered. It really influenced the Voivod sound. It’s mainly the material released in ’67, either in Los Angeles and San Francisco or in London. To me that was very influential. It was a revolution. It’s not related to acid or anything like that in my mind. It’s more of a new arrangement and new approach to studio techniques. People had to invent new ways of dubbing tracks to add layers. All of a sudden, the music exploded and technology exploded. Also, live settings were more advanced. Bands like Jefferson Airplane had to replicate their sounds and visuals live, so all of a sudden it was very different from how live music was three or four years earlier, when the Beatles couldn’t hear themselves on stage. It’s a revolution in a music that is as important as 10 years earlier with Elvis.

It seems that nowadays, perhaps even since ‘Dimension Hatröss’ that such sounds are very compatible with metal. For sure it’s happening in black metal now. Are you trying to keep up to date with what is happening in the metal scene in that area?
Well, not exactly. I’m conscious of the fact that keyboards, as they are used especially in black metal, make it a lot easier to be closer to psychedelic sounds. I’m more aware of a drone scene rather than a black metal scene though. I’m very retro and if I have to buy new albums I’m more of a hardcore fan. I would rather buy the new Discharge album or something like that. If I listen to metal, it’s mainly New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. That’s a long way from newer material. The bands that I heard that are really great, are not new bands, like Baroness and Mastodon. That’s already a bit of an older scene. That’s why I like festivals like Roadburn, that are really eclectic, so I can watch newer bands. Another really cool, eclectic festival, although completely different, is Sweden Rock, where we’ll play on June 8th. We played there before, and we were playing with UFO. I got to watch their set from the side of the stage, which was great because they are heroes of mine. The festival is quite retro, but they mix it with newer bands, like In Flames, who of course aren’t that new anymore. They’re heavy though, and then you’ll have Journey, who are not so heavy at all, but I really like them, so it’s funny. For example, we’ll be playing on the same stage as Lucifer’s Friend, a band that I loved when I was a teenager. That’s great, and at the same time I can discover some newer bands, so I like that combination. In general, Europe is really good for that.

Certainly. And well, Roadburn is again something different within all that. I mean… Diamanda Galas on the same stage as Neurosis and Tau Cross. Talk about eclectic!
It’s funny. You get to see crust bands like Doom as well. It’s perfect for me. There’s a good blend of stoner, crust, etcetera. When we curated the festival, we also got to invite some progressive rock bands, like Anekdoten for example. It’s a very important festival.

Let’s go back to the Noise reissues. Whenever someone mentions Noise Records, the first thing you think of is the reputation they got because of some not so positive stories, mainly by Celtic Frost’s Tom G. Warrior. Voivod’s experience with Noise Records seems to be completely different though. Can you elaborate?
We had a really good experience in the sense that Karl (-Ulrich Walterbach) and Noise helped the band to mature. We became a lot more aware of the business side. They also made sure that our English improved for the lyrical content. That really moved the band forward. I wouldn’t say that Karl was a big fan of the music, but he never asked us to change anything. We had full control over artwork, music, anything. Eventually, probably because he was not such a big fan of the band, he never really offered us the super deal we were looking for. He really admired our artistic approach but he never really connected with the music. When we got a lot of airplay for the ‘Tribal Convictions’ video, we got a lot of attention from several major labels, and they offered us much better deals, so that’s when we jumped. It’s business, you know. Everybody involved with Noise had a different kind of experience with Karl, but for us, it was never bad. We never had any fights and everything went smoothly. Last year we played in Berlin and Karl was there. It was great to see him again. I was also involved in the release of the book about Noise Records, so we discussed that a bit. It was fun to see him.

… And now for something completely different. One song on the live CD that comes with ‘Dimension Hatröss’ really stands out: it’s a cover of ‘Holiday In Cambodia’ (a Dead Kennedys original). Voivod really seems to have a thing for covers. Of course you did the Pink Floyd cover, and last year’s EP had this really great version of ‘Silver Machine’. You seem to really like it. Maybe you can explain me what appeal it has for the band.
Yeah, we love playing covers! We actually thought about releasing a covers album in the nineties, and we even demoed it, but we never really took it beyond that stage. When we first started jamming, early in ’83, we played covers for a while, to forge our sound. We mainly played Motörhead, Tank, Raven, a bit of Sex Pistols, GBH, and a lot of Venom. We stopped doing that very quickly because we wanted to write an album very quickly. We wanted to write our own material and tried to find a deal as soon as possible, even though we lived about 500km north of Montreal and spoke only French. It seemed like an unreachable dream to us. Soon enough, however, we got an offer to record ‘Condemned To The Gallows’ on the Metal Massacre 5 compilation and it got a really good reaction. This led to a deal with Metal Blade for ‘War And Pain’, which we recorded for $2000, hehe… which we borrowed from Snake’s mom. It happened really quickly and we were really impressed to get a deal that quickly while we were living up north. So initially it was really important for us to play covers but later we did it mainly for fun. We learned a cover once in a while, and some of them we played live, like Iggy Pop’s ‘Search And Destroy’, or even some Bauhaus. Some recordings exist but I couldn’t track everything when I did the reissues. I might get a better occasion to do that though. If we do the reissues of ‘Nothingface’, ‘Angel Rat’, and ‘The Outer Limits’ I might have the right occasion to track down the demos of the cover album we did back then. We also did a cover of Alice Cooper’s ‘You Drive Me Nervous’ during the ‘Angel Rat’ sessions but we didn’t use it. Blacky had already left the band before the mix was done, and he played bass on that song. We didn’t think it would fit the album. It’s lost somewhere, but it exists.

It’s amazing to see how much archive material you managed to find. Do you keep those records yourself?
I keep all the archives. It’s stored in a locker room, at the proper temperature, and free of dust, because there are master tapes there. There is a lot of material to go through whenever a project is happening. It’s extremely time-consuming to go through everything, so that’s why it takes months or years to complete a release. Right now I have to finish DVOD2 and DVOD3, 2 DVDs about the Eric Forrest period and the Jason Newsted period. It will take out quite a chunk of my time, between touring and all. Last year we did 150 shows and this year it’s a bit less, since we’re writing a new albums and we’ll be recording it, but we still have two European tours lined up. We will record the album in August, and we have this June tour coming up, a few Quebec festivals in July, followed by another European tour in September, so it’s already a lot of work.

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Voivod in 2017

A new album? Tell me more please!
For now there’s nothing new coming up. We want to release a 7” for the September tour. We are working on a new album though. We’re trying to finish up songwriting. It’s a concept album, like ‘Dimension Hatröss’ and ‘Phobos’, so it turned out to be quite complicated to write this material. We have six out of eight songs completed now. The recording sessions are booked for August, so we’re putting the pedal to the metal now. We have to write while refreshing the setlist for the upcoming tour. Same old with Voivod!

Sounds like the way it was 30 years ago.
For me it feels like it’s been this way since ’83, except for the forced breaks we had when we crashed in ’98 and Eric was seriously hurt, and we had to stop for about a year, as well as later, when Piggy passed away unfortunately, in 2005. Then we stopped for eight years, although we did finish ‘Katorz’ and ‘Infini’. Apart from those times it’s always like this, but I like it. I like to be busy. When I’m not busy with Voivod I do art for other bands, so I have a really good life going on right now. It’s funny that, when we play festivals, we often play with bands that we used to tour with 30 years ago: Megadeth, Testament, Exodus, Kreator. We also get to open for our heroes, like Judas Priest and Iron Maiden. We did a tour with Motörhead. It’s great to see that thrash metal is still relevant, probably because it dealt with the destruction of this planet. That makes it very contemporary to this day.

Could you imagine back in 1983 that you would still be playing with Voivod after all these years?
Not really. When we wrote and recorded ‘War And Pain’ I was still going to university. I actually waited until the release of the album, to see if it had any impact, before dropping out of school. The album made quite an impact on the thrash/punk scene, so we all dropped out and we left for Montreal. I really had no idea how long it would last. There were a couple of times when I thought we were finished. When we broke up in 2001, we ended up reforming with Jason, but for a year and a half or so, Piggy and I thought the band wouldn’t exist anymore. It was the same when Piggy passed away: Snake and I thought that was the end of Voivod. We just decided to reform for one show in 2008, the first edition of the Heavy Montreal festival. It went so great that the word spread, and soon we were asked to play with Judas Priest and Ozzy in Calgary, then with Testament in Tokyo, and it just kept rolling. Now we’re playing tons of shows everywhere. I am really amazed that people still contact me to do art for their bands. It’s also amazing to see that we still have a very strong underground following. People have been very loyal. Every time we do a headliner tour we’re amazed to see the same friends over and over again, besides a completely new generation of course. Young kids wear Destruction and Voivod patches nowadays. They also try to look like we did back then!

Extreme music demands a lot, physically. About a year ago, during a previous interview with Lords Of Metal, Snake mentioned that some of the older songs can be a bit demanding nowadays. Then again, the new material seems to be getting better and better, performance-wise. How is this for you, given that drumming is probably the most physically demanding aspect of the music?
So far, so good. I’ve seen drummers, like Tommy Aldridge with Whitesnake, play for 90 minutes, with double kick drums all the time, and that really inspired me. I hope I can keep this up for quite a long time. Then again, for this year we were asked to do a ‘Killing Technology’ tour. Now that would be really demanding; there is non-stop double kick drumming at high tempo, and some songs are nine minutes long. We like to have a better pacing in our shows, instead of being really fast the whole way through. It creates much more dynamics. It’s a better fit for my age; I’m 53 now. We’re still able to deliver this punk/metal kind of energy live. I did stop partying around the age of 35 though, to make sure that I would still be able to do this today, and it’s working.

I can confirm this: 35 is a bit of a turning point. I’ve just passed it.
Around that age I was really asking myself if I was going to play thrash metal forever, and what should be done to do so. The first thing was to be healthy, drink less, and eat healthy. I’m still working on it. On tour it’s hard, because you get to drink a bit on stage, and eat fast. You get a lot of junk food on tour. It means I have to be extra careful, because I have to perform well every night. We tend to do 28 shows in 30 days. There is no fooling around. The industry has changed and days off are rare. It’s a heavy schedule, but it’s fun!

Adding some dynamics isn’t the worst thing though; just playing fast can become quite boring.
It used to be like that. In the mid-80s it was almost a competition to be faster than Slayer. Then, when Napalm Death introduced the blast beat, it became such a situation that Voivod slowed down and tried to reach for other extremes: odd time signatures, different arrangements. That was our main thing after ‘Rrröööaaarrr’. Back when we did that album, everybody was trying to beat Venom and Slayer, Metallica. We were getting cassettes from Destruction, and stuff like that, and we were amazed by the speeds they were reaching. We were all in our early twenties, so we were being competitive, trying to be the heaviest of them all. At one point it just became impossible to be heavier than Slayer. When they released ‘Reign In Blood’ it became pointless to even try, haha!

In thrash metal there’s always this balance between being so fast it’s a bit out of control, but not too much. You mention Destruction… there’s not too much control on their first EP, hehe.
The demos and cassettes we were trading back then were very edgy. Bands like Sodom were on the verge of being out of control. All the early demos of those bands sounded really evil. In that sense, the first wave of black metal was a bit of a revolution. Mainly Venom. Then, all of a sudden you had Celtic Frost and Bathory. It sounded dangerous to many kids and that made it attractive. Of course the lyrics, although not serious, were also intriguing to a lot of people. They were a gimmick, but in the Dungeons and Dragons world of those kids it was perfect to make a jump from Iron Maiden to Venom. It was a quick progression between ’80 and ’82 basically. When we heard Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Motörhead in 1980, we thought it couldn’t be heavier. A year later we had Venom…The exciting part of the metal scene is that it evolved very quickly. There was wave after wave of completely new music. It probably still is the case for a lot of kids who listen to new metal. There is a lot going on nowadays, with dozens of new bands. It must be harder to keep up. Back then the tape trading world was more or less all there was: you would send cassettes with a note, and wait for 6 weeks before getting anything back. It was the same with magazines: you’d send a demo, and then weeks later there might have been an article on you. Nowadays, with all the social media, it’s a completely different world. From when I was sending my paintings to Berlin or LA, to now, when I use WeTransfer, it just completely changed. The tragic thing is just that as soon as all the legal stuff was figured out with respect to downloading, streaming appeared, and now it’s a new battle again. Bands and industry will have to find new ways of adapting to these changes, because otherwise the business is not going to be very lucrative.

There seem to be a few opportunities. I have a lot of respect for the way Swans are dealing with this, mainly through crowd funding.
We are lucky to have a very good deal with Century Media, so we haven’t really given the crowd funding thing a try so far. We can record decent albums and have well-promoted tours. It’s definitely underground, but the setting is very professional.

I think I’ve run out of questions, except for this one: given these reissues, will the set list on the next tour be focusing on ‘Rrröööaaarrr’, ‘Killing Technology’ and ‘Dimension Hatröss’?
Not necessarily. We cover a lot of material from these albums, but it’s more of a career spanning set. We don’t really play any of the Eric Forest and Jason Newsted material that much, but we play songs from anything between ‘War And Pain’ up to ‘The Outer Limits’, as well as material off ‘Target Earth’ and ‘Post Society’. We might try a new song, if the lyrics are ready. We’re working on the new material now, so we might try out one song or so.

No further questions! Thank you very much.

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