SODOM - PERSECUTION MANIA - STEAMHAMMER/SPV
SODOM - AGENT ORANGE - STEAMHAMMER/SPV
SODOM - M-16 - STEAMHAMMER
SODOM - LORDS OF DEPRAVITY PART I (2DVD) - SPV
SODOM - same - SPV
SODOM - THE FINAL SIGN OF EVIL - SPV
Will Sodom ever tour with Gomorrah? Is Sodomy And Lust an album's title or a way to live one's life? Is Uncle Tom Angelripper really anyone's uncle and does he really rip angels apart? Ali "The Metallian" did not pose any of these questions during his conversation with Sodom's founder, but he did find time to ask whether the man does feel like a grandfather. - 25.04.2006
METALLIAN: Tom, thank you for your time. The obvious question today concerns the lengthy gap between the new album, simply entitled Sodom, and its studio predecessor, which was called M-16.
TOM: You are right because M-16 was released in 2001. It has partly to do with the Lords Of Depravity Part I DVD we were working on. It also has to do with the record company and the 'options' in the contract. It took them a bit too long to give us the green light for a new album. They were also waiting for the DVD. In the end, I am satisfied with the album and our new DVD.
Sodom is able to release an album every year, but we always have to wait for the record company.
METALLIAN: Did you spend an extraordinary length of time on the DVD?
TOM: At first, the record company's idea was to record just a show in Germany - and we taped our 2001 show at Wacken - and to add a back stage interview. When I talked to our producer he thought that would not be enough for Sodom. He told me that Sodom is a cult band that was formed in 1982 and that we have so much to tell and that there is so much material to use. So we put everything together to make a historical documentary. The next step was to get all the material. I am not a Sodom collector. I have nothing at all. We had to contact former members and other guys. We then had hundreds of video tapes, cassettes and pictures. It was a lot of work. I also went to Berlin for a week to edit it, then do some shows with Sodom, then to rehearsals and this caused the gap between the albums.
METALLIAN: Would you consider yourself hands-on to the point of being dictatorial?
TOM: Yes, yes. I have to be there. I know other bands have cases full of tapes and they give it to the company and tell the label to make a DVD. We are one of the earlier bands and I have to be there when the editor is cutting something or creating the chronological order. It is a must that I be there.
METALLIAN: When is the next DVD being released?
TOM: I don't want to promise because the current one took a long time. It has a running time of five hours. The next one will be the same. It will be about the new line-up, it will have a tour documentary and a road film. I hope it will be out in February or March of next year.
METALLIAN: Could the next video potentially delay your next album by a couple of years?
TOM: Yeah, because we also have to write material for a new Sodom album. I also don't know when SPV is prepared to release a new album with us. We don't mind because we keep doing our music, we write new songs and rehearse twice a week. It is not a kind of job for me. I hope to release a new album next year too, but we have to see how successful the current one is.
METALLIAN: Customarily, bands release self-titled albums either because they feel it is their definitive work or because they are out of ideas...
TOM: ...no, no, those are not the reasons. You cannot compare our Sodom album to Metallica's 'Black' album or whatever. When I got the original cover artwork I took it to the other band members and Bobby asked why we needed a title. After all, there is no special message behind it. The new album is the tenth anniversary of this line-up and we celebrate it without a special message.
METALLIAN: What about the more melodious nature of the music?
TOM: It just happened. We never go to rehearsal and talk about our next move. Our rehearsal room is a jam session. It is a couple of beers and a jam. At the same time, you cannot compare this album to the last album, M-16. This time we just wrote guitar riffs based on better vocals. Sometimes I have lyrics and sometimes we write them when we record. We did try to get some better chorus lines though. We wanted songs you wouldn't forget. The newer songs are killer live too.
METALLIAN: On another note, would you agree with the notion that you are something of a grandfather or a godfather to the thrash metal scene? After all, you are already an uncle.
TOM: Erm, I don't feel like a grandfather! I am not sixty-years old. I am 43. It makes me feel proud a little. I know we influenced many younger bands with our music, but our music is now fresh again. This music is a product of the '80s and I am proud that we are still alive without any breaks or stoppage. There is no reunion. We have constantly been in the scene since 1982. That is why people respect us.
METALLIAN: Here is a question that has come up at Metallian Towers before and it would be just the thing to get an answer from the horse's mouth. Is Sodom a right-wing band or are you leaning left?
TOM: That is a really stupid question. We have never been a right- wing band or whatever. I am not politically involved in anything. We always just describe things. I describe the World Trade Centre and so on.
In Germany, I prefer the Social Democratic party. That is what I want. We are from the working class. My father was in SPD and so were all the coal miners. I talk about my SPD Partei Buch (party membership book) in the DVD. We don't have anything to do with any fascist bands or right radical scenes. We have so many problems in Germany. We get a little bit of money from the government. These have nothing to do with the lyrics though. You will never find political opinion if you read between the lines of our lyrics.
METALLIAN: Many people were dismayed to find Sodom praising US Marines on the M-16 album.
TOM: People told me I glorified the marines. I don't think so. It is a song for the marines because they are good soldiers. I was in the German military too. I like to look at Vietnam war movies and stuff. Americans glorify the Marines, but I am just a German. For me, it was just a song title. Violence and war are really stupid, but they make good song titles.
METALLIAN: Does it bother you currently that the SPD has nearly been banished in Germany at the moment?
TOM: Yes, our new chancellor is from the right-wing CDU. The states are all CDU. That's really stupid. There is a lot of fascist and nationalistic parties in eastern Germany. They are seeing success because people see it as a protest. They choose these, whatever, republican, national, whatever party, but those guys are really stupid.
I played live with my other band, Uncle Tom which plays German drinking songs, two weeks ago and we had skinheads at the show. I didn't mind though. There was no problem because we had 400 headbangers and three skinheads. The promoter came and told me to kick them out of the club. I told the promoter you let them in! I never kick someone out. It can't be a problem. It was 3 against 400.
METALLIAN: Is your side band still active?
TOM: Yes, it is a fun band for special live purposes. We might also release an album next year. Alex is busy with Desperados and is touring. He also lives 400 kilometers away from me. I also have to find more time. Alex does send me stuff as mp3, but I hate it. I think bands should get together in a rehearsal room. I also want to produce an 'Uncle Tom' album for myself. I need to find a serious record company first though.
METALLIAN: Going back to Sodom, how would you compare the band's status and sales to the late '80s around the time of the release of albums like Agent Orange?
TOM: We are selling less. You cannot compare us now with Sodom of 1988. We sold 100,000 copies of Agent Orange just in Germany. We cannot reach those numbers anymore. I think the problem is that the metal scene is getting too big in Germany. There are hundreds of new bands coming out every week. There are so many festivals and tours. Who has the money to buy all this stuff? CD prices are really high as well. You have to pay 18 or 20 Euros for a CD. The problem is not the Internet either. The problem is the price politics of the record companies. Fans have 20 Euros and they have to choose what to do with it. I don't think Blind Guardian is selling more than the past either.
METALLIAN: Do you think the German metal scene is hitting a ceiling because, while the press has always been there, radio and television has remained closed to heavy metal?
TOM: Yes, but sometimes I miss the support of the magazines too. There are big rock and metal magazines in Germany. They disappoint me though because the cover photographs are of Rammstein, Nightwish or Böhse Onkelz. These are not metal bands. These are commercial bands. I talked to the editor of one of the magazines and he said that they sell more magazines if they put Rammstein on the cover. That is the big difference between now and the '80s in Germany. The metal scene is too commercial. Everyone wants to make money from metal. They use bands like Onkelz to sell more metal magazines. I am really sad because Sodom is really a metal band. We have to get more support from magazines, from radio stations, we have to get more respect for what we did and for the last 20 years. That is what I miss sometimes. It is not the metal scene of the '80s; it is the metal scene for making money. It is about merchandise, the people who sell beer at festivals... if you go to Wacken as a fan you will spend 300 Euros. Everyone wants to make the big money. Who can pay? A couple of bands sell T-shirts for 50 Euros. That is 100 old German Marks, you know? Most metal fans don't have money or are unemployed. That is a problem with the business in Germany.
METALLIAN: Along these lines there was talk of a Sodom, Destruction and Kreator tour of North America a couple of years ago, but that apparently fell apart because you were asking for too much money. Destruction and Kreator made it over together. Can you comment on this?
TOM: We wanted to do it, but I cannot go to America for six weeks and not make money. I cannot understand why you don't get money for touring in North America. I get money when I play a show in Germany. When I play in America I get nothing. They say you have to buy your merchandise and you make your money that way. So where does the money from the tickets go? That is why I cannot do an American tour. They tell me I can tour America, but I wont get paid. When I come home what do I tell my children? I am married and I have a small house. They want me to come home from a tour without any money in my pocket. My family will say why do you tour when you have to feed your family and pay for the house?
Schmier, of Destruction for example, does not have a family. He is on his own in another country. He doesn't need a lot of money. Mille is the same. He is always on the road. It is different if I want to go on tour. I don't need $1,000 for a show, but I need a total of a couple of thousand dollars when I come back from a six-week tour. It is not a job to make money from, it is my passion, but I need a little bit of money to live. That is the reality. I never talk about a lot of money. I have to have a little money, pay the rest of the band, the road crew and all that. I do not tour if they do not guarantee me something. I do everything the contract says, I give a good show and I make the fans happy. I cannot come back from a tour and work in a coal mine again. We can't have it so the promoter makes all the money and the band gets nothing. This happens only in the USA. I get money when I go to Brazil, South America and that area. I get paid when I play in Russia and Japan. I played in Bangkok and people don't have money there. They are poor, but they paid me for the show, for the hotel and the drinks. America is rich, the promoters have money and the club is sold out, but they don't pay the band! We want to come to North America, but I need a promoter who is serious.
You know, Kreator, Destruction and Sodom are different bands and we each go our own way. Still, Schmier is my good friend and it is my dream to get all three bands to tour North America together like we did in Europe. Kreator and Destruction have been successful alone though. They toured together and then went out with support bands. I think the time will come though for the fans there to see us all together on one stage.
Singer and bassist Tom Angelripper, guitarist Bernemann and drummer Bobby Schottkowski will be busy in the coming months following the release of the current album with festival appearances, a European tour and a full-length DVD. For more information peruse the band's site at www.sodomized.info.
If you enjoyed this, read Hatework