OK, this time we have something different from the normal stuff. I guess you already got used to reading interviews with musicians but this time we have a person whose name is Axel Thubeauville. You never heard about him? Shame on you! This is one of the most most legendary persons in the German heavy metal industry. In early 1980ies he had the company "Earthshaker Records" that released albums of Steeler (with Axel Rudi Pell), Steeltower (with then-members of Heavens Gate), Lions Breed (with then-members of Scanner). He also discovered such heavy metal legends as Warlock (with Doro), Sepultura, Stratovarius and many many others. At present Mr. Thubeauville is the owner of the "Shark Records". So get on board and find out secrets of German metal scene of the 1980ies and 1990ies! When and how did you get into rock music business?

Axel Thubeauville: I was a guitar player in the end of 1960ies and we played The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Yardbirds etc. At the end of the 1970ies I owned a record store with mostly imported records like the first Motley Crue, the first 4-track from Guns N'Roses and some other great stuff long before they were available in Europe. At this store I met interesting people like Metal Mike from the Dutch magazine "Aardschok", Axel Rudi Pell from Steeler, Mille Petrozza from Tormentor later known as Kreator, Chris Boltendahl fom Grave Digger etc. What is the difference between "Crazy Life Music" and "Earthshaker Records"? Did you own both companies?

Axel Thubeauville: "Crazy Life Music" is the name of the company. "Shark Records" or at the end of the 1980ies "Earthshaker Records" are only brand names, and so yes "Earthshaker Records" was a part of my family. By the way some of the "Earthshaker Records" releases will be re-released on "Rusty Diamonds" in the future. When was the Earthshaker Records founded?

Axel Thubeauville: I am not sure but sometime around 1984. As far as I know there is a famous Dutch magazine "Aardschok". Does it have anything to do with your magazine founded in 1983?

Axel Thubeauville: The German "Aardschok" was done by Metal Mike from the Dutch "Aardschok" and myself. Most of the Dutch artricles were translated into German and we started the mag with 300 copies in 1983. It was only sold through record stores.The mag stopped in 1984. How did you find Warlock and sign them?

Axel Thubeauville: They sent a demo to my magazine "Aardschok" and I got in contact with them. Their rehearsal room was in Dusseldorf which is about 30km from my hometown. I visited them during their rehearsal and then the contract was signed. We (Ralf Hubert, who later was famous for Mekong Delta) and myself recorded the first Warlock album "Burning The Witches" in Dusseldorf for "Mausoleum Records" and that's how the story began. How did you find Steeler and sign them?

Axel Thubeauville: Axel Rudi Pell once went into my record shop and gave me a cassette with some Steeler songs. He complained that nobody was interested in his work and so I decided to start my own label "Earthshaker Records" to release the first Steeler LP. Their rehearsal room was in my hometown Bochum so it was really easy for me to stay in contact with them. We produced the first Steeler LP (sorry, but with a bad quality) in Ralf Hubert's own studio and this was my start into the record buisiness. The first and second Steeler albums were produced by you and engineered by Ralf Hubert. How did you meet Ralf and do you know what he's doing now?

Axel Thubeauville: I met Ralf through Axel Rudi Pell who knew that Ralf owned a studio in Bochum. That was the reason why the first Steeler was produced in Ralf's studio. After Mekong Delta split up I have no idea what he's doing now. How did you come to the idea to record "Banging Around The X-Mas Tree" EP?

Axel Thubeauville: At the end of the 1970ies I got hold of a X-Mas LP from the Yobs, a punk band from England doing X-mas Covers. During my work with Steeler, Living Death, Lions Breed I thought that this idea might be great again and so I asked some members of various bands to play some X-Mas songs. All songs and how they have to be done came direct from me and artists were paid after they did their part. Till today this is one of my most selling productions ever. In 1995 I asked Holy Mother and Capricorn to do some songs so that I could release an X-MAS compiltaion Vol. II and so now with the "Rusty Diamonds" company we have "Banging Around The X-Mas Tree" which is some kind of a volume 4 with all songs ever recorded for this project. Were other X-Mas songs that surfaced on the compilation of 1987 recorded in 1985?

Axel Thubeauville: No. Axel Rudi Pell said that those songs were recorded in summer 1985. Is it true?

Axel Thubeauville: Yes, that's right. How did you find Steeltower which members later surfaced in Heavens Gate?

Axel Thubeauville: I got a tape from "Horus Sound Studios" owned by Frank Bornemann where the second Steeler album "Rulin' The Earth" was recorded and thought that it was a great band. I bought the rights and released it. How did you find Lions Breed which members later surfaced in Scanner?

Axel Thubeauville: Through the magazine "Aardshock" and as they lived nearby my place, Gelsenkirchen which is 10km from Bochum. It was also very easy to get in contact with them. Why the Earthshaker Records fell apart?

Axel Thubeauville: This label was the start and at the start I worked with Ralf Hubert very closely. Later we both build "Aaargh Records" for which I found Holy Moses and I build "US Metal Records" but because of some financial problems with the studio I gave up working with Ralf. Soon I started "Shark Records" releasing the first Sepultura album "Morbid Visions" and Wehrmacht "Shark Attack". The back-cover of the first Steeler album says 'Produced by Axel Thubeauville for Metallian Music'. What is that Metallian Music?

Axel Thubeauville: "Metallian Music" is a publishing company owned by me. I've been extremely curious where are mastertapes to records released by the Earthshaker Records? Axel Rudi Pell said that he doesn't know where are those mastertapes of the first two Steeler albums. Is it possible to find them anyhow?

Axel Thubeauville: Axel Rudi Pell doesn't know the whole story. The rights for the first two Steeler albums were sold to the owner of the German "Metal Hammer", Jurgen Wigginhaus, at the time when Peter Burtz, vocalist from Steeler, was working for "Metal Hammer". This was in the beginning of the 1990ies. Mr. Wigginghaus isn't in the music business anymore so I have no idea who has the rights for these tapes now. How did it happen that "Mausoleum Records" in Belgium unofficially released the first Steeler album?

Axel Thubeauville: It wasn't 'unofficially', it was more or less a re-release after I didn't see any progress in marketing the LP through my channels. Who owns copywrites on all records of the Earthshaker Records?

Axel Thubeauville: Mostly I do. Recently you reissued X-Mas Project, Atlain and Living Death. Is it possible to reissue records of Steeler, Steeltower and Lions Breed since members of those bands later became real legends of the German heavy metal scene?

Axel Thubeauville: Some are not possible like Steeltower and Steeler but some will be like Lions Breed. Axel Rudi Pell said in an interview with me that Steeler never got royalties for their first two albums. Is it true? If yes why?

Axel Thubeauville: It's always the same. Bands are tellling that they didn't get any royalties but they always forgot that 1. The production costs will be deducted and if they are too high bands will never get any royalties and 2. Steeler got royalties (I can prove that) for the second LP. But I didn't get any cent from my distributor because they he bankrupt before he could pay me. At that time my contracts were very bad so I had to pay them even that I didn't get any cent. Where were live bonus tracks on the CD version of Living Death "Metal Revolution" recorded?

Axel Thubeauville: At their rehearsal room in Velbert, Germany. They are more or less demos for getting a record deal. How did you find Stratovarius and sign them? Is the version of Shark Records of "Fourth Dimension" out of print? Did you sell copywrites to Noise Records/Modern Music?

Axel Thubeauville: I produced Finnish band Antidote in my own studio (T&T Studio) at Gelsenkirchen when one of the guys gave me the second CD from Stratovarius "II". I listened to the CD and found out that this band has the potential to become big. I phoned Timo Tolkki and after we agreed on the conditions I made a re-release with the title "Twilight Time" and a new cover from Eric Philippe who also worked for Rhapsody, etc. Later I sold all rights and even my record company "T&T Records" to "Noise/Modern Music". What is the company Cream Records? What records did it release?

Axel Thubeauville: This was company build by "Rough Trade Records", Germany and myself. We released the first Holy Mother album, Massacra "Humanize Human", X-Mas Project (Volume II), Manifest Destiny "All Life, All Minds", Mournblade, X-Ray "Dehumanized", Enola Gay "Pressure", N. O. W. (later known as Holy Mother) "Tabloid Crush", Accuracy "Absolute 100%", Flaming Anger, Biosphere "II", Centers (later At Vance), Stahlmaster (Volumes 1 and 2). Originally Klaus Sperling from Primal Fear was not featured in studio records of MP. How did it happen that you released MP live album and why they didn't make any more studio releases?

Axel Thubeauville: I released only that live album because of Klaus Sperling. I thought this could be a good idea but unfortunately it didn't sell. The band doesn't exist anymore. How did you find Gallows Pole? What is the real name of John ABC Smith? Will the band release more albums?

Axel Thubeauville: A guy who's working now for "AFM Records" introduced me to the band and I thought I could take the risk to release their songs. The real name of John A.B.C Smith is Dario Tobrok, he's Croatian. The band doesn't exist anymore but John is playing in a new band Hallowed which I will release within the next several months. You released the album of Zanister "Fear No Man". Was it licensed release from "Leviathan Records" or do you have copywrites on it?

Axel Thubeauville: It was just a licensed version from David T. Chastain's "Leviathan Records". What do you think about the current heavy metal market in Europe? Do you think it is possible to promote metal music in America and make it big again?

Axel Thubeauville: I think the market in Europe is overfloaded and most of the bands sound the same. I try to release different stuff but it is much more difficult to sell. Maybe my releases are not good enough or they didn't sell so much because they don't sound like all other productions. I don't think it will ever be possible to get a European band big in America besides Scorpions. But I have no idea if the American market will be big in metal again. How did you sign with the Russian company "CD-Maximum"?

Axel Thubeauville: I saw their name on an "AFM Records" release and got their e-mail address. That's how it all started. Does the contract with "CD-Maximum" envisage licensed releases of "Rusty Diamond Records"?

Axel Thubeauville: No, they think these releases can't be sold in Russia. Axel, thank you very much for the interview and thank you very much for the giant effort you made (and hopefully will make) to promote heavy metal worldwide!

Axel Thubeauville: Thanks a lot! I am really surprised you know so much about the scene. It was a pleasure to answer your questions!

Dead Ripper
(December, 2002)

Special thanks to lady Irina Solovyova from the company "CD-Maximum"
for the tremendous work she did to make this interview happen.

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