POWERGOD

If the title of the band makes you think that this interview is for power metal maniacs only, you are definitely wrong. Yes, Powergod do play power metal, but the bands guitarist Riff Randall whom we had a chance to talk to played guitar in Sodom once upon a time and now also runs a great rocknroll band called The Traceelords. Surprised, arent you? Of course, we did not limit our conversation to issues concerning Powergod only, we talked about the mans entire career which has been indeed interesting and intriguing.


MetalKings.com: OK, Riff, as far as I know your real name is Andy Brings, right?

Riff: (laughs) That's right, yeah.

MetalKings.com: So maybe we can talk about your whole career, not just about Powergod, OK?

Riff: If you like, OK.

MetalKings.com: Tell me how you got into music business.

Riff: That was fate, you know. I was the guitar player, still in school and when I was 20 I had a chance to join Sodom. It just happened. I was there at the right time at the right place and that's how I got into the business. I was really nobody and then all of a sudden I was in a very successful band.

MetalKings.com: And why did you leave Sodom after a couple of albums?

Riff: Well, to be precise, I recorded in Sodom two studio albums (Tapping The Vain and Get What You Deserve), one mini-album (Aber Bitte Mit Sahne), a double live album (Marooned) and a live video. And I didn't leave the band, I was kicked out. In 1994 Tom (Angelripper, singer/bassist) decided to go on with the band alone. And especially I had to leave. But that's not bad, it was good because now everything is... perfect. I have great people around me and everybody's working towards the same goal.

MetalKings.com: Do you think Sodom was a democratic band or was it completely ruled by Tom?

Riff: When I was in the band it was still very democratic. I was a full member, had a full contract and everything. And that's the thing Tom didn't want anymore because he was the only founding member left. Chris Witchhunter (drummer) left before me but Sodom still was a very democratic band. Now it's not like that anymore but I don't care, you know.

MetalKings.com: And after leaving Sodom you started The Traceelords...

Riff: Yeah, that's right. Our drummer in Powergod plays in The Traceelords as well, his real name is Haan Hartmann. We did that and then we had some metal riffs left so we started Powergod.

MetalKings.com: Yeah, but as far as I know famous German drummer Jorg Michael (now with Stratovarius) played on the first Traceelords album...

Riff: WOW! You're well informed! I didn't have a band then, it was in 1997 and then I released a mini-album called "Pussy!" But the whole thing was called Andy & The Traceelords and that's right, Jorg Michael played drums on that one. But that's not the official first album 'cause the official debut album is called "Sex, Money, Rock'n'Roll". It was released last year, it is recorded with Haan and that's the real official debut album. That "Pussy!" thing was more or less a demo.

MetalKings.com: Was that mini album released officially by any label?

Riff: No, but 7 of 9 "Pussy!" songs are on "Sex, Money, Rock'n'Roll" but fully new recorded and better than those ones.

MetalKings.com: But why such a nice title "Pussy!"?

Riff: Because when I was kicked out of Sodom Tom always used to say in interviews that I was a pussy (laughs), that I was a poser, a wimp and stuff like that. And I said, "Hey, that's cool! A good title!" I think I proved everybody wrong because the music that I'm involved in right now kicks ass, its not pussy music.

MetalKings.com: And with The Traceelords you also played on a Kiss tribute album...

Riff: WOW! You seem to know everything! Yes, that's true, in 1999 we recorded a song "I Want You" for the "KISS Deutschland" tribute album with the real band. WOW!

MetalKings.com: The sleeve of the album "Sex, Money, Rock'n'Roll" says that "Born To Be Alive" is a bonus track...

Riff: Oh, that was just a joke. And you see, "Born To Be Alive" is called 'track number 14' but in fact it is 13. So the album actually has 13 songs but we wanted to avoid the number 13 because it's a bad luck.

MetalKings.com: You also recorded a Boney M cover "Daddy Cool". Why?

Riff: We enjoyed it, it's been a part of our live set for a couple of years now. And people have fun when we play it and I think our versions of other people's songs are good to dance to, enjoy and have fun. So it's... fun!

MetalKings.com: OK. All three Powergod albums are entitled "Evilution". Why three parts?

Riff: We gave the first CD the subtitle "Part 1" because we wanted to make it clear to our record company that we want to do the second album. That's the only reason. But that's not because it's concept, it kinda deals with the fight between good and evil, but no message, no history lesson, nothing like this.

MetalKings.com: So those three albums are not concept ones?

Riff: No, they're not. We don't believe in stuff like this. In a way we're just a rock'n'roll band.

MetalKings.com: Does this third album ends the "Evilution" story?

Riff: Yeah.

MetalKings.com: So next time you're gonna do something different, right?

Riff: You might know our tribute album ("Bleed For The Gods (Thats Metal - Lesson 1)" (2001)) and the next album will be that tribute part 2.

MetalKings.com: Well, that tribute album seems like a big German metal project with so many guests

Riff: Yeah, we invited some friends. And we wanted to know the original artists from the songs. So we were on tour with Rob Rock and had a chance to record a Project Driver (M.A.R.S.) song, we had him singing on it, it was amazing! And Doro Pesch... well, Doro Pesch is the queen of heavy metal and, you see, we had her here and we were just nuts. So she was in the studio singing "Burning The Witches" and we were just looking at each other thinking, "Oh, it this true?" (laughs) We basically do the whole stuff ourselves, we have fun and if somebody else likes it - even better.

MetalKings.com: And how did you menage to invite Peter Szigetti (ex-Warlock)?

Riff: I knew Niko (Arvantis, guitarist, ex-Warlock) when he was in Stormwind before he joined Warlock. And you see, when I was 14 I tried to put out a heavy metal fanzine and somehow I got contact with Niko in 1985. We met a couple of times, I was a huge Stormwind fan and when he joined Warlock we met a couple of times after that but they were super-busy and we lost contact. I stopped doing my fanzine, started playing guitar. And in the beginning of last year I somehow found his e-mail and wrote to him, something like, "Hello! You might not know my name but my name is Andy Brings. Here is what I'm doing right now, I was a fan of yours in 1985 and if you read this I would be super-happy and maybe you can play on "Burning The Witches"." And I didn't know that he is still playing in a band with Peter Szigetti. They still play together in a hard rock cover-band. He wrote back and said, "Oh, I'm gonna bring Peter with me!" I said, "WOW! That's great!" And the funniest thing is that he remembered my name! He still knew who I was! And when we met he said, "When you wrote to my that your name is Andy Brings I already knew who you were!" And it's like... 16 years went by and he didn't know what happened to me, that I played music myself and had little success on my own with Sodom and other bands. And that was cool because he kinda brought me on my way because I really admired him when I was a kid, you know. And he somehow made me play the guitar because I was so proud that I knew him, he was a star to me!

MetalKings.com: : And what about Ferdy Doernberg (Rough Silk). Is he a good friend of yours too?

Riff: Yeah. When we were on tour, I mean, Powergod with Axel Rudi Pell, last year we became friends. And then we met and that's how he ended up playing on that album.

MetalKings.com: And what about Manni Schmidt (ex-Rage, now in Grave Digger)?

Riff: I've known him for many years when he was in Rage and when we were in Sodom we used to meet a couple of times, we had the same management. And I was so happy when I heard that he's back to metal with Grave Digger. That's really cool because he's one of the best guitar players I know. So it was like friends were coming by.

MetalKings.com: You see, the German band Running Wild has a song called "Evilution" on their album "Death Or Glory" (1989). Did you know about that?

Riff: Running Wild? I'm not a fan of Running Wild, I'm sorry. The only Running Wild albums I know of are the first two, "Gates To Purgatory" (1984) and "Branded And Exiled" (1985). And I lost completely track on Running Wild since that time, I never liked the band that much so I don't know this song. Do they really have it?.

MetalKings.com: Yes, they do?

Riff: I didn't know that.

MetalKings.com: Several information sources say that you're a big fan of Kiss. Is that true? When did you hear them for the first time?

Riff: I knew them from 1980 and it was everything to me. And I was their fan up until the beginning of last year because they replaced Peter Criss again and brought Eric Singer in the band, he's a good drummer, one of the best in the world in metal and rock'n'roll music. But Peter Criss is Catman, you know, and you can't replace Catman. And now they're putting Tommy Thayer, their road manager, in the Space Ace make-up. I don't understand it and now I'm quitting my Kiss fan-being, my 1,000 percent devotion, because I can't understand it. In my opinion they should just leave...

MetalKings.com: But they're going to...

Riff: But I think it should've happened 2 or 3 years ago. To me the reunion was a chance to end the band the way it has started, you know, the original four guys, and that's not good anymore. But Kiss will always be my all-time favorite band, I've seen 45 of their concerts since 1996 in America, Germany, etc. I spent all my money but it was definitely worth it! And that's the best band in the world, I've never seen such a hard-working and better-entertaining band like this ever!

MetalKings.com: Many people didn't like the latest Kiss album "Psycho Circus". What do you think about it?

Riff: "Psycho Circus" was... brilliant! I loved it from the first second I heard it! I don't like the fact that the original band, I mean, Ace and Peter didn't play that much on the album but they were on the cover, they played a little and they sang on the album. And the album itself is amazing! I think it would take a couple of years for the album to get the glory it deserves. I think there's some incredible material like the title track or "Dreaming". And I don't care who's playing on the album, it has the four original guys on the sleeve and the album is awesome!.

MetalKings.com: And how did you get that name, Riff Randall?

Riff: Riff Randall is the name of the character in "Rock'n'Roll High School", it's the movie featuring the Ramones. And Riff Randall is a girl in the movie but I thought it was cool. The thing is that when we started Powergod we didn't want to use our real names, we just wanted to let the music make it and come through.

MetalKings.com: Does it remind you a bit of Kiss?

Riff: I didn't think about it at that time. And you know, at first we were even wearing masks on our faces! But I didn't think about the Kiss connection because we just wanted to protect the music. People might say, "Oh, that's The Traceelords guys who wanna do a metal project just for quick cash." And we also wanted to protect ourselves because the record company would put a sticker on the album "Featuring ex-Sodom guitarist". And I hate that, I hate that kind of sticker. By putting it on the cover... it will draw the wrong people 'cause the music is totally different from Sodom. And if a Sodom fan buys Powergod albums... maybe the new one would be something for him. If you like Sodom buy their albums, if you like Powergod that's cool but if you buy Powergod because of Sodom you better save your money. I want people to care about the music and not things like "ex-blah, blah, blah". But record companies think that way and record companies are stupid!

MetalKings.com: And did it really take you three years to establish The Traceelords?

Riff: More, it took more. "Sex, Money, Rock'n'Roll" was released in August 2001 but we started writing songs long before that. The song "Sex, Money, Rock'n'Roll" itself was written back in 1995. And I recorded "Daddy Cool" and other songs for the "Pussy!" CD back in 1997! We began the recordings for the album "Sex, Money, Rock'n'Roll" on February 15, 1999. So it took over six years for The Traceelords to find a way. But people who buy the CD love that music because it's fun, absolutely trend-free and that's great, I think. And right now we're recording new Traceelords songs, the first new songs in almost four or five years. When "Sex, Money, Rock'n'Roll" was released it was old material to me and to people. It was the material we have been caring around for years but it was still good and we stuck with the songs. And if the song is good stick with it and it will make its way.

MetalKings.com: What about the second part of the tribute album? What covers will be there?

Riff: I think there are some songs that didn't make it on the first one because of playing time, we didn't want to release a double CD. So the new album will have Malice on it, I think Hirax, Griffin, Abbatoir, Overkill and stuff like that. Also there might be some poser stuff like a song from the first or second Motley Crue album, maybe "Red Hot" (from "Shout At The Devil" (1984)). Some obscure stuff, I think it will be just as good as the first one.

MetalKings.com: On the first tribute album you played a song of Yngwie Malmsteen "I Am The Viking". What do you think about Yngwie? Did he influence your style?

Riff: He didn't influence my playing 'cause I am no way as good as him. If he's a 100 percent then I am... 5 percent. It was very hard for me to play that song, I had to practice a lot but I wanted to do it because I love the first three Yngwie albums. For many people Yngwie is the fastest and the most perfect. His songs are not all interesting but he influenced the whole generation of guitar players. And "I Am The Viking" is an incredible song! Also I am the proud owner of one of his guitars from his personal collection. A friend of mine was on vacation in Florida, he met Yngwie in a record-store where Yngwie was selling some of his guitars and he bought one for me. And it's white Fender Stratocaster with scalooped fretboard. I mean, it's one of his guitars, you know. So I wanted to play the solo myself, it was really a hard work to do but I think I did it OK.

MetalKings.com: Well, the music and the name of Powergod remind me a bit of Manowar. What do you think about such comparisons?

Riff: I take it as a complement because Manowar is a great band. And all the albums up until "The Triumph Of Steel" (1992) to me are... god! I love "Battle Hymns" (1982), I love "Sign Of The Hammer" (1984), I love them all. I know every single note on those albums. But the "Louder Than Hell" (1996) and the live ones are not my taste of music anymore. But the old stuff is great, Manowar is a very successful and very influential band. We actually did "Kill With Power" on the tribute album and if you say that Powergod reminds you of Manowar I take it as a complement.

MetalKings.com: The very name Powergod means that you play power metal music. Do think it might limit your style on the albums?

Riff: We don't care, we do whatever we want to. I mean, the new album is very different from the first one, it's much more brutal, 'in your face' and heavier. We just do what we want to and to me that's the best way of creativity. And if you say Powergod is heavy metal, power metal or true metal we don't care, we just do our thing.

MetalKings.com: Is it OK if I name some people which I saw on Powergod photos in the Internet and you tell me who they are?

Riff: OK, go ahead.

MetalKings.com: The first is Leo L. Sing.

Riff: He was our first singer in Powergod, he is a great singer, he did a good job but we didn't get along.

MetalKings.com: OK, then Peter Wagner.

Riff: Peter Wagner is our live bass player. When we play live we have an additional player because I only play guitar live. I play bass in the studio but in concerts we have an additional member and that's Peter.

MetalKings.com: So that's not Peter 'Peavy' Wagner from Rage?

Riff: No, it's not! (laughs).

MetalKings.com: Another person is Olaf Krueger.

Riff: Olaf was our sound engineer on our tour last year.

MetalKings.com: OK, the last person is Mirko Salispahic.

Riff: He is the guitar player in The Traceelords and our live guitar player in Powergod.

MetalKings.com: Do you play cover-songs from "Bleed For The Gods" or KISS covers live?

Riff: Yes, we do. For example, last Friday we had our first show from the tour and half of the songs were from the cover-album and half of the songs were the original Powergod material. Because many people love that tribute album and I think it would be not cool if we don't play stuff from it, we love to play power metal. And with The Traceelords we play "I Want You" and "Daddy Cool".

MetalKings.com: Do members of Powergod play in any other projects?

Riff: Me and Haan play also in The Traceelords, we are the Midas Twins, we have our own studio and produce all the albums ourselves. And President Evil's real name is Alexander Koch and he sings in Spiral Tower.

MetalKings.com: Have you ever thought about releasing a solo album?

Riff: No, never. I mean, I can play whatever I want! With Powergod we play the most powerful metal that I can imagine while with The Traceelords I sing. So I can live up to all my musical dreams in those bands. And I don't know why I should do a solo album. I have to focus on both bands so why starting something else? There's enough room to put out all my ideas.

MetalKings.com: And what about any live albums of Powergod?

Riff: I don't think about it. When we play live we don't care, we might play wrong notes but that's live. And I don't think that Powergod should release a live album now, no, not at this point.

MetalKings.com: What about releasing Powergod and The Traceelords albums in Japan?

Riff: I would love to but it didn't happen so far. But we want to release albums and tour everywhere possible so if we have any good proposals we would surely agree to it.

MetalKings.com: This year Powergod is going to play at the Bang Your Head festival. What do you like most, festivals or clubs?

Riff: I prefer playing rather than not playing! Of course, festivals are better because you meet a lot of people, fans and friends. But I don't care, as long as there's people who want to be entertained we're the right guys.

MetalKings.com: OK, Riff, it was fun talking to you. You're such a funny and interesting person to talk to, not so boring as many metalheads...

Riff: Thank you very much! I think if you play quality stuff and play it good people will get it. I had an interview with a German reporter who said, "What about your credibility? How can you play power metal and punk rock'n'roll at the same time? And how come you like Kiss and on the other hand you love Agent Steel?" And I said, "Hey! Why not?" I can eat at McDonalds today and eat vegetables tomorrow and cheesecake the day after tomorrow. I don't see the problem! I don't care! I don't wanna be boring or bored! And I need the variety, it would be boring for me to play only heavy metal. To me variety is the spice of life!

MetalKings.com: Riff, thank you for the great interview! Thanks a lot!

Riff: Thank No problem! I liked it too! Thank you for your interest! Bye!

Dead Ripper
MetalKings.com
(June, 2002)


Special thanks to Helen from "AMG" for her precious assistance in organizing the interview.

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