Tom Angelripper is more than just a thrash metal musician from Germany, a country once responsible for the second wave of this music genre launched all across the European Continent. No, Tom is the incarnation of thrash metal itself, metal at its purest, a reflection of everything that this word combination stands for. Uncompromising and straightforward Tom and his brothers-in-Sodom never stepped away from the path they once took, always being hard, fast, aggressive and mean as hell itself. Over the decades Sodom never needed any experiments or style-changes, that are sometimes referred to as development but also often as betrayal. Tom does not ponder this. He neednít to. He is just doing his job and for the moment being that is doing interviews to support his upcoming (now already released) M-16 album. Felix the Katt and Troll got down on the phone to question Tom on the developments with the album, label, side projects, alcohol, politics and tons of other things.
Tom Angelripper: Hi! How are you!
MetalKings.com: Hi how are you?
Tom Angelripper: very good.
MetalKings.com: How many interviews have you done already?
Tom Angelripper: Today I have done 1 in Russia.
MetalKings.com: No, overall?
Oohh! Thereís about 50 or 60
MetalKings.com: Ok. This year you will celebrate the bandís 20th anniversary, you release a new album and youíll have an absolutely amazing Sodom/Destruction/Kreator tour. How do you feel about it?
Tom Angelripper: Well, 20 years, thatís really amazing, to make a band 20 years ago. When we started in 81 we never realized that we would be alive in 20 years. Thatís really amazing. Sodom is the band that never changed its way, thatís why we are alive, we never had re-unions, we never changed the music, never changed our style, we always did Sodom thrash metal all over the years. But now in Germany everybody is talking about thrash revival because of the Destruction reunion, Kreator made a new album, thatís thrash, you know, but I donít care. To make this tour at the end of December, this will be a big chance for everybody, itís a real gift for the fans, Ďcause theyíll have low price ticket and make it to see 3 live bands in one night at one place. That would be reallyĖreally great. Iím looking forward and itís really exiting to do a tour together.
MetalKings.com: Is Holy Moses going to join the bill?
Tom Angelripper: Well. I donít know. Yes, it could be. Our booking agency talked about Holy Moses and I know that the band is really good, I know Sabina Classen, she wanted to be the forth band, but this time I cannot decide, Ďcause the booking agency is doing it and record company wanted them together. It would be great to get Holy Moses. Itís not 100 %, I think itís something like 80 per cent possibility that we are going to play with Holy Moses.
MetalKings.com: Ok. Being in the biz for 20 years now arenít you sort of tired of touring and live gigs?
Tom Angelripper: Never. Iím never tired of this Ďcause this is my life, itís my job. I like it, at least from the music. 15 years ago I stopped to work, I worked at a coal mine. So from this time, from ďAgent OrangeĒ time I still make the music to live from it. Thatís my job and also thatís my hobby. I like it. Iím never tired to go on tours, because so many things happen, itís so exiting, when you go into studio, make new songs, go on tour, meet old friends, new people. Itís the best job you can do, it never gets boring, and I never get tired of it.
MetalKings.com: Well let's talk over the new album. As far as I got from the press release this album deals with Vietnam War?
Tom Angelripper: In the press aim it seems to be a Vietnam concept album. But you are quite right. We used a little bit of stuff from the Vietnam Ďcause everybody knows the Vietnam War movies and if you see an M-16 rifle, you always think about Vietnam. However, if you read the lyrics you will find out that itís not especially Vietnam. I was going to write about my life in a lyrical way with historical facts, you know. The message is that if you read between the lines, the message is to stop the war. This is an anti-war album. Vietnam war I think was one of the bloodiest. It was so absurd because Americans love the war. Now the situation is Ė we are bringing the new album next week and a lot of people will say, ďOh, come on. Why are you bringing it out now when the war is going to restart?Ē Thatís the thing, all the time at any place in the world there is a war going on, for example, when we wrote ďBetter Off DeadĒ the material there was about Gulf Crisis, when we wrote ďCode RedĒ there was the Kosovo crisis. There is a war conflict at any time and any place Ė and my opinion is also in the lyrics. What would shock people a little bit Ė is the front cover design. But the people have to realize that we donít want to have war, if thereís no more war it is good, I will have to write about other themes like peace or love.
MetalKings.com: Yes, I mean as we talk now there is war breaking out in Afghanistan and there has been war in the Russian republic of Chechnya for several years right now. I mean war IS in fact going on all the time.
Tom Angelripper: And that makes me really sad. I want to write about political things that happen in the world, when you see a newspaper, TV shows. I wanna write very good lyrics. And many bands, most of them donít care about it, for example these fantasy lyrics with dragons coming down...
MetalKings.com: This is more about reality, right?
Tom Angelripper: Yes. Bands like Manowar, even bands like Priest or Saxon. Please, read their lyrics. This is nothing. Iím really interested in history and historical themes and thatís what Iím writing about. But you will never find any political opinion in the lyrics, although a lot of people say ďhe is a fascistĒ and ďwe donít wanna make interview with himĒ. They are not right! Iím not a fascist. Iím just German, you know, and I write about things that happen in the world.
MetalKings.com: Yeah, every band that wrote about war was always accused of fascism, nazism and whatever. I think it just goes with writing about war.
Tom Angelripper: Yeah, but these people are not right, you know.
MetalKings.com: They are not right.
Tom Angelripper: Why are we writing about war? Because we donít want war. We wanna describe how bad the war is. If I write about it I gonna dream that Iím a soldier in the Vietnam conflict or Afghanistan. It would be very bad, you know, just to be in the war, to be a soldier in the war. This is a really bad thing. Now when Americans are bombing Afghanistan hundreds of thousands civilians die and everybody knows about it. So we are going to write about it. But I have to write about it in a lyrical way, I wonít write any newspaper article. And, so, these interviews that I do a lot of, give me a chance to clear all misunderstandings about me or about the new Sodom album.
Ok, I see. The thing is, about new album Ė the impression I personally
got, and we are listening to it right now
Tom Angelripper: Yeah, I think itís the best way to say, you know. Thatís not the heaviest album. The heaviest Sodom album was ďMasquerade in BloodĒ or ďGet what you DeserveĒ. Even ďCode RedĒ, it was an excellent album, but the new album was really important for us. When we went to the studio, we wanted to have new songs arranged with very good refrains. So if you hear the new Sodom songs, you hear once or you hear twice, youíll never forget it. These songs go straight to your ear. Thatís the difference between Sodom and other bands may be. Itís really compact, itís really straight lyrics. Thatís called a band stayed with its style, itís not a kind of fashion. We always sound like in the 80s. We produce whatever suits us. We never used any tempos or any industrial elements Ďcause we donít need it. We just need guitars, bass and drums. And thatís how the new Sodom album sounds.
MetalKings.com: And of course your voice..
MetalKings.com: You like some extraordinary cover-versions. Why ďSurfiní BirdĒ is on the CD? As far as I got itís Beach Boys?
Tom Angelripper: No-no, this is a band coming from the time when the Vietnam War was going on. It was the band from 1965 and itís called The Thrashmen.
MetalKings.com: Oh! I see! So you just got there it because it was popular among the American soldiers during the Viet war?
Tom Angelripper: Thatís right, ďThe ThrashmenĒ I think they were the first real punk band. They were a sort of a revolution, and also you have to see the movie ďFull Metal JacketĒ, where you can hear the song, itís really amazing.
MetalKings.com: Oh! Itís in the ďFull Metal JacketĒ, oh, now I know where I heard it.
Tom Angelripper: Yeah, when we covered it we did it in our own way in the Sodom style. The record company wanted it for the Japanese bonus track. You know these Japanese always want bonus tracks.
MetalKings.com: Yeah, oh yeah, we know.
But after hearing, we said no, we want it to be in Germany and worldwide,
so the Japanese donít get any bonus
MetalKings.com: All right, what about new live album or may be another tribute?
Tom Angelripper: We wonít do a live album Ďcause we are going to do a DVD next year. Thatís important. DVDs get more popular in Germany, I donít know what is with them in Russia, a lot more people buy it here. So youíll have a live album and youíll have a live video. Thereís a live concert we played in Wacken this year, we recorded it on tape to be on audio and video. We also want to do very old video clips no one has seen before.
MetalKings.com: This year you played at Wacken Open Air, and as far as I know you closed the festival. You were playing like in the night already, and as far as I also know that you played two new songs there ďM-16Ē and some other song. So what was the impression of Sodomaniacs?
Tom Angelripper: Aargh! People liked it. If you play songs like ďM-16Ē and the second one was ďNapalm in the MorningĒÖ
MetalKings.com: Oh yeah, thatís a great song. Thatís probably THE HIT of the album, and thatís the one I liked really.
Tom Angelripper: And we played it live for the first time, people heard the refrain for the first time and the second refrain they sang with me. This is a typical type of the Sodom songs; itís not like with the others you listen to it 10 times to fully understand it, but if you listen to a Sodom song, you listen to it once and you will never forget it. And thatís what ďNapalm in the MorningĒ was like Ė live killer. People liked it really much and it was really good promotion for our album. It was really great. Sometimes it is really strange to play brand new songs nobody heard before, but it Ďs not a problem with live songs like ďM-16Ē or ďNapalm in the MorningĒ to play - the kids will understand what I mean.
MetalKings.com: Talking of the new album, what is YOUR personal favorite song on the album?
Tom Angelripper: Aargh! This is really difficult to answer. The most people I talked said it was ďMarinesĒ.
MetalKings.com: Yeah! ďMarinesĒ is a great song but what about you?
Tom Angelripper: In my opinion itís the second one - ďIím the warĒ. This is really thrashy, it is really fast
MetalKings.com: but itís got a sort of Slayer flavor to it?!
Yes, I donít know. But I think that the new Sodom is better than the new
MetalKings.com: So you donít like the new Slayer?!
Tom Angelripper: Yes, I bought it, I heard it ten times this new Slayer, but I think thisÖI miss a little bit typical Slayer stuff like ďHell AwaitsĒ and ďShow no MercyĒ songs, I miss a little bit the typical Slayer sound. This is a really heavy album, really brutal, really well played, but this is not Slayer like I want it. This is a really good album, ďBloodlineĒ is the best song they have ever done, but there are some other songs like ďHere Comes PainĒ or ďNew faithĒ, this is very untypical for Slayer, too much hardcore and industrial in it, you know. I think that Slayer is the best band in the world, definitely.
MetalKings.com: Ok, now how do you feel like working with SPV and Steamhammer? Do you like working with them? Do they give you enough support?
Tom Angelripper: Yeah! They do. The thing is that when we finished with Drakkar Records, we got no promotion from them, they did nothing for us, and the booking agency was really bad. The record company said, ďWe donít have to do the promotionĒ. So we split with them and walked. I talked to SPV and they said, ďCome on! Letís do the new Sodom album. We have the complete band catalogue, we can refresh itĒ. Iím getting older. When we started with SPV in 1983 I signed a very bad deal. So I had no money for all years, but SPV sold more than 1 million copies, while I got no money for it. But we got a better deal for a new album, they do a really good job, they do a really big promotion, this is some kind of major company. The most serious promotion from SPV is that the new album is coming out worldwide. It is also coming out in America, so itís record promotion wherever possible. We tried to find out how our record label worked in America to bring out the ďCode RedĒ album. They did nothing. You canít get it in any store. Now with SPV you get the new album in every good record store. So we have fans worldwide and they wanna buy it, and they donít get it only because it is import, it may be too expensive. So I am really satisfied with SPV.
MetalKings.com: So would that mean that the new Tom Angelripper or as they are known Onkel Tom releases will be also released at SPV?
Tom Angelripper: We-e-ell, may be. I donít have a deal for Onkel Tom, I just have a deal for Sodom. But SPV is interested, though at first I have to record, make a pre-production, they wanna hear Onkel Tom material. I think Iíll have no problem in getting a deal. I think SPV will do it next year. This year I donít have time to make an Onkel Tom album. I have a lot of ideas, thatís right, but I donít have a studio. I have to wait for our European tour, I wanna find the time and I will do a new, a brand new beer drinking Onkel Tom stuff.
MetalKings.com: Ok. Since we started talking about Onkel Tom. Have you though of the next album concept? May be traditional Russian songs now? Since you had American Christmas songs on the previous album, so how about doing Russian folk songs?
Tom Angelripper: Yes! Why not! I think there are a lot of good beer-drinking-vodka-drinking Russian songs.
MetalKings.com: Of course, there are a lot of them. I mean this is a vodka drinking country.
Tom Angelripper: yeah! I mean I never heard any Russian songs.
MetalKings.com: Oh?! You mean you never heard any Russian songs?
Tom Angelripper: Beer-drinking songs, NO. In German itís called ďVolksmusikĒ and ďSchlager musicĒ (schlagen Ė ďto hitĒ/íto drinkĒ ger.). The beer-drinking songs are very-very old songs. Itís not a kind of new songs. Somebody gave me a tape with traditional American and Irish beer-drinking songs...
MetalKings.com: Oh! Those are great!
Tom Angelripper: I collect everything. I can write German lyrics to them or I can translate these lyrics into German. So Iím collecting everything.
MetalKings.com: Whatís your favorite Irish beer-drinking song?
Tom Angelripper: Oh! I forgot the name. I have a whole CD of them, full with Irish beer-drinking songs, but I donít remember any.
MetalKings.com: Ok! Because I collect those too.
Tom Angelripper: Irish beer-drinking songs?
MetalKings.com: Yeah! Irish beer-drinking songs and of course Iíve got all of the Tom Angelripper albums..
Tom Angelripper: Oh! Great!
MetalKings.com: Those are great. You see. When once me and a friend of mine sitting and listening to an Angelripper record and we were sort of having lunch at the time and we were drinking coffee and the coffee almost tasted like beer because you were playing!
MetalKings.com: You tell us! I mean we donít know! We would like to see you here, we would love to see you here!
Tom Angelripper: I heard that the next tour we are going to play 2 or 3 shows in Russia.
MetalKings.com: Oh! Really! You mean in December or January?
Tom Angelripper: itís January. Itís gonna be January. I have no dates confirmed. The booking agency is working on it.
MetalKings.com: Ok! We got some more like stupid/off-the-wall questions for you. If you were ever to talk to the Roman Pope, what would you tell him?
Tom Angelripper: I would ask him ďHow old are you? Please stop working!Ē I think here is really cool, but the thing is he does not understand nothing, he is getting too old, he is really sick in his head.
MetalKings.com: What was the funniest rumour you ever heard about you?
Tom Angelripper: I donít know. Thatís really bad, that people think Iím a fascist.
MetalKings.com: Well thatís not funny! What was the funniest?
Tom Angelripper: Sorry there were no especially funny things.
MetalKings.com: What is the usual stuff you play in the studio when you record? What do you listen, I mean, what CDs?
Tom Angelripper: I always listen to all-times classic from the 80-s, you knowÖ
MetalKings.com: Such as?
Tom Angelripper: You know Tank?
MetalKings.com: Yes. I heard the name, but I never heard them, but I know the band.
Tom Angelripper: This is a best band worldwide. I also listen to the old Venom stuff, old Slayer stuff. I listen to all the NWOBHM bands like J-Gore, Exciter. I like Raven, I like German new band J.B.O. You know this is all-times classics that I listen to. I donít have the money and time to listen to all new stuff coming out. But you have to know that I hate all these nu-metal bands that are coming out every month, every week in Germany. One other thing Ė itís S.O.D. I like them really!
MetalKings.com: What is your favorite joke about bass players?
Oh! Thereís no favorite! I donít have any favorite jokes.
MetalKings.com: I was really surprised that Sodom does not have any official home page on the Internet! Why is that? Only just crash.to/sodom and some other, but they are not official! Why not?
Tom Angelripper: yeah! Thereís no official Sodom page, but I think there are about 3 or 4 un-official ones. But you can also findÖif you go to Tom Angelripper page
MetalKings.com: Yeah! But actually itís quite old. The latest update was in April?!
Tom Angelripper: Yeah, but if you go to crash.to/sodom, you will have updates. You will find there all the latest merchandise, tourdates. I always try to give new material to be updated. I donít have any official home page for me, though the record company is asking for it. But this crash.to/sodom, he does it very well, itís always updated, I always try to give him new material, pictures.
MetalKings.com: So you know the guy personally?
Tom Angelripper: Yes. I met him at a Sodom show. He is really cool! He doesnít want money, he does it for free, because he is really goodÖhe is a real fan of Sodom.
MetalKings.com: I mean you canít have money in that business
Tom Angelripper: No, if you saw the Kreator new home page, itís very good, but they paid a lot of money for it. This is really expensive to do. So I donít need any special style. I need home page with good information. And now he gets updated every week, I give him every the time when I have some news, I give him.
MetalKings.com: How is the ďDesperadosĒ project going? Is there going to be a continuation of that?
Tom Angelripper: Yes. We have recorded a new album, but this is really sad we got no deal. Nobody is interested in Desperados at this time. That makes me really sad! I think that Desperados was one of the best newcomer bands ever.
MetalKings.com: Yeah! This is cowboy thrash metal. That totally ruled, man!
Tom Angelripper: yeah! We have so many ideas; we can do so many things with this Western theme, but thereís no record company interested: SPV donít want it, Nuclear Blast, Century Media, all the German companies they say ďNo-no-no! We donít want Desperados!Ē. And thatís really sad because Alex, he is the guitar player, he is really afraid about the album, I am not only the singer with Desperados, I donít have any time now: I have Sodom, Onkel Tom stuff and thatís really sad that we get no deal, I canít understand it Ė a lot of bad bands get support in Germany, but nobody supports Desperados, and that makes me really sad Ďcause Desperados is a really-really good project.
MetalKings.com: How much was the inspiration from Ennio Marricone when you were writing Desperados?
Tom Angelripper: You know I am a real Western fan. I think there are a lot of good Western moviesÖ
MetalKings.com: Whatís your favorite?
Tom Angelripper: My favorite is called ďThe Wild BunchĒ.
MetalKings.com: Who stars there?
Tom Angelripper: Sam Peckinpah. It was the best ever. I am also interested in reading Western history. I have a lot of book from America about Doc Holiday, Jason James. These guys were living really, itís not fantasy. This really happened. Iím really really interested in it. So thatís good for the lyrics. I can help Alex with Desperados. We also visited Tombstone, Arizona to see all the people, country and city. That was really great! I hope weíll have a chance to release a new album. Itís really a pretty nice album.
MetalKings.com: Tom, I speak German a bit and Iíve been to Germany couple of times, but I never heard of Appelkorn. What is it? Another German alcoholic beverage? Made of apples?
Tom Angelripper: yeah. Itís Schnapps. Do you know Schnapps?
MetalKings.com: Of course we do know schnapps: ďSchnapps, das war sein letztes Wort!Ē
Tom Angelripper: thatís cool! So itís Schnapps, 40 %, they do it with a lot of apple juice in it, so it tastes like apple. And if you drink as much as I do, I drink a lot of applekorn and I get drunk with it.
MetalKings.com: What is the most weird alcoholic mixture you ever had?
Tom Angelripper: Oh, thereís one special Schnapps in Germany, itís calledÖitís really, itís not a mix, itís straight, and itís called ĎCaptain MorganĒ. This is really, really strong. And if you drink it a lot, you can easily get blind. And if you drink one or two, you will never wake up. Thatís really heavy, ha-ha!
MetalKings.com: How much percent itís got in it?
Tom Angelripper: I think itís 80.
MetalKings.com: Oh! shite!
Tom Angelripper: You can also drive a car with it, itís no problem.
MetalKings.com: Tom, where do you live in Germany? Iím just curious, in Munich (south) or Hamburg (north)?
Tom Angelripper: Oh, I live between Hamburg and Munich, I live in a Ruhr Valley in Helsenkirchen. Itís a Schalke. Do you know Schalke football team? I live near Essen, Dortmund, Duesseldorf.
MetalKings.com: Are you a football fan?
Tom Angelripper: Yeah, Schalke fan, Ya!
MetalKings.com: We should have guessed. What was the gig you did with Sodom that you remembered for all of your life?
Tom Angelripper: Yeah! That was the last gig we played in Bangkok. It was really crazy. It was a small club, full with 400 people, but those people got so crazy, you canít believe it. I thought that nobody knew Sodom there, but it turned out that everybody knows Sodom there, because they get Sodom Stuff from Internet. And when we got on stage people were screaming so loud, even louder than our music played. This show I will never forget. These people were really glad to see Sodom there. We were the first metal band that played there and this show I will never forget. And there are also so much shows I will never forget. This was one of the best we had ever done.
MetalKings.com: How was it soundwise?
Tom Angelripper: Sound was really great. But the club was really small you know. We have no large show with pyrotechnics, we donít care, we just play music. It was so hot and sweaty on stage, you canít believe it. And we also made a video, and when we get out DVD next year, Bangkok show will be also on DVD for everybody can see it.
MetalKings.com: Talking of the tribute album ďHomage to the GodsĒ, what was the best band there in you opinion?
Tom Angelripper: The best one was, I think there was one or two very very good, Cradle of Filth and I liked very much Vader, they played really tight! The baddest thing was ďGoddess of DesireĒ with ďBombenhagelĒ, it didnít sound like Sodom, it sounded more computerized, sampled. But I really liked that these bands did a very good job.
MetalKings.com: Talking of Cradle of Filth, do you follow black metal scene in general? What is your favorite black metal band, if you have one?
Tom Angelripper: No, I donít have any, Iím not interested in black metal scene. When we started our carrier, it was the old ďHellhammerĒ you know. But I donít know new black metal bands, I donít care. I saw in Wacken Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir live, I donít like this music, there is too much keyboards in it. There is no real rockíníroll. I like rockíníroll black metal like Venom, for example.
MetalKings.com: Who is the black metal-looking guy on the cover of the third Tom Angelripper album ďEin Strauss Bunter MelodienĒ? There is a guy in corpse-paint and stuff there.
Tom Angelripper: Itís a friend of Alex. He is a real black metal guy. But on this cover we wanted a punk, rock fan, heavy metal fan and black metal fan to sit at one table eating you knowÖ
MetalKings.com: Eating beer, you mean?
Tom Angelripper: Eating a pig head and drinking beer. It was a really good photo session. Letís make a party. Have a nice time, thank you.
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