The Great Southern Brainfart recently conducted an interview with bassist/vocalist Thomas "Angelripper" Such of German thrash metal veterans SODOM. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
The Great Southern Brainfart: When did you first decide that music was your life calling?
Tom: Back in 1982 when the first VENOM record "Welcome To Hell" came out. We were so inspired from this that we got the idea to make our own band. When we got our record contract in '84 that's when we became professional musicians. The first record was very successful and in 1989 when "Agent Orange" came out, it was very successful and I could make my living in the music. I didn't have to go to the coal mines to work anymore.
The Great Southern Brainfart: So you were a coal miner?
Tom: I worked there for about 10 years and in 1989 I quit my job because I was able to make my living from the music. Now the coal mines are gone because nobody needs coal from Germany anymore. All the coal miners are now unemployed. It's a very bad situation in my district where I live.
The Great Southern Brainfart: Did working in coal mines inspire any of your early writings?
Tom: I think so yeah. The job was very hard. My father and my grandfather worked in the coalmine and we didn't have much money. I had to work for a couple of months to get enough money to buy my first bass guitar. I think that bands like KREATOR and SODOM come from the same area and all our parents and grandfathers were coal miners. Even VENOM came from a working class and it's very heavy music. I can't explain it but I think this coal mining area is a very special country and very special district here and the music is very hard just like the job is very hard. The most poseur metal bands come from South Germany [laughs]. Their parents are very rich and they are going to buy a guitar for their son and whatnot. You cannot compare it to this area.
The Great Southern Brainfart: The latest album "In War And Pieces" was just released and it sounds so fresh and full of life. After 30 years of doing this, how do you keep it from getting old or dated?
Tom: I think we always have so many ideas for new songs and we love what we do. We love what we do. That is the secret. I think the fans really push the band to keep on going. SODOM is a band that never stops and we will never stop and never change our music or style. We love to do the music because we are metal fans.
The Great Southern Brainfart: The production on this album is absolutely amazing. It just sounds so killer.
Tom: We just try to write better songs and on this album we tried to get a better production. I don't want to spend all the money for the high-tech studio where you're going to pay 800 or 1000 euros a day. This time we spent the money on a producer. I like bigger drum sounds and I want to see the drummer sitting on the drums sweaty and playing the drums. [laughs] We recorded the whole album in a rehearsal room and that was fantastic. We always do the music in a rehearsal room and don't do like other bands do with MP3 trading. We just always have a jam session and start writing songs. It's a digital recording but it sounds like an analog production like "Agent Orange" or something. It was fantastic.
The Great Southern Brainfart: Your lyrics seem to contain a lot of social and political commentary. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Tom: I think that life is big inspiration. On TV news or in the newspapers there are so many bad things in the world all the time. It's very sad. My dream is to live in a peaceful world without war and crime and all this stuff. For me it's a very big inspiration in writing lyrics. I cannot change anything. I'm not a political activist and I can't change anything but I can be a singer in a metal band which gives me the chance to scream it out. In the early years I had done a lot of lyrics about occultism. I was influenced by Alister Crowley books and all the such and then I started writing lyrics about life and the bad situation of our world. I want to tell the people something and I want to scream it out. I see the TV news all the time that soldiers have to die in Afghanistan or the conflict between North Korea and South Korea now. This is a bad situation but I think it's a big inspiration for writing songs and lyrics.
Read the entire interview from The Great Southern Brainfart.