Decibel magazine recently conducted an interview with bassist/vocalist Thomas "Angelripper" Such of German thrash metal veterans SODOM. An excerpt from the chat follows below.
Decibel: The story is that you started SODOM to escape working in the coal mines. Have the recent mine collapses in Chile and West Virginia made you feel especially lucky lately?
Tom: Yeah, and those guys in Chile were really lucky also, but I didn't like how they made it too commercial, like a big show when they came out of the mine. When I was in the coal mine, I remember thinking a lot of my friends were gonna die in there. We were 1,000 meters deep, and that is a very hard job, you know. I was so glad that they survived. But coal mining, that was my home. At these times, there were a lot of unemployed people, so they all go to the coal mine for work. My father went to the coal mine, my grandfather also, and my father took the decision for me to work in the coal mine as a blacksmith. I worked for 10 years, but it was a good time. It was like a big family; I got my money every month. Then in '89 I stopped doing this because [SODOM's] "Agent Orange" [album] came out and I get a lot of money from a record company to be a professional musician. So, I can make my living from the music. That was my aim, my dream, you know. And from that time I never went to work. But being a musician and managing the band for myself, it's a full-time job. It's not just writing songs and playing concerts. There's so much behind what we have to do.
Decibel: Did you have any close calls when you worked in the mines?
Tom: No, I got some scratches and cuts on my fingers and arms and things like that. The job is very dangerous, I know, but I always take care of myself. Security was first for me. A lot of coal miners, they never mind about security, but it is very important. So, I survived all those years with just some scratches. I worked at the Hugo mine. It was the first one in this area [the Ruhr industrial region of Germany]. They started mining there in 1873, I think. Nowadays, if you look in our area, almost all the coal mines are gone. In the whole district, just one or two coal mines are alive. That's why the people get unemployed here. The coal mines close and the people don't know where to go. You never find any good jobs here in this area.
The entire interview can be found in the February 2011 issue of Decibel magazine, available on newsstands now.