Actually I could call myself a ”Tankard groupie” (and I would be unique, according to the band website) because in Austria I hardly ever missed a gig of those guys. Well, that is a bit more difficult in Finland, as those Speed/Thrash legends don´t play here regularly, but finally at mal zu Gesicht zu kriegen – beim Jalometalli Festival in Oulu it had worked out. The time window before the gig was just enough to talk about the most important topics, and there were many: the 30-year anniversary and the 15th studio album ”A Girl Called Cerveza” last summer, the second visit to Finland… front man Gerre presented his telepathic talent answering my questions even before I asked, and he also disclosed a secret…
First question – it naturally concerns the band anniversary – how did you manage to retain such a positive attitude all those years?
The anniversary is over with, we have been together 31 years by now, and yes, well, surely you have to celebrate anniversaries when they occur, but you should not stick to dates too much, I think. As long as it´s still fun… Well, the passion for Heavy Metal and for the Musik will never die anyway, and as long it´s still fun with the band and people wanna see us, we will continue, no idea for how long. You cannot say ”I´ll do that until the day I die” – on the other hand I cannot imagine my life without Tankard any more.
I believe you (laughs)
Maybe not the answer you expected, but… we will stick around for a while, hopefully.
It´s a bit strange to witness the development, Thrash was out for a while, then it returned, also Vinyl returned…
And we are still here!
Yes – just like many other bands from back then …
Well, I think this is another plus for us, that we continued through those real tough years mid-90s to end-90s with our style, flying the flag of Thrash. We played just a few shows in front of a small crowd, but I think people honor the fact that we have never quit, we have always been there and always did our thing honestly. I do think that people understand that we do it for the music and not for the money. Naturally music business is also about money and we do get paid for our shows, but we have always done what we really wanted to do. This is still the case as we don´t live on making music, every one of us has his – more or less – bourgeois profession (laughter). We don´t have to live off music, so we cannot play anywhere any time, which I find very sad sometimes, but on the other hand it is so cool to be totally independent. You are not forced into something and can do what you want, and this has always been very important to us.
What I got to mention – we have done a big step forward when we signed with Nuclear Blast, they have some energy and do a lot of promotion, and something can still happen for Tankard. Last year we have entered the German charts after those 100 years (the top 40, the ed.), at least for about a week – but HEY! That was a huge success!
As you have mentioned your jobs already – which are those, and what was the worst job ever you had to do just to survive?
The others – Frank and Olaf work in the automotive industry, and Andi is an engineer, programming something, no idea what exactly – they have quite good jobs. I am a social worker in my real life. The worst job I did was… maybe thsoe 5 years I worked for the mail service. Being there at 4:30 h every day, meaning getting up at 3h, and being only 5min late was a big fuzz – I guess that qualifies as the worst job ever.
No acting career then? (Band manager Buffo and also Gerre occasionally appear in German TV series, the ed.)?
That was one of the best jobs – I never got paid for it, but it was a lot of fun. Some Metal heads could not understand it as they hate this Soap (”Sturm der Liebe”, storm of love, the ed. *) But I really love to watch it, and when I do weird stuff, I don´t hide it. The fun part here is that two Metal idiots made it to the most famous German daily Soap – that created such a media fuzz outside the Metal press – those just put it to the funny short notes – we had dpa at the set, it became a real big thing!
Talking about fandom, and you are all soccer fans, too – your song Fandom At Random, is that some kind of self-mockery?
Well, this is a rather serious text – Fandom At Random refers to idolizing your stars to god-like status – and naturally it´s a flattering when you see a lot of people at signing sessions who also want to talk with you – but there are also real weird and crazy people who create their own religion out of that. The song is rather about questioning such behaviour.
So there is nothing missing in your personal fan collection?
No. I am a total soccer maniac, but I´d never go that far to idolize a certain player. I´m rather that kind of guy who says that the players come and go, but the fans stick it out. Soccer and Metal can be matched somehow, but I think those are two seperate issues.
Well, fanatism and fandom is something happening anywhere…
Yes, and it is OK when in a healthy way, but it sucks when people get too crazy about it.
Although it´s some time ago, the last album – how did you come up with a title like A Girl Called Cerveza? It made me think of Angie Merkel and the crisis in Spain…
I can tell you that precisely – it was in the year (browsing his memory) when we came first to Brazil, end of 2007, when our bass player Frank said something like this, and somehow our manager Buffo remembered it, and suddenly we came back to it like ”how about using it as album title?” Well, that´s always the case with us, first we say it´s nonsense, five minutes later we love it. (laughter) Well, so it was thanks to Buffo´s memory, but the idea came from Frank. I think the title is really cool as it totally fits Tankard. I mean, you have to see us like this… naturally in the early days we did everything to create this image, with records like Chemical Invasion and The Morning After etc. In the mid-90s we tried something else, and nobody took us seriously, therefore we rather continue to pull our own legs. Unfortunately we sometimes get reduced to our image and our music is not paid attention to.
But well, in our early days we did everything to create this image. If we ever did a new record, a concept album about … let´s see, maybe some historical topic, an epic – nobody would take us seriously, that´s nonsense. Therefore we retain our mixture of funny and very serious lyrics – and it seems I answer your next question already (the ed-in-chief tries to direct the conversation, in vain) now I´m in the talking mode – something astonished me, that people were pretty surprised about A Girl named Cerveza, ”wow you have written critical, socially relevant lyrics” – we have always done that right from the start, except on Zombie Attack, so that´s nothing new for Tankard.
That would have been my next question – your lyrics about social issues have always been overlooked – I wonder why??
Well, one of the reasons might be that you are reduced to a certain image – which is basically no problem for me. We have surely done a lot of very wrong things in our career, but I think we have done so many things exactly the right way and very well. Moreover, the past is done and over with, and we try to make the best out of it.
You almost answered another question of mine before getting asked – is there something in your long career that you totally regret or would like to do differently, if you could turn back time?
What we missed in the 80s was – after Chemical Invasion and The Morning After were both hugely successful – to tour the US. But back then everybody in the band had something going on, school or compulsory community service – it simply was not possible. You need a lot of time for that – and who knows, maybe it was better that way. I´m also not sure if Tankard is really suitable for the US scene. There was a time we considered touring the US with Kreator – who are pretty big there – but who knows if it had been a good idea, maybe the band would have ceased to exist after those 6 weeks (laughs). I don´t know. But this is the only thing that we maybe missed – otherwise we are doing quite well. I would enjoy to play more gigs, we always have to coordinate our holidays and so on, but we do travel a lot, and nowadays you have half of the world open to Metal. This is the aspect I enjoy about the Metal scene.
Yeah, Finland has developed into a Metal nation – do you like the Finnish beer (it was Lapin Kulta, the ed.)?
Quite well – I go and get myself another one (bursts out laughing) – you are lagging behind, and I am the one talking here all the time…
Apropos beer – there´s Motörhead and Slayer wine, Amorphis Chilli Sauce – so when will be Tankard beer available?
Yeeees – that´s the question, and it would be a perfect fit – we do cooperate with a small brewery Gude Bier, and also the cider company Bembel-with-Care, they are our sponsors. But for the release of your own beer you need a big brewery behind this project, and Tankard are not as big as Motörhead or Slayer. Therefore my life does not depend on the question if there will be Tankard beer one day or not. I rather wanna play in many countries I have never been to before, and hang out with fans.
How about TANKWART – will you release another CD?
No. No plans for that. We hear that question occasionally. Somehow we don´t play Tankwart stuff any more. The other guys in the band don´t enjoy to play cover versions any more. Well, now with this huge Heino thing (Heino is a German Schlager legend who recently began covering Metal songs, the ed.) it would have been fun to dig up our old songs…
… which would have been my next question…
The idea popped up but – well, let´s put it like this. The project does not exist any more, but in my opinion you should never say never. Maybe I wake up some day with a brilliant idea and then we release another album as Tankwart, then nobody should blame me for saying we would never make another album, but at the moment it is very unlikely. And simply because we don´t have time for that.
Now you could play shows together with Heino …
Hey, we don´t have to play with Heino, Rammstein is doing that already.
(Soundcheck noises from the main stage) We don´t have much time left – so how do you decide on the set list – rolling the dice?
That is a great question. No, it´s not rolling the dice, but there are always discussions – there are a couple of songs you have to play, Zombie Attack, Empty Tankard, Chemical Invasion, if we leave one out people get angry. So we always try to get a good mixture. When we play headliner shows, we play for more than 2h and perform many new songs, too – tonight it´s only 2 new songs. It is difficult. As we are no full time musicians – well, if that was the case I´d have at least 50 songs ready to go on demand. But then rehearsing a song you have played 15 years ago – this is like making a new song, way too difficult. We always try to get a good mixture of old and new songs … but… we always discuss about it a lot, but finally it is me who prints the set list and hand it out to everybody, this is what the guys have to play then. That´s called parliamentary democracy (laughter).
Final question, do you have any funny or absurd story for us, from a tour, a gig?
Phew – in our 100 year career there have been soooo many funny things that happened… well, there is one secret I would like to disclose now. We played at a festival in Litauen a few years ago, it was beautiful, right next to a river, we played there on Saturday and continued hanging out therewith some Metal fans on Sunday, meeting fans and drinking with them – and we all got sooo shitfaced (laughs) And somehow I made it to the airplane, but I must have shouted something, well, I had to meet the pilot, who had had some trouble with a passenger on the flight before, and so I found myself standing in Litauen airport, I didn´t even have a credit card back then, so manager Buffo quickly handed me 500e. The worst was that I didn´t even know why I had been kicked out, I haven´t done anything, I was half asleep, I probably just made some noises while boarding. And then there were also those 2 huge instrument crates tagged to my ticket… We have always made a secret why we had this song on Volume 14, ”Somewhere in Nowhere”. And maybe this is not a funny story after all… my cell phone needed to be charged, I had to change those 500e to another currency, then I went to a hotel and had a few beers at the bar, then bought a new ticket the next day – so it was simply 500e totally pointlessly wasted. But well, maybe you need to experience something like that. Since then I always try to stay somehow sober when boarding, the others just wear their sunglasses and use gum, but they are totally drunk as well. Maybe a singer needs to be more extrovert …
Thank you for the interview!!
… and we meet at Somewhere in Nowhere!
German speaking people can find out more about TANKARD in the upcoming band biography ”Life In Beermuda” (Author: Michael Schumacher)
More photos of Tankard at Jalometalli at STALKER.cd facebook:
* Clips of this legendary soap Sturm der Liebe with Gerre: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jPQX5L57ODA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsFVw91tC28 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ehmuSLL74YM