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Artillery’s Michael Stutzer: “...when we recorded the “Shellshock” demo, King Diamond was driving our gear into the studio, because at that time we shared the same rehearsal room with Mercyful Fate, so he helped us...”

Interview with Michael Stutzer from Artillery
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 09 January 2020, 9:05 PM

Being a die-hard or not, it is hard to deny the contribution of the Danish band Artillery to the evolution of Thrash Metal, in particular on its technical end. However, looking back into their demo days, prior to their debut album, “Fear Of Tomorrow”, the sounds and echoes of the late 80s seemed rather distant and unfamiliar. With the release of their new demo compilations, “In The Trash” and the reissue of “Deadly Relics”, an opportunity to explore ancient history is here and now. Steinmetal had a talk with Michael Stutzer of the band about the early days, memories, experiences and evolution

Hello Michael, once again it is an honor having you for an interview for Metal Temple online Magazine. What have you been up to lately sir?

We have been touring in Norway, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland and Denmark and we have started to write new songs.

Another thing, I would like to express my condolences, also on behalf of Metal Temple, due to the untimely death of your brother, Mortem. May you know no sadness

Alright, let get to it. With Artillery’s latest, “The Face of Fear” being promoted, nearly a year after its release, you carved the next thing in line and that is to raise some old memories for the world to hear and take part of.  Other than showcasing the old Artillery of the early to mid-80s, what motivated you to come up with the collection of precious recordings in the image of “In the Trash”?

There was a lot of people who wanted to get our old demos on CD´s and vinyl’s and when Target asked us if they could release them I said yes, and it's great to have them on my own as it is some good and funny memories.

Alongside “In the Trash”, comes in another compilation of the band’s mid to late 80s era, slowly crossing into the realm of “By Inheritance”. However, this one is not new, it was actually initially released back in 1998. I guess that you wished to complete Artillery’s entire 80s era by reissuing this jewel along with “In The Trash”?

Yes, on the first release there was no “In the Trash” and “We are the Dead” demo´s on so now we had it all together and that is great.

Let’s focus on “In the Trash” for now shall we? Alright. This compilation shares the monumental moments of “We Are The Dead”, “Shellshock”, “Deeds Of Darkness” and “Terror Squad” demos. First off, why didn’t you include in this collection of demos the “Fear Of Tomorrow” demos in order to keep the chronological order and rather included them in “Deadly Relics”?

I think it was because of the space, in the start we wanted it to be on one CD/Vinyl but that couldn ́t not work so we decided to do it as 2 albums.

How did it feel back to record these demos, being so young and raw, without too much experience? What were the excitement levels if you can recall? Any fond memories of the hours in the studio?

At that time, we really did not know much about how things worked in the music business, so we learned a lot being in studio and recording at that time. It really helped us a lot later in our musical journey. There were funny stories when we recorded the “Shellshock” demo, King Diamond was driving our gear into the studio, because at that time we shared the same rehearsal room with Mercyful Fate, so he helped us. Also in the studio the owner had a crazy dog who ran into all the walls and doors in the studio.

Looking back, do you think that you were actually ready to record these songs for these tapes? Would you have done anything different given the chance?

It was a very effective learning process and I’m sure we would have done things very differently today.

With Artillery being a highly technical band nowadays, and to be honest, ever since “By Inheritance”, which shows your stellar musicianship at its finest hour, do you miss those days when you didn’t have to go out of your way to be over the top?

We never really thought about it like that because the most important when you play music is to have fun and of course make the best songs you can, it has to come from the heart.

Are you still in contact with either one of the old members of Artillery, Per Onink, Carsten Lohman, and Jorgen Sandau, that took part in those recordings? Did you let them know that you are about to release this compilation of songs? If so, what were their reactions to the news?

Yes I ́m still friends with the guys on Facebook and I told them about the release and also invited them to the release party last month

If you can compare the “We Are The Dead” demo to let’s say that last demo in the compilation, “Terror Squad”, other than being better musicians, how do you think that Artillery developed when it comes to its Thrash Metal orientation?

On “We Are The Dead”, from 1982, there was a lot Mercyful fate, Black Sabbath and Accept, along with NWOBHM in our music. From “Shellshock”, 1984, we started to have more inspirations coming from bands like Exciter, Savatage, Exodus, GBH and Metallica and that made us more thrashier I think

What can you tell of the packaging of “In The Trash”? What makes it special as a historical value of Metal music?

It tells a lot of the early days of thrash and show that Artillery was very early out there making thrash metal.

Which track out of these demos is your number one? That single track out of the old days that makes you sit down and remember those moments when you recorded or heard your mates recording

At the moment I have 2 songs, “Mind Of No Return, which was the first song we ever recorded and that’s why we did it as a bonus track on our latest album the “Face of Fear”. The other song is “Too Late To Regret”, which was a song I always liked at that time.

What was the reaction of Neat Records to these demos, before signing you for your debut album, “Fear of Tomorrow”? Were their plans to include more songs from the demos into the debut or that idea was denied right on the spot?

We used most of the “Fear of Tomorrow” demo and recorded a few more like “Eternal War” so it was never planned to use more of the other demo´s songs.

Let’s head towards “Deadly Relics”. Honestly, I think that “By Inheritance” is by far your greatest work in your entire career. Furthermore, you had quite a sound back then, that kind of “Master Of Puppets”, yet upgraded into a monster. Would you say that the “Khomaniac” demo was the beginning of something new for Artillery? Kinds of musical and production development that made you rise up?

Thanks yes, because Morten was switched from the bass to guitar and it opened a lot of new doors for the guitar playing as Morten and I understood and played a lot better together than before. And having Flemming Rasmussen on the production really taught us a lot and made the trademark for Artillery further on.

“Deeds Of Darkness”, opening the demo by the same name, sounds even darker that its later counterpart in “Fear Of Tomorrow”. The roughness of the recording, along with Carsten Lohman’s scruffy, somewhat demonic voice, ascertained a level of fierceness to the tune. What is your appreciation of that specific demo title?

It was always one of our best songs from the early days in my opinion, and we still have it in today's setlist. It had some really crazy lyrics, and as you said Carsten Lohman really made this song evil.

Other than the old tunes that you recently recorded for “The Face Of Fear”, as bonus tracks, did you consider on recording additional tracks of your hungry days? I think it could be quite interesting.

Yes, we have thought about recording some of the songs again so let’s see, maybe “We Are the Dead” and “Too Late To Regret”.

Weren’t there thoughts to release the demo of “The Mind Factory” as well along with one of these compilations? It is quite a rare commodity, which I believe to be a must for die-hard fans of the band.

Yes, but at that time we wanted to use the first demos from the eighties, but you never know.

In order to commemorate these compilations properly, would you be doing special shows, or even a tour, with sets formed out of these old songs, which some never say their way into albums?

At the moment I don ́t think we would do that, but again you never know

Michael, I wish to thank you once again for being interviewed for Metal Temple. It was a pleasure having you. I am glad that you had the chance streaming through memory lane, I can only guess that it was no more than glorious

Thanks a lot, see you somewhere on the Road.


 



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