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Frank Thorwarth, Andreas Geremia (Tankard)

Interview with Frank Thorwarth, Andreas Geremia from Tankard
by Maria Voutiriadou, Dimitris Kontogeorgakos at 25 September 2010, 4:09 AM

We had the chance to meet Frank Thorwarth (FT) and Andreas Geremia (AG) from TANKARD a few hours before their performance at this year’s ‘Graspop Metal Meeting’. The weather was hot as hell but this did not spoil the fun mood of the guys from the German thrash band that has connected its name with the ultimate Metal drink; BEER!!! As a side note I have to admit that there was a lot of laughing and many jokes that did not make it in the print version since this was not formal interview; it was more a like friends chatting over a beer.

How is going the tour so far?
AG: We are not really on tour because we play only at the weekends, since we all have regular jobs. So, we are not on regular tour now. We play every weekend in festivals and live shows.
FT: We play 30 shows per year.

Is this a fixed program?
FT: Yeah actually this is the maximum number of shows we can do since we cannot have more holidays from our daytime jobs.

So, you can not make money by playing music.
FT: Yes but not enough (laughs). Ferrari, Mazerati all cost a lot you know (laughs)!
AG: You call TANKARD a semi professional band. The most important thing to take all these, is to have fun. So, that’s what we do; we have fun.

Actually, this was my second question; do you think that being professional in playing music, you lose something from the honesty and the passion for it?
AG: For all bands I would say this definitely because we are totally free in what we can do, we don’t have to sell so many records, we don’t have to play 150 shows; we are totally free in what we are doing.
FT: That’s why we have so much passion. You see, back in the 90s, we had a discussion with the band, what to do, how to go further on; our final decision was to go on this way, having fun mostly through all these years. And not making it like a job, that’s why we have to do regular jobs too.

This is kind of strange; what about the record label? What does it think about this?
AG: We don’t care (laughs)!
FT: As long as they earn money from us, it’s ok.

Ok, you’ve been in TANKARD for more than 25 years.
FT: Yes.
AG: 28 years to be exact.

28 years, ok. How does it feel?
FT: Old (laughs)!

Old hugh? (laughs)!
AG: You know, the years go by and sometimes, it’s like dreaming.
FT: For a very long time, TANKARD is in action, 28 years with no break.
AG: Especially the time during middle of the 90s when thrash Metal was really down, we never split up and kept on going.

How did you do it?
AG: Well, you know we played in front of 80 or 100 people and did practice. The people really recognize the band’s will to go on; and so we are.
FT: When we started, we never had the idea how big TANKARD would be as we are now. We started as Metal’s true fans and then we thought of making a true band, just to have fun.

In from your point of view, how things have changed from the 80s till nowadays? Lets skip 90s; if you compare 80s and nowadays, what are the differences in fans’ loyalty?
AG: You know the main difference is that in 80s everything was totally new; Heavy Metal was growing up. It was something like revolution I would say, especially for the young ages, teenagers. We had the first samples of NWOBHM and then, the early EXODUS, METALLICA, SLAYER, you know… So, this was totally something new and I think that the fans today are still totally loyal and there’s still a very big heavy Metal scene and a very strong community but it’s not for the rest of society. It’s only the music direction, it’s not anymore that rebellion, you know. People walking around with Metal jackets and long hair, drinking beer and screaming but that’s all nowadays. Also, it’s very hard to shock the audience nowadays.

You have been releasing one album per two years; so, you had the latest on 2008. Shall we wait a new TANKARD album this year?
AG: Yes. It’s planned to bring it on in December, in September we’ll go to the studio.

Any details about it?
AG: The album title is “Vol(l)ume 14”, because it’s our 14th studio album and there is a double ‘l’ in it. ‘Voll’ in German means ‘you are totally drunk’, so you can do the math here (laughs)… And we have some pop influences that you‘ll be surprised, like NO BULLET FOR MY VALENTINE (laughs). Seriously now, it will be different but it will be TANKARD too.

Actually, many people that don’t like TANKARD say that you are just releasing the same music all the time.
AG: This is bullshit!

How do you feel about it?
AG: Everybody can have an own opinion. The truth is that we have put a lot of work in this and actually in every album.
FT: We know what we do, it’s a really hard work to prepare an album, we put a lot of time into it. The truth is that TANKARD has a specific music style but put also some new stuff in every album. Take ACDC as an example; someone could say that they play the same music for so many years but they’ve got their style.
AG: So, TANKARD have one song with 150 titles and only one album with fourteen different covers (laughs). But on the other hand, so many people say that they glad we are so dedicated to our music. They are loyal fans and love what we are doing and support us. So, everybody has his own opinion and we do what we want to.

When you’re writing music, do you have on mind what kind of music do you want to write?
AG and FT: No.
FT: It’s just comes through our hearts.

Do you work a lot in the studio or not?
AG: At the moment, two times a week. It’s a lot of work. I am getting CDs with guitar parts and I try to put the vocal melodies in them. Then we all get in the studio to work the songs out. It’s like a team work you know..

So, how ‘alcoholic Metal’ was born?
AG: “Alcoholic Metal” was the title of our second demo tape and it was just a little parody of all that different genres for the Metal scene was growing up at that time, like Speed Metal, poser against thrashers and all that stuff. It was just fan.
FT: And we tried to get rid of it on the 90s but it never worked. Till now, we hear a lot of jokes about it, don’t take it too seriously. I prefer to have some songs about party and having fun than to write lyrics about battles and slaughtering virgins… all these are bullshit to my eyes. And then somebody will say ‘oh, you are not serious, you are talking only about beer’. And I will say “is more serious to talk about battles and killing people?”
AG: Playing some thrash Metal is the most serious thing in the world. Of course we have some serious songs too.

What about the “Stay Thirsty” video clip? Who had the idea about the concept of the video?
AG: The guy who did the video clip, I think he had the idea of such a funny thing and we really liked it because it was totally different from any other typical Metal video clip.

Actually, in the lyrics you say ‘bring back the 80s’; do you believe in that? It would be better to bring the 80s back?
AG: You take it too serious (laughs).
FT: The 80s was really special to us; it was our youth and everyone is bonded with his youth.

You have some pretty cool vinyl releases from High Roller Records; you have anything to do with that?
AG: Yes, of course. We wanted to bring all this together in a small copy number and they’re cool. We worked on the lyrics and the booklets with the photos.

Do you have any special bonus tracks on them?
FT:Yes, there are but are the same with the CD re-releases. We have nothing new recorded for them.

What about TANKWART?
AG: It’s a TANKARD’s project but it’s not its process over, it has to release something for more than 10 years, but I’m always a guy that never says ‘no’, so maybe one day, one guy put some idea and we bring out a new record under this name but it does not look doing this at the moment.

You have the same line up for 10 years or more; is there any golden recipe to keep the same line up for so many years?
FT: You have to do whatever you want, so simple. Every member in this band has to feel that it’s free to do whatever he wants. It must be the same music direction, the same passion for the band and music style of course. And no one hires or fires anyone in the band, there is a common line between us and we can discuss to take a decision. Everybody is a full member. And everything is paid by the band; like the drum skins the strings and things like that.
AG: There are open positions too; you have to pay to play in TANKARD and bring some beers too (laughs).

Who pays about the beers?
AG and FT: Our manager (laughs).
FT: We have no money, we play for fun.

What about the US? What’s your status there?
AG: We played only once there. Someday maybe we come to play again but there are no such plans at the moment.
FT: The problem is that you have to come under working conditions (VISA) and that’s very expensive. It’s not easy for a band like us to visit the States. Also, we have regular jobs. If we come to the US, that means 6 weeks of no stoppable tour, so it would be a problem for our regular jobs.
AG: Maybe we can go there for 5 or 6 shows some day, I don’t know, I can’t tell that right now.

I have no more questions. Say whatever you want to close this interview.
FT: We have to go to the stage so we want just to thank you for this nice interview. See you in a couple of hours.


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Edited 04 February 2023

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