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Gerrit P. Mutz (Sacred Steel)

Interview with Gerrit P. Mutz from Sacred Steel
by Grigoris Chronis at 19 October 2004, 11:53 PM

Sacred Steel are not that stuck to old-school Metal, as most of you may still suppose. The band's 5th release, Iron Blessings sets some new standards for the German quintet; standards related to the band's inner desires and beliefs, in no way attached to 'remarkable sales' or 'a wider audience'. Speaking with singer  Gerrit P. Mutz – fluent English, thanks pal! – it's not that difficult to prove the above…

Having the chance to surf on your website today, I saw there’s a plan for a DVD release in late October.

Yeah, right! We’ll do a recording of a live show, which we will only do because of the DVD recording, so it will be a kind of a DVD Recording Party. We have invited our friends from Tankard – to be a kind of Party Headliners there – plus some other cool bands like Lunacy or another German doom band called Doomshine. So, we’ll record this very professionally and put out a DVD of this show on the 30th of October with the show recording plus parts from old gigs and lots of funny stuff and pack everything on the DVD, so that you have really value for money.

I see…OK, let’s move on to the Iron Blessings release. As a fan of the band, I think it’s the band’s most significant release up to date.

Hmmm…What do you mean by significant?

Well, even if it is the band’s 5th release, I somehow think - and hope – that now the band will be heard in many other places and in a wider audience.

Well, I don’t really know. I don’t have the impression now that we really have reached more people with that album. I just think it’s a logical conclusion to the Slaughter Prophecy (2002) album, when we started to include a bit more aggressive stuff and even the deeper vocals. So, I don’t think it’s a new start or it will get us to more attention, because some people even told me that the new album isn’t that easy to listen to as the other albums before.

Maybe because it is a little bit more mature?

I would agree with this, yeah. It’s true we took a lot more time to work on this album. This album really was the addressor of heavy-working, compared to the album before that. The other three albums - Reborn In Steel (1997), Wargods Of Metal (1998) and Bloodlust (2000) – were very spontaneous. We just came into the studio with some ideas and finished them in there, so everything was very late back, while for the new album it was like one year and a half of constant hard work. So, I would agree, it’s more mature, it’s a labor. The production is also better than the previous one. When we had finished with Slaughter Prophecy album we’d been really lucky because of the heavy impact, you know. But, when I put it in my car stereo and listen first the Slaughter Prophecy album and then the new one, Slaughter Prophecy is very loud but it becomes very noisy if you turn up the volume. For the new album, you can really listen to every part, you can turn it up loud and it’s still very clear. You can hear everything, from the bass to the more silent parts.

I think we’ve learned from the mistakes we did in the past and now tried to have a not old-fashioned but also not too modern production…you know, to capture what Sacred Steel is about but not to show-off too much, to sound professional but still old school-ed and true. We don’t want to put out the same album again and again like so many bands do. At least some bands are doin’ it in a good way, like Exciter or Motorhead, you can still listen to the new albums but you always know exactly from tone to tone what you’ll get. There are so many other pretty cool bands out there, for example Incantation – one of my favorite bands. I have every album of them but if you put it in the stereo I couldn’t tell if it’s…whatever album, you know…maybe I could recognize the first one and the new one, but everything in between I love when I put it in the stereo and I just can say that this is Incantation, but I can’t tell which song it is! (laughs)

Huh, I see…Really, how are the Press reviews so far?

Pretty good I must say. Of course I don’t have everything that Massacre Records gets; I just see the results coming in from Germany, printed magazines I get and online stuff that just some people tell me. At that time I can say that the reviews are as good as for the last album, for which we got very good reviews in big German magazines, except for Metal Hammer of course (laughs)! It seems that in Germany they don’t like us. But, we don’t care that much. I bought my first Metal Hammer in 1984 when it came out, then I bought every issue until 1990 and then I totally quit…

 (Interrupting) The same thing as with Kerrang! magazine in the UK.

(Continuing) Yeah, Kerrang! also doesn’t like the stuff we do, we always get very shitty reviews over there but I don’t care. The bands that I love, that I really loved since 20 years ago and untill now; they always have been bands that people love them or hate them. I never wanted to be among those bands that everybody likes them. People sometimes ask me Hey, why don’t you sing like that? or Whoa, why don’t you write a ballad? and I say Hey, we’re just doin’ the stuff that we enjoy! We don’t live from it, we all have day jobs. The only opinion that really cares us is of ourselves and of the people that take what we do, all the rest is not really important.

Do you think Massacre’s support is Ok for you? You think they do the best they can?

I think so. I mean, we had three albums with Metal Blade Records and they’ve done a lot for us, we just changed to Massacre because they offered us a much better deal. I work for Metal Blade, I never had a problem with Metal Blade. It’s just that when the contract with Metal Blade was about to expire, Massacre Records offered us more money for the production, they guaranteed to put out vinyl (which Metal Blade didn’t want to do anymore), they offered us digipacks etc etc… Maybe for some people it’s a shitty reason, but I wanna have my own stuff on vinyl! We even got a 7 inch single out, a single with a non-album track which is pretty cool!

I already have it, Gerrit! So, the band is confirmed to appear at the Keep It True III festival on November 6th in Germany.

Well, that’s a dream come true! I mean, I know the guys from the KIT and I’ve been there for the last festival and it’s such a great festival! It’s only 500 people or so, but they are all absolutely die-hard Metal fans. I love this, even if some time it’s getting a little bit annoying. I mean, I wanted to see Attacker and there was a guy talkin’ to me all the time…maybe I saw 2 minutes, even though I was standing in front of the stage!!! It can get on your nerves sometimes, but still it is a great festival and a dream come true for me, and if you see the lineup now…

 (Interrupting) You’ll share the same stage with Jaguar and Witchfynde! I have nothing more to say…..

(Continuing) I like those bands but I really love Helstar, Hallow’s Eve and Tyrant’s Reign. I think Helstar is the Distant Thunder band under the moniker of Helstar. I’ve seen Helstar 3 years ago at Bang Your Head festival. I am also looking forward to see Hallow’s Eve, even though Stacy Anderson (e.n: original singer) is not with them.

Are there any other tour plans?

Not really. We wanted to do some touring but we have time schedule problems as always, with our regular day jobs and this time we were really planning to go on tour in October, but now our drummer is becoming a lawyer and won’t have any free time until, hmm… end of January. Then the same goes for our bass player – who’s a kind of computer technician – and also won’t have any free time until the end of January. So, we didn’t want to go on tour only three people, and hire other two people! If we can’t go on tour, then we can’t go on tour! We just do some smaller gigs here and there – when time allows it – and we prefer to do shows that really give us something! Two years ago we played in Greece…

 (Interrupting – again…) The Classic Metal Fest in Athens…

(Continuing)…Yeah! These are things that we really like! You know, if someone says we want you to play there and we invite you then it’s cool. I must say I’m nearly 35 years old and I don’t have the spirit anymore to go to every place or tour all over the world. I would rather stay at home, watch TV or play with my son.

Gerrit, do you remember the 1st time you played in Greece?

Of course! We were playing with Nightfall and Order Of The Ebon Hand, it was 1997 or 1998 – can’t remember that well – but I think I have the gig on tape in a shitty quality!

I guess so! So, your first release, Reborn In Steel (1998) was also released in vinyl format – at last, for the vinyl maniacs!

Yeah, and it sounds much better! I was blown away! I mean, I know the guy who released – he’s a friend of mine, from Deathstrike Records – and he got the original master tapes. He normally does underground Black and Thrash stuff and he’s playing in a band called Nocturnal. He’s a nice guy, he’s an old-school Metal fan and he loves the first album. The sound is a killer! I mean, I had my problems with the sound of the first album. It sounds shitty, the vocals sound silly etc etc. But on vinyl it’s much much better!

So, we’re now waiting for the Tragedy Divine CD (Gerrit’s previous band – released the Visions Of Power CD in 1996) to be published on vinyl?

Oh, I don’t know. Well, we didn’t sell that much, I think it has sold about 1500 copies. It was a little bit progressive for my taste but I love it!

I guess it wasn’t also promoted that much…

They (Noise Records) did nothing!!! I’ve been talking to so many people from many bands and every person I meet that has ever been in any relation with Noise Records and… oh, they were doing shit!!! They did nothing, for any band that I know. So, we were a lucky when they turned down the second Tragedy Divine demo and said we won’t release this. And this was one of the reasons we said okey, if they don’t do this, we’re lucky. We’re looking for a new label then. OK, then came the split, but a guy from Metal Blade (e.n: Gerrit mentioned a guy’s name, but I couldn’t figure it out of the recording tape) had already showed interest and then he came to a show with Sacred Steel and said OK, I’m gonna sign you as the first German band for Metal Blade so, you know… it was a dream come true.

You’re going to play at the Keep It True festival, you’ve been to Bang Your Head festival, you’ve played twice in Wacken Open Air – in general, you’ve participated to all major European fests. Still, I’d also like to see you on the other side of the Atlantic!

That would be cool but – as I previously said – we all have time schedule problems and, on the other hand, nobody really invited us. We can’t afford to go there… You know Brainstorm, huh? They‘ve been to Atlanta, GA this weekend for the ProgPower Metal Fest and they told me today that it’s been absolutely fantastic, but you know, if no one invites us we won’t go there. It’s too fuckin’ expensive!

What kind of reviews did the band have all this time from USA, fans or Press?

Well, I don’t remember that well. I think only the second album (Wargods Of Metal in 1998) has been released in the US and then Metal Blade US said they won’t release the 3rd album (Bloodlust in 2000) there since the 2nd sold only about 2000 copies. We weren’t surprised about that, since we knew that Metal Blade U.S. didn’t do anything for us, they just put out the album with no advertisement or nothing! Still, I’m glad they sent Bill Metoyer for the 2nd album – they fulfilled a lot of our dreams – and Brian Slagel even announced us when we played at the Bang Your Head festival as he came on stage! That’s enough from them to do for us!

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Alan Tecchio from Watchtower was a guest in the Bloodlust album?

Yeah, that’s correct and it happened by coincidence! It was when I started working for Metal Blade – the first month or so – he just was there to promote the Hades album (The Downside, released in 2000). I started talking to him, I’m a big Hades fan – we covered  The Cross from Hades – and I’m a big Watchtower fan, I prefer the 1st album (Energetic Disassembly, released in 1985) even if the 2nd one (Control And Resistance, released in 1989) is as good. And I love his voice! So, I just said Hey, we’re recording our new album and we’ve just finished recording and tomorrow we’re doing some backing vocals and maybe… whatever!!! and he was very very friendly! Said Hey, why not? I’m just sitting around doing interviews, if I’m not doing any why not? So, I just took him to the studio to check Lust For Blood, where I have the lower voice, and I said hey, why don’t you scream a little bit? and he put on the headphones and… no bullshit, he was like (Gerrit starts screaming…) and the producer mentioned THIS guy has got a voice!

Gerrit, Sacred Steel participated in an Uriah Heep Tribute CD some years ago.

Yeah, but it’s three years now. We did a cover version of Return To Fantasy and it was pretty cool! Still, it took about two years for this CD to put out, I don’t know why it took so long, because I think the track list was announced very early! You know, we always wanted to pay tribute to the real Gods, like Uriah Heep who are one of my favorite bands with David Byron. We also did an Accept tribute… you know, all these bands we grew up with! The first album I bought on vinyl was in 1981, the Breaker album.

You are so lucky to grow up with the music of Accept in your own country!\[At that time, I tasted the tape recorder’s hostile revenge as the tape got full. Thus, just to mention the rest of my discussion with Gerrit, there was a little chat for the 70s Hard Rock turning onto 80s real Metal, we talked a little bit about our common passion for Heavy Metal on vinyl, and – last but not least – Gerrit sent his Metal greetings to all Sacred Steel fans and expressed the genuine wish to play in Greece again sometime with Sacred Steel, always memorizing what a great time he and the band had during their previous two times in Athens.]



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