Happy 2011 Fartheads.  I’m so psyched to have the first Blowin’ Wind of ’11 (the loudest year evah!” and this one is a great one.  German thrash metal legends Sodom have a career that spans 30 years and 14 albums.  Their latest album “In War and Pieces” is already a mainstay in my player and is destined to be a thrash classic so it was a real treat to talk with founding member and songwriter Tom Angelripper.  We talked about the new album, the influence of working in the coal mines on his music and his fascination with postcards.  This was a really great interview with a really awesome person and amazing talent.  Enjoy this one y’all!

How would you describe Sodom’s music to someone that has never heard you before?

People tend to call it Teutonic thrash metal.  Thrash metal to me means do what you want.  When we started we were influenced by Venom and old Motorhead stuff and I tried to to create something new.  It’s not something special.  It’s just heavy metal music.


I never heard of Sodom until I heard “In War and Pieces” and now I’m a huge fan!  With a 30 year career and so many albums, what albums do you feel best represent Sodom?

I can’t tell you.  [laughs]  I know that “Agent Orange” is the most famous and most successful album in my career but it’s not the best selling album.  I think “Agent Orange” was a good album for it’s time.  I like more aggressive albums like “Get What You Deserve”, “Masquerade in Blood” or “Code Red.”  Even the new one “In War and Pieces.”  I think that it’s always easy to say that the latest release is the best one.  I think the most representative is the new one because we tried to combine modern arrangements with old school spirit.  It’s hard to compare one album to another because each album is an important part of the history.


When did you first decide that music was your life calling?

Back in 1982 when the first Venom record “Welcome To Hell” came out.  We were so inspired from this that we got the idea to make our own band.  When we got our record contract in ‘84 that’s when we became professional musicians.  The first record was very successful and in 1989 when “Agent Orange” came out (3rd album) it was very successful and I could make my living in the music.  I didn’t have to go to the coal mines to work anymore.


So you were a coal miner?

I worked there for about 10 years and in 1989 I quit my job because I was able to make my living from the music.  Now the coal mines are gone because nobody needs coal from Germany anymore.  All the coal miners are now unemployed.  It’s a very bad situation in my district where I live.


Did working in coal mines inspire any of your early writings?

I think so yeah.  The job was very hard.  My father and my grandfather worked in the coalmine and we didn’t have much money.  I had to work for a couple of months to get enough money to buy my first bass guitar.  I think that bands like Kreator and Sodom come from the same area and all our parents and grandfathers were coal miners.  Even Venom came from a working class and it’s very heavy music.  I can’t explain it but I think this coal mining area is a very special country and very special district here and the music is very hard just like the job is very hard.  The most poseur metal bands come from South Germany [laughs].  Their parents are very rich and they are going to buy a guitar for their son and whatnot.  You cannot compare it to this area.


The latest album “In War and Pieces” was just released and it sounds so fresh and full of life.  After 30 years of doing this, how do you keep it from getting old or dated?

I think we always have so many ideas for new songs and we love what we do.  We love what we do.  That is the secret.   I think the fans really push the band to keep on going.  Sodom is a band that never stops and we will never stop and never change our music or style.  We love to do the music because we are metal fans.


You seem to have a really strong connection with your fans.

It’s very important that we always be in contact with the fans.  When we do a show we always try and drink some beers, talk about music and talk about everything.  That’s what we do.  We are not rock stars.  A lot of bands go to the hotel or they go to the bus after the show and leave the fans behind.  We always stay.  That’s why I’m looking forward to the metal cruise (70,000 Tons of Metal).  On the boat we have one or two shows and then I have four or five days to connect with the fans and drink some beers.  That is fantastic.  [laughs]


The production on this album is absolutely amazing.  It just sounds so killer.

We just try to write better songs and on this album we tried to get a better production.  I don’t want to spend all the money for the high tech studio where you’re going to pay 800 or 1000 euros a day.  This time we spent the money on a producer.  I like bigger drum sounds and I want to see the drummer sitting on the drums sweaty and playing the drums.  [laughs]  We recorded the whole album in a rehearsal room and that was fantastic.  We always do the music in a rehearsal room and don’t do like other bands do with MP3 trading.  We just always have a jam session and start writing songs.  It’s a digital recording but it sounds like an analog production like “Agent Orange” or something.  It was fantastic.


Sodom has seen many musicians come and go over the years.  Have the lineup changes made it hard to maintain a creative focus?

It’s always hard because you have to restart and start from the beginning.  Our drummer just left the band a couple of weeks ago.  We found a new drummer and had to go through the set list and it’s always hard.  When Chris “Witchhunter” Dudek left the band he was an alcoholic so we couldn’t work with him anymore.  The latest drummer Bobby Schottkowski left the band because of private problems.  I always try to keep the line up and keep band members but there are so many problems.  I have to rule the decision to kick somebody out of the band whenever and it’s always hard for the hard project because we have to start rehearsing the set list and writing new songs.  I need band members who are going to support the band who are going to help me out and represent the whole band.


Your lyrics seem to contain a lot of social and political commentary.  Where do you get your inspiration from?

I think that life is big inspiration.  On TV news or in the newspapers there are so many bad things in the world all the time.  It’s very sad.  My dream is to live in a peaceful world without war and crime and all this stuff.  For me it’s a very big inspiration in writing lyrics.  I cannot change anything.  I’m not a political activist and I can’t change anything but I can be a singer in a metal band which gives me the chance to scream it out.  In the early years I had done a lot of lyrics about occultism.  I was influenced by Alister Crowley books and all the such and then I started writing lyrics about life and the bad situation of our world.  I want to tell the people something and I want to scream it out.  I see the TV news all the time that soldiers have to die in Afghanistan or the conflict between North Korea and South Korea now.  This is a bad situation but I think it’s a big inspiration for writing songs and lyrics.


Do you feel that modern technology such as Internet sites like Facebook and MySpace have helped gain exposure for Sodom?

Yeah.  We have a Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and all the stuff.  Whenever we get new tour news or anything we put it on the Facebook account so people can get the information.  I like Facebook because all of the information gets out very quick to the world.  I never do it but I let a good friend of mine to do it but it’s very cool.  I’m an old man you know but I try to learn more about it [laughs].  I realize these things can help to promote an album and a tour or whatever.  We always put new photos and videos up and the fans really like it.  I think it’s a great way to promote your band.


Besides metal bands, are there any other types of music I  would be surprised to hear that you were a fan of?

No.  [laughs]  I’m an old school metal fan.  I know that my daughter is 18 years old and she listens to different pop bands.  My kid likes music like Lady GaGa.  I’m a metal fan.  When I listen to music I just like my old school metal like Motorhead and Venom.  That’s my music but I respect every other kind of music.  It is very important to respect each other.


I’m really into collecting music memorabilia.  Are you into collecting things and if so what?
Yes, I collect postcards.  I collect them from my hometown and I started collecting about 10 years ago.  I have some from my hometown that are over 100 years old.  They are so interesting and once I got started I couldn’t stop.  Now I have about 1,000.  Ebay and other Internet auctions help me to get new ones.  That’s what I like to collect.


Metal seems to be thriving and huge in Europe where as here in the States it goes pretty much overlooked.  What is it about heavy metal that the Europeans understand that us American’s don’t?

We have about 10 very big festivals in Germany including Wacken which is one of the biggest in the world and people come from everywhere to see it.  There are 100’s of new bands coming up all the time but it is starting to get way too commercial here.  You can’t even compare it to the 80’s when the metal scene was much more compact and like a family.  The metal scene is very big here but it’s very commercial and that’s not always good.  It’s my dream to come to US America though.


Tom, what does 2011 have in store for Sodom?

We are doing this European tour.  We have a new drummer named Markus “Makka” Freiwald and I hope we can do a good job with him.  He’s the best drummer in Germany I think.  We are going to try to do a US tour at the end of the year.  We haven’t toured in the US in so long and the time.  The time is right and we need to go now!  Maybe we can try and do 20 or 30 shows.   will keep you informed.  We really hope to find a good promoter and tour the US America.  In 2012 we have a 30 year anniversary and I’d like to do something special like a big show with all the ex members coming up on stage.


Tom, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me and best of luck to you and Sodom in 2011!

Thank you so much Don we will stay in contact!  Thank you very much!

To learn more about Sodom go to:

About Don de Leaumont

Don (aka. The Brainfart) has been a heavy metal fan since hearing it for the first time in 1983. Don is also repsonsible for all of the typos, shitty grammar, and kick ass content on this site. Don likes cheap beer, whiskey, Coca Cola Icees, going to shows, and hanging with his kick ass wife, two cats and dog. He originally wanted to name his dog Shandi but his wife said, “No fucking way.”

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