Tankard are a member of the famous 1980s “Big Teutonic Four” thrash metal bands from Germany. The band formed as Tankard in 1983 and released their first album, Zombie Attack, in 1986. Their core lineup of Andreas “Gerre” Geremia on vocals and Frank Thorwarth on bass has always been part of the band. Olaf Zissel has been their drummer since 1994’s The Tankard, and Andy Gutjahr has been their guitarist since 1998, first appearing on Kings Of Beer. Their new album, R.I.B., was released last month through Nuclear Blast.
Right after Tankard’s Maryland Deathfest appearance and their second American concert, I had an opportunity to sit down, drink and talk with Gerre and Gutjahr about the new album, the Maryland Deathfest and more. The transcription is below:
Your first single for the new album, “Fooled By Your Guts,” has me thinking about that disease where people’s bodies ferment alcohol in their stomachs. Would you wish that upon yourself if you could?
Gerre Geremia: (Laughs) No, not really. We read this story on the internet about this disease that really happened in the States. It’s really a funny story, when we read it the first time, we thought it must be a song for Tankard. There will be an official video by an Australian guy. We didn’t see it yet, but there will be a single on Nuclear Blast Records with that song on it.
There are plans to have “Fooled By Your Guts” released on a 7” with a new track from Destruction. Can you talk about it?
GG: It will be a cool single limited edition of like, 500 or 1,000 copies. We are going to have to come back to the United States since there are so many old school thrashers here. Today I never expected to see so many thrashers around. It was really fucking amazing to see so many old school thrash metal fans. Even the police were singing and drinking beer with Tankard.
Baltimore is a beautiful place and a very supportive climate for heavy metal. I feel like MDF is the most important metal festival in America.
GG: That’s really cool to join everyone here. The reaction of the audience was amazing.
Andy Gutjahr: The audience reminded me of South America, you know? They are crazy (laughs).
Did you get any musicians from other bands to contribute to the sessions of R.I.B.?
GG: You mean like the band Doro was involved in A Girl Called Cerveza? This time around we had some friends around who did Satan’s chorus on the song “R.I.B. (Rest In Beer).” Maybe next time we will have more people. We don’t plan everything. With the songwriting, we don’t sit together and say how the next album will sound. Andy starts writing songs that come straight from the heart. In the end, we will see what the result is when we go to the studio.
In your song “Enemy Of Order,” are you speaking about what is going on in America or worldwide? And is this more of an analysis of what is going on, or a warning about the future?
AG: We have to discuss what is going on in Germany. It’s a pretty strong discussion.
GG: It’s like something out of George Orwell’s 1984, where there are things controlling everything. It’s a very political, critical song (laughs). The guy at the border, he didn’t know that song, so he would’ve said, “You can’t enter this country.” Just kidding. We are from a democracy. We are free guys and we can criticize other stuff.
In the title-track of Rest In Beer, the opening riffs have an especially eerie intro that evolves into a faster tempo as a recurring theme throughout the song. Was this one of the easier songs to record on the album, or was it a bit more difficult?
GG: Speaking for the vocals, every single one of the 10 songs on the album involves hard work because our producer really kicks our ass. Sometimes I sing some tunes and he gives me some keyboards to use. For me, the album involved a lot of hard work. That song is a great title-track for an album.
AG: I think the intro was very easy since it was only a few chords. After that the song grows and gets faster.
What types of things do you think established musicians like yourselves should teach younger bands about performing in foreign countries for the first time?
GG: Just believe in yourself and believe in your own music. We are very lucky because we began in the 1980s. It was a lot easier to get a record contract in those days. It’s very hard for young bands at the moment. Keep on thrashing and doing your own thing.
Thinking back on the Teutonic Big Four concerts, is there any likelihood we will see more of them, as well as possibly coming to America, perhaps not for a nationwide tour, but maybe just for an exclusive festival appearance like Maryland Deathfest?
AG: We are the smallest part of it.
GG: We are the smallest part of the Big Four from Germany. 10 years ago nobody was talking about Tankard. It was only the Big Three. Now we belong to the Big Four, so this is a step forward for Tankard. It would be amazing to have all four bands together for some festival appearances all over the world.
AG: Maybe we can make it the Big Five and tour with Holy Moses. We wouldn’t have to spend extra money because our sound engineer, he is the drummer of that band.
For the recording of this album, when you were interacting, with your engineer Michael Mainx, did you find that you gave him more advice on what you wanted the album to sound like, or did he tell you how he wanted the album to come out?
GG: Both, honestly. This is our third album that we are working together on. Everybody knows one another very well. Of course, with the 10 songs, we recorded already, but he has a lot of good ideas. There were a lot of words about the guitars and vocals. Sometimes we try a lot, other times we throw it away, yet other times we end up using them. It’s been very good working together.
AG: Before we go in to record, we think about what the sound will be like. Maybe it will be like this or like that. Once we have an idea about the process, it makes things easier.
Gerre, what were your favorite memories from that TV show you had with Konrad “Bobby” Schottkowski, the old drummer of Sodom?
GG: I am a very honest guy. I watched that bullshit every morning. It’s called “Sturm Der Liebe,” the biggest telenovela in Germany! Germans’ pickets tell a noble. It was totally nonsense. To wake up in the morning and watch several channels, one day I said that to the Rock Hard magazine. The guy whose girlfriend was working for that, and the connection began. We had a really great time. We did three scenes, smoked a little bit, and it was one of the biggest days of my life.
AG: Bobby is not only the ex-drummer of Sodom. Now he drums for the NWOBHM band Tank. There are two Tanks.
Whom are you most excited about when it comes to the newer metal bands all over the world?
GG: There is a very big scene, and I lost control over all the names. I know of Lost Society, the thrash metal band from Finland. We have so many metal bands and metal festivals in Germany. Maybe Tankard, we are still here. Hopefully we can come back to the United States.
GG: Thanks a lot for the amazing support today. It was a great pleasure for us to play at the Maryland Deathfest. We really appreciate it, we would love to come back. Thrash metal will never die. Cheers!
Tankard’s new album, R.I.B., is available now through Nuclear Blast. For more information, go to tankard.info.