German thrash legends Sodom are back with a new album Decision Day. I caught up with frontman Tom Angelripper, who updates on the new record, tour plans, underrated Sodom albums, the U.S. presidential race and other topics.
Chad Bowar: In the past six years or so you have released numerous studio albums, EPs, splits and compilations. To what do you attribute the band’s current high level of productivity?
Tom Angelripper: We still love what we do and we always try to find a creative way to write songs. When we finish an album production we start writing new songs after a short break. We are well attuned to each other since Makka (drums) joined the band. He brings so many positive influences to the band.
Was there anything unique about the songwriting process for Decision Day?
We worked the songs out without any pressure and we never talked about a release date with the label until the songs were written. That was a relaxed procedure. We recorded in different studios and rehearsal rooms. Each song was pre-produced and gave us the opportunity to change something if it was necessary.
How did you decide on your Onkel Tom bandmate Corney Rambardt as the album producer?
He also produced the last two Onkel Tom albums and some other bands. His studio is located near my hometown. He is also an old school Sodom fan and knows exactly what to do to get the typical organic Sodom sound.
What are some of the lyrical topics you cover on Decision Day?
The main topic describes the current state of our world. There’s bad news every day, especially when you consider how much the world has changed since our last album. Sectarian killing, cold war, nuclear armament, abolition of democracy in many countries, starvation and all the destruction. That inspired my lyrical mindset and fits so perfectly to our music. That is sad but true.
Can music play a role in helping solve some of the issues facing the world today, or is it simply a diversion or escape?
I am not politically active, but this music gave me the chance to enter the stage and scream it out. That is like therapy for me.
What have been some of the highlights for you of your summer festival season?
Every festival show was great. We played at Obscene Extreme festival in the Czech Republic for the first time. That was awesome. Pure heavy metal. That was like travelling in a time machine going back to the ‘80s. We had a lot of fun.
Any chance of a North American tour this album cycle?
Nothing planned yet, but we’re trying to find a serious promoter who will help us tour over there. Hope we’ll make it in 2017
As a history buff, do you like to take the opportunity to visit historic sites, museums, etc. when you have extra time on tour?
I never find time for cultural and historical adventures. That is a shame, but we just see airports, train stations and hotels and are always fighting with tight schedules.
With 2016 being the 30th anniversary of your full-length debut Obsessed By Cruelty, do you plan to do anything to commemorate the milestone?
No. Maybe we’ll choose another song for the upcoming set lists. I am also fighting for a re-release here in Europe. We’ll see.
When you formed Sodom in 1982, could you have ever imagined the band would still be around nearly 35 years later?
When we started the band we had no idea that we would still be alive after 35 years. In the beginning our musical attitudes were just for fun. But we got our first deal in ‘84. That was amazing, working in a professional studio for the first time. We were so lucky that Steamhammer believed in us. But being alive after so many years is a result of hard working men and the loyal support of our fans.
The music industry is completely different today than when you started. What have you had to change and adjust on the business side of things over the years to stay afloat as a band?
The music scene is getting more obscure and complicated. Hundreds of bands flood into the scene every month, but just a couple of them will get the chance for a deal. Too many record labels, publishers, merch companies and booking agencies skim the market to sign the bigger bands. Smaller underground bands stay on the track and get no chance. It is so important not to get monopolized by them. We do the music because we love it. We are just metal fans being on the stage for a while and celebrating what we do.
Looking back at your catalog, is there an album that you think was overlooked or underrated when released, but still holds up very well?
I think ‘Til Death Do Us Unite (1997) and Masquerade In Blood (1995) were underrated. These albums were released in that time when a lot of metal bands changed their musical style to get more commercial, but we did the heaviest albums in our career and survived.
Vinyl has made a big comeback, and your new album is being released in that format as well. Are you a vinyl collector at all?
Not really. I just have a couple of albums in my old ’80s collection at home. But I appreciate the fact that vinyl is getting more successful. The vinyl collectors scene is getting bigger. I am so proud that our record label supports us in that way
What is your perspective on America’s presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton?
Hope that Hillary will make it. My personal democratic attitude will never accept Trump as a president.
(interview published August 25, 2016)