German thrashers Tankard emerged in 1986 and haven’t let up since. A box set of their Noise Records era is being released. For A Thousand Beers includes their studio albums from Zombie Attack to The Tankard plus the Fat, Ugly & Live DVD. Bassist Frank Thorwarth is one of two remaining original members, along with vocalist Gerre. He looks back on the band’s early days that are covered in the box set, plus an update on Tankard’s next album.
Chad Bowar: Describe the German thrash metal scene in the early and mid ’80s.
Frank Thorwarth: We were some young boys enthusiastic for hard music and then came thrash. Everything was new and it felt like a new era would begin. A lot of bands started at the same time and some of them are still there. Almost every day I heard about a new band and and we had to order the records, because they were mostly not available in normal record stores. Additional to this the metal community grew up. It was really a great time with a lot of concerts and great thrash bands.
Tankard released demos in 1984 and 1985. How did you come to sign with Noise Records?
We sent our ’85 demo tape Alcoholic Metal to Noise and they signed us. It was a big surprise and we’ve never expected it, just hoped. We received their contract, we met in a pub, had some beers and just signed it without understanding the content. But luckily the contract was ok so far.
What do you remember most about the recording of your debut album Zombie Attack?
The recording was really interesting and exhausting, because it was the first time we had recorded in a professional studio. But mainly I remember the parties we had: totally drunken guys, smashing hotel rooms, etc.
How was it received initially?
If I remember correctly, it was a great success for us. The reviews I read were mainly positive.
Chemical Invasion is probably your most positively reviewed record. Do you consider it your best album?
It was a great one for sure, but I think the later albums, especially the last 3 or 4 are better. But I know this is just my personal taste.
You played shows with a lot of great bands in the ‘80s. Are there any concerts or tours that particularly stand out from that era?
There was the concert in Eastern Berlin we played together with Kreator and Coroner. Until then, it was the biggest concert we played before and it was fantastic. Especially that we were able to play in Eastern Germany, which was impossible before. Such an enthusiastic crowd, really great. But it was still strange because our guitar player in those days, Andy, is a Greek and he had to use a different border than we did. But nevertheless, we had a lot of drinks and a great show that night.
What led you to leave Noise and sign with Century Media for 1998’s Disco Destroyer?
There was not a special reason. I think it was just the right time to go the next steps.
Looking back at your Noise Records era, what were the high and low points for you?
Low points I can’t remember but the high times were for sure the beginning of the band and this has influenced my entire life. The first success, the first shows and the parties we have had.
How much input did the band have in putting together the For A Thousand Beers box set?
The collection of the pictures and the layout. Reviewing the old unreleased videos and so on was great fun. The choice of albums was made by history.
What do you hope fans take away from this collection?
Getting some nice insights into the great ’80s and having all the stuff together with the nice colored vinyls and so on, looking at the pictures and the unreleased videos (laughs). And for the older guys, maybe getting some old memories back.
There’s a vinyl version of the box set. Are you a vinyl collector?
Unfortunately I don’t have a record player anymore. I still have a lot of vinyl and I think I need to buy a turntable.
You and Gerre are the lone remaining original Tankard members. How has your relationship evolved over the years?
We are friends since we were six years old, since the first school class. Playing together in one band put us together even more. For example he’s the godfather of one of my sons. But generally Tankard is a very stable construct. Olaf is in the band since 1994 and our “new kid” Andi is already 24 years in the band, too.
Are you still in contact with any of the other original band members?
Only with our former guitar player Andy. He’s still writing lyrics for us.
Could you have imagined in 1982 that Tankard would still be together?
No, never. As we were just some noise producing and beer drinking kids, I could even not imagine that Gerre and myself are still alive.
Give us an update on the status of the recording of the new album.
We have finished the recordings so far and are in the phase of fine tuning and sound mixing. It will be released later his year and it will be great, believe me.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Thanks to all the metal heads out there. Stay heavy and thrash will never die!
(interview published February 24, 2022)