Tankard 07/12/2010

The story of TANKARD is an exceptional one: the Thrash Metal force from Frankfurt, Germany has been around since the early 80s, spearheading a wave of German Thrash bands who became successful worldwide (Kreator, Destruction, Sodom a.o.). And while many other bands struggled, split up or returned in reunions, TANKARD never coped with any of these problems. They have always been around. And they kept their worldwide fanbase for all these years, delivering one strong album after another. When you think of beer and Thrash Metal, the name TANKARD is the first that comes to mind.


Over the years, TANKARD have built a steady fanbase and have released a series of albums cementing their niche fame. Despite still having to work "day jobs" to maintain themselves and their families, they managed to keep themselves on the metal fans' collective radar and to tour and appear regularly at Europe's most popular Summer festivals.


The same goes for TANKARD’s brand new effort, ‘Vol(l)ume 14’. The perfect title for their 14th studio album! Containing ten hymns celebrating alcohol and beer (of course) but thrash metal social issues are dealt with, too. “Black Plague (BP)” for example surely is about the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that will cost its originator 40 billion dollars in the end and leaves a huge area and its people confronted with serious problems for years. ‘Vol(l)ume 14’ was recorded with the acclaimed Michael Mainx who is responsible for the production of several top ten albums. This album will delight every fan of first class thrash metal and it will prove once again that TANKARD are one of the most unique bands on planet Earth!



In order to hear all about this new release, we tracked down Olaf Zissel (Drums) to ask him some questions, here you can read what he had to say to the readers of Metal-experience.


First of all, how are you?


Olaf: Hi there, Olaf here –the drummer from the bunch of Clowns. We all are fine. The first reactions for the V14 are confirming that we didn’t do it too badly and we are quite happy with the result.


How did you launch into writing material for your album ‘Vol(l)ume 14and how much time did you spend on the songs?


Olaf: It took a couple of months to put it all together but before this time our guitar player Andy did most of the writing. He has a small studio at home so we didn’t spend a lot of time in the rehearsal room.


Which approach did you choose to make this album, did you go for a more raw exposition.. or something more reminiscent of your previous other works, or something all together different?


Olaf: We never start the writing process with a masterplan for how it has to sound after it’s done. We do the music that we like and burn it on CD. Nothing special about it.


How can we imagine you work on new songs, what's the typical writing process like for Tankard?


Olaf: Usually we put all our ideas together and try to find out if it works together. This time

we can call V14 Andy’s baby ‘cause he did most of the work on it. It’s a little more melodic than the previous records but we all are fine with it.


What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record Vol(l)ume 14, any elements you definitely wanted to include on the album?


Olaf: The goal is always the release date. We don’t do this to make the record company happy. We always try to finish our stuff in time. All of our typical elements appear without a script or a storybook. We play music and record it. One main thing that we changed was to work with Michael Mainx this time. We thought maybe he could give us some fresh input and change our sound a little. It was hard work ‘cause he is not really a Metalhead but has great ideas and we tried a lot of things during the recordings that we never did before.


Of course the title and some of the lyrics are clear, but can you give us a little background about the songs on the album, are there any stories behind them?


Olaf: It’s again the typical mix between funny stories but also some serious words like we do all the time. Since we have this alcoholic image we’re often reduced to the funny stuff and the more serious part of our work is ignored by the media party. It’s easier for us to do it this way rather than being serious all the time ‘cause it represents pretty much how we are in private. We don’t run through the woods with swords or other arms and we don’t sacrifice virgins in our free time. We don’t fight against dragons or other “dangerous” creatures and we also don’t know much about Satanism. So we are much more serious than it looks if we just do our stuff like always.



How important is it to you that people pay attention to the lyrics apart from listening to the music?


Olaf: To me it is not very important but that is different to the other guys in the band and I think every listener has his own way to get into it or not. It also depends on how often somebody is listening to the same stuff and how he/she likes it or not.


If someone was only going to read the lyrics and not listen to the music, what would you hope they would take from them?


Olaf: I hope that they can’t get enough and read all the other releases as well….

No, I hope that they realize that we are not as stupid as we behave on stage sometimes.


What is the utmost important ingredient for a song according to you?


Olaf: How to answer that? I don’t know. The music is tricky sometimes and it sounds easy all the time so for me the most important thing is that there is a (like MM says all the time) flow.

It necessarily have to be complicated. Look at the Beatles or the Ramones. They both made such fantastic songs and never tried to go over their limits as instrumentalists. We do a different kind of music but I hardly try to do it as simple as possible. 


What’s a typical recording process for Tankard like and how much time did you spend in the studio for this record?


Olaf: We usually record our tracks separated from each other so I start the drum tracks with the preproduction CD on my ears and after that the other guys one by one enter the studio and do their stuff. The songs are finished before we do that and so we don’t need a very long time in the studio. This time it was something around 4 weeks.


The album was produced by Michael Mainx, what made him the perfect man for Tankard and can you tell me something about him?


Olaf: He was perfect cause we wanted to change our sound a little and we didn’t know in which direction. MM has a lot of experience with other kinds of music but he is not a metal only producer.

We tried a lot of things to get the “flow” and I think he did a good job.


In which elements on the new album can one clearly hear his vision and ideas?


Olaf: The vocals is the main thing. You can hear it in nearly every song that this is different from our previous releases. He really treats Gerre to sing!


How would you describe this album to someone that has never listened to the band before?


Olaf: I don’t know if we can call this thrashmetal or xyzmetal  but I think I would say it’s hard, fast music with a good sense of humour but presented in a serious way,  but not too serious.


Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics? What are you personally into?


Olaf: The motivation for me is to do hard music. While I write I always have in mind how would it sound on stage and are we able to reproduce it live. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. The stage is the thing that really makes it emotional for me ‘cause it’s a great feeling if you entertain a rough crowd of people and they tell you how they liked it afterwards.

My influences are more from the punkrock corner but I’m not limited to only listening to that kind of music. I listen to a lot of things wich have absolutely nothing to do with metal and I like it if it is reduced and minimalistic. Also I really like female voices like June Tabor, P J Harvey, or the Queen of the 80`s Toyah Willcox for example. The lyrics are not my business so I can’t tell you much about creating them.


Could you respond to the following terms in just one word or sentence:


Thrash : Good clean fun

Underground : Good to have it but difficult to handle

Internet : Makes communication easy

Religion : Not my business

Politics : Absurd and corrupt

The Netherlands : The shortest transit to the sea and a country I like very much.

Germany : Nice places and bad places. Like every other country. Nothing special.



What have been the highlights and low points throughout your career?


Olaf: One of my highlights was playing in Japan but there are countless other very amazing moments during our career. The lowest moments are always if we waste time on airport XY

to wait for connection to airport YZ.


What is your opinion on the thrash scene these days? Is there anything missing in the scene?


Olaf: We are not 20 something anymore and we don’t go to the places where the scene is at very often but nowadays everyone has an internet connection and that makes the world small and the scene even bigger than ever. 


What makes Tankard different from other new thrash metal bands out there?


Olaf: We are old! We don’t like to reinvent Metal or create a new style. We’ve found our place in the Metalworld and we are proud of our durability. And as a matter of fact, we all have regular jobs and we do this just for fun. We have other influences than the new bands but I can’t see anything bad in that.


Which goals did you have when the band started out and how do those goals stand now?


Olaf: As the band started out back in 1982, the goal was to have fun and that’s about it. What can I tell you- we have so much fun doing this that there is no serious word for it : Great.


How has the band's sound progressed from your first album ‘Zombie Attack’ to ‘Vol(l)ume 14, in your opinion?


Olaf: We have skills in performing and as a result of that the sound progresses a little but I think you still can hear the roots if you listen to any of our albums.


With all the touring and over fourteen albums and several EP’s under your belt, how far has Tankard surpassed your original dreams and what would you say is the most rewarding part of being in the band?


Olaf: We don’t have any pressure to pay our bills with the band’s work so we are really relaxed and choose our tour dates not in order to make the most profit but to see new countries and different cultures.

Sometimes it seems like we are doing this just for the tourism and we all really enjoy it.


You've played large festivals, if you compare them to the smaller gig venues, what are the differences for you and which kind of shows do you prefer yourself?


Olaf: Difficult to say. On the one hand, the big festivals are mostly very well organized and everything works well. The bigger stages are nice to play and if we do it well, it feels good to play in front of thousands. On the other hand, there are the club shows where the atmosphere between the band and the audience is much better and the communication with the people is a big plus during our shows. I’m more into that club feeling but it’s also nice to play bigger events. Fortunately I don’t have to make a decision. I can have it both and that’s great.


What can we expect from Tankard in the near future? Any touring plans?


Olaf: We move to Venezuela and Columbia in December and after a short break we do the usual weekend tours which are better for us ‘cause of the “circumstances” (Jobs, families) but we can do this nearly the whole year through so we won’t get bored by doing nothing and we won’t go mad ‘cause of sitting in a bus for weeks


Where do you see the band going within the next couple of years, do you think, for instance that the band will still exist ten years from now? Or do you not think of the future too much?


Olaf: We hope to collect some more new countries to play in and I also think that V14 was the last record by Tankard but who will know what will be in ten years? There is no plan to quit at the moment but ten years is a long time and we all will be over 50 years of age then and this is scaring me a little so I won’t think about this any longer. I don’t know!


A last statement?


Olaf: Thank you for not asking any questions about Tankwart. I can’t hear them anymore!



Thanks for your time,

Eugene Straver



Current line-up:

Andreas Geremia - Vocals

Andreas Gutjahr - Guitar

Frank Thorwarth - Bass

Olaf Zissel – Drums


Past members:

Axel Katzmann - Guitar (1982–1993)

Bernhard Rapprich - Guitar (1982–1983)

Andy Bulgaropoulos - Guitar (1983–1999)

Oliver Werner - Drums (1982–1989)

Arnulf Tunn - Drums (1989–1994)


Studio Albums:

1986 - Zombie Attack Noise Records

1987 - Chemical Invasion Noise Records

1988 - The Morning After Noise Records

1990 - The Meaning of Life Noise Records

1992 - Stone Cold Sober Noise Records

1994 - Two-Faced Noise Records

1995 - The Tankard Noise Records

1998 - Disco Destroyer Century Media

2000 - Kings of Beer Century Media

2002 - B-Day AFM Records

2004 - Beast of Bourbon AFM Records

2006 - The Beauty and the Beer AFM Records

2008 - Thirst AFM Records

2010 - Vol(l)ume 14 AFM Records