!!!GERMAN HEAVY METAL!!!
We had a conversation with Gordon Overkill.Enjoy!
Welcome to the FILTHY DOGS OF METAL Webzine.
It's a pleasure! Thanks for inviting us filthy hounds to this interview!
Tell us a few things about ATOM SMASHER (Members, Starting Year etc).
Atom Smasher were founded in 2010 by the Judge and myself, Gordon Overkill. Until today that's the lineup. The Judge plays lead guitars, drums and bass and I do rhythm guitars and vocals. Since the Judge is pretty skilled in recording and sound engineering, we also care about the whole production ourselves, intentionally ignoring many trends and tendencies of what people call the "modern sound". Since both of us are dedicated worshippers of the epic and obscure Hard Rock and Heavy Metal of old, the intention of this project is to manifest our own vision of this particular kind of music for our very own pleasure and for our close friends.
You are going to release your EP ''The Age of Ice''. Tell us a few thing about this project.
Like I said before, Atom Smasher were never meant to step out of our own personal space. In ten years we didn't play a single concert, didn't release a single sound carrier and didn't make any effort to make the band appear on the world wide web or anywhere else. It was always just us writing and playing the music we love for ourselves and for a few maniacs that we call our friends. Things took a little change of direction a short while ago, and these changes came for a sad reason. My old friend Rich Walker from the British Epic Metal masters Solstice got into a really tough situations, so some friends set up a couple of projects to support him getting out of that mess. Among these projects is a series of samplers, released by the mighty Cruz del Sur under the title "Allies - For Ale, for Albion, for Richard". Since Rich was one of the people we shared the Atom Smasher songs with and since he enjoyed them quite a bit, we decided to suggest one of our songs as part of these samplers. It seems like Bri and Enrico liked what they heared, since they offered us to release a 7" on Gates of Hell records. And well, we just love the guys and the amazing work they are doing for the underground since so many years, so we just couldn't refuse.Talking about the whole process during the last weeks and months, I must say that I cannot imagine a better label for this band. Everyone who took part in the project did so with absolute passion and tons of pure heart blood. In particular I have to mention Annick, who did the whole layout, Giulia, who drew the amazing cover artwork, David, who did a fantastic job on the band logo, and of course Bri and Enrico themselves! Everyone lives and breathes this kind of music and at no point did it ever feel like doing "business". We appreciate this alot, since we honestly disgust the combination of Metal and business.
Label or DIY and why?
Label AND DIY. Cause that's just what we do and we cannot imagine it any other way. In my eyes, the tendency to professionalize the underground is a menace to Heavy Metal. I am a child of the 90s. Back in these days it just wasn't possible to gain any kind of fame or fortune with traditional Heavy Metal. Every single person who kept the underground alive and kicking during these days did so out of pure passion and love for the music and for the associated way of life. Today everything got a little bigger. There are certainly advantages to this developement, but I see the bad sides, too. I see people playing Heavy Metal for superficial reasons, like making a name for themselves, gaining reputation and harvesting the praises of the masses. Some people even do it for the money. Nothing bad about any of these points per se, but as soon as they become the primary driving force, the spirit dies. Well, long story short: We were 100% DIY and 100% anti-commercial for a whole decade. Now we found ourselves a label, but not any kind of label. Gates of Hell live the DIY mentality themselves. You can already guess that by looking at their releases, but you know it for sure once you get to know the guys personally.
Do you prefer Vinyl, Tape, CD or Digital Format and why is that?
Vinyl. No doubt about that. I sometimes buy CDs for the car or for parties when I am really drunk, I sometimes buy tapes for nostalgic reasons (although I don't even have a working tape deck anymore), I even sometimes buy MP3s, when I can't wait for a tangible record to be released. But whenever I want to experience a truely intimate moment with a particular piece of music, I put the vinyl on my turntable, turn off the lights and close my eyes.
Your music style is Heavy Metal. Which are your main influences (Favourite Artists / Bands etc.)
If we had to name just a few, our main influences would be Manilla Road - not just due to the fact that I have a bit of a nasal voice -, the NWoBHM pioneers Jaguar for the specific heaviness and savegery of their riffs and Slough Feg, who we consider the epitomes of a band just doing what they want, not wasting a single thought on the rest of the world and thus creating incredible, matchless music.Apart from these three exceptional bands, there are of course tons and tons of musicians who had an influence on us. Manowar, Bathory, Accept, Uriah Heep, Legend, Cirith Ungol, Brocas Helm, Helvetets Port, Warlord, Stormwitch, Running Wild, Candlemass, Raven, Led Zeppelin, Thin Lizzy... the list is endless.
Which things, do you think, a Band should sacrifice in order to succeed?
Have you ever sacrificed anything in your life for a better future of your Band?
Nothing. On the contrary, I would say, a band should much rather sacrifice the struggle for success to the mighty gods of creative freedom. My vision of the ideal future for Atom Smasher shows the Judge and me just keeping on doing what we love. And since there is no way we could ever make a living from this band, it would be extremely stupid to sacrifice our lifelihood or anything like that. For Atom Smasher to work like we want it to, it's of highest importance to consequently keep the band out of any kind of commercial calculus. Of course we "sacrificed" alot to music, to Rock, to Heavy Metal, if you want to say it like that. If we had put the same time into any kind of lucrative profession, rather than spending it on our passion, our bank accounts would most likely look alot bigger today and we would also be a couple steps higher on the chareer ladder. But all in all, this would not make us happier people. So I don't perceive it as a sacrifice.
Describe your ideal live show as a performance Band. Have you already experienced that?
Well, I believe that Heavy Metal comes into existence through some kind of an overkill. An overkill of power, of creativity, of emotion, of anger, of joy, of hatred and love. When the preasure gets too high, these energies have to get released, and that's the moment when a Heavy Metal song arises. At a concert it is simmilar. All real maniacs have this kind of an overkill inside them, and when they get into the Heavy Metal mood, they just open the gates and let it out. When the constelation and the atmosphere are right, this creates a flow that connects people. You suddenly feel a connection to the person in front of you, behind you, to your side, and it doesn't matter if this person stands on top of the stage or in front of it. A perfect live show succeeds at spreading this connection to every single person in the hall. It doesn't matter if that's 5 people, 50 or 500. At this moment everybody feels that they are all part of something great, something special. And yes, I have already experienced this in the past, both in front of the stage and on top of it. Every single time is a memory I will hold in honor for the rest of my life.
Which attributes, do you think, that a new Heavy Metal Band should have in order to gain identity and be unique?
In order to gain identity, by far the most important thing is honesty. Deceivers and pretenders will never be more than second rate copies of whoever they try to immitate. In order to be unique... does that really matter? Are Atom Smasher truely unique? I strongly doubt it. The vocabulary we use to tell our stories was determined to a major degree by the amazing bands of the past 50 years. We are a Heavy Metal band of the old school. We try to write exactly these fantastic songs, which the bands we love the most forgot to write at their prime. Songs which would have been killers, if they were part of our favorite albums. That's quite a high goal. High enough, if you ask me. Let's leave the innovation to the avantgarde.
Do you believe that Bandcamp and other Digital Platforms help the new Heavy Metal Bands? Which, do you think, is the ideal way for a Band to promote its work?
These platforms surely help to spread your music, make it available to the public and probably gain a little bit of coin. Is it the ideal way to promote a band? Hehe, the Judge and I are probably the worst people on Earth to ask this question. During the last ten years we didn't promote our band at all, and for us this felt perfectly right and reasonable. The reason why we have a Bandcamp page today is because we don't want the label to get stuck on the records and they told us that such a page will help to sell them. Frankly, it still feels a bit strange for me to promote this band.
Tell us a few things about the New Underground Metal Scene in Germany (Bands, Fanzines, Webzines, Metal Clubs etc.)
Luckily we are blessed with a strong and vital underground over here in Germany. We have strong bands from pretty much all shades of Metal. In Epic Metal that's of course Atlantean Kodex, but also younger bands like Lord Vigo, Lunar Shadow, Old Mother Hell or Grendel's Syster. In traditional Heavy Metal bands like Sacred Steel, Paragon, Metal Inquisitor or Ritual Steel paved the way for maniacs like Iron Kobra or Power Game. In Black Metal I have much love for the Aachen scene with bands like Ruins of Beverast, Verdunkeln or Truppensturm. I am not the biggest of Death Metal fans, but still Necros Christos, Chapel of Disease, Sulphur Aeon and Sabiendas are the first to come to my mind. Traditional Doom has never been the strongest side of our country, still we are glad to have bands like Dawn of Winter or Mirror of Deception doing their thing for decades without compromise. In terms of Speed and Thrash Metal, we are truely blessed. Since the list would be too long, I want to point out Witchburner, Desaster and Nocturnal from the old guard and Eliminator and Witching Hour as my personal favorites among the newer bands. A very new fanzine I would absolutely recommend is the Nuclear Winter Zine, which just released it's first issue a couple months ago. It focusses mainly on Speed and Thrash Metal and I love the fact that it doesn't even pretend to be objective. For the author, Thrash Metal is obviously much more than just a style of music. It's his honest attitude and his way of life, and that's what he transports through every single word he writes. Also it's in English language, so it might be interesting for your readers, too.A webzine I like alot is bleeding4metal.de. I call some of these guys my friends and I love the passion they put into the whole project, which has a focus on traditional Heavy Metal. I also want to mention epicmetalblog.com, who consist of some of the same people and who supported Atom Smasher alot from day one after our "coming out". Finally concerning clubs, I have to mention the mighty Hellbangers Moselfranken, the amazing Augsbangers H.M.C., the lovable Hard'n Heavy's Rhein-Sieg and the indistructible Heavy Metal Veteranen Velbert 1981. These four - as well as many other Heavy Metal clubs - keep the underground alive during hard times and pump the blood through the veins of the scene. And each of them is important to me in a different way.
Do you know anything about the Hellenic Metal Scene?
I do think that I know a thing or two. I am a big fanatic of some of the older Greek bands, first and formost Vavel. Especially their self-titled first album is an all time classic for me. Incredible melodies, incredible ideas in each and every song! And they were far ahead of their time, playing this style quite a while before Helloween made it popular. Sadly I just own a bootleg, since the original is an extreme rarity of ridiculous price. But I also love other Greek veterans like Crush or Airged L'ahm. When it comes to newer bands, there is actually a connection between Atom Smasher and a certain Hellenic band, namely Dexter Ward. Though it was their Italian member, their singer Mark, who told us a while ago that we absolutely had to go for an official release with our songs. His words surely had an effect on us. I also love Battleroar, who's fourth album "Blood of Legends" is to me one of the greatest Epic Metal releases of this millenium. All around a perfect album without flaws! The last amazing band from the Greek underground, which totaly caught me with it's charm, is Black Sword Thunder Attack. Another great example for a band that is far from innovative, but just insanely good at doing their own traditional thing.Sadly I have never been in Greece up to this point, but I absolutely want to visit the amazing Up The Hammers festival in Athens eventually. Apart from the music, I also spent a significant amount of life time studying the ancient Greek philosophers and their influence on the developement of the European cultures. So I would love to one day visit the places where many of them lived and worked.
What are your future plans?
Honestly, we don't have any. We will definitely continue to write and play amazing music for ourselves. We also really enjoy being on a team with the Gates of Hell/Cruz del Sur guys, so if they wanted to start another project like this in the future, we wouldn't be averse. But I guess, that depends on how the "Age of Ice" single goes. It's a bit of a risk for a label to work together with a band that doesn't play any gigs, doesn't have any kind of social media and generally doesn't have any kind of ambition to make any kind of chareer. But we played with open cards from the very beginning and I am sure that Bri and Enrico know what they are doing, so I am kinda positive that they won't regret it.
Thank you very much for your time & Keep up the good work! The closure is yours.
Thanks alot for the interview, Stavros! Thanks to you who reads these words, too, for taking the time to listen to the lamentations of a naive Metal lunatic! It's people like us who will keep the flame burning, once all trends are over and gone. If my words appealed to you, feel free to lend an ear to our music. Since it has now taken the step into the public, I guess that's what has to be done. Don't expect music for aesthetes though. This is music for maniacs, with sharp edges and corners and all these little imperfections, which prove that it's alive. And finally: Definitely buy these samplers to support Rich! Heavy Metal Forever!
By Steve the Filthy Dog.
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