Besides SODOM, TORMENT is one of the longest acting Thrash Metal bands out of Germany. I know the band since their noisy rehearsals in the 80s. After 20 years of thrashing around I did an interview with singer/bassist Jörn about the past, present and future of TORMENT. Enough said. Enjoy the interview. – demon666 (a big „thank you“ to Tilmann from DROWNED for doing the correction!!!)
- For everyone who is interested to see TORMENT live on stage. They’ll have a gig with CROWBAR, HATESPHERE, UNDERTOW and UNDERCROFT on June the 28th 2004 at Markthalle in Hamburg, Germany. They play with a new drummer. Jörg Bock (MINOTAUR) had an accident and broke his leg earlier this year. Hope you’ll soon be better!
- The band is planing a short US-Tour with TWITED TOWER DIRE in the fall of this year or in the beginning of the new one.
- The new TORMENT CD will be out in August 2004.
- Sooner or later we’ll have a re-recorded TORMENT classic for download. We’re talking about a 2004 version of „Chainsaw Massacre“. The song will be online when the recording session for the new CD is finished.
When did you come into contact with Heavy Metal the very first time?
When it began with me, there was still no Metal scene. I started with KISS. I saw a KISS LP in a record store and I liked cover very much. I asked my parents for money. I had to mow the lawn at my parents camping site over weeks to earn the money, so that I could buy a MC of the LP. I did not have a record player at that time yet. That was so the first music, which I had consciously heard at that time. I had to listen to the music several times to get into it. Actually I had bought the MC only because of the cover. Besides I listened to SWEET too. Afterwards I got into music like BLACK SABBATH and DEEP PURPLE. “Highway Star” was by the way the first song which I ever played on my bass. Then things went off relatively rapidly. Whilst on vacation in Greece I bought the first MOTÖRHEAD LP. It was a very strange release, on which everything was written in Greek. I had actually bought this LP only because of the cover. I was totally into this kind of music. Afterwards I was always looking for harder and faster music. Then I discovered bands such as VENOM, SLAYER and METALLICA. Here in Hamburg there was at that time the metal record store “Inferno”, which had all imported LP’s available. There I showed up weekly to get all this great metal stuff.
|Your step into the Metal scene was surely not far then?
Yes, there was first, as I like to say, an accumulation of metal fans. In Eidelstedt (a part of Hamburg – ed.), we had a club called HEADBANGERS UNITED. We had a lot of fun and the times where rough. We had a lot of trouble with other gangs, like the Warriors or the Bombers and how they were called. There it became already a little wild, haha. I remember a time that I went to the school carnival as Gene Simmons. I was beaten up very badly by some other guys. Something like that wasn’t seen that time, a metal guy with a vest with stickers all over. People didn’t know what it was all about. At this time metal guys were an absolute exception. I was on a comprehensive school and there were only three guys on the whole school who were into heavier music. I think at that time the Metal scene was more global. We met with people from all over Germany and Europe. We drove to every cool gig whether it was VENOM on the Aardschock Dag, or SLAYER on the Popering Festival. At that time there weren’t many metal gigs in Germany. OK, we had the Loreley Festival, but for relevant bands we drove all across Europe, and there we even met people like Götz of ROCK HARD. These were the first steps of the scene, only later on everything fell apart. At that time this separation between Posers and Thrashers didn’t really exist. Everybody had the same base anyway – whether you listened to MÖTLEY CRÜE or VENOM you were into Metal!
How did it come about that you selected the bass as your instrument?
I’ve begun to play bass because I found that Sid Vicious was a cool guy. First I had gotten a goddamn “Farfisa” organ given to me by my Grandpa. I absolutely hated that organ and sold and it. I only kept the amplifier. From the money which I received for the organ, I then bought a guitar. But I couldn’t handle it very well, it was too difficult for me. Sid Vicious showed me then that there also is an instrument with four strings and which also was much easier to play. I imagined that what Sid could play I should be able to play as well. So then I bought a bass and a “Big Muff” effect pedal, which at the time was the most glaring effect pedal you could buy. Acutally it was a guitar effect pedal.
There is a TORMENT song called “Big Muff”.
Yes, it is very strongly affected by the sound of this effect pedal! I untwisted simply everything. The typical TORMENT bass sound developed that way.
|Let us go back to the beginning of TORMENT. When was the band formed?
The real date is unknown but I can exactly remember the day. It was when WASP played in the Hamburg Markthalle to support the release of their first LP. In my fridge I even still keep a piece of the meat which Blacky Lawless threw in the audience. Meanwhile it’s however only a small lump shrunk together. In our “Not Dead Yet” release there’s a photo of our very first singer, who actually never made it onto any TORMENT recording. On the photo which was taken in front of the Markthalle you can see how we’re tearing apart the piece of meat with our teeth. You can call it the very first band photo. There was only the idea “we wanna do a band”. Naturally we were inspired by the WASP show and thought “what we saw we can do too”, just with harder music. That was actually the foundation day of TORMENT.
|So when did TORMENT become a real band?
During the following days, weeks and months we just planned our image. Inventing a name, sketching a band logo, thinking about outfits, etc. I believe we did a photo session before we had even done a rehearsal. Then one thing came to another. I already had a bass and an amplifier, Hardy, our first guitarist, already had his amplifier. This was naturally an advantage, and it was not the normal situation at the time, haha. From time to time you met people who told you that they would be guitarists, but however didn’t have a guitar. Our vocalist hadn’t ever sung before. We simply took him, ‘cause he was a good buddy and because optically he fit very well with TORMENT. He practically never sang any single song with us. Our first rehearsals were instrumental because he never showed up. He has a short part in a live gig which we did “just for fun” with him. I can’t remember when our first rehearsal took part. As I said before, we just penned our image. Everything was off the wall, just more for a joke. Therefore we also invented our stage names such as Kannixxx, Sehnix … much developed from a beer mood. At that time the ASTERIX comics were very popular and it was the phase when each band had stage names which were really ridiculous. So we thought: let’s give ourselves stage names too; but we wanted it the funny way. That was developed simply out of a beer mood too.
Your first real singer Machtnix already had some band experience.
Yes, Machtnix came from the formation WARGRAVE. While he sung with us, he already played guitar in the Hamburg band MEGACE, which he had created with some other guys. Today he works as concert promoter and as a guitar technician for GAMMA RAY.
|How did you develop your “Bestial Sex” image? Did you want to distinguish yourselves from other bands lyric- and imagewise?
We overtook many things from other bands and modified them in a funny way. We had the idea for this “Bestial Sex” image in a drinking mood. I wrote the lyrics between three railway stations on the way to the school. We had that idea for that photo session involving the cow (see “Bestial Sex” 7inch – ed). The cow belonged to a farmer from whom the mother of our guitarist used to buy eggs. We asked him if we could do a photo session with one of his cows. He gave us his permission and seemed pretty amused when we made the photos. By the way, the photo which is on the 7inch was not planned. We saw the position of my hand after the development. Actually a photo should to be taken which should show us before jumping up on the cow. The photo with the hand was rather a byproduct.
|In an old Fanzine from 1986 (Crash Bang (GER) – ed) I found a short and for that time certainly the best-fitting description to your style. “You can’t expect musical talent with TORMENT, because the vocalist sounds in such a way as if Tom G. Warrior with a slit throat pukes into an old metal bucket. The bass makes the speakers shake, the guitar sounds approximately like a chainsaw and the pneumatic hammer drum sound does the rest.” After I had read that at that time, I instantly ordered one of your rehearsal tapes. Do you agree with the description from today’s perspective if you listen to your rehearsal from that time?
Yes, the only one who actually cared about the musical factor was our guitarist Sehnix, who by the way studies classical guitar and Flamenco now. He was called Sehnix because he was blind like a mole. We were pretty naive. Before TORMENT I was already in a band called SKULL. I was however never really good at playing bass. I just never practiced. We actually just made “noise” at the beginning. We played together and mutually taught ourselves. We weren’t talented at that time and didn’t have songs to practice at the rehearsal room. Everything built up step by step.
|What kind of music did you do with SKULL?
SKULL was the band that I created with the two other metal guys of my school. We were completely well-equipped. We were exempted from music instruction and were allowed to “make noise” with drums, guitar and bass, while the other kids had to sing German folk songs. The music was between DEEP PURPLE, KISS and the SEX PISTOLS and in such a way. That was however nothing serious. We never had any gigs and didn’t do any recordings. It just were my first musical steps.
|Did you ever release a demo with TORMENT in the earlier days or did you only do rehearsal tapes?
We never published a demo. Previous to our record deal we only entered a studio once – to record the “Bestial Sex” 7inch and the “Advance Tape”. Perhaps you can call “The Advance” a demo, since with this tape we got the contract with Steamhammer/ SPV. The tape was also never released officially. The bunch of rehearsal tapes were published and sold by our buddy Mike “Trinktnix” Toedt. He recorded almost every rehearsal session. He added intros and outros to the recordings, did covers for them and sent the tapes to everybody who wanted a tape. Therefore there is such an amount of rehearsal tapes of TORMENT. We never placed ourselves there and said we wanna record a rehearsal. That was simply practicing and most time we didn’t give the best. We boozed a lot, you know. Haha.
|Already very early there was a certain cult status about TORMENT. How do you explain that?
Germany didn’t have that many bands at that time which did it in such an extreme way like we did. In a way our rehearsal tapes were more extreme than the demos of SODOM. We also had much presence. We were travelling to concerts all across Europe. We were also always noticeable. We drank a lot and did a lot of crazy shit. There was a time where I jumped on the stage while other metal bands played and roared TORMENT into the mike. I do have some old live tapes from that time where my roaring is on it, like HELLOWEEN live at the Logo in
Hamburg. There’s also a photo of a DESTRUCTION gig where I’m on stage with the band. It looks like as if I would be singing with DESTRUCTION.
|Your early concerts also were legendary. I read about a funny thing regarding HELLOWEEN. What was that about?
Our buddy Ulf wore some rubber boots, a raincoat and a Vossi Bear (from “The Muppetshow” – ed) mask. It looked like the guy who wore the fang-face mask at HELLOWEEN shows. Our Vossi Bear then smashed pumpkins on the stage. HELLOWEEN had already wimped out at that time and we as a Hamburg band had to take their position. Hahaha. With my bass-solo I always spat sperm in the audience. It was made from silica and looked really good. We also experimented a lot. Once we scooped out cabbage and filled it with TNT. We blew it up during a live gig. It nearly blew away the stage. Already very early we experimented with fire and bombs. It was completely clear that this was a reference to the godfathers VENOM. We had our most extreme gig in Wedel (near Hamburg – ed.) in a youth centre. The crowd wrecked the whole youth centre during our gig. When I looked out through the window I saw a snooker table flying down from the floor above us. The police then closed the building so nobody got in or out. So until the next morning we had to stay in there and had a party. After that night the youth centre was closed forever. That was our first gig with TORMENT. Our gigs were more wild than other bands gigs. Hahaha. In a way it fit to what we were doing on the stage.
|How was the contact like to other Hamburg bands like HELLOWEEN, RUNNING WILD?
At that time we played gigs with IRON ANGEL, and HELLOWEEN were still called IRON FIST. We actually socialized a lot with those guys. RUNNING GAME I also know from the times of their first line-up, when they still played in youth centers in Hamburg. But they worked professionally and had their day jobs – while we just drank and did bad things. All the musicians from Hamburg knew each other. Particularly with HELLOWEEN we had some problems. I punched Weikat very badly because he was after my girlfriend. I had to go between them and pulled a beer jug over his head. In the meantime everything is alright between us. At that time HELLOWEEN was however commercial shit for us!
|One of your first ex-members, Disharmonix, formed the band ASMODIS. Can you tell us anything about this band?
ASMODIS was formed by some guys who left BLACK LAWS (later known as EROSION – ed.). The bass player Buenning plays with PARAGORN nowadays. The other guys formed STONE COLD BLACK. They play stuff which can be compared to SLAYER. ASMODIS were really good musically. The problem was simply that the guys always wrote long and complex songs on which they always spent an unbelievable amount of time and work. They were in each case stoned in their rehearsal room and made songs. Hahaha. The songs weren’t playable on a live gig anymore. Therefore ASMODIS also never made it. They however released the CD “Fahr zur Hölle, Fleischmütze” on which the songs were already more compact. Disharmonix also provided some advertisement for TORMENT at the time. By the way, his brother had killed a woman by mistake then called Disharmonix up to help him. The two got correctly drunk and sawed the corpse to pieces. Disharmonix then got on his bicycle and threw the parts of the body on garbage piles all across Hamburg. Afterwards both were on the run and got arrested in France later on. At the time he was our ex-drummer but he still draws attention on us.
|On your early tapes you used a song as intro which referred to a murder that happened in Hamburg.
You’re talking about the song of Harry Horror called “Gern hab ich die Frauen gesägt”. I found the 7” on a sale market. The cover featured a strange guy with a saw in his head. It was on sale so it wasn’t expensive. We liked the piece of music so much that we used it as an intro. It’s also on our first LP. We had to acquire the rights for the song back then. We found out who has published the stuff then and found out that Harry Horror even recorded a whole LP which was seized just before the release because of the lyrics. If you find this 7”, get it immediately!!! Back then I paid just 25 cents. I think it ain’t that cheap anymore. After we had used the song as an intro, a lot of guys went on and bought this 7”. Meanwhile you’ll have to pay between 10 and 15 euros.
|1987 you released your legendary 7” EP “Bestial Sex”. When I read the reviews back then, it seemed to me that the die-hard fans somewhat were disappointed. Some didn’t seem to expect such a quality with TORMENT.
Hahaha. It was clear that the die-hard fans were disappointed. For us it was an extreme step from the tape-recordings to the studio sound. The songs weren’t wimped-out. The same songs were on our early rehearsal tapes in same versions, but on the record they had a better sound. In the studio in which we recorded the 7” German rock/pop stars like UDO LINDENBERG used to do their LP’s. Considering that we are completely happy that the producer came up with such a heavy sound for us.
You did two versions of the 7” EP.
Yes, the first edition was in sperm-white vinyl and was sold out very quickly. Back then on some concerts every paying guest bought a single. Unbelievable! Since a lot of guys still asked for the “Bestial Sex” 7” we re-released that EP, this time in urine-yellow vinyl.
|In 1989 you went into studio again to record your first album which however was released only as a rough-mix tape with the title “The Advance”.
It should actually have become an EP, which we wanted to release on our own. We sent the advance tape to Martin Ruder (ex-Crash Bang editor – ed.) of SPV and he played it to his boss. He then directly offered us a contract which we signed immediately, and the recordings were forgotten. I released a promo 7” with two pieces (“Das Neue” & “Shop Till Drop” – ed.) on Remedy Records later on. We didn’t even sell that tape. It was just given to some friends and fans.
|In 1991 your first LP came out on Steamhammer/SPV. The title reminds me to something, a video flick or stuff like that. I know it was the intro of some of your rehearsal tapes. It seems to be taken from a video trailer.
I believe the intro is taken from a trailer for the video release of “The Omen”. A buddy had a video cassette full of horror film trailers. We viewed the tape and thought that the trailer was really suitable for us. Jay of SPV then translated the whole thing into English. We used it as a small reference to our old days. Maybe it also is the longest LP title ever. (“Experience A New Dimension Of Fear. The Horrors Of The Past Were Just A Taste Of Things To Come. Past Events Have Been Mere Hints Of Future Terrors. Everything So Far Has Only Been A Warning …“ – ed.)
After that the split CD with MINOTAUR and DESERT STORM came out.
Exactly, that was 1993. That one actually should have been a split CD only with MINOTAUR, who at that time still had Buschi in their line-up. He currently sings in PARAGORN. DESERT STORM was added just a short time before the release. It was the band of a former MINOTAUR bass player which he formed with some ex-ASMODIS musicians.
|In 1995 TORMENT joined forces with Jörg Bock aka “Moulinix” from the thrashers MINOTAUR.
Yes, MINOTAUR finally split up after the split CD and we were looking for a new drummer in the summer of 1995. We had played gigs together and knew each other since the very first steps of MINOTAUR and TORMENT. Besides us, MINOTAUR is the last standing thrash metal band out of Hamburg and it was actually the logical consequence to join forces. By the way, MINOTAUR is active again and is working on new material.
|After the release of the “Spermatized” EP (1995) it became little calmer around TORMENT.
I was also ‘cause of my record store. The first years were rather hard. After my civil service I considered not to study but try something with Metal. If you don’t have any money it’s very hard to build up a store, so I had to work day and night. Time passed quickly without rehearsing and playing live. We however never paused or split up. We were together over all the years.
Celebrating your 15th band anniversary you released the CD “Not DEAD Yet”. Was the title a motto? Did you want to give a sign of life?
Sure, because many people thought that we had split up. Although we constantly played live, only not that much. We chose the title to show the fans that the band was always there and will always be. That fit the anniversary very well and together with the cover it was a reference to STRAPPADO/SLAUGHTER. I like to give a reference to my fave bands with covers or titles. I’m an absolute SLAUGHTER fan and I think that the band is absolutely underestimated.
|2004 is your 20th band anniversary. You moved away continuously from your original style. What will bring 2004 to TORMENT?
For us everything was a logical consequence. Stylistically we never made any experiments. It was always glaring and hard music. If you follow the development from LP to LP it’s completely normal I think. Meanwhile the whole thing is more in the rock’n roll style I like to say. But it is however still completely Thrash Metal. You can’t play your instrument badly any longer if you’ve practiced continuously for over 20 years. But the sound is still the same. We still have that glaringly distorted bass. I think that my MOTÖRHEAD roots show through more and more. Yes, I think it will go into this direction – like MOTÖRHEAD on 45rpm. We like to party while playing live and people do the same while listening to our songs.
|In which format will you release your anniversary album?
It will become a complete album in any case. In December we’ll enter the studio to record four songs to check out the studio. We will take these four songs and some other older songs. In addition we’ll probably do a bonus CD with older but newly recorded songs. Possibly we will also use recordings of the Metalbash Festival from 2003. The disc should be in the shops for the Metalbash 2004 and our band anniversary.
|You’ve been into the Metal scene for more than 20 years. You have your own band, your own metal shop and your own label. You know the scene since the late 70’s/beginning of the 80’s and have many metal trends seen come and go. What do you think is the biggest difference between the scene 20 years ago and the scene today?
I think the whole thing became very superficial. There are very many people who listen to metal music today and to a completely different style tomorrow. The people who’ve listened Metal the early days didn’t do it because it was just a trend. Those guys were outsiders back then and it really had something to do with some kind of an outlaw existence … hahaha. You had friends to go through thick and thin together. Everything has become very commercial nowadays. Back then we got dubbed LPs from friends ‘cause we didn’t have the money to buy all this great stuff. The tape trading thing is from that time. The mp3 thing which is nowadays going on on the internet ain’t trading to me anymore. It’s like “I do have 20.000 songs and you have only 19.000 songs”. Nobody can tell me that he’s listening to all his mp3’s on his computer. The main reason is to have as much songs as possible on the computer. This kind of trading is not comparable with the trading scene back then. In former times there just wasn’t that much music. There weren’t that many LPs and not that much demo tapes. We were hunters of metal and collected everything we could get our hands on. Nowadays it’s different. The only stuff you can still collect are limited editions which are also available in regular editions. To be or to create a “cult” simply became difficult. But the cult is still on. I’m always glad if a band still does demos or puts out 7”s by themselves. This is the underground everything came from. I also think that the people became more narrow-minded. I’ve always listened to Punk and Metal at the same time. Or just listen to a SWEET or STATUS QUO album nowadays and tell someone that once this stuff used to be the heaviest music around, no one would believe it. I still can remember when I heard the song “Making Love” of KISS for the first time and I thought that it would be the fastest song of all times. There could never be a band that would play faster. At the time the feeling simply was like that. I witnessed the whole development, when it started with Hard Rock and ended with Grindcore and I’m still listening to everything. Many people in todays metal scene are limited to determined styles. Back then we simply listened to everything that was good whether it was Hard Rock or Death Metal.
Ok Jörn thank you for this interview. Here is the place for you.
I hope that as many people as possible will come to the Metalbash Festival in 2004 to party with us on our 20th anniversary. Look out for our new CD. We will continue with TORMENT in any case. As long as I can stand, run and sing there will be TORMENT. Come to our 20th band anniversary at the Metalbash and party with us. Stay metalized and tormentized!!!
1984 – 1989 several rehearsal and live tapes
1987 „Bestial Sex“ 7″ (sperm white vinyl)
1988 „Bestial Sex“ 7″ (urine yellow vinyl)
1989 „The Advance“ tape
1989 „Das Neue“ 7″
1991 „Experience A New Dimension Of Fear…“ LP
1992 „Sie kam zu mir am Morgen“ 7″
1993 „3 way split“ CD with MINOTAUR and DESERT STORM
1997 „Spermatized“ CD
1998 „Unbroken Metal“ compilation CD
1999 „Not Dead Yet“ CD
2000 „New Generation Of Rock“ compilation CD
2001 „Motörhead tribute“ compilation CD
2003 „Motörhead tribute“ compilation CD