Lucifer Star Machine - Interview
The German punk/metal band Lucifer Star Machine has recently released their new album "Satanic Age" and has already given me some wet and happy moments (read review here). Because of the satanic terms and song titles like 'Censorshipped' there was of course a lot to talk about, which I could discuss with the very likable band leader and vocalist Tor via Zoom. The result is a very interesting and in-depth interview, which I hope you enjoy reading!
Hello Tor, how are you?
So far so good. Tomorrow the release tour starts, we play in Cologne, Essen, Bremen and Hamburg with our labelmates "The Hip Priests" from England and that should be pretty cool.
I have to say that I stumbled across your new album only recently and never heard of you before. Can you tell me a little bit more about the band's history?
I started the band in London, where I lived for 12 years. I moved there in 2000 and started the band in 2002, but the band had umpteen members and there were always line-up problems. It's a long history. Satanic Age is the fifth album and I am now based in Hamburg. When I moved to Germany, I was looking for new people and originally they were all from Hamburg, but that changed again. Now everyone is from a different city, Hannover, Braunschweig, Fulda and Ramon is from Ede in Holland.
You were founded in England and completely reorganized in Germany in 2014. How did this happen and were there any conflicts with the British ex-members because of this?
Sometimes it doesn't fit humanly because of some ego problems or you have some people with alcohol, drug or mental problems. So far everything is there and sometimes you find people with whom you can get along great, sit in the tour bus and have fun and who are accomplished musicians.
Stylistically I would classify "Satanic Age" somewhere between old Volbeat, Hellacopters and punk rock like Turbonegro. How do you describe your music?
When you say Hellacopters and Turbonegro, that definitely fits. Volbeat is not an influence, although I have to say that with "I Wanted Everything" there is a song that sounds a bit like Volbeat, from the guitar rhythm and the melodic vocals above it. A lot of people have already said that. But Turbonegro is a very big influence, "Apocalypse Dudes" was the album why I started Lucifer Star Machine. I listened to them up and down and was just a total fan. I've never listened to a record as much as that one. But we also have other influences, not only the Scandinavian bands, but also Motörhead and American bands like Misfits and Ramones, especially melodies inspired us. But we are also relatively open-minded as musicians, you can get influences from almost anywhere. These are now the influences, the main bands that influenced us, but you can also look at other music genres like soul or rockabilly, which are not so obvious now, but which I listen to a lot. Or also Walt Disney soundtracks, which I have to listen to quite often because of my kids, but that's where some ideas come from (laughs). But we also have metal or hard rock influences. For example, our guitarist used to skatepunk, then got stuck playing guitar and his teacher showed him all the metal heroes like Yngwie Malmsteen and Alexi Lahio and he really got into it and learned all that stuff. You can probably hear that in the solos on the album. We also covered a KISS song on the record with "Naked City." I'm a mega KISS fan, that was the first band that got me into music. As a kid, my whole room was full of KISS posters and I wanted to cover a song of theirs on the new album. I've liked the "Unmasked" record since I was a kid. I'm probably the only one because it's very poppy. I've always been into awesome melodies and it has great songs. With "Naked City" I thought that we could convert the song well to our style, just make the whole thing more punky and harder.
What's with the "satanic" terms? Is rather untypical for this music...
Yes, that's mostly in metal. But with many metal bands it's more of an image. With us it's a bit more, I always liked the philosophy behind it. The modern Satanism of Anton LaVey, it doesn't stand for the devil per se, it was always just a symbol directed against the institution of the church. It is about faith in oneself. The philosophy "do what you want, as long as you do not restrict the freedom of others". I lived before I even came into contact with Satanism more. I liked bands that had such an image when I was a kid, but I didn't really get into it until later. When I founded the band, I wanted to incorporate that as well.
To what extent is this reflected in your lyrics?
That does flow in, but not like for example with Watain or other black metal bands. That's something completely different with us. It's more about "do what you want" and that you shouldn't let yourself be stopped by any rules that are forced upon you.
Other than that, do you have any other lyrical concepts that you incorporate?
I just write about what I feel like. Not everything is satanic of course, I just write about life, death or whatever comes to my mind. Some songs are just stories, for example 'Black Axe' is about the Nigerian mafia of the same name. I saw a report about that once and thought it was pretty interesting. Other songs are a bit taken from life, personal experiences - it's all there. The things that I think are good and that I think can be used are done.
On your official homepage there are two different versions of "Satanic Age". Were you afraid of the censorship or why?
We have a song, 'Censorshipped' against censorship, that really hits you in the face. Because of the song and the video there were problems with censorship. Not that it can't be posted, but for example our label couldn't promote it because of the restrictions on the platforms. We also had that problem with the first version of the Satanic Age video because our models wear latex. I think the video is relatively harmless and I honestly didn't think there would be any problems. But I'm also not someone who says we're going to make a cut now so they're satisfied. But what do you want to do? Of course we want to make our music accessible to more people and we also don't want to stand in our own way. I then had the idea to make another cut without latex scenes. This is also a good video and so it can be promoted better.
Speaking of 'Censorshipped'. Does all this political correctness, which at the moment doesn't even stop at old ladies with sombrero, get on your nerves?
Political correctness has always been a pain in the ass, even before it became as extreme as it is now. The origin of the Woke Culture, for example, I find absolutely understandable. The ulterior motive of pointing out cultural grievances is important and right, but the whole thing has gotten completely out of hand in my view. I'm not a friend of this Woke and Cancel Culture, and here in Germany, everything that people don't like is currently associated with Cancel Culture. I think that is also wrong. Originally, Cancel Culture called for boycotting artists or people who, for example, said something wrong 10 years ago. I think everyone says something wrong in life and I'm someone who thinks that you should evolve and not punish people for something they said a long time ago, even though they might be completely different people now. That's what 'Censorshipped' is about, which we wrote in Pandemic. Free speech is definitely important to us and it doesn't matter how much you don't like the opinion. I think it's worse to forbid people to speak - because of that the opinion doesn't change. They then have it in their heads and if they can't express it, it's far more dangerous.
How far can a (punk) band go to cause a stir these days? Even Cannibal Corpse could play all their songs live the other day without any problems.
What does provoke mean? It's not that important to us to provoke. We do what we feel like doing. There will always be someone who feels provoked. No matter if it's some Christians, which is not the case in Germany, but rather in America, or with 'Censorshipped', where people from the woke scene will get upset. And Cannibal Corpse are rather a slapstick band....
Haha! But I remember when I was a teenager in the 90s and all these bans came for some songs and they played 'Hammer Smashed Face' instead of 'Fucked With A Knife', nobody noticed anyway.
Yes, there have always been consequences of political correctness, but I grew up differently. When you grow up with music like that, I mean it's never been PC. I also grew up more with metal and later got into punk, but I've always listened to hard music and the themes that were there have always been "Fuck You, I don't care what you think!". I just want to say what I think and if someone doesn't like it, that's their bad luck.
Will your old albums be available again as CDs at some point, at Bandcamp there are only "The Devil's Breath" and "Satanic Age" or otherwise as download or vinyl.
Bandcamp makes the record label. Fire In Your Hole is from 2005 and it was sold out. But I recently got a message from the label owner at the time that he still found some in his attic and we are now selling them directly in our own store on our website. They are also available there as a reissue on vinyl. The CDs of Street Value Zero and Rock n'Roll Martyrs are sold out. There are currently no plans for them to be reissued either. The vinyl of RnRM was reissued last year by The Sign Records because the 2013 was only released as a CD. The demand for CDs is not that big anymore, vinyl is taking over.
You are currently on tour, are there any other plans for this year?
We are playing several festivals this year. One is called "Harrys Full Metal Party", which I think will be quite funny. That goes over two days, there is mostly metal, but also another band that also goes more in our direction.
The last words are yours!
Buy the record, come to our gigs and support the underground!
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