Master - Interview


"Saints Dispelled" is the 15th album by legendary Master and the mastermind behind all this Paul Speckmann has a lot to celebrate these days. A lot of anniversaries, "Saints Dispelled" release and also a new label which is going to re-release his old stuff. Paul and I talked a lot about Master and 'what if' questions but of course also a little bit more about the new album (check the review here) and what's going to happen with his other old stuff. Enjoy reading!

Michael

Hi Paul, how are you doing?

I've been doing good, it was a little cold today, little chilly yesterday, today it dropped down to minus 11 right now but what you gonna do? It's winter (laughs)!

I would say it's party time – last year you became 60, Master reached 40 years, this year you released "Saints Dispelled", your 15th album. What are the plans for these jubilees?

No. When you get to be 60 years old, there's not so many celebrations any more. It's not so important. You'll see if you get there that you hopefully will slow down a lot of things. I don't drink as much and I try not to smoke any more. I exercise and go to the gym two days a week. Cardio and weights - your life changes when you're getting older. I'm still rock n' roll, don't get me wrong. I still bring my Jack Daniels to the shows and stuff but the thing is now I'm drinking maybe two Jack and Cokes and not the whole bottle. When you go back maybe even only ten years ago, I was still drinking the whole bottle at the end of the night. Now I'm drinking about two drinks and give the bottle to the younger drummer or the guitar player and say "hey, have a good time, thank you!" (laughs). Things are getting a little bit different when you're older. Of course I'm still playing and having a good time enjoying the music, touring and playing shows wherever we can. That doesn't stop. It's like you have to care of yourself a little bit better so you don't drop dead the next day.

Talking about the new album – I stated in my review that it is pretty much diverse, old-school with a lot of punk and thrash and lots of homages to some old bands like Motörhead or UFO. Would you agree with that and if so, why did you decide to go this way?

When you go all the way back to the first Master album, Pledge Of Allegiance or some of the songs from On The Seventh Day God Created… Master, they were also punk influenced. Punk has really been an influence on Master throughout the whole career. I mean I've always been in the D-beat. I think it's really important to express yourself with the D-beat (laughs)! But obviously Motörhead, Venom, Slayer – these are all bands that I was into back in the days and I'm still writing the same style I've always written, I think. I really don't see much change. Some of the reviews of the album said "you know what you gonna get when you get Master, it's not new, it's Master". The point is for me that's called style. I mean even back in the day if you followed Motörhead and Lemmys career you always know when a Motörhead song comes on. And I would say for the most part you know when a Master song comes on. A lot of times maybe you may hear it by the vocals but not always. I think that Master is diverse and had its own thing going on and for the most part you gonna recognize it's Master. You recognize Black Sabbath, you recognize Motörhead, you recognize Judas Priest – I think this is important. I don't think it's a good idea to change your style all the time but a lot of bands jumped on the latest trend and the latest genre. I still do the same shit I wrote 25 or 30 years ago and I enjoy it still so why change that shit? It's not broken, it doesn't need to be fixed. 

Do you sometimes regret doing this more unsuccessful way instead of jumping on the next trend as you said? I mean this could have been a great opportunity to earn a lot of money with your music.

Yeah, but I think it's always best to stay true to yourself and I've been saying that forever. For me staying true to yourself is playing music that you enjoy. I never jumped on a bandwagon like you said. Okay I could have made more money, I'm sure you're right but how can you live with yourself when you're not true to yourself? For me, music's not about the money, it's about being metal. I am a metal guy, I've always been a metal guy and I will be a metal guy when I drop dead. I'm not gonna be a millionaire maybe but I don't give a shit! It's quiet in time, everything is okay. I have a house I live in, I paid for it with my music, I have cars, I have friends, five bicycles (laughs), ten bass guitars and one guitar – I have everything that I really need so I guess it's relative what's rich. For me this success is in the idea that I can still write albums and people like you for example are still interested to speak with me about it. That's success in his own right.

In 'Walk The Footsteps Of Doom' you even have some kind of Polka rhythm…how the hell did you get this idea?

Oh, yeah, I guess it's some Polka rhythm. I don't know. I never thought about that, very interesting (laughs)! So I also incorporated Polka into this style of music, that's great. But actually that's art so that's okay. I'll take that as a compliment. I really didn't intend to write it like that, it just came out that way.

Haha, it wasn't meant to be a point of criticism!

No, no, that's cool! I think that's the idea to bring all styles into the music. Maybe not rap – I'm not such a good rapper – or country music but polka okay. Let's roll the polka (laughs).

But it has nothing to do with the fact that you are living in Eastern Europe now…

Maybe! Maybe it has something to do with it (laughs). Maybe I subconsciously picked it up. It could be.

Coming to the lyrics of the album – can you go a little bit more into detail with some of the songs?

Well, is like every Master album. It deals with the trials and tribulations of society at a particular time in life and as well as my life. For example 'Walking The Footsteps Of Doom', is talking about the new woke society trying to take over in America and actually probably coming to Europe, too. I just think that we got a lot of problems today. I don't know what's happening to society. It really changed a lot, there are a lot of rules and regulations, there's a lot more interesting and at the same time crazy ideologies. People have different ideas today. Back when I grew up, everything was pretty straight forward. As a kid I wasn't thinking about if I was a boy or a girl, for example. I knew I was a boy. Today in society the kids have this new thing where they're trying to tell they're a boy or a girl a boy. We didn't have this but this kind of thing is going on at school. We were boys and we were girls and that's all we had. Don't get me wrong but I like to touch all those subjects in some ways in my songs. I don't have to write in your face, you have to think about it, wonder what I'm talking about and sometimes you figure it out and sometimes you don't. On the other hand it is art and I want you to make that you think of it. A lot of times my songs are open to interpretation. What mean one thing to one guy means something else to me. But I like that. I think it's important to be open to interpretation because I don't want to just force my ideas down your throat. You read the lyrics and you can look at both sides in some songs. Sometimes I'm giving you a chance to go both ways.

That means that 'Destruction In June' isn't about a historical event.

No, it isn't, not at all. Many people asked about it. It could have been "Destruction In May" or "Destruction In December". June just seemed to fit in to the rhythm in the song. It just felt right. And again, that deals with what is going on with society and over there in America with the politicians and stuff, all those homeless people and that they're sending money to Israel instead of taking care of their people in America which I don't understand. I understand that you wanna help other people, that's fine but I really think it's important that you help yourself first. I find that very strange about America – they want to be involved in conflicts all over the world and yet they don't take care about the people in their own country. You go to any major city and it's just thousands and thousands of homeless people coming out, begging and bothering you. It's not safe anymore. I live in a small area here, I don't have any stress here. It's really quiet and peaceful and nobody's coming bothering me. It's a different society I'm living in here. In America when I grew up we didn't see so much of that. I don't know…a lot has changed in the last 30 or 40 years.

Yeah, it has. When I see the news about this drug epidemic in the USA, it is really shocking. A lot is going down the drain these days, but not only in the USA but also in Germany…

Yeah, there is something, too. I have a concert on Saturday in Germany and I saw all the farmers with their tractors, that was interesting, too. I was worried if we were able to get to the show. The promoter wrote me today that it will be finished on Thursday or Friday so I should be okay.  But on the other hand, I like the fact that the farmers are standing up against the government. I think that's wonderful. The government sucks in every country and I think that there would be a lot more changes if more people would stand up against their government. At least they're making an attempt to try this. Whether it works or not, I don't know but I respect them for trying. In the USA years ago there were these marches but not anymore. The people just troll over and take it. Whatever the government says it's fine now. When I was a young kid, there were riots and demonstrations; it was a bit different world than it is now.

Yes, the protests from the farmers are pretty difficult. There is a lot of stuff going on and some right-winged people use these protests as a platform to provoke and stir up hatred against the government and lately our foreign minister was attacked on a ferry and I think these things are really some no-go's! It isn't that extreme like Trump and the storm on the Capitol but for Germany this is pretty much happening.

Yeah, it's quite extreme. I hope they all come to some kind of agreement.

Coming back to the new album, what does the album title mean?

It's a step on the saints. All the previous saints, in my mind and for the album, have been dismissed for their false beliefs and narratives, that's exactly what it's about.

You have changed the label from Indian Transcending Obscurity to Dutch Hammerheart Records. Why did you decide to go this step?

Transcending Obscurity is too small, obviously. They ́re a big force in the underground but they're mainly a mail order catalog. This is not how you sell records. They did a nice job on Vindictive Miscreant but the truth is you couldn't find the record anywhere in any shop in the world. You could find it on tour but that's not enough obviously and you could find it in the mail order catalogs. But for a band like Master you need to get the records out in the shops. And now we have Hammerheart and Napalm does the distribution. They re-issued the entire catalog on CD and as well they're re-issuing the vinyl and people are buying it all over the world. I'm actually selling a good amounts of records again. If I would have been on a decent label let's say 15 years ago like Nuclear Blast I would still be selling a lot of records. Now it's just starting again which is great. Better late than never. But Hammerheart does a fantastic job and I'm making money again (laughs).

Apart from the new album there are all re-releases of the previous Master albums on HHR. Are there some bonus tracks on these editions?

No. That I talked with a guy about in an interview the other day and that's where the comedy comes in. He said there are no bonus tracks and whatsoever and you're selling thousands every months. That shows me that to many other people the vinyl and CDs were not available or they didn't know about it because now everybody is buying it. That tells me that it basically wasn't my fault that the band stayed so underground. People weren't aware of the recordings and now they are re-buying my entire catalog again.

Can we expect some more re-releases of your works from the other bands you were involved in, for example Abomination?

Yeah, we're talking about it. But the idea is to give this new record at least about 6 months. Let the new record sell for a while, I don't wanna flood the marked with all that old stuff again. But we're talking about it and the next special box will be Abomination and then I continue to re-issue the vinyl. I think we have ten more to go perhaps, we're half-way in the vinyl right now.

I know that you are going to play a show with Overkill in South America, are there some more plans concerning gigs?

Obviously we have 26 more shows where we are the headliner. We're just meeting Overkill for one show in Bolivia. I've never been to Bolivia, I don't think they've been to Bolivia so we are gonna have a great time together, of course. There will be 10 000 people easily.  We're also working on 10 shows in Germany in June together with Arroganz, obviously we got festivals throughout the summer and there will be more stuff in the fall. The band is on the road for quite a few shows every year lately. I enjoy it and the guys seem to like it, too. But they have families so sometimes it is a few months where nothing is going on but then we're busy again but it is okay.

Now that we have talked so much about music, maybe you can tell a little bit more about the person Paul Speckman – first of all – you are living in the Czech Republic now for over 20 years. Why did you decide to move there?

I got an opportunity to join a band, Krabathor. We did that tour in 1999 and it was my first time here in Europe. It was like 44 shows in 47 days. It was Malevolent Creation, Master and Krabathor. Obviously in that type of situation we became fast friends, all of us. It was a wonderful tour except that shitty bus with no toilets and the beds were falling apart and we landed on top of each other (laughs) but we all came very close and first the drum from Krabathor quit and then he came back and then the bass player decided that he wanted to start his own band – Hypnos which is fucking brutal. They called me and asked if I wanted to come to Europe and check it out. They asked if I wanted to fill in as the bass player and so I rehearsed for about a month, came to Europe and learned the songs the best I could and after 10 days I was in Europe we were off to Japan. That was a crazy start. I really hardly do the songs very well but they are very rough. We toured in Japan then we came back and went back and forth working in America to live and check like in the winter time in Arizona where it was warm and in the summer I was playing festivals with Krabathor each summer, maybe 20 festivals in Slovakia mostly. I started a life there and never left. After that I came here and stayed forever. And here I am starting my 24th year.

What other interests do you have apart from making music?

I go to the health club three days a week normally, morning or at night exercising, I go to the forests, I like to spend a lot of time in the forests, I'm a mushroom picker. It is a nice challenge to find mushrooms, they're not everywhere! You really have to search. You learn how to do it and where to go and for me that's a great thing. I'm riding my bike in the summer, stuff like that. I have a lot of free time. My biggest job all the time is going to the post office because I have so many orders every day. For example I had about a hundred orders in the last week. So I packaged 20 – 25 and I go to the post office and the next day again, the day after again but you're only in the post office for about 30 minutes every time. So that's my big life's work – going to the post, which is not bad!

The final words belong to you!

Go out and support your local bands. They may be the next superstars and even if not, it's just great to go out and support local music, to give them a chance. It's really sad that in many towns when I was growing up we were the local band or whatever. Nobody would come to the show and support, they all would go to see the big bands. The thing is that the big bands had to start somewhere, too. You need local support so I always say that for the younger people as well: go out there and support your friends. Without your friends you never really get anywhere. We all need help.

Entered: 2/19/2024 7:32:32 AM

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Discography


Saints Dispelled Saints Dispelled
Full-Length (2024)
Total Destruction Total Destruction
Split (2019)
Paganizer / Master Paganizer / Master
Split (2019)
Vindictive Miscreant Vindictive Miscreant
Full-Length (2018)
Pay To Die Live Pay To Die Live
EP (2016)
An Epiphany Of Hate An Epiphany Of Hate
Full-Length (2016)
The Witchhunt The Witchhunt
Full-Length (2013)
The New Elite The New Elite
Full-Length (2012)
Smile As You're Told Smile As You're Told
Single (2011)
The Human Machine The Human Machine
Full-Length (2010)
Slaves To Society Slaves To Society
Full-Length (2007)
Four More Years Of Terror Four More Years Of Terror
Full-Length (2005)
The Spirit Of The West The Spirit Of The West
Full-Length (2004)
Unreleased 1985 Album Unreleased 1985 Album
Full-Length (2003)
Let's Start A War Let's Start A War
Full-Length (2002)
Live At Mexico City Live At Mexico City
Live (2000)
Faith Is In Season Faith Is In Season
Full-Length (1998)
Collection Of Souls Collection Of Souls
Full-Length (1993)
Master Master
Full-Length (1990)

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