Artillery - Interview

Guitarist and founder of the legendary thrash metal band Artillery, Michael Stützer offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at music and the band's evolution over a 41-year career. He shares insights into recent lineup changes, highlighting the departure of members and the arrival of new talent, while emphasizing the importance of maintaining the group's signature musical identity. He also discusses the long-awaited release of the live album "Raw Live" (Mighty Music), a posthumous tribute to the late drummer Josua Madsen, capturing the unique energy of a concert at Copenhell, a festival held in the band's home territory. band in Denmark. Furthermore, the interview highlights the re-release of the iconic albums "Fear Of Tomorrow" (1985) and "Terror Squad" (1987) in Brazil through the Voice Music/Rock Brigade Records partnership, providing a unique insight into Artillery's contribution to the Danish music scene and the development of thrash metal.

Marcelo Vieira

To start with, I'd like you to talk a bit about the recent lineup changes in Artillery and what caused them.

Michael [Bastholm Dahl], our former vocalist, had some family issues he needed to address. He couldn't travel and tour due to a recent divorce and issues related to his son. Also, maybe he was a bit tired of the routine. It was his decision, and we remain friends. Kræn [Meier, guitarist] wanted to pursue his own projects, play something heavier, and we couldn't agree on the musical direction. So, he left the band, but on good terms. Now, we have two new members, guitarist René Loua and vocalist Martin Steene, who bring new elements to the band.

Lineup changes are common in bands. Do you believe that, as long as you're in the band, Artillery will sound like Artillery?

I hope so because I've been in the band since the beginning. I believe my presence is crucial to maintain Artillery's characteristic sound. However, the other members, especially Peter [Thorslund, bassist], who has been in the band since 1988, are amazing musicians. Currently, we're in great harmony and excited to play live.

Being the one responsible for maintaining the band's characteristic sound is a big responsibility?

Yes, it's always challenging, but the new members also contribute a lot. We want to stay true to Artillery's sound, although sometimes we incorporate different elements. The responsibility is big, but I do my best, hoping people recognize it.

Do you consider fans' expectations when composing or recording an album?

It's a balance. We start with a riff and build from there. Sometimes we think about the fans, other times we experiment with new things. I'm impressed when Artillery fans praise songs that deviate from the standard. I think it's cool because it shows that, no matter how different they are, they still carry the essence of Artillery.

Over the years, Artillery has gone through various musical phases. How would you describe the band's evolution from its founding until today?

In 41 years, it's natural to have some changes, but we keep the roots. When we started, we wanted to be faster and rougher. Bands like Black Sabbath and later Metallica had a big impact. We try to maintain that essence, introducing subtle changes to avoid monotony.

And how would you label Artillery's music today?

I've always called it melodic thrash metal with elements from the 1970s and 1980s. This identity runs through our albums, from "Fear Of Tomorrow" to the most recent ones. We want to preserve that sound.

Artillery just released the live album "Raw Live". How was the experience of recording this?

It was amazing. Playing at home, at a big festival in Denmark, in the presence of friends and fans, created a unique atmosphere. People were excited, and the sound quality is incredible.

How did you choose the setlist for this show, and how did the atmosphere of the event influence the performance and the final result?

We tried to include main songs that we always play, like 'Khomaniac' and 'Terror Squad'. We wanted to represent each album, but we couldn't due to time. Unfortunately, the song 'The Almighty' ended up being left out.

Recording a live album presents unique challenges and rewards. What were some of those?

Certain songs, like 'Khomaniac' itself, come to life on stage with the interaction of the audience. Festivals are a great place to gain new fans. As for challenges, maintaining authenticity, without studio alterations, is essential. Furthermore, this album is a tribute to our late drummer, Josua [Madsen, who died in 2023].

Recently, the albums "Fear Of Tomorrow" and "Terror Squad" were reissued in Brazil. What was it like to create "Fear Of Tomorrow"? Did you feel like you were doing something completely different at the time?

Yes, in the beginning, people didn't understand our sound, but we wanted to be faster and heavier. Inspired by bands like Accept, we sought something distinct. The changes were well received, and today I'm proud to be considered one of the pioneers.

What was the contribution of "Fear Of Tomorrow" to the Danish music scene at the time and to the development of thrash metal globally?

We were one of the first Danish bands with such a heavy and dark sound. Before us, there was only Mercyful Fate. We were fortunate to have dedicated fans, despite the initial resistance from venues to give us space. This early contribution was crucial for us.

There was a significant progression in Artillery's sound from "Fear Of Tomorrow" to "Terror Squad." In what ways did the band evolve?

We became better musicians and explored different styles while maintaining an original approach. We wanted to challenge ourselves, like in 'The Challenge,' which was like a much heavier thrash metal. Compared to "Fear Of Tomorrow," we had become much better musicians by that time.

The lyrics of 'Terror Squad' draw a lot of attention, with criticism and revolt. Can you share something about that and if there was any specific source or inspiration at the time?

Some lyrics were written by Morten [Stützer, bassist, who died in 2019]. 'Terror Squad' was inspired by personal experiences, like clashes with the police. 'The Challenge' addresses global challenges. The lyrics reflect lived situations and relevant issues of the time.

Artillery was inactive for five years between 1993 and 1998. Looking back, was that break really necessary after what is considered the classic album, "By Inheritance" (1990)?

Yes, at the time of "By Inheritance," there were internal disagreements about playing live. Some members weren't as interested in hitting the road, which caused problems. Today, we play a lot and have a very good relationship, but at that time, priorities were different.

What did you learn during that time and were able to put into practice when reuniting the band for the album "B.A.C.K."(1999)?

We learned a lot about what not to do. Consistency is crucial, with many interviews, public relations, and tours. If you release an album and don't do many shows, you can lose relevance. Playing live is essential, especially today, when it's hard to sell CDs and vinyl.

Thinking about the band's discography, which do you consider your best or most important work and why?

It's always hard to say. Many consider "By Inheritance" the best. Albums like "When Death Comes" (2009) were important, rebooting everything. The next album we make will also be crucial. Personally, I change my mind, considering one album the best one day and another the next.

What legacy do you hope to leave when Artillery retires from stages and recordings?

I hope people remember us for our dedication to playing live and for seeking originality in our music. I want to be remembered as a good person, someone truly dedicated to the metal we play.

Entered: 7/6/2024 5:35:32 PM

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