Interview with Tom Angelripper of SODOM

Interview with Tom Angelripper of SODOM

- in Written interviews

(c) Mumpi Kuenster

Hi Tom! “1982” EP captures the essence of Sodom‘s early days. Can you share more about the significance of this EP and why you chose to revisit these tracks now, after all these years?
It was important for us that the single was released again as a vinyl version. For this purpose, we mixed the song again and added the song EQUINOX as a bonus. The 1982 version in the box sounds different, of course. But I think the remix is better and more powerful. The song is reminiscent of the old days. The text is about our beginnings. It was a revolution. We wanted to be hated. We were against our teachers, trainers and uncomprehending parents. At the time, we wanted to show that we were different and not system-compatible. The music itself is written in a typical 80’s style and embodies the spirit of the good old days.

The songs on the EP were originally recorded during Sodom’s formative years. How do you think your approach to music and songwriting has evolved since then?
We try to make the arrangements better for new songs. But it’s important to us that we sound like Sodom without forgetting those distinctive old-school vibes. There are certain trademarks that we haven’t changed to this day, of course these include my singing and the fat bass sound. We left the old songs replayed the way they were recorded back then, just a little more precise and less chaotic.

In what ways do you believe the thrash metal scene has changed since the 1980s, and how does SODOM continue to stay relevant in this evolving musical landscape?
Well, back then this kind of music was something very special. Today there are countless bands who want to sound like their heroes from the 80s. But thrash isn’t just the music. The attitudes and general attitude towards this music and towards life are also important. That has never changed for me either. That’s why Sodom sounds like no other band. We don’t want to conform or be dictated to what we should or shouldn’t do. Every single note comes deep from our hearts and convictions.

The EP includes re-recordings of early tracks like ‘Witching Metal’ and ‘Equinox’. How did you approach reinterpreting these songs while maintaining their original essence?
We had to work intensively with the old material. But that made a lot of mess. It was important to recognize what we wanted to express with the songs and this typical sound. Our drummer Toni has been working with Witchhunter for a few years and has even almost studied it. He wanted to know how Chris played the drums and what he wanted to express with them. It was all like a journey through time and gave us some new insights.

’40 Years at War – The Greatest Hell of Sodom’ was released in 2022. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind this album and how it reflects on Sodom’s extensive musical journey?
It’s just a retrospective of the past four decades. Who would have thought that after such a long time we would still be in the scene. Originally we had planned a live album for our anniversary. But it was not possible to do suitable shows due to Corona. So we came up with the idea of choosing a title from each album and then re-recording it. Our record company also liked this idea very much and so we went back to the old material. We recorded all the songs in our rehearsal room. We set up a small studio there in recent years. Our drummer Toni is very familiar with the technology and recorded everything. Toni also produced our last studio album. It was important to us not only to make the popular titles, but also songs that are supposedly less well known or underrated. However, we tried to retain the rawness and brutality of the originals. So many memories came back to me. But all the effort was worth it and we are currently considering incorporating one or the other song from the album into the live setlist, which will definitely be very exciting.

With such a rich discography, how do you curate a setlist for live shows that honors both the band’s legacy and keeps things exciting for longtime fans?
This is always very difficult and depends on the playing time. The selection is very large, but we want to change the setlist from now on. There are a lot of songs we’ve never played live before. The older generation of fans in particular appreciate this. I know bands that have been playing almost the same songs for years. We want to avoid that.

How do themes of rebellion and defiance continue to resonate with your audience, and what messages do you hope listeners take away from your music?
I really hope that people also engage with the texts. This is very important to me. The message is not always easy for outsiders to recognize. My brain has encoded many things itself. It’s definitely very exciting and you can interpret a lot into it because it’s also about personal things. But you will look for political slogans in vain.

Can you share any memorable experiences from the studio while working on the ’40 Years at War’ album that left a lasting impact on you?
No…. toooooooo much ;)))

Looking back at your musical journey with Sodom, what do you consider to be the band’s most significant milestone or achievement?
Well, I think it was crucial in my life that we founded a band in 1982 and got a record deal in 1984. In 1989 I became a professional musician, which of course changed my life forever and to this day.

Sodom has influenced countless bands in the thrash metal genre. Are there any newer bands that you find particularly impressive or that you enjoy listening to?
Not really. I no longer have an overview. There are just too many bands coming out. There are of course many bands that mention Sodom as an influence. Of course that makes me proud. But I often miss the independent trademarks of the bands and many of them sound the same.

As a veteran in the metal scene, what advice would you give to aspiring musicians and bands trying to make their mark in the industry today?
Some things are very important. Try to create something new, find a singer who sounds different from everyone else. Do not sign any contracts that have not been checked by a music law specialist beforehand. Stay away from drugs and maintain a friendly relationship between the band members. Never give up school, vocational training, job or studies for music.

Can you share a memorable fan interaction or fan story that has touched you personally or resonated with the band?
There was once a stage diver in South America who surfed onto the stage in a wheelchair. We had never seen that before and were really touched by his action. He then stayed with us the whole evening. Later he told us about his many blows of fate and that our music helped him through the difficult times. So Sodom became his favorite band. After the tour he wrote to us that he had spent the best day of his life with us. A very moving story…

What can fans expect from the coming ‘old-school shows’, and how do you prepare for such intense live performances?
At these festivals our playing time is often limited. In the clubs we can also play for two hours and have more direct contact with the fans. But both versions have their privileges. I like to play in clubs but also at larger festivals.

(c) Mumpi Kuenster

You have upcoming performances at the ‘70,000 Tons OfMetal’ cruise and in Houston/Texas. How do you adapt your stage presence for different settings, such as festivals and intimate club shows?
In Texas we’ll probably do an old-school set. We are currently working on our work visas. This is all very difficult and bureaucratic. But we are very happy to finally be playing in the US again. At 70000 tons we are doing a best of program as well as a special show with all of Agent Orange’s songs.

Looking ahead, how do you envision Sodom’s musical direction evolving in the coming years? Are there any new elements or styles you’re eager to explore?
Who knows what will happen in the next few years. There are a lot of concert requests coming in at the moment. The interest in us seems unbroken. We are very happy about this and it also makes us proud. But of course a new album is on the agenda. But we do this calmly and without pressure. We have enough ideas. There won’t be a new style. It will be a classic Sodom album, as you would expect from us.

As a band, how do you maintain camaraderie and creative synergy after decades of working together, and how does this dynamic influence the music you create?
As long as we stay creative, it definitely won’t become boring or mundane. Every activity with the band is always something very special. It’s not just a job, it’s the passion for the music and the support of the fans that keeps us going. I’m already 60 now, but I still feel the urge to keep going. But of course, at some point every party is over and then you have to be able to let go

Finally, what message would you like to convey to the fans who have supported SODOM throughout the years, especially with the release of the ‘1982’ EP? Thank you for your time!
Everything we have, everything we are, is thanks to our loyal fans. A lot of musicians always forget that. Without you our lives would have been different. I can only thank you again and again for your support. We know how much this is worth. Hope to see you on tour. Stay healthy and confident in these difficult times. Cheers, TOM.

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