Death Penalty Awaits You - Michael and Morten Shultz Speak Out.
Danish Thrash Metal Demi-Gods Artillery make a comeback with their new album released in March of 2016 titled 'Penalty of Perception' released on Metal Blade. This band along side Mercyful Fate & Pretty Maids pretty much developed Danish metal music in which later bands would follow such as Invocator, Illdisposed, to Voltbeat. With the band releasing their debut album 'Fear of Tomorrow' back in 85 which saw the band sign to UK label Neat, home of Venom back then. A great debut album, heavy and different for it's time. This was soon followed by 'Terror Squad' in 87, for me this is the ultimate Artillery album, a cult classic. The band soon released their next album for Roadracer 'By Inheritance' in 90, a slightly more melodic and polished album.
Sadly the band broke up only to return in 99 with their next album 'B.A.C.K. a brutal and heavy comeback album. The band recorded several albums only to later on sign with Metal Blade in 2012 when the band recorded 'Legions' in 2013. A fine album which saw the band touring with Onslaught. I managed to chat with brothers Morten & Mike Shultz whilst on my holiday to Denmark last December in 2015, I had 2 days of a great time with these guys. The interview took place in a pizza restaurant one afternoon, here is what the brothers had to say about the new album, 'Penatly of Perception' released in March,a fine album and a must for any fan of the band.
Well it's a pleasure meeting you all again, my 1st trip to Copenhagen, thank you for you're hospitality. I'm going to ask you about the 'Legion' album, how successful was it for the band?
(Mike) "I think it has been a very good album, a lot of people liked it and had the chance to promote it around the world touring with the likes of Onslaught to name a few. The fans and the media love it and we wanted to do something different and even our die hard fans liked the album too. Our debut album 'Fear of Tomorrow' came out 30yrs ago so we knew we had to progress somehow and we have managed to capture the Artillery sound. We are honest to what we do and like and the way we write music and it's come from the heart".
(Morten) "I think there are some people who think the the only album worth listening too is 'By Inheritance' album and we still fight over that sometimes. You cannot make every album the same and some people tend to forget that, especially some of our die hard fans. (Ed: what is the records choice for you to record that style of album for 'By Inheritance'?) No I don't think so, I think it was a style that we were looking into doing anyway, but Roadracer might of wanted us to have a cleaner sound for that record. The A&R guy for the label was totally crazy with the Annihilator album 'Alice in Hell', and he wanted us to make something that sounded like that. So he kind of told the producer Flemming Rasmmussen to make our album sound a little in the same direction."
How did you hook up with Flemming? Was it through Metallica?
(Morten) "Well our rehearsal studio was next door to Metallica's rehearsal that is how we got to know Metallica. (Ed: Do you think Metallica stole some of you're riffs?). I don't know about that, I know that James was crazy about our demo 'Deeds of Darkness', he loved it and he could but they didn't steal any of our riffs, maybe got some ideas (laughing)."
Moving on what songs from the 'Legion' album stand out for you and why?
(Mike) "I think there are a lot of good songs on that album, we still play 'Chill my Bones' and 'Legions' & 'Global Flatline' and I think we can take any song from that album and play them live."
(Morten) "I think one of my favourite songs is one that we never play live, this is called 'Ethos of Wrath', which is the last song on the album. (Ed: Why don't you play that song live?) Well we have to chose them and there is some kind of democracy within the band."
Have you ever thought of doing a play list for the next tour on facebook, see what the fans would like to hear?
(Mike) "Yeah we have thought about that. Even if we play a set for 2 hrs we will always have people saying why didn't you play that song, you can't really win."
Moving away a little, what was it like when you 1st got a deal with Neat Records, the label that had Venom, Atomkraft, Avenger and many more British acts, you were the only European band they signed right?
(Mike) "No not really, I did hear that Venom made a album didn't didn't do as well in sale and the label lost a lot of money and because of that our 2nd album 'Terror Squad' was delayed by a year. They took all the colours from the cover as a sketch and re-did it. (Ed: I believe the 2nd album was later re-released on Axe Killer Records correct?) Yes it did, we never got any money from that but we are working on it. It is all down to business now and when we were younger we really didn't care too much, but now we are older and we see people collecting our money it is time for us to do something about it.
Roadrunner is the problem, they sold the rights to Axe Killer but we are going to re-release the 1st 3 albums, 1st as a download, and then after 4 months they will be officially re-released to buy. A contracts usually states that after 25yrs you own the rights to the albums, you own the rights. The Danish music scene are supporting us with the subject, so things are looking up."
Have you ever thought of re-recording some of the classic songs for future releases?
(Morten) "Well a few of the older songs we have actually re-recorded them as bonus tracks but for not I think there are too much speculation as you can never get the same feel of these songs. The problem is you have to get a certain feeling in that time and if Black Sabbath were to re-record the 1st album they would not get the same vibe again. Problem is we are so old now that we cannot remember those songs (laughing)."
The band only ever did one live DVD recorded in Poland, do you think with the forthcoming release you may do another release?
(Mike) "We might do that yes, but recording a DVD is not very easy as you have to have the whole set up of camera in the right place but we are doing a documentary right now but it would be cool to have some live songs on there too, we have just started to process as we speak."
Now you are with Metal Blade for a few years now are you happy with the way they are looking after you?
(Morten) "Yes we are, it is the best label we have been on because they do not interfere with what we are doing and they support us. I can really see the difference from Metal Mind on how many interview have been done. Metal Mind would ask us if we wanted to do interviews, whereas Metal Blade would set up interviews and tell us we have these to do in a really good way and they advertise well in advance and send out CD's to magazines, webzines, radio stations etc..."
As you are about to release the new album 'Penalty of Perception' who came up with the title for this record?
(Mike) "It was our singer Michael he is always the poet you know we really didn't have any other titles because we had the song ready a month before. So we had to come up with a title name after the songs were wrote."
Is their a concept behind the title of the album?
(Mike) "No not really. I mean you saw the cover last night, the grim reaper stood next to a canon and he has been on other albums, besides the 'Legion' cover. We had no other titles for this album at all."
So who did the artwork for this album cover?
(Mike) "It was a German guy called Marc from Artwars and I told him to do the cover when the 1st thing that comes to you're mind when you think of Artillery, we had total trust in him. He came up with that cover and I think it is very traditional Artillery artwork and I know our label really likes it and the guy who manages us in Europe really likes it too. So overall everybody is really happy with it."
What are the songs titles for the new album called?
(Morten) "Well we have the following songs on the new record, they are- In defiance of Conformity, Live by the Scythe, Penalty by Perception, Mercy of ignorance, Rites of War, Sins of Innocence, When the magic is Gone, Cosmic Brian, Deity Machine, Path of the Atheist, Welcome to the Mindfact."
So how do you see this album differ from that of the previous album 'Legion'?
(Mike) "I see it in a different light from the softer songs to harder ones there is a big difference from 'Legion' album. On the new album we have done a ballad it is called 'When the magic is Gone', it is something we very rarely do but it is a great song."
How do you compare you music, would you say you are a Thrash metal band or a Power/ Thrash band?
(Mike) "There are so many labels these days, we are a melodic Thrash metal band and some of our stuff isn't that far away from the traditional bands like Maiden, Saxon, Priest.. you can certainly hear a lot of that in our 'By Inheritance' album. Some people say we could be a Power Thrash band I guess it could be down to the melodic vocals of Mike. Even Flemming wasn't a growler or anything like that he had a melodic voice too."
How long did it take to record the new album?
(Morten) "Too long, the really recordings were too far behind, it would be 1 month before we recorded the next song and that was to do with our producer been busy and the studio been booked up. At the beginning we originally planned to record it in 3-4 weeks then we had to delay because we were not ready so everything was put back. Our producer was also very busy with other things meant the album would be pushed back. He also is a session musician and so he does a lot of work live and in the studio."
Are you happy with the way the album turned out? From what you played me they sounded great!!
(Mike) "Yes we are very happy with the end results. He has been working with us for the last few albums and is now part of our family. I think that this album the songs have strong elements about them more than 'Legions', I think there are more catchy tunes on this record. This album also features guitarist from Mercyful Fate Hank Shermann and Michael Denner on the song 'Cosmic Brain' and Morten from Pretty Maids doing the keyboards on 'When the magic is Gone' on piano and the guy who played live for us on the Onslaught tour doing a solo."
Do you plan on doing a promo video for the new album? If so for which song?
(Morten) "Well we really don't know yet as the songs are not in order yet, so we have to talk with the label and find out what is best for us and for the label."
Well I would like to thank you both for the interview, best of luck with the sales and forthcoming tour. Thank you for you're hospitality in Copenhagen. Do you have anything too say before we finish?
(Mike) "Yes we would love to come back to the UK, we had a great time last year with Onslaught, we nice to meet so many cool people like you."
(Morten) "Yeah I hope to get back the the UK too, I missed the last tour due to illness. Thank you for the interview, see you in 2016.
Well thanx to the Shultz brothers for a great time in Copenhagen (Denmark). This interview was done in December of 2015