The rise of the raging Tides... Mem V Stein speaks out.
German Thrash Metal has always been heavy and aggressive, more so than the U.S. Thrash scene, although there are some kick ass U.S. bands out there the German Thrash Scene has always been more harder and heavier. Bands like Kreator, Destruction, Sodom, Assassin, and many more have proved this. Exumer formed in the early 80's were soon to become yet another mild stone in the German Thrash scene, with their outstanding debut 'Possessed by Fire' album in 86, a very heavy and powerful debut and one of the best debut's in Germany. This was soon followed up by 'Rising from the Sea' in 87. Now the band return with 'Fire & Damnation' in 2012, when the band made a comeback, a great comeback album which in 2016 was followed by the new album 'The Raging Tides' released on Metal Blade.
I managed to chat with original vocalist Mem about his memories with the band in his early days and to talk about the new album. Here is what he had to say.
Hi Mem, good speak to you again, the 2nd interview for Friday 13th, hope all is good with you guys. So as I have not ask you this before, what what age did you get into metal and what singer inspired you to become a singer? What about playing the bass, what came 1st the bass or the singing?
"Yeah Jason, good speak again. To answer you're question I started into music in 79 when I started buying records. Before that I was listening too stuff that my dad had like Led Zepplin but in 79 I discovered Punk & Hardcore and that the same time I was heavily getting into Black Sabbath and then I saw Motorhead on German TV playing 'Ace of Spades' so I asked my mum if she would give me some money so I could this record. From that day on that was my gate way into metal music. Then I got into the N.W.O.B.H.M. and in 87 my friend was doing a fanzine called 'Metal Bastard' and he was friends with Bathory and he said I had to look and attitude back then in Germany that I should be a singer in a band or musician. So I said in 83 I bought a bass and then I started singing because nobody else wanted to play that back then. In 84 I got into my 1st band and later on I had some projects I was doing then I formed Exumer with Ray.
At what age did you start playing the bass guitar?
"I was 16yrs old when I 1st learnt to play the bass."
You said that you were influenced by the Hardcore scene, which bands influenced you?
"Well on the west coast it was more like 'Black Flag', 'Descendents', and on the east coast I was into 'Cro-Mags', 'Agnostic Front' a lot of stuff like that. I also liked a lot of UK Punk stuff like 'Grass' 'Cruxification', 'Discharge' and bands like that. I also liked 'The Police'."
What about the N.W.O.B.H.M., what bands on a smaller scale did you like?
"I was into 'Jugar', 'Blitzkrieg', Angel Witch', 'Tygers of pan Tang', bands like that."
How many demos did the band record before signing to 'Disaster' records?
"We did one demo, it was done in December in Germany and I went to Newcastle in England to meet Neat Records and I gave it too him. 6 months later Disaster records saw us live and signed us up. (Ed what happened to Neat?) I really don't know, they had a lot of bands back then and they had some great bands."
Moving on, who came up for the title of the debut album 'Possessed by Fire'? Also what songs from that album do you like?
"It was me, I write all the lyrics but I didn't write any on the 2nd album. I like the songs 'Fallen Saint' because it is very catchy. I also like 'A mortal in Black' as it is a real head banging song. I also like 'Journey into Oblivion' because it is so heavy."
I also thought you're music had hints of S.O.D. in the music do you agree?
"Yeah I agree and when I moved to N.Y. I became friends with Danny."
Did that album sell well?
"Yeah it did actually, the 2nd one did too."
Those albums on Disaster Records sell for a lot of money don't they, rare now!!"
"Yes they are, they would do a small run of them and in Japan they were released on Scratch Records of 1000 copies."
So what was you're reason for leaving the band after the debut release?
"Well we were kids and we got into arguments so at that time it didn't work out. I was really into the hardcore scene back then and I formed a band called 'Phobic instinct' and we recorded an album for No Remorse records, we were a cross over / hardcore band. It was never released. It was released on Chaos Master Records with demos I did. After that I did a band called 'Of Rytes' it was hardcore, thrash. After that I did an album with Ray for a band called Humongous Fungus' we did one for Noise Records and Epic Records. When I moved to New York I had a band called 'Sun Ascends' my old school thrash metal band."
When did you move to N.Y.
"I went to NY in 98, 99 I moved for college and then a job and then I got a green card and have lived here ever since."
What did you think of the 2nd album 'Rising from the Sea'?
"I thought it was a good album which featured Paul, it was more of a Slayer style album and it was fine and it is a classic record. We still play 2 songs from that record. Paul was actually our 1st 2nd guitarist back in the day and he was still at school and I became too demanding and we needed to rehearse and he couldn't do it due to school work. He left the band and was replaced by Bernie and came back in 86 and stayed for a couple of years and then left again, he came back in 2009 for the tour and then left again. At that time I had enough of him leaving and coming back I said it's enough."
What is Paul doing now?
"He is in Hawaii but he is not doing anything musically."
After see in the band in the 80's I had the pleasure of see in the band again at Wacken 2001 with yourself on vocals, how did that come about and why didn't you record another album back then?
"Yes we did Wacken with Ray, Bernie myself and back then I was really good friends with the guys from metal Blade in Germany and they said why don't we do a 1 off at Wacken the following year. So that is how it all came again and they spoke to the promoters. As for making another record we had offers from Nuclear Blast, but I was living in NY and the rest were in Germany. It was hard for us to get it together because of the distance, so we did a one off at Wacken as a thank you to our fans. In 2008 me and Ray had a chat and we said why don't we put the band back together and do it for real. We make albums and tour and ever since we have been doing it."
Where did you find the rest of the band members?
"Well Paul did the 1st tour with us before he quit he was playing guitar. We had Tony who is still with us, he is from NY and he played in local Hardcore bands 'Scarehead' he knows Danny from S.O.D.. J.P. Rapp left the band in 2010 and our manager at that time got Matthias in the band and then we hot H.K on guitar who sadly passed away in 2014. He lived in Frankfurt and he had cancer."
So the next step was the deal with Metal Blade for the album 'Fire & Damnation', who else did you approach for the record deal?
"Well we had SPV, a bunch of label but I stayed in touch with Metal Blade and I became friends with the Germany office who made us a offer and said let's work this out. We wanted an international label and we didn't want a label who would be cool for just one territory. The label gives us so much freedom and we didn't do another record for 4 yrs, they asked us when we will be doing a new album, we said 'when we are ready', they said no problem."
How do you compare the 'Fire & Damnation' to that of the 1st 2 albums from the 80's?
"Well I find 'Fire & Damnation' is certainly a product of it's time and the same goes for the 1st 2 albums. The reason why we put 2 old songs on that record was to prove to people that our music can stand the test of time. |It is classic Exumer album with a fresh approach. We didn't want to sound like an old band, we wanted to keep the old spirit with a fresh sound, modern technology."
What songs on that album stand out for you ad why?
"Well I would have to say I like the title track 'Fire & Damnation', 'Vermin of the Sky', The Weakest Limb' and 'New Mortality' are my favourites. We do play them live."
Is the album recorded in Germany and NY?
"No not at all, everything is done in Germany, I fly out there. We do all the recordings in 1 studio, we write the music together, Ray will do the beginnings of the songs and I will write the lyrics then we all come together to record the album."
I believe producer Waldemar (Grip Inc) recorded this album and the new one, what was it like working with him?
"The 1st one was a great success for the band, and we built up a good working and friendship relationship with him and we decided to record 'Hostage in Heaven' with him. We will do the next album with him too."
So let's talk about the new album 'The Raging Tides', why the title for this album? Any other titles for this album?
"I wanted to tie the whole album together about misery, despire caused by others and they use politics, money, religion and it was the ever flow of human misery and suffering from around the world. We had no other titles for the album."
Would you say some of your music has some Hardcore elements in it?
"Yes I do, I see Hardcore and Metal as the elements of Thrash Metal, the attitude and lyrics were based on Punk/ Hardcore lyrics and the heaviness comes from Metal."
So who did the artwork for this album? It has the 'Rising from the Sea' cover in some ways.
"It is our mascot and the guy who did calls himself 'Obsessed by Cruelty' and I noticed a few years ago he was putting out some t shirts with the same kind of feel to it, I was buying t shirts from him of bands that I liked. So I started talking to him and we found out that he was a big Exumer fan. When we were looking for a artist to do the album cover I asked him if he would be interested, he agreed to do the cover for us. He did us 2 sket5ches and the 2nd one was the cover. We changed a small parts of the cover."
So what are the the songs about on the album?
"Well the title track is what we already spoke about. 'Welcome to Hellfire' was inspired by an amnesty report I heard on MPR about a prison in Nigeria were the conditioned were so bad of corruption and torture it had a sign on the wall saying 'Welcome to Hellfire'. The song 'Shadow Walker' is about smart and intelligent men who live in the west who chose to get brain washed by others and leave their live to fight for a bullshit cause like Isis and there fighting for politics, its all bullshit to me. Even if they come back they are an empty shell so that is what that song is about. Next is 'Death Factory', that is about my imagination going wild and how people are placed into factory's and killed off on an assembly line. I like all the songs on this record to be honest."
Are you doing a promo video for this album if so which song?
"Well we are doing one for the song 'Catatonic' and it is basically about a guy who has been through some kind of psychical torture & he is seen some visions of people who have tortured him and have inflected that pain to him."
Does the band have any plans to record a live DVD?
"We have a lot of stuff we filmed like Wacken, Bang Your Head, we might we will see."
How's the CD reviews been for the band?
"Crazily amazing!! We have been getting better reviews that we did for 'Fire & Damnation' album. We are very happy with the reviews."
Well thanks for the interview Mem, do you have anything too say to you're fans? Best of luck for the future.
"Yes thanks for the interview, I hope our fans like the new album, it kicks arse and we hope to tour more in the very near future."
Thanx Mem and Mr T @ Metal Blade for the interview