In Thrash we Trust.... Michael Stutzer Speaks Out.
Danish Thrash metal Demi-Gods 'Artillery' are about to release their new stunning 10th album, this band released their cult classic debut 'Fear of Tomorrow' back in 1985, this dark and heavy album really did shock the Thrash Metal scene with it's furious and heavy sounding album.
This was followed up by 'Terror Squad', which was released in 87,a fine album indeed. The band released their 3rd album 'By Inheritance' in 1990. This sadly would be the bands last album until there reformed for a reunion album in the form of 'B.A.C.K.' in 99, since then the band haven't looked back.
The band have gone from strength to strength since then, but tragedy struck when Michael's brother Morten passed away in 2019, with doubt that might have accrued within the bands camp, but Morten wanted his brother to carry on making Artillery music, and with Morten's spirit guiding them they have created one of their best album in for form of 'X', which is about to be released.
I managed to catch up with Michael Shultz to talk about the new album and what the future holds for this cult Danish Thrash band, here is what he had to say.
Hi Mike it's good to hear from you again, it's been some time since we last met up, I think we last met in Copenhagen. So I'm going to ask you some warm up questions 1st before we talk about the new album. 1st of all could you tell me who your guitar influences are?
"Yeah Jason it's good to hear from you, hope you are well my friend, yes it has been some time since we last met. To answer your question I would say that my guitar influence that got me into playing guitar would be Tony Iommi from Black Sabbath, he is one of my heroes and he made some awesome riffs & songs back in the day and still does today. Later on I got into Richie Blackmore and Michael Schenker, Randy Rhodes, Chris Oliva from Savatage. (Ed: Can you remember your 1st Black Sabbath album you bought?) Yes it was the album 'Paranoid' and I am really into Savatage, so I would say my all time favourite by them would be 'Hall of the Mountain King', I also like the album 'Power of the Night'."
Can you remember the 1st guitar you bought and do you still own it?
"Yes I still have the guitar in my cellar, it is a Epiphone guitar and since 1988 I played B.C. Rich Warlocks and I also have Dean guitars, but B.C. Rich is my all time favourite. I use to own a Flying V, maybe one day I will buy another one. When we played in South America my B.C. Rich arrived off the plane broken so I had to play Dean guitars as back up and Jackson guitars I think I played about 30 guitar on that tour that we're hired to me. (Ed: Are you endorsed by either B.C. Rich or Dean? You should be!) No I am not endorsed, but maybe I should approach them!!!"
So started to play the guitar 1st, your brother Morten or yourself?
"Well Morten started out been the bass player before he switched to guitar in later years, and we started playing guitars very close to each other back in the day, Morten was into Tony Iommi and Rich Blackmore we pretty much had the same influences, Morten was more of a Ibanez guitarist (Ed: Do you actually play his guitars now since your brother passed away?) Yes I have his Ibanez guitars here and some of his acoustic guitars and I have kept them in his memory.
I miss him dearly and I almost thought about not playing music anymore when he passed, it was tough going into the studio without him and he told me not to stop playing music and to carry on playing Artillery after he died. I am sure if he heard the new album he would love it."
When you look back at your 1st 2 albums 'Fear of Tomorrow' & 'Terror Squad' which one would you say is your favourite and why?
"That's a tough question to answer, I think 'Fear of Tomorrow' because it was our debut album and we were proud to see it in the shops, I also love the 2nd album because we still plays songs from that album and the debut live. I also think that 'Terror Squad' had a more Thrash Metal approach and we play songs like 'The Challenge', 'In the Trash' , 'Terror Squad' to this day. (Ed: I think that 'Fear of Tomorrow' is a very dark album compared to 'Terror Squad', do you agree?) Yes I think when we 1st released our debut a lot of people thought we were more Punk then Metal, a bit like Iron Maiden when they 1st started out, so they didn't call us Thrash Metal for the debut release. In 1984 people would say 'Do you know you are playing Thrash? We were like that is that?"
Do you try to change the set list live from time to time?
"We try to, it is very difficult too as the song 'The Almighty' and songs like 'Khomaniac', 'By Inheritance' and 'Beneath the Clay' and 'When Death Comes' and so it is very hard to make a set list because we have so many songs written now. If we don't play 'Khomanic' people will be disappointed we will play the song 'Rise Above it All', & 'The Eternal War' which we haven't played in a long time. We try to vitiate it as much as we can."
When you talk about the 1st 2 albums, have you ever thought of re-releasing them with bonus tracks? I know they have been re-released on Metal Mind and Axe Killer Records in the past.
"We would love to, we don't have the rights for the first 3 albums, the labels have them and it is very difficult for us to get them out, but I see a lot of record companies re-releasing them and we don't even get a copy for ourselves. It is really strange and there is a Chinese label that have released a lot of albums now and we are getting money from them which is really cool. (Ed: Do Neat Records still own the rights to the 1st 2 albums?) They don't exist anymore and they sold them to other companies who sold them to other companies and so on... so it is very difficult to know who owns the rights to those records."
Your current singer Michael Bastholm Dahl has been in the band for some years now, tell me how you compare his voice to other singers you have had.
"Yes Michael has been in the band now since 2012 and he is a great singer and a good friend and we have a lot of fun together. I also think he has done the best vocal performance on the new album, and I love the fact he does clean vocals that really does suit our style of music, it's heavy and melodic at the same time.
A lot of bands that play our style of music sometimes have growling type vocals but Michael is a great melodic metal singer. (Ed: I think he has a Power Metal voice that really does mix well with your music, do you agree?) Yeah I do, this is the reason why we chose him to sing in the band after Soren Nico Adamsen left the band. When we got to know him he was singer in a King Diamond cover band, he even had the painted face like King and when he joined our bad we told him he didn't have to wear the face paint (laughing)."
You also have in the band Josua Madsen on drums and Kraen Meier on guitar who sadly replaced your brother, how difficult was it for you to audition a new guitarist after Morten had died?
"Yes it was a difficult time for me and the band, but like I said earlier, Morten told me to carry the band on without him. Kraen had helped us out a lot with live shows since 2016 and Morten did his last show in 2016 at the 'Copenhell' festival and he couldn't play for a long time and so Kraen played some live shows to help us out. We knew that Kraen was the guy to play guitar for the band as he had learnt all the song and he was a big Artillery fan, it was a perfect replacement but under sad times."
So let's talk about the new stunning album, why the title 'X'? Did you have any other names?
"Well 'X' can mean a lot of things you know, it could mean something that you don't know or it keeps you guessing. I also like the fact that it is our 10th album and if people in 1982 had of told me I would be releasing albums in 2021 and touring in 65 countries I would of laughed in their faces. Today I am so proud that I have done this and no we didn't have any other titles for the album, X was just the perfect choice as it means different thing to people, but to us it's out 10th album."
So who wrote the songs for the new album? Was it a team effort or did Mike write the lyrics and the band write the music?
"Well Michael did most of the lyrics for this album and I did 6 songs and Kraen did 4 and Peter did his 1st song ever and we re-arranged the songs together. Josua did help with his direction of the song which was great too. I think on the next album we will be even closer to writing songs together."
Briefly what are the songs about?
"Well I can tell you briefly about some of the song, 'The Devils Symphony' is the 1st band that me and Morten had before Artillery, and in later years we knew we had a great song title. It's about who are fanatics like Satanist , its also about Satanist who believe in their religion. The next one is 'In Thrash we Trust' is a song for the fans, next is 'Turn up the Rage', that is about you not been angry all the time, its about people treat other people in bad ways. Next is 'Silver Cross', that is a song we had an idea for back in the early days and its about Tony Iommi cross that he wears. The song 'Beggars in Black Suits' is about people who come to beg from you who really have a lot of money and they try to get more money out of you."
Do you have a favourite song from the new album?
"That is difficult to say as they keep changing, some times it's 'In Thrash we Trust', 'Turn up the Rage', 'In your Mind'. At the moment I am listening too 'Eternal Night' a lot it's a great song. It is going to be very difficult to chose what songs we are going to play live for the next tour. When you do a new album you want to play all the songs live but that is impossible as fans want to hear the classics as well."
The new album was produced by Soren's Andersen since the release of 'When death Comes' album, have you ever worked or thought of working with Jacob Hansen to mix and master the album?
"Jacob is a great producer and a good friend, and the reason why we chose Sorens is because Jacob has a big well known style and a lot of bands he has produced have the same kind of production and there's nothing wrong with that, we just felt that we wanted to work with Sorens as he gives us a different sound to Jacob's productions. Soren is a great rock producer and I think Soren has done the best production on our new album all the albums he has worked on, we are very proud of it."
So am I right in saying the album was produced in our own studio due to cronovirus?
"Well we did it in a studio together here in Copenhagen at 'Melody Studios' (Denmark) , Michael had some problems and he lives outside of Denmark on a island, and he couldn't travel because of the cronovirus, and we had 5 days booked in the studio and we couldn't really do much because of that. The album was recorded in 3 separate stages over a month and a half and we were only in the studio for 4 weeks and then the mix. We are very happy with the way the album turned out."
So who did the artwork for the album?
"It was done by the same guy who did 'The face of Fear' album he is a really great artist, I just told him about the title and he came up with this cool artwork for the new album 'X'."
Did you have any special guests on this new album?
"No not really, we had 2 guys who work with the band that did some backing vocals on the album for us which was cool, but no musicians outside the band were guests on the album."
Have you been getting positive reviews so far?
"Yes we have been getting some great reviews, we got #7 in 'Rock Hard' in Germany and #3 in Arrardshock in Holland, so yes the reviews have been fantastic, and some of the Danish Magazines have been really supportive too."
Do you think the band will be touring this year or you hoping that 2022 will be the year that you tour?
"I think we will be touring this year as we are allowed to play in Denmark now from the 6th of May 2021. It would be great if we can play outside of Denmark, I know we are playing Sweden Rock but that will be in 2022, also the 'Alctrazz festival' in Holland, and we are trying to play at Bloodstock. We are hoping to play in September and play some UK dates if all goes well (Ed: Mike hook me up for either merch seller or drum tech job thanx), yes I will do Jason, I always bare you in mind for touring with us.
Well Mike, thanks for doing the interview, do you have anything" to say too people reading this? I would like to wish you all the best and please be safe and maybe I might just get to work with you on the next tour."
"Yes thank you for the interview Jason, always great speaking to you. To our fans we hope you like the new albums it's got some killer tracks on it, We hope to be touring soon if thing ease off with the cronovirus. Untiul then be safe and thrash in trash!!!"
Thanks to Mr. T @ Metal Blade & also Michael Stutzer for the interview.