Sodom (Tom Angelripper)
We met Tom Angelripper for an interesting journey through time to discover the origins of thrash metal. Good reading!
Article by Gaetano Loffredo - Publish on: 29/06/10

Hi Tom and welcome on SpazioRock, it’s a real pleasure for me to talk with you about the past, the present and the future of Sodom.

No problem!

I’d like to start talking about your new live album. “Lords Of Depravity” that represents an unforgettable moment of your career. A great show recorded in Wacken, with the original line up and many guests. A real tribute to your career and, obviously, a great tribute to Chris Witchhunter. What did you feel the first time that you see the DVD?

What we wanted to do was a 25 years anniversary show and we wanted all the ex-members on stage. Many promoter wanted this concert, but, you know, I’ve been so many times to Wacken and I have a good relationship with the promoters there. They told me: “If you do this in Wacken you are going to have a big stage and everything you need”. And I was so glad to have all the ex-members on stage, for me it was an historical moment. I was so happy we had some cameras that were recording the show. This concert will be the main one on the DVD and I was so surprised about the result. There are good sounds, we got a good mix. I think this is something special for the Sodom fans and also a tribute to the former members. I know Witchhunter was having massive problems with his alcohol abuse, he couldn’t play many songs and that was very sad. But with our drummer Bobby we managed to play some rarities and some classics.

I think that live albums are a great opportunity to attract new fans and to show the health status of the band. So, how are Sodom?

Yes, this is true, but you need to realize that this show is not the only important one in the DVD. There’s also the history. If you have ever seen “Lords Of  Depravity Pt. I” in the first DVD there was Sodom history. But the history goes on from 1995 to 2009, and there is the show in Wacken, other live shows, some bonus material for the fans. I think live albums are a good chance to show that the band is still alive and it’s still going on. We put also some new songs in the setlist. But I don’t think that the show in Wacken was the most important show to me, but for the history of the band it was. This DVD is the first one with a complete history, since the very beginning, to touring worldwide, to side projects. If you have seen the first one, the second one is a must have.

I think that the true dimension of thrash metal is the live one,  because it better expresses the energy of music. From an emotional and a technical perspective, does it change anything for you knowing  you're recording a live album compared to your normal concerts?

When you are a musician and you know that someone is recording you, you have just to forget about that. You’ve got to try to do the show as you usually do. When there’s a recording process, I know that somebody would think “Oh, let’s think of the fans, I should take care of the guitar, I should check the drums …” Fuck, it’s a live show! On our DVD there are a lot of mistakes, but I mean, we are humans, in a two hour show anything can happen. When I’m on stage, I don’t care if somebody is recording.

sodom_intervista2010_eng01So, when you are on stage, you are never under pressure …

Never. (laughs) You know, sometimes you are under pressure, because something may go wrong. That is what I feel, but when we start the first song, I forget everything. I just try to remember the lyrics and I try to get in contact with the fans, that is what I always try to do. If you are a professional musician, you should forget everything about the recording. Just do your show.

Your latest studio album, "The Final Sign Of Evil", was released in 2007 and after tough times in the last year, I read that you are working on some new material. Is this correct?

Yes, it is. Right now we have just finished rehearsals and we will enter the studios I think at the beginning of July. It will take three months for the pre-production, but it will come out this year, approximately in October, November.

That’s great!

I know people have waited too long, there are more or less four years between the latest Sodom album and the new one. But that’s not our fault, I don’t know if you heard about the problems concerning SPV, the record company didn’t have money for the production of new albums. Now we are going to sign a new contract with SPV and we will try to put the album out as soon as possible. We are also trying to get a new producer, we talked with Waldemar Sorychta, a producer here in Germany, because I want to have good sounds. The new Sodom album has powerful and heavy songs, so I want to have a bigger and a better production. If you listen to some old Venom and Slayer stuff, everything still sounds great. You know, nowadays we can do additional recordings at home, but we have the drums, for example, still sounding the same. For this album, I want to have better sounds and somebody who can help us. He should tell us what we did wrong  and he should do things even differently. So, this DVD came out, but we are looking forward.

Nowadays, how much is it important to have a big producer, in a thrash metal band?

It’s very important. I don’t want to do recordings at home. I want the band to rehearse together, to drink a beer and to jam together. That’s my expectation. If you have a great producer like Waldemar, you know, he knows exactly what to do. We always try to get 100% from each musician, but he can improve our gears. We have good songs, we are able to write a song, but we need somebody who can help us to do the best thrash album ever. That’s just a dream, but we want to be the number one with the next album.

Now, I want to jump in the past.  Sodom, with Kreator and Destruction, are the pioneers of European  thrash metal. What did it mean to you living that unforgettable period of history?

Ahh, you’re right. These three bands started thrash metal in Europe, that was the best time of my life. When we started in 1982 we wouldn’t expect to be here, after almost 30 years, as professional musicians. There was a particular time and culture here but I was so glad I was the first to try that kind of music. I know I have inspired many black metal bands and other metal bands with Sodom. I’m so glad that, after all these years, also Kreator and Destruction are still going on. My dream is to do a tour with the three bands one day. The problem is that we have different record companies  and also we have to keep alive the business. You know, the situation in Europe and in Germany is really bad. So, for now we’re looking forward for the next Sodom album and then we will see how it will go touring with other bands.


Were there many differences between the European scene and the Bay Area one?

I think there were big differences. In Europe, people who were coming from the Ruhr area, they were coal miners and they were coming from a working class. People coming from the Bay Area, they were different. I think they had rich parents to pay their guitars and they dreamt of becoming rockstars. My father used to tell me to get a job, to work and fuck music. I tried to work very hard as a coal miner and then I formed my band. Then, when I left my job in 1989, my dream of living on music came true. I didn’t have to go to the mine anymore, I just had to make music and stay together with the other guys. If you listen to the Bay Area bands, you know, drums are aggressive, Slayer is the most aggressive band and I also like Exodus, but they do different music. We got a contract in 1984 and we barely knew how to play instruments. We were bad musicians, but we got a contract! In America I think they should have experience, good gears to rehearse with, you know. But the music was new and the fans wanted something new.

You have always had very strong nicknames, such as yours (Angel Ripper). Why did you made this choice?

We chose them since the very beginning, since the very first record, but I think there’s no meaning behind. It was just a matter of fashion at that time not using your real names. There were Witchhunter, Violator and Angel Ripper, but they didn’t have a particular meaning. You know, we just practice, drink beer and play together. My name nowadays is just Angel Ripper, you don’t translate it or whatever.

Now, I would like to discuss about your lyrics, they are always very violent and there are war-based themes, as a denunciation of the atrocities of war, an issue that unfortunately is always present. How is it important for you to send these messages to young people?

I just wanted to write about what was going on in the world. I think a thrash band should think about the bad things of the world. You will never find any political opinion in our lyrics, just descriptions of the atrocities of war. We are not political activists, we’re just screaming our thoughts, that’s all. I take so much inspirations from these kind of facts, you know, war can be everywhere in the world, so can be also an economical crisis. I think the best inspiration is life.

The next September you will be in Italy for an explosive festival together with bands like Grave Digger and Exciter. What does it mean, for you,  to be a headliner at this festival with bands that have made the history of metal?

It’s just great! Grave Digger was the first metal band I ever liked. This Rock Hard festival in Italy will be full of old school bands. So, I will come there not as a musician, but as a fan! I’ve noticed that people is more interested in the older bands and that’s very important. We are not coming as rockstars, but as normal musicians, we will play for an hour or whatever, but it’s important to meet the fans, after or before the show. We’re just metal fans making music, after all. I like going to metal festivals, I’ve been to a Rock Hard Festival here in Germany recently and I could see my favourite bands. But the fans are very important, some other bands would come, just play their songs and then leave, they would just go to the hotel, to the bus, whatever. That’s the difference between Sodom and the other bands. Then, in the band we are all friends, since the very beginning.

After so many years, where did you find the energy for such aggressive and explosive live shows? From beer?

Oh no, no, no! You can’t drink beer before a show! I just drink one! You can’t go on stage drunk, there was a time for that, but it was when I was twenty years old, but now I’m forty-seven. I think the fans push the band forward. You’ve got to be healthy to make a good show, the fans pay for that. Well, I’m a singer, a bass player and I smoke cigarettes, this isn’t healthy, but I can’t quit! I tried everything! Fans are always there supporting the band, coming to concerts and I expect my band to do aggressive concerts, with headbanging and whatever.

You are a professional musician.

Yeah, absolutely. Every show I do is very special and different.

Thank you very very much for this interview Tom. Would you like to say something to all your Italian fans and all SpazioRock users?

Hey guys! Coming to Italy is always something special. Italian fans are like the ones in the 80s, with so much passion, with all the patches on the jackets. It’s like travelling with the time machine! I like coming to Italy, because they all enjoy music. It’s not like in Germany, I love the Italian food, the people. I do hope that they will have a very good time with us at the festival.

Questions by Marco Ferrari and Gaetano Loffredo
Translation by Alessandra Leoni

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