2017 marks the 35th anniversary of one of Germany’s greatest thrash exports Tankard, and the release of their seventeenth album, One Foot in the Grave. Who would have thought that a group of thrash loving beer drinkers from Frankfurt could form a band in 1982, write pretty well exclusively about beer drinking, and survive some three decades later! But this is exactly what they have done! I see the appeal of their music as solid thrash with a focus on fun, frivolity, and of course, beer drinking. And if you look at it like this, they can’t go wrong really. The new album, One Foot in the Grave, is nothing short of Tankard, the band staying true to their staple of subject matter and their thrash roots.
Two years ago the band embarked on their first ever Australian tour and they were fantastic. The band was full of energy, beer, and excited to be over here. I was lucky to catch them in Sydney and that went down extremely well and the band enjoyed the experience as much as the audience. I recently caught up with Gerre, lead vocalist, lead drinker and lead lyricist, to discuss the new album and where Tankard are heading over the next thirty-five years.
Gerre, how does it feel to be on the verge of releasing your seventeenth studio album?
“Feeling very old ‘one foot in the grave’ actually! Of course we are a little bit proud to celebrate our 35th birthday and really looking forward to the fans reaction on the album. We are still so loving what we are doing and so I have no complaints, I am very very happy!”
Can you please talk us through the title track of the album One Foot in the Grave?
“It is a little bit sarcastic actually. We are very old guys, ‘one foot in the grave’ and still playing thrash metal till the end and this is what the song is like. It is a funny look at us as musicians and how we are on our journey of thrash metal.”
How much did Martin Bulchwater, as the producer, have to do with the sound of album?
“We changed producers with did three albums with the last producer. We thought we needed a bit of a new sound and I think the guitars are more heavy than on the last albums. It was a good experience to work with Martin and we all got on great. He came up with some great suggestions and he made sure we moved in the right direction. It has been a great experience working with Martin and he has had an impact on our sound in a positive way.”
I have read that you spent a lot of time on the vocals for this album, why was this such a focus this time around?
“Not really much more really. I need about two weeks to do the vocals and this is what it took. I don’t have beers until my work is done and we just worked hard and I am happy with the result. I think I came out okay on this one!”
I know that there are some songs on the album with a serious message can you please quickly outline them for us?
“We tried to do a mixture of serious and funny stuff. Some people think that we are getting more serious but we have a balance. ‘Syrian Nightmare’ is about the circumstances in Syria currently and a lot of countries who are involved. ‘Arena of the True Lies’ is a song about nowadays and Facebook and all of the lies and that no one is talking face to face. ‘Lock em Up,’ the idea for this came from the election for the US and how Trump was talking to his fans and the whole area of Hilary Clinton. We have balanced out the album I think.”
What stands out for you on the album now that it is completed?
“Umm yeah we were running out of time as always and we were way late. We had a great meeting and we dished out jobs to just get through the project. I think we are really satisfied with the result but we had a lot of stress. This is the first time with Martin and this was interesting and we are really happy with the outcome. Nothing really special stands out actually, I didn’t fall over during the recording, or hurt myself, pretty boring actually. But we are happy with the product and can’t wait to get it out.””
So how long are Tankard going to be around? Do you have another thirty-five years in you?
“Yeah I hope so! I don’t know Frank and I will have our thirty Fifth birthday together and I know we will try. I can’t see an end to Tankard you know. It is a very important part in our life and I just can’t see it stopping any time soon.”
How did you find your first ever Australian tour some two years ago, on the back of Rest in Beer?
“It was really amazing to play for the very first time in Australia. I am not sure if there were enough people but we had a great time. I stayed a week longer in Sydney and I visited a good friend of our families and I did some sightseeing. We had a blast and the people were so kind and nice to us. ”
Is there any chance of the band returning to Australia to support One Foot in the Grave?
“There are no plans at the moment but if there is another offer we would love to come back. If you have some metal festivals or something like that we would love it. Playing in places like Australia is amazing! We would love to come back and play.”
It was a pleasure to speak with Gerre. The band are at the top of their game, the new album is very strong and they don’t look liking ending anytime soon. On top of this they are keen to come back to Australia! Check out the new album, One Foot in the Grave, through Nuclear Blast, released the 20th of June. Pre-Orders here
Interview by Mark Snedden
Tankard – One Foot In The Grave tracklisting
1. Pay To Pray
2. Arena Of The True Lies
3. Don`t Bullshit Us!
4. One Foot In The Grave
5. Syrian Nightmare
6. Northern Crown (Lament Of The Undead King)
7. Lock`Em Up!
8. The Evil That Men Display
9. Secret Order 1516
10. Sole Grinder