When it comes to Death Metal you look on a big and healthy scene nowadays... But where did it start? For sure one of its main initiators came from Chicago, Illinois in the USA. I'm talking about the man with the beard Paul Speckmann himself. In this interview I just don't want to bring up the standard questions but I try to create a interview that also covers the early carreer until now.
Sascha: Hello Paul, how are the things going on your end?
Speckmann: Things are fine brother, as usual, looking for more concerts, festivals, and tours! I pretty much spend nearly every waking hour trying to get more work! Playing music is what I enjoy best in life!
Sascha: Is it OK for you to talk about your musical career and the development of it over the years?
Speckmann: Sure let's go brother!
Sascha: How did you get into Heavy Metal Music and who were your role models who inspired you to do music?
Speckmann: When I was in high school I was listening to bands like Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith etc. One afternoon I discovered an album called Black Sabbath, Sabbath Bloody Sabbath in my older brother's bedroom and gave it a spin on his stereo. Live changed quite a bit after this experience. I was walking the halls at school singing a song called, “All Good People,” from a band called Yes, when a fellow named Ron Cooke, asked me if I would like to try out and sing with his band called White Cross. This was a dream come true for me. Ron would later become the guitarist for a band called Thrust, who actually just reformed and played the Keep It True fest a few weeks ago. Getting back to the story of course here. We began playing concerts for young people around the area, I was singing cover songs from bands like UFO, Ted Nugent, Sabbath, and Led Zeppelin. This was my first experience with Rock n Roll and was digging it. Of course the chicks were digging me more and more and I had begun my first sexual experiences, which any teenager enjoys.
Sascha: What are your main influences for Master?
Speckmann: Life is the only influence for the band these days. When I was younger I was lucky to see the Venom, Exodus, and Slayer concert, for example, Motorhead opening for Ozzy, etc. These were life changing experiences. I also visited many concerts from bands like The Exploited, Christ on parade, Battalion of saints, Out of order, Naked Raygun and many other great Punk influenced bands. These were the bands that influenced Master and Deathstrike in the early years.
Sascha: How did you came up with the name Master and what was its background?
Speckmann: Rick Manson from a band called Witchslayer came up with the name! He and drummer Bill Schmidt practiced several times together after we fired Bill from Warcry! I stayed in Warcry for several more months before leaving the band and forming Master together with Bill.
Sascha: Talking about War Cry. Can you please tell us a little bit more about the band, the Demo and the how it came to be to open for Twisted Sister and why it went downhill afterward?
Speckmann: PS: Most of these questions, the answers can be found in the biography of my life, which is posted in various forms on the internet brother! Warcry was my first proper band. I played bass and actually wrote my first song with guitarist Marty Fitzgerald called Lucifer! As for the band, we were local heroes and got many of the bigger gigs after a while at Haymakers the club near the airport. This happens when a band plays often, they become the local band and many times remain there. The band became more of a glam influenced outfit and after several months of this I finally left. They went on to great success in Los Angeles, meanwhile changing their name. Eventually the big record deal fell through and the guys went their separate ways.
Sascha: Death Strike and Master is for me the blue print of Death Metal. A lot of times copied but never got the fame it deserved. How do you feel after 32 years about the Fuckin' Death Demo and how did it put Death Metal on the map?
Speckmann: Let's face it, it was the beginning of a long journey. Many people love the demo, but in all honesty, we were just experimenting, as for reality, there is even a mistake on the vocal of the demo. We had no idea this demo would influence a whole genre of bands, but being a part of the incarnation of this style of Metal is an honor of course, and no one can ever take this away from me. All the copy-cats probably don't sleep as well as I do!
Sascha: How did the scene change for you over the years and its fans?
Speckmann: Fans have never been a problem, but it's difficult for underground cult bands to fill the venues like many of the copy-cats do. We really never have had the promotion we've needed or deserved since the deal ended with Nuclear Blast in 1993. Since then it's been an onward struggle to be heard. But hindsight is 20/20, you ca never go back, and who would want to anyways?
Sascha: Is there enough success through Master for you that you can live from the music?
Sascha: The first 2 albums "Master" and "On The Seventh Day God Created... Master" are often named as your best albums. Where is the difference for you between a fan who likes the first albums of his favorite bands and a musician who sees his latest album as his best work?
Speckmann: It's obvious I can understand this to an extent sometimes as for me the first few Slayer albums are the best, but in all reality with Slayer this is true. With Master the later albums are much better. My writing has progressed considerably over the years, and it's too bad that many fans refuse to give the later releases a chance. They are the best, period.
Sascha: When it comes to Krabathor what are your feelings about this band and how it changed your life?
Speckmann: I really enjoyed both albums you recorded with them and also the Martyr album. Thanks to this band, I have made a nice life in the Czech Republic. We spent 4 years together and had some amazing times together certainly. I have nothing but praise for the guys and the band. They recently reformed with one of the earlier lineups and they are killing it. As for the releases I recorded with the band, most of the Czech and Slovak fans hate these records, so this was a shit time for the band regardless of the shows tours etc. I had a blast regardless.
Sascha: How did it came to be that Christopher and Skull also played for Master and recorded "Let's Start A War" with you?
Speckmann: Obviously I needed musicians to play on my latest Master release and they were the answer!
Sascha: Since 2003 Master has a stable line up which exist now since 13 years. What is the difference to earlier line ups for you and why do you think it is steady since such a long time?
Speckmann: Some of the original members were drug addicts, other pussy-whipped, others just weekend warriors. For some Metal is hobby, for others like myself it's a way of life! The lineup has been steady because I constantly book shows and write full albums for the guys to record of course. I have great players in Zdenek and Alex for sure. Hopefully we will continue. But like anything, there is no predicting the future.
Sascha: Besides the fact that Master isn't the stereotype death metal band how do you see your music compared with other bands in the scene who left a big influence?
Speckmann: I don't!
Sascha: Awhile ago you re-released the albums "Let's Start A War", "Spirit Of The West & "Four More Years Of Terror" with new artworks. What was the reason for changing the artwork and do you prefer the new ones or the originals?
Speckmann: PS: Labels always think new artwork will sell the records better. I have no opinion on this either way my friend.
Sascha: You take influences for your lyrics out of the world and the real life. For all those who don't know Master How would you describe your lyrical content to someone who never listened to your music before?
Speckmann: That's easy, I sing about the problems mankind faces at a particular time in history. The Master albums are like a public record of what's happening in the world in my opinion whether it be good or bad, I like to share my thoughts and ideas, it's called artistic freedom. Fiction is better left for books!
Sascha: Over the years the recording techniques changed nowadays it is easier to record music. Thanks to programs like pro-tools you can record easy from your home studio. What kind of recording technique you prefer digital or analog and how do you record your albums?
Speckmann: I prefer the sound of analog in many ways, but somehow Shaark Studios has been able to capture a great sound for Master regardless of the digital process. But the difference is, is that our drummer can really play the songs live and uses no triggers or drum machines in the studio! So many of today's heavyweights are releasing shitty sounding records in my opinion, but the dumb-ass fans will buy them anyway because they are fans not technicians! When Master and Abomination began, drummers of that period could really play. When the drummer stopped, we had to begin recording the song again, until he played it correctly.
Sascha: Actually you released together with two members of Witchburner an album with Cadaveric Poison and also the third installment of Johansson & Speckmann is in the making. How do people react to those projects?
Speckmann: Some people like them and others choose to ignore greatness!
Sascha: Any last words?