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In Words: Celtic Frost

- Tom Warrior - Oct. 1999 - Claudia Ehrhardt -

Tom Warrior - October 19th 1999 - Dortmund (D)

Celtic Frost..... A legendary band! Very unique and every release a surprise, very innovative! Several years after we got the last sign of life from Celtic Frost they are back! Not live or with a new studio release..... But their album been re-released and unusually Tom decided to do a promo trip for the re-releases! So here we are in Dortmund to talk about it!

Now you decided to re-release the back catalogue of Celtic Frost. You added some tracks and did changes in the art work. Why?

Your question is not correct, coz we made that decision in the 80's. At the day we released them first! We wanted to release it the way we originally wanted to release it.

I think most fans won't know this and for them it's a re-release.... Coz many stuff from the 80's is now re-released on CD.

When we released our albums the media CD was brand-new and the labels thought that there is no market in the metal genre for CDs. We told our label that we want release the albums on CD and they told us that it won't make any sense, coz there is no market. About a year later they learnt that there is a market for metal CDs! The CD sales increase enormously within one year and they release the first 3 albums without even telling us about! They totally fuck it up! The artwork was wrong, some lyrics been forgotten and the songs been in an order which never was planned that way! Photos been exchanged and so it was necessary to re-release them the way they should be!

That's something the listeners don't know!

That's why I'm here. To tell about what happened. We had the concept for several years and never had the interest to work with Noise Records again, because of what happened in the past. Nowadays they are absolutely professional, a new company, totally different to the one we worked with, so..... This was the time to release the albums the way we always wanted them to be out.

So this is how it was planned originally by Celtic Frost in the beginning!

What now is released, is worked out in co-operation with the band and it's based on the original concept of each album!

You toured a lot that days and I remember that you told me on the tour with Helloween and Grave Digger about the coming releases. So in your minds the next 2 albums always been finished, but not recorded......

Yes, that's right.

Most bands enter the studio and have just a bunch of ideas, no complete tracks..... Celtic Frost always been a little different.

We had a concept, but in the studio it goats its own dynamic and turned out different. Typical for Celtic Frost. We thought that we push it to the limits and we got much further than we expected!

Celtic Frost been a band, especially for that time, which was extreme. Nowadays the extreme music of Celtic Frost, don't sound that extreme. The scene changed a lot and the younger listeners are used to more extreme music. It became normal metal.

That's the way it is.

Do you think that you'll catch the attention of younger metal fans?

That's a tough question. I thought about it before, but I really don't know! I'm in my mid-30's and it's a huge challenge to figure out what Celtic Frost can effect on today's metal scene! It always was very difficult to figure out what will happen due to our releases. I have no right to rate this, anyway. I don't know what to ex­pect and I'm very curious. For us as a band it was very important to release our work the way it should be released.

Celtic Frost was a band with a cult status and I guess it still is for some fans... I think a lot of young fans know you by name, but never had the chance to see you live. I know that once in a while a video clip is on air...

You mean Circle Of The Tyrants! Recorded in Bochum, I think it was in 1986.

It was in spring 1986 after the tour with Helloween and Grave Digger. One of you had a very bad cold and so you had to cancel the show. About a month later you played this show with Kreator.

You remember everything.....

I was there and I did some photos....

Götz Kühnemund was there and he stage dived!

Different subject. Celtic Frost been big everywhere, but do you also get re­actions or got reactions from countries which are not the typical metal ground?

We got a lot of reactions from Turkey! Unfortunately we never played there, but just for business reasons! Especially from Southern Europe we got tons of mail!

Most bands never made it to Turkey......

But it seems that they have a huge metal scene there. We were really surprised. In the 80's nobody seems to know about it. Now people recognize that there is a metal scene in Turkey.

In some countries the governments try to keep the metal scene small and not visible...... Especially the black metal scene.

Okay, black metal...... But I can't understand why they try to put down metal. In general in Southern Europe the male / "machismo" is bigger and from this point of view, metal is perfect for that countries.

Partly that happened due to certain incidents... One person did something wrong and the whole genre been blamed for it. Like the trials against Ozzy or Judas Priest......

That's wrong, you can't blame a whole genre for something a single person did. That's the wrong way! And if you part of a band, you have a damned responsibility..... That's many bands, especially black metal bands forget. Not every band, don't get me wrong, but a few...... I mean, your playing for a young audience, for teenagers which want to shock their parents, the establishment and.....

You partly did it in the past, too!

But not destructive!!! We tried to bring a intellectual revolution. With power as the basic, not with destruction... That's why we founded Celtic Frost out of Hell­hammer, coz we can't support this! In my opinion it's a total mess to present yourself to the audience and to forget your responsibility! This should be banned! I'm sorry to say that, but that's my opinion! I'm against censorship, but this is something different!

I see, but I think for the ones who don't try to understand, who just read the title like Morbid Tales, they maybe try to push you in the same corner....

That happened, especially in the 1980's! On Morbid Tales are several songs Martin wrote to against Satanism, but it happened for the reasons you said that people blame us for it! Martin is and always was a capacity for this topic. And especially Martin couldn't cope with it. Most of the people have no idea about Satanism and theology!

The problem is that people follow a slogan without understanding the slogan or it's background!

Right. And it's totally absurd if a satanic band relies on our lyrics, that means they never read the words! I can't name an influence, if I never ever preoccupy with! That's ridiculous, but that fits their intellectual skills!

You tried to present this in a more intellectual way....

On the other hand it was the power we had live. That was kind of a bridge to reach the fans. We didn't want to be top-heavy, we liked the power and it was part of it. It was the playground for the intellectual part.

You had some changes, even in the line-up....

The band was very experimental and even in the line-up we were open-minded to work with guest musicians. Many were burnt out after one or two Celtic Frost records. For us it was okay, our con­cept incl. this influences and changes. Almost we worked with the same people, but not at one album after another.

You said Celtic Frost been very experimental which wasn't typical for that genre. Most metal bands got blamed for doing the same stuff all the time... So Celtic Frost always been special.

We never been something special, Celtic Frost was how the members were/are. We played music we felt. We followed our way, the way we thought was right for us. We were a radical band, even in that meaning. In other things we been as stupid as other bands! We also had a time where we were banal.

I think that everybody experience in his/her life time, but not everyone is honest and accept it as part of his/her past.

That's something I can't understand, coz if I did something, I did it and it won't change if I try to deny it!

Many try to present it in a better way and try to explain it with the circumstances.....

We made millions of mistakes which the world never knows...... But soon they will know! My book..... In my book I tell a lot about it! It'll be released in spring!

In the book you review your musical career.....

Sure, it tells about Celtic Frost. It tells about Celtic Frost and what happened and why! The range is from trivial stories to philosophic reminiscences.

Will it be released world-wide? Or just in Europe?

I have to confess that I wrote it in English! It'll be out on Century Books, London. If it sells well there'll be a translation, but first just an English version! The bands language was English and so....

I think it's better to be released in English, if you wrote it that way.

I could translate it and it would be very authentic.....

Into German, but I guess with e.g. Turkish you would have some problems...... *smile*

It would take 200 years, I guess...... *laughs* I don't speak it fluently.... *laughs*

I guess it's very interesting for the fans who been to young or never saw you live..... The will under­stand more about the scene at that particular time.

The book will incl. hundreds of previously unreleased photos. It's a look inside Celtic Frost and it presents many unreleased stuff!

I think there are stories to tell about Celtic Frost..... Funny ones and others.

Countless..... Many stories will make the reader stunned!

That's what makes it interesting! Other topic..... After Celtic Frost split, it took a while until we heard news from you....

Apollyon Sun, right!

Have you thought about if there will be a reunion, if the CD releases are pretty good?

That has nothing to do with the re-releases! We still good friends and we had no doubt that one day we'll come together again. Reed is like a brother for me and last year we met in New York. We came together, but not for making music, but finally we decided to do it! It's difficult from our time schedules and from the logistic, coz we live in different parts of the world and we all are involved in projects. But it's 98% that we will work together again! Perhaps a few live shows as a test and than get together to write new material. For everyone of us Celtic Frost is a side-project. Even if there should be several releases.... We all will go on with our main bands! The chemistry is still there, a certain magic. And we all enjoy playing together and to release the power. If the new material is still innovative we'll do an album.

Sounds interesting!

We are very self-criticism and we won't put Celtic Frost's reputation at stake! I hope it'll work out!

I think you're right, you worked hard for the good reputation.....

We won't become ridiculous due our reunion.....

We had enough reunions which better never took place!

That is a natural progression, rock music is kind of a new invention in music and nobody could know how it will turn out. I think it's almost a natural process, even if there are reunions which are just made for the almighty dollar! We live in a time where the rock music gets a new definition and that's part of it.

Perhaps it was the best thing for you to split and go separate ways.....

That was absolutely necessary for us! We didn't broke up after a bad album! For us the timing was perfect. The band was established and it was the best we could have done! We were burnt out after 10 years of extremes. We all need new challenges.

I understand, touring ain't easy and it's exhausting. It's not just 2 hours on stage.....

Beside that we had a lot of problems with our label which took a lot energy to fight for our aim. It was kind of a daily war to convince the label to give us the possibility to release this experimental albums!

From the business side it never been easy to estimate how the people will react on the release......

Noise in that days totally fucked up with their estimation of it. The handled it totally wrong.

It's easy said afterwards.....

We always had the right ideas. Time proofed our own estimation of the situation in that days.

You believed in what you did and that's totally different to someone who sits in his office and has to deal with something he probably doesn't understand...... This person had to decide by sales numbers and that wasn't easy to do for a band like Celtic Frost!

We understood, it was in our own interest to sale albums, but if they would tried our ideas of promotion, etc. We would have sold more! Today Noise confess that they were wrong! That was the result when we did the re-issues. These days Noise have a great management. They realized that an extreme band like Celtic Frost is selling much better if you follow the concept of the band and not fight against the band and their success. If Noise wouldn't have changed completely, I would never have done the re-issues!!!

It's a pity that you couldn't realize it in the beginning, but it's good that now you got the possibility to do it!

It's a compliment for the band that we made it even if the circumstance wasn't good for us. It would have been better to spend this thousands of dollars for our projects instead of paying the lawyers!

Perhaps this struggles made the band that strong....

It was healthy for us. We got more and more arrogant about our ideas and we fought for it. We got stronger.

Finally it may have helped you...

Yeah, the scandals gave us a certain publicity! *laughs* Otherwise my book would be just 2 pages...... *laughs* Now I have a lot good stories to tell, it make sense finally! *laughs*

Good that you can laugh about that shit years later!

Nobody force us to go on. We had fun, we had a great time and it was up to us to bring it to an end, whenever.

What are your plans for the future?

Until the end of January I'll do promotion incl. UK and the States. In February the Apollyon Sun album should be in the stores. And more or less at the same time the book will be out! If we find the time we will work on Celtic Frost in year 2000, but there will be an Apollyon Sun tour.... I hope that we can do something with Celtic Frost.

What can we expect from Apollyon Sun?

A modern version of Celtic Frost! It's more or less the same.... to ex­cept no boundaries, to be experimental, to work with the modern technical stuff.... It's a symbiosis of samples, computer parts and heavy music. No industrial, that's to sterile. We try to be more homogenous, we work with drum loops and with live drums! We have bass loops and we have live bass, etc. We don't sample the guitars, we play them even if we use a lot computers! On the album this is much further than on the EP!

You said that Apollyon Sun is a modern version of Celtic Frost. Will you probably tour together?

No! That make no sense! I will concentrate on one or the other!

We had stuff like that.....

Another parallel to Celtic Frost is that we are open to work with guest musicians and at the AS album Ron Marks took part and he is former member of Celtic Frost. That's the link..... The members.

Guest musicians to get new influences? To get a fresh sound?

Right, that keeps it alive!

So we can hope that this changes will keep Tom and his band(s) alive and hopefully we'll see both bands live in the new millennium!

Claudia Ehrhardt


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