How do you think 'Arkham Sanitarium' fit into the whole picture, or how do you feel about it compared to earlier recorded material?
That is a tough question. I can not really tell but people say there was a good development in songwriting and vocals from the earlier recordings to 'Arkham Sanitarium'. I just can say that I enjoy some of the tracks more than older ones. Can we do better? I am not sure. Songwriting is a bitch and I sometimes become desperate because I cannot come up with unique riffs or arrangements. I mean other bands have obviously the same problem but hey, it just drives me nuts sometimes. Though I must say that I enjoy some of the new stuff we got more than what we did with the last album. Maybe it is just because it is newer to my ears. On the other hand I know people who think we already got too polished and had reached our peak with 'Broken Man'. So I just think we did with 'Arkham Sanitarium' what we thought we had to do.
On your debut 'The Mentally Ill', you've worked together with Brian 'Butch' Balich (Argus, ex-Penance) whom you invited as a guest singer for the song 'Message from Hell'. Please, tell me more about your working relationship. How did you and Butch first get together?
Like John, Butch and I first had contact through the Hellride Forums I used to be more active in. I have been and to this day am a big admirer of Penance who Butch sang for on the last 3 albums. Penance is one of the bands that really had a lasting impression on me. Anyways, Butch and I met on DSR II, had small chats and we continued these chats on a non regular basis via the internet and forums. The day Penance split I was pretty pissed and I could get from Butch that he was not happy with it either. At this time he did not even sing in Argus. We had this song and I had no idea for lyrics and vocals at all and I asked him if he wanted to do the vocals for it. He was all into it and actually we wanted to include that song on one of the demos we had planned that unfortunately never were finished. But we made it happen for 'The Mentally Ill'. I am very happy that Butch sang on that track. And it is my favourite TS track, most probably because it has a real singer.
A few weeks ago you've told me about a significant lineup change, and I think that we don't want to keep it from the Cosmic Lava readers. So, what happened?
We lowered our average weight. Just kidding. Flo, a friend of my cousin, who I jammed with in Electric Gravity, accompanied us to our gig with Merca and Tekhton and after the gig he said, a second guitar would not do us any harm. So I told him if he though so, he better come around and proof he was right. So he came to visit us in the rehearsal room, we jammed a few times and here we are. After more than 6 years with the same line up we finally added a second guitar player. Markus was always keen on getting a second guitar player but Flo is the first guy I get along with, though the other guys would say we already fight a lot. But it is all good. The new stuff we are doing with him shapes up nicely and he added some nice extra spice to those new songs we already had finished more or less.
Please, tell me more about your next releases. As far as I remember, there will be a split tape with Earthlord. All this sound pretty exciting so what can we expect? What is on the agenda for the future of TORTURED SPIRIT?
Yeah that Earthlord/Tortured Spirit split will come out early next year hopefully. We do not need to hurry though. The Earthlord material is already recorded since quite a time. I just asked Phil Swanson (Hour Of 13, Seamount, Vestal Claret, NightBitch) what happened to these recordings, if he was going to release them and what he thought about splitting with Tortured Spirit. Phil is digging our work and when I asked him he was into that idea. Couple of days later I got a message from No Visible Scar Records who do limited to 100 pieces cassette releases if we were okay releasing the split on their label. We gave it a thought and though we know cassettes are not the number 1 format for any kind of music anymore we still think it is an awesome idea. I love to have original cassettes of stuff every now and then.
What more in our agenda? I think we are going to record a couple of tracks this winter for the split with Earthlord and some more. We would like to split with another band, and they are willing as well it seems, but there is no label yet and we will just see if we can make that happen. Anyone interested in releasing our music can always contact me. ;) As for gigs in the near future: I am not sure. We will play the next Dawn Of Doom this November in Switzerland together with Children Of Doom, Sideburn, Sigiriya (ex Acrimony), Zatokrev and Lord Vicar. And we will be playing on the Raging Death Date next April as well. That will be a lot of fun I guess as this used to be a fest for Death Thrash and Black Metal mostly. Black Salvation seems to be playing there as well so we are not the only lame ass band there.
Has MySpace helped you guys to draw attention to your music?
Yes and no, I'd say. Surely we found some really supportive people like Phil on myspace but goddamn it we got more than a thousand "friends" but do not sell a 1000 records - yet, hahaha. You always get a shit load of "friends" that you wonder why they requested that "friendship" in the first place. That is what it is right now. On one hand it is a great tool for every musician to have some kind of easy homepage and get connected with others. On the other hand there is so much music around I barely can check out everything in an appropriate way myself and some people are just there to spam.
What was your worst gig and what was your best gig?
Favourite question. You'll get a damn long answer on that. I guess we do not have the reputation for being a stable live band. We fucked a few gigs up. They get really bad when Markus can barely hear Michael and me play as he plays damn loud. The worst thing we did surely was our gig with Beehoover and Versus The Stillborn-Minded in Crailsheim, where we were damn late due to traffic jams and it being a Friday so Markus and Michael had to work till noon while I was still in university. Arriving there totally fucked up, we were told to play the last spot as the other bands set their stuff already so we pretty much went on stage totally fucked up and fucked the gig up. But the trip to the gig and back home was funny with a lot of bad jokes. Thinking about good gigs, a few of them come to my mind. Our Doom Shall Rise experience was great though I was so nervous I fucked up the beginning of 'Man And The Spider'. But it went okay from there on and we had John Brenner jam 'Broken Man' with us. That sure was an honour.
The gig with Warning and Serpentcult in GlÃ¼ckstadt was great. We asked if we could play, expected nothing but we got a damn good reaction from the crowd. The gigs in Poland were great as well. And one gig comes to my mind where the audience was small but very responsive and the experience around our gig add a funny entertainment factor. That was our gig with a band I cannot recall the name of and Somber View. You were there as well. Can you remember the name? I cannot. We were supposed to open but the Alternative Metal Band insisted on opening because the singer fired the rest of the band and got a new line up just the week before so their set was damn short. So Somber View asked us to headline and we had to extend our set by a couple of tracks we had not played live nor rehearsed in a while. The few doomheads in attendece and the Somber View guys especially enjoyed it so much we had to play a couple of encores including the Archetype. That was already pretty damn good but then the first band activated their six "fans" to make some noise till they could paly encores after we had finished. I thought that was funny but the Somber View guys were totally pissed. Anyways we had a lot of fun that night.