Protector

Protector: Logo

First of all I'd like to know what Protector meant to you back when you were part of the band and what it means now, years later when the band is praised as "masters of thrash"?

My time with Protector was probably the greatest time of my life. Not only the recording of albums, the gigs and the rehearsing, but also everything that was connected to it, like giving interviews, the parties, meeting interesting people, the journey to the towns we played in... It was a great time!

As I remember, you were the last member to join the band. So I wonder what did attract you to join the band and start screaming for a Thrash Metal act? After all, Protector was a band too brutal for many people!

At that time, I was singing in a Speed Metal band called Inzest. The music they played was good, but at that time I wanted to do something more brutal, something like Kreator, Possessed or Slayer. One day, the guitarist of Inzest played a rehearsal-tape from his band to Michael Hasse. Some days later, Michael asked me if I wanted to join Protector. I had heard Protectors two-track demo, and it was exactly the kind of music I wanted to do back then, so I said "yes" immediately. I know it wasn't fair to the guys in Inzest, but I had to take the opportunity that was given to me!

In those years Protector wasn't the most popular band in Germany, but still loved by the underground fans. Do you think that you were too uncommercial (not to say too brutal) for the average Thrash Metal fan or was all this lack of wideopen exposure?

I'm not sure, maybe it has something to to with what you say: that we were too extreme, although there were even more extreme bands at that time (like Napalm Death or Possessed for example). Maybe we just weren't good enough, I don't know. It's always difficult to be objective about music you make yourself, because you hear it all the time in the rehearsing-room, in the studio and when you play it live, and of course you think your music is good, but you don't know what other people, that hear the songs for the first time, think...

In my opinion, you were heavily inspired by some Hard Core bands, but your music was 100% Thrash Metal, do you think that that HC influence pushed you to be faster, more aggressive and brutal at times than some other bands around?

Also that is difficult for me to answer, because it was Hansi who wrote all the riffs, and Michael who decided how to play drums to those riffs. I know that Hansi listened to hard Metal like Slayer, but he also listened to "normal" Metal-bands like Ozzy Osbourne, and to Hardcore bands like Suicidal Tendencies and M.O.D., but that never reflected in the Protector songs. I don't think that he listened to really extreme Metal. The whole thing changed when Olly took over the guitar in 1991. He listened to more aggressive bands, if I remember it right, and that reflected on the music he wrote for Protector. "A Shedding of Skin"and "The Heritage" are more aggressive than the first 4 albums.

Your voice sometimes reminds me of those Death Metal vocalists that came some time later. Have you ever thought about your way of screaming, and that the music of the band in general influenced the whole generation of Death Metal? After all, very few vocalist could claim to sing as raw and hard as you in those early years...

Well, I think especially the two vocalists Jeff Beccerra and Chuck Schuldiner (that I was very influenced by while singing in Protector) influenced a lot more Death Metal fans who had own bands than me, Olly or Protector in general did. Also for example Morbid Angel had a bigger impact on people who wanted to start a Death Metal band than we had.

Do you consider that the time when Protector came and recorded the LPs was the best to appear, or you would have liked to appear in a time when the scene was less saturated and the competition was not a problem?

I think that we could have been as big, or at least almost as big, as Kreator, Sodom or Destruction, if we had released our first album in 1984 or 1985. By the time we released "Misanthropy" in 1987, the extreme Metal scene was twice or three times as big as at the time Sodom and Kreator released their first records. But of course that's only a hypothetical question.

I suppose you have notice that neo nazi crap going on, especially on Black "Metal", so I was wondering if you had/have any problem for using the title "Golem" that was taken from a jewish legend, I think, or for the song "Germanophobe"? Anyway, tell me your opinion about that neo fascism in Metal lately.

I don't listen to a lot of Metal that is released today (or which has been released in the past 10 years for that matter). I'm mostly listening to Hardrock and Metal from the 70's and 80's, so I really can't say anything about today's (Black-)Metal or any neofascistic tendencies in Metal. We had no problems after using "Golem" as the title of one of our songs/records. And I can't remember getting any negative reactions on the song "Germanophobe" either.

It's not a secret that many of the German bands were heavily influenced by Slayer and even played in a very similar way, but Protector didn't (at least I haven't noticed it). Wasn't that a bit risky? I mean to play like Slayer guaranteed at least a small amount of fans and playing a own style meant to work hard against a high tide of thrash fans very devoted to that Slayerish sound.

I don't think that Hansi cared much about what the riffs he wrote sounded like. I think he just sat down and wrote the music, without thinking "now I'll have to write a slayerish song". He, just like all the others in the band, just wanted to play hard Metal, no matter what it sounded like.

What were the elements that distinguished Protector from other Thrash metal bands and gave you personality, since most of your contemporaries seemed to try to follow the Slayer style?

I would say the thing I mentioned in the foregoing answer: That we didn't care what style or band our music sounded like. The only thing that was important to us was that our songs were hard and brutal.

There were/are many underrated bands in Germany that now slowly are rediscovered. I would like to know your opinion about bands like Vectom, Necronomicon, SDI, Accuser, Paradox and so on. Are they truly underrated in your ears (I do think so!)?

Well, back then I mostly listened to the "famous bands" (like Slayer, Kreator, Possessed, Exodus...), so I don't really know what bands like Vectom or SDI sound like. I've heard Accuser and Necronomicon. I was never a big fan of those two bands, but I think their music was o.k.

I know you played with a big amount of Thrash heroes like Sodom, Assassin, Messiah etc. What do you miss most of those years of noise and party-all-day-long? Which bands do you think were easy-going and the perfect complement for Protector on stage? I noticed that you shared vocals with Angel Ripper in the song "Spacecake", was there any reason to chose him, instead of any other guy?

We liked to play with any band that played hard Metal at that time. It didn't matter if it was Assassin or a small band like Mega Mosh. Of course it was a little more fun to play with bands whose band members we had good contact with, like Sodom. Angel Ripper is a cool guy, and also Blackfire was very sympathic and funny. Michael got in contact with Sodom some years before he founded Protector, he even did their Fan-Club for a while (look on the album-sleeve of "Obssessed by Cruelty"). Soon, all the other band members had also met the guys from Sodom from time to time, so the choice for whom I was going to sing "Spacecake" with was very easy. I think Angel Ripper was the person we had most contact with in the Metal-scene.

It seems that on stage, Protector was a very energetic band, I have a couple of videos (one with you, by the way) and the public was headbanging all the time. What did the band enjoy most, recording or playing live?

I think the others liked playing Live most. I liked the time we spent in the studio more. It was a little bit more relaxed atmosphere in the studio. The main reason was that I always was very nervous before a gig, sometimes it was hell! Usually it all was o.k. after we had played 1 or 2 songs, and then it was great, but as I said: the hours before the concert were no fun!

By the way, the Japanese version of "Urm the mad/Leviathans desire" contains live extra tracks, one of them being "The mecenary" (written that way) that I can't find on any of your records but your demo tape. Why didn't you record such a great song? Do you have more unreleased songs somewhere that someday could see the light of day?

There is no Protector material, that hasn't already been released in some way. "The Mercenary" was released on our first vinyl 6-track Mini-LP "Misanthropy" that never was released on CD, at least not under that name. Three of the "Misanthropy" tracks ("Misanthropy", "Holy Inquisition" and "Agoraphobia") were released on the "Leviathan's Desire" CD. The others ( "Holocaust", "Kain & Abel" and "The Mercenary") were released on the best of CD "Lost in Eternity". I have been in contact with a small record company here in Sweden, which is interested to put out a limited edition of our first demo, the "Misanthropy" Mini-LP and "Golem" on one CD! We will see if and when that happens...

What were the very specific elements of the first three Protector records (the ones where you participated) and what do you think of the later stuff like "A Shedding of skin" and "The Heritage" (if we still can call this a Protector album)? I think the Protector stuff after "Urm the mad" was more Death Metal than Thrash, was this a natural evolution of the band in your opinion?

Yes, it was. I think the big change was when Hansi left the band. Olly's riffs are more aggressive and more Death Metal than Hansi's Thrash Metal riffs. That's maybe also a reason for why there often are people who either like the "old" Protector, or the "new" Protector more, depending on if they like Death or Thrash Metal. But hopefully, most Metalheadz like all our albums...

As we know, the original drummer Michael died some years ago and that also meant the death of Protector. In your opinion, what would have been the actual status of the band if they had continued playing? How much does the death of Michael affect a reunion?

I think that Protector's status would have been the one that Kreator and Sodom have today, if they would have continued with Michael. Michael's death of course affects a possible reunion, because there will never be a reunion of the "original" Protector's. But with Marco Pape (who played drums on "The Heritage") it would be at least a reunion of former Protector's members...

I know you recently met the other guys of Protector. I´d like to know if you talked about a comeback. A Protector comeback is a difficult task I suppose, but if there was the smallest chance, do you think that Protector would fit in today's Metal scene where Thrash is having some kind of comeback? After all, many bands are getting back: Destruction, Assassin, Vendetta...

I haven't been to Germany to talk with the guys yet. I will go there in a couple of days. It will be interesting to hear if they are interested in a reunion or not. I think that if there would be a reunion, it should only be for a couple of gigs/festivals, so nobody can say that "they are only trying to make money". It would be great to present our songs to old and new fans at some gigs two or maybe three more times, but we will see what happens in the future...

I know you have a new band in Sweden where you live now. Tell us about your band , please. Do you still use such a raw and aggressive voice which graced the Protector early recordings? Is it a Thrash metal band?

Unfortunately, my new band has broken up! In october 2001, i joined a band called Ruins of Time here in Stockholm. The music can maybe best be described as Speed Heavy Metal with little Thrash influences. In Ruins of Time, I was maybe not singing as brutal as in the old Protector days, but I definetly would describe the voice as Thrash Metal. In May 2002, we recorded a demo called "Timetraveller". As I mentioned earlier, the band broke up in March 2003. The Ruins of Time homepage should still be out there on the internet, if somebody is interested: www.welcome.to/ruins_of_time.

Well, I think this is all for now, the space is open for you to say anything you like. And for your future plans - good luck!

I will try to find a new band, and maybe do something together with the other former members of Protector again, if they want to. We'll see... Thanx for doing this interview with me and greetings to all Mexican Metalheadz!

Interview done by Jose Cano in 2004.