Monday, April 28, 2014

Interview With Master's Paul Speckmann & Concert Review

From The Master Website by Adamovsky.
On April 23rd, Master played at the Fubar on Locust Street in St. Louis.

This is a band that has been around from the beginning of death metal. The band originally formed in 1983 and since then, Paul Speckmann and cohorts have been blasting out their brand of death metal, which has aged very, very well.

Walking into the Fubar, I found Speckmann sitting at the far end of the bar drinking a Budweiser. I realize now I should have asked him about Budvar Beer. He was wearing a Master hoodie. His long hair and beard both greying now.

He's speaks with a slight tinge of the dialect often heard in Eastern Europeans now and is quite funny. Throughout our conversation and the night I often laughed.

What I found most striking about Paul Speckmann wasn't his hair, his out and out metalness, his Explorer styled bass, his musicality, but his drive. He is driven because he loves what he does.

As he and I discussed Master has released 12 studio albums. I can name three other death bands that have such a catalog: Cannibal Corpse (12), Napalm Death (15), and Deicide (11). Strong company indeed.

Originally based out of Chicago, Speckmann has relocated to a small village in the Czech Republic.

Nik Cameron: What's the metal scene like in Europe?

Paul Speckmann: Some of the biggest festivals in the world are out there. They're metal out there. That's part of why I moved to Europe originally. To get respect out there, and I get it.

Things are different here. We're driving from show to show in a van... In Europe you're on a tour bus and stay in hotels at the shows as well. They're provided. 

Nik: How's long it been since you've played in St. Louis?

Paul: A year ago. We had a successful show right here in Fubar. 

Nik: Why do you think death metal's not really talked about it even in the metal community?

Paul: They're strange, man. It doesn't make sense, whatever.

It's America. Over in Europe they do documentaries about death metal all the time. They're actually doing a movie about me over there.

Nik: It's cool how you never stopped. You're on your twelfth album. How many death metal bands have that?

Paul: <laughs> It's because they don't believe in themselves. I believe in myself and my music.

Nik: What gives you inspiration to write another album?

Paul: This country. USA is my biggest influence on my writing. It used to be great, but now it's gone down the tubes. Big Brother's taken over. They think that all the long haired, tattooed guys are terrorists.

What happened to freedom of expression?

Nik: What made you go into death metal? Where did it come from?

Paul: My father died in '84. He had a lot to do with my feelings on society. He had  brain tumor. It exploded with me in the car with him. I took him to the hospital...after two days he had no brain activity. They wanted to keep him hooked up for months and suck all the money out of ya. Pay to die.

We pulled the plug. He was dead. I know that. It's a lot of shock and it made me write more heavy songs.

Nik: What brought on the vocals?

Paul: I grew up listening to bands like Motorhead, of course, Black Sabbath, Minor Threat, and hearing that kind of stuff and I thought we could get heavier. We could do a more extreme version of metal and that's what we attempted to do.

Nik: I like the diversity in your music. Too many death metal bands play basically the same thing for 45 minutes...

Paul: They don't get it. I write music from my heart and soul. I'm not trying to sound like anybody else. I don't listen to death metal. Ever. Sometimes I'm forced to in the car or on tour. I'm still listening to Saxon and Judas Priest, old music, Angelwitch. That's what's different for me. 

I don't listen to other bands so I'm not influenced by them. 

Nik: Whom do you consider to be your peers?

Paul: I don't really think about it. It's a tough question. 

Nik: It would be appropriate to say then that you're writing for yourself first?

Paul: Of course. I write the music that I would like to hear. It's a crap shoot. I don't really know if the people are going to like it. But on the other hand. I really don't care. That's why it works. 

You gotta create something for yourself.

(Paul then makes and throws a paper airplane.)

Nik: How do you get such a thick sound with just  a power trio?

Paul: Well today you're going to see four guys.

How do you get a thick sound? It's just energy. The guys are just talented musicians. 

Nik: I noticed that nothing's lost when the guitar goes into a solo...

Paul: That's because I'm pounding the shit out of the bass.A lot of guys don't play the bass. They use picks. It's more power. You can play faster with a pick, but who wants to be a sissy speed demon? I'm more into feeling. I'm not into speed...even though we play fast songs, but it's not all about speed.

As for the show itself, there were two other national acts on the bill, both from Chicago, Age of Ares and Hate Storm Annihilation. Both bands both put on good shows and really performed what their songs with conviction, but Master was the draw here.

This was my first real introduction to the band. I still find it staggering how long they've been around, how long I've enjoyed death metal, and this is my first time.

Master's sound was in perfect synchronicity. The mixing was spectacular. The drums did not overpower the other instruments and vocals, which is often a problem at metal shows.

With the second guitarist on this tour, Master put up a wall of sound so big a hoard of Mongols couldn't penetrate it.

It was interesting in the times Master wasn't playing a standard song. About halfway through the set, they played a 12 bar blues riff death metal style with Speckmann growling his "my woman done left me" lyrics.

The show was fun, heavy, and spontaneous.

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