I have nothing but respect for Paul Speckmann. If you’ve survived as long as he has doing what he does there’s nothing but respect left for him. With the re-release of Death Strike’s one and only album an interview was in place. Anders Ekdahl ©2011
When Nuclear Blast released the Death Strike album the first time it wasn’t a completely new album if my memory serves me right. So why did this re-issue of the Death Strike album happen now?
-Well for one thing, the record is or was out of print and many people were asking about a re-issue, so Dark Descent gave the people what they wanted. This is always a great thing to do. You are also correct, the demo recordings were originally released on a cassette when the demo came out in the spring of 1985. Nuclear Blast wanted to release these legendary demos in 1991 and I agreed. NBR wanted some bonus material and at the time I couldn’t really find anything so we recorded some newer tracks which I might add, I didn’t really like the way they came out, but people seemed to like some of the newer tracks anyway. It was obviously hard to recapture the essence of those original recordings in 1991. 1985 was 1985!
Looking back on the recording of it back then what memories do you have of it? Did you even foresee the impact it would have on generations of death metal kids?
-We were trying to be the heaviest band in the world like any band back in the day was trying to do. I had no idea that it would have such an obvious impact on the English, Swedish and the US scenes. This came as a surprise years after meeting many of the bands. After all we only sent out about 6 copies of the demo and a label never contacted us so frustration was the key word for this short-lived band. Deathstrike rehearsed for about 6 weeks recorded and then broke up. We never played a show outside of the storage unit.
Was death metal even a big thing back when “Fuckin’ Death” was first released? What do you think of the evolution death metal has gone through over the last 20 years?
-The categories really weren’t prevalent at this time. It was just Metal to us. They began to make silly categories later in my life. I was just happy to be part of the beginning of the genre I suppose. I think today people are trying to be the most technical or the fastest now and the original focus has been lost. I may be old-fashioned, but I still believe less is more my friend. Anger and frustration is what this music is about in my opinion, but opinions are like assholes, everybody has one.
You’re often talked about as the godfather of death metal. What is it about death metal that attracts so many people and how much do you keep up with the dm-scene today?
-I suppose I am one of the oldest living persons on the scene actually turning 48 this year, so that makes me some sort of Grandfather I suppose. I tour every year whether with Master or working for other groups as a merchandiser or stage-hand so I see many bands every year. It’s hard to find many original groups today though. But I support many bands anyway and hope for the best for them. What else can I do. Originality is a thing of the past. Unless you count these silly melodic, Rap Metal bands.
The cover to the album “Fuckin’ Death” is very simple in its brilliance. How much thought went into it and what do you think of it today?
-It was a fluke, we just wanted an original mean cover and we got it. Those were angry times in my life. I just lost my father and it was struggle for me to keep the music alive and find a new way to survive. I guess you could say I was forced to grow up and take responsibility for myself after my father passed away. This was a good thing for me. Without this experience I wouldn’t have become the man I am today I suppose. Life throws a curve ball from time to time and you have to bounce back otherwise you lose. The original Master drummer is walking around a park in Chicago talking to himself or to anyone who will listen these days. He’s really in sad shape, but this is path he’s chosen for himself.
You’ve been part of three very influential bands (Death Strike, Abomination and Master) but yet you’ve seen very little mainstream success. Does that bother you?
-Not really, I am a survivor of the underground and continue to create music and tour as well as play festivals across the globe every year. So it’s not all bad. Mainstream bands have mostly sold out. Not all, but many!
From what I’ve understand you’ve been living in Europe for a long time now. Is life as a metal musician in Central Europe that much different from the States? Is the metal scene in Europe better at accepting outside contenders than the American?
-I moved to Europe after an offer came to come and play with a band called Krabathor and this was the best move I have ever made. Over here in Europe as well as in Czech, the support for Metal is greater than in the USA. I mean it has improved over there for sure, but Europe is where it and has always been at for me. Many Americans get upset when I say this, but many never leave their own backyards all their lives. I’ve been in Europe for 11 years and have no plans to ever leave except for tours of course. A musician will travel anywhere to pursue a dream.
The latest Master album has received good response in the press. Do you see this as the wind is turning for Master too and you’re getting the respect you so rightfully deserve?
-Actually the last 4 albums got great reviews and the band continues to survive so this is all one can ask for really. Respect, I don’t know. I think the many clones of bands always get more respect then original pioneers. This is a fact of life for me anyway. We are writing the next masterpiece and I hope the people will embrace it. But it’s always a crapshoot. Recording begins in August and we will see the results in the fall.
I’ve heard rumours of a new Abomination album. How would you like to describe the difference in sounds between Death Strike, Abomination and Master?
-Abomination will tour Europe in November for 17 days. As of now I haven’t thought about a new album. Deathstrike was a slow Punk influenced band I suppose if you catagorize it as they have for many years now. Abomination was a speedy Thrash band. Master was and has always been a combination of all styles of music. Some of these bands had great recordings and some that weren’t always the greatest. But the bands and the members always put their heart and souls into every recording. Some albums had bigger promotions, budgets and better ideas. But this is the game of music. And I like this game for sure.
Having been doing this for so long you’ve been through ups and downs, people patting you on the back and in an instant talk shit about you. How do you carry on knowing that the scene you’re a part of is also the scene that will trash you if they don’t like you?
-I never cared about public reactions very much. I have always written the music for myself first and just hoped for the best. There are many hypocritical assholes on the scene, especially the writers of magazines, but we all live with this anyway brother. No offense to you as the interview was a really cool one.