When you think of Liechtenstein, you tend to think of it's football team and how easily they are beaten in almost every international football game, save face for a few of which they proved victorious in. But casting aside the woes of Liechtenstein's footballing perils, there is something far more enthralling to substitute (see what I did there?) the aforementioned with. That is a small but active metal scene.
Arguably the most prolific Liechtensteiner metal bands are Elis and Erben der Schöpfung, but with bands like Dark Salvation and Shotgun leading the next wave, can they match their predecessors in what they have achieved and carry forward the Liechtenstein Metal scene? I spoke to Shotgun to gain an insight into this landlocked country (between Austria and Switzerland), Shotgun's heritage and future, and Liechtenstein's flirtation with the Eurovision Song Contest...
"Looking for new members, that can be pain in the ass since the area is rather rural..."
Could you give us the history of Shotgun, who the current line-up is and what the band name means?
"Shotgun was founded at the end of 2010 as a free-time project, when Mischa Rucker and Matthias Marxer exchanged some riffs and ideas. After a while they thought that what they were doing might have some potential and they started to look for full time members for a fully operational band.
In April of 2011 Shotgun was complete, Mischa Rucker and Matthias Marxer on guitars, Patrik Schächle on bass, Sergio Garcia on drums and Bruno Lombardo as vocalist. Shotgun eventually parted their way with Mischa because of musical differences. Patrik switched from bass to guitar and Mäcky Lampert took up occupation as the new bassist. After a few years of live activities and recording sessions where we never found satisfaction in the sound, Shotgun started a major recording session for the first demo EP which now is released as 'First Shots'.
Shortly after completing the drum-track, Sergio left the band to settle back to Barcelona, his native city. Nonetheless the remaining members completed the recordings later in 2016 and released it in May 2017. Mäcky decided to leave Shotgun due to different personal future plans, which were not compatible with the bands plans. Tobias Schädler, former guitarist of I Am Chaos was found as the new man on the bass. After over a year and a half David Walch joined forces with the band as the drummer. This is he current line up."
You've released your debut EP this year, what was the reception like? Did you have a EP release show?
"Since it took us so long releasing it, a lot of people were looking forward it with high expectations. We got some good reviews from different online magazines, and that we do appreciate highly. Also we had many messages coming in from around the globe asking where to purchase our EP, (text us, PayPal us, get your copy).
Sadly not, since we had no drummer we were not able to play live. We had a listening, we were not really happy with that but at least it was a cool party but we will make it up with the live shows, at least to our fans in the area."
What is gigging in Liechtenstein like? Tell us more about the metal scene - venues, festivals, labels, etc - do you tend to travel to Switzerland or Austria for gigs?
"It sucks big time, we don't have a proper location and nobody is in to it to make something, also it lacks the people if something happens once in a while. In May 2016 we had the first Metal Open Air, which was cool since almost every band from Liechtenstein played there. We're always going to watch and play gigs in Switzerland and Austria since the scene is way bigger."
Is it hard being a metal band in Liechtenstein? Bands like Elis and Erben der Schöpfung broke out the national scene, are there any other well known bands?
"Well it’s not harder than anywhere else unless you are looking for new members, that can be pain in the ass since the area is rather rural and there is not a whole bunch of people living around here, compared to bigger cities. For playing live we have a good market in Switzerland, Austria and Germany so that is not an issue at all.
Well for the bands, I would not say there is anything famous out there but we can gladly recommend our friends from Tankfist and Dark Salvation."
Regarding your debut EP 'First Shots', can you tell us what each song means?
"Pretty self explanatory. Murder, possession, genocide, shotguns, beer, sex, and Thrash metal, many songs have included double meanings like ancient genocide which deals about the dying semen during sex, or shotgun blasting which is another form of a shotgun blast in the face. Actually, what you hear on the EP is the early primitive days of Shotgun, our future material will be more critical and mature, especially for the lyrical content. 'First Shots' is like a summary of the early Shotgun days."
Liechtenstein has flirted with the Eurovision on numerous occasions, what are your thoughts on the competition?
"F*ck that sh*t. We are in for metal not for a bunch of circus clowns. It's all just paid bullsh*t where honest music does not count wet sh*t. It is another fashion show on TV which we don’t need frankly."
Given the small size of Liechtenstein, what do you do for hobbies / activities outside of music?
"Drinking beer and metal is one of the best activities you can do here, hiking would be an option but the weather sucks most of the time. Back to beer and metal."
What plans have you got for the rest of the year and do you have any hello's you wish to send out?
"To play as many gigs as we can and have a huge party with some other crazy maniacs out there. Those we do greet for the support through the years for sure. For the extended hello and thanks list check the booklet of our EP."
Some metal music fans might not know it, but the Chilean Metal scene has been around for quite some time, at least since the 1980's. One Chilean-born-German Anton Reisenegger was a part of this movement and still is involved with other metal bands. He is a member of Pentagram, Fallout, United Forces, Lock Up and of course Criminal of whom we interviewed him about.
Criminal have had a remarkable 26-year career thus far with a healthy amount of albums and demoes in their discography, but of course one of the more momentous periods of their career was in 2001 when Anton upped and left Santiago in favour of Ipswich, Suffolk - quite the change right? The thing is with the South American metal scenes is that sure there are great bands, great achievements but the one thing that seems to hinder most bands is the travelling and gigging potential. Whereas in the UK you have within a 4-hour drive of London the cities of Birmingham, Manchester, Portsmouth, etc so forth, to tour in South America predominantly involves flying and so logistics come into the fray.
Last year Criminal released their eighth album entitled 'Fear Itself' which marked five years since their previous album 'Akelarre'; the longest period between any two albums in their career, moreover it marked their 25th anniversary since their inception and they are without any doubt one of Chile's finest ever metal bands. GMA spoke to Anton to find out what life was like back in the 80's Chilean Metal scene, how they came to move over to England and the whole issue with metal elitism.
"sometimes to have a little gimmick works as well in terms of popularity" (Anton on one of the ways young bands can develop popularity)
Criminal as a band started in Chile, is this correct? When did you move? What does the name mean?
"Yes, yes, the band started in Chile back in the early 90's and well we made the first years of our career over there and moved over to Europe in 2001. We moved to England first, it was only half of the band actually, it was only Rodrigo our original guitarist and I, we started working with Zac O'Neill who had been in Extreme Noise Terror... or was in Extreme Noise Terror at the time, for a while we had ex-Cradle Of Filth bassist Robin Eaglestone... who left after a couple of years, so kind of kept the band going through a very difficult time because of moving to a different country, a different continent even, it's not easy but we managed to keep going and here we are on our eighth album.
"We've had a few high points in our career, we've supported a few of our favourite bands from Motorhead to Slayer, even Metallica. Lowest point? We got dropped from our label at the end of the 90's (BMG Chile), but that was exactly why we decided to move and it was a good thing in the end because it was a new beginning (they signed with Metal Blade Records). It was very cool supporting Metallica, the crew were super cool, very accommodating, the guys took a minute or so to speak to the band, was very nice."
"There's not a real meaning as such, we wanted something that sounded aggressive and was the same in Spanish and English; which is the case."
So Anton, what was the early Chilean Metal scene like? Is it true that in South America tapes and vinyls are still very popular?
"It was very passionate but also very improvised, everything you know you had to... there wasn't any really good gear so you had to go and like find whatever amp that sounded okay, bands would have to share their equipment in order to play shows. Everything was very, very grass-roots, but I think that it kind of gave it it's character you know? That passionate people really believed in it and that gave it that sort of thing that the Europeans appreciate a lot about, you know about Brazilian Death Metal, Chilean Death and Thrash Metal, etc.,"
"Yes it is true, I wouldn't say it's still very popular... they're popular again, I understand vinyl - it's a beautiful form you know you have the big artwork, it smells nice and sounds good. Tapes I really don't care much for, I don't understand that trend well... but whatever makes people happy hahaha, if they like it then why not?"
Brexit is a huge topic at the moment, so what are your thoughts on it, would it affect the band?
"I don't know, it all depends on how they work it out really, but I see it could affect the band in terms of you don't have the freedom to travel that you have now and then maybe you would have to have a Visa to come over here you know, because I live in Spain now but our centre of operations is still in the UK because Danny (Biggin) our bassist has got a studio which is where we record our albums, prepare for tours and stuff like that. I can see it being a problem really."
For those bands playing on the New Blood Stage, what advice (if any) could you give them?
"First of all be true to yourself, but also make sure that you have something different to offer. There's no point in sounding exactly like Megadeth, or exactly like Slayer or this or that. You have to have something that makes you stand out and also I would say that sometimes to have a little gimmick works as well in terms of popularity, you know bands like Alestorm it's that kind of stuff you know? They're a little Pirate-gimmick or whatever you know, Ghost with the costumes and hidden identities and all of that. So yeah think of something cool, something original and go for it. It's getting harder as there are so many bands out there to make themselves noticed, so you have to work hard and really believe in what you want to do"
80's Thrash was seminal to it's time, however would you agree that there is a new Thrash Metal movement emerging?
"Oh yeah, but a lot of it is just rehashing the past. I appreciate what the band's are doing, appreciate the fact the bands want to keep it alive and there's always room for a good Thrash band if you ask me. But, the originality factor is sometimes not there"
If Criminal were to cover a song, what would you choose?
"Well we've done a few covers in our career, but I don't know. Nowadays I try to maybe find some obscure band I used to like in the 80's or something like that, that maybe a lot of kids nowadays don't know and maybe do a take on that"
Would you say some metalheads are elitist when it comes to certain metal genres?
"Oh yeah absolutely, I see it all the time I really don't have any time for that because like everyone can listen to what they want. I think it's very arrogant to go around telling people what they can and cannot listen to, what is true and what is not, who are you to say that? They can say whatever they want but it's still like from the old Thrash Metal bands of the 80's to Pantera to Gojira, you know I don't give a f*ck"
If you had to pick a song from your entire discography, which one would it be and why?
"Ooh that's difficult, I really like a song that we played today called 'Stillborn' which is from our first album ('Victimized'), it's a slow song which has harmonies and stuff, it's maybe not a typical song but I think it showcases the band from a different angle, that one I like"
Most bands have a figurehead to go to talk to with any issues, problems, etc, does Criminal have one?
"Hahaha, I don't know... the drummer because it's his fault hahaha"
What was the response to your set? What plans do you have after Bloodstock and leading into 2018?
"It was good, we would have liked a bigger crowd, but I understand with so many bands and you know three days into the festival, people are tired and stuff but we got the crowd going and I was telling the guys at least the crowd was bigger and not smaller"
"First I'm going to chill out for a bit, take a holiday and then go into the studio to do some recordings for my old band Pentagram. In October I start a tour with Brujeria (with Lock Up) playing in Australia and New Zealand (support for Napalm Death). This will be the first time I will be playing in New Zealand, really looking forward to it as I love to explore even though a lot of the time you don't really have the time to go out and do the tourist thing..."
"We want to thank everyone who went to the stage to check us out today and we'll be back, probably with a new album next year"