Interview with vocalist and guitarist Daniel "Gumo" Reiß
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: September 5, 2012
So, there's other Thrash Metal coming from the fertile soil of Germany, not just Kreator, Sodom, Destruction, Tankard, Protector, Exumer, Assassin, Holy Moses, Angel Dust, Mekong Living Death and a couple of other bands whose names escape me.
Gumo Maniacs, originally from Regensburg, is a 4-piece German Thrash Metal band that started out as one-man project under the Gumo moniker in 2007. They have already recorded two full-length studio albums, Priest of Lucifer, in 2009 and Psychomania, in 2010, and the songwriting process for the band's as-yet-untitled third album has begun.
Founding member Daniel "Gumo" Reiß, who first put his solo project together some 5 years ago, shed some light on the relentless German thrashers known nowadays as Gumo Maniacs and also revealed how the band's first-ever visit to Mexico had a major impact on his life...
Luxi: First off, how's it going? Did you have a good start to the day?
Gumo: Well, I drank a cup of chocolate milk and talked to my wife about some "what ifs" of human history, inspired by an audiobook we listened to last night. So, it's been a good day so far.
Luxi: Secondly, what on earth does "Gumo Maniacs" mean? To me, it sounds like some action figure that's basically meant for kids. Please enlighten us a bit...
Gumo: This question is asked over and over and over again, and it is pretty easy to explain. My nickname is "Gumo" and I write music, and to play and arrange this music I had put together a band. I am not exactly a solo artist like Alice Cooper or Gary Moore. So I chose to use the name "Gumo" and the word "Maniacs". That's the whole secret behind this band name.
Luxi: You guys have already recorded two full-length studio albums (Priest of Lucifer in 2009 and Psychomania in 2010) that were released on both G.U.C. and Blower Records. However, to me it seems like Gumo Maniacs isn't a very well known German Speed/Thrash Metal act around the world. In fact, even for me, a longtime fan of this genre, Gumo Maniacs' name came straight out of the left field when I was browsing through YouTube, looking to find some new killer music. There it was; Gumo Maniacs, a band that truly grabbed my ears! Anyway, back to the original question; do you feel that you are overshadowed by other German Speed/Thrash Metal acts?
Gumo: I think it is fair that we are in some of those shadows. We did not invent the wheel. Let's just say we know how to spin it properly. It is also a question of time. If you look over many years, in the end, those who survive are still gonna be there. When the smoke of the Thrash revival clears, those are the ones will still be standing. That's why I find it more satisfying as a musician to not only enjoy "the good old Thrash" but to try to find my own style somehow. It is not the easiest task in 2012 but it is what we, as a band, need to do to feel satisfied. "You guys sound like Kreator" or "compliments" like those never really meant much to me. That's why we did songs like "Witch Dance" or "Fallen Angels" from the last record and there will be more songs to come that will be called "Thrash" but, at the same time, cannot be compared too easily to the usual suspects. At least that's the goal.
Luxi: I've read that you started Gumo Maniacs as a project under the name of Gumo, at first. Since you are working on the band's third full-length album, would you say that Gumo Manics have grown from this project type of thing into a 100% functioning full band?
Gumo: It is definitely a band and not a project. I know where the band comes from and I am closest to the songs because I have written the majority of the music so far. But I already had experience with musicians changing and the band starting to sound different when the new members came in even though it was still the same individual writing most of the stuff. And that's what it is supposed to be! I definitely WANT and NEED the musicians that play with me to have an impact! Even little frictions here and there; those are important, too, because without those I might as well go back to doing it all alone again with a drum machine and so on, but that's not what it should be anymore! It is supposed to be a true band.
Luxi: Talking about the band's forthcoming material, how would you say it compares to the stuff on your previous two studio recordings? Will there be any radical changes as far as your musical approach is concerned, or is it basically much the same as the music you have already performed on Priest of Lucifer and Psychomania?
Gumo: It is the next logical step. I know that sounds like one of those cliché answers, but that's what it is. The first one had both feet on the ground, the second one was totally crazy, with millions of guitar leads and solos, and the third one combines both aspects, I think. The songwriting still keeps improving, so I think we have reached a level that will totally satisfy us from now on. One main difference is that we finally have good lyrics. On the second album it got a bit better but it took me some time to find myself and to really write stuff that makes sense and still sounds strong or, at least I hope it does. I am not the judge.
Luxi: Did all these new songs for your next album come together easily or did you have to give more effort to it than the two albums you did earlier?
Gumo: That always depends on every single song. Some of them were easy and got together perfectly from the beginning, others were a long and hard struggle.
Luxi: How much has each of you contributed to the songwriting process for your new record? Who has done what?
Gumo: I write the majority of the music and the lyrics and the guys interpret those compositions play them in the way they feel them. That was the formula for this one.
Luxi: Three of the four members in Gumo Maniacs also play in a German Metal band called Metal Reign, everybody except you, in fact. Are there any contradictions for the current members of Gumo Maniacs about which of these two bands should be the #1 priority when it comes down to devoting time for the songwriting process and stuff like that?
Gumo: Time schedules are never easy, but not because of Metal Reign, more because of jobs and other project that enable people to pay rent and food and so on. But somehow we always make it work in the end when it comes to our band. I think that Gumo Maniacs is a pretty high priority for the other members. Or at least I personally can say that I can always count on them with no problems and that they get their homework done; sometimes even more properly than I do.
Luxi: Gumo Maniacs clearly draw musical influences from 80's Thrash and Heavy Metal, as far as your two previous albums are concerned. How important do you see that particular decade for yourself? How has it affected what you have achieved and become as a musician over the years? Which are some of the most important bands from that period that you would say, without their existence, you might not have picked up the guitar and started writing the stuff you have done in the past?
Gumo: I remember the moment clearly when I was like 12 or so and went to my weekly table tennis training listening to music with my Walkman. Back then MP3s did not exist. it was "I Want Out" from Helloween and I always loved that song and it can still give me chills. On my way to training, when the song came to the Kai Hansen solo, all of a sudden I said to myself, "I want to learn how to do that!!" And then it started with my first acoustic guitar on my 14th birthday, I think. Other bands I started to listen to very early were Sodom, Iron Maiden and Scorpions.
Luxi: Which is harder for the band; to come up with suitable lyrics that match your music or to come up with music that matches your lyrics?
Gumo: I think writing good music can be a pain in the ass sometimes. I can always make the lyrics fit, in the end, if I have enough time for it and deadlines do not come too close.
Luxi: The forthcoming Gumo Maniacs album is supposed to be released on your new German label, Golden Core Records (ZYX Music). Would you mind explaining your label change a bit more, apart from the fact that Mexico's Blower Records is no longer active but has two other sub-labels instead, Under Fire Records and Metalways Records. Why did you end up signing a deal with ZYX in the first place? They seem like a pretty big and professional label according to some of the information I've read about them.
Gumo: Well ZYX talked to us and the way they want to do things sounded like a good way to make a step forward as a band, that's all. We played in Mexico two times and released two albums through a Mexican label and it was a good start, which we are thankful for, but it is definitely time to do something different and something new.
Luxi: Have you set the release date of your third album in stone yet?
Gumo: I don't have a clue. At present we should get information on where the recordings will take place and, soon and after that maybe we can get a release date. We always try to keep our webpage updated. As soon as we know something for sure, we'll put it up.
Luxi: Do you have any plans to make a video for one of your songs on this upcoming record, to get the album promoted a bit better?
Gumo: Those things always have to do with money and sales and we don't have the final product yet, so that means there are no reviews and no preorders yet. But ZYX said that if it goes well they want to make a video, but we can't make a promise.
Luxi: Playing gigs seems to be important in getting a band's name on people's lips. Bands really need to play in many places in order to have a positive impact on their record sales. Do you see playing gigs as a "necessary evil" for the band to get some more breath into its lungs?
Gumo: At present, we are playing some gigs to stay in tune as a band. It is pretty difficult to get gigs without having the record out. That's why I hope we will be able to release by the very beginning of 2013, at least...
Luxi: Would you kindly share a few words with the readers of The Metal Crypt about Gumo Maniacs' gig experiences? What responses have you gotten to your live performances thus far? Any bizarre or juicy stories that have happened while playing, perhaps?
Gumo: We cannot complain about the reactions we get at gigs. Sometimes is difficult to read the situation. We play with bands from different kinds genres, so supporting a Death Metal band is different to supporting a classic Metal band and so on. But we hardly ever fail totally, fortunately. Apart from thinking about who is watching and listening to us in our gig, we just to do our thing without thinking too much at all. That has worked well for us, so far. There are not too many crazy stories, probably because we are a band that is focused a lot on the music and the show itself and not on clichés. One story does stand out totally for me; I met the person I am married to today on our very first visit to Mexico!
Luxi: In general, Germany is well known for its Metal bands. You have some of the most popular Metal bands in every genre of Metal. However, not every talented and musically skilled German Metal band has made it big yet, for various reasons. Could you tell us, from your point of view, some German Metal bands should be more recognized worldwide than they are at the moment and the reasons behind their somewhat poor level of success?
Gumo: That's the thing... You cannot plan success. All you can do is be honest and be yourself and maybe a lot of people will like what you do, and some just won't. I do not really have any tips for how to succeed, to be honest, and I never really think about it much at all. I like to focus on things in life that are in my power and aren't attached to things that I cannot influence.
Luxi: What's your take on this so-called Thrash Metal revival that's been going on for some years now? Some old and once-disbanded Thrash Metal bands are collecting their troops together again (Exodus, Onslaught, Death Angel, Exumer, Heathen, etc.) as well as young kids forming new Thrash Metal bands (Havok, Merciless Death, Fueled by Fire, Bonded by Blood, Avenger of Blood, you name them.) Do you fear, at least a little bit, that the Thrash Metal scene may consume itself from the inside out when there's nothing new and exciting left anymore and get replaced by some other style of Metal?
Gumo: That's exactly what I commented more in the beginning of this very interview. Stay alive and find your own style because the smoke will definitely go down, sooner or later. And if you are able to stand out, at least a bit, and if you are still there, then you are going to be seeing things more clearly. In other words; I like to listen to all kinds of Thrash but, as a musician, I do not give a damn about any real or imagined revival.
Luxi: Are there any Thrash Metal albums from 2012 that have made a huge impression on you?
Gumo: I have to admit that from the "German Four" I always like Sodom and Tankard the most. But in 2012 it is hard to beat Kreator. They are totally on top these days with Phantom Antichrist, at least in my humble opinion.
Luxi: What about this other band of yours called Thargos; is that completely over, done, finished or do you have plans to bring it back from the dead? I mean, both the Killfukk and Salem City albums must make you proud of what you achieved with that band, correct?
Gumo: The chances of bringing Thargos back to life are close to zero. That also has to do with time schedules, with the changing interests of the former members and the distances certain people live from each other. Also, I like what we do with Gumo Maniacs more than what we did back then with Thargos, even though it is correct to say I am proud of what we did with the limited skills we had back then. We gave our best and, looking at the results with the means we had, sometimes we gave even more than our best, I think.
Luxi: You also were involved in a Finnish blackened Heavy Metal band called Wizzard. You played bass on the band's last studio album, titled Black Heavy Metal in 2001, plus then switched to guitar and did a song called "Metal Nights" with them, which was released in 2003 as split release with Sacred Steel. Could you share some of your recollections about those days and how you became a member of Wizzard?
Gumo: They used to be signed to a label from my hometown of Regensburg in the south of Germany and I knew the boss from the label. Teemu from Wizzard came to visit him and they talked about scheduling some German tour dates. That's how I got to know Teemu and, after a few talks and rehearsals, I was in to help them make a new record and I alsp played two or three shows together with the other Thargos members and Teemu back then, as far as I can remember. We weren't well prepared for the recordings and our songwriting skills were still far from what we are capable of today. Nevertheless, I do have some good memories from the recording sessions in Düsseldorf (Germany) with the guys. We hadn't seen recording studios from the inside much back then which made it all pretty new and exciting for us.
Luxi: Back to Gumo Maniacs for the last question; once your third album has been released, what do you hope to achieve for the band within a year from that?
Gumo: I want to keep playing in a band that I would love to listen to myself, as a music fanatic. I hope I play in a band that I, as a music fan looking at it from the outside, could say "This is one of my favorites!"
Luxi: I guess that's all for now. I want to sincerely thank you Daniel "Gumo" for making this interview happen, and wish you all the best with Gumo Maniacs in the future. If there's anything else you'd like add or say to conclude this interview, then be my guest and throw out your last words for this interview.
Gumo: Thanks for the support! I hope I was able to provide some good information for this interview.
|Other information about Gumo Maniacs on this site|
|Review: Priest of Lucifer|
|Review: Out of Disorder|
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