Interview with vocalist and guitarist Frank Thoms
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: July 3, 2014
German thrashers Accu§er formed in 1986 and released six studio albums before calling it quits in 2004. During the first phase of the band's existence, 18 years in all, they never broke into the top tier of German Thrash Metal acts, like their fellow country mates Kreator, Destruction, Sodom, Tankard, Assassin and others did.
Between 2004 and 2008 some ex-Accu§er members went under the name Scartribe and managed one 6-song demo during that band's 4-year existence. In 2008, they took back the Accu§er name, put out three more albums and have never looked back.
2014 marks 25th anniversary of Accu§er's most popular album, the debut Who Dominates Who?, which we talk about in this interview, along with many other things that founding member, vocalist and guitarist Frank Thoms, wanted to address with the readers of The Metal Crypt. Read on...
Luxi: How is it cooking, Frank? Are you excited about the fact you were able to re-record Accu§er's 2nd album Who Dominates Who? last February with the new line-up?
Frank: It was a great experience to record 25-year-old stuff with the current Accu§er line-up. We had a lot of fun in the studio last February and, yes, it was a very exciting feeling to re-record that album.
Luxi: Do you believe you succeeded in recapturing the same vibe and feeling from the original album with this new Accu§er line-up? Did you try to stay true to the original or did you bring some new "spice" so people would be getting something "new" from the Accu§er camp?
Frank: I think we captured a different kind of vibe and feeling with this new recording. It's not the same as we had in 1989. It feels new and fresh, like a new album to us. The structures of the songs are the same as the originals. Some newer things are a more powerful sound, the D-tuning of the guitars, my voice and we also changed the original solos quite a bit.
Luxi: Why did you want to re-record this particular album? Did you want to get a better production versus the original or did you just want to see if you could set all those old songs on fire again with the new line-up?
Frank: First off, we wanted to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Who Dominates Who? by going to the studio and re-recording it all over again. Then we tried to create a nexus between old and new. And, last but not least, we wanted to introduce the current line-up by recording WDW? with the new Accu§er line-up.
Luxi: Which studio did you use for these re-recording and did you produce the album yourselves? Do you feel that you accomplished all the things you were hoping for on this re-recording?
Frank: We were at the Gernhart Studio in Troisdorf and recorded the album with Martin Buchwalter. We produced the album together. I don't know. My hope is that people will like the new recording of WDW? regardless of whether or not they know the old stuff.
Luxi: Do you plan to release the record on your own or have you negotiated a deal with a label to release?
Frank: Our label is Red Shift Music and we are very happy with the cooperation we get from them. We have no plans to change the label at the moment.
Luxi: Have you heard Exodus' re-recording of Bonded by Blood, which they re-named Let There Be Blood? How about Testament's First Strike Still Deadly, which contained some re-recordings of old Testament classics? What are your thoughts about these releases, if you have heard them?
Frank: I know them both and I like these records. They are very powerful and the songs shine in new splendor.
Luxi: Accu§er's ninth album, Diabolic, was released in 2013 and it was a very strong release that brought Accu§er even deeper into the roots of Thrash Metal. How happy and satisfied are you with Diabolic? Did things click on that record, maybe even more than you originally hoped?
Frank: I am very happy with Diabolic. The sound of the album transports the songs into the right place. That was my hope and it was a well made record altogether, I think.
Luxi: Many people have said that Accu§er has made a return to form, starting with Agitation, released in 2010. What changed and how did Accu§er find the Thrash gear once again and let the more groovy sounding gear vanish?
Frank: Before we started again with Accu§er, we had a band named Scartribe. That band had a different style than Accu§er's. When we changed the name to Accu§er again, we had some material that was written during the Scartribe era. So the first album Accu§er did after the break was Agitation. It is a musical mix between Accu§er and Scartribe. I think we found the right style for Accu§er on the album Dependent Domination though; the real Accu§er sound that represents us best.
Luxi: Starting at the end of the 80's and especially in the first half of 90's, the whole Speed and Thrash Metal scene started to vanish in the wake of Grunge and, later on, Death Metal. Undoubtedly those were hard times for Accu§er, with Thrash Metal's popularity in the mainstream Metal community waning. Did you feel like you were fighting for survival back in those days? How hard were those times for Accu§er?
Frank: At that time there was a progression toward heavier music and it wasn't so good for us but very good for many of today's bands. Bands tried out new musical styles and most of the crowd liked that but the same crowd tended to forget about the older styles and bands that were there before. There were a lot of new ways Metal bands to express themselves and today we have a lot of different sub-genres and every one has at least a fair amount of listeners. You can play Thrash, Death, Gothic, Nu-Metal or whatever and you will still find listeners and fans. It works in everyone's favor, I guess.
Luxi: Do you have any regrets that some of your fans walked away when Accu§er went on the path that lead to your third album, Double Talk? Or did you want to test new waters with more groove-laden albums like Reflections and Taken by the Throat?
Frank: Every period of music has a progression and nearly every musician's tastes change. If you play in a band for years, it shouldn't be that surprising that your musical taste may change over time and then you start writing a different style of music and recording different styles of albums. It's just natural, I think. I have no regrets about working that way at all. However, today I know so many Accu§er fans that like our whole repertoire, from The Conviction to Who Dominates Who? 25.
Luxi: Taken by the Throat was released in 1995 and then Accu§er only released a couple of demos, between 1995 and 2003, before morphing into Scartribe and finally back to Accu§er from 2008 on. What really happened there? Why did you put Accu§er on ice and continue under the Scartribe moniker even though the line-up was identical to Accu§er's?
Frank: We tried to do new and different things with Scartribe. The first songs we wrote had quite a quite different sound but, at some point, we started going back toward Accu§er's direction, music-wise. As soon as we realized that was happening, we went back to Accu§er.
Luxi: Do you believe, since returning to the Accu§er name again, you have recaptured the same spark that drove the band to create your most well-known and popular album, Who Dominates Who?
Frank: I think the current line-up has so much potential and love for the music that we can say "yes, indeed, we have the driving force needed to keep the band going."
Luxi: Accu§er's seventh album, Agitation, saw the light of day in 2010. Did you feel that album was a return to the Thrash Metal that Accu§er seemed to be best at?
Frank: I think I pretty much covered your question a bit earlier above, so let's just move on and go to the next one, please...
Luxi: Well, I guess I did just that, perhaps. Anyway, just a year later, Accu§er added more grist to their hungry mill by releasing the band's eighth studio album, Dependent Domination. This album proved, even more convincingly, that Accu§er is a 100% waterproof Thrash Metal band. Even the beginning of the first song off the album, "Presentiment", reeked of the beginning of one very familiar song from a certain US Thrash Metal band... ;o)
Frank: I have no idea... ha ha!! I like Dependent Domination. It's a very important album for us.
Luxi: How well did the Accu§er fans welcome Dependent Domination? Did they congratulate you with free beers when they met you at local bars, concerts and stuff?
Frank: I have read and heard a lot of positive things and compliments about our Dependent Domination album, which is great. A lot of people told me, "that is real Thrash Metal stuff", as it should be in the first place.
Luxi: Last year, Accu§er's Diabolic album was released and it seems you stretched out the songs a bit more on that opus. Was it your intention to write songs in the 5-7 minute range or did that just happen "accidentally"?
Frank: We had no plan to write songs of that length, but we made the same important observation about length for our upcoming songs. We want to create shorter songs that still have as much content as those on the Diabolic album.
Luxi: If anything, Diabolic proves that Accu§er still "have it"; the ability to churn out some absolutely mean and kickass Thrash Metal. I assume this is the path you are going to stay on until Accu§er is no more...
Frank: First off, thank you very much for your kind words. Secondly, yes, I think Diabolic will light our path for the future, with some special news and changes. ;-)
Luxi: How much new stuff have you already written since the release of Diabolic? I bet your songwriting pencils have been pretty darn sharp lately, right?
Frank: After Diabolic, we had a line-up change. Uwe left the band and Dennis joined Accu§er. Then we started working with the Who Dominates Who? material. Before and after those studio studio sessions, Dennis and I wrote some new material, but now we are moving toward a hotter phase and writing some killer riffs again.
Luxi: On the live front, you played a gig at Underground in Köln, Germany on April 13th, 2014 with Crowbar. How was the response and are you looking forward to playing more live shows with Accu§er in the near future? I noticed that you have a good bunch of shows booked for Accu§er already, like the Bang Your Head festival in Balingen on the 11th of July, among other shows, of course. It should be a fun and crazy summer, eh?
Frank: We hope to play with Crowbar again. It was a great evening. They are a great band, nice and friendly guys and it was a great audience that liked both Crowbar and Accu§er. During the past few weeks we played at some cool summer festivals and are looking forward to playing the next shows. Undoubtedly, this will be a great summer for us, live-wise, that's for certain!!
Luxi: Are you also aiming to play outside Europe, knowing that each of you have your families to support, regular day jobs to be done and so on?
Frank: We do what we can. The families support us, which is great and the jobs and Accu§er are all still manageable. We hope that we can play some shows all over the world some day.
Luxi: Well, I think I'll cut this chat with you here, Frank, rather than prolonging your agony with my interview questions. Thanks for taking some time to do this interview for The Metal Crypt and all the best both to you and Accu§er in the future. The last words belong to you...
Frank: Thank you and greeting§ to all the fan§. Thank you for your §upport. Cheer§...!!
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