Interview with drummer Mattias Scheuerer
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: October 7, 2017
Space Chaser is a Thrash Metal band with a tinge of the Bay Area that is headquartered in Berlin, Germany. With a couple of EPs and albums under their bullet belts, the band has slowly made a name for themselves among Thrash circles around the world.
The band's latest, Dead Sun Rising, was sent to the staff of The Metal Crypt and through some type of magic turned the head of this particular journalist so I decided to find out if the guys in Space Chaser are a bunch of aliens from the other side of the sun with a diabolical and ugly plan for us humans here on Earth or something else completely.
Aliens they are not and drummer Matthias Scheuerer was kind enough to explain the band's current and future stratagems in a bit more detail.
Luxi: Guten tag, how are things in Berlin these days? Are things getting a bit "restless and wild" there as seems to be the case in all of Europe these days?
Matthias: Hey Luxi. Berlin is a crazy town. Busy with legions of hipsters trying to get you to drink their shitty craft beer even though every beer you can buy at the ”Spätkauf” (sort of an open-late convenience store) tastes better than their crap. Wait, that may sound too negative...
All kidding aside it's actually been pretty interesting here in our hometown and a lot has changed in the past 8 years or so. I see a lot of different faces that I have never seen before at shows or in bars. There’s been a lot of good input from all over the world.
Luxi: First off, could you give a brief (or lengthy - you choose!) history of the early days of Space Chaser and what made you form the band? Was it clear right from the start that you'd play Bay Area-tinged Thrash Metal?
Matthias: Space Chaser was built by Leo, Martin and Basti from of the ashes of another Thrash band that drew a lot of attention; Tracer. They are still sort of active but not really what you'd call a band, I guess.
Space Chaser was meant to be total Bay Area worship from the get-go. That was not a coincidence. They quickly found the perfect powerhouse of a singer in Siggi and the cherry on top is that this guy is 100% real, the ”frontsau” as we call it (the literal translation would be ”frontpig”) every band dreams of.
After some changes behind the drums, I came into the picture and we have had a stable line-up ever since. Of course, it is sometimes necessary to find substitutes for a show. You can't stop that train just because it's somebody's b-day.
After self-producing and recording the demo as well as the Decapitron EP we soon found support from legendary Thrash producer Harris Johns who recorded our first album Watch the Skies. He unfortunately couldn't do the last one but I think we found the perfect partner in crime in Jan Oberg from the Hidden Planet Studios here in Berlin. He is, by the way, the mastermind of the mighty Earthship.
Luxi: How did you choose the name Space Chaser? Were there other names considered in your brainstorming sessions?
Matthias: Many people think we chose the name after the 80's arcade game. I can assure you that is not the case. We didn't know that the game even existed, to be honest. It was Leo’s idea and Martin drew the logo. We thought the name fit perfectly and boom – here we are.
Luxi: You recorded your self-titled, 3-track debut demo in 2012 when the band had been around about a year. Did you have the goal in mind that it had to be good enough to get the band signed?
Matthias: Those demo sessions weren’t too exciting. We had very limited abilities and even less knowledge about how to do things. Needless to say, we were blown away by the attention it got. To this day people write and ask if we still have a copy lying around somewhere. The attention of a label didn't happen until much later, after we (self-) released the EP.
Luxi: A year later you entered the studio again to record 4 new tracks that were intended for the Decapitron EP. How much had the band's sound sharpened and improved in that year and had you found the style for the band, more or less?
Matthias: As we got better at writing songs and everyone's musicianship grew and grew we were able to play our songs more like we thought they should sound. We developed a love for the rather fast-paced Thrash songs and to this day this process continues. The EP was completely DIY. We recorded it in our basements and only gave the raw mixes to a studio to make it kind of sound good. We also did the pressing on our own. We only put the TCM logo on it because he already agreed to release the album and we thought we could sell the EP faster, which we did.
That sucker sold out so fast and is kind of hard to find now. Maybe at some point there will be a reissue.
Luxi: Since the beginning you have had a pretty steady line-up with only a couple of drummers coming and going in the band's 6 years of existence. Would you say the band's chemistry is on that level these days that it would take a minor catastrophe to ruin it?
Matthias: Definitely! We are a family. We love each other and sometimes we hate each other. We fight a lot but we have a lot more fun together. As in every long-term relationship, it requires a lot of work from each person. I couldn't imagine a scenario that would tear us apart (knocking on wood) but we're also aware that people and their situations change. You never know what's going to hit you.
Luxi: Besides the fact the whole band seems to be working like a well-oiled machine, your vocalist Siegfried Rudzynski has managed to gather a lot of attention with his incredible vocal range. Was it very obvious from the start that you'd hand the microphone to him?
Matthias: It became obvious that he was the perfect match in the first rehearsal. Love at first sight, if you will. He was a Power Metal vocalist until that point but was a thrasher dude all along so it was pretty obvious he would join us. And yeah, if you took his voice out of our songs and replaced it with some generic thrash screaming, it would not be half as interesting.
Luxi: This Charming Man Records, a small German independent label, got interested and Space Chaser's debut album became a reality back in April 2014. Did you have much pressure when you recorded Watch the Skies? I firmly believe that you wanted to show everyone what Space Chaser was made of...
Matthias: To be perfectly honest with you, the pressure for that record was not that big. We just did it. We went into the studio and started recording. I wasn't even as prepared as I normally am. Crazy...A complete Punk Rock scenario. But when we finished and it turned out pretty good, that's when we felt pressure.
We are so happy with TCM records. It seemed to be the right place for us. I have known Chris for a pretty long time and I knew he meant business. He discovered Kadavar, for example. We talked a lot about releasing our record with him and we were the first Metal band on TCM. Now he has a lot of other Thrash releases and is well known for putting out quality Metal as well as other great stuff.
Luxi: The international press and fans seemed to receive your debut album very well also. What has all this positive attention brought to the band? Obviously more gig opportunities, but what else?
Matthias: It made us work a lot harder. Really. That is the biggest benefit from all that. We saw where we wanted to go and we're constantly working our asses off to be the best Thrash band we can be.
Luxi: The band has made 3 professional yet funny videos over the years. How much have those videos helped to get the band's name spread around? Do you think that without them the band would be less known today?
Matthias: That I really don't know. A lot of people seem to like them and I know that some of our fans found us through YouTube and our video clips but how much it helped us I really don't know. Neither TCM nor us have that much of a following on YouTube. If you compare it to other video clips on bigger platforms we pretty much vanish. So yeah, I think it's good we have them but it's not what will make us famous in the end ha ha!!
Luxi: Does the humor of the videos speak about the ”brotherhood” that you have in the band? Do you play spontaneous, innocent pranks on each other when the cameras aren’t rolling?
Matthias: Absolutely! We're goofing around all the time. For example, if you check on Facebook there is a fan page titled ”The Sleeping Beauty”. It's just pictures of our singer sleeping. That is one of the ”innocent” pranks we play each other.
Luxi: Let's move on to talk about the band's latest album, Dead Sun Rising which was released in October 2016. It's no wonder that it's the band's strongest and most pleasing release so far and everyone who has heard it has loved it. Was there something special in the air while you were laying songs down for it and did you find it easier to make, compared to your debut album? By this I mean you didn't have as much to prove as all of the parties that had become familiar with the band's musical potential and talent knew that you could deliver big fuckin' time indeed!
Matthias: Thanks for the flowers. Like I said, every new output only makes us work harder. Leo and I worked our asses off for that record. Made demos – hated it – started from scratch... You get the picture. It's getting increasingly more difficult to please our own ambition. Dead Sun Rising comes the closest to what we want to sound like. More modern but still true to our old school influences. We still have a lot of proving to do. Namely everyone who doesn't know us yet hehe!!
It is very important for us to see progress in every new release. In my opinion, the difference between Dead Sun... and Watch... is as big as between the EP and Watch...
We continue to grow and we feel a little more confident about trying different stuff or letting different influences slip into our songwriting. Take for example "Judgement Day". That track was a pretty ballsy move in my opinion. But you know I really don't want to limit the band’s output to just the same beat and the same riffs over and over again.
Luxi: On this new album, you have a song called "Skate Metal Punks (Mosh up the Unmoshed)" which you have also done a video for. Would you say that this is the band's tribute to the biggest ”mosh-it-up” Thrash kings, Anthrax? How much has their ”tongue-in-cheek” humor touched each of you?
Matthias: "Skate Metal Punks" was a tribute we paid for a friend who supported us (and still does) so much that we felt like writing and dedicating a song that would do his endeavors justice. It was a hymn written for Markus and his underground skateboard label Koloss. It was originally planned to be released only as a 7” single together with a shirt Markus printed and distributed for us. But we were totally unsatisfied with how the song turned out so we decided to re-record it and release it for good on Dead Sun Rising.
Funny you should mention Anthrax in that context. I also feel there is some sort of proximity to them. Hard Thrash Metal with melodic vocals and yeah – tons of humor.
Luxi: How important is this humor element in the band? As you know, there are a great number of Thrash Metal bands out there that not only take their music very seriously but lyrics as well...
Matthias: It's an important part of who we are. It wouldn't make much sense to pretend that we are these tough, hard knocks kind of guys when in fact we are just a bunch of beer-guzzling weirdos. It's a fine line between funny but still cool video clips and downright ridiculous nonsense, however. So far we've managed to stay on the right side I believe.
But make no mistake we take our music and lyrics very seriously and fight very hard over every song to avoid being goofy. Of course, when Space Chaser first started out we had these ridiculous zombie and alcohol-themed songs but it's gotten more serious over time.
Luxi: How do things do look for the band on the gig front at the moment?
Matthias: We're kicking off our fall 2017 tour on the 23rd of September and will be pretty much be touring every weekend til the end of the year. We have some tours planned for the first half of 2018 with a bunch of great bands. We're very excited for the near future and hope that next year will lead us to international shores and we get to leave Germany a lot more often.
We also celebrate our very own Space Fest every year here in Berlin and this year we're going all in. We invited our friends Insanity Alert, Stallion, Fabulous Desaster, Dismalfucker and Street Hawk to join us and we're having the most amazing Thrash party. This year is the first time that we're having the Space Fest in Berlin and Hamburg. It is going to be one crazy mother of a weekend on the 20th and 21st of October.
Luxi: What about your new stuff? Have you had time to write some new stuff that is meant for your next release?
Matthias: We're currently working on a new EP. It is for a split release with another great Thrash band that is pretty hot right now. Plans are to release it in January 2018 if everything works out according to schedule.
We're really psyched and the new stuff is going to be pretty cool Thrash. Keep your ears open and follow us on whatever channel you chose to stay updated.
The next new thing is going to be a release for our festival in October. We have a great song that is unreleased as of now and will be out as a 7" vinyl single only available at our Space Fest and in our store afterwards and – of course – as an online single.
Luxi: Time for the very last question, believe it or not. What would Space Chaser's favorite end of the world scenario be? My wild guess is an alien invasion from outer space, ha ha!
Matthias: The highest probability of the end would be a giant meteorite I think. But this planet has been so lucky for so long that we probably figure out a way to save our asses. In that case we will eventually get sucked into a giant black hole and the entire fucking planet will be "spaghettified" (that's the very painful process of what happens when the gravitational pull of a black hole on your feet is stronger than on your head – it's a thing. Look it up!)
Or our sun explodes. That will happen, too.
Luxi: Thank you so much for your time for doing this interview and all the best both to you and your band in the future. The final space is reserved for you...
Matthias: Thanks so much for your support and for the interview. We really hope that we get to have a beer together on the road. We've had tons of fun answering your questions here in our little studio.
If you're ever in Berlin, please holler. We'll get you drunk.
Watch the Skies!
|Other information about Space Chaser on this site|
|Review: Dead Sun Rising|
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