War Agenda were reviewed here a few months ago, I found ‘Night of Disaster’ an amazing German thrash release, which had a bit of everything. Whilst the band maybe self-critical as you will see below, this is what the thrash scene needs, bands with this level of enthusiasm. We spoke with Jochen, the bands bassist, here’s what went down…
First of all, thanks for taking the time to chat to Brutalism, secondly, wow, ‘Night of Disaster’ is a perfect thrash album! You must be pretty pleased with the result! Before we go into this, how did the band form?
Hi Paul, thanks for the interest on War Agenda and the opportunity of this interview. Well, “[...] a perfect thrash album” is a very benevolent description, thanks for that. As very self-critical musicians, we think “Night of Disaster” is not a “perfect” album, but our debut shows the way we want to go. In 2012, Nils wanted to form a new Thrash-Metal project after leaving his old Thrash-Band "Hatchery". Ingo joined and they wrote some riffs and first song ideas. Hamdi and Marsel, which played both in Ingo's old band "Pulse of Decay" joined and Marsel switched from guitar to Vocals. In this constellation they wrote the first three songs "Night of Disaster", "Destiny of a mad man" and "Shot to pieces". End of 2012, Marsel told me that he is searching for a bass player and I said: "Ok, I'm a guitar player and I'm free, let's try!" Three weeks later I joined their rehearsal and it worked, War Agenda was complete.
So there's some good influences here, when you started the band, who were your inspiration?
We all have different musical backgrounds. Nils is really influenced by US-Thrash and Swedish Melodic Death-Metal, Hamdi and Ingo prefer old-school Death-, Doom-, and Thrash-Metal (also German). Marsel comes from Heavy Metal and Hard Rock and I´m the Hardcore-, Punk- and 90s Crossover guy. Our common thread is bay-area Thrash-Metal but each and every one of us brings his own influences into the band and the songs. I think this makes our music rich in variety.
Were all the songs on ‘Night of Disaster’ (the seven  that were not on the demo) tried and tested tracks, or did you write new ones in the studio?
All songs were tested live. We’re not that kind of band who writes songs in the studio. Sometimes Nils or Ingo come with complete songs, written at home and we just work together on the fine tuning and arrangements. Otherwise we use to jam in the rehearsal room.
Do you have a particular favourite track form the album? My personal favourite is "Axis Of Evil".
Good choice! I love every single song on the album but if I’ve to choose one, The Wait. Groovy mid-tempo stuff, my world.
As it was your debut, was this your first studio recording experience? What did you think of the process?
No it wasn’t. We’re all long time musicians and played in several bands and projects before. Except Ingo, we’re all still playing in other bands too. Hamdi plays in the old-school Death-Metal band “Zombieslut” and together with Marsel in a Stoner-Metal project called “Weed Wizard”. Nils plays in the Death/Grind/Crust band “Compulsive Slaughter” and I play also in the Hardcore/Metal band “Soilid”. The song writing went quite fast but the recording process took a long time. First we wanted to release the album end of 2014 but the inquiries for live shows had been overwhelming to us and we played as many shows as possible. So it was not like “Ok! Let’s take 1-2 weeks, go to the studio and record that shit”, we just recorded on free weekends. I think we have to optimize the recording process for the next album, but with full time jobs, other commitments and rehearsals for live shows, it’s difficult to find an easy way.
What did you learn from the process with Jochen Schutz (co-Producer)?
I am Jochen Schütz! Before we started to record, I exactly knew how the songs and album should sound like. So I forced the recording process to aim this special sound. :) I think it's a big benefit to have persons with recording experience (from the engineering point of view) right in the band.
What was ‘Bloodboy’s’ brief in regards the artwork concept?
This was really curious. Initially we gave the order to another famous artist with the exact scene, we wanted to have, for the front-cover. But the communication between the artist and the band was quite difficult, because he was working on many projects at the same time. After checking some shirt designs from Bloodboy I noticed his album artworks and there was this tank, standing in a bombed city. This scene was 99% of what we wanted to have and also his style fitted exactly to us, so we decided to give him the order for the artwork and layout. Also the actual shirt design is from Bloodboy. It’s just a pity that the CD production company made some mistakes, the cover was printed way too dark and the disc should have been silver with a black print (like the CDs back in the 80s), but they turned the transparency (silver) to a white background. Not really pretty, but unique (laughs).
What are your weapons of choice; guitars, amps, pedals, pickups etc?
Nils uses Gibson Les Paul and ESP guitars, Peavy 6505+ amps, ISP noise gate, Maxon tube screamer and Engl cabinets. Ingo uses ESP guitars with modified EMG-pickups, Hughes & Kettner amps (without any additional pedals) and Marshall cabinets. Hamdi plays Pearl drums, Paiste cymbals and Remo drumheads. Marsel uses a Shure Super ’55 Deluxe microphone. I play Warwick Corvette Double-Buck and Fender Precision basses (with Seymour Duncan "Quarter Pounder" pickups), Mark Bass amplification, Tech21 SansAmp, customized BOSS CS-3 pedal and TecAmp cabinet. We also use Line6 digital wireless systems.
How long and often do you spend doing band rehearsals? It sounds easy when you play the album!
We used to rehearse once a week and if it’s just a common rehearsal, we play the every song one time. Right in the beginning, we had two days a week - with all the songwriting sessions. If we meet now to write on new songs the rehearsals can be 2-3 hours, otherwise 1-2 hours.
What’s the thrash scene like in Germany? I am UK based, we tried again about 8-10 years ago, but we only produced a couple of breakthrough bands. Germany from the outside differs, because, especially War Agenda, I find the German scene adds more individuality to their music, rather than being a tribute to past masters, would that be a fair outsider assessment?
We have really a vivid scene, especially in our area. The Rhine-Neckar-Region has got some great bands, even though it’s more death metal oriented. Best local thrash bands are Sensles, The Prophecy23, Warfield and Toxik Shokk. Focusing thrash bands countrywide, there are a lot of great bands to mention. The big German four Sodom, Destruction, Kreator and Tankard still are great in my opinion. Our label mates Hatred or bands like Dust Bolt are the shit, both hailing from Bavaria. The downside of this huge scene is that the audience is oversaturated with gigs. There are about 2-3 underground metal gigs per weekend in a 100km range. You can never foretell how many people will show up and concerts are hard to plan. Something what I also notice is that up to ten years ago we really had some younger guys getting interested in old school metal. But this changed by now. Most of young guys getting into hard music with Metalcore and at least in our local scene those genres won’t attract the same audience. We’ll see what the future brings. War Agenda will continue no matter what the trends will be like.
Is the underground scene vibrant? We all know of the festivals in Germany, but what about the day to day gigs?
As said before, the underground scene is really oversaturated.
Do you have any touring plans in support of the release?
It's really common to play as many gigs as possible to support a CD release but Hamdi had two serious knee surgeries in October/November 2015, the first was two days after our release show. So we booked no additional shows, till we known how it will go on. He is still not fully recovered but on the best way, so we booked some shows in the near future and played already two gigs with a substitutional drummer.
If not touring, what is next on the agenda, are you writing more material for the next album?
Of course we're planning some small tours, but this depends on Hamdi's knee. We also try to get more attention in other countries, maybe to get a chance to play abroad. The next item on our agenda is a music video shot in April. This was already planned for September 2015, to release a video right with the album, but it was impossible for us to get everything together due to all the business issues and the release show. During Hamdi's absence we started to write new material for the next album.
Does the band have collective interests outside of music as a group of friends?
Some of us have, some not. In different constellations we're friends since years also with the most of the band members of everybody's side bands - it's like a big musician family. Some go out together for concerts/festivals, others meet to have some beers. Due to the fact that we often meet each other in different constellations, we don't hang around together that much beside the band.
Is there a song or album that you wished your guys had written?
Too many :)
Finally, describe yourselves in one sentence!
Punchy, melodic, right in your face - old-school Thrash Metal with renewed enthusiasm!
Thank you so much for your time, I think ‘Night of Disaster’ is a perfect thrash album, best of luck and keep up the good work!