Asphyx interview

When Martin left the band in 1992 the reasons were different from both sides to the press. Now that you got both back together, we the long time fans naturally would want to ask you again what where the reasons of Martin's departure.
Bob: The reasons were that there were no actual reasons. We got back from a 2 month tour with Bolt Thrower and Benediction and I think we were kinda fed up with eachother after we got home. There were some irritations of some kind and instead of just talk about it and try to solve the problems we just let it explode.
It's not an excuse, of course, but maybe our age was part of it as well. If we had those "problems" now we would talk about it and solve it as adults. We perhaps had childish ego's and were to proud to look at ourselves. Also the press, which followed soon, didn't help too much either. I got interviews were the editor said "hey, Martin said this about you blabla, what do you think of this?", and those editors (at least some of them) asked Martin the same question and so it went on and on....blablabla. But when we look back at it now we just laugh about it. We also learned from that period. We are not proud of it, but it happened.

Looks like you had some time of heavy tension during the "Last One On Earth" studio session. Please enlighten us a bit to these 3 mysteries?
Bob: We didn't even meet in the studio, haha! In fact, when we drove to the studio with Ron van Pol to record his vocals I said "hey, there is Martin standing there at the busstop, what brings him here??", so we drove to the studio and Harry (the owner) just closed the door and said "are you guys going to rehearse?", so we said "no, of course not, we are supposed to record Ron's vocals, as you already know" and then Harry said that Martin just did the vocals and left 5 minutes ago. So we freaked out and wanted a copy which Harry gaves us. And eventhough the vocals were brilliant again (which we didn't admit back then, haha) we were pissed off.

Martin had left Asphyx and the band was all ready to record with Ron van Pol on the bass, the vocals and the lyrics. Yet Century Media insisted in having Martin to do the vocals, thing which he did with his own lyrics naturally, while you regarded Martin's lyrics as totally unfit for the album and for death metal in general, as they were dealing mostly with socio-political views. What made the group comply with the label's odd wish?
Bob: Like said, Martin did the vocals with his own lyrics, of course. I still think that the lyrics of some of the songs on "The Last One On Earth" album do not fit for Asphyx and Martin agrees with this as well now. But that was how Martin thought about things back then and since he was/is the singer he must sing in what he believes in.
We couldn't do much about the recording issues then since we were/are bound with Century Media and they made the decicions, which was logic then since Martin is a brilliant singer and excellent frontman. We also felt that the record, "The Last One On Earth", was alot better having Martin doing the vocals, but we kept that thought to ourselves back then.

With a careful hearing and perhaps with a bassist's ear, someone can hear on that albums "Incarnation of Lust", right at the brake before the first chorus (if my memory is good) a short series of sounds as if the bass did slip by the hands of its player after having a hard hit, perhaps even dropped down. How come this was not corrected and left like this in the mix?
Bob: ????? This is the first time I hear this, really. Maybe it was the bass hitting the mixingtable? I really don't know. At least it fits the turbulent times we had, haha!

M.S Bismark's lyrics are a praise if I may say, to the German 2nd world war ship. This is the only Asphyx lyric that ever puzzled me as we all know well that you guys despise fascism etc, saying: "Now the glory lives on, gladiator of steel". So may I ask, what glory and how it lives on?
Martin: Since I'm very much into war issues and the histories I write about those topics who fascinate me. It's common history. The battleship "The Bismarck" was perhaps one of the most impressive ships then and still has some sort of fame these days. It was an hugh impressive ship which left it's trademarks in history as we know it.

Even at times the band was split up, there always was an active contract to keep. Back in 1996 "Embrace The Death" was finally released even as a rough mix saved on a stereo tape and "God Cries" written by Theo Loomans followed quick, being lyrically but also musically different. How did you Bob agree to take part in these unexpected acts on behalf of Asphyx? Was this relevant with this ever going contract of Asphyx to its label?
Bob" Yes, I was VERY happy to see "Embrace The Death" finally being released since this was, unofficial, the first Asphyx album and was very important for us as well.
About "God Cries", although that still is a brutal death metal album, it's was not typical Asphyx since Theo did all the guitars on it. We asked Eric Daniels to join in as well, but he had a breakdown so he said no. The making of "God Cries" had nothing to do with our ongoing contract or whatsoever. It came forth of a black/death/doom project called Throne and then Theo suggested to start Asphyx again since I already was busy with Century Media getting "Embrace The Death" being released, since I have the rights to that album. So I thought "why not?". Like said, we asked Eric but when he said no we went on. Theo wrote all the music and "God Cries" was recorded 3 weeks after. Although it is a brutal album I agree it was better to release it under a different name, let's say Throne. But things can't be changed around, as we know. But still, the album is dark and was, sadly enough, some sort of forecast of Theo death.

Theo upon his return in 1996, in a short interview with the Greek Metal Hammer promoting "God Cries", called Martin as "the curse of Asphyx", implying that Martin's presence in the band had led it astray, although the first one's return judging by the result was less than a brilliant idea. You are not Theo of course, yet could you explain his views at some degree?
Bob: Oh, did he? Well, Theo and Martin never were the best friends... the only thing I can say about these childish comments is that I'm glad we have grown up.

What was the idea of Soulburn's creation? The band sounded and was greeted in the scene as Asphyx with a chanded name. And why this didn't last long?
Bob: The idea was to record an album without the usual expectations/stress and so on. If we would have recorded it under the Asphyx monniker we would have to live up to expectations and all what comes with it. So operating under a different name was very relaxed at that time. But, yes, it does sound like a 100% Asphyx album which is not strange since both, Eric and me, were present.
But since we also had some old Asphyx songs in the setlist we thought it just felt better to operate as Asphyx again. Nevertheless the Soulburn album did very well and people are still asking for it. I think it will be re-released this year.

Hello Paul and welcome to Asphyx! In "Death The Brutal Way" do you feel like imitating Eric Daniels or just doing naturally what you do?
Paul: Thank you! I'm honoured! I don't feel like I'm imitating Eric, this all comes natural to me, although I had to adjust my style quite a bit in the beginning. It's a different kind of guitar playing in Asphyx since there are no melodyriffs or whatsoever. Mostly brutal rhythmriffing. But I've always been a huge fan of Asphyx so I knew what to expect when it comes to playing in Asphyx.

A lot of metal guitarist, even in death metal the latest years, quit their Ibanez and BC Rich guitars - Jackson sometimes-, at the favour of the superior quality which a custom Gibson Les Paul provides. How would you compare these 4 guitars regarding the case of Asphyx?
Paul: For Asphyx I only use BC Rich guitars since they fit the playing the best in this band. The newer, so called "better" guitars are too modern sounding for a band like Asphyx. It also has to do with the elements itself. But Ibanez has also very good guitars. Those I use for HOB. But, as said, Asphyx is a BC Rich guitar band.

At the early days the band was in contact with bands all over the world but it seems that by the time of your second album you cut bond with Euronymous and thus probably with entire of the then rising Norwegian black metal scene. If my guess is right please explain the reasons.
Bob: Yes, we knew almost every death metal band, since we all traded our demo's and stuff. A great time that was indeed!
But I never cut bonds with Euronymous at all. We always stayed in good contact until he was murdered. In fact, I got a rehearsaltape from him with the Mysteriis Dom Sathanas tracks on it. He also told me that the 2nd riff of Funeral Fog WAS inspired by Asphyx's lead (fast part) riff in "Thoughts Of An Atheist". I still have the deepest respect for Euronymous, one of the greatest men in the whole death/black metal scene.

Your new album is out on vinyl as well and it's been years since the last time. Extreme metal is the type of music that kept vinyl alive even in small quantities. What are to your opinion the reasons that metal keeps alive the demand for this format and how did it feel like for you after a bright LP history  to have 2 or 3 albums released only in CD?
: It all has to do with history, I guess. Back then you only had vinyl and also the atmosphere which came with it. Great metal covers and pictures and so on. Also metal sounds better on vinyl as well. The sound is more deep and warmer and also, maybe the most important thing, metal people like us are probably the most traditional people on earth. So we still ask for vinyl, and as long as there is demand there will be supply, even in small quantities.
I think that every Asphyx release should be released on vinyl, but that is not my call.

When playing live these days do you do only songs from the albums that Martin sang, or instead stuff from all your works, even from the Asphyx album in which none of the current members did participate?
Bob: We do some other tracks as well, such as the instrumental "Abomination Echoes" from our 1989 demo "Crush The Cenotaph" and we did also "Rite Of Shades" also from the "Crush The Cenotaph" demo and we did "Waves Of Fire" from the "On The Wings Of Inferno" album. But we don't do that song anymore. But we still play "Abomination Echoes".

Bob and Martin, you both are in Hail of Bullets. Although you don't write the music there, would you agree that this band remind as well and only too much of Asphyx most of the time? Can you give us a comparison between them highlighting the differences?
Bob: I think you mean Paul, right? I don't play in HOB.
Martin: Asphyx and Hail of Bullets are two totally different bands, sure, I'll do the vocals for both, but I growl deeper in HOB and more hysterical in Asphyx. Of course HOB has doomy parts as well but they do refere more to Bolt Thrower than to Asphyx. While for instance HOB takes it's musical influences from bands such as Bolt Thrower, old Death, Celtic Frost etc. Asphyx takes it's musical influences from bands as old Venom, Hellhammer, Slaughter, Messiah, Necrophagia and Majesty. Always did.
Also on the lyrical way there are huge differences. For HOB I write about war topics and historical military invasions etc. while for Asphyx I write more gorier and darker lyrics.

Whatever happened to Eric Daniels? We haven't heard anything of him for some years now.
Bob: Eric is still alive and kicking. I visit him now and then and he's still a very good friend. In fact, he's busy with Death Metal again. We do a project with him called "The Company Of Undertakers" and the music is very much like Slaughter/Majesty/Deathstrike/Master/Repulsion.The line up od TCOU is:
Paul Baayens-guitar
Eric Daniels-guitar
Martin van Drunen-vocals
Theo van Eekelen-bass
Bob Bagchus-drums
and Chris Reifert and Jurgen Sandstrom on addional vocals.

We'll record a 5 track demo in a few months, we'll record it in the Sonic Assault studio from our engineer Frank Klein Douwel and Rogga Johansson will do the mixing.

Back in Pestilence. You said in an interview about Roadrunner that they still owe you guys lots of money but you cannot prove that in court. How did they rip you off? Which way can they hide this money or lawyer they way around it?
Martin: They provided us with a rip-off contract, total strangulation and they also fucked us with the merchandise. It was a watertight contract from their side so there is little you can do, but I'm still thinking of which way I can get the money which is mine.

You are a guy known for his wide musical tastes and demand for musical evolvement in order to maintain interest in a project. Asphyx is a band that doesn't evolve musically at all through the years. Only different thing we heard was the unoriginal music of Theo Loomans for "God Cries". Do you think that this is a healthy attitude towards death metal and music in general? And do you feel your presence in the band will last this time?
Martin: You are right, but Asphyx=Asphyx. We are probably the most conservative death metal band in the world, alongside Obituary, and musical evolvement in Asphyx will kill the band. We play exactly the Death Metal we like ourselves the best and that is straight forward and brutal stuff. That's why we adore bands like Slaughter, Majesty, Necrovore, Incubus, Obscurity, old Master, Repulsion, Putrefaction, Revolting, Venom(godzz), Hellhammer, old Messiah etc. We don't care what people think of us as musicians or whatsoever, we do what we like and never change.
I think it is a good thing that we, Asphyx, never change. We are dedicated to Death Metal and never turned our backs to it, like some other bands did. Maybe some people don't like it when we don't evolve, but we don't care. We get alot of respect from the scene just because of the fact we don't want to evolve. We stay true to ourselves.

Please share your views of the following artists with a very few words for each. Obituary, Darkthrone, Necrosanct, Master's Hammer, Thergothon, Portal (Au), Abruptum, Nocturnus, Coroner, Atheist, Watchtower, Diamanda Galas, Iron Butterfly.
Martin: Obituary is brilliant! Very conservative, just like us and we respect them alot. One of the very best true death metal bands in the world. Darkthrone is also brilliant! "Ravishing Grimness" is a masterpiece! We like Darkthrone alot and "Under A Funeral Moon" is classic!
I don't know Necrosanct, Thergothon, Portal but Master's Hammer is great and so is Abruptum. Coroner did one good album and that's "RIP",the Nocturnus demo "The Science Of Horror" is a classic although we like Incubus better. Atheist is not my cup of tea, way too technical but nice guys just like Watchtower, Diamanda Galas is in fact pretty evil and Iron a gadda da vida, let's say....
Interviewer: twansibon
Jul 9, 2009

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