Alterations from the past
The name INVOCATOR resonates as a distant memory of a golden age of Danish Thrash Metal. They indisputably led a scene full of great bands and their recording legacy reminds us how great their early work was, starting with those nostalgic demo tapes, Genetic Confusion -1988 – and Alterations -1989 – plus their stunning debut album, Excursion Demise -Black Mark, 1991. However, after a couple of albums and an unsteady career, they eventually broke up, despite several failed attempts to continue working. Fortunately today we have the pleasure to experience them with Alterations From The Past -Doomentia, 2014-, working on a glorious double vinyl format with all the first stage of the band prior to their debut album, including unreleased material. We spoke to one of its founders, guitarist Jakob Schultz, also editor of the legendary METALIZED MAGAZINE and former member of another great band, MACERATION.
This interview was done previously to their release of “Alterations from the Past”, and also used as a re search for the book UNDERGROUND NEVER DIES!
By Andrés Padilla
Photo archive courtesy of Jakob Schultz
I stopped playing in Maceration around 1994 I think. We all stopped and the band went into oblivion. I took a break from music but still maintained my role in Metalized, which I started with Mika Botfeldt in 1987. In 1995, I began studying at the Danish School of Journalism and got my degree in June 1999. Since then I have worked as a freelance journalist working with many different areas of journalism. I still am an editor of Metalized magazine and I do loads of other jobs. I played in a hardcore band, SELF, around 97/98 – we did one album The Sinister Urge on I Scream Recs. Since then I have not played in any bands.
Why do you think that you decided to leave the stages and focus on being behind Metallized Mag? Maybe you feel disappointed about being a musician?
I never left playing music to do Metalized. I did it at the same time. Metalized was started in 1987 – the same year Invocator was born and I joined. Before that in 84, 85 and 86, I was a writer for Metal Power magazine – a small metalmag in Danish. In 87 Metal Power was dissolved and another writer, Mika Botfeldt, and myself started Metalized. We wanted it to be the biggest and best metal mag in Denmark. I think we succeeded because we are still here 26 years after I did also Sacroformity magazine with Jacob Hansen. In addition, Rune and Lars of Maceration wrote for Sacroformity. Therefore, I did everything at the same time: Played music in Invocator and Maceration and did Metalized, Sacroformity and also a horror movie magazine called Trauma. Being in Invocator was the best thing ever. We worked our asses off and gained a lot of respect in the underground and played with tons of well-known bands throughout the years. Like Suffocation, Atheist, Bolt Thrower, Entombed, Merciless, Dark Angel, Asphyx, Massacre, Immolation just to name a few. We created a whole death/thrash movement and scene in our hometown Esbjerg. It was the death metal capital of Denmark with shows every month and we got all the well-known – at that time – new death metal bands to our city. Nearly everyone played there: Obituary, Demolition Hammer, Morgoth, Incubus, Massacre, Bolt Thrower, Benediction, Confessor, Exhorder, Sadus etc. And we played live as well all the time touring in Holland, Germany, Sweden, Finland etc. It was at the beginning of death metal and we were a big part of it here in Denmark.
Maybe I am wrong, and you are still involved in some kind of musical project. If so, tell us. But what do you miss from being a musician? And at the same time, what was the worst thing about it?
I’m not that active anymore but we talk all the time about writing new songs for a Maceration album, but we are just busy with other work, family etc. I miss all that buzz and involvement in the scene. Back then it was all new: We created everything ourselves. There was no internet. We traded tapes, we send out demos to all over the world and we got a lot of interest. It was exciting and new. It was great to be part of this musical history. We wrote death and thrash metal history back then here in Denmark and we did it all our selves. No internet or e-mail. All DIY work in the underground. A great scene with a lot of commitment. Great shows with tons of energy banging our heads of on stage. What I don’t miss is driving for hours in small cars to a gig and sleeping on a hard floor after the show.
It is another thing. I don’t feel the same for much of the new music coming out. Compared to the old days it is now different. Too many bands releasing CDs just because it is easier to record and release it. Too many bands sounding too much like each other. I miss the originality and the sheer brutality of the recordings back then. Today most productions sounds the same: too clean and perfect with no edge. Back then you could hear when it was Scott Burns or Tomas Skogsberg producing. It was just more original back then. Today too many shitty records are released.
Let’s try to go back to your old days. When you started to play or feel interest in this type of music?
I got hooked on Kiss and AC/DC when I was around 11-12 years old. I was a major fan and also of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Thin Lizzy. I explored and tried to find new bands. Found Venom and got hold Black Metal – it was fantastic and from there I moved on to more and more harder styles. Kill em All was a new era along with off course Slayer. Slayer’s Hell Awaits and of course Reign In Blood and South of Heaven have meant all to me in my musical development.
Tell us about the beginning of the Danish metal scene. Which were the pioneer bands? Any of those was a major influence for you?
Mercyful Fate, Pretty Maids and Witch Cross. Later Artillery. Artillery and Mercyful Fate was a influence but mainly Artillery. We looked a lot towards the American bands like Slayer, Death and Dark Angel. We also loved bands like Kreator and Destruction and later we got influenced by the whole new death metal army of bands coming from USA and Sweden. This was an eye opener and especially bands like Morbid Angel and Entombed was important. Also Obituary for the sake of Maceration. We played a lot of Obituary cover songs in Maceration.
Do you recall any especial event, moment, release or circumstance that made you realize that in Denmark Metal music begun to take shape? What about the Heavy Metal scene in the early 80s? Was this scene important for the development of people like you, on getting interested in this music?
Yes it was important – but mostly because there was no other option here. Back then there was Mercyful Fate, Pretty Maids and Witch Cross. Later Artillery which inspired us a lot because they played the harder thrash style which we liked. It was like two roads: The “normal” heavy metal like Maids and then the thrash and death metal scene which began to grow a lot in 87/88/89 and onwards.
I have the feeling that Invocator´s music was pretty much influenced by the American Thrash, Dark Angel, Slayer, etc… Like in many other countries, which could you say were the main sources of Metal music for you, and maybe for the Danish adolescents in the 80s?
Dark Angel and Slayer! Main influences for us. We got inspired by the raging lead of Hanneman and King. It’s so sad Hanneman is dead. Probably the guitarist that influenced me the most back then. Dark Angel: We just loved their riffs and we made riffs that was influenced by their style. We evolved it into our own unique style. I think Slayer and Metallica was the big sources for metal here in Denmark back then. Also Mercyful Fate and King Diamond + Artillery as the Danish bands.
As far as fanzines, do you remember which one could be the very first ever made in Denmark? Regarding the same subject, do you remember when was the first time that you saw a metal magazine/fanzine? Tell me your experience about this matter.
Hot Rockin was the first fanzine here. It was probably the first fanzine I saw. Before that I could buy Kerrang. It was interesting getting hold of Hot Rockin and later Metallic Beast and Blackthorn. I got inspired by Hot Rockin and tape traded with Stephen, the editor, who is now at Metalized. I got inspired to write about metal and was lucky to get into Metal Power and later evole it into Metalized and other zines I wrote for.
You are about to re issue the Invocator early demos through Doomentia Records? Tell us about this release.
This will be the first time these songs will be available on vinyl. This is a chance for people to get hold of our two classic studio demos “Genetic Confusion” and “Alterations” on vinyl. But also a chance to get hold of some more rare and early material like the Live demo from our first gig in december 1987. Also there’s two very old songs from a rehearsal with the first line up. And finally the re-recorded version of “Insurrected Despair” is available again. It was originally recorded for the EP we should release on Wild Rags, but which never happened. We used it on a compilation LP back then called “Believe in Christ and Agonize” on Witchhunt Records. Now it’s out again. Also there’s a couple of promo songs from 1991 which we recorded for Black Mark. Quite rare. The album is really a history of the band. You can how we started out with very simple songs and progressed towards the newer material. If you like Invocator it’s a good collectors item.
I also noticed that you started a small new record label to reissue old recordings. Can you tell us about this? And which are the future releases for this label?
Yes, I started the label Heartburn Music with my friend Björn Bihlet who play in Horned Almighty and Hell’s Domain. We both wanted to see some of the old classics which was only prior released on CD’s, released on vinyl. Our first release is out June 27th and is the first time you can get hold of Illdisposeds “1-800 Vindication” album on vinyl. It’s a classic and great album and it sounds great on vinyl. We will go for more releases but right now I can’t say which one will be the next. Expect something great and check out our page for more news and ordering at www.heartburn.dk
I think that Invocator played a unique Death Metal, it used to have a trademark on his own way. But what really happened with the band that never really succeeded like per instance, other Scandinavian DM bands from those days? I mean, you got a lot of response from all over the world, but finally you guys split up for some reason.
Personal problems between members I guess. I don’t know because I left in 1992 and was only in the band when we did Excursion Demise. For that era I think we made a huge impact and we just moved on and got more and more acknowledgement from all over the world. I guess if we could have got a deal with a label like Earache back then it would have been better. We actually wanted to record the album at Sunlight, but Black Mark wanted to use another studio they had a deal with. That maybe was the difference. If we had made the records with Thomas Skogsberg in Sunlight the production would have been better and maybe we could have brought it further. Again maybe not because when I left I think there was already some personal things in the bands which never healed and just got worse. I think that’s why the bands split up. Jacob re-formed the band with other members later though, but it was more project-based.
What about a possible reunion show of Invocator? Is this even considerably possible? Why?
In 2010 Invocator played a tour here with nearly all members from Dying To Live: Jacob, Perle and Carsten. And another drummer. I joined for one song on these dates: “Excursion Demise”. No one never knows what happens. It was fun doing it.
Is Metal Music limited? In your opinion, what is the purpose in Metal music?
The purpose? It’s just the best music around. And still there’s so many genres that you cannot say you that if you are a metal fan you like all metal music. It’s probably the most diverse genre filled with a lot of talent and a great feeling of unity.
Are you familiar with the UG Death Metal scene in Denmark today? Like per instance Killtown Fest, Undergang and other names….?
I know the names but have not been there. I think it’s great that there’s people doing these kind of shows and work for the underground. It was the same we did back then.
I have been trying to reach out to as many people as I can in order to get this book that I´m working on (UNDERGROUND NEVER DIES!). Well on its way. I am asking the key-characters of this movement, “What is this ’underground‘ concept all about? What does it really mean to you.” After having read some of the responses that I have already received, I am truly impressed that a simple question can have such varied responses and impacts. Far beyond how this word really started, the concept of Underground has been, and will continue to be an immortal entity which refuses to die. Can you explain what really the word “Underground” means to you? Please, be detailed if you can.
Underground: Unity with fellow metal-heads around the world. People you never met back then but you felt like was your friends even though you never met them. Today it’s awesome to meet all these “old” true metal freaks on Facebook and talk to them again and get to know they are still living for metal just like yourself. This underground spirit never dies.
In the 80s, Death Metal music began as something that no one dreamed would grow to have any validity whatsoever; it ended up being a groundbreaking thing. How do you see DM now? Do you believe that this kind of music can still grow and continue to be a menace to the mainstream?
It has to be a counterweight to the mainstream music. But today much death metal is nearly mainstream and it is not original any more. Only a few out of each hundred bands has something unique to offer. A shame. I must admit that I tend to listen to the old death metal bands. They did it back then. Formed the genre and the music is still amazing today.
I consider that between mid 80s and early 90s, we experienced the birth of the best albums ever made into the metal (speed, thrash, death, black) scene. To me they all have an unique and authentic feeling of honesty. A simple but raw, morbid and impious atmosphere. Tell us your impression about which could be the best years in UG metal music.
I totally agree! That era is the one where the original great music was made. It was the best bands and everything was new.
Some people also say 90s was not a very good decade for extreme music. You have been playing the entire 90s. Why do you think that decade can be considered as an important one, such as the 80s? Tell me your reasons!
I think the early 90s were important. I only played half of that decade. It was there new genres came into life.
What are you looking for in the music now?
Originality and it’s hard to find. I listen to nearly all new albums via Metalized but only a few gain my interest. There are still great albums released but it’s seldom. I listen a lot to the old classic stuff today.
To start, I’d like to know a little about your past.
From where does your passion or interest for the music come?
Could you blame any particular person for this?
I am the only on in my family interested in metal and playing guitar. I just got blown away by Kiss. I need to rebel I guess and I found my place in this music. Being in a subculture and being and outsider suits me. Back then metal was not accepted and it was really rebellious to have long hair, leather jackets, patches etc. Today it’s much more accepted. Must be a lot harder to rebel these days or maybe it’s just easier to be the person you want to be. We pawed the way with what we did for the new generations
Age? What you do in the daily basis? Work in any particular thing or do you live off these activities?
I’m 43 now. Started writing about metal in 84. Started playing in Invocator in 87.
What are you listening now? Is anything outside metal that you may be proud of mentioning?
Not much I think. I like bands like Porcupine Tree which still have elements of metal but I like the classic thrash, death and heavy metal the most.
You have played in many countries, visited dozens of cities… So, there is any place or country that you would love to move and live for few years or even the rest of your life?
Have not considered that I must admit.
What do you like the most about your country? And what do you hate about it.
I hate the months when it’s dark and cold with ice and frost all the time. I hate the people who are narrow-minded and are not open to new things – there are a lot of such people here. The good thing is I think we have pretty easy lives here in Denmark compared to poorer countries.
In retrospect, is there anything you’d change about your music career?
Would have loved to continue the path we made and see what we could have done.
Interview featured in GRINDER MAGAZINE issues printed by Doomentia (English) and spanish version in the chilean printed issue.
Galeria de flyers antiguos
Galeria de fotos