– Hello and first of all thank you so much for answering to our interview. To begin with, tell us about the band’s reunion after all these years. How did the idea arise?
First from my side – thanks to be interviewed for QUEENS OF STEEL in Spain! Great!
It all started with a request from a good friend and local promoter of the Mega Mosh Festival in Lucerne, Switzerland to do a MESSIAH merchandise both. So I got in contact with fans and was very overwhelmed by the interest in MESSIAH. And immediately came the idea to present some songs live at the same festival in December 2017. We agreed and played two secret shows, as MESSIAH actually did not exist at the time. We had so much fun that we seriously considered to do a reunion. In January 2018 we had an in-band meeting and decided to definitely bring MESSIAH back to life.
– Has it been easy to get the most steady line-up you have hadack together? Was it clear to you that it should be this specifical line-up or was there a B plan for the comeback, even though if it would have been with new members?
MESSIAH existed in two phases with different line-ups. The original line up with Tschösi on bass and vocals is not possible anymore for personal reasons. The line-up of the Noise-era (Psychomorphia, Choir Of Horrors, etc.), however, makes a reunion possible and this based on an in-band extremely friendly basis. There was never a plan B with new members and it will not be necessary. But we’re thinking about getting a second guitarist for the live performances.
– Early the 00’s there was some kind of reunion, or at least you played some shows if I remember correctly. What did it happen during that period and why didn’t the comeback work back then?
We only played two shows just for the fans during the first reissues of our Albums by Massacre Records. We dubbed this short appearance as REANIMATION 2003 and communicated from the beginning that this is not a reunion. Without announcing a new album. We only played these two shows for the fans.
– Nowadays a lot of bands reunite, also thanks to new technologies and the easier access to music from the fans. Have you noticed there’s now a bigger interest toward the band? Could this also be one of the reasons why you are back on track?
No, absolutely not! To start a reunion may have come into vogue. Our reunion is mainly based on our rediscovered friendship and enjoyment of the music – and we want to give back to the loyal fans who have been with us for years – live shows and a new album. We will neither run after modern trends nor will we just want to please the fans of the old first two original albums or justify the media. As I said, we will live our joy in music. MESSIAH went through two phases , now follows the third – we are curious!
– At this point I think you can already be considered a cult band into the extreme Metal scene, and you have also influenced newer bands into the genre. Have you been following any younger acts? Have you seen or noticed your influence on any bands? And could you as I said consider MESSIAH a cult band?
It is a great honor for us that many people see it that way. We would never presume to give ourselves a cult status. But we are well aware that over the years MESSIAH has never been forgotten and has discovered a new generation of MESSIAH Fans. And many old MESSIAH fans in our age (I am already over 51 years old) have never forgotten us. Of course we have followed that many bands call MESSIAH their influence which really honors us very much! The reunion of MESSIAH is based on the old songs. A new album will be based solely on our current feeling – we’ll see which direction it will go.
– And as we have the chance of talking to you, I would like you to tell us a little bit about the history of the band. You are hailing from Switzedrland; how was the band born during those early 80’s?
OK, let’s start the time machine: in 1984 the original met (Tschösi, Jazzi and myself) as METAL fans of different styles and without really mastering an instrument. We just played what we enjoyed and felt back then and made a record out of it called HYMN TO ABRAMELIN, our debut album. We had a lively exchange in the then Tapedrader scene worldwide and so we came in contact with other bands of the pioneering days. When we played the first concerts along with CELTIC FROST’s first official gig, our fan base grew rapidly. The former labels showed zero interest in MESSIAH, so a former HELLHAMMER / CELTIC FROST roadie and friend of ours decided to found a label called CHAINSAW MURDER Records on his own. That made it possible to record our debut album
. This was followed by concerts throughout Europe and at the same time there were tensions in the band about the musical future of MESSIAH. What initially was an interesting constellation of the different music tastes of the band members turned out to be more and more of a problem. Tschösi wanted to go more into the direction of Grindcore, I aimed at conventional metal directions based on my NWOBHM influences. Before the release of EXTREME COLD WEATHER it came to the separation. Tschösi played with MESSIAH the booked shows with a session guitarist and pursued rather the Grindcore Trend. It failed and the band broke up in the same year. In 1989, I met new music colleagues in my hometown and founded MESSIAH completely new. Through the demo «Psychomorphia» we received a record deal with NOISE RECORDS. They also released the albums CHOIR OF HORRORS, ROTTEN PERISH and UNDERGROUND. the last album was sung by Christofer Johnsson (THERION). In this new line up (also with a new bass player) we did some live concerts in Europe. This last album was in my opinion not really MESSIAH. In 1994 I decided to break up the band. The best time for MESSIAH was the line-up in which we present ourselves today after 24 years: Andy Kayna vocals, Steve Karrer drums, Patrick Hersche bs and myself.
– How was that period like in that land where there was a key band for the style as it was HELLHAMMER/CELTIC FROST (and also CORONER)? Were these your early influences when it came to form MESSIAH?
Musically not necessarily – and this can not be compared. CORONER had a very different musical level than MESSIAH, Tschösi was certainly influenced by HELLHAMMER. Not really my kind of music, I was more into the classic Heavy Metal of the 80s.
– In 1985 you released three demos entitled «Powerthrash», «Live Baar» and «The Infernal Thrashing». How were those recordings like and how did arise already in 1986 your debut full-length, «Hymn to Abramelin»?
Oh sorry – I have already anticipated this question above. The demos were recorded with the cheap technical means available to us – Spartan, simple and just honest as we were able and wanted.
– You pressed just a few copies of this album we just mentioned; why such a limited pressing for an album that is nowadays considered a cult record? How was that period first with an LP out?
We were just proud to be able to immortalize our work on a LP – from a different perspective than today. Who would have thought that this would happen – nobody. And it’s the fans who kept us on the hook – not the labels and not the old-fashioned media (except, of course, the brilliant underground fanzines made by fans). I am still very grateful to CHAINSAW MURDER Records that we were able to do that. Because in the past it was very expensive to realize a production and the CD age was only just in its infancy – unreachable for MESSIAH.
– It didn’t take you long to release your sophomore record, in 1986, «Extreme Cold Weather». An undervalued record but that has that «cult» status according to the band. It is an album as aggressive as dark, and also technical, with a lot of hints. How was that period for you? And do you think this is the key album and a turning point in your catalogue?
For my personal taste it is not necessarily the key album – that would be CHOIR OF ORRORS. But the studio songs on EXTREME COLD WEATHER would have been the songs on which basis I would have liked to develope MESSIAH – in the original line up of course. This was unfortunately not possible for said reasons. The album has an incredible atmosphere – without having planned or searched for it. It has become a contemporary document – and once – it honors me that this album has meanwhile gone into the third release phase – after 31 years. There are still unpublished compositions, which we intend to release on HIGH RLLER RECORDS with an album called SPAE INVADERS. Once more – it honors me that this work still enjoys recognition and is also made available to new, young fans!
– Where did the idea for the cover artwork come from? Such an arctic cover, with the polar bear next to the logo creates an odd and attractive contrast.
Totally crazy and at the same time simple: The cold weather scared us in 1987 and I found the polar bear on a calendar from 1987 – that’s all! We did not look for a typical subject for the cover, but this simply visualized our feelings. The polar bear may be well in the cold – it bites us.
– It wasn’t until 1991 when you recorded again, but before talking about that; what did it happen during that gap from album to album? It is strange that with two albums already published, that are passionate and boast attitude, you didn’t have the repercussion that other bands into your style could have.
I am a total feeling person and when new times arrive, with new musicians, I am inspired by it, without being stuck in the past. This will not be different with the current reunion. In addition, by the time we started the NOISE line-up, the first two original albums were present, but did not enjoy the status of today. It was a completely different time than today and therefore can not be compared.
I never tried to tie in with the old albums.
I never tried to make the first two albums with the new line up. That would have made no sense.
It was a completely new situation with new musicians and their feelings and musical creativity.
– And that new album was called «Chpirs of Horror», also with a watched aggressiveness and a better technical use in the instruments. For my taste it was a perfect evolution and an album with which you should have played a bigger role into the scene. Tell us about that more polished record, almost reaching a kind of SEPULTURA sound without loosing the Death/Thrash essence.
Oh yes, that’s exactly my opinion. With the new musicians it was suddenly possible what I always wished for – technical advancement without completely leaving the style of MESSIAH. CHOIR OF HORRORS reflects exactly what you say. OK, it’s an album in the Death Metal style – but it has remained typical MESSIAH. Unfortunately we had missed the time something, because the death metal 1991 was rather already decaying – in contrast to today. I’m also glad that this album is now also titled as a cult album and not always just HYMN TO Abramelin or EXTREME COLD WEATHER. As soon as we have clarified the rights of the NOISE albums, we will certainly reissue COH as well. Interesting is; That COH is more present in exotic countries than the FIRST TWO original albums.
– During that period it seemed like your activity was progressing, since that same year you released an EP entitled «Psychomorphia», and in 1992 you recorded «Rotten Perish». Now looking back, how were you feeling at that moment?
It was a great time for me because I was able to develope more with the new musicians myself. A big advantage was the competent drumming of Steve, which gave me more opportunities to develope personally. The same about Patrick’s bass playing and the subtle vocals of Andy.
– Your newest studio release came out in 1992 and was entitled «Underground». It wasn’t bad, but from my view there was a change in your sound, going for a more modern direction, with a lot of groove, and it also was less technical at least not as technical as the style you had been polishing until «Rotten Perish». How do you feel now in hindsight about that record? And how and why did the band end with this last album?
In the course of the personnel problems, Steve and I searched desperately for new musicians, and there was a new album which we had to deliver to NOISE Records in a timely manner. Unfortunately, no native singer was suitable and we played in Poland with THERION, they were our opening act, and so I met Christofer Jonsson. I asked him if he wants to sing our new album UNDERGROUND. He agreed, brought new influences into the band and I made compromises that I should not have gotten into it. I resigned, we played the contracted concerts and then I dissolved the band because I saw no future for MESSIAH. For me personally, UNDERGROUND is not a real MESSIAH album – more a failed project.
– What are your conclusions of all the band’s history and records? Is there anything you would have liked to do or change? Which is your favourite album or the one you think represents MESSIAH the best?
MESSIAH actually went through two phases. These are not really comparable. I like to remember the old original times – but that is definitely over. We concentrate on our new creation in the «NOISE-Line up» and now the third phase follows – we are very excited ourselves and are happy to create new ones in our current situation and life experience – and it will definitely be MESSIAH – new but honest and our today’s feeling accordingly. In addition, my guitar playing may be able to evolve, but it can not be completely different – since I can not help it – and that will continue to shape the band and create a recognition value.
– And already talking about the present days and about your future, on a view to possible recordings and gigs, do you have any new projects in mind? Such as a new album, playing at some European festivals like Keep it True, etc.? What is the breaking point of this comeback? What can the current MESSIAH offer us?
There are two points to this question: we will play some live shows later this year. With the announcement of the reunion in January, we were rather late in terms of booking for festivals in 2018. Nevertheless, we start in June in Italy and play a festival in Belgium and in Germany. Our Reunion Show will take place on September 29th in Zug (our hometown), we are very happy about that. Touring is currently not possible due to (my) life situation (family, own company). But we are available for more single Shows this year. We`re working on a new album which will be released with HIGH ROLLER RECORDS. But we will take our time and do not want to produce a «quick shot». And we are open about what will happen in 2019 – as part of the new album. At the moment it is important to present the old songs to the fans. Some Songs we have not played for over 30 years. All in the course of the current re-releases – and younger fans should come to enjoy the old songs. We will gradually reduce this to the classics in the future.
– Do you think there will be continuity this time and that you will receive enough support to continue releasing records?
Today we have a completely different situation. We are neither oriented towards a potential success nor to any expectations. The basis for this is our regained friendship, fun in the music and our ambition to be creative – both musically and lyrically. I think that MESSIAH will have a stable future – no matter if a success will happen or not. We do not have to, we just want. And all within the scope of our possibilities in our current life situation. If MESSIAH does not really succeed after the reunion phase, we will continue anyway, because we enjoy being creative and in a friendly relationship as it could not be any better today.
– And to finish I would like you to tell us what have been those albums that have marked your life when it comes to be a musician and with which artist/band you would have liked to share stage with.
I rather think that the albums are shaped by my different life phases than the other way round. Of course, it fills me with pride today that my musical work finds recognition – no matter to what extent. That was never planned or expected. It is simply unbelievable that MESSIAH has never been forgotten in all these years – without being active. Thanks to our loyal fans from more and more countries. I’m impressed how well known MESSIAH is all over the world – who would have thought that.
I / we look forward to sharing the stage at the upcoming shows with well-known bands / musicians, with whom we already played together in the old days. At our Secret Show last Dec. 2017 we shared the stage with NECRODEATH. I met the mates again after more than 30 years since we played with them and BULLDOZER back in Italy. That’s crazy….
– That’s all from our side, thank you so much again for asnwering to our questions, our best wishes and hope to see you live someday, and even better if it is in Spain. If you want to add some final words to your fans, it is your turn.
Thank you too – that we are allowed to speak here in Spain! We never played in Spain – hopefully it will be possible one day! Messiah lives in the hearts of the fans – and we are grateful for that! A big THRASHING MADNESS TO YOU ALL MANIACS IN SPAIN – SEE YOU !!!!