Master: inspiration behind the name of US grind legends Terrorizer, and the UK magazine of the same name; covered by Napalm Death; forerunners of death metal. Is there any more that needs to be said? Well yes, there is actually. Paul Speckmann and his band have just unleashed ‘The New Elite’, and with it, one of their greatest creations. Mr. Speckmann was kind enough to answer a few questions for Ave Noctum, and wasted no time in displaying the charisma, realism and self-belief which have enabled his band to survive through almost three decades of underground existence. He also returned the answered questions within a couple of hours, that’s true dedication to you!
AN: May I begin by congratulating you on the release of Master’s eleventh album. How has ‘The New Elite’ been received so far?
PS: Well surprisingly the reviews have been quite killer over the last week, some going as far as saying this will be the album of the year. I have heard it all before for sure, but this doesn’t guarantee sales as everyone is ripping off the Metal community and illegally downloading everything all the time. Since last year I have personally paid for and bought over 100 brand new CD’s from CD Wow and Wow HD with a big variety of names so there is simply no excuse for this, am I the only person that wants original copies of music?
AN: Some years back when I bought a copy of ‘Spirit of the West’ at the London Deathfest, you very candidly recommended that I go for ‘Four More Years of Terror’ instead, as it was “better”. Do you feel that each consecutive album since then has improved on the previous one, and where do you consider ‘The New Elite’ to stand in the scheme of Master’s discography?
PS: Yes the production as well as the playing improves as the band plays as a unit of course with more rehearsal and gigs under its belt. This is normal with the evolution of any lineup. The longer a band plays, the tighter it gets, this is the nature of the beast! The New Elite is the best production in many years from Master and regardless of all the babbling about the earlier records, this is the best Master record available to date, so get your asses out there and buy a copy of the true underground warriors, you won’t be disappointed unless you are looking for all the clones of each other available at the major shops. This is an original masterpiece full of heart and soul and should not be missed in my opinion!
AN: Could you describe what ‘The New Elite’ is all about? Although I have a fair idea from the song titles, reviewing an MP3 version obviously doesn’t help where lyrics and artwork are concerned…
PS: As always the album deals with the subjects that man and his enemies are facing in the last year or so. The album was originally written and recorded in October 2011 nearly a year ago so things have changed a bit I suppose since then. I write a particular record of a particular time on every record sort of a historical account of the bullshit we are surrounded with at a particular time in history. Man is still entrapped by the power mongers in all the governments across the globe. The pressure is on and it’s time to stand up and be counted. Revolt is the answer so I hope people get organized before it’s too late and everyone is put in a cage!
Smile as you’re told speaks to one and all, they tell you what to eat, what to read, when to shit, where to go, so sit back and watch with your remote control!
AN: Now in my review of ‘The New Elite’ I emphasised the unifying effect that Alex and Zdenĕk seem to have had on Master’s sound since 2004. Could you describe how their involvement has impacted on the band, and you personally?
PS: As I said before we are a tight unit and Alex brings a few tracks to the table and I have always enjoyed writing lyrics for other people’s songs as this is a challenge when I don’t write a song myself. The reality is that we all come from a different world and ages of Metal so to speak. I am going to be 50 next year Alex is younger as is Zdenek so their take on a song can be different. I bring the first 7 or 8 tracks to practice and I play guitar with Zdenek and we work out the arrangements, Alex comes in then and we work from there. What is also quite strange is that some songs I bring in I really don’t like so well, and these are many times the tracks the guys and the people like, so you cannot always be your own best critic that’s for sure.
AN: What was the recording process like for ‘The New Elite’, and did it differ radically from your approach on previous releases?
PS: The recording process never really changes, we go in and in two days the drums and bass are finished. The longest work is with the guitar because since I play and write the majority of the songs as well as the arrangements on the guitar I really put my foot down until Alex gets it right. Many times when we hit the studio I realize that he is playing something a bit different so I have to show him again but this is normal life in my world. Alex is a killer player so it’s worth the added effort. Shaark Studios improves as well with age as the guys are mixing and mastering and looking for the best technology they can find and improve on their techniques whenever possible, so as the studio improves the records do as well.
AN: Moving on to your geographical situation, what were your reasons for re-locating to theCzechRepublic? I know that you played with Krabathor for a while but was that the motivating factor or a consequence of your move?
PS: Originally the offer was there in 2000 and Bush was the new president and things began changing rapidly so the offer came and I moved to Czech! Krabathor was the original motivation for the move, but after the first four years here I obviously realized the freedom that exists in Europe as well as here in Czech so I stayed and only visit the US for tours! A musician will travel anywhere to continue with his craft and my life in the USA was stagnant at the time and I was fortunate to find this offer to come here!!
AN: Having myself moved from the UK to mainland Europe, I can appreciate that there must have been a number of linguistic and cultural differences for you to negotiate. What have been the biggest challenges (and benefits) to your life there?
PS: The language has always been a challenge since the beginning but I still believe in the phrase Speak English Or Die, so this motivated me to not bother to learn the language. I obviously understand much of what is said when people are speaking but my responses are far and few between. People say you’re a lazy pig and this may be so but I give a rats ass. When I first came it was always dark and dreary due to the fact of all the old Russian Eastern European architecture. Thanks to the European Union and Germany in particular things have improved after the millions of Euros invested in paint and new construction.
AN: From my personal experiences, your honesty with, and appreciation for the fans is striking. With Master being one of the founders of death metal, how do you feel about being considered a legend by the fans? And do you consider that your approachable demeanour has been as fundamental in maintaining people’s respect as the music?
PS: That’s just it. I don’t waste my time thinking about these silly themes. I am humble to the fact that without my influences I also would be nothing. GBH, Motorhead and Black Sabbath helped shape my mind and ideas in music since the inception of the so called genre for me. I am after all still just Paul, maybe a bit more known or famous as some say, but still just Paul. I have seen so many unapproachable dicks in the scene and would never like to be one of them!
AN: Given the ups and downs of the death metal genre over the years, which times have provided the highest and lowest points in Master’s career?
PS: The first European tour with Master, Pungent Stench and Abomination in 1990 as well as the 2004 tour with Obituary were some of the best tours I really ever did but we continue to conquer these days on our own anyway.
The lowest point was between Collection of Souls and Faith is in Season and these were a couple of years of struggle for sure. No one was interested in the band after Collection, I guess the record was too experimental for some and of course it wasn’t a Morrisound production like the previous two!
AN: How do you feel about the current scene? Are there any bands that you particularly enjoy?
PS: I really don’t understand the current so-called scene as there are too many clones of the past bands just putting out regurgitated riffs that I have heard time and time again. I still enjoy seeing older bands at the festivals, but maybe I am too old to understand the newer generation. Bands try to be the fastest and most brutal and I just cannot grasp the music whatsoever. I would rather go see Motorhead or Destruction live than anything new.
AN: Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy, Johnny Cash… you’ve covered them all in your own unique way. Can you imagine that the impulse to record any more covers will grab you in the future, and if so, which other bands might be considered for such treatment?
PS: I am considering covering a Hawkwind song, so we will see in the future!
AN: With regard to Death Strike and Abomination, I noticed that Metal Mind Productions had reissued both bands’ albums in limited digipack formats a few years back. For people trying to get these long out of print albums it can only be a positive thing. As the artist, do you feel similarly about the albums being reissued and what is your assessment of Metal Mind’s efforts?
PS: Metal Mind did a decent job with these re-releases but ripped me off and still will not pay me the money they owe me for these CDs. The Nuclear Blast re-issue of the two CDs together in 2011 is a better buy with demos included 35 tracks of the complete back catalogue at NBR is a better buy and they treated it with care and they treated me like a real person when we put this package together!
Deathstrike was reissued by Dark Descent Records in Colorado and they did an excellent job as well with my input!
AN: According to The Metal Archives, Abomination is currently active. Is this true, and if so, what intentions are there for the band?
PS: This is not true we played a tour of 10 shows last year and it ended there this was to coincide with the Nuclear Blast reissue!
PS: PS: July 21st Master- Immortal Shadows Kozlovice, Czech Rep
July 28th Master- Amageddon in the park-
August 18th Master- ŽELENICE u MOSTU (IL FES PT.7) Czech Rep
August 25th Master Brezovska Metalova Noc Festival vol.5. – Brezova u Sokolova, Czech Rep
August 30th Master Arschcholio Open-Air fest Stavenhagen, Germany
August 31st Master Kill-Town Death Fest- Copenhagen,Denmark
September 1st Master Death from the East 3 Schlosskeller Weisenfels, Germany
September 7th Master Dasslitz Schweinemast Open Air, Germany
September 8th – Deathstrike- Death Doomed The Age Festival-Pilgramsberg/Germany-Bavaria
September 9th Master Blue rose Saloon, Bresso (mi)
September 10th, Master- Lyss Kufa Carnage Feast, Switzerland
September 11th, Master La Rumeur, Lille, France
September 12th,Master Tilburg (Holland) Little Devil
September 13th, Master Brussel DNA club, Belgium
September 14th, Master Tannheim-Egelsee Club Schwarzer Adler, Germany
September 15th, Master, Lyss, Switzerland Carnage Feast
October 5th Abomination- Skullcrusher- Dresden, Germany
Master and Dehuman Tour
October 6th De Buze Club, Steenwijk, Holland
October 7th@ Elite of the dead fest Oostende, Belgium
October 9th @ Heretic Club, Bordeaux, France
October 11th @Traffic Live Club. Rome, Italy
October 12th @ Controsenso Club, Prato (nearfirenze) – Italy
October 13th @ Kulturcafé Schlachthaus Dornbirn, Austria
October 19th Master Master @ Schlachtfest (Metal Night X) in North Germany
November 3rd Master- UNITED FORCES FESTIVAL, Osterode/Harz (am Harz), Germany
November Brazilian Trek-Master
14.11 – Porto Alegre/RS (Brasil) @
15.11 – Curitiba/PR (Brasil) @
16.11 – Belo Horizonte/MG (Brasil) @
17.11 – TBA (Brasil)
18.11 – São Paulo/SP (Brasil) @ Carioca Club
Master Tour November 22nd Nov to 1st of Dec
November 22nd K17 Berlin, Germany
January 12th 2013- Master-HARDMETALFEST – PORTUGAL
January 26th BOGOTA, Colombia
January 27th PEREIRA, Colombia
March 2013 USA tour “NORTH AMERICAN DETONATION TOUR”
MASTER + SACRIFICIAL SLAUGHTER + TBA
Fri. March 1st – Los Angeles, CA
Sat.March 2nd – Sacramento, CA
Sun.March 3rd – Portland, OR
Mon.March 4th – Seattle, WA @ 2 Bit Saloon
Tue. March 5th – Boise, ID
Wed.March 6th – Salt Lake City, UT
Thu. March 7th – Cheyenne, WY @ Forum 619
Fri. March 8th – Manhattan, KS
Sat.March 9th – St. Louis, MO @ Fubar
Sun.March 10th – Madison, WI
Mon.March 11th – Chicago, IL
Tue. March 12th – Cleveland, OH
Wed. March 13th – Albany, NY @ Bogies NY
Thu. March 14th – Boston, MA @ Radio
Fri. March 15th – Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus Bar
Sat. March 16th – Philadelphia, PA
Sun. March 17th – Baltimore, MD @ Sonar
Mon March 18th – OFF DAY –
Tue. March 19th – Nashville, TN
Wed.March 20th – New Orleans, LA
Thu. March 21st – Little Rock, AR
Fri. March 22nd – Oklahoma City, OK
Sat. March 23rd – Ft. Worth, TX
Sun. March 24th – Austin, TX@ Dirty Dog
Mon. March 25th – Midland, TX @ The Pinebox
Tue. March 26th – El paso, TX
Wed.March 27th – Tucson, AZ
Thu. March 28th – Phoenix, AZ
Fri. March 29th – Mexicali, MX
Sat. March 30th – Corona, CA
Sun. March 31st – Las Vegas, NV
Mon.April 1st – Fullerton, CA @ The Slidebar Rock N Roll Cafe
AN: My last question – purely as a fan – is to know which album you feel is the quintessential creation of Master, and why?
PS: This New Elite is by far the best album for me I live in reality not in the past as most people seem to. You cannot go back but only forward my friend!
AN: Finally, is there anything you would like to say to the fans?
PS: Sure skip the copy-cats there is one Master!
Thanks a lot for answering these questions, Paul, and much respect for ‘The (mighty) New Elite’!
Interviewed by Jamie Wilson