Hailing out of Germany is the legendary Teutonic Thrash pioneers and one of the legends of the German Thrash scene is Assassin. Having officially formed in 1984 Assassin released two demos and two albums “The Upcoming Terror” and “The Interstellar Experience” in-between 1984-1988. Assassin quickly rose through the ranks as one of Germany’s top thrash metal bands and in 1988 while supported Death Angel on their first official tour in 1988 and while working on their third album in the same year they had everything stolen all their equipment and I’m sure a lot of musos can understand they called it a day. Then around 2002 the chants of “Go, Fight, Kill” the warcry of Assassin fans worldwide started to get louder and Assassin leaped back into the fray, releasing a new five-track demo in 2003 and playing Wacken the same year. After some line-up changes in 2005, they released their highly anticipated third album “The Club“. 2010 veteran bassist Joachim Kremer joined the band and Assassin really start getting to work with “Breaking The Silence” and “Chronicles Of Resistance” coming out in 2013, “Combat Cathedral” 2016 and most recently the Teutonic thrash metal titan of an album “Bestia Immundis“. Jai That Aussie Metal Guy from Crannk recently caught up with Joachim to talk all things Assassin
Thank you Joachim for making some time to go through some questions on behalf of Crannk, Our readers, and myself Jai That Aussie Metal Guy.
Q: First off can you tell us a little about Assassin and who you all are?
Hallo Jai! Thank you for asking me doing the interview and many Metal greets from good old Germany to all the Australian Metal Maniacs! We are a five members Teutonic Thrash Metal Band from Düsseldorf/Germany right from the 80s. Ingo Bajonczak is the vocalist. The last album is his second production with Assassin. Frank Blackfire is one of the guitarists and many of you may know him as a musician from Sodom. Scholli is the other guitarist and the last founding member of the group. Björn is the drummer and him and me joined the band the same year. Last not least I am the bass player.
Q; So how and when did you first start playing bass guitar and do you remember what your first bass was?
I started playing bass as a second instrument about 15 or 20 years ago. Before I was playing guitar and studied this instrument at the School of Music and Theatre in Rotterdam/Netherlands. My first bass was a Fender Jazz bass copy that I bought for a couple of bugs in the beginning 90s.
Q: What bass guitars are you using now?
I only call three bass guitars my own. I still have a Fernandes bass, ’cause I had an endorsement with this company. It doesn’t sound very good and I don’t play it any more. I hate this thing from the bottom of my heart, to be honest. 🙂 I also have a Musicman Stingray from the late 90s in beautiful black. This lady has a killer sound and I played it for the whole “Bestia Immundis” production. Last not least I still play the old Fender Jazz bass copy, my first instrument. Over all the years it’s not original any more. I changed the neck for an original Fender neck from a Mexican Jazz bass, I replaced the electronic for some good parts and put some new pick-ups, as well. This bass is not very special but we made a company for so many years that it became some kind of unique for me. It’s a working horse bass guitar in all of it’s aspects!
Q: As a bassist who do you feel are some of the people or bands that have helped influence and inspire you as a musician?
Actually there are too many to number, I’m afraid. But I really love old school Rock’n’Roll bass players like John Entwistle from the Who for his virtuosity or Paul McCartney for his melodic feeling on the bass. I love Justin Chancellor from Tool as well, ’cause he is so intellectual. Or Cliff Burton for being such a Bass legend! Q:How and when did you first get into heavy metal music? I started listening to Heavy Metal back in the 80s when I was a teenage kid. I first began with AC/DC and fell in love with the albums with Bon Scott. Later on my younger brother came along with bands like Motörhead, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden , Cinderella, Pretty Maids and even older stuff like Tyger’s of Pan Tang or Thrust (Does somebody of you still remember these bands?).
Q:And do you remember what was the first album you got for yourself?
I remember as it were yesterday. I was in the age of 9 waiting for my 10th birthday to come. For my 10th birthday I asked my parents to give me a Beatles record for present. And so they did. It was “Beatles for sale” from Parlophone/EMI Records. I still have this vinyl. Q;Assassin had a career filled with ups and downs with you joining in 2009 which must’ve been a really great feeling landing that gig, but can I ask first about your musical journey up leading up to that point? I started playing an instrument pretty late. I was in the age of 18 when I started to play guitar. I wanted to make this my profession right from the start, but I didn’t have a band to make a career out of it. So I decided to study music. Back in these days you had only two choices, or you go for Classical music or Jazz music. I decided to go for the last one and studied Jazz guitar in Rotterdam, as I said. After I graduated I went back to Germany and started my career as a guitarist in different TV productions like Top of the Pops and Musical Shows like Starlight Express or Saturday Night Fever, just to name a few. I always played in bands with their own music as well but it’s pretty hard to make some money out of it.
Q: And how did you end up joining with Assassin?
Back in 2009 I was invited to a party from a friend of mine in Düsseldorf. On that party I met Ufo Walter, bass player from Assassin in these days. I knew Ufo from several shows before and he asked me if I would be interested in playing an audition with Assassin, ’cause he ain’t got the time any more being part of the band. I told him I definitely am but I still have a contract with a Musical Theatre that I had to end first. Five or six weeks later Scholli gave me a call asking me for an audition. I happily agreed, studied some Assassin songs, went to the audition and the rest is history. 🙂
Q: Bestia Immundis is the latest album release for Assassin can I ask though if you had to pick one track from each album that you have been involved with for Assassin,which tracks would you pick and why?
Breaking The Silence? My favourite song on this album is the title track itself. I loved the composition of the song from the beginning and I still think it is one of the best songs Assassin ever made. Last not least when I recorded the bass for that tune it was the only first track bass I made on the whole album and I’m still very happy with that.
Chronicles Of Resistance? “Low Intensity Warfare” is definitely my favourite. I loved the workwise and co-production with the Japanese band Casbah. Very nice guys and we had a lot of fun doing their song. Combat Cathedral? My favourite one on this album is “Frozen before Impact”. It’s one of Michael Hoffmann’s compositions and it is so unique and remarkable in the way he used to write songs. I also love Ingo’s vocals on this tune and I know he had a pretty hard time with Michael to make him satisfied with his ideas of the lyrics.
Combat Cathedral? My favourite one on this album is “Frozen before Impact”. It’s one of Michael Hoffmann’s compositions and it is so unique and remarkable in the way he used to write songs. I also love Ingo’s vocals on this tune and I know he had a pretty hard time with Michael to make him satisfied with his ideas of the lyrics.
And the latest album Bestia Immundis? I have to name two, because I can’t choose in between the two of them. First of all I love “The Swamp Thing” for it’s speed and no-compromise attitude. Second I go for “The killing Light”, because I really love what kind of story Ingo made with his lyrics out of the composition. Q;Can you tell us about the recording and production process for Bestia Immundis? We started the song writing one or two years ago and this time I was more involved in the song writing process what was pretty new for me. After we got enough material we started the pre-production at Björn’s studio. This took us a much too long time to be honest, because we just made some rough tracks to give more space to the other musicians to give an impact to the songs. This way worked very good in that case, but unfortunately it was very time consuming as well. In July and August we went to Nemesis Studios from Marc Görtz in Essen with whom we worked together with during the production of “Combat Cathedral” already. After the pre-production was done the recording itself went pretty fast what is always good because in studio time is money, as you know. After ten days the recording sessions were finished, including vocals, backing vocals and overdubs. For mastering we went for Hertzwerk Studios Hamburg with Olman Vyper once more. We simply loved his work. I’m a big heavy metal fan across all genres of heavy metal but for me thrash metal was my first love can I ask what thrash metal you are rocking at the moment? I’m an all time fan of Exodus and I can’t stop listening to “Exhibit B: the Human Condition”. I just love the guitar playing and song writing of Gary Holt on this album. I also love “Hordes of Chaos” from Kreator. Mille is bringing Teutonic Thrash Metal to the 21st century, in my point of view.
Joachim thank you so much for taking the time to go through these questions from Crannk and myself it is greatly appreciated an absolute pleasure to be able to do it.Cheers Mate
Thank you very much giving me the chance to say something for Crannk. I really enjoyed it! Cheers from Germany to all Metal Heads in Down Under!
Assassin Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AssassinOfficial/
Assassin Combat Cathedral album Bandcamp link https://assassinband.bandcamp.com/
- 1985: Holy Terror (Demo)
- 1986: The Saga of Nemesis (Demo)
- 1987: Live ’87 (Demo)
- 1987: The Upcoming Terror (Album)
- 1988: Interstellar Experience (Album)
- 1989: Demo (Demo)
- 2005: The Club (Album)
- 2008: Breaking the Silence (Demo)
- 2011: Breaking the Silence (Album)
- 2011: Chronicles of Resistance (Compilation)
- 2012: Chaos and Live Shots (DVD)
- 2016: Combat Cathedral (Album)
- 2020: Bestia Immundis (Album)