With less than two weeks until the release of German thrash metal legends Holy Moses’ 12th album we conquer our nerves and fire the questions at feisty, fearsome and clearly foxy front woman Sabina Classen. Hold tight for the latest in our series of exclusive rushonrock interviews…
rushonrock: After 12 albums how do you stay true to the Holy Moses sound and still create something fresh?
Sabina Classen: After 12 albums it’s important that we made this one something special. Everyone knows that even after so many years and so much music the fans still want to hear the old stuff live. So we took our time to make something the old fans and any new fans would want to hear today. We worked on this record for 12 months – by far the longest time we’ve taken over an album. Of course it’s hard after 27 years together but it’s getting the balance between what you know as your own sound and being influenced by modern sounds.
rushonrock: Has that sound stood the test of time?
SC: “The band was founded in 1980 and I came in a year later. We had a chance to create our own sound back then and we’re proud of what we did. But we’ve out all of our influences into the new album. We are getting new fans all the time – fathers who were into us almost 30 years ago are bringing their sons and daughters to shows.
rushonrock: And does the new record Agony of Death stay true to classic Holy Moses?
SC: “We had a break from working on the album at the turn of the year and went on tour with our good friends Obituary in January and February. Later the Obitaury guys featured on the new record. I think because we have so many new young fans they should be given the chance to get into the band for the first time with fresh songs like the fans did 25 years ago. It’s only fair.
rushonrock: So come on Sabina, how good is the new album?
SC: “With this record we got to grips with modern technology, decided not to go with an experienced producer and did everything ourselves, in house. We were able to do what Holy Moses wants and what Holy Moses means. Like the title Agony of Death says – your whole life is an agonising battle against death. We have put all of our life knowledge into this album and created a very aggressive record.
rushonrock: How is your voice standing up to 27 years of growling?
SC: “It’s always important to look after your voice as a singer and for me even more so because of the extreme pressure I put my vocal chords under every day. I rehearse my voice every day. It’s just like if you are a footballer and you exercise your muscles every day. I do the same with my voice. I can’t party every night any more. I do the shows and then I sleep. I rest as much as I can and try to live a pretty healthy lifestyle.
“For me your whole body must be in tune. Your soul and your mind must relate to the physical you. Everything is connected. I am lucky I have such a powerful voice and I want to look after it.
rushonrock: How healthy is European thrash right now?
SC: “I see a lot of new thrash metal bands coming through across Europe now and I see bands with girls ‘growling’. I know Angela (Gossow) from Arch Enemy and she has often told me I was her inspiration. I was the first girl growling like that and I’m very proud to have set the standards.
“The whole thrash scene is very strong right now. You have the older bands like Kreator, Destruction, Sodom and Tankard all doing well and keeping their sound fresh. Then you have a lot of new bands taking inspiration from those guys and giving the scene a new twist. I think Agony Of Death has a place in there and again it alludes to the fact that during the 90s the whole thrash scene was in decline. All the hype surrounded Black Metal and Death Metal and thrash was ignored for a while.
“I like the old Metallica stuff and although I was never a huge fan their name means metal. I know the band personally and they’ve always been good guys. It’s really huge for the whole of metal that Metallica are doing such a great job with Death Magnetic. I don’t want to hype it too much but if they can produce a record like that then it gives every metal act in the world a shot in the arm. They are a band everybody knows – even my dad! If they are back to their best then metal is back to its best.”
rushonrock: Finally when are we going to see you in the North East of England?
SC: “I’d like to think we will tour Agony Of Death before the year is out and I’d love to come to Newcastle. I’m disappointed Kevin Keegan has left the football club because I was going to bring along the record he released to get it signed. I was a huge fan as a kid growing up in Hamburg and he turned me on to football. Because of Keegan I played to a very high level as a kid in Germany and attended camps with Franz Beckenbauer, Pele and Gerd Muller. I liked his hair. Who didn’t?