Tankard's Gerre: Beer today. Beer tomorrow...

"We don’t take ourselves too seriously..."

Andreas ‘Gerre’ Geremia, vocalist with Germany’s Tankard is hanging at home in Frankfurt. He, and the rest of the band are getting excited about their debut whistle-stop tour of Australia in July. So what does he expect? Aside from “Really looking forward to it,” he imagines “A nice country, good beer and crazy metal-heads. I was once in Australia but it was a long time ago – it was in ’85, I think – so I have some memories. When the other guys go back, I will stay a couple of days longer to enjoy your country.”

So with the release of R.I.B (Rest In Beer), it’s going to be Tankard’s 16th album; not many bands can say they’ve been around for over 32 years and put out 16 albums. Gerre agrees. “That’s a lot of songs! But we still have a lot of fun to play that kind of music so there’s no reason to quit as long as we have this kind of fun so we’ll just keep on going. We’re not the youngest anymore but sometimes we feel like little children so we have a lot of fun. Of course we never thought about that when we started the band but we’re now 32 years old and still alive, and to be honest, that makes us a little bit proud. We don’t take ourselves too seriously; you have to have fun to play this kind of music and as long as we have this kind of spirit we’ll keep on going.”

We speak about the difficulties in creating a set-list from such a huge back catalogue and he laughs, adding “Sometimes this is very difficult! We have a lot of discussions in the band and of course there are a couple of songs that you have to play otherwise the fans would kill you. On the other hand you also have to see that we have a new album out and we have to play songs off that to promote it but we try to do a good mixture of old and new stuff but it’s always very difficult.” So aside from the newer stuff, what classics can we expect? “Always Empty Tankard, Zombie Attack and The Morning After, and they love Die With A Beer In Your Hand.”

Surprisingly none of the band plays full-time; a decision they all agreed on over 20 years ago. Ever thought that you’d like to fuck the day job off and do this full time? “No, we decided not to do it 100 per cent professionally - on the one hand it’s great for the band because we’re totally independent and we can do what we want; we don’t have to sell many records to survive. On the other hand, we’re not able to play all of the offers we get so this is the worst thing but it’s not so bad. We try to put all of our free time into activities for the band and we’ll keep on going with the metal stuff for the next 32 years, hopefully.” And he adds “All the others [in the band] have families too and it was a decision not to play 200 shows in a year over 20 years ago and we’re 100 per cent OK with that. It’s working good.”

As with all Tankard albums, R.I.B has mix of serious tracks; Gerre explains about War Cry and Hope Can’t Die. “About two years ago a very good friend of mine was dying but the lyrics are more in general but it’s about losing a good friend and all the feelings you have; sadness, anger and hope again so this is a very serious and personal one. War Cry is about sending drones to another country and sometimes killing innocent people, and it’s a very critical song about that. So, as always, we try to do a mix of serious stuff and funny lyrics.” And I ask if he’s bothered that perhaps the more serious stuff gets over-looked. He’s quite philosophical about it. “We created this kind of image for the band many years ago with album covers like Chemical Invasion (1987) and The Morning After (1988) when we were very young then later on, in the 90’s we really wanted to get rid of this image but we totally, totally failed.” He laughs, continuing “So we do some very ironic stuff about our own image and don’t take ourselves too seriously as fun is the most important thing with Tankard but concerning the lyrics, there’s a very serious side. But if people talk about Tankard it’s always to do with the beer-drinking image and it’s our own fault but we really can live with it. No problem.”

Gerre works as a social worker for drug prevention so I ask about the attitude of his clients and co-workers towards him being in a crazy metal-band: “Some of them know that and ask what’s going on with the band – no problem – but for me, it’s my job and Tankard is a totally different thing and I try not to mix the two. So when I’m on tour with Tankard I don’t have any thoughts about my day job and I don’t mix the two because they’re really different things.” He never mixes the two.

So how does it feel to be a part of the ‘Teutonic Four’ (Tankard, Kreator, Destruction & Sodom); he is quite proud, naturally. “A couple of years ago they were always talking about the ‘Big German Three’ and Tankard were not mentioned but now they talk about the ‘Teutonic Four’ and it’s great to be a part of that. Last year we played the very first festival called the Beastival Festival and it had all four bands on one stage; after more than 30 years that was amazing and we’d love to repeat that. This year they changed the name to Out and Loud Festival; I don’t know why they changed the name…”
Getting back to R.I.B, this is the third album with producer Michael Mainx, it’s obviously working out well, yes? “Now we know each other really good. This time it was a lot of hard work in the studio; Michael is a perfectionist and for us it’s important that we have this very heavy sound with very heavy guitars but on the other hand, a very transparent and clear sound where you can hear every instrument. I think we found this sound on A Girl Called Cerveza and I think we’re on the right way = we don’t know what’s gonna happen on the next album, we may change the sound or the producer – we don’t know exactly but now, with the release of this album, we can’t talk about the next album. We will see…” I particularly love the heavy bass on R.I.B. “You can hear the bass very clearly and we’re very satisfied. Compared with A Girl Called Cerveza, the songs on R.I.B are a little straighter and to the point, and maybe a little bit harder? But it’s still Tankard and we’re really satisfied with the result. Hopefully the fans will like it too.”

And the Professor from the Chemical Invasion album cover is making a re-appearance? “That’s right! The story behind that is that in ’87 the Professor really failed; he was not able to stop the chemical invasion and now he’s coming back to take revenge on mankind and poison all the beer he gives away for free. It’s another crazy Tankard story and we’re really happy to have him back on the cover.”

The interview is drawing to a close but Gerre is keen to reiterate how much the band is looking forward to the Australian tour, and he finishes with “There will be two video-clips out for this album; the title track Rest In Beer and Fooled By Your Guts; a very funny comic video by an Australian guy who’s working in a film school…”

Tankard. Coming to drink all the beer in Australia, this July.