of bands easily fall into one genre or another. Then again
some bands don’t cause they simply encompass everything
there is about metal. Titan Steele ( AKA Ritual Steel ) is one
such band. At times they sound like Doom, sometimes Power metal
and then suddenly they sound like something old school and underground.
No matter what genre these metal chameleons are imitating its
always metal to the core. Thanks to vocalist Sascha Maurer I
get to get a step closer to knowing the mind of this metal beast.
you give me the reader who never heard of you or Ritual Steel
a brief history of how the band was formed and how you got to
be the vocalist?
Damian, of course I can, I am happy to do. Well, my friend
Martin and I got the idea of forming a kind of obscure sounding
80s type of metal band back in the year 2000, when the situation
with our then bands (Forgotten North (Folkmetal) / Carpdiem
(Progmetal) for me, Red Fire Rain (Powermetal) / Third Teeth
(Biker Hardrock) for Martin) became stressing and dissatisfying
for both of us. We were friends, we loved the old american
underground metal from the 80s, especially the music made by
the bands that only got to release just a private 12".
And to recreate that spirit was our main goal, play totally
obscure metal with such a private feel for the vinyl release.
We wanted to give ourselves english pseudonyms, put swampy
band pictures (b/w) onto the back cover and create a pseudo
US 80s private 12".Just for the fun of it. Well, this
idea was dropped quickly as we saw how much potential there
was in our band, in our spirits.
We got together after I quit my band Forgotten North
due to girlfriend issues with my then drummer in early
2001. With us the following warriors
sharpened their swords: Timo Tippmann (still wielding the axe) on guitar,
Benny Beck on second guitar and Oliver "Zülle" Zühlke
on bassguitar. With this line up we recorded our first two songs ever
written, the up tempo heavy metal burner "Liquid Steel" (which
we still have in our set) and the more hardrocking and earthy "Orchid
Queen". Since then we always had a more hardrocking track on our
albums, but this is another story. These recordings were done in August
2001, which caused my departure from Carpediem among other reasons (I
was too powermetal from my vocal style for them, they wanted a more death
/ thrash / core oriented voice, so the bassplayer took over the vocals
then, the music is still very good, kinda Voivod meets more straight
ahead Dream Theater). Both songs got released on the "Orchid Queen" 7" on
Metal Supremacy records in December 2001. A great little label, run by
a totally enthusiastic and dedicated lady, Andrea, who is my colleague
at Hellion Records and a great friend. After we did the 7", Martin
had already worked out a deal with a southern german record label, which
fell through due to many reasons. Our friend Rich Walker, guitarist for
UK doomlegend Solstice and epic metal force Isen Törr then backed
in and took over the deal to the Miskatonic Foundation, which resulted
in the recording of "A hell of a knight" (my quirky idea, a
tribute to Demon for sure) in Spring 2002. Even though this might have
been a bit rushed, since we were not really ready to enter the studio,
our last song has just been completed one rehearsal before we started
the recordings. Well, after we finished the recordings in and the mixing
April 2002, we had to wait until January 2003 to get the album released.
the meantime we did a recording of two more songs in our
rehearsal bunker with our then current leadguitarist Dirk
Johannsen, who came in after Benny had to leave us in January
2002 for his playing skills did not develop with the rest
of the band. Timo had been out of the band for a short while
for he had to sort out some private problems. Both songs
we recorded later on became the bonus 7" for the vinyl
version of "A hell of a knight", also on Metal
Supremacy. Well, when the album finally had been released,
Dirk was gone due to trouble with Martin, just three months
later Zülle had enough of the situation in the band
that seemed to lead us nowhere and also left. Benny came
back into the picture for he had become slightly better but
later on was kicked because we got Torsten "Todde" Lang
as our constant guitarplayer, formerly leadaxeman of a local
metal band called Valpurgisnight (early Savatage style, with
a helluva singer). Todde brought in ex Stormbreeder (Nevermore
style) frontman Jesco Wolter who was also a very good guitarist
and bassplayer. From this time on we became a real force
of metal, tighter than ever and still fiery and furious.
We recorded two songs for two split 7"s with that line
up in 2003, "Death in spring" for a split with
mighty doomsters Reverend Bizarre (released on Metalcoven
Records) and "Voice of the young" for a split with
fellow metal warriors Metal Inquisitor on italian Dream Evil
Records. We did not play alot during those years, 5 times
in 2002 including a slot on the famous Headbangers Open Air
in summer, 2 times in 2003, one gig to support Doomsword,
which was a blast. Then 3 times in 2004, one gig at the Keep
It True II Warm Up, one at the Headbangers Open Air in summer.
That was fun to do but you can see the misery, in four years
of existence we only played about ten times live, more to
2002 and 2003 were hell for many of us, financial problems,
unemployment and stuff hit us really hard and it caused alot
of tension within the band due to the lack of funds for further
steps. This and other reasons lead to conflicts that reached
a first peak in early 2004 when we were about to record our
second album "Blitz Invasion". Martin then had
trouble with our former label due to financial depts. It
became clear later on that he had ripped off our Rich Walker
very badly. During those days when we recorded the second
album it became necessary for us to take a break. Martin
wanted to follow his "solo project" Z - Iron then.
Well, we played quite a few "last" shows, haha.
The people began to laugh about this habit. In 2004 Martin
got more and more into personal trouble, lost his relationship
to reality and became more and more paranoid. Finally in
November the split was inevitable.
exactly happened between you guys and the drummer Martin that
the Ritual Steel name getting changed to Titan Steele. If he
wasn’t going to use the Ritual Steel name why didn’t
he let you guys use it?
the name, Martin had registered the name to himself very early
on without telling us. So when we split, he told us that he owned
the name, that he would carry on with this band and he got back
our former bassplayer Zülle. The reason for the split was
Martins loss of view for reality. When we started we wanted to
have fun with the band, play a few shows, get a record deal maybe
but first of all play the music we love without any pressure.
That pressure came when Martin wanted the band to be a professional
unit, which was not possible. We could not rehearse five times
a week as he would have loved it for I was living about 75 kilometres
(50 miles) from the rehearsing room and did not have the money
to drive more than two times a week without getting the money
Well, he never really understood why not everybody could show such a dedication
to the band as he might have done due to our jobs or the long distance
between us and the rehearsal room. It got worse with every month we played
together and I cannot tell how many arguments we had. Martin is a guy who
lives in his own world, where he is the true metal paladin, the man of
honor. Paranoia grew on him, he also could not control his addiction for
new records and even spent money that he did not own, money he should have
paid to our former label, claiming he had sent the money and the former
label was just a rip off, trying to fool us with the sales figures, which
was nonsense. Well, finally I had arranged a concert in my hometown where
we were supposed to play as support for french killer band Malediction.
Opening act should have been Variety Law, the band where his then girlfriend
Maike sang in. To understand that situation, Martin is still married with
a child and Maike, that was November, has been in a relationship with her
guitarist. First of all our Jesco had trouble playing the gig for he had
another commitment for the day with his second act Redamntion. I even organized
someone to play bassguitar instead but we could not work him in for Martin
finally backed out telling us he did not want to meet Maike's boyfriend
face to face. Finally I lost 110,- Euros, which is quite much for me, I
could not even fully pay Malediction for I had to get a substitute for
us to play and they were not cheap. Well, the public attendance was lousy,
so it all became a desaster. Then finally when the show was over, Todde
and Timo, who were there for the evening, a friend on drums and I played
one song from our second album, well, we jammed it actually. That was the
reason for Martin to kick out Todde for he thought Todde had already planned
to take over the reign and sack Martin. Oh dear! That and Martin's gratitude
to let me and Timo play in HIS band Ritual Steel if we wanted to (he said
this to Todde) made us all decide to leave Martin behind. We had a new
drummer, Florian Tabbert, formerly with Redamntion, about one week later
and did not repent that step for Flo is not only a helluva blast master,
he is also a natural and totally funny guy, great to hang out with. That
was not the end of the trouble we had with Martin ,but in the end, he is
totally lost right now having ripped off and disappointed every friend
he once had.
the name Titan Steele? Why not keep the Ritual part instead of
much used Steel part?
we thought of a mixed name, a cross between Titan Force and
Virgin Steele maybe, I dunno, we all liked the idea of the
name. I am
not even sure who came up with the name but we all liked it.
||What is the
present lineup of Titan Steel? How does the new lineup compare
to the old one?
present line up is Sascha Maurer (your's truely) on vocals, Torsten
Lang and Timo Tippmann on guitars, Jesco "Bernd" Wolter
on bassguitar and Flo Tabbert on Drums. So it is just the drummer
position where we changed. And as I said, Flo is way better and
more relaxed than Martin, more loose, more violent, whatever,
he is a great person to hang out with and technically overwhelming.
He's our kid, 10 years junior to Timo, at least 8 years younger
than me. This is the best line up we ever had and definitely
most fun to play with.
||Is there a
new album in the works? Any label interest? Got a title for it
yet? A release date?
we are writing songs, that's for sure. Some will appear on
7"s along the way, some will be kept for the next album.
We have at least one song for the album, "The Force",
which is some kind of "patriotic" song. No rightwing
stuff for sure, it is about our part of Germany, Schleswig
Holstein. We once were danish and would not say no if we could
get back to Denmark sooner or later. I don't feel related to
the criminals we call government, so that's where the lyrics
come from. New songs might appear sooner or later, I have written
some more epic stuff with surprising elements and our other
members are getting their ideas ready as well.
No release date for an album therefor, I think it will be recorded and
released in 2006. We are in no hurry. For the label interest, we will see
who wants us. Of course there has to be an option for a vinyl issue of
the album, we wish to keep this great tradition. With or without a new
coverartwork, but the vinyl is important.
how did Randy from Tyrant’s Reign end up doing vocals
on a new song? Is it a duet or does he do a whole song? Will
it be on
the upcoming album?
were recording two songs for an upcoming 7" while Randy
and his two guitarists were at the Hellion shop for the afternoon,
they were staying in Germany for about one more week after
the festival. Since our studio was just down the street, we
invited them to come over, jam a bit, drink some ales with
us and have a good time. Finally we all got the idea to have
Randy sing some backing vocals on the chorus of our song "Red
Steele". We had a good time doing this, drank lots of
beers and Jägermeister. As I said, this song was for a
7", soon to be released by Metal Supremacy. The circle
gets closed again. We are back where we belong.
|| To me
a lot of the uniqueness of Titan Steele is your brilliantly odd
vocals. The closest person that I can compare you to is Hansi
back in the “Follow the Blind” days but in my opinion
you do way more interesting stuff vocally then he ever did back
then. What records did you sing along with the most to get your
present sound? How the hell did you come up with the vocals harmonies
for “Where shall I Sleep” they are so odd but so
for the compliment, mate, well appreciated. My voice is really
a love it or hate it theme. Many folks, even the most die
hard underground metalheads, just cannot listen to it while
really love the sound. Actually I can really sing, if I want
to. Hmm, my earliest influences were definitely Lennon and
McCartney for their brillant vocal harmonies. Then David
Byron from Uriah Heep, Rory Gallagher, Greg Lake, Ian Gillan
Mick Jagger as well. I am more influenced by the classic
rock vocalists it seems. For metal I dig John Cyris, Mark
Ski, especially early Harry Conklin, Tim Baker, but I can
say that Beatles and Rolling Stones really were the earliest
most important influences. About "Where shall I sleep",
I am not sure how I got that sick stuff to my mind, I guess
I wanted to sound like Tim Baker and in the end turned out
to be a 1 : 1 Udo Dirkschneider clone, haha, with a touch of
Brian Johnson maybe. Anyway, I love the song, it is sick as
hell and it rawks and deserved a special vocal treatment. I
try to keep variation in my vocal style, experiment with some
dark and heavy vocals on the new song "Fallen Star",
where I got inspiration from Carl Mc Coy (Fields of the Nephilim).
I could not only stay to one style, one level, this would
bore the hell outta me.
|| So how
is the reaction to you guys when you play the Swordbrother’s
fest and Keep It True warm up shows? How do the two fests compare?
What does a usual Titan Steele set list look like?
comment on the KIT II warm up, that was...well, let us leave
that without comment, don't wanna get in trouble with anybody,
I can just say that the the circumstances were not too great
but we gave our best and many folks liked it. Swordbrothers was
awesome, we were totally loose on stage, hit each other with
our heads and instruments but it was just fun. From the treatment
a band gets I will always prefer Swordbrothers, I just can't
say anything about the usual treatment of a band with the KIT
for we did not get any treatment at all due to our beloved ex
drummer's negotiating skills. Anyway, playing for Volker Raabe
and his Swordbrothers festival was great, he is an honest and
dedicated metalhead and great friend. So I can only recommend
playing there. Well, Titan Steele live, that's mostly material
from the second album plus "Armageddon Symphony", which
became our "Paranoid" or "Satisfaction",
then "Liquid Steele" as an encore and as many new songs
as we can play. Maybe one or two covers, currently we have "Sirens" and "Red
Sharks" to play. We love to keep it varied.
does everyone in the band use live?
dear, technical stuff, I cannot really tell about that, I am
just the singer. We use our own guitars and tops most of the
time and Flo at least his own snare and cymbals. I cannot tell
what kind of equipment the others have, I still have my 6 years
old Sennheiser microphone in the rehearsal room and sing over
what ever I get on stage.
does the future hold for Titan Steele?
and beer, well, who knows. We can all be dead in a year or a
day when the devil's been put to the test. At least I hope we
will get some more recognition, play alot more and not always
to pure true metal audiences and get some more albums out which
I would buy myself if I was a customer. Of course my dream is
to play the Wacken Open Air, saturday afternoon in between 5.30
and 7.30 on the mainstage with 10.000 cheering people. Maybe
this will be happen, I dunno. I am happy if it does, I won't
kill myself if it don't.
I would love to see you guys play live, I might as well ask this.
What US metal bands would you guys love to see play live and
why? Any US “metal” fests you would like to see?
would love to see Brocas Helm and Manilla Road again for both
shred supreme and belong to the greatest bands alive. Then I'd
love to see Saint Vitus and Pentagram live, gods of doom. For
the metal fests in the US, I would love to be at the Kalamazoo
for at least one time, even though there is no big audience.
I don't know about any others. There are a few cool doom events,
my mates Reverend Bizarre and The Gates of Slumber (Hail to both!!!)
have done a tour following one of these events. Should have been
great fun to watch.
a lot of underground metal fans in the US dream of seeing Wacken.
Call me crazy but I would rather see bands like Titan Steele,
Wizard, Paragon, Sacred Steel and Wolfs moon play the Headbangers
Ballroom. What is it like? Is it the metal paradise I am picturing
or is it something else?
is big, too big for my taste as a fan with not enough bands that
interest me. I prefer playing the Headbangers Open Air, which
is a nice location in the middle of nowhere at the countryside
with a great atmosphere. Well, the ballroom, it is an okay club
with a lousy acoustic. We played there about a week ago with
Attacker, Black Majesty, Maverick and Rival and it was okay.
Could have been better. But I don't like to play Hamburg anyway,
don't like the city. HOA is great to be if you want to meet like
minded underground fans. If you go for the commercial heavy stuff,
go to Wacken. I stick to my HOA. Been there since 1999, played
there 5 times, it is a giant, an overwhelming event.
do you think the best albums of the year are so far?
Bizarre - Crush the insects,
Saviours - same (70s type doom from Sweden),
- Sins and greed,
Road - Gates of fire,
- Firewood (Swedish 70s type of rock / hardrock, I love that
Dust - same (french doom),
- Maelstrom (more swedish doom),
tons of cool albums already actually. 2005 is filled with
highlights for my taste.
do you think of the trend of all these bands that quit playing
metal after one or two albums (so most of them could jump on
other trends or cover bands) reuniting and getting headliner
spots when underground bands who have more albums and usually
better albums are still fighting for warm up party spots or daytime
what shall I think? I don't make up my mind about them, I am
sure I would never have given them any notice.
you were a big metal labels what bands would you sign on the
without thinking about it? Why them?
||I would immediately sign Reverend Bizarre,
one of the most intense, most spiritual bands in the world. Of
course they are some of the
nicest people I ever met as well.
Then I would sign Falcon with
Perry Grayson (ex Destiny's End / ex Artisan / Isen Törr)
and Greg Lindström (ex Cirith Ungol), who do a helluva great
70s style heavyrock like Budgie. I would sign Ogre, another young
band doing 70s style heavyrock with doomy and epic tendencies.
I would sign Manilla Road and Brocas Helm, both for their ability
to write metal songs far away from the ordinary scheme and still
stay real metal, I would sign Pentagram, the only true successor
for Blue Cheer and early Sabbath since 1972, there are actually
tons of bands I would go for.
Music I would sign to my label would
have to be natural, it would have to be inspired, it would have
to let the magick flow. I would sign many italian bands like Wicked
Minds (Uriah Heep / Deep Purple style), I would sign Orange Sunshine,
some dutch youngsters with a portuguese drummer who also sings,
they go for a 1 : 1 copy of Blue Cheer somehow but with an authentical
feel and they even put fake release dates like 1969 or 1971 on
their albums. Ah, well.
|| Thanks for your time and energy. Any final comments?
thank you very much, Damian, I love interviews, haha. Well,
are satisfied with my answers, since I am doing this stuff myself,
I hate it when musicians give only very short answers and do
not even hit the topic. Anyway, thanks for your support, Titan
Steele will never disappoint you and our other troopers from
For those into hardrock and metal: explore!
Don't stop exploring, search for the real stuff and listen to
it. Down with the plastic music out there. Alreet, bonny lads,
that's it for now.
Visit our website www.titan-steele.de