What do you do when you get dismissed from a band like Sodom? You start a new band, obviously. And that's exactly what Bernd "Bernemann" Kost and Markus "Makka" Freiwald did. Without wasting any time, they put together a solid line-up of seasoned pros, rolled up their sleeves, and started to work on material, that was recently released as "Rest in Violence". A contemporary Teutonic thrash metal release, Bonded's debut album ticks all the boxes, from raging riffage to dirty vocals courtesy of Ingo Bajonczak. Bernemann was kind enough to answer a couple of my questions about their first-born.
Your debut album was out a few months back. Are you happy with everything that's been happening since, like the feedback from fans and press?
Of course not. We have good production, we released a very good CD in my opinion, and we have a great band, but then when we wanted to start, everything stopped because of Coronavirus. But that's a problem with every band of course. But this makes me a little sad. We were so happy in January, we played the release show, and then we had to stop everything. So this is not nice, but with the production, with the CD, the new line-up, with everything, I am more than happy. Also, with the record company. So, we are very happy and very proud.
Right after leaving Sodom you and Markus decided to put together a new band. Was it hard to complete the line-up?
Yes and no. The guitarist and the bass player, they are friends of ours, we have known each other for a long time, but we knew that it would be difficult to find the right singer. As long as I remember, since I started to make music, it was always a problem to find somebody to sing. So that took a long time, and it wasn't easy at all. So we were very happy to find Ingo and to get him into the band. But the rest was easy, it was just two chords, and the guys said, "Oh, yeah! We're in!" So yeah, that wasn't a problem at all, just the singer.
Does the band name have any special meaning for you?
Yeah, we were looking for such a long time, Makka and I were looking for a band name, and then when the other three guys were in the band we were still looking, and we finally came up with Bonded, and after that, we said, "Hey, this doesn't only sound good and is a good name for a thrash metal band, but it also has a meaning." But that wasn't our intention when we chose the name, that came later.
You got a couple of offers from various record labels, but you went with Century Media. Was it because they are from your hometown?
That's right. Century Media is here in Dortmund, and I was born in Dortmund. I'm a big soccer fan of Borussia Dortmund, and all my family lives close, and Makka as well, he lives only a few kilometers from here. But first of all, I've known Century Media since the very beginning in the ‘80s, and Makka as well. Makka played in the ‘80s in a band Despair and the first singer of Despair, his name is Robert Kampf, and he was the founder of Century Media. And the guitar player was Waldemar Sorychta, he is also well known because he's a very famous producer. So, Century Media was born more or less from Despair. So I've known Century Media for a very long time, and I had a contract with Century Media back in ‘91 with my band Crows, it was a few years later after Makka released the first Despair album, also with Century Media. So we've known the guys for a very long time, and they made us a good offer, that was of course very important.
I know you had like 40 songs ready. How did you pick the 12 tunes that made the final cut?
Well, we sat together with Makka and we decided. We had so much material. Some songs were very easy, for example, like "Suit Murderer" or "Je suis Charlie", these are very special songs, so we had to pick them. And then we had some options, we sat together, had some beers, and then we decided which were our favourite songs. But when I say 40, there were maybe a couple of songs that were not arranged or were just ideas. We tried to find a good combination between slower songs and faster songs, you know?
Was any of the material than landed on "Rest in Violence" intended for the next Sodom album?
I started to write songs when I was in Sodom, back in 2017. So, for example "Suit Murderer" was one of the songs that could be on the next Sodom CD, but that wasn't sure, because Tom never sang on that song and he doesn't know the song. So, I'll just say that I started to write the first songs for Sodom, and I believe "Suit Murderer" for example, as well as one of the first songs "Godgiven", these are songs that were already finished, more or less. Of course, not the vocals, Tom was always responsible for the lyrics, but the music was ready. It was completely arranged, the music was finished. So I think that at least "Suit Murderer" would find its way onto the next Sodom release. But I cannot be sure because I never talked with Tom about it, you know? And there's also a song called "No Cure for Life", there's an intro on the CD, and this intro was already finished before we started the recordings for "Decision Day". If you listen to it, you can hear that the sound is a little different, because that intro was already finished. It should have been on "Decision Day, but we didn't find the right song for this intro. So we forgot about it, but now for "No Cure for Life" we said, "Hey, it will fit!"
And who wrote the lyrics for the album? Was it Ingo's job?
Yeah, absolutely, it was Ingo's job, he wrote all the lyrics.
You've got two special guests on the album, Speesy from Kreator and Blitz. How did it come about?
So, after we left Sodom, Makka and me, I guess after two days I got a call from Speesy. He's a friend, a very good friend, since many, many years, and he said, "Hey Bernie, I want to play bass guitar in your new band," and I said, "Speesy, I would love to do this, but honestly, how many shows did you play last year with Kreator?" He said, "Oh we played more than 100 shows." "So, how do you want to manage this together with the new band?" So, Speesy would be playing with us, but it was impossible. But we were always in contact, we were always talking, calling on the telephone. So that was very easy, he was with Kreator, he couldn't play with us, but when he asked me if he possibly could play a song, I said, "Of course you can." And after Speesy offered this to me, I met Bobby a few weeks later at a show and he asked me, "Hey Bernie, what's going on with your new band?" and I said, "Oh Bobby, it's great. We have a contract with Century Media, Speesy will play a song with us," and then Bobby said at that moment, "Hey, is it OK for you if I sing this song?" "Are you crazy, of course!" I've known Bobby for a long time, but I was afraid to ask him, you know, but when he offered me to sing the song, that made me very, very happy and proud.
In the song "The Rattle & the Snake" you've got a harmonica, which is quite an unusual instrument for a thrash band. Whose idea was it?
It was Ingo. He plays harmonica and he asked us, "In this part, I could imagine playing the harmonica." And we looked at him, "Are you kidding Ingo?" and he said, "No, really." We were laughing, and then one day he came to the rehearsal room with his harmonica, and finally we said, "OK, let's do it." And I guess it was OK. It was a cool idea and I guess most people like it.
"The Outer Rim" is a slower song and it's not very common to close a thrash metal album with a slower tune...
We believe that "The Outer Rim" is exactly the song to close the album. That was our opinion. We have two CD versions, we have the regular CD with 10 tracks and another one was 12, with bonus tracks, but on both versions "The Outer Ring" is the last song. We like it, we have this a little slower tune at the end to finish the album. We didn't think about the opener that much, but for us, it was clear to finish the CD with "The Outer Rim".
I've got a question about your and Marcus's dismissal from Sodom. You've been with the band for over 20 years. Did you expect it, or did it happen totally out of the blue?
No, I didn't expect it. Sometimes Tom and Makka and I, we had different opinions about the future. Tom's wish was always to pay more attention to the older material and Makka and I, we were looking more forward. We didn't want to forget the classics of course, they belong to Sodom, but Makka and I wanted to look forward and we didn't want to make copies of "Agent Orange", you know? We never had any disagreements in the band, that was the only thing, because Tom said, "I want to go back, I want to play more old school," and there was something between us. In the end, it didn't surprise me that this happened, I can live with this decision, absolutely, but I didn't expect it. Maybe that was the best thing that could happen. I guess Tom is now happy that he found some guys who want to celebrate more old school stuff and Makka and I, we are able to write new songs. And we are not modern at all, I'm 57 years old, you know, I don't want to play modern metal, but I'm very creative and I don't want to act like I'm still living in the ‘80s, you know? So I guess in the end, it's a good solution for all of us.
In Sodom you were the only guitarist and now you've got Chris. How different is it for you to play with another guitarist after so many years of shredding on your own?
Yeah, it's cool. Before Sodom I always played with another guitarist. I played with Crows in the early ‘90s, and before I came to Sodom I played with Angel Dust. At that time we were also looking for a singer, that's why I didn't release any material With Angel Dust. We were only in the rehearsal room for one and a half years. We are good friends, I've known the guys from the very beginning. So before Sodom I always played with another guitarist, and now with Bonded we have two guitars, and that is nothing extraordinary for me. Chris is a very good guitarist, and we enjoy it. When you have two guitarists who can play together, then it always sounds better than just one. But the guitars have to fit together and Chris and me, I guess that we are a very good team, and I am very happy to have him on my side.
OK, what are your plans for the band after the whole Covid-19 thing is over?
I guess we are doing the same thing that everybody is doing right now. We are writing songs as much as possible, we will try to get into the studio at the end of the year, and we hope to go back on stage as soon as possible. So our plan is to release the next CD. I am sure we will have thousands of new releases next year, but what else can you do as a musician? Thankfully we have got good jobs, and we don't depend on music financially, so we can just write new songs and come back as soon as we can play the first shows.