Interview with Underground Legend, Paul Speckmann

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For decades, bassist and vocalist Paul Speckmann contributed to the death metal scene with the band Master and other primordial death metal acts such as Death Strike and Abomination.

After releasing The New Elite last year, Master is back again with The Witchhunt, their 12th full-length album, through the label F.D.A. Rekotz. On May 7, Master will play their first and only show at the Brass Mug in Tampa.

Here is what Paul Speckmann had to say about the music that fuels his life:

For those that may not know, what/who is Master and how would you describe your sound?

Master is a band that helped forge the sound of aggressive metal in the early days. We’re a three piece: I’m on bass and vocals, Pradlovsky is on drums, and Nejezchleba on guitar. The sound is a straight-forward machine influenced by the early punk and heavy metal bands like GBH, MDC, Minor Threat, and Motorhead.

How, would you say, has your sound changed over the years since your debut album in 1990?

I suppose with newer technology the sound is a bit cleaner but the energy still remains on every album! This is still dirty rock and roll as it has always been. When something is not broken, there is no need to fix or change it. In today’s metal world newer and older bands are always striving for a more complex computer-oriented sound. Master still records the old-fashioned way, recording basically live.

Your newest record, titled The Witchhunt, recently came out on the label F.D.A. Rekotz. Can you tell me how you went about signing with them and why?

Well, I actually posted a message on Facebook stating that I was thinking about starting a new label called Speckmann Records. The response was overwhelming, to say the least. Some fan wrote about F.D.A. Rekotz from Germany, so I contacted them. The website said they weren’t accepting submissions at this time but I wrote regardless. The label owner Rico contacted me shortly afterward and the rest is history. I spoke with a few friends and they said the label was a diehard underground entity and so, of course, this interested me and by the looks of things they are doing an excellent job promoting The Witchhunt.

What was the recording/songwriting process like and was it any different than previous releases?

No, the process has never changed. I write songs on an acoustic guitar at home and when the time comes I present them to our drummer, Pradlovsky, and we decide together whether or not they will work and we go from there. I write riffs throughout the year, every year, and hope for the best. The key to the originality is that I don’t force the tracks and I rarely listen to anything other than old rock and old metal bands, so originality still works for Master, in my opinion.

What are some of the themes covered in this album and where do you normally get inspiration for writing?

The same as always: life, death, politics, and religion. Inspiration always comes from the world around me. The struggle that mankind endures figures into my songs. All you have to do is look around the so-called organized society we live in and the lyrics flow freely.

It seems you’ve had your current three man lineup for a good solid while, can you talk a bit about this lineup and how it has been to work with them?

Like any lineup we’ve had our arguments from time to time, but again this lineup works so no changes are necessary. Pradlovsky brings his dynamic sound to the table live and on every record as well. Nejezchleba is a busy man with his family, but he finds a way to work out time to rehearse regularly so this is fine by me. He plays good solos on stage as well as in the studio, so this certainly works for me. We are touring regularly throughout every year so the guys are as happy as I am. It’s a full time job playing rock and roll if you are a serious musician. I realize for some it’s a hobby, for me it’s a way of life, period!

What are the plans for touring?

We just finished 24 dates with Onslaught and Mpire of Evil in Europe. Next up are a few German shows, a Balkans tour, South America, and the USA again in April-May. No rest for the addicted!

You also recently released an album titled Sulphur Skies under the name Johansson & Speckmann where you work with the Swedish death metal powerhouse Rogga Johansson. Can you talk about this project and about how it came about?

Sure, I was approached by Mr. Johansson to record some vocals on a 7-inch record called Megascavenger and it worked out quite well.

Then, last year, he contacted me and said he had written 12 songs and asked if I would sing them. I am always interested in working, so I agreed. Rogga sent 12 songs and lyrics for nine songs in no particular order. I took up the challenge and arranged the lyrics, made changes, and added a few words and lines here and there. I wrote lyrics for three songs.

Every week for four weeks I went in the studio for two hours in the morning here in Czech and laid down my vocals. After about 9 hours all was completed and with Rogga’s blessing the CD was released. In 2014 we will record number two!

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