Turbokill – Churning FirepowerMonday, 4th November 2019
Soaring melodies, catchy riffs, pounding tempos, anthems that can stand the test of time – these are the elements that keep people aligned with the traditional, classic metal movement. We all have our ways of becoming indoctrinated to the music – and it usually starts with the work of acts like Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and so forth. Turbokill hope to inspire the current generation of metal maniacs into their powerhouse ways. Their full-length Vice World contains the spirit and passion of the 80’s but also injects a bit of current socio-critical commentary on what’s developing in the modern world.
We reached out to singer Stephan Dietrich through Skype to bring us up to speed on how Turbokill developed after his departure from Alpha Tiger, the concept behind the cover art and some of the lyrical content for the record – how the band views the art of the live performance, and thoughts regarding a very emotional final performance last year with Alpha Tiger.
Dead Rhetoric: Turbokill started in 2016 shortly after you left Alpha Tiger, where you recorded three albums with the band. What did you want to develop differently for this band compared to Alpha Tiger, and what circumstances caused you to leave Alpha Tiger during 2015?
Stephan Dietrich: Okay. You should know that also that when I was in Alpha Tiger, I had the wish to create my own thing and make my own vision come true. I wanted to make my own project, and it has been my wish for years. We had some differences in the end with Alpha Tiger, problems that couldn’t be solved. That was the reason I left Alpha Tiger, and after this time I was in search of musicians. In 2016 I found the right people where the magic on stage is real, and with these guys I want to make music and a band with these guys. Alpha Tiger, since the beginning was a very experimental band. We did play metal, but with experimental influences.
With Turbokill we want to make things very straight, back to the roots and we love the sound of Judas Priest – Firepower is an album that inspired us. We want to create our own modern metal sound which fits in 2019, but with this touch of 80’s metal spirit to create our own character and maybe be a trend-setter. That’s what we wanted to realize with Turbokill and now you can hear the results and I hope people enjoy it.
Dead Rhetoric: You signed with Steamhammer/SPV and recorded your debut full-length Vice World – which consists of the four songs on your self-titled independent EP plus several newer songs. How did the songwriting and recording sessions go for this effort – and what do you hope the listeners will take away from the band on this record?
Dietrich: In the first part, Ronny Schuster is the main composer of the melodies of the songs – he has a good feeling for the riffs and the hook lines. He makes the main compositions, and together with Daniel Kanzier the other guitarist who played these incredible guitar solos. Everybody brings in their own passion for the songs. And I hear the song and I want certain things that I think about – all the problems in our modern society with the consumption craze, and egoism, and I think sometimes the world is going crazy. We have a lot of social/critical content, but we don’t want to be moral prophets you know? The people should also have fun with the music – and in the background there is something to thing about.
For example when I heard the riff for “End of Days”, I thought this song has a lot of epicness. We have to make some songs for the metalheads, so this was a warrior song about Ragnarok and the Twilight of the Gods. I think it’s important to have in metal, the people should have fun listening to our music. This was my intention for this, or “Sail with Pirates”, it’s a song with a pirate-theme and it talks about the life and touring as a band. This is what I bring in with the lyrics.
Dead Rhetoric: On the song “Track N’ Spy” you deal with the topic of smartphones and the mental dependency that happens as citizens nowadays who make it seem like we can’t live without being connected. How do you balance out the need for instant communication and this technology while having the freedom to go about life the way you wish to?
Dietrich: This is very difficult. Especially for me as a musician who must be connected to everyone to bring about information. I read a lot of things in the past about these spy projects from Google and others, this was the reason why I felt the need to talk about it. In Europe there are smartphones that are favorites, the point is I have a smartphone with a free operating system that is not Google because I see that Google is everywhere, integrated into most websites and a lot of people don’t care about what they are telling you for information. If I go to a person on the street and say how are you, what are you doing – this person will tell me to go away. But on the internet, everybody is like an open book and this is what I wanted to bring in the message of the song.
Dead Rhetoric: Tell us the idea behind the cover art developed by Geno Genma from your vision – as it has a lot of qualities that remind me of a board game coming to life?
Dietrich: I talked about the social / critical lyric content before, and I was inspired with the cover by the song “Global Monkey Show” which is about the consumption craze. I had this picture of the cover in my head, I drew it and this would function with this little 80’s touch. I’m a big fan of the 80’s so I wanted to integrate that. I went to Geno Genma because he is a great graphic artist and he also made a lot of great stuff with Alpha Tiger. I wanted it to be in this style of comic drawing, I had this picture and he made it in a better way. He made it absolutely awesome, the artwork.
I wanted to make a cover which is exciting and wasn’t boring like hundreds of other covers. I wanted to create something eye-catching, and we have this title Vice World which fits with the socio-critical commentary in the lyrics. I wanted it to fit like a poster of a morbid game show, and this was my intention of the idea.
Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe Turbokill when it comes to your live performance on stage? What do you want to get across to the audience, and what have been some of your favorite shows to date with this band – or in your career to date?
Dietrich: For us it’s important to see the cover and we want to bring those types of elements on stage. I’m inspired by the shows of Alice Cooper- he makes more than the music, his shows are like big theater. We want to bring this in our show, I have in the song “Global Monkey Show” I have this cylinder, this outfit, and this money gun where I spread big bucks you know?
Dead Rhetoric: When it comes to your vocal delivery, do you have specific tricks and routines you follow to keep your voice in prime shape? Because when I interviewed Peter Langforth back in 2015 he mentioned your classical training and the fact that you would do the high range things merely as warm ups that he encouraged to use for Alpha Tiger…
Dietrich: I took professional singing lessons since the age of 13. I did this for seven years and after this time, I came into metal. This was my experience, but the basics of what I learned were in a pop/rock vocal sound. I don’t have a classical apprenticeship, it’s more modern. In theory, it’s different to classical but its like doing sports. You have to train your voice every day. And before a show, it’s very important to warm up your voice. Because you are standing on stage a minimum of 30 minutes, you have to warm up to sound powerful.
Dead Rhetoric: Where do you see the state of heavy metal today within Germany as well as on a global scale? What would you like to see change if you had the power and money to do so, if anything?
Dietrich: If I had the power and money I would make the Turbokill shows as big and as awesome as I could, as much as I can. We want to make a lot of live performances and different show elements special. For Germany especially, there are so many different kinds of metal in trend. It’s important for us to make the classic, traditional metal scene greater and I hope this will function with our big live performances. Such bands like Judas Priest or Iron Maiden, you don’t know where they will be in ten years or so. This is important to make for the next generation that this kind of music will stay alive. The fans are there, but the legends may not exist longer. What comes next then? I hope we can build a next generation of new heavy metal and great heavy metal, and I hope that we are there at the right time.
Dead Rhetoric: A lot of people notice in the United States how big the European festival market is now for heavy metal – you have Wacken that are selling out 75,000 tickets within the first 24 hours they are put on sale. Do you enjoy festivals as much as the regular club shows?
Dietrich: For sure. A festival is another situation. I would say as a visitor I prefer the smaller festivals. We played at Wacken with Alpha Tiger in 2013 and it was great for the band, but as a visitor it was a lot of stress. So many people were there, and I prefer the smaller festivals as a visitor because they are more familiar, also the club shows are great because they have their own atmosphere. As musicians for bands, I prefer the bigger festivals, it’s great for the musicians. In the club scene, you are closer to the people – you cannot compare this. To play on the bigger stages its an honor for a band, but the club shows tend to have the true fans who have followed you for a while.
Dead Rhetoric: What have been some of the most memorable albums that you’ve taken in over the past five years – as you cite in your bio the importance of the latest Judas Priest album Firepower as far as the sonic approach to Turbokill?
Dietrich: In the last few years. I would say of course Firepower, The Verdict from Queensrÿche I’m a big fan of – I met Todd LaTorre the singer and I am a big fan of his voice. What’s next… I’m listening to the 80’s stuff. I’m not only a metal listener, as a musician you are inspired by a lot of influences. I listen to a lot of post-rock, the music is very emotional. In the last years, I like a lot of great little bands like Evil Invaders from Belgium, Stallion from Germany. I concentrate though on the old stuff.
Dead Rhetoric: What are some of the greatest challenges that Turbokill faces to ascend the ladder and gain more of a solid following/ foothold within the heavy metal scene?
Dietrich: It is important that if you make a first step, you do it right. I had the experience with Alpha Tiger before, so I could work with this to make an EP, go to a label, etc. – but you have to criticize yourself. Question yourself, is this really cool or is this boring stuff that ten thousand other bands are doing too? You have to create your own character as a band, to shine and stand out. A lot of bands want to make it to the top and want to have attention on their music – but it’s important to have your own style, your own power and criticize your own music and what you are doing every time. It’s the one thing you can grow with.
Dead Rhetoric: How did it feel to join Alpha Tiger for that final show when the band was breaking up last year?
Dietrich: I was surprised by the fans, but before I was surprised because I know from the bass player (Dirk Frei) he contacted me six months before that they were splitting up. They asked me after three years being away to sing some songs on this show – many former members would be there on the stage. This was a great gesture, I will do this. We met after three years, there was no trouble and this was a really good base. We did the show together, it was very emotional we played five hours of music and invited other bands – Turbokill also played there. It was five hours of music and the people didn’t want to leave. This was very magical, with the last song a lot of fans had tears in their eyes. We are closing the book of Alpha Tiger and disperse as friends.
Dead Rhetoric: How do you see the next twelve months shaping up for Turbokill in terms of supporting this release?
Dietrich: At the moment, it is a bit difficult as there are no clear plans. I talked to our record label about this, before it didn’t make sense to tour as we had only four songs with the EP. We had a lot of stress since the beginning of the year to finish this album. We concentrated on this, but I hope with this release there will be some changes and we will have a lot of live action and live shows. We want to play in Europe and in the US or Latin America, where we have fans. I hope this will become real, and we are working on becoming a more active live band. Maybe next year a tour, but at the moment we don’t have exact plans.