Interview with Olaf Zissel (drums) - Tankard, November 2010
The picture shows Tankard with friend - it's Olaf on the right.


Let's head a couple of decades back in time.
The 1980s were drawing towards their inevitable conclusion. I wass 16, and my friends were boozing big time. As I am now, I was a non-drinker back then. Still, a thrash band called Tankard that was emerging from the vast German underground caught my interest, even if the themes they explored where solely about alcohol, beer, hang-overs and the state of being drunk. Not surprisingly, my boozer friends were completely in love with the 'Alien' EP, and that piece of vinyl was in fact my real introduction to Tankard.

Now, two decades later, Tankard are still going strong, churning out thrash metal as if the world had never heard of grunge or nu-metal, most recently with the release of 'Vol(l)ume 14', another concrete solid album from the beer thrashers. Drummer Olaf answers a few questions from The Power of's Thomas.

Olaf, you celebrated your 25th band anniversary in 2007 (with the release of the best-of 'Best Case Scenario: 25 Years in Beers'). Even though you're closing in on the 30th anniversary, 'Vol(l)ume 14' sounds like as fresh and powerful as you did 20 years ago. What's the secret?

Olaf: We do that without the pressure to get rich. We have our regular day jobs and do the band just for fun and this works very well for us.
For those fans who haven't yet had a chance to listen to the new album, would you say that they are in for any surprises?

Olaf: There are changes, but not many. The sound is different from the last releases because we changed the producer, but you will find all of, our trademarks because we do the same kind of music as before.

Brain Piercing Öf Death? Could you tie a comment to the message behind that song, please?

Olaf: Years ago it was exotic to have a tattoo and then they came up with piercings etc. Nowadays, you have to do very special things if you want to be different from the masses so we've thought about how crazy it could be.

With 'Vol(l)ume 14' you once again mix a large dose of humour, alcohol-fuelled stories and deeply serious, societal matters as you have done since 'The Meaning of Life' (1990). Have you ever experienced that fans or people outside the metal community misunderstand your (inherently good) messages?

Olaf: No, we have the experience that the people don't care a lot about our lyrics. No matter if they are funny or serious. Only the Japanese are asking if they don't understand something.

We all have favourite Tankard albums. For me it's still 'The Meaning of Life' because it showed a new and more serious side of Tankard. Looking back, which album is your personal favourite?

Olaf: For me it is 'The Tankard' because it was my very first with the band and the very first songs I ever wrote are on it.

I am probably not the only Rock watcher who noticed that Gerre slimmed down considerably lately. What on earth happened? And does the song Fat Snatchers on the new album in any way relate to this?

Olaf: He lost nearly 70 kilos and is very proud of this. FS is dedicated to the people who shared this diet program but we could not use the original name of the company.

Over the years, the artwork for your albums in my opinion has been consistently brilliant. Is Sebastian Krüger responsible for the 'Vol(l)ume 14' cover as well and how did the collaboration with Krüger come about?

Olaf: If Krüger had painted the case of beer, the CD's would have to be sold at 100 Euro each! We actually have no contact with him and he is too busy and too big for us to work together but maybe one day he will do it again.

Why is Frankfurt the best city in the world?

Olaf: We don't have to travel far if we like to go there!

And now for the customary - What's your current top five albums? question! 

It's Alive (Ramones)
A quiet Eye (June Tabor)
Down by the Water (PJ Harvey)
Born a Lion (Danko Jones)
Soul Glitter and Sin (Thee Hypnotics)

Olaf, thank you very much for answering these questions! Any last burps to our readers?

Olaf: Thank you for don't asking anything about Tankwart. I can't take it anymore!


Tankard - Vol(ll)ume 14

Album available on AFM Records.