Once again I’m lucky enough to talk to Markus Ullrich, a guitarist growing with every album he records but also that kind of people you feel easy to talk with, he tells you stories and things you were not thinking about, a good source for any journalist lol. And he has much to tell because he is releasing almost at the same time his second album with German team SEPTAGON, a furious melodic thrashy album, and also the sophomore album with the international revelation and sensation THEM. As expected, Markus told us much of both and all interesting things.
Hello Markus, nice to talk to you again after our last interview when you published Septagon debut album
Thx to you. It’s a pleasure
Markus, you continue with your agenda full of activities. How do you share your time between Septagon and Them?
That’s really not a problem at all. When I write songs I usually do that for just one band. Until now it never happened that I wrote songs for more than one album at a time.
I always have certain ideas in my mind and never experienced something like a write blockade which makes me very grateful. The important thing is to stay focused.
Never talk about the time you have to invest. Just do it 😀
The German efficiency I know you will hate this question but I have to do it hahaha. What project is more successful, Them or Septagon? Both bands are releasing their sophomore albums almost at the same time this year, which one is your favorite?
You know that I would never name a favorite, even if there is one…which, my friend, you’ll never know 😀
Always depends on how you define success. When it comes to album sales and media presence it’s obvious that Them is more successful. However, that is not really important to me. To be creative, to deliver quality and having fun with the things you do – that is my personal success.
Well, it is more than I thought you would declare lol, good answer. Focusing on Septagon, the lineup continues as strong as before with Ullrich and Becker as the main pillars
I wouldn’t say at all that Markus and me are the main pillars. We’re the guys that some of the underground people know, but that’s all. It doesn’t mean that the other guys are less important. Our other guitar player Stef also wrote songs and we worked together with some of the arrangements. We’re friends and it’s fun to rehearse, have beers together and just hang out.
Good. For the composition of “Apocalyptic Rhymes” did you have a different approach compared with the work in your debut album?
When I wrote the music for our debut there was no band at all. I just recorded my ideas and when we finally had a line up we rehearsed the songs and of course Becker wrote all the lyrics and the melodies.
This time we started from scratch, as mentioned above Stef contributed to the songs and it was more of a team work.
What we wanted is to keep the songs a little bit more in line. Not easier to play, but probably easier to listen to and better for live shows. I mean I love songs like “Septagon Conspiracy” and “Deadhead Syndicate” from our debut, but if you play them live and the people don’t know your material you sometimes look in bewildered faces.
Hmm another interesting statement. I would say that Septagon has accomplished kind of his own sound, a blend of thrash and power that is actually captivating
Thank you. People talk about the “is that really thrash or is it not” thing all the time and I couldn’t care less. I think the mixture of oldschool US Metal and some Speed/Thrash describes it pretty good.
People are so close minded. In the 80s bands could write songs like “Room With a View” or “In My Darkest Hour” or “Fade to Black” and still were Thrash.
If we do something like that, there is for certain a 19 year old guy who tells you that it’s not Thrash anymore….well, and now what…? If you ask, me most of those newer Black/Thrash bands also have nothing to do with “Thrash Metal” as I understand it.
True enough. Do you manage the composition tasks in the way you do with Them or Atlantean Kodex? Or here the roles here are different?
When I write for Them it’s not totally different. For Them it’s more about the whole album and how it evolves from start to end since it’s a conceptual thing. For Septagon it’s more spontaneous. In the end my working mood is similar, but of course it’s a different style with different arrangements and focusses.
Both Them and Septagon have Markus Ullrich as a great guitar player but they also share that both have a great frontman. Whom is easier to work with, Becker or Fesser? Or how is to work with each of them?
Oh, they’re both just awesome people. Really! It couldn’t be easier. I’m sure you heard lots of stories about singers who are divas and complicated and narcistic. Well, it’s true, they exist for sure! Definitely not in Septagon or Them, though. Believe me, I wouldn’t be able to work with such guys. I’d kick their asses. Markus and Troy aka KK are sweeties.
They look like that indeed the times I have talked to them. One of the positive elements of this “Apocalyptic Rhymes” in my opinion is that, as in your debut, you keep the melodies but you do not forget the thrash side of your music?
Yes, and we don’t want to lose that. To be honest, I probably even want to strengthen that. We already wrote the music for four new tracks and three of them are really thrashy. One of them is the fastest song I ever wrote.
Wow can now wait to listen to that, can you not release it as a bonus or something? Markus Becker still surprises me with his aggressive performance, a 4×4
I like it when he does that. Everybody knows the melodic voice he uses in AK and of course that sounds great. Not many people know that he sang in a thrash band called “Seldom Refuse” in the early 90s. Some friends called him the Franconian Belladonna which is so funny. So, yes, I think his roots are thrashy and I always like to hear that
Awesome. “Apocalyptic Rhymes” is a tittle that describes quite well what we are gonna find in this second album…
Yes, you’re right. We didn’t have a title track but the album title was already fixed. At first Becker had the idea of a concept behind everything, but since the music in my opinion isn’t what I would call conceptual and he also had different lyrical ideas that had nothing to do with the concept we kind of rejected that. Still, I think the album title fits pretty good to what happens in the music and the lyrics.
What can you tell us about the lyrics?
There are some fictional lyrics like “Sunset Blood” what would have been a part of the concept or “The Unfathomable Evil” which stands on it’s own. Most of the stuff deals with nowadays problems, though. Media, politics, stupidity, shallowness. I wouldn’t say we’re a political band, but if you play thrashy music and don’t close your eyes to what happens in this crazy world this is what you get.
Probably if you were a political band you would talk about how nice is the weather or so…if you know what I mean. Will you find time to promote the new album with some gigs around or the tasks in Atlantean Kodex and Them are the priority?
I can’t speak for Markus but I will definitely have enough time to play as many shows as possible. Right at the moment we have to find a new drummer since it was a little bit too much for Gen who has as a very stressy job. Except from that, we’re ready to go.
Excellent, hopefully you will visit Spain. Thank you very much again Markus, really a pleasure, as ever, and congratulations for another killer album!
Thanx to you for supporting us…again! So nice of you. I’ll be back in Spain with Them in 2019, hopefully that also happens with Septagon one day