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Tankard - Biography




The Matthäus Church is about to be torn down. The local school band from 1982 that practiced in the basement shall live on, though. Amidst a time of a thousand reunions. The inventors of "Alcoholic Metal" celebrate their twentieth anniversary in spring 2002 with the release of album number 10 - "B-Day". Let us raise our glasses to Tankard, who have continuously blessed the community with records on a regular basis. Five minimal line-up changes have done nothing to keep them from remaining an exclusive Frankfurt combo. Even the local soccer team SG Eintracht can't keep up with that. The closest being in the seventies with dream team Grabowski, Hölzenbein, Körbel, Doctor Hammer and Doctor Kunter.

Around then a 13-year old Andreas Fritz Johannes Geremia got drunk for the first time when the Eintracht won the UEFA cup back in May 1980, their biggest success to date. Two years later future shouter "Gerre" joined forces with long haired 10th grade classmates Axel Katzmann (G) and Frank Thorwart (B), who had just founded the band we know today. At first they called themselves Vortex and Avenger until they discovered Tankard (beer mug) in a dictionary. After weeks of practice they wrote their first song, an eight minute long tune called "Ray Death" - "A boring song about nuclear war", according to Gerre.
They soon realized that they had to double the tempo. A successful formula was found and remains so until today. "Fast thrash-punk". It was the usual screaming and pounding, however with an element of pure anarchy and fun. "We wouldn't exist without humor", says Gerre.

After a year of finding themselves they played their first gig in a classroom on May 28, 1983. Since alcohol was not allowed in school they poured their beer in milk cartons which they consumed while playing. Guitarist Bernard Rapprich left the band beforehand because his conservative father did not want him hanging around a bunch of drunks. They've never heard from him since. He's probably a brain surgeon now. The first choice for his replacement turned out to be the best one. In the parallel class was an AC/DC maniac named Andy Bulgaropoulos. He was immediately kidnapped and chained in the catacombs of the Matthäus Church, finally escaping in 1999 to Berlin to rejoin with his wife and kid.

Back to the year 1984. Tankard played at a legendary happening in Sindlingen. Other up and coming bands present were Sodom and the southern trio Destruction - rambo outfits and all. "Manfred Schütz of SPV, who was also there, made us an offer but then withdrew it after he saw us play", says Gerre with a grin. "He had the balls to say that we weren't bad. Weren't bad? We sucked!!" The main reason was that Andy wore a blue sweater with some deer on it. Not very Metal. Sodom and Destruction signed up with SPV-Label Steamhammer and Tankard still had no contract. What the boys really needed aside from gigs and popular demos like "Heavy Metal Vanguard" and "Alcoholic Metal" was business sense.

Enter manager Buffo Schnädelbach. He gave up his job as banker because he couldn't take wearing a tie all day. From then on he took care of marketing and merchandising. At first he didn't fare too well as sixth "Beer mug" on stage ("I was allowed to sing 'Alcohol' and failed"), but the Frankfurt Südbahnhof was completely sold out. There were even ten police cars parked outside waiting for trouble. At this time our heroes had their first record contract and "Zombie Attack" was in the stores. Karl-Ulrich Walterbach, owner of Noise Records in Berlin, turned out to be quite a penny pincher. During one of their studio dates he even suggested they stay the nights at the local youth hostel.

At least he recognized their potential in the mid eighties. The combination of alcoholic humor, political irony, pounding rhythm and the stage presence of front-man Gerre gained them increasing popularity. In 1988 the magazine Stern described their music in the article "Heavy Metal Subculture" as a "derailing train loaded with beer mugs". Even prominent band Metallica, while touring Germany as support for Twisted Sister, laughed their asses off when Hetfield ("Hey, you sound like a mix between Tank and Discharge") and Ulrich read the headline on their tour poster. On it was printed "at war with breakdancers". Venom, whose current album at the time was titled "At War With Satan", probably got a kick out of it, too.

Tankard left the fight between Posers and Thrashers to the jerks of the scene. After graduation they went to Berlin to record the debut "Zombie Attack" and were more concerned with exploding camping cookers, warmed-up ravioli three times a day, broken beds, hysterical maids and the forced vacation from a slightly demolished hotel.
The concept album "Chemical Invasion" was released in 1987, during the beer crisis between the EU and GDR. Also adding to their image was the artwork by Sebastian Krüger, who also worked for the magazine "Spiegel" and drew stars like Slash, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. Another trademark was producer Harris Johns. This time for "B-Day" Tankard tried out Andy Classen, formerly of Holy Moses.
Back on board, though, is Krüger who after a couple of years absence decided to swing his paint brush again for the new anniversary cover. His artwork on "B-Day" will include the legendary Alien and Bomber, the beer swilling supermodel on the cover of "Kings of Beer".
The depiction of the Pope smoking a joint on the Chemical Invasion cover, much to Tankard's surprise, didn't pose any problems. At around the same time the magazine "Titanic" portrayed the Holy one making love to a sheep and promptly had the Inquisition on their backs. Looks like even God is on their side, as was evident at the Rock Hard show in 1990 where they were the only band that played without buckets of rain pouring from above. The Almighty has a sense of humor, though. The hobby alcoholics failed a beer test held the same day. The beer thrashers also hold diverse records. According to (own words) Germany's ugliest band they:

- were never bootlegged
- received 10,000 D-Marks from the GMEA in 1991 because they were accidentally mistaken for the plastic combo "Captain Hollywood"
- were reviewed in an English article as "Fat ugly German bastards", thus the self-ironic title for their live album "Fat, Ugly and Live"
- outed Assassin in their special thanks list as "poor chocolate milk drinkers"
- got only 2nd place for their 100 year Eintracht birthday hymn "Schwarz-weiß wie Schnee"
- toured Japan back in 1999. Two gigs.
- Never get any groupies. The audience is mainly comprised of fat dudes with smelly vests on.
- Released two Schlager cover albums under the name "Tankwart" (gas station attendants)
- Auditioned a 50-year old guitarist called "Prince of Darkness" after Andy B. left the band. He didn't get the job. Instead the scepter was passed on to white-metaller Andy Gutjahr. (since Axel Katzmann left because of arthritis in 1995 they now only have one axeman)
- never received any recognition from the city of Frankfurt or the beer industry for their contribution to mass alcohol consumption.

Maybe this lack of recognition was due to the chaos and destruction they left behind in the television world. Gerre fell asleep with 3.3 blood-alcohol during an interview on Music Box. It was the beginning of the end for that station. For Tankard just the beginning.
In the early 90's they played a band in the series "Ein Fall für Zwei". Their manager was played by Peer Augustinski. "We had a small gig in the Music Hall without pay for that episode" says Gerre who also played a statist in the series "Lindenstraße". "But we could drink for free. And we did just that. The production manager just shook his head the whole time. It is unknown how this guy must've reacted when he got the bill from the Music Hall. We took a sack of potatoes from a back room and shared it amongst ourselves".
At least the scene was already filmed when Hunold, holding a Tankard cover in his hands, asks Augustinski: "And this stuff sells?"

Yes, it does!!
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