Saturday 26 April 2014

Interview with Timon and Andy from Sludge Worm Webzine

I have decided to interview the main dudes behind one of my current fave Sludge Metal webzines – Sludge Worm.

SludgeWorm are really do some great things within the Sludge/Doom/Stoner Metal scene. Especially with their great mix of reviews, news and interviews with some of the best bands around. It's run by two extremely passionate guys – Timon and Andy.

Well the Sludge Worm crew kindly agreed to talk to me at Sludgelord HQ which I am very thankful for. If you haven't checked out there site, you should head over there now and seriously check it out. Lets hope this interview gives you more evidence to do so as well.

So lets get started.

Q1 – Hi guys. How are things with you today. Thanks for doing this.

Timon: Hi Steve! Thank YOU! We really appreciate your support since it doesn't go without saying at all. Everything's fine in good old Cologne, but we have a shitload of stuff to do. So many things need to be planned and so much stuff has to be done, but I think you know what I'm talking about
Andy: Yeah! A big THANK YOU for the support! As Timon said, there is lots of interesting music to hear and to write about and there are so many good bands we haven't discovered yet.

Q2 – So where shall we begin. What were the main reasons for starting Sludge Worm and how did it all came about.

Timon: The main idea came in a quite interesting situation. I went to a sludge show with a buddy of mine and we started to talk about the German sludge scene because we saw UNION OF SLEEP, VALBORG, OMEGA MASSIF and AHAB that evening. We talked about the concentrated and hilarious scene we have in front of our doors and that there's no magazine that really works with these great musicians since most of the other zines are too far away. So I decided that this had to be changed.

Q3 – What is your main focus/reason in running Sludge Worm.

Timon: Our main focus lies on the German scene, absolutely. We review lots of bands from other countries, too, but German bands will always be our number ones because we believe in local community and slow movement. We can talk to these guys face to face, we can invite them to eat with us and we can drink a beer with them. And this is what our work is about. We are not interested in money, fame or bowing acquaintances. We love sludge music and all genres that can be named in the same breath and we want to build up a strong community around here.

Andy: Sludge is on top of everything we'd like to have on our zine, but we're not completely braced by sludge or stoner. For me it's like: When something catches me by groove, melody or just atmosphere, I pick up the scent. When Timon thinks it'll fit, I'll write about it. There will be some 'off-sludge-topic' bands in the future, but our focus is mainly set to sludge and stoner from Germany.

Q4 – Where did the name Sludge Worm came from. Any specific meaning.

Timon: YES, there is! And it's great you're asking! We thought about a concept that involves our readers because we don't see ourselves as the big gods of sludge, but as fans like our readers are. We thought about a description of our work and recognized that we spend lots of time with burrowing through hordes of great bands. So we thought about ourselves as worms and had in mind that our readers do the same while reading our articles. So they're worms, we are worms... and after all that we found out that sludge worms really EXIST! We had no choice!

Andy: And on top of that... Just an adorable creature. (grins)

Q5 – Can you tell our readers of how a brief history or overview of how you became involved with music writing and where you are today.

Timon: I've been writing about music for almost ten years now and I always supported the underground as best as I could. That started at the age of 15 at our local rag. After trying a couple different routes, I went on to write for different online magazines, but I was interested in the whole process and not just the writing. I'm a DIY-man and combined the wish to support our great sludge scene with my will to learn lots of new stuff. I've worked in music stores, magazines, garages and mobile nursing services. I'll never stop being curious! Today I'm running the Sludge Worm Magazine with Andy and do all the Facebook stuff for, the second biggest online metalzine in Germany. But I don't put a premium on that. I'm just a guy who loves music and enjoys to support the artists behind it. Music is too important to me and I don't want it to be my "business".

Andy: The love for music is the similarity between Timon and me. I am not as professional as Timon when it comes to writing because I am into creating and playing music for almost 18 years now and currently working with three bands from different genres. That is my thing. But I love to write, I love writing my lyrics, poems and so on. And I also had the inner drive to shout out to the world when there's something I think the whole world needs to hear! As Timon and I got in touch the first time (which was during an interview he did with me) it clicked almost instantly. He's some kind of business and journalism nerd who learns every day and knows almost everything when it comes to journalism. I am more... the creative guy. I write very metaphorical because I want the reader to share the emotions I have while listening to the music. I also like talking a lot, so I'm doing many interviews. And I'm a little into graphics and design. So, I think we're making up a good mixture.

Q6 – You cover the same range of genres that we cover. Are there any genres that you wouldn't cover.

Timon: That's right! I think our approach differs in some ways, but concerning the genres: Good music is good music and I'm open-minded to lots of genres. I love sludge, rock'n'roll, doom metal, grunge, blues, country, folk, hip-hop and jazz. But yes, there are lots of genres we cannot cover because we simply couldn't manage all the work. Dealing with our range of genres is more than enough to do.

Andy: Same with me! When it clicks, I'm on. Sure, it has to fit with our main focus on sludgy, doomy sounds, but if the atmosphere carries you off, it doesn't matter which style you deal with!

Q7 – You guys know that I am a huge fan of the German Doom/Sludge/Stoner Metal scene. What is the scene actually like in your own words. Is the scene thriving or is it that German bands are getting more recognition from overseas.

Timon: It's thriving, absolutely! We have awesome groups around here and they're working their asses off to provide us with great music. Bands like VALBORG, ALEPH NULL, SLOMIND, PLAINRIDE, ENOJADO, AHAB, THE MOTH, DARK THARR, WALL, VOLTRON, NIGHTSLUG and OMEGA MASSIF are the shit and lots of other bands are following them. You can expect great things to come from Germany!

Q8 – How has the reception been to your webzine so far. Thank you for contacting me as I became a fan of your site right away.

Timon: It's overwhelming! There are so many people writing to us from all around the world and congratulating us on our good work. It's good to see that we satisfy an urgent need with our writing. And thank you for the nice words!

Andy: I think I got in, when we got 80 likes or so on Facebook and some more readers on the webpage itself. Now we've passed the mark of 300. It's growing constantly and I'm totally stoked about it. A big THANK YOU to every reader!

Q9 – Will Sludge Worm be publishing negative and positive reviews or will you focus only on the positive side of music.

Timon: We'll mainly deal with the positive sides of music since we don't want to kick any band in the balls. Nobody starts as a pro and it's not our job to blow away young musicians (unless they insist on a review after our premonition). There's enough good music to deal with!

Andy: When I get my ears on something I don't get the connection to, I'll pass it to Timon. I don't want to give some negative feedback, only because I do not like the music. This was the case with BLACKFINGER. I liked it a lot, but Timon disliked it almost completely. Maybe we're setting up some kind of pro/con review for the future, but right now... as Timon said: Enough good music out there!

Q10 – What is your verdict on blogs and webzine who don't feature negative reviews. Do you think this is a good thing or a bad thing.

Timon: I think it's mainly a good thing because life's too short to deal with negativity in that way. I don't like the arrogance of many editors because every band gives its best. Bands who play shitty music won't "make it" anyways. At least our sludge community is very tough concerning that point. And who am I to harm a young band with my subjective opinion?

Andy: For me, I read every review, regardless if it's positive or negative. I am old enough to have my own opinion.

Timon: Yes, that's the other point. Our job is to provide our readers with recommendations and knowledge. It's up to them what they think about all our jabbering! (grins)

Q11 - We all have a musical history or journey to the bands we love and respect now. What was your musical journey. Which bands got you involved with your love of music.

Timon: You don't want to know the whole story, believe me! (laughs) I started with lots of crap when I was a child, but my father started to show me real music pretty soon. So I began listening to GOLDEN EARRING, LED ZEPPELIN, THE DOORS and all this stuff before the age of 10. After this my cousins started to provide me with new bands on every family celebration. My oldest cousin started to show me combos like KYUSS, FU MANCHU, CORROSION OF CONFORMITY, DOWN and all this powerful stuff. After that I got into sludge, doom metal and stoner rock and I never went back. But as I said before: I love music in so many ways that I cannot choose one genre to be "the one". Music is a great thing in every way and every genre.

Andy: To skip the awkward beginnings with DAVID HASSELHOFF, I'll jump to my 11th birthday when I got my first CD player as a present and could buy my first own records on disc. Before, there had been just the tapes or vinyls my uncle or parents gave to me (They fueled me with the classic stuff like Mozart, cause I started to play piano and keyboards very early). My first records I bought by myself were GENESIS' "We Can't Dance" and MICHAEL JACKSON's "Dangerous". I totally fell in love with both and spent hours with the booklets to read and understand the lyrics or just watched the pictures and discovered new things every time. Shortly after I discovered METALLICA's video for "One" on MTV. That's what my wife calls my "curse". (laughs) It went on with PANTERA, ICED EARTH, KORN, new metal stuff, CELTIC FROST, DIMMU BORGIR and got more extreme or loud or dark. Today… Give me a thing in music that tickles me, I'm on! No matter if it's electronic mayhem or handcrafted, 'real' devastation. I must say, there is also some Djent I'm into.

Q12 - We at Sludgelord are massive Vinyl Heads. Are yourselves Vinyl Fans. If so what are your fave ever Vinyl Records you currently own.

Timon: Yes, I am, but I like CD's and mp3's, too, when I'm on the road. There's nothing better than the scratching sound of a vinyl you've heard for over 100 times and the slow movement of the turntable has something meditative, but I don't want to miss digital music either. It's very important to keep it real and to remember that music should be no mass product. It's hard to name three favorites, but I'll try to choose some of my current darlings. The first one would be the current TRUCKFIGHTERS' release "Universe", a real masterpiece when you speak of fuzz. The second is MANTAR's "Death By Burning" of course and the third one has to be AHAB's "The Giant" then.

Andy: I am just a bloody beginner when it comes to vinyl. My first record is the limited MANTAR 7” single White Nights/Spit, but there will be definitely more in the future. Currently I am comparing different record players. Due to the fact that I'm on the road most of the week, if work or my bands force me to, I have a bunch of mp3 tracks with me on my phone or my USB stick in my car. I'm planning to use the vinyl and record player to get my time off with headphones when I'm at home.

Q13 – What motivates you to run Sludge Worm. As running a blog can be pretty stressful at times.

Timon: Hell, it is. But I love it. All the bands are doing such great work and spend so much time with songwriting, recording, playing and promoting their stuff that it is my pleasure to support this enthusiasm wherever I can. So, what motivates me: passion and the will to learn new things.

Andy: Same with me. I'd say we're almost at a point where the blog runs us, not the other way around. This is our motivation.

Q14 - Do you find the blog easy to run. Does it affect your personal life in a big way. Mine does at times but I do listen to some brilliant music.

Timon: No, it's not easy at all and it does have a big effect on my personal life. I have a normal 8-hours-per-day-job, I'm studying and I have a big family and lots of great friends who deserve much attention. It's very hard to handle all this, but I don't want to miss it anymore. The bands are so thankful and I get to know lots of interesting and intelligent people. And yeah, brilliant music of course!

Andy: I gotta ignore my wife here and agree with Timon. Normal job, my bands, sports and time with my wife and friends. Every minute I can offer is reserved for the worms. Though I sleep less than before, which gives me more time to write and listen to music.

Q15 – What have been your favourite records you have posted and reviewed so far.

Timon: Like I said before, MANTAR's "Death By Burning" and TRUCKFIGHTERS' "Universe" are fantastic. LUMBAR's "The First And Last Days Of Unwelcome" is stunning, too. And DER_WARRIOR's "ehrenfeld³" hailing from my hometown Cologne. I love these guys and they recorded some great music!

Andy: ALEPH NULL from Düsseldorf, Germany. And MAETH from the US, which were recommended to us by the former EARTHRISE vocalist Tom.

Q16 – Do you receive much Record Label interest. Is it the big labels or the smaller underground labels you deal with on a regular basis.

Timon: Both! I have contacts to the big labels due to my work for other magazines, but our focus lies on the underground as I said above. So labels and musicians: Feel free to keep on contacting us! We will support everyone we can handle.

Q17 - Do you get frustrated when bands/labels don’t thank you for the hard work you put in when writing an article on relevant bands.

Timon: No, not at all. We're living in very stressful times and I cannot expect personal acknowledgments from all the bands we write about. They're great most of the time (even the "bigger" bands), but some are overwhelmed by all the support they get and that's okay for me.

Andy: There is no frustration for me, either. I write about the bands because I want the people to listen to them. If there is a 'Thank you' from a band or a fan, it's just a plus.

Q18 – So how do you relax when not running Sludge Worm. Or is Sludge Worm your main way to relax.

Timon: That is a very good question, mate. Dealing with Sludge Worm Magazine is a shitload of work and it's not my main way to relax all the time. Some things need to be done and can be very time-consuming, but I love what I'm doing and I wouldn't do it if that wasn't the case. When everything gets too much for me I take a walk in the woods or at the sea. This brings me down to earth and I have new power for everything.

Andy: I relax while listening to or creating music. The work for the worms is some kind of escape from my everyday odds. When I find the time I'm into sports like mountain biking or going to workouts at the gym.

Q19 – What is your verdict on the whole crowd-funding scene. Bands asking fans to help pay for their next records.

Andy: For me, the crowd-funding thing depends on the counter value the fans get. When a band is like: “Yo guys, we don't have a label, but we want to do a record to earn some money.”, I can't stand that. When there is band, like PROTEST THE HERO for example, who are a very fan-near band in my opinion, it's worth to give it a try because they have some cool things to give in return for a donation. If the band wants to create music, that is a plus to their catalogue and brings a connection with the fans, why not. I wouldn't use crowd-funding for my bands because we want to keep making music for ourselves. If someone likes it, it's great, but we are not working to satisfy a customer. Only my opinion, I'm sure one of my band mates has a different point of view.

Q20 – How do you feel about the other more established websites - Do you feel your in direct competition fending for viewers or do you have a healthy respect for them.

Timon: I have nothing but respect for websites like yours, The Sleeping Shaman, Stonerobixxx or The Obelisk. I'm a reader of them all, but I wanted to read more special news and information about our German scene. I didn't find a page that satisfied that need so I started a new magazine. I don't want to compete with anybody and I wouldn't have a chance at all since all the mentioned blogs are much older and much more established. My vision is a worldwide network of sludge fans to promote the great bands of all areas. I'll do my job in Germany and I hope that others will follow all around the globe.

Andy: There is just respect. I am not trying to pull readers off their other subscriptions. If we have some great stuff, you're welcome to take a seat and find out about some great bands. I use websites and blogs to keep me informed, too. In Germany we don't have any high quality printed metalzines anymore, in my opinion. Metal Hammer or Rock Hard have seen their best days. Sure, it's good to keep 'old' and 'retro' stuff alive, but that's no reason to close your eyes for new bands and styles.

Q21 – Do you have anything exciting planned for 2014. Or are you slowly building up the momentum for Sludge Worm before trying out new ideas.

Timon: We plan lots of exciting stuff all the time! Our plans: Organizing and presenting more shows, getting in closer promotional touch with bands and trying out different things and seeing how they work for our readers.

Q22 – if you could change anything within the Blogging/Webzine community. What would it be and the reasons why.

Timon: I'd love for it to be a network that doesn't work against each other, but together, trying out different things and supporting each other. You get that, we get that, but some others don't unfortunately. We've learned to ignore that and to keep on doing what we have to do. If you want to support our work, there's just one way: Like our Facebook page, read our articles from time to time and keep us informed about your needs and hints. You're the same sort of filthy worms we are. Let's build a wormhole we all love!

Thanks to Timon and Andy for talking to me. Great guys who run a fantastic website. Go check it out now for your daily fix of Sludge Metal goodness.

Check Out Sludge Worm from Links Below


Written by Steve Howe