THOMAS G FISCHER (Celtic Frost) – Completely mesmerized
Når Mille fra Kreator utfordrer Thomas G Fischer fra Celtic Frost og Thomas tar i mot utfordringen på sparket, da er det ikke mye man har å klage på. Så var tilfellet tidlig på kvelden 31. mars, dere vet den kvelden Celtic Frost og Kreator herjet på Betong like før Inferno.
Mens Andreas tok seg av Mille, fikk jeg gleden av å møte denne legendariske mannen som tidligere i sin karriere kalte seg Thomas G Warrior. Det var en nesten skremmende imøtekommende, åpen og vennlig legende jeg fikk i tale og det var nesten som om vi hadde kjent hverandre i mange mange år. Det var stort, det var nesten litt allmektig og som sagt, det var litt skremmende.
ET – When did you start with extreme vocals?
TOM – I went to London in 1981 and I was there when the first Venom single "In League with Satan" hit the marked. I bought it and when I listened to it, it was a release to me. I have been looking for heavier metal and at that time, the heaviest I had found was Motörhead. So when I played the Venom single I thought that this was exactly the way I wanted my own band to sound. I had formed my own band prior to when I went to London. Though, even the Venom single wasn't heavy enough for me so instead of playing it at the regular 45 rpm, I slowed it down to 33 rpm and that's when I found the sound of my own band. The singer in my band said to me: "You're insane, that's no longer music, that's noise". He left the band, as did everybody else, so I reformed the band which was Hellhammer, and since we had no singer, I began to sing myself. This was in 1982 and this was how I started.
ET – Ok, that cover my 2 first questions, hehe, but can you describe the technique or techniques you are using?
TOM – Well, first I had no technique what so ever. I just tried to sing heavy, and that is of course very dangerous for the vocals. By the time we had formed Celtic Frost and gone on our first tour, I had serious problems with the vocal cords. We were on a European headliner tour in early 85 and I had to cancel a show or two because I had such problems with my vocals. I went to a specialist and she said: "You have already built up on your vocal cords and that is the early form of cancer". She continued: "The reason is that you sing without any technique". So I first had to cure that with electro treatment and all kinds of things in order not to get throat cancer. I didn't want to lose the vocal style I had because I liked it as far as heaviness concerned, but I wanted to sing the right way. She thought me a breathing technique, so my technique is basically a combination of my own development plus that I learned how to breathe properly.
ET – Besides that incident in 85, have you hurt your voice using the wrong techniques?
TOM – No, but when I had these problems in 85, it was extremely painful. Otherwise we wouldn't have cancelled the show. We were on this tour co-headlined with Helloween and their singer at that time Kai Hansen, now in Gamma Ray, had the very same problems that I had, even though he didn't sing as extreme as I did. Therefore Helloween had to cancel a couple of shows on the same tour, just like Celtic Frost. This was a wake up call for us all, to actually work on our vocals. This was the time when all this extreme metal was created; everybody had to learn about the borders and how to do this and that.
ET – Is there anything you do on a regular basis to keep your voice in shape?
TOM – No, not really. I still sing according to the breathing technique I learned 23 years ago, and I am very proud to say that I haven's cancelled a show because of my vocals. With this technique I can sing when I have the flu or if I have a cold; when I am sick I can still go on stage and do a full show. On this tour that we are on right now, there was a flu and of course I got it and had to do 4 or 5 shows with the flu. The only thing I do is that I warm up. I didn't use to do that back in the early 80's.
ET – Do you think it can be dangerous to do extreme vocals?
TOM – Yes, of course. I have experienced with other extreme metal singers that I've talked to that sing without any technique. Most extreme metal bands arise from the underground in some basement or something and of course you never get exposed to any technique. You are playing with throat cancer or vocal cancer, and that is not a funny thing. I've experienced with other singers that they have similar problems to mine. I live a very healthy lifestyle; I don't drink and I don't smoke.
ET – What is most important for you – to make cool sounds and interesting rhythms or to have a clear diction/pronunciation?
TOM – None of these actually. The most important for me when I sing is to feel the motion. I don't like to go on stage and repeat something I rehearsed. I love it when the sound is such on stage that I really get lost in the music; that I actually can forget what is going on around me; that I get totally sucked into the music and into the feeling of the moment. This actually happens quite frequently now and this is when I personally feel that I sing best; when I can get completely mesmerized by the lyrics, by the music and by the feeling that I once put into the music when I wrote it. When I'm feeling like that I believe that I can do things with my vocals that I normally can't do. I don't think that I am a good vocalist; there are so many excellent extreme metal vocalists out there and I am not one of them, but when the emotions are right, I can do so much more than I usually can do. It's probably adrenaline or something, I don't know.
ET – Do you think extreme vocals can be made into a science, like "This is how it works for everyone, to make this sound you have to do like this etc"? …
TOM – A part of it maybe, but to me true extreme vocals need to be connected to emotions and you cannot teach emotion. If you sing just to be in a band or a party or anything, I don't think your vocals will ever be any good; you have to feel what you actually write and what you sing. You have to believe it and you have to live it and the techniques are just one half of it. Everything else is true emotion.
ET – That is actually a very good advice to all extreme metal vocalists.
TOM – Heavy metal is music that should not be contrived and it should not be designed; it should be music that comes out of your gut, out of your feelings, your anger, your rebellion and I think that goes hand in hand with how the vocals need to be.
ET – Can you mention three extreme vocalists whose style you admire, and explain why? Can you also mention three vocalists, not necessarily extreme vocalists, which you have been influenced by, and explain in which way you have been influenced by them?
TOM – Vocalists that I have been influenced by, those can be rather odd choices but Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music, Andrew Eldritch of The Sisters of Mercy and maybe Peter Murphy of Bauhaus. Extreme vocalists that I admire, there's like hardly any, hehe. I am very picky and it is very difficult for me, but the only one I can totally honestly 100 % say I admire is Gaahl of Gorgoroth. Everybody else, like Tom Araya, he sings great and everything, but I am not so sure about his sincerity with the vocals; with the lyrics he sings and everything. To me the whole thing has to be one picture, and the only extreme metal vocalist that I ever stood in the audience at a concert and looking at him and thinking: "This is the pinnacle of extreme vocals". It's Gaahl by a million miles.
ET – Who do you want to "challenge" in this series – who should be the next to answer the questions?
TOM – No one because I really don't care and that's an honest answer.