Back in the 80's the German scene stroke Europe with Thrash Metal combos such as Sodom, Kreator, and Destruction. That trio created the German Thrash trademark which will open doors to a great numbers of other bands such as Assassin, Protector, Bullet, Minotor and so on. Darkness was part of this second wave and recorded a blowing release as debut album "Death squad" that contained excellent tunes as "Burial At Sea", "Death Squad" or "Iron Forces". Read answers from the drummer "Lacky"
Hello, can you remember how you formed DARKNESS ? Were you heavily into Thrash metal at the time and were there some bands that impressed you back then ?
DARKNESS was formed at the 1st december 1984. The Thrash-Metal-virus was already inside me, cause my favorite bands this time were Slayer, Metallica, and of course bands like Venom or germanys Accept.

The first line-up from 1985 was Lacky (drums + vocals), Hartmut Schöner (bass) and Klaus Becker (guitar). Was it because of being friend with the other members and still not finding other musicians or because bands like Sodom, Venom, Hellhammer were killer trios ?
We still just were friends with the same interests in music and we started not as a trio, cause Uwe Christoffers played the second guitar on our first recordings.

This line-up recorded two demos "Evil Curse" and "Titanic War", did these two tapes help a lot the band to get recognition at the beginning ?
The first tape was just a little success in the underground, but with the second one we sold over 700 copies and got a lot of positive responses and also the chance to play our first small gigs.

Then you remained the only member. Why did Schöner and Becker leave the band ?
Becker stopped to play music from one day to the next. I guess it was a family-problem with his wife and he has to make a decision. Hartmund never was the good bass-player and so changed his interests in cosume several drugs and alcohol. It was impossible to make music with this guy on a semi-proffessional way !

How did you find Oliver Fernickel (vocals), Pierre Danielscyk (guitar) and Bruno (bass) ?
I happened to bump into Olli and Bruno. Olli was the leadsinger of a band called Crypt, the band also Arnd came from, Bruno was still a good friend of Olli and it was just kuck that he played bass at this time. Pierre came from a unknown band in the neighborhood and saw his chance to play music on a little higher level than before with his guys. With this line-up we started to compose new material.

With a complete band you recorded the "Spawn Of The Dark One" demo. Would you agree that with this tape DARKNESS was forging a more personal identity ?
Sure. The chemical base was perfect and appropriate our music became better and better.

A bit later, guitarist Arnd Klink was added to the band, which was a natural need in the evolution of the band’s music, wasn’t it ?
A second guitar-player was a must-have for our sound and Arnd was the perfect guy to fill the holes in our songs. He had a melodic background and gave us a lot of his potential for songs like "Burial at Sea" or the famous introduction on the "Death Squad"-debut.

You recorded a promo tape, and one of the track ("Armageddon") found its place on the "Satan’s Revenge Part 2" compilation LP. How came the contact with New Renaissance Records ? Did they offer a record deal to the band ?
On day we got a letter from them with the invitation for their compliation. Of course we were interested and make a very little deal just for this release. Later we got an offer for more but the work with an American company was very difficult these days, no internet and stuff like this, so we are more interested in getting a deal with a German label.

How did you get in touch with Gama Records ? Did you receive other offers from labels like Noise or Steamhammer ?
Gama was the first label which offer us an interesting deal, directly for five LPs ! We thought that this was a big trust in our band and so we sign the contract immidiatly. No time to wait for a better offering … it was a very explosive cocktail: businessmen on one side and hungry and angry young thrashers on the other side !!!

In 1987, you released your first LP, "Death Squad" that is a total killer album and a classic one in Thrash Metal. Are you proud of it ? Which are your views on this album now ?
I’m not proud for something special, I’m proud to say: we did it! We were part of the great and unique 80’s and we have influenced that time a little. And I am proud, that people are still interested in us after all these years.

Lyrics of "Death Squad" are a find mix between anti social one and classic terrorizing Thrash stuffs (i.e. "Burial At Sea"), so I was wondering were you influenced by Punk music back then for the lyrics ?
Probably there were some reasons, I never wondered about it. When DARKNESS was founded we didn’t say: “Hey, let’s play Thrash, write lyrics like so and so and nothing else!” It simply happened.

Let's get further, what is your regard now on the early releases of DARKNESS "Death Squad" and "Defenders of Justice" both musically and technically ?
I think everyone of us has put his best into the music: Olli and Bruno liked Hardcore and Punk, Lacky and me listened to Heavy Metal and even to Rock and Tom´s and Pierre’s dick went hard with progressive music. I think that mix was one of the keys to our success; it was what made us different to other bands.

Did you tour a lot to support this album, how were organised your gigs ? Do you recall some funny stories from tours or gigs ? Did Gama give support and promo to DARKNESS ?
We only played one whole tour for the last album, before we just did a lot of single-shows, touring with bands like Kreator or Dark Angel never happened because of the costs, we always wanted more than GAMA were able to give. We always thought, we didn't get the support we need and due
to that there was always trouble with them.

In 1988, with the "Defenders Of Justice" album, the band began to change its style, it was less Thrash and more Heavy. Did this LP receive a good response ? Were you not interested to continue in what you created with "Death Squad" ?
It was just a normal process to find a compromise for five musicians with different favorites. The base of all of us were the same, but the different influences and styles from each did their way to the new songs. There was no masterplan or something else, perhaps we just wanted to show that we know to play our instruments !

Ray replaced Olli as he died, then was Ray a friend of you and what happened to Olli exactly ? Did his death affect the band to the point you wanted to give it up ?
Officially Ollis heart stopped by a heart attack, I guess it was a result of his drug and alcohol consumption. Ray was never a friend of us, and first we didn't want him for the role as a singer. But then he did a got singing job, the mistake was, that we did the wrong sound for his vocals, ha ha …

DARKNESS recorded its last album "Conclusion And Revival" in 1989. How does sound this album ? And why did you decide to break up the band ?
We did a good job in the studio, and before the mix was ready, Arnd left the studio for vacation. After that Timo and me have founded “Drum-and-Bass”, but siriously, “Conclusion and Revival” is the weakest album, I think. It isn’t DARKNESS anymore. It is a new band with a new style but it isn’t the old DARKNESS. After a while we recognize this and also lost our last energy to start it once again with the band.

The three albums were re-released on CD by Battle Cry in 2005, the label also put out a live album recorded during the tour for "Death Squad". Are you satisfied with the work of the label ? Did the CDs sold well ? Were you sked for the new lay out and the choice of bonus tunes ?
The re-released CDs are amazing, Battle Cry did a great job, spent a lot of time and work and of course money to bring these LPs back to the people. They sold very well, that´s the reason they released the live-album, too. And one important point is, you can get in touch with the new EURE ERBEN-music as well, cause you´ll find a new recorded song on each CD.

In these times of returns by eighties band, would you have been interested by at least a comeback for some shows, although Oliver and Ray passed away ?
We just did make the gig at the Keep-it-true-festival under the DARKNESS-banner this year. It was a unique happening and a present for all our true fans. They came from all over the world, spain, greece, sweden and united states to celebrate this special evening with us. That was a never-forget-gig in our career…

Did you keep in touch with the ex-members ?
Not really, just by chance with Tom and Pierre !

DARKNESS has been invited in some festival this year (2006), how did it come ? Was it difficult to bring the band alive again and will you record a new album ?
As I told before, the Keep-it-true-gig was an one-and-only-DARKNESS-show. There are no plans to do something like that again in future !

You've created a web site for DARKNESS that is rather well done, but unfortunately it's only written in German, why don't you translate it into English ?
This site is not our product, it was made by a true fan who get in touch with us. We are proud of it and gave him some stuff, that´s all ! We did a website for EURE ERBEN now, and there you will find some old DARKNESS-stuff, of course in english, too ! Look at !!!

Since 2004, you and Arnd Klink are back with a new band, Eure Erben. Can you tell some words about this band ? Can you describe the music and are there some recordings which are available, I saw there was a 7EP out in '06 ?
Arnd and me started to make plans for a new project in the year 2004. Named EURE ERBEN, it is a new band, that is built on the roots of our heritage. We are proud for DARKNESS but we also have developed in the last years. We have just decided to use our native language because it offers new dimensions to express what we want to say. It makes us different to other bands again, hehehe … The EP contains four DARKNESS-Songs with german lyrics plus two brandnew tracks, all new recordings ! Available on our homepage !

Looking back in the 80's, how did you consider DARKNESS part of the German Thrash Metal scene ? Do you think that you were part of the underground Thrash side with bands such as Assassin, Scanner, Vectom.. I mean you weren't as famous as Sodom, Kreator or Destruction for instance…? And by the way was there any kind of competition between you and the biggest German Thrash bands ?
No way ! We were able to make party with all of them. We split our rehearsal-room with Kreator for several years, did some shows together, also with Sodom or Destruction. Last December we did a gig with Assassin and Vendetta and everything was like the old days.

Thanks for answering. To end this interview, can you tell which are your best memories with DARKNESS ?
We did make our part in the music scene in the eighties, now it´s time for OLD STUFF with NEW STYLE in the new century, we are still strange guys like before, but we have a good feeling about the actual situation. DARKNESS is still in our hearts. Thanx to all the people in the entire world for keeping the old spirit alive! You’ve made us believe in ourself again and gave us the power to start something new out of something old. THRASH TILL DEATH


Franang zine 30/10/06