Interview with Erik Sprooten
(Ancient Rites, Inquisitor, Plusminus)
Hail Erik! Very welcome again in my small blog! First of all, tell the readers all the important things about the re-union of legendary Inquisitor! (about the actual line-up and re-release of INQUISITOR'S debut album “Walpurgis – Sabbath of Lust”, which has been done by Hammerheart Records in collaboration with members of INQUISITOR. )
- Hail Georgius and Anita, it's nice to answer your questions for your small but dedicated blog again! In 2012 I was approached by Hammerheart if I was interested in having “Walpurgis – Sabbath of Lust” of Inquisitor re-released. Of course I was interested in a re-release. It took some time, but in November 2014 the re-release finally took place. The 2CD version contains “Walpurgis – Sabbath of Lust” on CD and on the 2nd CD you can hear both of our demos and a few unreleased versions. To improve the sound, everything was remastered by JB van der Wal, who is best known as bass player of Aborted. The re-releases are also available on two separate LP's. This re-release was certainly one of the key factors in getting the original line-up (which can be heard on The Demos) back together. We didn't quite expect this to happen but fortunately it did eventually happen. This reunion took place only about a month prior to the re-release. On “Walpurgis – Sabbath of Lust” you can hear the 2nd line-up with Hans Pos on bass guitar. Original bass player Alex Bakker is unfortunately absent on “Walpurgis” but Hans did a good job. Meanwhile we have done some gigs again. And Inquisitor is definitely back in the original line-up!
What was the reaction of fans at your live-shows? Share please some experiences about your live gigs please! ) I’ve seen a lot of your live activity in West, maybe you could plan then a European tour in our region (Middle/Eastern Europe) as well then?
- In general we get good reactions from our live gigs. The fans are happy that we are back. And we are happy to play live again. The concerts we did in November last year, were very very good. The gigs so far took only place in The Netherlands, but at the end of the year, we are going to do a gig in Dresden, Germany which is a bit more to the East. This gig is something we look forward to. We played outside of The Netherlands in the past but I'm not sure if a European tour will be among the possibilities but you'll never know.
Are you planning to record new stuff with Inquisitor? (Anita)
- Yes, at the moment we have some new songs finished which we are planning to record. We will do this in collaboration with Hammerheart Records. Our next release will probably be a mini-CD, for which we certainly have more than enough songs, but we also keep on making new sonic creations. We are certainly not changing our style but we are expanding it with interesting ideas.
For me your new, long-waited album of Ancient Rites called „Laguz” is one of my favorite records of 2015. Would you be so tell us, what has been reception of your latest LP worldwide? Anyway, tell us more about your guitar-parts/solos in „Laguz” !
- Thank you! The reception of „Laguz” is in general very positive, some less positive, but we also got a few very exceptional good reviews. Although you can't please everyone, we can't complain about the reviews. It took quite some time to have this album released, and I think that the quality is very good. The recording of the guitar-parts of myself and Domingo went really good and it was of course a pleasure to do. We both play rhythm and lead guitars on „Laguz”. The solos and lead guitars were equally divided between us without any ego. Domingo used his 7 string ESP Horizon and a Gibson Les Paul while I recorded almost all my guitar-parts with my The Heritage Les Paul, simply because this guitar is the best sounding guitar with humbuckers I have. I did however do one tremolo dive-bomb on the song Mind Unconquered with my Gibson Flying-V. And on „Under The Sign of Laguz” I recorded one part on a very nice sounding acoustic guitar which is hardly audible but only if you listen very closely, but it was intended to be on the background anyway. Normally I'm used to play guitar-solos in an aeolian modus. But on „Laguz” I had to create some guitar-solo's in other modi like for instance a phrygian modus, which was challenging in a way but in the end very satisfying. I prepared those guitar-solos at home. First I wrote down the chord structures, and then I figured out which modus fitted best to those chords. Then I experimented within the modus by following the chords to get a tasteful solo. By doing so I created satisfying solos, and saved time in the studio as well. One solo I didn't prepare at all, which is the long solo at the end of Legio V Alaudae (Fifth Larks Legion). I just let my guitar rip and kind of improvised a few solos (in aeolian modus) in the studio with producer Moschus. We took the nicest ideas from those improvisations, and composed a great solo from it.
How was your trip and cruise with Ancient Rites on the board 70 000 tons of Metal, 2016? Any interesting story? :) (Anita, The Netherlands/Sweden)
- We don't always get a chance to play at such international events on the other side of the ocean. For fans from Canada, The United States, South/Latin America, and even European fans, 70.000 Tons of Metal was a great opportunity to see Ancient Rites. We didn't do exactly sex, drugs and rock and roll so to speak and that may sound a bit boring but we simply enjoyed the 70000 Tons of metal cruise very much! It was great to be part of such a special event. We met a lot of fans and old friends, and it was nice to meet some guys again from other bands we toured with in the past.
Any further tours or festivals with Ancient Rites this year? (Anita)
- We have a few confirmed gigs with Ancient Rites so far. We do get offers from interesting territories in the world but they do not always end up in gigs unfortunately. In January next year we are certainly going to do an indoor festival in Portugal which is something we look forward too.
What is the situation nowadays with your cover-band, Plusminus?
Do You have time left to play with Plusminus? (Anita)
- We practice every other week and we do enjoy playing the tunes we play very much but we would like to do more gigs with Plusminus. Well Anita, Plusminus doesn't take that much time so I still have time enough for doing this, and I enjoy it. I can imagine that people think that I'm very busy with three bands. In a way I am, but hey, I love playing guitar!
- During the old Inquisitor days and during Ancient Rites up until 2001 I used my Ferrari Red Randy Rhoads Flying-V on every gig, but since 2002 my favorite guitar is the black 1985 Gibson Flying-V. Other guitars I use frequently on stage are a black 1985 Gibson Explorer and a 1992 The Heritage H150 Black, which is a Les Paul model, and that one is (as I already mentioned) actually my best sounding guitar. I do have more guitars, which I do use from time to time, but I prefer to use the ones mentioned on stage. My equipment did change throughout the years. My first Marshall was a JCM 800 4104 50W 2x12” combo, which has been used during the recordings of Inquisitor's first demo, and has been used once on stage during Inquisitor's first gig. For that particular gig, we had to amplify my amp through the P.A. of our singer Alex Wesdijk, because my amp was not loud enough. Because of this, I sold this amp in 1993, and bought a 1980 100W Marshall 2203 JMP amplifier with a 4x12” speaker cabinet from a friend of mine. This was my main amp which I used with Inquisitor and Ancient Rites up until 1999. I still have this amp, and I sometimes use it as backup for Plusminus. From 1999 till about 2005 I used a 50W Woodstock Legend amp in combination with a Boss ME-30 effects board. I used this set-up a few times again for some gigs last year. Since 2005 I use Line6 amps. I used a Line6 HD147 amp for a while but for quite some years now, I use a Line6 Vetta II HD amp. Although this very versatile amp doesn't have any tubes in it, I do manage to get very good sounds for all of my bands. Downside of this Line6 amp, which I experienced, is that it is more vulnerable compared to my Marshall which is more or less indestructible. Because of this I have an extra Vetta II HD as a spare one. For now I'm satisfied with my equipment but I'm certainly interested in possible future equipment.
I’ve listened a lot of times some live-Inquisitor from 1992/93. Do You have any plans to release those rare stuff on CD in the near future for your loyal fans?
- We haven't really thought of releasing old live recordings of Inquisitor on any format, but from a fan's perspective, they can be interesting, which I can understand. Some stuff however, can be found on YouTube which is kinda surprising but at the same time flattering. Someone even took the time in remastering those recordings. Apparently there's some interest in these recordings. At the moment we prefer to release new material first.
It has been a big loss for us, metalheads the death of Mr. Kilmister..... Did you meet him personally? What are your favorite Motörhead albums/tracks? What do you think about the Lion’s Pride: Iron Fist (Motörhead-cover)? Plusminus played/is playing at live any Motörhead-covers?
- The death of Lemmy is absolutely a big loss for the metal scene and the music scene in general. It's remarkable that he even managed to reach the age of 70. It was quite a character. I've never met him personally but the closest thing to that, is that I saw him backstage at Graspop in 1999. The speaker cabinets we used on Graspop during the Ancient Rites gig on the main-stage were actually provided by Motörhead. Later that day I watched Motörhead from the side of the stage. I'm not a huge fan of Motörhead but I do appreciate them and I have a few albums. My favorite tracks are No Class, Overkill, Iron Fist and Killed by Death. My favorite album is No Sleep Till Hammersmith. The Lion's Pride version of Iron Fist is done very well. I like the vocals of Gunther a lot, and he's doing it in his own special way. Plusminus did play Iron Horse from Motörhead live I think but that was a very long time ago before I joined, but we did try Ace Of Spades a few times during rehearsing. We are certainly able to play Motörhead songs. So who knows? Maybe in the future, Plusminus will play some Motörhead tunes (again).
Name us please your favorite records last year!
- I can't say that the year 2015 produced lots of my favorite records. But I bought "Worship The Devil” of Sathanas and „Velua” of Heidevolk on CD. But I still haven't bought the new releases of Slayer and Iron Maiden, which are decent releases, but I don't expect those albums to become true classics. But I have those on my wantlist. Some of the music I bought last year wasn't even metal, or were re-releases of classic rock bands. One of my favorites for this year is absolutely “Cursed and Coronated” from Protector.
My all time favorite records list hardly changes and is at the moment:
Judas Priest – Unleashed in the East
Dark Angel – Darkness Descends
Kreator – Pleasure To Kill
Holy Terror – Mind Wars
Massacra – Final Holocaust
UFO – Strangers in the night
Sathanas – Black Earth
Protector - A Shedding of Skin
Status Quo – Status Quo Live
Dank je wel, Erik! Your Inquisitor thoughts in the end of interview........
- Georgius and Anita, thanks for this interview! Dear reader, feel free to contact me and check out my bands if you're interested. And maybe we'll even meet at a gig somewhere in this rotten world.
I'm not interested in politics and I don't read and watch any mainstream media anymore. I just follow my own path. Keep metal and real music alive!
(Interview with Erik done by Anita (The Netherlands/Sweden) and me)