Ostrogoth

Ostrogoth are a semi legendary Belgian band, with 4 releases in the 80s, that pretty much went into hibernation afterwards and did only reawaken briefly in the 00s, to remind us, that classic heavy metal is still alive and kicking. Then they took some more time off and as they did finally seem to come around in the 10s with a more solid plan of attack and some new songs, one of their key members, guitarist Rudy “WhiteShark” Vercruysse, left this vain world, stricken by cancer, (just recently). He did however perform shows with the band literally weeks, prior to his “departure” and was badass enough to even assign his own successor (Geert Annys), so as to save the band the trouble of having to look for a new member themselves. A true metaler and a fighter to the very end. Grande Rock, offers its condolences and picking up the pieces, speaks with the “other” guitarist, Dario Frodo, about the band’s first, recorded material in ages, the new extra-long EP, “Last Tribe Standing” and the future plans of the band, which even-though, bereft of almost all of its original members, still sounds, pretty darn close to the “real deal” thanks to the spirit of the band, being ever present and the fact that all the line-up changes happened over-time to allow for most of the new members to settle in and become part of the Ostro-“tribe”... Without further ado...
Ostrogoth band pic

Hey Dario… thanks for doing this interview.
 
D: You’re most welcome! We’d like to thank you for your support and involvement and commitment towards metal music!
 
 
First of all, congrats on the new release. Why an EP and not wait a little longer, for a full length?
 
D: First of all, as you may know, we have been touring with this line-up since 2012, when we performed at Keep It True! After that, we did a “30years Full Moon’s Eyes” tour in 2013. At the end of that year we were starting to think about the future. Since we had been playing shows for over two years with more or less the same setlist, we thought the time was right to write some new stuff. Everyone involved was immediately very excited and we started to think what we should do, how we would do it, and especially; what the fans would really like us to do. So rose the idea to have our comeback (it is the first new recordings since 1987’s “Feelings of Fury” album) being quite the same as the early beginning, so basically just an EP with 4 brand new tracks. Just a few weeks before we entered the studio, we were listening to some live-recordings we had done during the Summer Festival tour in 2014, and these recordings just sounded so pure and so good, it would have been a shame not to use them! So from one EP came basically a double-EP, back to back if you’d have the vinyl version, with the four new tracks on side A and the four live tracks, (the 4 songs that were on the “Full Moon’s Eyes” EP in 1983) as live versions played by the new line-up!
 
 
Give us a few detail about the songs themselves?! There’s a return to the heroes museum and a few more tracks that seem able to recapture a good portion of the band’s “old magic” even with a greatly changed line-up... and also the songs from the “Full Moon’s Eyes” EP, performed live, please comment. (And indicate if you remember where the live tracks were recorded…)
 
D: We were immediately convinced that the new tracks should have the spirit of the old days (meaning somewhere between “Full Moon” and “Ecstasy and Danger”), put together with a flavor of some more complex music, yet it had to have that distinctive old-school Ostrogoth sound. The production should also have the old-school feel, but on the other hand also meet the current standards.
 

“No Risk Taken”, the opener of the album, has a cool mid-tempo riff, like Accept and Judas Priest used to have in their heydays. This one’s going to do particularly well live! For a lot of people who have heard the new product, next song Clouds” is already a classic tune. We shot a video for it which you’ll easily find on YouTube, It’s a real fast neck-breaking piece, among the fastest songs we’ve ever recorded.
 

“Return to the Heroes Museum”, the third new track, is a big wink to the old days of Ostrogoth, and sets the link directly with the first EP the band ever released! On “Full Moon’s Eyes” there was a track called “Heroes Museum”, and we thought it would be cool for the fans to have the second part of that story…
 
Last but not least we have the most complex song and the title track of the album,
“Last Tribe Standing”, which starts with a slow riff before setting off to a faster tempo, with lots of rhythm changes and twin solos and more.
 
 
Were/are there more songs that the band has come up with, during the long absence, from the recording studios? When could we expect a full scale return?
 
D: There are more songs written, some of them even had their live-debut already. It’s hard to say at this moment when we will start working on the additional material, but it might be quite possible we start new writing sessions after the summer! If I had to schedule on possible future release I’d say the end of 2016 or so, but don’t pinpoint me at it. But I promise it won’t be another 27 years, like last time, hahaha…
 
 
Tell us a few things about Rudy as a person... I mean the way in which he went, was so dignified and he seemed too dedicated to the band and the fans that he kept on touring, till nearly the end... wow.
 
D: Rudy was not just only a dedicated musician; he was also a very nice guy to deal with, never argued about anything. I hope people will remember him, the way he truly was. And that’s simply true… no false promises, no harsh words… Rudy enjoyed life, together with his wife Brenda, and was happy to perform with Ostrogoth, anytime, anywhere… He will be dearly missed, but, typical for “WhiteShark”, even in his darkest hour he had the courage to think about the future of the band and named his successor. He will always be in our hearts, and every show we’ll ever do shall be dedicated to his memory.
 
 
How hard was it to see people go and what were the criteria for bringing people in? Apart from Geert that Rudy designated as his successor, I mean…
 
D: Well, over the years people have come and gone for various reasons really… some of them found a great job in another country (Sphinx), some of them had to choose for their career (Bronco) or for health reasons… Basically, the criteria are: being able to perform the music of Ostrogoth, that’s rather obvious, but also being able to handle the sometimes weird sense of humor some of us have hahahaha… No, I mean, it’s very important to really get along with each other, not just being a bunch of guys who happen to have the same hobby in the same environment, if you know what I mean. Lots of times we go out to see concerts together, or grab a bite… Just to name a few. So really getting along is also a very important criteria… And no, you don’t have to play football to enter the band, like in some other bands, haha…
 
 
Do you still feel like a gang/a tribe?
 
D: Very much. Everyone involved (from band to crew) is very fond of each other. As mentioned above, we’re not just a band coming together to rehearse or play live… we do a lot of things next to that. I feel that throughout the years we’ve even become a tighter band, also because of the more negative things that have occurred.
 
 
Possessing a body of works that’s rather spectacular and contains many powerful songs, did it come as a bit of a surprise, that people didn’t seem to embrace the band more? What do you think was the reason that the band didn’t go on to have an illustrious international career?
 
D: Hard to say… I think that due to the lack of promotion by the record label in the 80s, we didn’t succeed in getting where we wanted to be, namely much higher ranked as a touring band. I immediately have to admit that during those days, some of the band members didn’t have enough spare time or the abilities to go on tour for very long periods, even when it was offered to the band. Next to that, Ostrogoth were a Belgian band. Belgian metal has never reached the higher-level standards, like German or British metal did. Although we had and still have a lot of promising quality bands!
 
 
The internet seems to have on one hand helped promote the bands, but on the other did until recently feel like a lawless place, where anyone could download the works of an artist for free... (that seems to be changing a bit now) but until the current generation grows up, it might have killed to a large degree the “industry”/scene... what’s your take ?
 
D: Good and bad. As you stated, everyone can hear your music in just seconds, so you’re able to reach out to millions of people in just a click away. That’s the cool thing. Unfortunately a lot of people don’t feel the desire anymore to pay for the music they hear, so that’s the bad thing. But I truly believe that, if people like our music, they’ll show up at one of your concerts and buy a piece of merch, or buy the album later on! So yeah, I mean, these are the digital times baby, there’s just nothing you can do about it, so why bother…
 
 
Are you going to tour in support of this new EP? Any dates up yet, that you’d like to promote? And any chance that you’ll visit us again in Greece?
 
D: We’d love to come back to Greece, since you guys have been so good to us. We just started promoting the album in Belgium now and we are talking to a lot of people right now, but there’s nothing confirmed yet, concerning Greece. However, if it’s up to us, we’ll be back as soon as we can!
 
Ostrogoth band pic
 
Also, apart from the cool service that Rudy chose to have, where fans could even come and say their last goodbye, do you plan to do some sort of a remembrance concert, maybe, with some of the old members partaking as well or anything similar in his memory?
 
D: Good question… I think that’s not a bad idea. We haven’t thought about it until now, since it’s not that long since he passed and wounds are still not healed, but maybe in the future… who knows?
 
 
What do you think the future holds for Ostrogoth ? (A tour with Visigoth maybe? Hehe.)
 
D: Hahaha, who knows… I mean, no high hopes or big dreams… just bustin’ our old asses off and play a lot of concerts to promote the new album for starters, and then write some new stuff… We’re not done yet, we believe we still have a lot of catching up to do!
 
 
Weird questions (don’t take them too seriously!) – If you were a God for a week what would you do?
 
D: Immediately prolong that week to never-ending hahahaha…
 
 
Which of the seven deadly sins – describes you best ?
 
D: Ehhhhmmmm… No comment hahahaha… maybe lust???
 
 
Most awkward thing that has happened to you during a show/tour?
 
D: “WhiteShark” turning up from the shower with toothpaste in his hair instead of shampoo hahaha… (i.n.: Heheheh…)
 
 
If you could be a member of any band in the history of metal, other than Ostrogoth, which one would that be and why?
 
D: Iron Maiden… if you see their history and how it all started and progressed so extremely quickly… it must have been a roller-coaster those first 7-8 years… Awesome!
 
 
If your wife sold your record collection, to buy an expensive piece of jewelry, how would you react?
 
D: Most likely throw her jewelry in the toilet and flush it… everything goes with a flush baby, hahaha… (i.n.: Why not sell it? cheeky)