Interview with Death Metal legend Paul Speckmann from MASTER
So here is the hard facts - founded in 1983 and originally based in Chicago, Illinois, MASTER is one of the earliest bands in the world labeled as Death Metal. Later relocated to Uherské Hradite, Czech Republic, the legendary Death Metal band is still going strong led by the founder and leader Paul Speckmann. The band released countless albums and Paul has also been involved in a myriad of other projects, producing some of the best aggressive Death Metal with socially oriented lyrics. You can find lots of interviews online dealing with the Paul's long history in the underground scene, from DEATH STRIKE to ABOMINATION and keeping it up with MASTER, but here we talk about the current status of the band in 2023.
Hello, Paul, here we talk again in 2023, how are things in MASTER camp these days? What is the current lineup of the band?
We're busy again, but as always, I am searching for more gigs! The lineup consists of former guitarist, Alex Nejezchleba, Peter Bajci and myself!
How did you get Peter Bajci? Did he play in any other band?
Peter played in the band MASTER for one year in 2010 when Zdenek quit the band the 1st time to join a more commercial Heavy Metal band called KREYSON. He played in other various local Czech bands until February 2022 when he and Alex rejoined MASTER.
I see you have lots of shows booked, can you tell where the road will take you?
I will add the latest poster in the mail.
Do you still book everything yourself?
Yes, I am still in control of booking but in all honesty, I still hope to find a booker interested in taking over! It gets complicated sometimes as bookers want you to play for peanuts, and at the age of 60, I will not play unless there is an agreeable fee. It's difficult enough with all the travel as it is!
You're also going to do some DEATH STRIKE shows, right? It actually would be cool to get a properly recorded "Fuckin Live" album :).
Yes, it's always cool to play the old tracks in the original Deathstrike versions of course. Also, it's a way to get more gigs as I live from the music as well as for the music. Unlike many others in the scene, it's not a hobby for me, it's way of life!
Did it become easier to take a band on the road compared to 10 years earlier? How did pandemic change touring/booking side of things for MASTER?
The pandemic broke up the US lineup as the fellas wanted to stay there and face the disaster in America! I on the other hand after two years of staying at home, began finding concerts in 2022, and have never looked back. I couldn't just give up and wait! Again, it's not a hobby for me it is my life. Now it is getting easier for me to find clubs and festivals as the so-called pandemic has seem to have disappeared here in Europe?
I am still confused about the whole matter, corrupt politicians making money off the weak and innocent people of the world.
Can you tell us more about this reissue campaign where Hammerheart Records has re-released all MASTER studio albums? How did this idea come about? Will there be CD and LP versions?
Guido the label boss has been trying to get me to sign a deal for many years now, and finally he offered a deal I couldn't refuse. The entire catalog has been re-issued on CD already this past year, and the vinyl editions are also being re-issued ever several months. We will also begin recording the latest opus in late February at Shaark Studios in Bzenec, Czech Rep as always!
Continuing with the albums, MASTER's last one "Vindictve Miscreant" came out on Transcending Obscurity Records from India. That was a surprising move, I mean, Transcending Obscurity has of course released lots of great albums, but how did it work out for you? I also saw that later the album was also released in China, can you tell more about that?
Rogga Johannson contacted me about this label many years ago and I finally wrote Kunal! Transcending Obscurity Records did an excellent job with the release, but in all honesty, distribution is a problem, so I had to go elsewhere! You can only be on mail order programs for so many years. Hammerheart has distribution with Napalm Records, so now my releases are finally available in the USA, as well as worldwide. China made an offer and I chose to do it, as not many releases available from MASTER in China!
I'm also very curious about this "Widower" EP which came out on Metal Bastards Records. Is it the only studio release with Ruston Grosse (drums) and Pat O'Shea (guitar) with whom you toured as MASTER in U.S.A.
No, I have never recorded with the American lineup my friend!
Were they plans to record more with them? I really dig those two tracks! Are those two live tracks "Master" and "Slaves to Society" also with them?
Nope, the Widower track is from the 2018 recordings of "Vindictive Miscreant" my friend! Sadly, the guys are still in the USA as I said brother!
Is "Dissociation" track from "Widower" mini also from "Vindictive Miscreant" sessions?
Yes, it's complete "Vindictive" session! Complete on the Chinese reissue!
It's already been a while since last MASTER album, do you work on the follow up? If so, can you tell more about it?
10 songs are ready to record my friend, details will follow! Once the recordings are finished, I will have more information of course. I have begun writing the lyrics as always, and they deal with the world and the current insanity as well as the dangerous path we're following at the moment!
The first release from MASTER in 2023 is a split 7"EP with ANARCHUS on PPR Records. Can you tell about it?
Thrasher from Anarchus has been writing for several years about a split 7-inch. Finally I gave in and released a live track with the longest lineup I had in the history of MASTER from a live show in Italy many years ago from the soundboard.
Which live track is that? "Shoot to Kill". It was recorded with the lineup from "Vindictive Miscreant".
What other projects you're currently working on? How about CADAVERIC POISON? No projects at the moment, I am focusing all my energy on MASTER!
You also have recorded lots of music with Rogga Johansson. Latest of them is probably second SPECKMANN PROJECT album "Fiends of Emptiness" which came out on Emanzipation Records in 2022. Can you tell more how it was written and recorded?
Simple, as always Rogga sent me a fully recorded album and I wrote all the lyrics and and sang all the tracks here in Czech as I always do when he and I work together! We decided to release it as the SPECKMANN PROJECT in order to get more listens and followers, but as always it seems we missed the boat, as sales are rather low if nonexistent compared to the work at Hammerheart!
The whole album sounds very aggressive and pissed off. Did you approach this project differently lyrically than MASTER? Would you say that it was fuelled by pandemic and the further chaos in the world?
I approached this recording the same way I always do, my friend. I listen to tracks and the lyrics come very quickly, it's a real shame that not many have embraced this masterpiece!
Yeah, totally agree, it's one of the angriest Death Metal I heard! Have you ever considered to perform JOHANSSON & SPECKMANN project songs live? I mean there are 5 albums worth of material only under that banner.
Again, no interest in this theme, we are ready of course but no offers have been coming for this!
How is your music writing process these days? Do you collect riffs and later on construct songs?
The process is always the same, never any changes with this! Only now I record the acoustic guitar on my phone, no more Digi recorders or micro-cassette machines. I then arrange the songs and bring them to practice.
Are there any band practices where you come up with the new songs jamming together?
The new lineup has a difficult time getting to practice so it works better when I write all songs and bring them to the guys. Sad really, but the truth in my Metal world today!
What do you like to do in your spare time? I guess, picking mushrooms is on top of the list :). Do you do any sports? I mean, touring lifestyle is hard work, how do you prepare for that?
I go to the gym 3 mornings per week, cardio and hard training also, cooking, going to the post with the countless orders I get every week, as well as the two day rehearsals, pretty much takes up my time as well the home practice on the bass 4 times a week!
Do you listen to new music? What do you think of the last OZZY album?
I haven't heard it. I listen to old music only, I am old!
You live in Czechia for over 20 years now, are there still things that surprise you or did you already turn into almost Czech yourself?
Like every country, nothing surprizes me anymore!
OK, thank you for your time and all the best on the upcoming trek. Add anything you want here, some words of wisdom or an advice, hehe. Full power to the MASTER!
Sure, get out and support your local bands, they are the leaders of the future metal scene, without you they will only be local heroes! Check on your family, your neighbors, your friends, we face hard times these days watch out for one another of course, and too all a good night!
Many thanks to Paul for giving us an update of things about MASTER in the year of 2023. You can support all his projects by checking and buying their albums and merchandise HERE: