The Metal Metropolis of Scanner

SCANNER Fotosession 22.03.2014The last time we heard from the mighty Scanner was in 2002, when the German speed metal collective bestowed Scantropolis upon the world at large.  Now on Massacre Records and very ready to place the pedal to the metal once again, Scanner has returned with a triumphant new effort entitled The Judgement.  An inferno of sound that will surely inspire breakneck headbanging everywhere, The Judgement presents Scanner ready to rage it all into oblivion!  We recently caught up with founding member / guitarist Axel Julius to find out more about the mega-metal metropolis of the modern day Scanner.  Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Scanner, and how long the band has been together.
I’m Axel Julius founding member, guitar player, bandleader and producer of SCANNER.
SCANNER was formed back in ’86.

Where is the band based out of and what is your local metal scene like there?
We come from the “Ruhrgebiet” a special area with lots of bundled cities in Germany. Our home base is Gelsenkirchen. But all our band members come from different cities around. We have quite a big metal scene here, Kreator, Sodom, Rage, Blind Guardian are living next door (5- 60 miles) from us and we started our careers nearly at the same time in the 80’, we were label mates with some and have played together on festivals in the past.

How does The Judgement compare to the previous Scanner releases?
We attempted to receive and revive the sound and the spirit of the 80’s Speed Power Metal on The Judgement and we were guided by our old stuff from this time. And therefore the album sounds old school metal by default.
Our fans will get an intense and passionate SCANNER album they were awaiting for a long time after our former release. And there are voices already heard saying it is our best album so far. The more people thinking like that the more I’m getting happy 🙂 . We put a lot of passion and energy in there and think and hope that people feel that too. Plus that they will return some of the spirit and energy back to us. Both, during the live shows as well as all its other feedback on our Facebook page, our webpage etc..

Is there any story or concept behind the CD title The Judgement?
Yes, thematically and basically The Judgemnent means doomsday for us. As seen on our cover. And on that very day the SCANNER (the SF character/ figure from our story on the band’s first album Hypertrace’88) returns back to earth and witnesses what’s going on. Did evil triumph over good finally? And how will the future be on earth after this.  Thus, in the broadest sense it comes to religion and we detail songs about different groups in our society (Pirates, The Legionary, Warlord), all of their own religion and values throughout.

The alarming thing about it is that almost all people who rely on religion are still directly related to violence also, especially when it comes to conflicts. One can see that especially in the extremes in Syria and Iraq with the IS.
So the question may arise what religion actually contributes to peace in general?
Or, isn’t religion the root of all evil perhaps.
The exciting question is: If there was no religion and man would not believe in a higher power would the human race be more able to live in peace than all the millennia with religion?
This is the question the title song “The Judgement” is dealing with.

The main idea in almost every song of the album is that something is going wrong on the planet in terms of our ethical value system. And that runs up through all religions and societies.
But today, it is really getting worse and is actually unworthy for a highly developed and technologized human race of the 3rd millennium.

scanner1Select two songs from The Judgement and what inspired the lyrics.
1. Warlord: The lyrics are inspired by the genocide in Ruanda and newest developments in Nigeria with Boko Haram in Africa today.

2. F.T.B – Fuck the Bastards: It is about recognizing your job, money, luxury, power, and security did not make you happy at all and then you want to scream this out “FTB”.
And, for example, tell your boss right in his face you had played the game long enough now.
Then jump on a motorcycle and let the wind and freedom blow around your head.
With a F.T.B. on your lips to the guys in the rearview mirror.
I believe that every Metal fan can understand this feeling 🙂 . And the mean thing is:
This feeling pretends to vanish after the youth for a while, but it eventually occurs much stronger later in your life again.

Who did the cover art for The Judgement and how much input did you have on it?
The cover artwork did Greek artist Anestis Goudas and he implemented our idea nearly perfect. There were some other artists we asked before who refused to get into the matter to “paint” a burning church. So, you can say our input was immense with this idea and its artistic realization.

With your previous album coming out in 2002, how frustrating was it to wait so long to record and release a new effort?
Well, it was not that we walked through the valley of frustrations; I mean we had a lot of fun meanwhile. The band has found new, so to speak. This does not mean that we had split up in the meantime. But after it was clear that we would not continue with the former cast of SCANTROPOLIS we were again looking for a singer. We came back to concentrate more on the traditional strengths of SCANNER to distinguish ourselves from the concept of Scantropolis clearly.

With Efthi our new singer coming in 2003, who is faithful to us until today, we played our shows from 2003 on, and the poor man 🙂 had the almost impossible task in addition to interpret 4 SCANNER singers + Ralph Scheepers as guest singer (Primal Fear) of our recent albums. Not an easy task. Especially since a singer included still was a woman’s voice.

But our first effort, it was not to run into the studio to record our next album, but first just to play live primarily.  I mean we had a repertoire that could be put together out of 5 albums and have always been able to deliver an entertaining show of SCANNER classics from the Bbnd’s history. And this can also make very much fun for a while.

Also, in this period you must see that the music business had changed completely. And it went from bad to worse for record companies, they were less willing to invest in good productions and the artist at the end of his work would never be able to survive.  Even record companies and portals today offer an incredible € cents 0.07 for a legal download. With this bargain no artist can tape, record and distribute his music.  Nothing could draw us back in this spiral by our own will and since we did not even enter we first wanted to wait and look at the development.

The record industry had just slept through a development and was just whining on about illegal downloads and others instead of bringing own concepts to life. Many bands have even bought themselves into promotion and distribution channels of record companies to have the chance to release a promoted album.  If you want to make sure to get your first album done, then you’ve got all this enthusiasm against all odds and you are ready for anything.  But for us it was out of question. We stood at the 6th album to make and since that you’re just relaxed 🙂 .

But the point was the requests for a new album became naturally louder after some time at our concerts. And then you do not you tell the people that you do not intend to make a new album, but promise a new one coming soon. Then when you are playing for the second time there and the new album was not done in the meantime, things get tight and somewhat embarrassing 🙂 . However, we had to do something.
And at that point, you know as a band, the time has come to make the album finally.
After our show in Moscow in November 2013, we have locked up in our studio and finished our album.
In the summer of 2014 it had finally come: Our new baby was born 🙂

scanner2What could one expect from a live Scanner show?
Lots of fun, definitely. We play a best of 30 years SCANNER and our fans will be able to sing along. It is not one’s worst decision to join a SCANNER show therfore 🙂 .

If you could open up for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
I ‘ll speak for myself now since a few of my band mates might see this slightly different, but it would be JUDAS PRIEST!!!
They are the Metal Gods for me and part of my whole metal life and have always inspired me during their long career.

Has Scanner ever played here in the States or plan to do so in future days
Unfortunately we did not make it over yet.
But we will in the near future. There are already plans for this autumn. So we are confident to meet some of our American fans soon.

What do you think has kept Scanner such a vibrant entity since 1986, even in spite of several lineup changes?
Well, for sure our fans all over the world and their feedback and faith.
And my resulting deep feeling of owing them something since our first releases. Honestly spoken the band was a bit unlucky from the moment by signing with the wrong company at the beginning of our career. The company made us lose two singers in a row in principle and was the reason we lost so much time having to research for a new vocalist what did not bring us on the road for a while. But our fans did not forget us, even when the bigger magazines did not give a dime on us anymore. Business is hard, but I do not want to complain but rather have fun against all odds with people who adhere to us since a long time journey. Our faithful fans.

What’s up next for Scanner?
We play in Greece next and in Spain, and are going to appear on some festivals here in Europe. Our booking agency is working hard on a tour for autumn which might bring us to the US as well.

Any final words of wisdom?
A big thank you to all our friends and fans who did not forget us over the years and to everyone who is going to give “The Judgement” a try. It’s worth it.

(Interview by Ken Morton)

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