Interview: Holy Moses Talks About the Loss of Oderus Urungus and Their Album ‘Redefined Mayhem’

Interview with vocalist Sabina Classen (SC), guitarist Peter Geltat (PG),
bassist Thomas Neitsch (TN), and drummer Gerd Lücking (GL)

By Nicholas Pendergast

Holy Moses are one of the few thrash metal bands from Germany that stand out from the Big Three of German thrash. Their legacy began in 1980 before Sodom, Kreator, and Destruction were even making demos, and they have outlasted almost every other band from that era. Even today, it’s unlikely to find a band as loud, fast, catchy, and technical as Holy Moses. Add a female singer who is as hot as she is ferocious and dedicated to preserving the artistic integrity of metal. Sabina Classen has been a trooper on the frontlines of extreme music since before many of us were conceived, and at 50, she is still pushing the boundaries of heavy metal music. Classen does not play metal; she lives, breathes, and eats it. So, it is no surprise that – as the band’s sole founding member – she has featured some of the heaviest musicians in Europe on their 12th full-length Redefining Mayhem, out now on Steamhammer SPV. New Noise has the privilege of catching up with these thrash metal masters.

Sabina, at 50 years old, you are still ferocious as fuck. How do you keep fit?

SC: I am with my heart and soul in the music of Holy Moses. I am working with my shadows in the music and I try to live very healthy, eating mostly vegan, doing sports, and meditation. I try to keep my life in total balance.

Are you excited about the new era of metal?

SC: It is really great to feel that Metal will never die, and I am really happy that we can be a part of it in 2014. A lot of changes over the years, I could work with. Sometimes it was really strange how fast things changed – with Internet and so on – but we [are] always looking forward.

We just lost Oderus Urungus (Dave Brockie) from GWAR. You played with them on the Bloodstock Festival in 2010. Last year, we lost Slayer guitarist Jeff Hanneman as well. How does this kind of loss impact the metal scene?

SC: The loss of these musicians of metal – and a lot of other musician friends of mine [who] died in the last years – this is hard to see and work with, so it should be a sign for us all, especially for the younger kids who are starting to be in the scene. Live healthy and look at what you are doing with your body and soul. Life is wonderful, so take it and make something out of it and learn to love yourself.

Female vocalists have never been common in thrash metal. Is it hard for a woman to sing thrash?

SC: It is not hard to sing thrash [laughs]! You only have to do it, feel free to work with everything you are feeling inside.

Peter, you’re a great guitarist with vicious grooves and superior technicality. What was your role in creating the new album? Sabina, why did you choose Peter?

PG: Thanks! Most of the songs were written by me and Thomas together. Some songs are just by Thomas or me, and also our drummer Gerd. Thomas and Gerd also play guitar very well; this makes it very easy to communicate and work together.

SC: [I chose him] because Pete is a great player and a great guy to work with. He loves what he is doing and he is totally behind Holy Moses. He feels Holy Moses.

Holy Moses was recording heavy demos before you were born. You must be excited to be playing with them.

PG: Sure, it’s really cool. The guys and girls are great. Not just musically, but also on a personal level. We make awesome heavy music on a high technical level, whilst having fun and kicking ass. And after the shows or the rehearsals, we can hang out as friends.

What inspired the lyrics on the new album?

PG: Most of the lyrics deal with the darker side of the human psyche. They are about depression, self-pity, seeing your own faults in others. The song “Whet the Knife” for example is about cannibalism as a sick admiration. One devours the victim in hope of getting healed and becoming redeemed. “Triggered” is about moments or situations that can cause dark thoughts or memories to suddenly appear in a human being, which can have such a powerful influence that he or she loses all control over him or herself. Reality and imagination become totally blurred. “Undead Dogs” is basically a metaphor about the so-called shadows according Carl Gustav Jung. It is about facing your fears and frailties and overcoming your own weaker self.

What is inspiring you to play music today?

SC: Working with my shadow… The best sport I can do… The best mediation I can do….

PG: It is an inner drive I couldn’t do without.

Do you think you’ll get the chance to play in the U.S. soon?

SC: We are really hoping that it is possible. We are working on it right now. Some really great fans and bookers are helping us.

Will Holy Moses ever release a book or video documentary detailing the awesome history of the band? 

SC: We are thinking of it, and I hope we can manage it for our 40th birthday of the band, so seven years from now on. It seems like we could manage this. I really hope so, but on the other hand, sometimes I really think if this is good or not? I am not sure right now.

What is each member’s favorite Holy Moses album?

ALL: Redefined Mayhem.

What inspires your lyrics about psychology and the soul?

SC: I am looking deep into my soul, also I am working for years as a psychotherapist, so I am working with it every day. I love human beings and I am interested in looking behind it to understand the world.

The ‘90s were a low point in metal. The ‘00s were good to you, though. Do you miss the ‘80s?

SC: I learned to live in the NOW. Each time has its own special [moments], and it’s great to work with all experiences, with the light and the shadows. It makes me what I am today.

Would you ever do a Lita Ford cover? [Laughs]

SC: Lita Ford would hate me for that [laughs]!

Purchase Redefined Mayhem here:

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