The Band: Ostrogoth
The Man: Dario Frodo (guitars)
Interview by Vpower
Today I have the great pleasure and honor to steal a little time from a legend of a band. I’m talking about Belgian Gods Ostrogoth. Back in the 80s they delivered jewels as "Ecstasy and Danger" or “Full Moon’s Eyes”. If you have never listened to them you have a wonderful world to discover with these guys, melodic Heavy Metal at its best. But they don’t just live from the past and fortunately they are very active and even giving birth to new sonds, as the “Last Tribe Stnading” record, from this year 2015. I’ve been talking friendly with guitarist Dario Frodo, here it is...
Ostrogoth is one of those epic bands created back in the 80’s that has been almost lost for many years . What motivated the come back of Ostrogoth?
We’ve had several come-backs over the years, like in 2002 , for the 20th Anniversary of the Mausoleum label. In 2010, we decided to re-unite once again just at first for one show, at the Ages of Metal festival. However, we decided to continue working and new shows were added, like Up the Hammers in Athens… that got us rolling again and here we are.
In 2003 Mausoleum Records released a 20th Anniversary concert with Ostrogoth and Killer performing. What can you tell us about that?
It was a show recorded at the famous Biebob club in Belgium. The place was packed and it was great to have the opportunity to perform again, both with original singer RedStar and Peter De Windt. We had a lot of fans coming in from other countries, like a whole bunch of crazy fans from Greece, which led us to headline a show in Athens, later that year! Unfortunately, things weren’t meant to last at that time, due to several reasons, and we decided to split up again later that year.
This year you have edited new material under the title “Last Tribe Standing”. I think originally it was an EP but later you added more songs and now it has so much as 8 songs, is that right? Is this a completely new stuff?
Actually , at first we decided to record an EP with just 4 killer tracks, the same as we did back in 1983 with “Full Moon’s Eyes”. But while recording, we were listening to some of the live shows we tend to record. And the recordings of all “Full Moon’s Eyes” tracks sounded so pure and good, it would have been a waste not to use them and give our fans a nice addition on top of those four brand new songs. We are extremely happy with the final result.
I suppose, because it sounds as a thunder from hell. Rudy Vercruysse passed away just this 2015, “Last Tribe Standing” is kind of a tribute to him? Was he involved in the composition?
The song "Last Tribe Standing" is not just a tribute to WhiteShark, it’s a tribute to all of us, metalheads, who are most of the times misunderstood and looked after like a bunch of criminals and stupid, aggressive people. This is our way of saying... “we are who we are, and we are proud of it, if you don’t like it, that’s fine with us, but don’t tell us how to live our lives”. Obviously you can interprete the lyrics in many ways, and each and everyone can make up its own mind on what those lyrics means to him or her.
In behalf of all the metalheads, thanks for it, you can say it louder but not clearer. What can you tell us about Rudy Vercruysse as a guitarist and as a friend?
Rudy was a real old-school player, he was much more into creating interesting melodies than shredding another scale or trying to be as fast as possible. I was very fortunate to work with him over the last 4 years and I honestly can say that I’ve learned a great deal due to him. He was not just a great guitar player, most and above all he was a very kind, down to earth man who would always try to avoid arguments and then seek for a good compromise that would work for all parties. He was one of the most humble musicians I’ve worked with in my 20 years on the road as a musician. We miss him dearly, but it was his last wish that we would carry on with the band and make it last.
Nice words, man. Rudy Vercruysse we miss you, thanks God we will keep your legacy for all eternity. Correct me if I’m wrong, of the original members of the band, right now only drummer Mario 'Grizzly' Pauwels continues. This is a new Ostrogoth or it still keeps the ancient flame and spirit?
Well, obviously with a lot of newer members in the band, one can imagine that new influences leep into the music. It’s certain that the 'younger' guys (which means the 40 year-olds being the youngsters, hahaha) have different perspectives and influences than Grizzly. However, all members have the same love and dedication for the “old” Ostrogoth, since we grew up with it, being teenagers at the time when Ostrogoth had this fantastic ‘80s period. Plus, we all have more or less the same influences , a lot of bands from that era… So to answer the question, yes, there will be new influences, but also, we will maintain the old vibe of Ostrogoth!
Keep the flame, yeah! “Last Tribe Standing” sounds classical, you try to keep loyal to the three albums from the 80’s?
Yes indeed, but production wise and song wise, we’ve tried to find a good balance between the old stuff and the newer influences, as I mentioned above. I’m confident we’ve managed to deliver a good product, with beautiful artwork, so we’re very satisfied with the new record.
What has been the reaction of the metalheads to the new new album?
Extremely well. You should know, we were a bit afraid to come up with new tracks, especially since it had been 28 years since “Feelings of Fury” and that last records wasn’t really appreciated by the fans, being too different from the first three records. So we were more or less forced to have a product that could compete with “Full Moon’s Eyes” or “Ecstasy and Danger”, so we had to go back 30 years in time. And now the reactions from both fans and critics worldwide have astonished us. We were convinced we’d made a great record, but reactions and reviews were basically overwhelming. I’d hereby thank every single reviewer and fan who’s taken his precious time and money to support us and to motivate us to keep going in the future, thank you on behalf of everyone involved in the band!
It was a big challenge, sure, and you were up to the task. Ostrogoth is one of those bands that has always stayed in the underground territory although it deserved a bigger recognition, your music was great, top Heavy Metal. Has the history been fair with Ostrogoth?
I think, when you would ask the same question to those hundreds of other bands from the eighties, everyone would react just the same….. “Fuck no, history’s a bitch, our music deserved arenas full of screaming fans and millions of cd sales, haha”… but honestly…. No point in looking back and being discouraged. We’re happy with what we achieved in the past, the fans who love our music and the new fans right now coming to our shows together with the old fans. We are so privileged to perform in front of all those people and see those happy smiling faces, and have a chat and a drink with the fans afterwards….
If you could go back to the 80’s, you would change something or do something different, for instance, a more commercial stuff, etc?
Not really, everything happens for a reason, I think. Looking back, there are always things you could have done better or in a different way, but on the other hand, those things are part of the learning process as a band and as individual people, so I believe you have to turn around the negative perspective of it and make it something positive, by learning.
Are you going to tour around with this new album?
We’ve done an extensive Belgian tour so far and have been to the United States. October and November will see more Belgian shows coming up to conclude the promotion of the new album on home soil. From march 2016 on we will be focusing again on the European stages, we have been talking and are talking currently to promoters in Europe and things are looking quite well, but It’s too soon to tell about the details. But most definitely we will be on the road in Europe, Spring 2016, probably also in Spain.
Great news! Dario, Spain exists hahaha, and we wanna scream and rise our fists with Osotrogoth on stage, keep it in mind, please. You performed in KIT XV in 2012, how was the experience?
Excellent. It is one of the highlights of my career so far, I’m a big fan of a lot of bands performing at that festival, and for me it was an honor to perform on the same bill as Arch/Matheos and sharing the hotel with the guys from Anvil. We had a blast and maybe one day we’ll perform there again, who knows! It was also the first show with our current singer Josey Hindrix, who’d replaced RedStar only four weeks before the festival. He did a great job, we performed well, the fans loved us and so here we are three years later.
Hitting the stage again, then take a short winter recess while focusing on writing new songs. We’re in the middle of writing and recording new ideas for the processor of “Last Tribe Standing” and things are going quite smooth. If you’d ask me when the new product would see the light of day, I’d say late 2016. And then obviously followed by a new tour promoting the latest product…. And then maybe do some unique special shows celebrating the past as well, who knows… we have a lot of plans and ideas, so for the following years, the world’s not rid of Ostrogoth yet hahahaha…
It’s great to see 21st century Ostrogoth so full of energy, I will keep an eye on your Facebook to be updated with all the band’s activity. I am happy to see you back, guys, and I wish you all the best. Thank you very much for your time, it was a pleasure to talk to a legendary band as Ostrogoth.
We would like to thank you Alberto for believing in us and in our music, same as all the fans and reviewers, and other bands and musicians… It’s the love for the music and the mutual respect that gathers all of us together and we hope to contribute for quite some time! Meanwhile, be safe and well, and we hope to see you somewhere on the road next year, maybe in Spain?
Thanks Dario, it’s easy to believe in the good things, as it’s easy to keep the faith with bands as Ostrogoth. Long live Ostrogoth!