Max Seipke is literally a metal child. With the great support of his family and friends, he formed the band in his early teenage days. After 15 years, his band TormentoR released the EP “Crown of Shame”. It was quite a good reason to have a great conversation with Max in the dusk of 2021.
Max, how are you?
Hello Ivona, I’m doing pretty well these days, thank you.
Let’s start from the latest news. TormentoR released an EP on November 12th, how is the feedback so far?
The feedback we still receive seems to be the best we’ve gotten for any releases so far. The fans really like our new direction and sound and also all the fanzines found some nice words about it, so we are really happy.
The EP contains five songs, and the last one caught my attention the most. The song where you were experimenting the most. First of all its length, then style. Tell me something more about it.
I wouldn’t call it an experiment. It wasn’t like “Okay, let’s try to write a doom metal song”. When I had the first phrases for the lyrics, I totally knew how the music should sound. The riffs I got fitted perfectly and the song came together really quickly. And in the end of the
production, we added all those little things here and there which made that song complete.
Can we expect more experimenting, pushing the boundaries like in ″The Burden and The Grief″?
That song definitely opened a door for us and proved that we can incorporate different genres of metal into our style and don’t have to limit ourselves to thrash metal. So yeah, right now we feel very comfortable writing more in this direction.
In an album review I wrote: “The Burden and the Grief” is the most variable song on this EP. It is totally unexpected after four songs that obey pure energy to calm down and go into a different direction, from thrash metal to doom metal. This song has maybe the darkest, the deepest, the wisest lyrics. What was the main emotion that led you writing this song?
Well, it’s hard to answer this question, because I don’t want to get too personal. But I guess a lot of people experienced something that changed their life from one day to the other. You kinda feel lost and don’t know how to handle it. Listen to music, write music, this is what helps me and sort of saves me. In the end, I put a lot of different emotions in this song because they all floated around inside of me and I needed to get them out somehow.
Your lyrics are strong with clear messages. What inspires you to write?
I write about things that catch my attention. It can be my own experiences, feelings or emotions or my thoughts about stuff that is happening right now in the world. Also by reading a book or watching a movie. Inspiration comes from everywhere.
As the first single you released ″Call to Arms″. How do you choose which song you will launch as the first single and represent your album t he best?
Well, we wanted to get the fans excited about our new EP and we thought that this song contains most of the musical elements of the new songs. It has groove, it has some fast parts and some catchy melodies. And it’s less than four minutes, so it’s good to catch some attention.
Second single is ″Crown of Shame″, this is your first video ever made. Where did you film it and how actually was that experience, working on a first video ever?
We filmed everything in the city Peitz, which is near Cottbus. Thomas and his parents got a huge old house, which was passed on through the generations. We used an old hall with a little stage on it for the performance part. And also we were allowed to film in the castle of Peitz, where we were filmed in our characters. It was such a great experience! My brother Moritz, who founded Elandir Productions, and his crew did a fantastic job and also our parents put some work into it too, it kinda was a little family project; our family and the TormentoR family.
Tell me something about the art cover.
I knew very early on that “Crown of Shame” had to be the title track. When Moritz and I gathered ideas for the music video, we knew we wanted to focus on a real crown. A good friend of mine and bass player of my other band “Reckless Pile” crafted it. So my dad did the cover and layout. The song, the video and the cover are deeply connected to each other, which we really like.
This album is self produced. How challenging was that task?
Luckily, we learned a lot from evil, producer of our first records. Kevin and I did the production. Kevin was more into all of the engineering parts and I was more into the production part. The beginning was the most challenging, finding the right sound of it all. The recording itself went by really quick, the mixing as well and we are happy that evil did the mastering for us and still is in the team.
Originally you planned to include only four songs, but the final product is actually five songs on this EP. Which one had that X factor and changed the original plan?
That was “The Burden and the Grief”. In the summer of 2019, we had all four songs written and wanted to start rehearsing them. And then this song came up. We didn’t want to hold it back for the next record, we wanted it to get out as soon as possible, because we felt this song is very special.
Correct me if I am wrong, you were only 12 when you formed the band, so I can say you were fed by metal. Tell me something more about your musical and personal development through the years.
That’s right, the band was founded in 2006. For me, everything started with Metallica when I was 3 years old. I fell in love with them and they are my favorite still to this day. So I started to play drums around that time and I always wanted to be the drummer. But I didn’t have as many opportunities to play on real drums as I wanted to. On my 11th birthday, my parents got me my first guitar and I was in love with it from the first minute. And also my parents were and still are metal fans for most part of their life. There was always good music in our household and I soaked it all in.
Mostly, 12 years old kids still know nothing about life, but you have had a clear idea what want to do. Who influenced you the most and who is your biggest support?
My biggest support to this day are my parents and my brother. In the early years of the band, my parents always knew how important this band is to me and gave me so much support in everything, it wouldn’t have been possible for me doing this without them. And also a lot of musicians influenced me and inspired me to this day like James Hetfield, Mille Petrozza, Dave Grohl, Johnny Cash, Lemmy… Just to name a few.
Your first demo ″Lesson in Aggression″ was released only a year later. How was the reaction back than, a kid playing metal?
I can remember that some people thought that it was fake. They didn’t want to believe that kids can play metal too. Nowadays it seems like the most normal thing but it was a bit different back then.
The biggest compliment came from Mille Petrozza who mentioned the band in a radio show. Kreator for sure is your biggest influence. What’s that magic connection between TormentoR and Kreator?
I don’t know if there is a magical connection. In the early days, the band inspired us to shape our style and sound. You can hear a lot of their influence on our first record, just like you can hear Venom and Slayer on their first record. Seems totally normal to me, you have to start somewhere. But besides that, I can’t see any deeper connection between us and them nowadays.
Debut album ″Violent World″ was the album brought some personal changes. How important is it for you to have a stable line up?
For us, it is the best thing that could have happened. Because we are more than just a band. We are a family, we are brothers and best friends. Thomas and I have been together in this band and as friends for 13 years and with Christian and Kevin for 11 years. You get this real
deep connection when playing music together, almost magical. I can’t imagine how it would be to have a new member every two years, it wouldn’t work for me.
You are young but have a lot of experience behind you. What was the toughest moment in your career by now?
A couple of years ago, we went through some rough times. When you are friends as long as Thomas and I, it kinda is like you are married. You love and hate each other. We had some serious personal issues back then and also didn’t speak to each other for some months. I think the break up was pretty close but we got our shit together and are stronger than ever since then. So I guess this was the hardest and toughest we all had to go through.
Your father is Peter Seipke, how was growing up in a metal family?
For me it was very normal because I didn’t know it otherwise. But now I cherish it very much that we share the same love for music and we still can go to concerts and festivals together.
What is the wisest advice your father gave to you?
I guess, he gave me a lot of good advice over the years but what I really learned from him is to take your private time for the things you love most, which in our case is family, music, friends and being creative. Going to work is important to make a living and I am in this lucky situation that I love my job but the best part of any day comes after it and I enjoy every minute of that and I learned it from my dad to cherish those moments.
You just released a new album, are you already thinking about the new one? What does the whole process look like when it comes to creative work?
Usually I start to think about the next record before the current one is done. I started writing new songs last year before the actual recordings of the new EP even began. I started to create a clear vision for the next record right now and we are still gathering new ideas and making them into songs. This process takes some time of course. I write riffs all the time and sometimes I know right away how to build a song around it and other times I sit on it for months until something is happening. Also Christian is into writing some stuff now and next year we will sort out the best of our ideas and get to rehearse and arrange them before recording them. So I hope to release a third record somewhere in 2023.
Do you have any interaction with fans during this Corona period? How important is the feedback you get from them?
Social media helps us a lot there. We can connect to fans from all around the world and get their feedback, especially now that our new EP is out, that’s really cool. But of course nothing is better than a real live show and meeting the fans afterwards and we really look forward to being on stage again hopefully next year.