The German band AXXIS has been on the scene since the late 1980s and released a lot of albums, some quite successful, such as their debut 'Kingdom of the night', which became German's best selling debut album of a Hardrockband in 1989, selling over 100,000 copies. This figure is today still a very high mark, as only a few very big bands reach that nowadays, but the 1980s were then of course the time when Hardrock ruled the airwaves. Anyway, the band never changed their style that much, so from the beginning until the new record 'Time machine', which has just been released, the band has been playing Melodic Hard/Heavy Rock/Metal. I did an interview with keyboardplayer Harry Oellers, so let's see what he has to say...

Hi, good to talk with you, well I must congratulate you for releasing one of the best AXXIS albums since ‘Kingdom of the night’!
Thank you very much. I think we have made a good album that contains all the typical AXXIS elements. I guess we made a kind of development through the year, which started in 2000 with the album ‘Back to the kingdom’, our first comeback album. It was a sort of process that started 4 years ago, and developed from ‘Back to the kingdom’ through ‘Eyes of darkness’ in 2001 and now the result is ‘Time machine’, an album which took some time to finish, but I think it’s one of our strongest efforts so far. I am proud of it.

Can you tell me something about the song?
Well, we write about all kinds of stuff, not only just the typical ‘Fantasy’ metal themes, but also about political issues, like for example the song “Wind in the night”, which is about the conflicts between Israel and Palestina. And in the song “Wings of freedom” we sing about the current War in Iraq. We also have some very dramatic lyrics like in “Angel of death”, about someone who has cancer and wants to stop living, and in Germany this is a very big issue. On the other hand we also have fun fantasy lyrics, so it’s not a depressive album or anything. We just write about real life sometimes, which is a way to express ourselves.

I would like to go back in time, when did AXXIS started?
Well, we started back in 1983, 5 or 6 years before we got our contract with EMI records...

How did you get in touch with your first major label EMI RECORDS?
Well, that’s a funny story because around 1988 we had a Tape with one song called “Tears of the dragon” and I sent it to EMI, who returned the tape a week later and said it was not the style they wanted to have. 2 weeks later I re-sent the tape with the same song. And then a different guy at EMI got to hear it and he liked it very much. From there on it all went by very fast, because we signed with EMI, recorded our debut LP ‘Kingdom of the night’, which went on selling 100,000 copies, which is still a record for a debut LP of a German Hardrockband. In fact, in my house on the wall I have a very big Award for this, so I guess you can see we were overwelmphed by the enormous success achieved with the debut album back in 1989.

So you were very popular back in 1989...
Yes it was unbelievable, but we came out of the practice room, were very young and already had a lot of big success. We toured Europe for like 7/8 weeks in 89/90 as support to BLACK SABBATH, so we were playing with the big boys, although we just came out of the practice room, without too much experience.

The following years you released a few more successful albums...
Yeah, especially ‘The big thrill’ from 1993 was a very powerful record, also our first experience in the USA. The following album ‘Matters of survival’ from 1995 was even produced by KEITH OLSEN (SCORPIONS, WHITESNAKE, PREVIEW), but this was not a typical AXXIS album. I still think this was a very different AXXIS record, as it doesn’t contain the typical AXXIS sound. I was not really happy with the album afterwards.

Which album do you consider your best effort?
Well our debut ‘Kingdom of the night’ is of course one of the most successfu, and also because it’s your first ‘baby’, this album was very important. I also like our comeback album ‘Back to the kingdom’ and of course the new album ‘Time machine’, which I like the most.

There have been some line-up changes, I noticed there wasn’t a drummer on the new CD...
That’s right, but there’s a long story behind this problem. Our original drummer actually has a drugs problem, but it gets weirder, as 3 months ago, just before the recording process of ‘Time machine’ he disappeared without a trace. Nobody has ever since seen him, so he is actually vanished. We also don’t know where he is, even the police is not able to find him! I guess you can say he is a lost. Anyway, we had the problem with the drummer, but the studio time was booked, so we had to record the album on the booked dates. Then I called PINK CREAM 69 and asked if their drummer could play on our new record and that was no problem at all. We are very good friends with PC’69, because we went through the same periods as them, also first signed to a major label, then got dropped and eventually found a home at one of the Metallabels. Also DENNIS WARD from PC’69 mixed our new CD.

And live, which drummer will you use?
The drummer from SILENT FORCE will then play with us. We plan to tour Europe during the autumn and we will then tour all of Europe with a bigger act.

Hope to see you on tour then!
OK, thanks for the interview.

Well, the latest news is that AXXIS entered the German charts this week, even higher than the new PINK CREAM 69! Good job I guess, let’s hope an even higher rating will happen during the next couple weeks...