The SDI-Story

 

The speed metal act SDI from Osnabrück, Germany, was formed in the year 1986 by Reinhard Kruse (v, b) and Ralf Maunert (d) who had both learned their craft with hard rockers BLACK JACK CO. After recording a first demo tape called "Bloodsucker", Franck Tiesing, another former BLACK JACK CO. member, completed the line-up and SDI released their debut album "Satan's Defloration Incorporated" in 1986. In 1988, the second LP "Sign Of The Wicked" came out, followed up by "Mistreated" in 1989. Between 1991 and 1993 the band cut a 4th album that remained unreleased . All its songs can now be found as bonus tracks on our reissues. In the following interview, band leader Reinhard Kruse supplies interesting detailed info about SDI's history.

Before you played in Black Jack CO with Bülent Sendallar and Ralf Maunert. Can you tell us about the history of this band?

"BLACK JACK CO was formed in 1979 by Stefan and Michael Grunwald and started as a '60s oriented pop act. I joined them later in 1979 at the age of 15. Ralf was already in the band at that time he was just 14 back then. The sound was totally chaotic and unstructured. After a disastrous gig at a highschool party, we kicked half of the members out of the band and changed our style into hard rock Ralf left Black Jack Co in 1980. Some time later he played in a band called VIVIAN together with Chris Boltendahl. Uwe Lulis and C. F. Bank of GRAVE DIGGER. Before joining BLACK JACK CO I played in a band called TRAM together with my brother and a fiend of mine. But since we were very young at that time - just 12 to 14 years old - we made rather noise than playing real music.
Bülent joined BLACK JACK CO in 1981 and from then on it was an entirely different band with more skilled musicians. Bülent is, by the way, the news speaker on "Fight" from the "Sign of the wicked' album where he reports in Turkish language that even Michail Gorbatschow shows big respect for SDI. In 1985 Franck Tiesing joined the band, but was replaced just two years later by Michi Reichert. In 1991 BLACK JACK CO decided to call it quits. The music of BJC had not very much in common with the speed metal sound of SDI. Our style was more melodic rock music with keyboards and harmony vocals."

You played guitar in BLACK JACK CO, and you're again the guitarist with your new band Ingjenøre. Why did you decide to switch over to to bass when you formed SDI then, instead of sticking to your six-string and making the band a full-blown four piece with two guitars and another bassist?

"I took on bass duties in SDI for one simple reason: The music was too fast for me to sing and play guitar back then. Since the bass lines were much simplier structured, it was much easier for me to play bass while singing. In the studio I also added the odd guitar track, but on stage I preferred playing bass. The reason to form a three piece band is also quite easy to explain. Apart from myself not too many people liked or understood what I did at that time, plus it was rather difficult to find good musicians for SDI in my home town. Most of the musicians had the mentality of just wanting to become a member of a group that was successful already."

All three musicians who cut the SDI debut album had formerly served within the BLACK JACK CO ranks, the only former member of this band that didn't join SDI full time being vocalist Bülent Sendallar. Why did you actually leave your old troupe and form a speed metal act? And why didn't Bülent Sendallar become part of SDI as well?

"We decided lo form SDI because we were frustrated to see that all the bad three-chord speed metal bands had a much bigger following than we as a regular hard rock act. I must admit to not being a huge fan of speed meta! at the time. I was more affected by bands like Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Motörhead and - dare I say it - even the Bee Gees! But since speed metal started to become a trend in the mid 1980s, we decided to become a part of it and to jump aboard that train. All the record companies told us to play this faster, heavier style of metal. So our drummer Ralf and and me recorded four tracks with the primary objective of sounding as brutal as possible, and after shipping out tapes to some record companies, GAMA contacted us immediately and signed us on the spot for a three-album deal.
The funny !hing about it was that we didn't even have real songs back then. In the beginning the band was a pure fun project rather than a serious band. We took full advantage of as many metal clichés as we could in our lyrics. Sex. death, war - you name 'em. Our early tunes were totally overloaded with that stupid stuff. Our first and foremost goal was to be as ridiculous as possible, plus we enjoyed making fun of the metal scene in general. I guess you could say that SDI got its recording contract before it was properly founded, which Is quite an achievement in itself.
In actual fact. BLACK JACK CO was still a going concern when we formed SDI. The band released its first and last 7" vinyl single "Break Out"/"One More Night" in 1986 on Autark Mus1c Productions - at a time when SDI was already operating. Bülent didn't want to join this little proJect of ours simply because he didn't enjoy playing speed metal at all."

What's the concept behind the band's rather unusual name?

" It's unusual indeed. I guess it might have made more sense to the head banging public if we had picked a typical speed metal name for the band like for instance Witchhunter or Chainbreaker. but this wouldn't have reflected the humor in SDl. We liked the name SATAN'S DEFLORATION INCORPORATED because the idea of someone being deflowered by the Horned One himself seemed to be the most over the top, outrageous thing we could think of at the time. Plus, it sounded cool, much cooler than 'erm' Döner Kebab for instance! lt was a great way to make some fun of the supposedly all-serious, ultra-aggressive metal bands back then. No-one with his brains intact really believed that VENOM attended black masses every night before going to bed, right?"

Whose idea was the creature on the cover of your debut LP "Satan's Defloration Incorporated"?
"I really don't know, but I recall being very angry when I saw it for the first time . My guess is the artist, whom I fortunately never met in person, must have been heavily drunk when he created this crap."
Tell us about the recordings for "Satan's Defloration Incorporated".
"We went to Kirchheim/Teck in the south of Germany and cut the LP at GAMA's very own Spygel Studios. We only had 14 days for the entire recording and mixing process and time was running really short in the end. but I guess the budget was fair. However, GAMA got into serious trouble when distribution negotiations with Ariola didn't go as planned, and the cover 'artwork' caused further problems . Then the first master turned out to be a complete mess, so the whole mastering process had to be redone. As a result, the release was postponed several times until the album finally came out in November '86. lt was a pretty nerve-racking time for me."
In 1988, GAMA released your second album "Sign Of The Wicked" which is not just considered to be SDI's best ever record but also a real classic of the speed metal genre. The amount of progress showcased on the LP made your debut look kinda pale in comparison: Production and vocals were vastly improved, the new songs had strenger melodies, and clever arrangements gave the whole band a very special flair. What, in your humble opinion, made the difference between albums no. one and two?
Making the first album took only six weeks from start to finish - that includes writing most of the material since we only had the four songs from our first demo tape when we signed the contract, practicing , arranging and putting it all together. It didn't help that we had to interrupt the recording session at one point because we were contractually obliged to play a BLACK JACK CO gig in Bremen. Laying down "Satan's Defloration Incorporated" properly was very difficult under these circumstances. So, you could say that "Sign Of The Wicked" is the first real SDI album. This is when we really got going." As opposed to your debut LP, "Sign Of The Wicked" gained overwhelmingly positive reviews from both national and international meta! publications. It appears the album's considerable musical development took many writers by surprise. How do you view "Sign Of The Wicked" with hindsight?
"It was quite a departure from the rather amateurish and chaotic sounding first LP. We invested much more time and effort in the songwriting process and even postponed projected studio schedules when we felt we needed even more time to work on the material. We practiced three to four hours, four days a week, and considering the final result I think it was really worth all the blood, sweat and tears we'd put into it. GAMA also granted us a bigger budget this time and Tom Krüger turned out to be an excellent producer. We had lot of fun working with such an experienced and generally nice guy like him, especially after all the negative experiences with producers in the past. On the first album. Tom only did the mix, while on "Sign Of The Wicked" he did both recording and mixing." "Sign Of The Wicked'"s original artwork, depicting a bloodstained razor blade and a freshly engraved SDI logo on your upper arm, was quite eye-catching. Who came up with the idea for this unique front sleeve?
"I'm still very happy with this artwork. To be honest, there was absolutely no blood letting involved in its making. We just painted the logo on my arm. Engraving it would have been way too painful for my liking. But even if it's fake. I still think it looks very cool. I came up with that idea myself. After the monumentally disappointing artwork for our debut I felt obliged to not only take care of the album's musical content and how it sounds but also have the final say on what it looks like . We didn't want to be band no. 1,000 that had an axe-swinging warrior marching into battle on the front sleeve, so I contacted Manfred Pollert, a photographer I was friends with, and arranged a photo shooting. The best pic from this session ended up to be the cover."
"The album title , by the way, refers to the swastika, Nazi-Germany's infamous symbol of terror and oppression. For a while we toyed with the idea of using such a swastika symbol for the artwork but as firm believers in the fight against any form of rightwing ideology we figured that this may cause a good deal of misunderstanding among certain folks so we dropped this concept and used the SDI logo instead. The cover image symbolizes massive brutality on one hand and the will to do whatever it takes to express an attitude on the other, and it also reflects the music perfectly . However, I must stress that this is not a concept album on politics by any means. The lyrics deal with various topics that bothered us at the time. Fascism was one, alcoholism was another." Your third and final album "Mistreated" was released in 1989. What's your recollection on the recording of this LP?
"We played a couple of promotional gigs for "Sign of the Wicked", then welcomed Rainer Rage - who took Franck's place - into our ranks, and went out again, playing even more club shows with our new recruit. Rainer really made his presence felt when songwriting for the third LP began shortly thereafter. I was the sole writer on the first two albums but this time around there was someone else ready and willing to take a bit of that weight off my shoulder and contribute his own ideas. As a result, two of the new tunes were entirely written by Rainer, whereas "The Deal" was a collaboration between Rainer and me. Like "Sign of The Wicked", "Mistreated" was recorded at the Zuckerfabrik in Stuttgart, this time with Robby Baumann and Uli Gröck at the production helm. Unfortunately, we soon realized that we'd have to spend a lot more time on guitar takes than planned and subsequently worked night and day to get everything on tape in due time. We had to meet a certain deadline or otherwise risk postponement of the LP's release. The album definitely suffered a bit from the rush. We went straight into the mixing phase after six consecutive nightshifts and I was so tired that I could hardly focus on what was happening. My input at that time was rather limited, to put It mildly. I wasn't happy at all with the mix but the record company was and so we went for it. That's why the album was released with what I consider a substandard final mix."


What happened after the release of "Mistreated"?
"We finally got around to doing our first real tour. We were invited to play in many different European countries like Hungary, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Belgium and the Netherlands. However, with the tour came the realization that Ralf could no langer cope with the pressure of playing with the band, getting his day job done and making ends meet for his family all at the same time. We mutually decided that he'd better leave the band, and we brought in Christoph Olbrich to bang the drums for the remaining shows in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.


"When we returned home, Rainer also jumped ship and joined ENOLA GAY to keep himself busy. His decision to leave was helped a great deal by the fact that SDI as a band was pretty much off duty at this stage. Christoph and I spent more and more time on a new project called TOMMY & THE LUCKY ONES.


Meanwhile. SDI's GAMA contract had expired so I signed a new deal with Ja/Nein-Musik in Hamburg for this new project. Our music was completely different from SDI though, we played poppy rock'n 'roll.SDI was taking a backseat while we were doing this for about a year, but by 1992 1 felt an irresistible passion to breathe new life into the band and decided to start afresh with Jürgen Uthleb, a young but very talented guitar player. I began writing material for a new LP and a whole batch of tunes were laid down in various studios between '92 and '93. Frank Dostal, formerly with German beat legends THE RATTLES and now a leading figure at Germany's GEMA company, arranged negotiations with several record companies but unfortunately no one was interested enough to offer us a deal. "This was quite a huge blow for us. We were all just a step away from reacting the 30 years age mark at the time, we were unsigned and basically broke. The only way to squeeze a little bit of money out of the band was the odd weekend gig but this just wasn't enough to keep the band alive. By now we knew that SDI would never earn us a half-decent living. We had to move on and do some thing else, so we laid the band to rest for good in 1993 after finishing the last couple of demo recordings for the projected but never released 4th album. All of these songs were destined to catch dust in the vaults until eternity but luckily this was not to be. I'm happy to report that we've now added each and every one of them as bonus tracks to these new SDI reissues."
What did you do after SDI split in 1993?


"I continued playing with TOMMY & THE LUCKY ONES. We even released an album but it was a commercial failure so we decided to put our main focus on our 'real' jobs and play music just for fun. T&LO eventually turned into a party/covers band and we are still playing together from time to time. In 2000, 1 joined a professional Top 40 covers band that managed to get over 100 bookings with in 12 months. However. 1 left the band two years later because my job was taking the best of me. Then, in 2002, 1 formed DIE INGJEN0RE together with Ralf from SDI and my old friends Bülent Sendallar and Føni Goedereis. We recorded our first demo album "Warmbadetag" in. 2004 and are currently working on songs for a second album. Apart from that, Føni, former SDI drummer Christoph Olbrich and I occassionally play parties and pubs as JUICY FRUITS ." With the benefit of hindsight, how do you rate the job GAMA did for SDI back then?


"Some of the decisions they made at the time were rather unfortunate, a perfect example being the video we shot for "Violence". Instead of getting a professional production company on the case. GAMA virtually burned the budget by hiring a small, unexperienced crew who didn't know what they were doing. At one point GAMA suddenly decided to quit Ariola's major label distribution structure and give our album to InAkustik instead, a company that had absolutely no clue about selling metal; not surprisingly, our sales figures hit rock bottom within weeks. Our relationship with GAMA was friendly for the most part but it seriously suffered from their chronic parsimony.


They'd constantly refuse to grant us any form of tour support , for instance. The first time a GAMA representative showed up at one of our gigs was when we promoted "Mistreated"! This just proves their lack of interest in the band. They were only in it for the money, which is legitimate of course, and I'm by no means mad at the GAMA folks at all. I mean, no one forced me to sign their contract, right? 1 can't blame 'em for my own failure to become a stinking rich rock star who owns a fleet of Rolls Royces and a private jet. That's nobody's fault but mine."

Have all SDI albums been released on CD? "Yes, they were but not all of them through Gama. They licensed some of the albums to other companies all over the world. Resulting reissues got repackaged in some cases, and these new covers portrayed rather bad taste if you ask me. The Laserlight CD version of "Sign Of The Wicked " from 1991 had incredibly horrible new artwork, for instance. It had nothing in common with the original and looks suspiciously like one of these radio play cassettes for kids! No one's ever asked me how I felt about using new artwork and when I found out about it, everything was already pressed."

Your new project INGJEN0RE contains elements of 1980's glam rock. How did you come up with this bandname? And what do you hope to achieve with this band? "Well, 'INGJEN0RE' means engineers in German, but we changed the spelling around - this sort of spelling is not to be found in the dictionary. We opted for this name because two members of the band, Bülent and Føni, are in fact engineers; plus, we all like Die Ärzte (The Doctors) very much, an immensely popular punk band from Germany, and we were looking for a moniker among the same lines. We're doing this just for fun. At the age of 41 1 l've given up fantasizing about being a big rock star."

In 2005 all 3 albums were re-released by Battle Cry records. They also contain demo-versions of the "unreleased" 4th album.

In 2014 Ralf Maunert, Rainer Rage and Reinhard Kruse stuck toghether again as SDI. Since then they performed a lot of gigs in Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and Japan. A website sdi-metal.com was launched and the youtube channel "sdimetal", featuring concert videos and promotion clips, went online.  

For time reasons Ralf Maunert left the band in 2016 and was replaced by Christoph Olbrich, who already played the drums im was the SDI-drummer in 1991, when the band toured in Hungary and Czechoslovakia. Rainer Rage left the band in 2017 for health reasons. Daniel Haverkamp joined SDI and played his first SDI-gig in december 2017 at the tynfest in the czech republic. The band produced the ballrun-demo in 2017. The demo contains 3 tracks: "Ballrun", "I hate you" and "Make my day". In 2018 SDI produced 3 videos of these songs. In october 2018 SDI toured in Portugal and Spain (Megamoshiberian tour 2018), supported by "Reaktion" from Barcelona (Spain). In November 2018 SDI supported Anthrax at the "Roxy" in Prague (Czech republic).