Interview with Tom Schmidt of Angst – all instruments (studio), vocals
Interview by Kira Levine
IV had the chance to catch up with Tom from Ancst to discuss forthcoming album Summits Of Despondency and more. Here’s what he had to say…
Hello! Thanks for your time, hope that you are keeping safe and well. Please state your name and position in Ancst.
Hey, I am Tom and I do everything in this band except for the live setting where I am accompanied by my bandmates Stefan, Conor, Robert and Jonas.
When did you start getting involved with music and realise that you wanted to be part of a band?
That was at an early age. My dad is a musician too and so I kinda ended up in his footprints, I guess. I started my first band when I was 12 or 13 but really was taking it seriously when I reached 16/17. I started out in alternative rock band cause none of my friends would listen to harder stuff but finally found some people when I moved to the city.
Were you given any guidance from other musicians before starting out? And what words of wisdom do you have for newcomer bands?
My dad taught me some things and he also told me: “Don’t do this music thing son, it’s a breadless art.” He was right. My life got better when I started not to rely on music to pay for my food anymore. Get a job that pays as much as you need and that offers you a glimpse of freedom and then work your ass off, tour, do things DIY, understand the business side of things early on, be kind, don’t fuck anybody over, don’t talk shit, behave and have fun.
Ancst was formed almost a decade ago. How did the project begin?
My other band wasn’t doing so much at that time and so I started home recording metal stuff on a broken laptop and just wanted to put out a tape. Things went from there and now I am here answering your questions. Nothing was planned and everything kinda happened along the way.
For the first year of its inception, the band was known as “Angst”. What was the reason for the name change?
Search engine optimisation.
For those who have not heard your music before, how would you describe Ancst’s sound?
Imagining you would cook up a stew and your main ingredients are 90s melodic black metal, some Gothenburg death metal, a huge chunk of 90s metalcore and pinches of crust, scramz & grind all served in a bowl covered with black and white DIY punk posters. Dessert would be dark ambient as we are releasing this under the same name on the side. It sounds chaotic but tastes really well.
Your forthcoming album ‘Summits of Despondency’ will be released in mid-September. What would you say sets this record apart from the prior three?
It is taking the formula that we had on prior albums and just mixes it up with more epic parts and a more dynamic feel. It’s also better produced cause I watched a lot of YouTube tutorials.
1. Kill Your Inner Cop
3. Final Hour
4. Praising the Realm of Loss
5. The Burden of Hope Part I
6. The Burden of Hope Part II
7. Razed Eden
8. Abysm of Existence
9. … of Dying
11. Monotony of Anguish
Do you have any favourite songs from the new album? Or any from Ancst’s back catalogue?
I really like the slower parts of the new album. “Razed Eden” & “Monolith” are prime examples of progressing sound-wise. I like all the songs, to be honest. If I didn’t you couldn’t find them on that album.
You have been involved in pretty much all of the design work for Ancst’s visual merchandising to date. Is it difficult creating artwork as well as the music for the band?
It depends on where you stand I guess, but it is no big deal for me. My motto is to never outsource unless you really need to. It is part of the DIY thing, live and learn. You are never too old to learn new skills and it is fun.
What gives you inspiration when creating new music or lyrics?
Life just throws shit at me and I write tunes to throw them back at you I guess. Seriously, I always think of music as a vent, catharsis if you will. My inspiration is laying on the streets so to speak. It is what surrounds me. all the fucked up shit that is happening in our world on a day to day basis, my inner turmoil and the essential questions of life itself are all things that feed me and that end up being songs. My own musical socialization is also important here. There is a lot of stuff that I grew up with that still inspires me today when I write new music. Also, there is always new inspiring stuff coming out so that never gets boring.
Are there any musical artists you look up to that you would like to mention?
These would be too many to mention but Minor Threat / Fugazi where a huge inspiration from DIY point of view, Heaven Shall Burn and the late 90s / early 2000 German metalcore scene are important music-wise, Scandinavian metal of all sorts is also pretty much important and lately I have been a big fan of Cryo Chamber as one of my favourite dark ambient labels.
Can you describe the current German metal scene? Has it changed much since you started out?
I was never really part of that scene to begin with, so I may be the wrong person to ask as I have always looked at it from a distance. My home is the DIY HC [hardcore] scene, this is also where we come from ideologically. German metal has stayed old school in a way but younger folks have found a new interest in it as both the HC and the metal subculture have once again converged and both are feeding on the other. In my book that’s great because it ensures progress and I like crossover ’cause that’s what keeps that kind of music fresh and engaging. Since we started out I like to think that people have become more open-minded and more sensible to political topics, which is good as it was long overdue or not as present as it used to be. I think people are more down to earth these days as everyone has understood that there is no way a career in extreme music will keep you fed till the end of days. Many more people are doing things on their own without relying too much on the industry, and this is a win-win situation for those that are ready for it.
How has the current pandemic affected Ancst?
Well, two tours have been cancelled, no shows this year but we are good. See, we don’t rely on the income from the band and so it doesn’t concern us that much as we don’t have to struggle to pay our bills. I’m worried about those that are not in this situation. All my friends that work in supermarkets now instead of being on the road. All the venues that we played and that we love. They are all in danger of running out of money at some point. These are all important cultural spaces. These are environments that act as safe spaces for those of us outside of mainstream culture. I’m worried about them as I fear they might be gone forever.
If you had the chance to collaborate with any band or person, who would it be and why?
That’s a tough one and really hard to answer. I’m not the greatest team player when it comes to creativity to begin with, but if I had the chance I probably would love to sit down with Mike Patton as I think he is a true artist and has done outstanding stuff in his career. I probably would die of nervousness before anything would happen at all. Other than that, I would love to sit down with my old friends Andi and Paul (both from Henry Fonda and Afterlife Kids) to write some stellar tunes again.
Can you name one negative and a positive about being in a band?
Playing your own music to people that enjoy it is probably the best thing about doing this shit. That you can’t make a living while doing so would probably be the negative thing.
Personally, which genres of music are your favourite?
I still enjoy the diversity of hardcore and metal but lately, I have been listening to a lot of dark ambient and dungeon synth. I don’t know what it is, but the feeling of isolation and tranquillity really speaks to me.
If you could only listen to 3 records for the rest of your life, what would they be?
Converge / Agaphobic Noosebleed – split
Godspeed you! Black Emperor – Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven!
Winterblood – Waldeinsamkeit I-III
What do the next 12 months look like for Ancst?
I will get used to a new home studio setup, learn some software, record new songs, make plans, release some splits, book some tours for next year and hope I will not do it for nothing again and hopefully hop back into a van and play some live shows. Business as usual I guess.
Thanks so much for your time, is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers?
Thanks for YOUR time and for asking me these questions. I hope the answers are okay. It’s summer and I turn into sloth brain-wise when it’s too hot.