~ Interview with Michael Denner ~
Der dänische Gitarrist Michael Denner gehörte zur Ursprungsformation von MERCYFUL FATE, stand zuletzt mit DENNER / SHERMANN im Rampenlicht und vergnügt sich aktuell mit seiner neuesten Band DENNER´S INFERNO. Also haben wir Michael kurzerhand für ein Interview vor das Mikrofon gezerrt.
Hello Michael, it’s great to hear you playing guitar in the new project DENNER´S INFERNO. The band is still fresh. How did you find the band members?
Thank’s. And yes, I was fortunate to get the right people for this one, Flemming continued from the TRICKBAG-days, Bjarne Holm is from my days with MERCYFUL FATE and Chandler was suggested by my Record Company, they heard him on the internet and I was blown away.
Is DENNER’S INFERNO the continuation of TRICKBAG?
TRICKBAG was a band I did for fun, with local people and old friends of me, we did a small gig in Copenhagen, and the Record Company was there and wanted to sign us when they heard what we were doing, so we did the album and folded shortly after, the members were not ready for more than this.
Continued with Flemming Muus, the bassplayer though, he’s a fulltime pro and has played on more than 200 albums here in Denmark and I’ve known him since we were kids.
Were you aware of the musical direction right from the start?
Oh, yes, I have a deep passion for Heavy Rock from the 70’s , and have a huge Collection of rare and obscure records in that area, so this time I finally got to play exactly the type of music I love the most, and place some of my signature and things from my past releases in the pot as well.
The album sounds like „back to the roots“, early heavy metal / hard rock. Your current favorite music?
It’s always been my favorite music and finally a pleasure to make an album in that direction.
Or just a pastime next to DENNER / SHERMANN?
Not really. That band is over, sadly but surely.
Did DENNER / SHERMANN die because of Hank Shermann’s involvement in the MERCUYFUL FATE comeback?
No, it died that day I heard about the reformation.
You still love the real metal that you both do with Sean Peck?
Hell yes, and I will continue to work with Sean, this guy is world class and a dear friend of mine.
How did you hear about Sean Peck?
Someone played a CAGE song for me, and I went „Woah“, a few days later Sean contacted us and said he was ready if we needed a singer.
May I ask you why you are not part of the MERCYFUL FATE comeback?
They did not ask me. I had a minor argument with King some years ago about the album cover design of DENNER / SHERMANN, and this is the high price we both have to pay now.
Would you have had time and desire for it?
The time and desire was there, but irrelevant now, they would not even consider to ask me, that would make them look like fools.
After all, the guitar-duo Hank Shermann / Michael Denner has been as important to metal history as Glenn Tipton / K.K. Downing. Do you often have to listen to such praise, especially from young metal fans?
Sure, also Murray/Smith and Gorham/Robertson, and it makes me proud, I have a lot of respect for these players.
You were with Hank already in the seventies at BRATS together, why did you leave them, before they finally reoriented and became MERCYFUL FATE?
I was fired, simple as that, as a child of Hippies I did not take anything serious, and had a sloppy way with things concerning the band, so they kicked me out and found a better guitarist.
But then you were back at the start of MERCYFUL FATE quickly. How did it come?
I pulled myself together and in spite, created my band DANGER ZONE with Timi Hansen and ol‘ Nick, Hank and King joined us and we became MERCYFUL FATE.
Now, after so many years, how satanic were MERCYFUL FATE at the beginning of their career, besides the lyrics of King Diamond?
With the exception of Kings believes and religion, there was nothing satanic going on, the rest of us was in there for the music.
What were your personal musical influences at that time, Progressive Rock?
Like King I had a huge record collection, the main part of it was 70’s Heavy Rock.
Bands like LED ZEPPELIN, URIAH HEEP, DEEP PURPLE, BLACK SABBATH, but also the more obscure like CAPTAIN BEYOND, THREE MAN ARMY, TRAPEZE etc etc.
Until 1996, you played on every MERCYFUL FATE-album. Which is your musical favorite album?
Clearly ´Melissa´, strong powerful songs, and played by a band in shape with deep hunger to make it big.
What do you associate with the most beautiful times?
The close friendship we all had back then, and the magic we did.
Can you still remember the split of MERCYFUL FATE in the mid-eighties? A painful memory?
Oh, yes, it was a very sad day, but it was on its way for some time, Hank was fed up with metal and King wanted to have more of his own songs in there.
With KING DIAMOND you also recorded some albums. But even this collaboration did not last forever. Why?
An argument with the guys after rehearsal, they wanted the band to look more glamish, an issue I was completly against, I asked King and he did not want to take part in the discussion, so I packed my stuff and left.
You can see where it was going on the ´Abigail´-Cover, King Diamond and three Circus acts and a very moody guy in black leather.
What days were the most memorable ones at KING DIAMOND?
A great moment was when Andy arrived for the first time, while we recorded ´Fatal Portrait´, we connected in a split second and it was a relief to have a great guitarist beside you with the right attitude, softspoken and friendly without any bighead attitude; also to play with the mighty Mikkey Dee, what a powerhouse drummer with a great sense of humor, always ready for a good time on top of working with my two close friends Timi and King.
But with Hank Shermann you have always returned together. At ZOSER MEZ at the beginning of the 1990s … with FORCE OF EVIL from 2002 … and last but not least DENNER / SHERMANN … you have a lot in common. Are you soul brothers?
This is a painful question as you can understand, we have done so many things together, but this is in the past now …
But the bands – ZOSER MEZ or FORCE OF EVIL – had never existed for long …
ZOSER MEZ folded because the singer Kenny won the Danish song contest and went on to the Eurovison one, and we reformed MERCYFAL FATE shortly after.
FORCE OF EVIL was signed to a label that went bankrupt, so that was the end of this fine band.
Is your focus on DENNER’S INFERNO now?
Oh, yes, I’m quite exited about it, and I’m happy about the overwhelming response I had so far.
Can we expect live performances?
I just got a new booker, so these days we are planning a full European-Tour for spring 2020.
Thank you, Michael. All the best.