Donnerkopf: Töten Mit Stil (Killing With Style)

Those who visit Maximum Metal frequently may have noticed that among the cutting-edge metal filling up the reviews section were a number of slightly older albums. Among the oldies but goodies in the bunch was a review of Thunderhead’s 1994 live showcase Classic Killers Live!, penned by yours truly. And while timeliness was not the foremost concern in choosing to dust off that album (it was about ten years late for that!), the timing of the review proved to be rather fortuitous and oddly appropriate.

What made the timing right was that after several years of near-complete silence, a few odd rumblings were coming from the Thunderhead camp..... well, half of it, anyway. As alluded to in the aforementioned review, former Thunderhead guitarist Henny Wolter and bassist Ole Hempleman have reunited, along with new drummer Curt Donner, to form Donnerkopf, which roughly translates into English as, er.... Thunderhead.

As the familiar band moniker suggests, things have come full circle for these guys, to a certain degree. After the demise of Thunderhead in the late nineties, Henny Wolter had a productive stint with German metal heroes Sinner and that band’s increasingly popular offshoot, Primal Fear. Although both bands were doing reasonably well, however, he eventually needed a break.

“Being in both bands and living in another part of the country was a lot of work and traveling,” says the guitarist. “I don´t mind traveling, but I knew every tree along that highway to Stuttgart. I very much aprecciate having been in both bands and I love to work with PF and Sinner just the same. But I felt it was time to break up and start something new.”

That “something new” started out as a power trio performing Motorhead covers for fun (with some Thunderhead selections thrown in as well) in his hometown of Hannover. And with that in mind, what is different about Donnerkopf that allows Henny to devote his time to the band?

“We are our own bosses and we play what we like. It is also a Hannover-based band, which means I don´t have to travel 550 kilometers to each rehearsal.”

In addition to travel concerns, Henny says that this newfound freedom of direction allows him to play with more of a raw, ballsy, rock ‘n’ roll feel than was evident in his last two bands. So the new band seems to work in a mold more in keeping with the Thunderhead sound. However, a perusal of the band’s web site (www.donnerkopf.de), and specifically the new mp3 files posted there, will reveal one major departure from what was heard on albums like Killing With Style: The lyrics are written in the band’s native tongue.

“We prefer to write German lyrics, because we are not native English speakers,” says Henny. “When I write lyrics, I can only come up with some really good nasty, ironic, word-play kind of stuff in German. I think [Thunderhead front man] Ted Bullet was good at this in English ........makes me not wanna try to write English.”

With more and more inquiries about the band coming from outside of Germany, Henny and Ole, who share vocal duties, have decided that an English version of their forthcoming album is in order. In the meantime, however, Henny offers the following insight into the band’s witty word-play:

“My favorite Donnerkopf song as far as lyrics is ‘Ich Godzilla (Du New York).’ The song is about making love and the chorus ‘I Godzilla, you New York’ speaks for itself. It sounds really funny in German.... I guess it sounds funny in English as well.”

As for the music, the mp3’s currently posted on the band’s web site seem to indicate a very Thunderhead-like direction, with plenty of those ballsy and slyly inventive riffs that made Henny and Ole’s former band a respected metal institution. According to Henny, however, the band are not exactly killing themselves trying to achieve worldwide fame this time around.

“As we started Donnerkopf it was just for our pleasure and I wish it will remain that way. So we don´t really go by what record companies or other music business-people tell us. We will just write and play the stuff that we like.”

And when asked to offer advice to aspiring young musicians, Henny takes much the same philosophy:

“Go by what you like. You’ll find that you don´t want to please everybody, so let your own taste guide you and you’ll be fine as long as you have fun at what you´re doing.”

Now that, my friends, is speaking from experience.

Link: Donnerkopf website (www.donnerkopf.de)


Henny WolterVinaya Saksena6/17/2004


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