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Interviews   

Coroner : the existential matter


Coroner’s fans who were at the Hellfest this year were stunned to discover banners announcing Coroner as part of the 2011 edition of the festival, including the special mention “reunion show”. Stunned, because since they split up in 1995, this mythical progressive thrash metal band has always made it clear that there’s no way they would reunite. To the great displeasure of the fans who resigned, even if they kept on dreaming of seeing what was impossible becoming possible. Therefore, when they stumbled upon this ad they inevitably pinched themselves just to be sure they were not dreaming again.

This Swiss band, composed with Ron Broder (aka Ron Royce), Tommy Vetterli (aka Tommy T. Baron), and Marky Edelmann (aka Marquis Marky), has put out some of the greatest and most innovative music the metal world has ever known. In that regard, they became one of the most respected bands from the connoisseurs. Listen to such marvels like Mental Vortex or Grin: these albums are still ahead of our time.

Coroner’s presence at the 2011 Hellfest programming leads automatically to thousands of questionings. Therefore, we at Radio Metal tried to get some more information. By chance, at the same festival this year, Tommy Vetterli was here to help 69 Chambers out – the band of his lovely wife-to-be – bringing a little bit of his own magic to the stage. One of our performing monkeys caught Tommy right after the show in order to have a little chat with him. All the answers to the fans’ questions are here to be found, even though they are probably not what they expect… The least we can say is that Tommy is both a chilled out and quite frank person. He is not the kind of man who wonders too much, it is at least the way we felt meeting him. But when he has to answer questions he does not beat about the bush! He also made some revelations about Kreator, a band he has joined for two really controversial albums, and especially about its leader, Mille Petrozza, which are… quite a surprise!


“The other guys haven’t played for more than ten years. We will only go on stage when we are able to play as good as we did when we stopped, otherwise we won’t do it.”

Here comes the transcription of our improvised little chat… We saw you play earlier today with the band 69 Chambers. You were actually billed as a guest. But what are you concretely for the band?

Well, Nina is about to become my wife. We’re going to marry soon. Other than that, I’m just like the touring guitarist and also the producer of the band.

On stage you actually played all the solos. Does this mean that you also recorded them for the album?

I did not on the current album. I only produced it. However, for sure, I’m going to play a few solos on the next one. I will put a little bit of my playing style into the new songs.

Ok. I won’t hide to you that my main questions are about Coroner…

Yes, I guess so… (laughs)


We all saw the advert announcing Coroner reuniting and playing at the Hellfest in 2011. Will this only be for one show or can we expect more from this reunion?

We don’t plan a reunion. We just plan to play a few shows together and the Hellfest will be one of them. I think it’s actually the first one.

Is there a special meaning to begin this string of shows at the Hellfest?

It’s one of the nicest festivals in the world. We have always loved to play in France. It has always been the country where Coroner was the most popular. So we thought we could start here.

You have always been clear in past interviews about the fact that Cononer would never reunite ever again. So, how comes you suddenly decided to play some shows again?

Yes. Actually this is not going to end up as a reunion. I mean there won’t be an album. But playing brings so much fun! For a very long time I played a lot in the studio and I just missed playing live. Therefore I asked the other guys if they would be ok to play a few shows and they said “ok! Why not!” Actually we haven’t rehearsed yet. We’re going to start rehearsing in a few weeks I guess. Then we’ll see. You know, the other guys haven’t played for more than ten years. We will only go on stage when we are able to play as good as we did when we stopped, otherwise we won’t do it.


“Maybe after four or five shows we’ll get into it and say “hey! Let’s do an album!” Nobody knows what’s going to happen.”

Why have you always refused to do a reunion with Coroner?

Because everybody else did it! In fact, I didn’t have the time for it. I was busy producing all the time. The building of my own studio took also a lot of time; I have one of the biggest studios in Switzerland (note: the New Sound Studio).

Aren’t you missing composing music in the style Coroner was famous for?

Yes, totally! But, you know, making a new album is kind of difficult… (Hesitating) Well, you never know. Maybe after four or five shows we’ll get into it and say “hey! Let’s do an album!” Nobody knows what’s going to happen. We don’t have a master plan. (Laughs)

Apart from the self titled album, which was a compilation including some new songs, the last album that Coroner did was Grin. At the time, thus album was rather misunderstood…

Was it? I understood it! (Laughs)

Compared to the other albums it was more progressive and complex.

Yes, I know what you mean…

In fifteen years, the world has evolved. Do you think that people would be now more ready for the type of music you did on Grin?

I don’t know. That’s kind of the problem when you do something new. You have the old stuff that the old fans like on the opposite you think that you should move on and compose in a more contemporary way; at least a little bit. Nowadays when I listen to our first albums I think “hmm… Strange. I would have done that totally differently.”

On the self titled album, Marky didn’t play on all the new songs. Why?

This best of contains four new songs. Marky played on two of them which are kind of soft. There are two or three heavier songs which he didn’t record. When we recorded these songs we already split up Coroner. We only did it because I wanted to go on tour with Stephan Eicher but at that time we were under a contract with our label which prevented me from doing this. We agreed with the record company to put out a best of album with a few new songs in order to free ourselves contractually. By the time we had to enter the studio and record those songs, Marky wasn’t ready because he didn’t play drums for almost two years. Therefore we hired a friend named Peter Haas (note: Mekong Delta’s drummer at the time) to record the drum parts.

What was at the origin the reason for the split? I have always read that it was because of Noise Records that did no promotion for the band…

Yes, that was one of the reasons. Also, after twelve years, it was time to do something different. We were just bored!

Do you think that you didn’t have anything more to say?

No, we didn’t. We didn’t have any fights in the band; we’re still very good friends and often meet each other. We just wanted to do different things. I wanted to work more in the studio. Then I joined Kreator… It was just time to do something different; it’s boring to always do the same thing.


“I think all the bands now sound the same. A lot of my customers, in the studio, copy bands like Green Day. Even their album covers look like Green Day’s artworks. They also have similar lyrics… I fucking hate that!”

Do you have the impression that you repeated yourselves from one album to the other in Coroner? Most people actually think the opposite…

Yes, you’re right. They’re different, but it’s still Coroner. If we had sold millions of CDs it would have been different.

Coroner has always evolved from one album to another, giving the impression that you were heading towards perfection. Do you think that, in a sense, you have reached the perfect album with Grin?

The perfect album? Nothing’s perfect, never. It’s a very good album. I’m still very proud of it. However, it’s far from perfect. Anyway, perfection is boring! We always tried to go further with our albums. I think the main difference with nowadays is that we just did what we liked. We never did something to sell more records. It was more like: “do we have fun playing this? Yes! Let’s do this!” Now a lot of bands think: “ok let’s play this music because that way we’ll sell a lot of records.” I hate that. I think all the bands now sound the same. A lot of my customers, in the studio, copy bands like Green Day. Even their album covers look like Green Day’s artworks. They also have similar lyrics… I fucking hate that!

And do you point it out to them?

Yes! I tell them that I hate it and that they should change their music. (Laughs)

How do they react?

Well, I tell them but they’re my customer. I live from their money. So, I can’t be too harsh with them. (Laughs) If they like it, it’s their problem.

You said that there will probably be no new album from Coroner. But since Coroner has never released any live albums, will you record some of the upcoming shows?

Yes, you’re right. That’s actually a good idea! We should do this! We actually plan to do a DVD with a lot of old footage. We also have a lot of films from our US tour that we want to put together for the DVD, as well as interviews, etc.

Coroner albums are now hard to find…

Yes. Maybe a re-release would be a good idea as well.


(About Kreator’s Endorama album) “The problem is that Mille (Petrozza) listens to a lot of pop music. He hated metal. He wanted to do “real” music.”

Do you have a label who would be interested in re-releasing these albums?

Century Media is interested in the DVD. But, you know, everything is new for us right now. We only talked about playing some show. We haven’t signed any contract or whatsoever. It’s just Ben from the Hellfest who wrote to me asking if we wanted to play. We said “ok, we’ll do it” and that’s all.

The last question is about Kreator. You did two albums with them: Outcast and Endorama. However, they weren’t received very well from the fans because of their softer, more melodic and even gothic musical direction. You actually were blamed for this. Isn’t it a little bit frustrating?

No, because it wasn’t my idea. The problem is that Mille (Petrozza) listens to a lot of pop music. He hated metal. He wanted to do “real” music. I told him for Endorama: “are you sure you want to do this?” and he said “yes! I want to be more commercial.” I was just his side man. I was here to help him reach that goal. When an album is not very successful, it’s easy to say “it’s all this guy’s fault!”

You’re saying that Mille doesn’t like metal, then what is he doing leading a thrash metal band?

He has to do it. That’s the way he earns his money. There’s no other way.

This post is also available in: French



Leave a Reply

  • Coroner is still one of the best metals ever!

    [Reply]

  • Il ne faut pas oublier que “Endorama” est sorti au moment où les venstes de Kreator étaient probablement au plus bas. Mille vouliat sûrement tenter le coup dans un registre plus commercial et a par la suite redirigé le tir avec cette vague de oldschool qui sévit encore. Pas facile de gagner sa vie à jouer du Thrash Metal, parfois…

    [Reply]

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