„Early lyrics were just fantasy English with no meaning”

Marquis Marky about Coroner’s story – Part I

Banks, chocholates, watches, winter sports. Switzerland how we know. But on the territory of heavy metal the country didn’t manage to become famous, only a handful of bands such as Hellhammer/Celtic Frost, Messiah, Excruciation, Coroner reached a cult status among the fans. The latter outfit was one of the most talented act and this interview former drummer Markus „Marquis Marky” Edelmann told about the band’s story.

Mark, do you still remember how and when did you discover hard rock/heavy metal? What did you find so exciting in this music?

The earliest moment I can recall was must have been around ’72 or ’73. I was about eight-nine years old and playing with the neighbours kids. One of them had an older brother who was maybe 14 or 15 years old and had a decorated party room in their house in the cellar. Somehow we (little kids) managed to check the room out during daytime. I was sure exciting things went on down there when the older boys (and girls) hung out there at times we had to be in bed. At the wall there was a poster of the Alice Cooper Band which immediately had a huge impact on me. I was totally impressed by their look. Greasy long hair, sideburns, leather outfit and there was a python snake as well. I felt like that that’s the ultimate look. And I wanted to be like that from then on. In the coming years I was listening to strange beat/psychedelic tapes that I found at my parents collection. Later I listened to the radio charts and I was hooked by a song by Billy Swan called I Can Help. I loved the organ sound and the greasy way he was singing. That made me ask my parents to buy me an organ. It was not possible but they managed to get a used piano and sent me to piano lessons. My teacher was a Swiss folk musician but his side project was boogie woogie. So I learned to play rock n roll music with him on the piano. My first vinyl I got 1975 as a birthday gift from an older girl living downstairs in our house. It was Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti. I listened to it about 1000 times. One year later there was only one band for me and that was Kiss.

VoltAge (pre-Coroner, 1982, Mark on the first picture)

At which point did you decide to play an instrument and to become musician?

That was as I met my first girlfriend in 1980. She was, just as me, a huge Kiss fan. I was into Kiss since about ’76 and my whole room was completely covered with Kiss posters. She was playing guitar and I actually wanted to play bass (like Gene Simmons). Somehow she asked me to play drums, which I did. A friend of mine lent me a fucked up drum kit and we could jam in the bunker of the school building her father worked. Still I wanted to play bass or at one point also guitar. So I went to a music store and tried out a guitar and a combo amp. The guy that worked there (Olly Amberg, later also with Celtic Frost) asked me about what instrument I played so far because he realized that I was a total beginner on the guitar. I told him that, until now, I was playing drums. He immediately said that his band looks for a drummer. That band was VoltAge which later became the first line up of Coroner. From this point on it was clear to me that I wanted to be a rock musician.

Do you play other instruments as well, by the way?

Piano and organ.

Mark in 1982

Were you self taught or did you take regularly lessons?

I had 10 lessons, my parents insisted, after they decided to pay for a rental kit for me. But somehow I felt that after the lessons I could play less well so I stopped.

At the late 70’s/early 80’s in Great Britain emerged the N.W.O.B.H.M. Did it somewhat influence your musical taste around those times? Did you start to entrench yourself in the underground scene at this point?

Totally! We were listening to Saxon driving around downtown in the car of a friend that had a drivers license. Iron Maiden I liked but most of all Motörhead. Again I was impressed by how they looked. I never liked the line ups after Clarke and Taylor were out. One of the bands was Angel Witch that I adored. But pretty fast there was Venom, then Metallica and Exodus coming in with brutal force. That was also the time I first met Tom and Martin and Steve Warrior at metal discos on the outskirts of Zurich.

Would you say that in Germany happened also a great metal explosion at the same time?

There was one band called Trance that played a couple of gigs in small venues. I thought they were great. If I remember right the drummer played double kick. Awesome. After rehearsal, sometimes Tommy Ritter, the 2nd guitar player of the first Coroner line up drove me back home with his VW Scirocco. In front of my house, we smoked about 50 cigarettes in the car and listened to Accept for instance. Restless and Wild just came out and we were listening to the opening track with the folklore interview over and over.

First concert (VoltAge, 1982)

How about the Swiss scene as a whole? What were the bands that put Switzerland on the map of hard rock/heavy metal and so latched on the country to the international heavy metal bloodstream?

Of course there was almighty Krokus. I loved them, even though they sounded much like AC/DC. Chris von Rohr was my favorite. For sure I could feel that there was a change coming up with the upcoming indie labels. Before that there were only major labels which made you feel hopeless to ever get into a position that they sign you. Suddenly Hellhammer got a contract with Noise Records. Since they were considered as bad musicians (regarding of the skills on your instument) I realized that a new time started and everything was possible. Of course the punk scene did some important work on that. Discharge, more brutal than any other band on clay records that started ’77!

Do you think that Switzerland has had a profound influence on the history of metal?

I think that there is most definitely one band you can say that had a major influence on a whole genre of metal and that is Celtic Frost as well as Hellhammer.

After a number of successful Swiss rock and prog bands were popping up in the 1970’s like Gotthard, Krokus, Toad or Krokodil, Swiss metal really began with the legendary Hellhammer/Celtic Frost in the early/mid 1980’s. Do you agree with it?

Yes, absolutely. Gotthard were much later btw. 1990.

VoltAge promo (1982)

Other Swiss hard rock bands to emerge in the wake of Krokus included Killer, Black Angels, Crown, Steve Whitney Band, Stormbringer, Witchcraft, Bloody Six, Paganini as well as China, Satrox and Alison. Does it mean that the Swiss scene was dominated primarily by hard rock, melodic heavy metal outfits?

It looks like. Maybe because there was Krokus as the gods of metal in Switzerland until then. But there was, of course, an underground scene with bands such as Messiah and Excruciation, later Samael and Lunacy. Destruction were from Germany got just a few meters from the border, almost Swiss… 🙂

Was Zürich the center of Swiss metal or did any scenes take its shape in other towns such as Lugano, Geneve, Luzern, Basel, Lausanne, Winterthur etc.?

I would say the Zurich was most definitely the center of the metal scene. At least the more brutal music. We always met Saturday afternoon in front of a record store called Jamarico. Those guys supported the underground from the very beginning. Martin Ain was later working there as well as me in the mid 90’s. We were trading demo tapes. I remember the tape side A: Exodus Bonded by Blood and side B) Megadeth demo (I was later totally disappointed by the album that sounded shitty compared to the demo recordings).

Did the Swiss metal have a strong background? I mean, did any metal magazines, fanzines exist, were there any venues, clubs, that started opening their doors for metal etc.?

I don’t really remember that there was a local fanzine at the time. I think most of us were reading Kerrang mag. It was the bible. But, of course, there were plenty of fanzines in the USA etc. At the time Zurich was dead regarding clubs. In 1980 there were the big riots happening because the youth wanted to have their own space. The city blew millions in the opera house and didn’t care about the needs of the youth. There was a building called AJZ that was occupied by the underground and left scene. After about one year there was a raid and following the building was torn down. Restaurants and bars mostly closed down at 11 p.m. There were just a couple of beer halls that opened until 2 a.m., but then the city was dead. We as metalheads gathered always in the outskirts like Kloten (that’s where the Zurich airport is) and there were some kind of community venues there, probably a kids theatre on Wednesday, a flea market on Thursday and then a metal disco on Saturday. Mostly guys headbanging and playing air guitar. Rarely any girls. Fortunately I had a very good looking girlfriend at the time who gave me a lot of attention (as I was told later). But most of the time we just went there as boys without female accompaniment.

In the studio (Mark, 1983)

At which point and how did your musical career begin? Have you been in any bands prior to Coroner?


The band was formed in 1983 but started as VoltAge and used this moniker only for a short time, correct?

Exactly. We agreed that the name sounded too much like AC/DC and started to look for another name. The bassist at the time, Phil Pusztai, came up with the name Coroner.

The early incarnation of the band consisted of you on the drums, Oliver Amberg and Tommy Ritter on guitars, Phil Pusztai on bass and Pete Attinger on vocals. How did you get together? Did the other guys dispose of any experiences as musicians prior to Coroner?

I have no idea. But I don’t think so.

Who came up the name Coroner with and who designed the logo? Was it the logo that became known later on?

At the time the first logo was an upside down cross with pentagram … 🙂 Totally stupid looking back. The logo of the 2nd and ultimate line up was done half-half by me and a friend of mine I went to art school called Mischa Good. He did the drawing of the triple skull after I saw it in a book of the illustrator Robert Williams who did Guns N’ Roses’ original cover art of Appetite for Destruction. His version was with real looking human skulls and Mischa Good was very good at the 60’s horror comic style and also the esthetics of psychobilly. The lettering is actually a copy of the Motörhead lettering. But I liked the look of a biker badge a lot. Funnywise we hung out a lot at a bar called Stray Cat in Zurich which was owned by the Hells Angels. We also played shows at their meetings and actually became good friends.

You were playing some sort of Mötley Crüe-style music, weren’t you?

Yep, totally. The first album Too Fast for Love I totally liked and so did the rest of the band. We also went to London to shop for belts with spikes and other leather outfit that was impossible to get in Zurich.

How about your early rehearsals? Did you start writing originals or were you jamming mostly on covers?

We never played covers, but since nobody could really speak English some of the early „lyrics” were just fantasy English with no meaning. 🙂 I was impressed as I learned about the level of Tom G. Warrior’s lyrics about that time. Lightyears above. That’s why we asked him to help out with the Death Cult tape later.

Would you say that the whole underground scene was in it’s infancy around those times?

Very much so!

(to be continued)

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