Interview: Oz

Photo by Antti Kyyro

In May Oz released their new album, titled Forced Commandments. Recently DutchMetalManiac’s Tim van Velthuysen interviewed Oz’ Mark Ruffneck about it.

Hey, congratulations with your new album, Forced Commandments. I really like it!

Cool that you liked it. I am also very pleased with that album and I hope many people like it too.

Forced Commandments is your eight album and the second with this line-up. Did the fact that this line-up remained unchanged and you already made an album, Transition State, with this exact same line-up, change something in the creative process?

Yes it did. During this time everything was easier to handle, but at the same time we were able to run the entire production at a higher level than before. So we were able to get started on the recording work on this album really well prepared and that’s why we were able to keep the key idea alive. Quality before quantity.

The CD version of Forced Commandments has three bonus tracks, Diving Into the Darkness, Break Out and Kingdom of War. What’s the reason of adding these as bonus tracks instead of regular tracks?

Well, when you make a vinyl record (LP), the time for music on both sides is limited if you want to maintain a good sound quality. So, the Forced Commandments album is what you have on vinyl and on CD where you can have more music, without losing the sound quality, we offer 3 bonus tracks. So this is how we did it with this album and how the other bands do it, is entirely their own business. OZ has always been interesting to get the great heavy metal sound on every album and it was always a time consuming progress in the 80s to get the good guitar sounds in the studio. Now we can get the sound we want, so it’s really cool to create new music nowadays.

While Transition State was released through AFM Records, you signed with Massacre Records for the release of Forced Commandments. What made you decide this?

Our contract with AFM Records ended and Massacre Records offered a great opportunity to collaborate, so we used that opportunity. There were never any bad feelings with AFM Records, we were happy to collaborate with them with 2 of the OZ albums. But sometimes new faces can give a boost and because we have the same line-up, we had to change something, so we changed the record label.

What makes Massacre Records the best record label for Oz at this moment?

The artistic freedom they showed for OZ to make the Forced Commandments album was great. And if we have signed a contract with Massacre Records, it must be the best record company for OZ. Why should I sign the contract with the bad company? That’s something I have learned, when I have been in the music business both in the 80’s and also now.

This year it’s ten years ago you reunited. Are you planning on celebrating that somehow?

No, we did not think of any celebration for the reunion in any special way. This Corona Virus have already changed all OZ plans for 2020 and probably for many other bands planning too, so we just want to see what happens in the future first and make some plans when that’s possible. Now I see no reason for it. I try to stay alive, so every morning when I wake up and I feel good is the real reason for me to celebrate.

Oz already exists for quite a long time and a lot of things changed over the years. When you compare now with back then, what’s in your opinion the best change in all these years?

Internet and technological development. What a fantastic world we live in now! Contacting people around the world is so easy. Everything is much easier now compared to the times in the 80’s. When we were recording albums in the ’80s, we always worked in good studios, but there were still problems to get the sound we were looking for and during that time we worked under pressure due to the short recording time in the studio. Nowadays it is much easier to work in the studio and create music and it is really fun to create new music without pressure depending on the studio time. Of course you have to work a lot now too, but you can focus on different issues now compared to the 80’s.

And what’s in your opinion the worst change in all these years?

I can’t see anything in the technical development that can be bad, but maybe the worst thing now is that everything develops and changes at the speed of light, so sometimes it’s really hard to follow what’s going on and follow the flow. Of course, for the personal side of the page, the worst change is my age … I grow old and know that I don’t have that many years left in this game called life.

Since Oz already exists for quite a while, is there something you still want to do with Oz, but haven’t done before?

That’s right, we’ve been here for a while, but I’m still doing everything with OZ that a rock band should do. Create music, create videos and promote music using various media channels to reach the OZ audience, for example by writing interviews. And then we have still the best part of it left; playing live, which we hope we can do in the near future. So, we’ve done a lot and I liked doing all the parts of it, but I think it should be good to tour with our own crew and our own show with lights and sounds. Now we mainly do festival shows and it’s just an economical reality. We still can’t make OZ headlining tour with enough tickets sold to make the tour financially feasible.

Can we expect some Oz shows as soon as the Corona virus measures are less tight? Maybe coming to The Netherlands?

We planned to start playing live, but then the corona virus struck like a hammer. Yes, we are on the road as soon as possible and we try to visit as many different countries and places as possible. I hope we can also visit The Netherlands as soon as possible.

Since this time is a difficult time for many people, is there anyone you want to give a shoutout to?

It’s just a message for everyone! Stay cool and follow the rules to avoid the Corona infection. That disease is really nasty and this pandemic is not over yet. I see this situation like this; the first goal for me is to keep me alive and be healthy when it’s over! One day it will happen and I try my best to be alive and well.

Thanks for your answers! Is there anything you want to say to our readers?

Rock on folkz and stay safe. Check OZ’ Forced Commandments album and hopefully you find there something you like!

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