Since I follow the band from the very beginning, from their very first debut record, it was a nice opportunity to have one interview finally. Primal Fear’s brand new album Rulebreaker has been already there for some time and the band has done already European tour. I met with the guys during their tour and we have done one interview about the brand new album and about some things from the past.
First question is, obviously, about your new album Rulebreaker. So, please, can you tell us something about it? Could you compare the new album, for example, with the previous records? What is new and what is the element of tradition?
The new album, Rulebreaker, compared to the last one has more groovy songs. We also have a long track „We Walk Without Fear“, like 11 minute epic track, since we decided to put an epic track on every album. Album is doing pretty well, we are on charts all over the world, like Billboard charts in America, we are in Japan on charts, Germany two weeks in a row in charts. So, the fans love the album, we are really exited about the output. Yeah, it’s like another step forward for the band. Just like writing new songs, great songs, with a lot of metal in it, lot of double lead stuff. It’s sort of a trademark for Primal Fear with all the double lead and screaming voice of Ralf, so I don’t think it’s like we did something different, we just tried to improve ourselves in songwriting and stuff like that.
When we are talking about the new album, there is a promotion already, you know, on tour, you’re touring once again with Brainstorm, you have already done some shows. So can you tell us something more about this tour? Are you satisfied?
Yes, we are on tour for 4 weeks right now, we started a tour in Spain, which is always great because the venues are very, very crowded. We played a show in our hometown with a thousand people there, and we recorded a DVD there. Last night we played in Munich, it was so loud. So, we’re pretty exited about the fans, the tour is really going well. And the Brainstorm, the very good friends of ours, we know them for a long time, so it was great they brought out a new album, we brought out a new album, and it was like, let’s do it together. We did it before and it worked out well, this time is much easier and totally relaxed. We really enjoy being on tour with them.
This time, how did you choose to have songs on the setlist and, do you change it sometimes from city to city, venue to venue, you know, a song or two? The main question is, how did you choose to have such a playlist, since there are some older songs, some new ones?
Primal fear released eleven albums right now, so, the fans and the band have their favourite songs. We play them but we’re also supporting our new album. We decided to play five or six songs from the new album and then play the old stuff. We also play two songs that we hardly played before on tour, so I think it’s a good mixture. We started with a different setlist, but then we changed it a little bit. Now I think we’re playing the same setlist because, we have different fans here and there and they should all listen to these songs.
One historical question, could you recall they days when Primal Fear has started in 1997, 1998, first signing for Nuclear Blast at the time with same titled album etc. It was already a breakthrough with a first record because you have, already well established members, so, could you recall this time?
Ralf was one of the last two singers for Judas Priest, and Ralf has a Judas Priest tribute band called just „Priest“. One day the drummer called me and said: „We have a show, but on that date, our guitar player has its weeding, so if you have the time to fill in?“, and I said yes, since I was a Judas Priest fan. Two days later he called me again and said we have another problem. The bass player was also invited to the wedding, so I asked Mat if he would like to play. So Ralf, Mat and I played a show together under the name of Priest, only Judas Priest songs. And after the show we sat together, we had a beer and we said: „We are coming from the same city. Why shouldn’t we start writing songs together?“ until we started writing songs, had a record deal…
Sorry, you were from Hamburg?
Stuttgart. So, first we had a record deal with a company from Japan, then we had a record deal with a small company in Germany, because, the 1996 were still the days of Grunge, so the true metal was still out of the scene.
Yes, but it was still popular at the time.
Yes, but it was more Grunge, you know like Alice in chains and all of those bands. And then, the owner of Nuclear Blast, Markus Staiger, heard that album, and then he bought us out of the contract.
So the first album was recorded in 1996, and then released in 1997?
Yes, but, originally we signed to another record company because we never thought it would be a huge success. And just before our album was released, HammerFall brought out „Glory to the Brave“ and all of the sudden, the true metal boom started again, and so we released our album and it went into charts. Then we did a tour together with Running Wild, which is nearly sold out anywhere we played. And that was the first time Primal Fear played live. We never played before so it was kind of strange for us but it worked out great. Then we did our second album, Jaws of Death, which was also on the charts, and we made our name in the business.
You just mentioned this story about Ralf, you know, about the Judas Priest ect. How did it happened at the end of the day? He was choosen to be one of the singers of Judas Priest, but he was German so…
I think it was like Ripper Owens or Ralf Scheepers.
So they choose the one that was a native english speaker.
Probably, I think it was like that. Not sure but, Ripper Owens was an english guy so, they didn’t choose the german guy, lucky for us. Lucky for Primal Fear (laugh)…
Ok, so, when we’re speaking about Primal Fear from your point of view, which was the most important record? Or maybe there are few most important records?
Quite simple, the first album was very important to us because we got our foot into the door of the metal market. And then we made the second album, which was also very great. We still love to play the songs from the first album. Nuclear Fire was the biggest success of ours, number #31 on the German Charts i guess. But for me personally, my favorite is the Seven Seals album because, it was something different to the rest of the albums, we changed our music style a little bit. We started writing long tracks, more melodic, more epic. The first song, Diabolus, is 8 minutes long. On every album we did one longer song. On Delivering The Black we had „One Night in December“, now we have „Walk Without Fear“, and „Fighting the Darkness“ is also a long song. But Seven Seals is one of my favourite albums.
Yes, aside of the first two records I also take Seven Seals(laugh). First records are always on your mind because you started with this, but Seven Seals is probably with the most quality. Also, speaking about the Primal Fear, now and before, it seems the band already has this kind of standard audience, standard public etc. your shows are always crowded. So, how do you feel about the fans, the reaction of the fans etc. are you satisfied?
Yes, sure. I mean, you can always ask for more like, playing in five thousand seat arenas like Manowar. But we are really satisfied with our fans, we love our fans. You can see that after the shows, we go into the crowd, make signing sessions, have photos together, have drinks together, really trying to take care about them. We got a lot of e-mails and nearly every day I spend two hours writing to fans and invite them. We had a show in Switzerland and somebody wrote: „Can i meet you?“ and I said: „Yeah sure.“ I took him backstage and showed him my gear, so that’s sort of a road together with the fans which is really, really great.
As a matter of fact, Primal Fear, during this twenty years have played many concerts, single shows, festivals etc. on different continents, not only Europe. Could you tell us, perhaps not only in which country is Primal Fear the most well received, but also in which continent, since you’ve been playing in North America, South America if I’m correct?
South America is always great because the fans are totally crazy, and we have a quite nice following there. North America is also very good, you know, we are going on tour in North America with Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody. And the last tour we played was 2014. like four weeks in a row.
You are quite standard, which is really unusual for a european traditional heavy metal bands.
Yeah, but this time, we are playing together with Rhapsody and the venues that are booked are quite huge actually. Bigger than the last time, and we’re going on tour for five weeks, like one week more than the last time so, I think we are on the right way. Right after that, we’re going straight to Japan, and than we’re going to Australia. And then we’re going to South America for a few weeks.
And, do you have any last message for your fans for this interview?
Enjoy the new album, Rulebreaker, have fun with it. Come to see our show, be excellent to each other and party on.
- Interview by Marko Miranovic
- Typed by Dark Panic