With a critically acclaimed recent CD called 16.6 (Before the Devil Knows Your Dead) and a recent live DVD & CD, Primal Fear are proving to be one of the hardest working bands in power metal, and ready to once and for all take their place in the upper echelon of the metal world. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo recently caught up with lead vocalist extraordinaire Ralf Scheepers to talk about the bands recent European and US tours, and what the future holds for this potent heavy metal machine.
SoT: With the release of 16.6, as well as the live CD/DVD, Primal Fear seem ready to take on the metal world. How has the new relationship with Frontiers Records been working out so far?
Ralf: We have nothing to complain about. They are all Rock'n Roll fans and Metal heads at Frontiers Records, so they support us not only because it's their job, they do this because they love the music.....and that's a very important thing!
SoT: The band always seemed like a perfect fit on Nuclear Blast-what happened there that caused the band to explore other options?
Ralf: After a 10 year working relationship we thought it was about time to change the team. They we're falling into the trap of treating us like a band out of hundreds and didn't put all their energy to support such great releases like Seven Seals for instance.
I mean if you have an A&R person that is not giving his full support for an album release just because he listens to a different kind of music, this is very unprofessional and then it's time for a change. Personal differences and jealousy doesn't really fit into a business cooperation.
SoT: The US has always seemed like the perfect market for Primal Fear-can you talk about the band's struggles here in the past, and how the recent tour will hopefully open up some new doors for you?
Ralf: Well, you can't really say we had a struggle there, it was simply the fact that we didn't show up there for many years with the exception of some festivals we did. So now as we are all full time musicians we can concentrate on bringing our music "live" to the world.
The recent tour was a very special experience for the band and for each one of us as a single person. It's tough but it's also worth it because the fans are really very much passionate and true as hell! Some of them drove more than 6 hours just to see us
play! This is an indicator for us to come more often and to build up on that.......it's a long way.....that's an old phrase but still and always true.
SoT: I was at the packed New York City show recently, and the fans seemed very into the show and obviously would welcome a quick return. What is the possibility of another short headline tour in 2011, or even a support slot to a much larger band, like say Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Judas Priest, etc?
Ralf: There are no plans for this so far but why not? We are open for everything to spread the word of Primal Fear.....!
SoT: Magnus Karlsson was not able to make the US tour, though Alex Beyrodt did a fine job filling in for him. What's the status of Magnus? Is he still a regular member of Primal Fear?
Ralf: Yes he is. And he is back as you maybe saw on youtube as we did the Hellfest Festival in France. The fact is that he became the father of twins last year (and already had a one year old) - so he needed some time for his family.
As you've said, Alex did a fantastic job and I personally don't know a guy who is more professional and loyal as he is! It was a tough thing after all he did for us to jump in for Magnus in the states and also last year in Europe but it was decided long before he jumped in that Magnus was and will be the guitarist of Primal Fear.
SoT: The live DVD perfectly captures the essence of the band on stage, and features a great mix of new & classic Primal Fear material. How hard is it to put together a set list these days with so much stellar metal material?
Ralf: Yes, You hit the nail right on the head with your statement! (laughs) It's tough to choose a setlist and also to please everyone of our fans out there. Of course we are always open for suggestions and wishes but in the end we are deciding a setlist which delivers variety in rhythm and key. It is our responsibility to not bore the fans, so we decide a setlist which we think is good and which works for us....
SoT: How was it working with Pamela Moore on the recent tour? Great to see her come out for a few songs with the band (Fighting the Darkness is such a killer song!)
Ralf: Oh outstanding! She is a 100% professional musician and she is giving everything just like we are every night. It was great pleasure to work with her and it was a highlight for us and the fans to have her with us on several songs. We had a cool time on the road!
SoT: Now that 16.6 has been out a while, what is the timetable for another Primal Fear studio album?
Ralf: First of all we are planning another European tour, then my solo album will be recorded and then we are writing for the new Primal Fear album. You can see, we are always busy but that's no stress for us as we are doing this from our hearts and souls.
So lets say it will be maybe summer/autumn next year for us to release another Primal Fear CD.
SoT: Looking forward to it! What are some other bands on the scene that the guys in the group follow or appreciate these days?
Ralf: Oh, there are a lot! Way too many to mention here and I am sure I would forget many if I would start to list them here. The good thing is, we meet a lot of these bands once in a while at some festivals, so it's cool to hang out with them and have a good time.
SoT: Lastly, and I bring this up based on some hilarious bonus footage from your earlier DVD a few years back-you really do look a lot like wrestler Val Venis-do you get teased a lot with this? (laughs)
Ralf: (laughs) I can say that I don't follow the wrestling scene so much. That's more Mats. But I heard about this comparison before. I think it was the time when I still had hair? Right? (laughs) Absolute coincidence!