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Grave Digger (July 2014)

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    Posted: 01 Feb 2015 at 3:17am
The following interview originally appeared on the website Heavy Metal Haven and is reproduced here by me, the interviewer and admin of the original site. References to the original site may be present in the text. 


Germany’s Grave Digger are one of their country’s premium metal bands, and 2014 marks the release of their seventeenth album Return of the Reaper, released earlier this month via Napalm Records, as well as marking thirty years since their first album Heavy Metal Breakdown. Heavy Metal Haven spoke to guitarist Axel Ritt about the album and more.

Heavy Metal Haven: First off allow us here at Heavy Metal Haven to congratulate you on the release of Return of the Reaper, the seventeenth album of Grave Digger. How's the reception been for it so far?

Axel Ritt: We are very, very happy with the result, especially because it was a lot of hard work to put the album where it is now. Fortunately, the fans are of the same opinion, because we got the highest chart entries ever worldwide in the whole band history! It’s awesome!

HMH: That's great to hear Axel, it's well deserved. 

HMH: The title of the album of course instantly reminds us all of your earlier album, The Reaper. Just how much of a connection do the two albums have to each other?

Axel: Both got the word „Reaper“ in the title …. just kidding ;-) It’s a break in the writing process like it was in these days as well. We changed the style radically in both times.

HMH: You've generally become known for choosing a theme for each record you do, but don't seem to have done that this time. What prompted the change?

Axel: We thought it would be the right time to quit the concept album style and produce an album like we did decades ago. Raw, straight, heavy and pure, more belly, less brain. But in the most perfect performance ever, because the actual line up got a lot more skills than the earlier line ups had. We brought the best in all of us together.

HMH: Is there a song on the album that you're confident to say is your favourite? I'm especially partial to War God and Resurrection Day myself. 

Axel: Yes, it’s „Tattooed Rider“ because of the strong vibes of the Eighties!

HMH: What's the writing process like for a typical Grave Digger song?

Axel: It’s the same procedure for 5 years now. First of all Jens and I will collect riffs. I myself for example composed about 70 riffs for the actual album. Then we’ll send them over to Chris, who’s putting lyrics and vocal line ideas to the riffs. Then we’re gonna meet in my studio to do the pre-production with some guide-instruments and a drum-programming, done by me. After the final arrangements, the drum-programmings will be replaced by real drums, I record the final guitars in my Meadow Studios and the rest will be recorded in the Principal Studios / Germany.

HMH: It seems that a lot of bands these days in the build up to an album release put out a lyric video first and an actual music video a little bit later, as you did with Season of the Witch and Hell Funeral. How do you decide which songs get released in these manners?

Axel: It wasn’t us, the choice has been done by our record company. I was of the opinion as well that a different song could have been done better, but the quality was awesome for a lyric video. Well, the second video „Hell Funeral“ did it right in the end.

HMH: Do you think you'll release a second music video to promote the album at any point?

Axel: Yes, there will be one more music video, but it’s a secret until now. Stay tuned ...

HMH: That's cool Axel and we certainly will.

HMH: I also want to talk about the special edition of the album, which has a second disc with songs mostly taken from an acoustic show you did. How did you go about deciding which songs to translate to acoustic? 

Axel: It was something very special we once did in South America and it was a big success. So we decided to do it to a small audience of true fans in our main recording studio once again, very private and very special! 

HMH: Were The Emperor's Death and Rebel of Damnation always envisioned as bonus tracks or did you just not feel that they fit in so much with the songs that make up the main album?

Axel: We listened to all tracks in the end and decided also in the end who’s gonna make it to the main album and what will be the bonus tracks. It was very hard to choose, but somebody has to take the second row.

HMH: 2014 marks 30 years since your first album Heavy Metal Breakdown. Did you think you'd still be doing this now when that album came out?

Axel: For me personal? Yes and it will last a lot more years as well.

HMH: Anything planned to celebrate such a milestone year for the band (aside from releasing the new album, of course)?

Axel: No, because we’re counting in band years, and they are 34 this year. Upcoming year, there will be a big celebration!

HMH: I've looked at your current list of tour dates on your website. A lot of shows in your native Germany but not so many elsewhere. Any other tour plans in the works, perhaps for 2015?

Axel: Yes, there will be more around the world, but it always depends on the local promoter. If they call us, we’ll be there. Ask your local promoter! ;-)

HMH: Is it hard to put a set list together for your live show when you have so many songs to choose from?

Axel: It’s almost impossible. Too many songs and too many personal tastes fighting in advance of every tour within the rehearsal room! :-)

HMH: What do think have been your career high and low points in the last thirty odd years?

Axel: The highlight of the band career was the headliner show at the Wacken Open air 2010, which has been recorded at our live DVD "The Clans Are Still Marching". Almost 200.000 raising hands will keep your heart warm :-) The low point was the fight around the band name with former band members, who wanted to get paid for leaving the band.

HMH: What, in your opinion, is the best album you’ve ever made?

Axel: I’m absolutely sure, the actual album „Return Of The Reaper“!

HMH: I think it's always interesting to know what music the artists we're listening to are enjoying themselves. Are there any recent releases (let's say 2013 - 2014) that you'd recommend to Heavy Metal Haven's readers?

Axel: I’m only listening to classic music at home, my favorites are J.S. Bach because his awesome arrangements and Peter Tschaikowsky because of his incredible melody hooks.

HMH: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Good luck with Return of the Reaper and upcoming tour. If you'd like to add anything else please feel free to do so:

Axel: Hope to see you at one of our upcoming shows!

HMH: Hope to be there too Axel and thanks again.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote aglasshouse Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Mar 2015 at 5:44pm
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