» Manni S. - Grave Digger
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Grave Digger have had their new, critically acclaimed, album "Rheingold" out for a while now. We felt we wanted to ask a few questions to their semi-new axeman Manni Schmidt about his feelings about the effort as well as his place in the band now when he is getting warm.
The following is what he has to share with us......

Tommy: You played in Rage between 1988-1993, than you seemingly disappeared from the metalscene totally. What made you take that decision at that time and where you at all involved in any kind of musical activities between Rage-88 and the return in Grave Digger-01?

  • Manni: When I left Rage in February '94 I was just tired of the music business and tired of making music. After one year I started playing my guitar again and began to write songs and recorded a lot of demos. In 2000 I played in a friends Punk band called "Made In Hate". In November Jens asked me if I was interested in playing in GD.

Tommy: Was the urge to play again so big at the time that Grave Digger just happened to be there for you to join, or was the choice of joining this particular band well thought over and a wish from your side to feel it worth it to jump into the scene again?

  • Manni: It was very easy: in November I lost my job and then Jens called me. It was no question what to do. One of the reasons was that I knew the guys since years.

Tommy: I did, and many with me I guess, feel a bit sceptic towards how Grave Diggers future guitarwork would sound when the news broke that rifflegend Uwe Lulis left the band. Seeing and hearing how it turned out, I honestly have to say that it turned out better, fresher and more vital than in many years. The Grave Digger trademark - the classic, straight and murderly good riffs - are still present and it feels like like a fresh breeze has been brought into the band. How did you feel about stepping in and trying to carry along the tradition of Grave Diggers style at that point? How does it feel now after 2 succesful albums in your back? Loking back - how has the reaction from the fans been, and from the band?

  • Manni: First - thanks for the compliments! Chris told me that they wanted me because of my guitar style. I should play the old songs in my style and give the new songs my touch. I did not care about Uwe's play, I play the stuff like I feel it. Uwe and me have some of the same influences what made it easier. Looking back I really had a fantastic welcome from all the fans.

Tommy: How does the share of the workload look in Grave Digger? Are you all equally involved in the composing, or does the different members stick more to their "area", so to say. Are you mostly presenting loose riffs for others to work on, or are you active in the arrangments too?

  • Manni: Very easy: Chris, Jens, HP and I meet in a little vacation house in Holland and put together what we have. Sometimes we have complete arrangements, sometimes just a riff, sometimes we have spontanious ideas.

Tommy: As a hobby guitarist myself, I just have to ask you how you come up with those killer riffs time after time? Is it a hard process with lots of searching after that "right" feeling and touch , or does it simply just come to you when you sitting in the sofa watching tv?

  • Manni: Sometimes I have them in my head, sometimes they come while playing…. There is no rule.

Tommy: Your guitarwork in Rage especially around the "Trapped" era made those records as brilliant as they are according to me. If you compare your time musically there and the present - what type of metal do you prefer to play: the little more technical, lighter riffs like than, or the straight forward, more heavy riffs like you do now?

  • Manni: I like both kinds off riffing and even different, more heavy riffs than I play in GD. I'm not focused on a special style, I just listen to my heart. Sometimes I play bluesy tunes, sometimes Pantera-like stuff.

Tommy: What is the strongest part of Grave Diggers music, you think? What specific point makes you sound exactly like you, and what - if anything- might need a bit improvement in the future to reach the musical point you are all searching for? Do you consider yourself having a weak point?

  • Manni: I think the sound of GD is rising and falling with Chris' vocals and the vocal arrangements. If you just listen to the music it could be anything. But I don't find a weak point in our music. Do you?

Tommy: Choose one favourite Grave Digger song from the times before your membership, and one from the times after you joined.

  • Manni: My alltime favourite GD song is "Yesterday", actually I like "Twilight Of The Gods"

Tommy: Can you shortly describe each of the members in the band and what different "roles" you have in the studio,privately and on the road. Is there such a person as "the women's man", "the joker", "the beerdrinker" and so on. Where do you fit in all this?

  • Manni: Chris is the "boss", Jens, Stefan and me are the beer drinkers and HP is the reader. All together it's a great mix of personalities and we have a lot of fun together!

Tommy: What does the crystal ball reveal for Grave Digger for the nearest future? There are some fall/winter tours coming up, but than…? Does the work on new material begin, or are you taking a short break? Is anything at all planned at this stage, or is it like an empty piece of paper at the moment? If you alone could choose exactly the direction on the music and the lyrics, how would you like to see the next Grave Digger turn out? Where would you like to take it from here?

  • Manni: There is no break- in October we rock brazil for 4 shows and than we prepare the european tour in January and begin songwriting for the next album. Next summer we'll play a couple of festivals over europe. We have another concept for the next album, but we are just at the beginning. I have no personal focus for GD. We can only create it as a team. If I had the choice it would be very different and it was not GD any more.

Tommy: Are you currently involved in any secret sideprojects, either as a musician or working on the side? Any plans of forming something on the side, or is Grave Digger just about enough to fulfill your metalneeds?

  • Manni: There is no secret, hahaha! Beside I'm working in a friends tyre-garage and with some other local musicians we start a kind of cover project. The first show will be on the 30th of November. Check out www.rockfuertiere.de

Tommy: What do you think about the metalscene in a worldwide perspective Anno 2003, and also locally in Germany? Which established metalband are you holding for the best (apart for the obvious Grave Digger….), and which are the most interesting up and commers according to you?

  • Manni: I'm not so into the actual metal scene, but I think that the traditional heavy metal was quite big this year. The most interesting band for me at the moment is In Flames! I really became a fan of this fantastic band.

Tommy: What is your best musical memory so far in your career? And what really special dream do you have that is still waitig to be fulfilled?

  • Manni: There are so many good memories- no special one. You meet so many spectacular people and have so many experiences that everything is special. My personal dream is to spread my own, personal music one day.

Tommy: I thank you very much for participating in this interview and sharing this information and your thoughts with us - these last lines are entirely for you. Any final words you would like to round off with - a tip, a recommendation or a thought for the future?

  • Manni: First thanx for your interest! And to everybody out there: always be open minded, it's all just Rock'n'Roll!

    Take care!
    Manni Schmidt

That was all I had for now, Manni - the staff at metalcovenant.com wish you all the very best for the future, and we sincerely want to thank you for keeping the spirit of Metal alive!

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