» Ralf Scheepers - Primal Fear
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Ralf Scheepers is the characteristic high pitch voice of Primal Fear (ex. Tyran Pace, Gamma Ray). When touring in Sweden with Helloween, I got a chance to talk with him before the gig in Lund. Apparently a quite hungry Ralf, who glanced longingly at a burger that someone in the crew put on the table in the middle of the interview.

David: Starting with your new album… how would you compare Seven Seals to the earlier records?

  • Ralf: We have taken big steps forward with this one. There are three longer tracks for example, which is brand new for Primal Fear. A lot more atmosphere… a darker vibe… I wouldn't say that we have changed style, just developed. We have taken our music to another level, not another direction.

David: How has it been received?

  • Ralf: Really good, great reviews. It reached number 75 or so on the German chart. The fans seem pleased. We have not got any negative critic from the fans on our forum about the new direction we have taken.

David: Is it a concept album?

  • Ralf: No, not this time. I can understand that it may give that impression though.

David: The title Seven Seals, what does it mean?

  • Ralf: It's from the Bible, from the Revelation.

David: What kind of inspiration do you find in the Bible?

  • Ralf: You can get a lot of things out of there. Many have been inspired by it, moviemakers for example. I haven't read the whole Bible of course, but parts of it. Hell is a part of the Bible, we got that out of there, ha ha… The battle between good and evil is a main theme in our lyrics.

David: Where else do you get inspiration to your lyrics?

  • Ralf: From books, from our personal experiences and some things are fantasies - as Black Sun for example.

David: I guess you have heard a lot, especially during your earlier years, that Primal Fear sound like Judas Priest. Do you think that you have found your own style now?

  • Ralf: That is mainly because of my voice I think. Of course we also have the twin guitars… But the others in the band come from totally different backgrounds so it's more coincidental. Mat Sinner listens a lot to Thin Lizzy for example. I guess we can sound like Judas Priest sometimes, but not on the new album.

David: You have a Primal Fear tattoo on your arm… does that mean that Primal Fear is forever?

  • Ralf: Actually I recently got one on the other arm as well, the eagle from the new cover. Yes, I think of Primal Fear as something that will be forever.

David: But if Judas Priest split with Halford again, would you still be interested?

  • Ralf: No, I'm not interested anymore. Tim [Owens] did a great job, but I was really disappointed at the new turn they took musically during that time. Actually if they split up again I think they'd better call it a day! They would spend more time with their families or something. Otherwise they would just be touring to pay the rent and I don't think they need that anymore, ha ha…

David: You have got quite a stable lineup in Primal Fear…

  • Ralf: Yes we have, actually. Randy [Black, drums] joined us a couple of years ago during the US tour and he gave us a slightly different sound, put some thrash into it. Eventually he got in permanent.

David: How do you keep up the Primal Fear spirit?

  • Ralf: We all do the thing we want to do and love to do together, so that is the essence of our spirit I guess.

David: Do you ever have fights in the band?

  • Ralf: No, I would not call it fights, just discussions. We are a democracy so we have healthy discussions.

David: Is metal a lifestyle?

  • Ralf: When I was 16 I probably would have said yes. Now I don't think it's a lifestyle, it's just a style of music. The music I love.

David: How do you prepare your voice for a concert?

  • Ralf: It depends on how close the schedule is. Usually I warm up by screaming a little bit.

David: Do you find any new musical influences today?

  • Ralf: Actually I don't have the time for that. But I'm writing some reviews for MetalHammer, so I catch up some influences there. Epica for example, is a great band. But it's not so much musical influences as when it comes to studio sounds. You compare different sounds and try new things in the studio.

David: Which are the most important ingredients when writing a song?

  • Ralf: Good question! Aggressive guitars… melody in the vocals… heavy drumming, that's a metal hit!

David: Do you have any trick to get inspiration?

  • Ralf: No, I have no magic button to push. Sometimes it takes weeks and sometimes you can write a song in ten minutes.

David: Can you tell us something about yourself that is not already publicly known?

  • Ralf: Hm… I don't know what people don't know already. Hm… it would be my personal life then. Well, I like fast cars, Formula 1, sports… [phone rings]

David: How do you like touring with Helloween?

  • Ralf: It's great. I know the guys from my time in Hamburg with Gamma Ray, they are good fellows.

David: What do you think about the Swedish fans?

  • Ralf: They are great. When we played at Sweden Rock Festival [2000] we got on stage quite early, but people showed up anyway and it turned out really good.

David: Well, that was all my questions I guess. Thanks for your time!

  • Ralf: Thank you! See you tonight!

Review of the album Seven Seals

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