Interview conducted January 26 2011
Interview published February 01 2011
Having been a member of Tyran' Pace
and Gamma Ray and as a current member of Primal Fear, Ralf Scheepers
is a renowned and respected vocalist in the metal scene. When he now is
about to release his first solo album in early 2011, Metal Covenant is
not late to approach him via email for some answers to how and why it
all came to life, as well as some questions about his main band.
Tobbe: Your self titled solo debut, Scheepers,
will be released February 18th. What can the listeners expect from a man
who's associated with bands like Primal Fear and Gamma Ray?
This album is released when illegal downloading is something we have to
deal with every day. It will reach a lot of listeners, but the sales figures
will probably be modest, comparing to last century. Any thoughts?
Ralf: Yes, the illegal downloading is killing
music, musicians and the whole industry, that's true! The internet
has brought many advantages but also many disadvantages. The music
industry slept in the beginning of the 90's just to wake up too late
and they did not react to this new market and possibility! They were
not aware of how to protect our music and they have done nothing to
prevent this modern kind of robbery! Still I hope and I also know
that there are true people out there and real fans who will buy the
album with it's entire shape of booklets etc. And I'm also very positive
about the development with the iPhone Music Store which makes it possible
to buy single tracks or the whole album. The industry and the musicians
will get payed in the end and that's a great thing to get at least
a bit of a balance for this hard kind of work!
Tobbe: A solo album is usually something
you have had in your mind for a long time. Is there a reason why you recorded
Ralf: First of all it took so long because
we didn't have any pressure and we are and were all very busy with
our main jobs! I have expected a lot but this final result is definitely
killer! Starting from the performances by my guests, continuing with
the sounds and the recordings and ending with the sound! I am very
proud and also very grateful!!! The whole team has done a great job!
Cool!! There is never a particular time to pick to release an album,
but now the product is finished and it's about time to release it!
Tobbe: There are several guest musicians
playing on the album. Were all musicians you asked to join the recordings
positive to the project, or did some guys turn this offer down?
Tobbe: Your current bandmates from Primal
Fear play on the album, either as guests or, like in Mat's case, on the
whole album. They are also mentioned in the songwriting credits. Is there
any chance that the fans will feel that Scheepers could have been released
as a Primal Fear album?
Ralf: No! The songs are too different! Of course
there might be two or three which could have made it on a Primal Fear
album but on the other hand it would also have been very stupid to
release a ballad only album! I love metal, I live metal and I play
metal! On this album I have way more different facets than you could
find on any Primal Fear album.
With your bandmates playing on the album, will Primal Fear ever play something
live from this release, or do you have some ideas for a solo tour, or
perhaps playing a couple of festivals to promote the album?
Ralf: Actually it's 3 bandmates playing on
the album yes, but in the time when the songs were recorded Alex Beyrodt
was not a fixed member of Primal Fear, so you can say that there were
two members of Primal Fear really helping me for my album; it's Mat
Sinner and Magnus Karlsson. So far we have never talked about touring
for my solo album or doing a single one off show for it. We are very
busy guys and everyone is also involved in different projects and
bands but most important will be the work with preparing our next
Primal Fear studio album! I also think we should wait for the reaction
of the market before discussing this issue. Primal Fear was, is and
will always be top priority! If any side work would run me into a
schedule conflict, I would rather postpone these side activities rather
than the duties for Primal Fear. We might play one track of my solo
album with Primal Fear when we head to South America in the end of
Tobbe: Which song or which moment on Scheepers
are you most proud of and which musician, in your opinion, did the best
Tobbe: You're still touring the world with
Primal Fear promoting 16.6 - Before The Devil Knows You're Dead and Scheepers
is released just one week before you leave for South America. Record company
Tobbe: This leads us to your main band Primal
Fear. Do you have any new ideas yet and when can we expect another release
from the band?
Ralf: First we will go to South America for
one week at the end of February, then we will focus on composing and
recording songs, then we will do some summer festival shows and after
the release of our next album (maybe fall this year) we will be touring
There has been several lineup changes in Primal Fear over the years, especially
the guitarrists have left the band. Some of them have been in the lineup
more than once. Are you and Mat hard to work with and do you have certain
rules for the band. Either you're in or you're out?
Tobbe: 16.6 was Primal Fear's eighth full
length studio album. It obviously gets harder and harder to pick a setlist
for your shows. How and when do you choose which songs to play? Do you
vote or do you have a designated member who's handling that?
Tobbe: About twenty years ago you recorded
three albums with Gamma Ray. Do you ever regret leaving or are you still
satisfied with your decision?
Tobbe: You also recorded three albums with
Tyran' Pace in the eighties and 25 years later you have chosen to re-record
the song Saints Of Rock from the album Watching You. Why did you choose
to re-record it?
There was three years between the last Tyran`Pace album and the Gamma
Ray debut, and there was five years between your last Gamma Ray release
and the debut album of Primal Fear. What were you up to those years? Were
you writing stuff or were you just waiting for the right musicians to
show up and the right time to form a band?
Ralf: It's different backgrounds. In the post
Tyran' Pace years I was doing cover music in a live band to earn some
bucks to get rid of the debts which have been caused by so called
managers. In the post Gamma Ray time I was preparing for the possible
Judas Priest job as I was waiting 2,5 years to get an answer from
their management. I also did some gigs with a Judas Priest cover band
at that time., and of course I have also been writing some songs.
Tobbe: Back to Scheepers again. Tell us
something about the recording sessions, the studio and the location of
Ralf: The album was recorded at different locations.
The drums were recorded in Sweden at the Studio Seven by Ronny Milianowicz
and played by Snowy Shaw. What a fantastic job they did! Everything
else like bass recordings, guitar recordings, vocal recordings, keyboard
and effect recordings was recorded at different home studios. Over
the years everyone of us have bought some good studio gear and recording
software. That's a great thing, and the internet makes it possible
to send big files on one server to consolidate all files into one
session in the end. Achim Koehler who has worked for years on our
Primal Fear album has done a great job to mix down and master all
of these files in the end. Very cool!
Tobbe: Last question. If you could delete
three songs from your catalogue. One each from Primal Fear, Gamma Ray
and Tyran`Pace. Which three songs would that be, and why?
Ralf: Oh, my god! How could anyone answer such
a question? :-)) Those songs which have been deleted never made it
on an album, so all you hear out there is already the best we have
to offer! No need to delete a single tone! :-)
Tobbe: Thanks for taking your time, Ralf.
also: review of the