INTERVIEWS

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02/1996     Martin Fust   Rolf Kasparek


You seem to be very satisfied with the current line-up. You are using the same people as you did for Black Hand Inn.

It was always similar problems which cropped up, which led to the many line-up changes of this band. These problems cannot crop up with this line-up. This is the third tour we have played together (Black Hand Inn, Summer Metal Meetings and Masquerade) and the second album after Black Hand Inn. We have also got to know each other better which you notice when we play live. It looks more like a band than on the Black Hand Inn tour.

Why was Masquerade released on the Noise label?

From Gates To Purgatory to Port Royal our albums were released on Noise. For Death or Glory and three more albums, we had a release deal with EMI. The deal with Noise was for five albums and so the new one was released on Noise.

So will you now be signing with GUN? It is partly owned by your manager, Boggi of Drakkar.

(laughs) Let's finish the tour first, then we'll talk about that.

How is the tour going?

Super - we've had 800-900 people per show on average, so there's not been the same sort of loss that other bands have had. O.K. on the last tour we had an average of 1.000-1.100 people per show, but the "Metal depression" hasn't hit us a badly as some. Some tours have been played in front of 300 people per show and that's with bands that used to attract a lot more fans.

How did the pirate image come about?

That was just a coincidence and not planned at all. When we we're working on Under Jolly Roger some years ago, we were looking for a title song and I thought "Under Jolly Roger" is a really good title. So we had the cover and our stage clothes designed around that. I read a lot of books about the subject and found everything very interesting. It fit together very well and we enhanced the subject with Port Royal. Within a short time it had become our trademark and it's remained with us to this day.

With Gates To Purgatory you seemed to be attracted by black metal and satanism. What can you say about that?

For us it was used more as a political symbol. We never saw the devil just as an evil figure - he was a rebel who questioned everything. But we seemed to be misunderstood and we didn't want that. So on Branded And Exiled we made our texts a little clearer.

So what do you think of satanism?

I'm not religious at all and I don't think you get anywhere just by reversing things. That's too simple a solution for things to work like that. I also think that it can be very dangerous playing with esoteric stuff. It's like I wrote about in the song "Underworld", about things I'm afraid of. It can be a very dangerous thing and a lot of people who mess with that don't know what they're getting into.

There's a bootleg CD around, of the Death Or Glory tour. It's just the live video on CD plus a couple of old demo songs. What do you think of bootlegs?

It's a good thing for fans because they can increase their collection with stuff like that. But what is not good is that you often pay a lot of money for rubbish. I'm really pissed of that people who have nothing to do with me are earning money from my work. I don't get any money from bootlegs and apart from that, bootlegs are illegal.

Could you comment on the individual RUNNING WILD albums?

Our first album was Gates to Purgatory and we were really proud of it. It was released and really took off amongst the heavy fans. We never dreamed it would and we thought OK., we'll release an album and see what happens. It was super. We were really proud and went on tour and I still think that this was a milestone for us. I'm still proud of "Gates", although I would do some things a little differently today, but in those days it really was representative of RUNNING WILD.

We had less than a year to do
Branded And Exiled because Preacher left the band so I had to do most of the writing myself. I only had two or three months and then in the studio we had some problems with the sound engineer. So it didn't turn out quite as well as it should have done. I'd do it differently today. But it worked and it sold very well and it took Running Wild another step down the road.

The press hated
Under Jolly Roger but the fans loved it. It's still by the best selling album in our back catalogue, don't ask me why. Maybe it's because we had a lot of energy in the band then, a lot of aggression, but unfortunately a lot of arguments within the band. When I listen to it, I can hear that we had a lot of stress in the studio, the band as well as the producer. It was the only album I didn't produce myself and I have a lot of bad memories about this, but the album was another milestone in my career. We'll probably always play "Under Jolly Roger" at every show we do.

Ready for Boarding was our first attempt at a live album. It wasn't a great success, but it was a statement. We just wanted to try it once. Live albums have their own feeling.

Port Royal was the first time we started to play with the image, visually as well as the the songs , such as "Calico Jack", "Conquistadors" and "Port Royal". There are a lot of classics on this album, which we just can't play live anymore. It was a very good album with a more melodic, different style. We didn't plan it like that - it just happened whilst we were writing the songs.

Death Or Glory was a big step for us. Thanks to EMI we increased our sales from 50.000 to 80.000. Today, especially looking at the way fans react, it wasn't really a fantastic album, so we hardly ever play more than two classics, "Bad To The Bone" and "Riding Ihe Storm". This is the worst selling album in our back catalogue. It was like no other album before or after. It was too commercial for my taste. I'd do things differently today. There are a lot of songs on it that I still like listening to, but I would do them differently now.

Blazon Stone was the next step - another milestone. The single Little Big Horn took us into the German Top 20 which is really something for a metal band. It sold nearly 100.000 in Germany and so it's easily the best seller. There are a lot of good songs on it, such as "Blazon Stone" a great hit when we play it live.

The First Years Of Piracy - when I once listened to the old albums, I realized that the songs were great but the sound wasn't so fantastic. So I thought it might be a good idea to show how those songs would sound if they were played by the line-up of the time. The others thought it was a good idea so we recorded the songs at the same time as Blazon Stone. It didn't sell very well, but at least the fans could hear what the old songs sounded like played by the new band. We also re-recorded "Walpurgis Night" which you couldn't find on vinyl anymore. It wouldn't have been a good idea to record some stuff together with two or three new songs, that wouldn't have been fair to the fans, most of the original songs were on other albums anyway.

Pile of Skulls certainly appealed to fans of harder music. Still a great album with lots of great songs, like "Whirlwind", which we don't play anymore, but also "Sinister Eyes" which we do play - a super classic. Or "Treasure Island" a true milestone. I think that was another step in a more aggressive direction. It was the first album with whose sound I was really satisfied. The drum sound wasn't as good as on Blazon Stone as I'd wanted, for example.

Black Hand Inn was the next step and this included some lyrics with esoteric subjects and a fantasy story which acted as a base for the whole album. It was also the first album with the new line-up and I think we've got more energy now than then. We had a lot of fun in the studio and I think you notice it when you listen to this album.

Masquerade is the next development, I just sat down and wrote the songs - it went very quickly and we had the whole thing recorded and mixed within six weeks. We tried to bring the live feeling to the album, which wasn't easy to do, But I think we were successful up to a point. It reminds me in some ways of Gates to Purgatory - the power and the force, played with more experience, 11 years later. I think that's the main thing - when you recognize your own progress.
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