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03/2010     Jens Pohl   Axel Morgan     (German Version)

Hi Axel! After you had to leave RUNNING WILD in 1993, you created the band X-WILD together with Jens Becker (GRAVE DIGGER), Stefan Schwarzmann (ACCEPT) and Frank Knight (WILD KNIGHT). But after merely three years and a total of three albums, this came to an end, too. Since then you have apparently disappeared from the radar and the sonar as well. What have you been doing in the meantime until today?

Well, we had just played the final concert of the successful "Pile Of Skulls" tour at the Docks (Hamburg, Germany). Two weeks later Rolf called me at home and told me that he wanted to disband the current line-up. For quite a while, we talked about the background of this decision, which I could not agree with. My suggestion was to continue with a reduced line-up, at least. But even that didn't work out. After that there were several negotiations regarding the split, and some legal affairs had to be settled (e.g. song credits and merchandise rights). And soon the commercially most successful line-up became history. What I did after the split? I concentrated again on my professional career at Paiste, one of the world's leading producers of cymbals, and I became their chief executive officer in 1999. Additionally, I studied marketing in St. Gallen (Switzerland), and in 2004 I joined the executive board of a world-wide leading company outside of the music business.

But why this change from the music business to paper trade, of all sectors?

That was just another step in my career. Business itself is not that different. Any company, in the music industry or not, operates in the market according to the same rules and business activities.

Do you still have any contact to the metal scene or music in general? Maybe to Stefan Schwarzmann, who also lives in Switzerland, or to any other former companions?

I have always stayed in touch with my close friends in the music business. And I was able to meet and contact many fellow musicians worldwide on all my trips and journeys abroad. I didn't talk to Stefan in the last four years. But I got in touch with him again at the beginning of this year.

How do people react today when they find out that you used to play in RUNNING WILD? Or is this a topic that you normally don't mention at all?

I never talk about this topic myself. But I'm often amazed how many people are still familiar with RUNNING WILD and my person. Again and again I meet people who approach me and who still have a vivid memory of the time when I was a member of the band.

Considering your time in RUNNING WILD, is there a moment that you love to remember, thinking "Boy, THAT was great back then"? And which moment would you rather erase from history?

I enjoy remembering every single moment. Of course, I should add that I always enjoy every single moment of life, and I never take anything for granted. I'm still very fond of all the fans and will never forget them. The only negative moments I remember were during our longer studio sessions. We always had more internal problems than outsiders seemed to notice. But in fact, these problems were always completely unnecessary, which still keeps me pondering. Apparently, some of us were pressurized by people from the outside.

How did the split happen in the first place? How did you experience this whole affair, and do you feel bitter about it in any way?

No, I don't feel bitter at all, even though the reasons behind Rolf's decision were not true. He assumed that inside the band there was something like an alliance against him. I don't know why he got that impression. Personally, I can say that I was and still am a loyal companion and friend of Rolf. Even today, I don't feel any grudge, I'm just grateful for this great and successful time that we spent together. I still believe that Rolf and I might have shared many more successful years, because we always got along very well with each other as musicians and also as persons.

Did the official end of RUNNING WILD at Wacken Open Air 2009 affect you in any way? After all, you were an integral part of two of the most relevant albums of the band "Blazon Stone" and "Pile Of Skulls" and you even wrote the title track of PoS together with Rolf.

I did not really keep up with RUNNING WILD's activities after the split. My relation to the band got lost due to all those different people, who I didn't even know. Since Rolf and I barely had any contact at all, the topic was no longer present for me. A few weeks before Wacken I met Rudolf Schenker and knew that the SCORPIONS were planning to quit after 40 years. When I heard that Rolf also quit RUNNING WILD after 30 years, I was quite surprised, but somehow it makes sense.

How did you get to know Rolf as a person and as a musician back then? And how would you characterize him today, after quite some time has passed?

For me Rolf is still a friend today. We complemented each other quite well and had a lot of fun together. I don't really want to characterize him here. If you know me, just the fact that I still call him "friend" (even though we don't have any contact) says enough about him.

Have you completely given up playing the guitar, or do you still play once in a while?

I haven't given up at all! Who knows, ...maybe some day...

So you could imagine playing the guitar professionally in a band again? By the way, Frank Knight has formed the band WILD KNIGHT together with Majk Moti...

Like I said, who knows...

That sounds like there are indeed things to come. But I don't want to pester you too much, hehe. So what kind of music do you listen to today? And to what extent has music really influenced you in any way then or now?

Music has always had a huge impact on my whole life and still has. I think if you're once infected by it, it will always be a part of you. Music influences my whole life. My emotions, my character, and even my moods. Today I listen to a broad variation of different musical styles. But as far as instruments are concerned, I still stick to my old style. (smiles)

Is there anything you still want to achieve, i.e. in music or in life, generally?

Thank God, there are still many things that I haven't achieved yet in this life. A list would be too long for this interview, believe me. In retrospect, you can divide my life into sequences of 5 to 7 years. At present, I have just started a new section, which also concentrates on special tasks and goals. What that means exactly is something I don't wish to talk about yet. But basically I can claim to be a very happy and well-balanced person.

Finally, I would like to come back to RUNNING WILD. You just said that you didn't keep up with RUNNING WILD later, but maybe you can still say something about the albums. Which one do you like most? And which one don't you like at all?

Regarding individual albums, there are too many details to mention. A fair assessment has to include the production, the recording itself, single tracks and also the feeling that was present during the recording sessions. For example, I think all the albums up to "Port Royal" are very good, but the sound and the production got better with "Death Or Glory". And to be honest, I don't know the albums after "Pile Of Skulls" at all, or just some excerpts.

Thank you very much for the interview!

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