INTERVIEW WITH ROCK’N’ROLF OF RUNNING WILD
Running Wild is an institution of German heavy metal. The band’s leaders’ endless journey continues with Running Wild in the sea of pirates, and world history. Running Wild’s latest album RAPID FORAY is an excellent slab of pirate metal that Rock’N’Rolf has been creating since the early days. Here is the brief interview with Ralf Kasparek, aka Rock’N’Rolf, from Running Wild who talks about working on the FORAY RAPID, writing songs on his own, and how he looks back when Jörg Michael was in the band. All the pirate metal fans, check it out…
Interview and pics by Arto Lehtinen
RAPID FORAY being the 16th album by Running Wild. What kind of process was the making of RAPID FORAY ?
This is a special album, I see that. I had a lot more time to do the album than I had normally, because I broke my shoulder. So I had one year, which I really couldn’t play the guitar. So I was busy with concentrating on the lyrics and on recovering all the stuff. I really couldn’t work around that. So it became aware for me one more time than I normally have for an album. But the material was very strong from the get-go, from the first beginning. I had some songs, and the idea to do the song like ”Last Of The Mohicans”, which was there since the VICTORY album. I always put it away, because it was not the right time to do the song. For this album, I had all the ideas which I had to have for the song and to tell a story in the right way. I figured out, okay –“ Now it’s the time for the song now”. So that’s why I figured out, okay. This is a special album. Because I then came up songs like “Black Bart” and a lot of other ideas, which remind me of the older stuff.
Running Wild has a huge amount of different topics in the lyrics. When writing the lyrics – do you feel you are a storyteller ?
Yeah. It’s pretty much to make a movie like that, without the picture, because the picture is covering in itself. So there is something to do with telling a story that’s very interesting for me and it’s very demanding. To have a story like “The Last Of The Mohicans” , and to tell it not only in the lyrics – It’s not possible to do a full book in five verses or something like that. You also have to take it into the music to tell a story also in the riffs and emotions and everything what’s going around with the song. So it has to have a certain flow. It’s kind of telling stories. I never wanted to do an album just about one topic. That would be too limited, because if you have an idea which doesn’t fit to that. It’s great and you can’t put on in the album and it will be the shame to do that. It’s why I just concentrated on bits and pieces, which come together for a full album.
Do you draw ideas and inspiration from movies, imagination, or some personal experiences?
Sometimes I read the newspapers and there is coming an idea off that. I guess with the Mohicans, the story follows me or I have been following them since I was a kid. Because in Germany, you have this tradition and like in the 60’s and the 70’s, there were these four piece movie on the Sunday’s before Christmas in my whole childhood. “The Last of The Mohicans” was one of the movies called, Hawk Island. That was the four piece movie and “The Last of The Mohicans” was one of them. It was very impressive. It was on the first place and a very adventurous story, but also it’s very sad. It was about the father losing the son and losing everything which stands for his culture, his drive, everything. So that kind of story got really burnt to my mind. When I became a musician like I said before, I did all this stuff back at Waterloo or something like that. It was so interesting story since when I was a kid. So to bring the emotions of the story to a song is pretty much similar to make a movie, without having the picture. But doing it with the music and it’s very interesting for me, because I just don’t want to just riff. If you have a song like “Stick To Your Guns”, it’s a great a rock riff song. It is fun and we played it live. But it’s always great to tell a story -songs like “Black Bart” or “The Last of The Mohicans”..
The problem always was – We tried that in the past to write as a couple… I tried to write some songs with together with the band. I’m not good when we’re working together with other people than when I’m doing alone. It’s just a fact. We tried to do an album, when we were doing UNDER JOLLY ROGER. We tried that and the songs were bullshit. It was like the way it is. So when they were writing, there was a lot of stuff as they could help them out. But if I have a song I couldn’t put it into the full version that I normally would do when I’m writing alone. But with the new members, everybody has some influence on the new album, because probably everybody in the band was involved in the production. On one hand you have the live thing, but it’s a real band. The four guys going on stage, everybody is part and would give ideas for the show. On the other hand I’m in the studio, which is solo project. When PJ comes around with his kind of solos, he adds something to the songs, which I didn’t have to mind, because he plays a different style of guitar play than I do. When Mike comes around with some drum ideas or something like that he did, which I couldn’t come up . Always coming up with some bass ideas or something like that. That works. But I couldn’t write songs together with another person. I’m not as good as when I’m writing alone.
As for Peter Jordan, I guess he is one of the longest members in the band right now.
He is, there is no other guy than me.
He has been your wingman for 14, 15 years by now. How did your collaboration start with Peter?
He joined the band in 2005, but I knew him before that. Because he was a well known musician in the Hannover scene. So I met him from time to time at some studios, because some friends of mine knew very well. Because my best friend played in the band together. So it was not a heavy metal band. It was kind of blues kind of bands. I knew him and when it came around that we needed a new guitar player. We had the idea just to call him up and said yeah. “I really would like to do, but I’ve got short hair”. I said, ”You can put on a bandana. It’s no problem, because every Pirate has the short hair”. He was a nice person and a good guitar player. So that was the main point of that.
You made an announcement that Running Wild is going to break up or go on hiatus back in 2009. Did you make a decision on your own or did you talk to Peter, what you were going to do with that?
I decided that in 2006 pretty much. I decided myself 2006 as I was no more happy with the situation. Because when I did the last album, before that ROGUES EN VOGUE and it was so hard for me to write the songs. I didn’t enjoy it anymore. Peter is doing his own thing. He’s a producer himself. So he produced the project we did with Giant X. I was just the singer in the production.
So all these metal songs on this production were written by PJ, not by me. I came around with the blues and rock’n’roll stuff and stuff like that. Because we don’t want to have Running Wild number two, that made no sense with doing that kind of project. So it was often a lot of things. We said okay, when you want to stop it, then it’s okay. In 2009, the guys from Wacken came up with the idea, “Would you do a last show for the fans?” It was three years before that I had said the goodbye to Running Wild.
I though, “Okay – We have a great idea to make it happen”. Today I know, I really had to take a break. I stopped doing Running Wild, it’s done. It wouldn’t have the same effect on me concerning writing and stuff like that. If I just said… Just to say, I’ll just take time off or something like that. It wouldn’t work. When I look back today, I know that it was very important for me to find my way back to that. That happened when we did Toxic Taste together, he was also a part of that.
I wrote a lot of songs in two months like 80 songs or something like that. The 15 songs being on the album were not the best tracks. The 15 ones were early sketch. So there were a lot of tracks, way more better than that writing after that. So when I was writing SHADOWMAKER. I figured out I could bring over that kind of loose feeling to our songs to Running Wild also. So there was a new starting point.
I said, “okay. Now I can go on with that, because I found my way back to that”. I went out and did RESILIENT. I though, “Okay. That’s way better”. With this album, it’s a lot better. The next album will be a very strong one, concerning the artist I have so far and the songs that have been written not fully. But it’s a pencil sketch, so to speak. So this is definitely the way back to that.
As far as Jorg Michael is concerned. He was in Stratovarius a long time and he’s a real powerhouse behind his kit. When he joined Running Wild – Did you feel that he brought a completely new way of drumming and the more power ?
There was some of thrash metal definitely. Because Stefan before that he just played PORT ROYAL – just played the album and also brought some new stuff into that and Iain did DEATH OR GLORY. But when Jörg came, he played all tours for the guys. He was earlier in the band than you can see it on the records, because he played the Port Royal tour and the Death of Glory tour. He couldn’t join the band, because he had other projects that he wanted to do. So he joined the band like in ’94. I knew him from several years because we played together three different shows and stuff like that. So there was not a new feeling. I knew how he was drumming. Because we were playing on the shows together. So I knew what I could expect from him and what he could play the drums.
Running Wild visited Finland back in 1990 by playing an outdoor festival with Sodom, Pretty Maids and Uriah Heep.That was a great festival and that I witnessed Running Wild for the first time.
I remember it was the first time and a good chance for Running Wild to play in that part of Northern Europe.
What’s next for Running Wild after Sweden Rock?
We’re just playing two festivals and then I’ll start up with a new album, to work on that and 2018 is pretty much reserved for the album and 2019 will be the next festival. So there is a plan for the future.
All right. Thank you.
No Problem. Thank you.