Primal Fear Frontman Ralf Scheepers on ‘Metal Commando’ + Why Metal Will Never Die

2020-07-17

Primal Fear – Story by Anne Erickson, courtesy photo via Heilemania / pic by Heiko Roith

Ralf Scheepers of Primal Fear speaks with Anne Erickson about the band’s new album, “Metal Commando,” the state of heavy metal music throughout the world and more in this featured interview

Primal Fear is the kind of band that puts the term “power” in power metal. With raging riffs and frontman Ralf Scheepers’ soaring vocals, the German metal band’s music presents a wall of sound that’s impossible to cut through.

Primal Fear is gearing up to release their latest album, “Metal Commando,” on July 24 via Nuclear Blast. The set features an A-level brand of power metal, with catchy melodies and brutal, heavy riffing.

Scheepers spoke with Anne Erickson of Audio Ink via Skype from Germany about the new album, the state of heavy metal music and more. Read the interview below and watch Ralf and Anne chat via the YouTube player. Find Primal Fear online here.

Anne Erickson: Ralf, it’s great to talk with you. How is the situation in Germany right now with COVID-19?

Ralf Scheepers: Everything is loosening up a little bit now, but still, everybody, of course, has to go out with masks when you go shopping and so forth, so everybody’s still very careful in what we’re doing, because the scientists are still saying it’s still a dangerous thing. But, we will come over it, and everything’s going to be fine again.

Congratulations on the new record on the way, “Metal Commando.” Everything I’ve heard off it sounds killer. It’s great to get new music during this pandemic, when people need some inspiration.

Yes, music is unstoppable, no matter what will be. So, there’s people who can buy everything online now, so you can release an album, and there’s no effect on it. The live industry is pretty much impacted, which is a bummer. But, in the end, nobody can change it, and I think it’s a smart thing, because in the end, we have to be really careful. And all this conspiracy… I’m not a fan of that, because why should all the leaders of the world– why should there be a network of people bringing other people down? It’s a pandemic, and it’s a dangerous thing, and even if was not so dangerous looking back at it in a year or so, then we’re fine, but we tried everything to prevent people from dying. Now, I totally understand the flip side that with economies down and people suffer, as well… But, it’s only smart to be smart and wear masks.

Absolutely. On “Metal Commando,” how would you say this record is different or similar to some of your past stuff?

It is different, because we are, in my opinion, climbing up the ladder a little bit, which is not so easy after “Apocalypse,” which is a great album, already. It’s always hard to talk about yourself being so great (laughs), and that’s the reason why we’re waiting for the reactions of the fans, as well, but the press reaction is so great so far that we’re really happy. We have the advantage to have five writing members and we have the advantage to have a pool of songs every time to pick from… In the end, Mat (Sinner) as a producer is the guy who has the final decision and everything, and he also chose the setlist and the following of the songs on the album, because he’s aware of how Primal Fear, in the end, should sound like. We all know how we should sound like, but in the end, there has to be a person who makes the final decisions and so forth. To come back to your question, we’re happy with the album and the outcome, and I would say it’s another step to the next future for Primal Fear.

Are there any surprises on here that might be unexpected for Primal Fear fans?

Maybe with the long track “Infinity,” which is lasting 13 minutes, but we did that before. It’s nothing new, and we don’t approach songs in terms of, “We have to be longer this time.” It just came out because the flowing was there, and when you listen to the track, you don’t have the feeling that this is 13 minutes. It’s really worth listening to, and it’s interesting all the time, but some fans might think, “Wow,” in a positive way, “Wow. I can’t believe they did it.” I think that’s a song they’ll be somehow surprised about.

What are you most looking forward to when it comes to getting “Metal Commando” out there?

We can’t wait to release it and to get the reactions from the fans, because we have a feeling they will like it, and, of course, we also accept any critical comments out there, whatever will come. But, we know what we do. We know how we sound like, how we want to sound and we know what our fans want from us, so everyone’s really excited for July 24 when the album is released.

COVID-19 has turned the world upside down in 2020. How are you seeing the pandemic influence the music world in Germany?

Personally, it impacted me in terms of we would be playing the States right now, playing live shows, doing the package with Symphony X, which didn’t happen, which is a bummer. But, once again, it’s a smart decision not to get so many people together right now. Although it happens anyway with protests or whatever, but that’s another story. Anyway, it’s a smart thing, and we can sit it out. We are all patient people. It’s not the first that which happened to us, and it will not be the last. But, we are patient people, and we are positive people. We will come next year and be together then, and all the live activities are canceled now, which is not easy for musicians, but we will overcome, and we will make it and be there for you again.

Based on what you’re hearing in Germany, do you have any idea when concerts will be back?

No, because this is a decision from politics. Everything is loosening up a little bit in Germany, but even now, football stadiums are still not packed with people. They’re trying maybe to slightly bring a few people in again, and other bands are playing in front of car cinemas, which I think is a stupid thing to do. And also the streaming, I appreciate that some colleagues are doing it, and they’re doing great, but it’s not a thing for heavy metal music. That’s my opinion about it. That’s why we don’t do it. We’re also not going to play in front of cars, because we need the interaction with the fans. It’s a live thing. Live is live also with the people, it’s everything about interaction. Hopefully in 2021, and I’m sure we will.

What are your thoughts on the state of heavy metal music? Do you think it’s in a good place?

We have true fans out there. There’s always the basic. Let’s say, sometimes there’s a peak, but there’s also always the level of an underground of people who are listening to it, who are really also buying the album and the physical CD or vinyl or whatever, because they’re fans who want to read the lyrics and want to have something in their hands when they listen to music, which is a great thing. That’s why heavy metal, it sounds like a phrase, but it will never die. As you can see at concerts and festivals, people are gathering and coming to see the event, because it’s really an event. It’s not only the music. It’s an excitement…and that’s exactly the vibe that keeps this music alive.

Me being here in the States, I’ve always heard that the metal scene is Europe is bigger and that metal is more popular. Do you think that’s still true, or do you think we here in the States are starting to come around?

I think because you are so huge as a country. In Germany, it’s all a little bit more focused together, or maybe also in entire Europe, and we have the same, like you, we have big cities, but I think everything is a little bit closer together, and that makes it a little bit easier. But, you guys have OzzFest and stuff. I know from touring that sometimes there could be a little bit more people. Every time when we say, “We might come to America,” it’s, “Yeah, you have to come. A lot of people will come,” and in the end, it’s not really so good, but we’re always positive people and I know after this big break this year, everybody is keen to go to concerts again. Maybe this is also a good start and a chance for this sector of music to somehow become more popular in terms of live playing.

Any final words for your fans here in the States?

Be patient. Hang in there. I’m not the first telling you this, and I know everyone has their own battle to take care of, but we’re all going to make it. It’s not going to be easy, but I hope music and also our music helps you a little bit over time and gives you a little bit of strength and supports you. When we have a chance to meet in 2021, so let’s meet, and have a beer!

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