Updated: 07/02/02

Primal Fear has returned with Black Sun, their most outstanding metal masterpiece yet. A concept album based on the infamous birds which grace all of their album covers, Black Sun has won over a lot of fans the world over. So far, Primal Fear has only played a few Metal festivals here in the States, but they are anxious to return for a full-on tour. I recently spoke with vocalist Ralf Scheepers (ex-Gamma Ray) regarding the mighty metal outfit known only as Primal Fear. What has made Primal Fear stand apart from the competition and soar into metallic greatness? The search for enlightenment begins now...

Highwire Daze: Is Black Sun a concept album?

Ralf Scheepers: It is a conception album actually. Since Mat had the idea before we recorded all the demo stuff - he came up with the idea to name the album Black Sun because he's read so much science fiction. Everybody in the band is into science fiction and the universe and so on. We know it's not the first time a band goes out into the universe, but I think space is big enough for a lot of bands. We composed twenty songs for this album and we had a decision to choose 13 songs in the end. It was a democratical decision for the band members to narrow it down. We found out that it's somehow like a red line - starting from the countdown to infinity, all the adventures throughout space and the search for the black sun. This is somehow the conception. In our story, the earth is very wrecked up and mankind cannot live with each other any more. So we sent out the metal eagles - which are spaceships combined with the biologic stuff and so on - very futuristic of course. We describe all their adventures they have on the journey to the black sun. The black sun is the other planet for mankind to be on.

HD: What's going to happen to all the other songs you didn't use? Will they become b-sides maybe?

Ralf: Well, first of all, we have it on our hard disc. And we just keep it and listen to them over and over - and maybe use them again for the next album. They are really good. It was really hard to pick just 13 songs. It's always good to have more good songs that just have 8 or 9 songs and then compose filler.

HD: It sounds like you have your next album ready to go…

Ralf: We are very creative because we are five musicians writing. But yeah, you are right. I actually have three songs again and everybody is working a lot of connecting ideas and it's pretty good.

HD: How do you hook up with Mike from Halford and have him do some guitar solos on the new album?

Ralf: Mike is just a very nice and friendly person, just like the other members in the band. We met him two years ago when they played here in Stuttgart at The Longhorn Club. He was very interested in the German Metal scene, like Gamma Ray, which I was singing in before, and Sinner and so on. So he just invited us - we met up and had a good conversation. And since that day, we had been e-mailing to each other and having a good time. We thought it would be a great idea to play some solos on the album, and we had a good time there in Texas.

HD: I saw your band at the Milwaukee Metalfest and I was wondering what your experience was like out here for the two shows you played?

Ralf: First of all, we were just so wiped out, because it's flying over there Friday, playing Saturday, and flying back on Sunday is pretty hard. But we were really surprised how good it went. It was strange for us to come into convention halls and play there. It's a huge hall and there's small halls there - and they're playing several bands in different halls. We don't have that here in Europe and it was our first experience. We are very happy about the great response we had. We had a great time, and of course we're really thinking about coming again this year. We'd really like to go over there. And of course, we'd like to go to the West Coast too.

HD: That would be nice. So what is a Primal Fear show like for those here in the US who have not seen you play yet?

Ralf: I would like to say one thing. I think the people realize that we are making this not only as a show, but we are living this too. We give our best because we love this kind of music. We love to give the people the reward they want to get for paying to be in the hall. This is a real passion for us to go onstage. I think people realize it when they see us play live.

HD: Was there any pressure to do a follow up so quickly after Nuclear Fire? It seems that one just came out.

Ralf: It really just came out. We had so many ideas. We were collecting the ideas right after we came back touring in Europe. And the next studio album is already planned again. But we're thinking about releasing a DVD in January or February - we've collected a lot of live material. For example, the Wacken show was filmed last year by a professional film team. And our technician is always running around with a handi-cam and just shoots everything he can. So there's going to be some "behind the music" scenes - like the making of the Black Sun album, the making of the Armageddon video, and a lot of funny things from the tour bus. And then there's going to be the next studio album to record and then they are talking about maybe a live album.

HD: What is the status of Mat's band Sinner?

Ralf: The status is he's just having in mind now to release another album with Sinner. He's just collecting ideas at the moment and he's calling his friends, who are now playing in different bands, to come down to Stuttgart and maybe record another album. There is going to be a next Sinner album very soon. They might hit the studio around August and then we'll see what the release date will be.

HD: Have you ever thought about having Primal Fear and Sinner tour together?

Ralf: We actually did something in Japan. Two years ago, we performed one show together. It was pretty hard for those members who play in both bands. It was pretty cool man. We're thinking about that again, around Christmastime. But the thing is, Mat is really concentrating very much on Primal Fear - because I think last year was the year of Primal Fear - where nothing happened with Sinner. So he's just keeping it like that - making Sinner more and more sporadic for him and really concentrating more on Primal Fear. We are a little bit more successful - which is not the point. The point is he's having a lot of fun with us. We're friends and he has a lot of fun playing with us live.

HD: When you look back on your days with Gamma Ray, what do you think of them now?

Ralf: I had a very good time with Gamma Ray - there's no doubt about it. I collected a lot of ideas - not only in the studio - but also to step into the international business with the band. And you cannot deny that it helped Primal Fear too - and the history of Sinner as well. I still have a very good relationship with Kai. When we meet up, we have a good time and talk about the former days and so on. We had a good time. There's no need to argue about anything, because it was very positive to have had the opportunity to collect ideas with Gamma Ray and Kai too.

HD: Do you like their album No World Order?

Ralf: Yes, very much! It's a very good album - it's a strong album.

HD: Overall, what do you think of the metal scene first in Germany and then the rest of the world?

Ralf: It's very good. There's always somehow a base - there's always an amount of bands there, which are delivering the goods. They deserve to be there where they are. The same thing with the fans around the world. We always have a special amount of people who are very much into heavy metal and who are true fans. This makes us very proud to have those people who really go out and buy the albums and not just download it or copy it. They really want to have the booklet and the lyrics and the artwork. And this is a very positive thing about the heavy metal bands.

HD: What do you think about people who go and download music from various Internet sites?

Ralf: I totally can understand, cause I'm an Internet freak as well. I would be a liar if I would say I didn't download me something. It's a good modern media of course. Also, it could be a good advertising use if you put one or two songs from the new album on the homepage. But for the negatives - if you just look out and download the whole album - I think the people have to understand that the musicians have to live from something. They have to get their reward for the work they are doing in the studio and in life. I understand both sides - I understand the fans who are looking out for their money and just trying to keep it together and not spend so much on the bands. Those people also have to understand us. I mean, the Internet is a good media, there's no doubt about it.

HD: With Primal Fear's success, do you ever have any regrets about not being able to audition for Judas Priest?

Ralf: About the fact that I didn't have the audition - I'm a little bit sad, yes. I would have liked to show those guys that I could have made it. But now, when I listened to the albums they've released at the time, I've been happy that it's been Primal Fear. Not only because of the music, but we are so close friends here in Primal Fear. We also spend our private lives together, going out and watch movies and having a good time each and every Saturday night. I think this would not have happened in Judas Priest if I joined the band. But I don't know. I cannot judge it. But about the music style - I'm very happy with Primal Fear. I can bring in my ideas and I'm not sure if I could have done this in Judas Priest. So I'm very happy where I'm at right now.

HD: What are the future plans for Primal Fear?

Ralf: Well, we're very much looking forward to playing at a festival in Moscow. On the 9th of June, we're going to fly over to Russia and have a great time in front of 10,000 or more people. We played so many festivals last year. We won't do so much this year as Mat is preparing the new Sinner album. We are preparing a tour with Primal Fear. It wouldn't help the tour so much if we played so many festivals because maybe the fans would say, "I saw them already this year and I don't want to come to the tour." So it will help the tour that we don't play so many festivals. And the third point is the promoters have this thing going on where they don't invite the bands each and every year. They just want to have them each second or third year. So we're just preparing a little bit and talking about how we can make a set and the production coming up. So it's a long period of preparing now.

HD: Do you have any messages for Primal Fear fans here in the States?

Ralf: Yes, of course. First of all, I would like to say a big thank you for being true and faithful. Thanks for being patient. Hopefully we will come to the States, kick some ass and have a good time.


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