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Chris Boltendahl – Vocals for Grave Digger

Date: 03/06/07
Interviewed By: Rich Catino


Hey Chris how are you doing? Its good to speak with you again, the last time was in 2004 at the BW&BK festival in Ohio where you guys played the U.S. for the first time.

1. So how is the new record “Liberty or Death” doing?

CHRIS: Yes I remember you from that festival. How are you doing Rich? O the record is really doing good and appreciated a lot over here in and out of Europe. We are really happy with it.

2. Can you tell us what the songs on “Liberty and Death” are all about?

CHRIS: Its another concept album and all the lyrics are mostly based on historical topics and completely based somewhere in history.

3. Tell us about the artwork.

CHRIS: With the artwork what we wanted to portray is that liberty is often built on death. It was done a Hungarian artist and he really did a great job. The idea that liberty can’t exist without the advent of death.

4. This record, in comparison to the past three “The Last Supper”, “Rheingold”, and “The Grave Digger”, is much closer in sound to the “Middle Ages Trilogy”. Would you say so and was this done intentionally?

CHRIS: Yeah I think this new one is much closer to classic heavy metal than the other ones. With this one we wanted to get closer to our roots because we all grew up on classic metal bands like Iron Maiden, Saxon and Motorhead. I think looking at this one compared to our previous three it is different. I think “The Grave Digger” was a very dark and depressive at times record being based on the Edgar Allen Poe stories, “Rheingold” was very epic and orchestrated, and “The Last Supper” was a little bit more progressive and mixed with a more modern sound. With the new one that’s where Grave Digger came from, I think what I like about “Liberty or Death” is its 100% that’s what we tried and like to do when we were composing these songs.

5. How about when guitarist Manni Schmidt joined the band for “The Grave Digger”. What did he bring to the music, maybe something that was missing before?

CHRIS: Well that was a little bit of a problem towards the end working with our former guitarist Uwe Lulis because I felt a real stagnation with our sound when we did “Excalibur”. Manni was really good for the band because he didn’t play one style and it helped to broaden Grave Digger’s music.

6. How about playing here in the States. To this day Grave Digger has only played two shows. Why is that?

CHRIS: Well a big problem is a band from Europe has to come up with the cost to fly over seas to fly for starters, then you need your label to back you up as well, as a good promoter willing to give your band the proper booking it deserves. We are not a band just starting out that wants to pay to play you know. I mean we are ready to play the States we just need to proper support.

7. I wonder why it is so hard for a band like yourselves to tour here being that so many of the European Power Metal style bands like Blind Guardian, Gamma Ray, Stratovarius, and Nightwish in recent years have all done successful tours?

CHRIS: Yeah I know, I don’t think Running Wild has every really played the States either. I don’t know maybe perhaps we are a little too typical of the German sound and I think in the past record companies didn’t really care much for the American market. But now since we have been part of Nuclear Blast and especially with Locomotive maybe there is more of a chance for us to develop of market in the U.S.

8. I meant to ask you about being part of Nuclear Blast and by being on that label did you receive a better distribution here in the U.S.? Why is Grave Digger is no longer on the label?

CHRIS: No no no distribution is not why we left we just didn’t want to be number fifteen or twenty on their list of bands. Nuclear Blast have so many bands and I have been working for Locomotive so that’s why I wanted to be part of their label so I could make Grave Digger a number one priority.

9. Do you think that being part of Locomotive now we better your chances to tour the States?

CHRIS: I think so because we have a proper distribution with them and they have done a lot for Grave Digger thus far in the U.S. We did well by the “25 to Live” album and DVD so lets see.

10. I was going to ask you about the “25 to Live” DVD and if this will see release for an NTSC format?

CHRIS: Well I think that has happened already. I bought the license to it about a year ago and for sure Locomotive put it out for NTSC.

11. Any plans to reissue or remaster your older albums like “Heavy Metal Breakdown”, “Witchhunter” and “War Games” with bonus tracks?

CHRIS: No unfortunately there isn’t because those records were initially released on Noise Records and Noise was sold to Sanctuary Records in the UK, and now that Noise is totally finished and all the records are now on Sanctuary we have no chance to get any license from them. Also you know that financial situation for Sanctuary is really bad so, and we tried but nobody is taking care of that in the company. It’s a pity to because I would really like to give those another chance.

12. After 25 years of making music with Grave Digger, what do think are the strongest records and why?

CHRIS: Well “Heavy Metal Breakdown” because at the time we were young and hungry and all we wanted to do was rock n roll, everything was very pure at the time. That one is a classic. The next one would be “Tunes Of War” because that one really became successful both by the fans and the critics, it opened a lot of doors for us at the time. And then “Liberty or Death” because that’s a great all around representation of what Grave Digger stands for.

13. What about the records like “The Reaper”, “Symphony of Death”, “Heart of Darkness” that were released on G.U.N. records, will those be more readily available here in the States at some point?

CHRIS: I think they reissued them around Christmas in Europe but were not remastered but same situation as with those Noise records. We tried to get control of those but have not received any feedback on that either.

14. What is in Grave Digger’s future and how much longer do you see the band making music?

CHRIS: The future looks very good because we go to Russia in three weeks, then we do the European festivals over the summer, then South America again and some more shows in Germany towards the end of the year and then start work on a new record. Then we have the 30th anniversary of the band in 2010 so we have some plans for that as well. I mean we really like still making Grave Digger music and we are happy to play live.

15. Do you know how your records sell here in the States?

CHRIS: Really I don’t know, I know the first licensed record was “Excalibur” then “The Grave Digger” and “Rheingold” on Nuclear Blast and now the new one on Locomotive Records. Hopefully we will get more popular in the States because we would really like to play there.

16. Any side projects?

CHRIS: No no I really have no time working for Locomotive as well as work with Grave Digger. Plus I also have a one year old child so that allows no time for anything else really.

Official website: www.grave-digger.de
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