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Chris Boltendahl – Vocals for Grave Digger

Date: 03/02/08
Location: Backstage at B.B. KingsBlues Club, NYC
Interviewed By: Rich Catino


1.Grave Digger has been making records and touring other parts of the world for 25 years. Why did it take so long to play New York City?

CHRIS: Well it really comes down to what makes sense. I really don’t want to or have to earn money in the States, but I don’t want to put money in the show either. It has taken so long for us to do some shows in the States (tonight being the second) because we have to find a promoter who will pay the fees for the flights, hotel and everything and BB Kings is doing that giving us a great opportunity.

2. Well now that you are here letting the fans know that Grave Digger is alive and well, do you see more shows in the future?

CHRIS: Well the promoter said pre sales were pretty good so perhaps this is a beginning for us in the States. I think we will come back next year for two or three more shows and see what happens.

3. Being on Locomotive Records has that helped the distribution for Grave Digger’s music?

CHRIS: Yeah we actually have sold more records than we did when we were on Nuclear Blast, the label is behind us and we have a US office so this is good.

4. Well the European sound has really become embraced by the US in recent years with Blind Guardian, Gamma Ray, Helloween, Edguy, Sonata Arctica, Hammerfall, Stratovarius, and Nightwish all doing successful tours.

CHRIS: Well that’s great happy to hear it. We are really well prepared for tonight with a really good setlist.

We of course do “Heavy Metal Breakdown” from our first album and go through the “Heart of Darkness”/”The Reaper” period, to where we do a lot of songs from the “Tunes of War”/Knights of the Cross”/”Excalibur” period to today with “The Grave Digger”/”Rheingold”/ and the new album ‘Liberty or Death”.

5. Have you started working on any new songs?

CHRIS: Yes we actually did. Thilo (new member on second guitar), Manni and I started composing some songs last month and its an interesting time because with Thilo in the band the song writing team has a new member. So we are still trying to find our way together. The new album will follow another historical concept which falls between “Tunes of War” and “Knights of the Cross” in history but I will let you know later what it is.

6. Now why after all these years add a second guitar player?

CHRIS: Yeah well Manni and I were talking about the future of the band and I said I feel a stagnation with Grave Digger so I said what about another guitar player. And the first person I thought of was Thilo but he was six years out of the business (use to play with Running Wild) so we found out his email address contacted him but he was like “Ahh I don’t know I haven’t played in a while and I have short hair”….so I was like I don’t care about your hair we are looking for a good guitar player. Manni and Thilo have really two different styles but when they play together they do some really cool Thin lizzy twin guitar stuff. I think when you are in a band like Grave Digger and have been in this kind of music for so long you can’t hire a twenty year old because he has something in his hat they you don’t. So it made sense to ask Thilo to join us. You need a guy nearly the same age and into a similar style of metal music. When we played some shows together in Germany people really liked the sound it was very full.

7. The last time we spoke I asked if the “25 to Live” DVD would become available in the States but when I picked up a copy it was still in the PAL European format. Plans to get that released for NTSC?

CHRIS: Really well that shouldn’t be. Well I know that Locomotive bought the license so I don’t understand why that is. I have to look into that it makes no sense.

8. Will any of the older records that were only available in Europe like “Heavy Metal Breakdown” or “Witchunter” on Noise Records, or “Heart of Darkness”, “The Reaper”, “Tunes of War” and “Knights of the Cross” which were released on G.U.N. Records get the opportunity to be available Stateside?

CHRIS: Well unfortunately that is not so easy because the first three records on Noise were sold to Sanctuary Records which was now sold to Universal and we tried to find out who is responsible for this stuff but nobody is apparently.

And with G.U.N. I asked them if I could buy the license to “The Reaper”, Symphony of Death”, “Heart of Darkness”, “Tunes of War”, “Knights of the Cross” and “Excalibur” and my request was again met with resistance which is very unfortunate. As of now there is no chance to release them here. I would really like to do it through Locomotive believe me.

9. How about the Digger album “Stronger Than Ever”. Do you see that album getting re-released?

CHRIS: Nooohh hahaha I don’t think so. You know that was intentional and not released under the Grave Digger name. I still like it and think has some good songs but obviously it is not Grave Digger music and a little more commercial.

10. With the new album do you think you may try something new that Grave Digger fans have not yet heard?

CHRIS: I am not sure yet because we are in the middle of writing. We have to see how the writing process comes along working with Thilo. But I know we are still going to make it very much a Grave Digger record while maybe adding a couple surprises. I really like having a second guitar player in the band and I think it is going to make for a very strong record in the end.

11. Do you ever get involved in side projects?

CHRIS: No I don’t. You know I have been doing Grave Digger for many years now and it is me, I am Grave Digger and vise versa. I like to focus my time on that and make it the best it can be. I think sometimes musicians start branching out and doing different bands and it takes away from the music they should be doing. Plus I work for the label (Locomotive) and that takes up the rest of my work time.

Official website: www.grave-digger.de

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