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Gravedigger Official website: Gravedigger Official website: https://www.grave-digger-clan.de


Chris Boltendahl – Vocals for Hellryder and Grave Digger

Date: May 2021
Interviewed By: Rich Catino


1. How did you separate the outcome of the music for Hellryder since you are also the singer for Grave Digger, and Axel Ritt also plays guitar in both bands?

CHRIS: Very simple, with Grave Digger we play traditional and power metal. With Hellryder its more like dirty metal like Motorhead, and the song structures are more simple, straight forward. Not as layered or epic as Grave Digger, there is a difference. In Hellryder I also sing deeper. The album will be released May 28th..

2. Did you write all the lyrics for these songs? Did the band write the music? How was that divided up?

CHRIS: Normally Axel is responsible for the guitar riffs and music, and I write the melodies and lyrics. Same goes Grave Digger. The bass player and drummer came to the band after we composed all the songs, only played in the studio for the recording. But we will see for the next album.

3. Why did you spell the name of the band, Hellryder, with a Y?

CHRIS: If you remember I played with a band here in Germany called Fyredogs. It was a rock n roll band, and they spelled it with a Y, and we only made one album. And it was difficult to make more music because everyone lived in different parts of the world. So when I had the idea of the band Hellryder I said “yeah, let’s spell it with a Y”. If you put in the word Hellrider the Judas Priest song comes up, haha, and Ghost Rider from Marvel. I think it’s a trademark as Hellrider.

4. Is Hellryder a project, side band, something to do in 2020 during Covid?

CHRIS: It is definitely a band, we booked a couple shows already for next year. It’s difficult to find time to book shows for the band because Axel and I will be playing some shows with Grave Digger, our bassist Steven Wussow also is in the band Orden Ogan, and our drummer Timmi Breideband plays in a band Gregorian. So it’s hard to find a time frame to get everyone together. But in the meantime we are recording four cover songs for Hellryder for a release in November. It’s not something that depends on Covid, it was just something we had to find the time to record the music because we are also writing new music for Grave Digger.

5. So is it difficult to separate the music for Hellryder and Grave Digger recording music for both bands at the same time, and given your voice, and Axel’s guitar sound?

CHRIS: Its because Hellryder’s new songs are just fun covers, and we can do whatever we want. If you remember when Grave Digger released the “Living Dead” album a lot of people were complaining because we had that fun song ‘Zombie Dance’ with those folk sounds. With Hellryder we can do what we want, and with the next Hellryder we are going to have some fun. With Grave Digger we going on with the concept albums and the current one is in progress. Those are the reasons why we don’t have a problem making music for both bands, and avoid them sounding the same, or similar.

6. So the Hellryder album, was that recorded during 2020 and the pandemic?

CHRIS: We started the songs in Aug/Sept 2020 and recorded them from Oct to Feb this year. For the music videos we were able to be together, but last year we had problems because with Grave Digger we had booked a trip to go to Scotland to record a video for the song ‘Fields of Blood’ do some things and couldn’t, and two weeks before the lockdown and we had to cancel everything. It was a huge mess. So we were happy we could at least do a couple videos for Hellryder.

7. How has the response been to Hellryder?

CHRIS: We had some great comments about our music videos, and that is really fun to read. So people asked if it is just a project, if I left Grave Digger, haha. Some people said we sound like Sepultura, Pantera. People compare us to so many bands, and we are really happy it’s a new band, and sound. Our second video is on Youtube now, and we are on Spotify also.

8. Can you tell us about what a couple of the songs are about? They seem like they are loose and fun with title like ‘Bad Attitude’, ‘Passion Maker’, ‘Chainsaw Lilly’.

CHRIS: The lyrics just come out of my head, like the song ‘Jekyll & Hyde’, some days I want to be Jekyll, other days I may be Hyde when I write the lyrics. Because everyone has two sides, like ‘Chainsaw Lilly’ is a real bitch, lol. We used these kind of lyrics for Grave Digger, sometimes, but we like to stick with the classic metal themes for Grave Digger. I’m almost sixty years old so I don’t know how many Grave Digger and Hellryder albums are left in me, haha. I’d like to retire sometime soon also.

9. Were any of the songs for the Hellryder album considered for the next Grave Digger album?

CHRIS: No, they were completely separate. But, live we have considered a couple Grave Digger deep tracks, rarely or never played songs. We are also doing a Hellryder version of ‘Heavy Metal Breakdown’. Like ‘Back to the Roots’ from the “Symphony of Death” album. So we will release four new covers later this year, maybe a Motorhead one.

10. After the Hellryder album comes out will you be able to do a couple shows in Germany, or a nearby country?

CHRIS: We have a couple shows set up this year, big festivals are canceled for the summer, as of now. Most of them are rescheduled for next year. But we will also do a couple Grave Digger shows this year too, just not the full tour yet. We are also planning a US tour next year too. We are working on the package now. It looks promising. We have some great memories from those two American tours a couple years ago with Blind Guardian through all the big markets. We are also releasing a couple lyric videos, for ‘The Devil is a Gambler’ and ‘Sacrifice in Paradise’.

11. Can you tell us a little bit about the new Grave Digger music?

CHRIS: Yeah, we are following the Middle Ages trilogy, history, Axel is working on the riffs and I’m working on the lyrics. I think we will be ready to record the album in November, and for once I will mix the album myself. For so many years I spent watching others mixing and mastering music. I had so much time during the pandemic I learned to mix and master music. Now I will do it myself, and finally I can put the sounds I hear in my head in the music. I have the sound of the new Grave Digger album in my head, and I know how to do it now, I can realize it. I can change and fix things as I want now in my own studio. Axel always records his guitars I his studio, and we will record the drums and bass there, and my vocals here.

12. Do you think there will be any surprises on the new Grave Digger album, something not heard on a previous album?

CHRIS: Well not something so different, but working on the music yourself you can add maybe some elements that will be different. I think Grave Digger will always be Grave Digger. Axel is responsible for the Hellryder sounder, he did the mix as well.

13. Did Axel use a different guitar, amp, tuning, setup for Hellryder than what he uses for Grave Digger?

CHRIS: The funny thing is he used the same gear he uses for Grave Digger, but everything is on a baritone guitar, deeper tones. Same tuning almost like Korn, for Hellryder classic riffs with that tuning. Grave Digger is tuned to A.

14. On Facebook there have been a couple posts celebrating the early years of Grave Digger. Any reissues planned?

CHRIS: We may be releasing some early demos from the 80s, before the album “Heavy Metal Breakdown”, and some songs from the early 90s. But we have a few legal aspect to discuss with past members, and money, etc. So we will see. It was also the 40th anniversary for Grave Digger last year, so we were supposed to celebrate that but had to postpone.

15. Where can people find merchandise for Hellryder, and Grave Digger?

CHRIS: Right now you can get both Hellryder and Grave Digger at the Grave Digger website. Unfortunately American fans have to pay a little more for shipping. We don’t have anything set up in the US yet for distribution. The other option is buy from our merch table when we come back on tour.

Hellryder Official website: Hellryder Official website: https://www.hellryder.de


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