Axel Rudi Pell

Two years gone and mighty German guitar player Axel Rudi Pell is back with the new powerful album "Kings And Queens". During those two years lots of things happened with Axel including the release of the double live album, double DVD, and so on. We tried to cover up almost all of those issues in this 30-minute interview. See for yourself! Last year you played at a charity concert in Bochum with Doro. What was it all about?

Axel Rudi Pell: It's a charity organization for animal protection and rescue in my hometown Bochum. A friend of mine runs this organization. He showed me photos of those animals and asked to play at a charity concert. He said that there would be no payments, no fees, nothing. I said, "Sure, no problem!" I wasn't involved in the whole concert, just several tracks. There was an orchestra there as well. One of the songs I played on (cover-version of John Miles "Music") was done with Doro. Did you ever think of recording an album with an orchestra like Yngwie Malmsteen did?

Axel Rudi Pell: Yeah, I know his album, I like it very much but I won't consider doing the same thing. I guess Yngwie did it in the best way it could be possible so I don't think I'll try to do the same thing. Also I consider it to be quite boring listening to such an album again and again. But you definitely have classical influences in your musical style?

Axel Rudi Pell: Of course, I love classical music and listen to it quite often. My favorite composer is Vivaldi. Speaking of Doro, did you ever think of recording something with her?

Axel Rudi Pell: No, I don't think I will do it. The main problem is that I live in Bochum, Germany and she is in New York, USA. The concert was just a single event and that's all. Still you seem to be good friends. You also started at the same time, you in Steeler and she in Warlock. As far as I know you went on tour at that time...

Axel Rudi Pell: Yeah, we're getting along fine. About that tour, it never happened. It was planned and tickets were about to go on sale. But then it was cancelled and I have no clue why it happened. On your previous albums there were always cover tunes. What other cover song you'd like to do?

Axel Rudi Pell: To tell you the truth, I don't know. There are so many good songs around. I guess if I would like to do a cover song it will result in five full-scale albums or so (laughs). The last time we talked we ended up with plans for DVD. Now it's released so there are some questions about it. You said you have lots of private video recordings with Jeff Scott Soto. Why there were not released on that DVD?

Axel Rudi Pell: One simple reason: there wasn't enough time to edit them all and there wasn't enough space on DVD for all of them. I hope some day I'll release another DVD and those recordings will be on it. On that DVD you do the interview and it happens in front of a castle. Is that your own one?

Axel Rudi Pell: No! (laughs) Not at all! I wish it would be mine! No, that's a castle in the south of Germany near the city of Munich. The record company just put it on the background and they also used some computer technologies to put my logo on a castle tower. As far as I know the video clip of Steeler "The Deeper The Night" was remastered from a video tape for that DVD. Why not from master tapes?

Axel Rudi Pell: We simply couldn't find them. The record company owns copywrites for that video but they couldn't the master tapes. But we wanted to release the video clip anyway so it was remastered from a video tape, yes. OK, let's talk about the new album. You once said that "Shadow Zone" is the second part in the trilogy about "The Masquerade Ball". What about "Kings And Queens"? Is that the final part?

Axel Rudi Pell: In a way yes. Actually the whole thing started on "Oceans Of Time" and mostly concerns album covers. On "Oceans Of Time" you see five guys that I call knights sailing to the masquerade ball. On "The Masquerade Ball" the knights are entering the building for the ball. On "Shadow Zone" they understand that the masquerade ball was a trap and evil emprisoned them. On "Kings And Queens" they escape the building and are being crowned for the victory over the evil force. So who comes with ideas for those covers and who creates them?

Axel Rudi Pell: Usually I come up with several ideas for the album cover and explain them to a friend of mine. Then he draws several images and we select the best one, which becomes the album cover. Unfortunately, this guy is moving to Australia from Germany so the communication will be harder from now on. The new album also sounds more fresh and faster than "Shadow Zone". Do you agree?

Axel Rudi Pell: Yes, that's true. Actually a lot of people were complaining that "Shadow Zone" was slow and I really think that it could have had two less ballads. I think the new album "Kings And Queens" is the best album I've ever done. I love the guitar sound and the production was great thanks to Charlie Bauerfeind. What about songs? Are they united by one single concept or not?

Axel Rudi Pell: Some of them fit into the idea on the album cover like "Flying High", "Take The Crown", "Legions Of Hell", etc. But, for example, the song "Strong As A Rock" tells about drug addiction and how it's hard to overcome it. Another track "Cold Heaven" tells about a women who thinks that she's good but in fact she's cold inside and no feelings matter. Talking about drugs and that crazy rock'n'roll life, you once said you read the book of Motley Crue "The Dirt". What do you think of it? Could such a thing be possible in Germany?

Axel Rudi Pell: Usually I don't have time to read books but in between the recordings I found three days and read that book. Yes, that crazy lifestyle is nothing like a German person could accept. I guess that's the mental difference. Of course, it's cool to read that a guy slept on the floor in the rehearsal room but no German musician would ever do this. In Germany people consider safety to be very imporant so before checking in the studio they will find a place to stay. So in the end of the day a German would walk out of the recordings studio and go to the hotel to sleep. Also all those heavy drug addictions are quite a rare thing among German musicians. Axel, there are a couple of questions about your side projects activities. You once played on the solo album of guitarist Doc Heyne (ex-Biss). How did it happen?

Axel Rudi Pell: Doc is a friend of fine for many years. Actually he called me one day and asked to play on his solo album. Of course, I agreed and did it but it seems like it was such a long time ago, about four or five years back. The last time I met Doc it was almost a year ago so we're slowly losing contact, I guess. Last year you also played on the second solo album of Rob Rock "Eyes Of Eternity".

Axel Rudi Pell: Yes. As you know he sang on one of my albums, "Nasty Reputation" and a couple of years ago we did tour together with his band. So he called me from the States and asked to play a solo on his album. I said, "Sure, no problem, Rob! I'll do it!" So he sent me the tape, I played a solo in my studio, and sent it back to him. That's how it happened. Back in Steeler days you had the green guitar with straps all over its body and in early 1990s you had a violet guitar with your logo on it. What happened to those guitars since you don't use them at live shows?

Axel Rudi Pell: I guess I used the green guitar only in Steeler days and violet one I used last time on tour when "Made In Germany" live album was recorded. I use both of those guitars a lot in the studio when recording albums but I now have so many guitars that I don't take those ones on tour with me. About your logo, do you think it reminds of the one from the cover of Motley Crue album "Dr. Feelgood" (1989)?

Axel Rudi Pell: They look the same, yes, but in fact mine is different. Also I came up with that logo in late 1988 when I left Steeler and started my solo career. And the next year Motley Crue released the album with a similar logo but it was too late to change anything. So I use it since that time on. Axel, your former bandmate from Steeler, singer Peter Burtz, told me you played together a couple of tracks of Steeler at some party of your old friend in December last year. What was it?

Axel Rudi Pell: Ah, that's an old friend of mine and Peter's. We were at his wedding about 10 years ago and played some tune at that time. Last year he invited me and Peter to his birthday. At the party he asked us to play some songs together so me and Peter and my bassist (former bassist of Steeler) Volker Kravczak jammed on stage and played two Steeler tracks "Call Her Princess" from the first album and "Chain Gang" from "Strike Back". There were no real drums there but Peter was in a great shape so we had a lot of fun doing it. In most of the cases you play only in Germany but this year you will be at the Sweden Rock festival.

Axel Rudi Pell: Yes, it just got confirmed. I think the tour that is planned for now is just the first part. We'll stop for the summer because there are lots of festivals around that time and we will be back on the road in autumn. We're currently negotiating to play in other European countries. Probably we will have a chance to go to South America. But nothing is confirmed so far so we have to wait and see. Well, Axel, I guess that all I wanted to ask from you. Hope to see you in Russia or in Germany some day!

Axel Rudi Pell: I hope so. Thanks! Bye!

Dead Ripper
(February, 2004)

All photos (c) 2002 Frank Schurmann

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