Does it make any sense to write here how great Bonfire is? They've been going for over 15 years, they have eight studio albums out, they have played in Europe and in the States more times than anyone can remember… Let's just say they are one of the best melodic rock bands that have ever existed, and if you question the statement, check out the band's latest compilation record "29 Golden Bullets" and you'll be convinced. Needless to say, half of the MetalKings.com staff were dreaming about interviewing the band's founders Claus Lessmann (vocals) and Hans Ziller (guitar) ever since the beginning of our project, and the lucky one was Dead Ripper, who caught up with Claus in a bar in Bonfire's home town of Ingolstadt shortly before Christmas in 2001. The entire conversation lasted for about two hours, here's the essence of it.
MetalKings.com: Hello, Claus! I still cannot believe that I see you here!
Claus: Hello, Michael! That's really me! (laughs)
MetalKings.com: Well, as far as I know Bonfire originated from the band called Cacumen. What was that band about?
Claus: Well, I joined the band Cacumen which already existed at that time. Hans was playing in that band since 1979 so that was really a long time ago. It was pretty successful band at that time but only in the south of Germany. We did a couple of records with that band and then changed it into Bonfire.
MetalKings.com: So why did you change it?
Claus: The name was pretty hard to pronounce, nobody knew what the meaning was...
MetalKings.com: And me too! (laughs) So what's the meaning?
Claus: It's a Latin word, it means 'the top of the mountain'. It was a word in the test in school, Hans failed the test because he didn't know the word. That's why he called the band Cacumen. We did two albums, one maxi-single and that was about it.
MetalKings.com: Yes, but there was also a single with "Riding Away" and "Wintertale" before the first album.
Claus: You know everything! That was the very first time that we've been to the studio, we recorded a single with two tracks, "Riding Away" and "Wintertale", and it was a hell of experience.
MetalKings.com: Well, it's almost impossible to hear those recordings right now. So is it possible that they will be re-issued some day?
Claus: We're working on that but there are some problems with the rights, you know. The old record companies, they still have the rights on that, but I think they won't have it next year. So most of the stuff should be free and we'll think about re-releasing it. That will be a lot of fun for the people to hear that.
MetalKings.com: Well, the title song of that maxi-single "Longing For You" was later re-recorded for the first Bonfire album "Don't Touch The Light" (1986). So why that particular song?
Claus: Actually I don't know. It was the song that everybody in the band still liked. Maybe it happened because the change from Cacumen to Bonfire was so fluent, you know, there were really no troubles, and somebody said, "Let's take one song into Bonfire just to show the people that it's still the same band." We already had a lot of fans with Cacumen and people already knew that song so it was good to have it on the album.
MetalKings.com: As far as I know you made a video clip for "Longing For You" with Cacumen, right?
Claus: Really? Well, I think it was more a TV session, not a video clip.
MetalKings.com: So the first Bonfire clip was "Starin' Eyes". What's the meaning behind it?
Claus: You know, everybody at that time was in that "Mad Max" fever. The world after a nuclear war, and that's also the background of the song, life after the nuclear war.
MetalKings.com: Your first drummer in Bonfire was Dominik Huelschorst. Why did he leave the band after the first album?
Claus: Because of personal problems. We didn't get along very good.
MetalKings.com: But later Dominik played on your German album, right?
Claus: Yes, but Curt Cress played most of that stuff. So Dominik was just a guest musician. We met again, talked to each other and said, "Let's go some stuff together," so he played on three or four tracks on the album.
MetalKings.com: Originally Bonfire played with guitarist Horst Mayer-Thorn. What happened to him?
Claus: Oh, he had frightis, he could not play guitar anymore so we had to find somebody new. So we ended up with Angel Schleifer.
MetalKings.com: And what is Horst doing now?
Claus: He's doing something with computers, I think.
MetalKings.com: So did he recover from that disease?
Claus: No, it's getting even worse.
MetalKings.com: And did Horst have that problem from the very beginning or just when you were working on "Fireworks" (second album - ed.)?
Claus: No, he had that from the very beginning but nobody expected that it would become that bad. We've been on tour a lot and he just couldn't play anymore.
MetalKings.com: And how did you find Angel Schleifer?
Claus: We first met when we went to do some songwriting in the States. We met in the airport, he was playing with Pretty Maids at that time. We already knew each other from Munich and we liked him very much as a guitar player. And somehow that bad thing happened with Horst and we were looking for a guitar player. So we remembered that incident in the airport and we talked to each other and said, "Well, what's German guitar player doing in Denmark? Oh, come over, come back to Germany, back to Munich, come and join Bonfire!" And he kinda liked the idea so he joined the band.
MetalKings.com: As far as I know currently he lives in Arizona, USA. So why did he relocate?
Claus: I think his wife was moving over there, and as he didn't do any music any more in the band he moved over there as well. But he was one of the best, he's still one of the best guitar players I know.
MetalKings.com: You had a song called "(20th Century) Youth Patrol" on the "Point Blank" album (1989). What's the meaning of it?
Claus: It's mainly about the club scene, rock'n'roll club scene in the States. And there was another scene, dance and stuff like that. So everybody always wants to tell young people what to do, but they just wanna go out and rock and that's it, have a party. So we came out with the expression 'youth patrol' like a 'police patrol' and whatever. So together we tell them, "Don't tell us what to do!"
MetalKings.com: In the 1980s and on the "Knock Out" album (1991) you made some funny songs like "Tonmeister" and "Minestrone"...
Claus: It was really fun, just fun.
MetalKings.com: So what's the meaning behind that song "Tonmeister"?
Claus: Well, on the first albums we always had some funny tracks and during the "Knock Out" times we didn't have any and nobody in the band wanted to do something like that because they all were like 'we don't like it anymore' or whatever. So I said, "OK, I'll do it on my own but you can help me if you want." So I did it together with Mack (producer of "Knock Out"). We thought, "What can we do? Let's just put different styles of music together, what we have ever played, you know." We started as a cover band when I went to school, so we played country, blues and everything. We also put some black metal on it, something you would never expect from Bonfire, like metal shit. So we put it all together and Mack came up with the title "Tonmeister" 'cause he was looking for a word in German that has its English meaning as well. I think there is no word for 'tonmeister' in English, it's a person who works in the studio as a tonmeister (laughs) And it was pretty funny recording that, we were lying on the floor, we were laughing so much. The English people especially loved it because it was so strange and so weird. Well, and some lyrics from they don't mean a thing, you know. I was singing the first part in Arabic and the second part in Bavarian with an Arabic slang and mellow kind of melody and lyrics about that everybody wants to have a beer (laughs)
MetalKings.com: And the same thing was with "Minestrone", right?
Claus: Yes, that's a German slang which is spoken in the area around Nuremberg. So the song is about cooking a minestrone. And that flush in the end is the toilet flush 'cause it didn't taste good, you know.
MetalKings.com: How did it happen that you had just one guitarist on "Knock Out"?
Claus: There was nobody available at that moment and nobody in the band wanted another guitar player especially after the split with Hans Ziller, you know, because it was a very painful split (Hans left circa 1990 because of a conflict with the management - ed.) and nobody wanted to make a decision for a new guitar player. So we just recorded it with one.
MetalKings.com: And do you think that album was kind of depressive?
Claus: I don't think so, you know. I think it was a wrong time for that album because at that time grunge made it big and if you weren't out of Seattle you were a shitty band, you know. If you were in a shitty band you weren't a good singer, a good guitar player, a good drummer because you just weren't from Seattle. That's why I think the album was not that successful like the others were. And I think that happened to many bands, for example, Motley Crue got dropped by the record company and many famous bands from the 1980s lost their contracts. So many bands out of Seattle, nowadays they disappeared, nobody knows where they are, and the big bands from the 1980s they are still there. Maybe they're not filling stadiums like at that time but they still rock.
MetalKings.com: Most of your albums from the 1980s have bonus tracks on CDs like "Cold Days" and some others. Who decided to do it?
Claus: We decided that together with the management and record company because we wanted to make it more interesting for the fans to buy all those records.
MetalKings.com: OK, you were such a big band in the 1980s so why didn't you ever tour Japan?
Claus: I don't know too. It happened exactly at the time short before "Knock Out" when the band was actually ready to go to Japan but it split up and the costs were too high and all that stuff. Everything came together and in the end of the day there was no Bonfire anymore. We went over there, I guess, in 1990 to do promotion for an upcoming tour but somehow it never happened. We knew it before and managed to save the money. But it was fun, you know, it was a real fun. A completely different world.
MetalKings.com: Well, another thing is that most of your old albums were not issued in Japan for a long time. What do you think about it?
Claus: I don't know. It's the same like in the United States; we want to release the new stuff first and wait for reaction. So if the reaction is positive then they gonna re-issue the old stuff as well. But that's I think the record company policy. As an artist you can't tell 'em what to do...
MetalKings.com: A question about your previous drummer, Edgar Patrick. Did he really disappear from the scene?
Claus: I don't really know what happened to him, I have no contact with him.
MetalKings.com: But I guess he was such a good drummer...
Claus: He was an excellent drummer, one of the best we've ever had. And he's playing like a clockwork, but somehow he didn't make it.
MetalKings.com: So how did you find him? As far as I know he's not from Germany...
Claus: Yes, he's from Vienna, Austria. Actually we had a lot of auditions, we were looking for a drummer when Dominik left the band and we put an add into "Metal Hammer" and other rock magazines that we were looking for a drummer. Then we had auditions all over and one day Edgy showed up and he was playing such a fantastic drum so we said, "That's the one!"
MetalKings.com: Is that true that Paul Sabu was supposed to join Bonfire as a singer in the early 1990s?
Claus: No, that's false. When I left the band Bonfire carried on for a couple of years with Michael Bormann (now in Jaded Heart - ed.) but they didn't find the contract 'cause no record company wanted to release any albums, they all said, "We want Claus Lessmann as a singer" and there were actually talks about having Paul Sabu in the band but that's all I know.
MetalKings.com: In the clip "Sweet Obsession" off "Fireworks" you wear a T-shirt with 'USSR' written on it in Russian. So where did you take it from?
Claus: It was from London. (pause) You know everything! You know things that even I can't remember!
MetalKings.com: You see, the point is that Bonfire is my favorite band so I try to find out as much information as possible... And the first album from Bonfire that I've heard was that German album "Freundfeuer" (1994).
Claus: Well, when we did it people were just laughing. But now saleswise it's a pretty successful album and a lot of people say that it's brilliant because it's so different compared to the rest the band is doing.
MetalKings.com: As long as I remember that German album was originally issued as "Glaub Dran"...
Claus: Yes, the 6-track EP.
MetalKings.com: So why did you decide to re-issue it?
Claus: At that time Hans and I got back the rights on the name Bonfire from the rest of the members. We said, "OK, that's about time to release something." We couldn't wait any longer, people wanted to hear something from us. And at that time we finished the stuff for Lessmann/Ziller project which also included that "Glaub Dran". So we said, "Let's put the name Bonfire on it, release an English version of it ("Feels Like Coming Home" (1996))" and so it came together.
MetalKings.com: Well, I personally don't speak German, can't understand it but do you think that such song like "Freundschaft" has the meaning that cannot be translated into English?
Claus: Yeah, it was hard because of the phonetics, when you sing it, it sounds completely different, you know. So we wanted to keep it like that so we had to change a lot of lyrics. Also "Rock'n'Roll Cowboy" comes a lot better in German than in English. I think that some songs when you write them in German it's the best way to sing them in German because the message comes across right from the heart, you know, and nothing's in between. So when you change it into English you always look at the original which was German. And I think that original is better in most cases.
MetalKings.com: Also that song "Noch'n Bier" is funny, party song. How did it come up?
Claus: It was a real fun song which was written in my little studio and I said, "Let's do something that people can sing in a bar" The story about that is people are always missing each other, in the end he's drunk and they've been waiting for each other in wrong places. So it was fun to do it.
MetalKings.com: Well, another song, "Wach Auf", is about the problem of being a German, as far as I know...
Claus: Yeah, at that time there was a problem with those right-winged assholes who still exist, they will never learn from history, they were out in the streets creating complete chaos. So we said, "We gotta say something against it!" Because people were looking at them and at us, and everybody in the United States, Russia remembers what Germans did in the history so we thought it was time to make a stand, to say something against of it, to let everyone know that most of the people in Germany don't think the way those assholes do. That was the reason.
MetalKings.com: So why did the English kind-of-version "Proud Of My Country" come out only in 1999 on the "Fuel To The Flames" album?
Claus: It just depends, you know. When you're writing an album things come into your mind and then you make a decision what you're gonna write about. Maybe during the "Rebel Soul" times I wasn't thinking too strong about that but when writing "Proud Of My Country" I felt it very strong because I remembered an incident in Las Vegas.
MetalKings.com: You mean that 'trip to Vegas' like in the song, right?
Claus: Yes. At that time when "Wach Auf" was written I spent two weeks in the United States and I went to the "Hard Rock Cafe" in Las Vegas. When people heard that we're Germans they were calling us 'Nazi swines', you know. They just heard something in the news like, "The Nazis are again in the streets" and I remembered that when I wrote the lyrics to "Fuel To The Flames", you know. That's how I wrote "Proud Of My Country" because I think everybody wants to be proud of his country. And the song has nothing to do with that Nazi stuff because every American can say, an Italian can say, Russian can say, a French can say, an Englishman can say but it's not allowed for a German to say because we're always in combination with that Nazi stuff. And there's nothing wrong about that, I think, we have to say it.
MetalKings.com: I think that lyrics on your latest three albums are very expressive and much better than in the past. How can you explain this?
Claus: I don't know, maybe it was a very hard time for us, because there were so many new things and new situations, I got a divorce, you know, was feeling very strong so that all might be the reason.
MetalKings.com: So was that song "Somebody's Waiting" from the "Rebel Soul" album written after the divorce?
Claus: No, no, at that time I wasn't divorced but maybe that was the start, you know. I was starting to think about those things, to express your wishes or whatever.
MetalKings.com: Your latest album is a kind of best-of-compilation with remixes and rare tracks, I mean, the "29 Golden Bullets" album. So do you have any more unreleased stuff?
Claus: Oh yes, I think there's still tons of that unreleased stuff, demos, you know, tons of demos. We thought it was a good platform for fans should buy it, we shouldn't make another typical best-of but put some rare stuff on it, different mixes, "Sword And Stone" which was not available on CD and an unreleased demo ("Take Me By The Hand", originally recorded for "Fireworks"). You can put unreleased stuff but can't release an album only with demos, it just doesn't make sense. But from now on we'll try to do it more often.
MetalKings.com: What about remixes on "29 Golden Bullets", when were they made?
Claus: Some were made in the past, some were made right now. And those remixes, they were just laying around, nobody has them so we said, "OK, let's take them and put on the album" just to have something different to other 'best-ofs'.
MetalKings.com: And don't you think it's time to release another live album?
Claus: Yeah, we're thinking about that. Maybe next year or two years later we'll come up with a new live album because the last one was almost 10 years ago. We have tons of new songs, the set list completely changed. So it's a good idea and we gotta think about it.
MetalKings.com: Claus, who influenced you as a singer?
Claus: That's really hard to tell. It's a very strange combination of Deep Purple, The Eagles, Queen, Bad Company, I think that kind of stuff. Like I said, it's a kind of weird combination if you compare Freddie Mercury of Queen and all those different singers from The Eagles, which is a West Coast country, Deep Purple and Ian Gillan. And if you put them altogether maybe there comes out a little Claus Lessmann, I don't know. (laughs)
MetalKings.com: As far as I understand in the 1980s you were oriented very much on the American market. So why not Europe or at least Germany?
Claus: I think the band did not decide it, it was the decision of our management. And I think that was a very big mistake because we should have, like you said, concentrated more on the German and European markets than going to the States and spending months, months and months on touring there. Because you can tour in the States forever, we still haven't played the United States. And some bands from the States never come to Europe because they haven't toured the States. So I think it was a big mistake, we wouldn't do that again, we need to concentrate more on our base in Germany and Europe, hopefully make it to Russia one day. We planned to play there twice already back in 1990 or 1991, Leningrad for three nights. It was sold out, I think, 20,000 people but the flight costs they exploded at that time so we couldn't do the show. This year we were supposed to play in Minsk, Belarus. But it didn't happen because the local guy went broke, he had no money anymore so we couldn't do that.
MetalKings.com: Now you mostly play in Germany and Switzerland. Why not the rest of Europe?
Claus: Because they haven't released our latest albums. Next year from February to March or April we're going to play in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Norway looks good, Finland looks good, France looks so and so, and maybe we can do three shows in the States.
MetalKings.com: Well, originally I was going to visit your concert in Fulda (a town in Germany, home of Edguy, by the way - ed.), but it was cancelled together with the next show. What happened?
Claus: Hans has a problem with his hand and the doctor says he might go to the hospital, you know. So we cancelled the shows.
MetalKings.com: And is it really such a big problem with him?
Claus: Oh yes, a real big problem. But nothing that can't be done without a good cut, you know. But it will take some time to do that so we said, "OK, we better cancel these shows, so many people will go there since it's winter, so many kilometers".
MetalKings.com: I guess the reason for the Bonfire reunion was not the money thing...
Claus: No, not at all.
MetalKings.com: Probably it was friendship between you and Hans, what do you think?
Claus: Yes, it's like a marriage. I think we've been like... married forever 'cause he's such a nice person, we get along very, very good with each other and we're very good in songwriting together so it's a good team.
MetalKings.com: Why you didn't think about reuniting the band in its original line-up?
Claus: Because all the people changed too much. It's like you don't wanna marry your divorced wife for the second time, to do the same mistakes you did before. So that was the reason because people changed so much and there was no basis anymore. We said, "OK, let's start with new people," I think it was a good move.
MetalKings.com: Hans recorded an album with the band EZ Livin' in 1991 ("After The Fire") and I've heard that you were supposed to sing on the second one. Is that true?
Claus: No, that was a rumour. Maybe he wanted it, because at that time he already knew that I was leaving Bonfire and he was kinda dreaming about that, I mean, of me as the next singer on his album but I think I would have never done that 'cause I wouldn't have joined another band, you know. I wanted to work with Hans together the way we both wanted or just leave it. So he left EZ Livin', I was leaving Bonfire and we did that German stuff.
MetalKings.com: I've also heard that during that "Feels Like Coming Home" (1995) album you recorded music for a movie. Is it true?
Claus: Yes. There's this German director Joseph Filtzmeier who did a great movie about Stalingrad. He was also doing a movie on that very famous German book, a remake of the old movie. The original title came from Eirich Hesner and he asked us to do a song for that movie which was more of a family movie, you know, no violence in the film at all, no blood. And I kinda like that because it's very hard right now to do a movie without violence, blood or sex scenes. So we said, "That's interesting, we'll do it!"
MetalKings.com: And what was the song and was it released anywhere?
Claus: It was called "Charlie And Elise", a very, very soft song. It was released but never made it really big. It was an interesting work but nothing more.
MetalKings.com: The next album was "Rebel Soul" (1996), and its Japanese edition had two bonus tracks ("In Zaire / The Stroke" (live) and "Wake Up" (live)). What's that song "In Zaire" about?
Claus: It's just a fun cover-version, it's a song from Johnny Wakeman. It used to be a really big song in the 1970s, it was about a world championship on boxing when Walter Ralley was boxing in Zaire. And I don't know, a lot of people know it. So some day I came up with the idea of putting it in front of "The Stroke" 'cause it has the same rhythm, same kind of feeling. So people liked it, they were clapping and we kept that song in the program for several years.
MetalKings.com: All your albums after the reunion had cover-versions, all except "Strike X". So why no cover-versions on that album?
Claus: Well, it always depends on your feelings. Sometimes a song comes to your mind, you like it and say, "Let's play that and do our own version of that!" but on the latest album we said, "No, we don't need it, we won't do one." But maybe on the next album we will do a cover-version again. And that "Sweet Home Alabama" (off the "Fuel To The Flames" album - ed.) was the song that we played for decades. So we just said, "OK, it's about time to do our own version and go away from that Lynyrd Skynyrd stuff, make it more rocky, in the Bonfire style." So I think we did a good version of it.
MetalKings.com: Recently there was a contest on your homepage and the last question was "What song Bonfire should cover?" So which one did you finally decide to do?
Claus: I won't tell you yet but there were very good suggestions, it was very interesting but actually we didn't make up our mind yet.
MetalKings.com: I've heard that you wanted to make a cover-version of "Hard Luck Woman" by Kiss. Is that true?
Claus: It's one of my favorite Kiss songs because I do like The Eagles and do like the hard rock stuff, you know. If you look at "Hard Luck Woman", it's kind of an influence like that, a little country in it, a little west coast and I kinda like that.
MetalKings.com: Back in the 1980s, you recorded a song called "Sword And Stone" which was actually written by Paul Stanley from Kiss together with Desmond Child (famous producer - ed.) and guitarist Bob Kulick. How come you play the song on that soundtrack to the "Shocker" movie?
Claus: I don't know. We were recording "Point Blank" at that time and we were writing a couple of months before with Desmond Child, and they were putting together that soundtrack for the movie. And he remembered that and thought that the song could fit if played by us, so he gave us a call and was were like, "Yes, sure!"
MetalKings.com: Recently it became a kind of tradition that many bands participate in tribute albums. What about Bonfire?
Claus: No. If we are asked to do some interesting tribute album we surely would do it. But I think many bands do too much of that and they should concentrate more on their own stuff, maybe they are not very successful with their own stuff or whatever, so they are doing tribute albums.
MetalKings.com: Recently Michael Voss (ex-Mad Max, Bonfire, Casanova; now in Demon Drive - ed.) organized German Rock Stars and recorded a mini-album called "Wings Of Freedom". Were you invited to participate?
Claus: Yes, Michael contacted me. It was because of September 11, 2001 and about what happened in New York. So I said, "Vossy, that's interesting, you know, but I can't do it now. I'm too shocked about that and I won't do something that I might regret tomorrow." And that stuff was too fresh, just two days later when he called me. And the second reason why I refused was that somebody's gonna have money from it and I don't want that. If I don't get a confirmation that nobody is earning a penny from it and everything goes to the victims of that day I won't do it. Not at that point.
MetalKings.com: And there was another similar project in the early 1990s called German Rock Project which did the song "Let Love Conquer The World". Were you invited there?
Claus: No, our management at that time refused to do it. But Hans was on it because he had his band EZ Livin' so he was involved in that project.
MetalKings.com: So who thought about making a kind of cover-version of Beethoven, I mean, that "Ode An Die Freude" on the "Fuel To The Flames" album?
MetalKings.com: Does it mean that you like classical music?
Claus: Sometimes I do 'cause I think these are the roots where everything comes from. And I think that "Ode An Die Freude" is the European anthem, the anthem of Europe. And there's that song "Thumbs Up For Europe", so we put the anthem in front of it.
MetalKings.com: And what's your opinion on that 1980s attitude, I mean, the 'sex, drugs and rock'n'roll' thing?
Claus: I think it's a part of our life. But Bonfire has nothing to do with drugs. I think everybody is drinking, you don't have to be a musician to drink alcohol. Everybody is having girls, you don't have to be a musician to do that stuff. (laughs) So it's just dealing with cliches. Well, some bands don't like to think about politics, they just wanna party. So we say, "OK, you party, but we wanna think about something else" So we do write songs about that, I mean, pollution with "Nevermind", "Tony's Roulette", "You're Back" and many others. So there's at least one song on every Bonfire album which is about something else and not that cliche stuff.
MetalKings.com: What's the meaning of "Intro" to "Staring Eyes"?
Claus: Remember what I told you about "Mad Max" movie? That was just a track to create the mood for the song. And in the middle of the song you find parts from another movie "The Day After". So we just brought together that kind of atmosphere.
MetalKings.com: The final track on the "Don't Touch The Light" album was "L.A." Was it your fantasy or real experience?
Claus: Actually, just a fantasy 'cause at that time we've never been to Los Angeles. Sometimes you have to use your imagination if you haven't been anywhere before.
MetalKings.com: Another interesting song on the "Fireworks" album is "Nevermind". What's the meaning behind it?
Claus: That's about what I just told you, I mean, pollution, environment's coming down, you know, and everybody is just doesn't care what happens. So if you put some garbage on the street thinking, "OK, they'll clean it up" and that's the same thing you do with water, air. So one day there won't be Earth anymore 'cause nobody will be able to live on this Earth. And that's the meaning, everybody has the attitude which is kind of 'nevermind, it's just a small piece'.
MetalKings.com: Like many small pieces grow into a big one, right?
MetalKings.com: There was a single from the "Fireworks" album called "Give It A Try" and there was a live version of the song "S. D. I." Where was it recorded?
Claus: It was recorded in Frankfurt am Main and mixed by Michael Wagener in the States again.
MetalKings.com: You know, it's funny but "Give It A Try" is often played in McDonalds in Russia but not so many people know that it's a Bonfire track!
Claus: Maybe that's a McDonalds thing like, "People, come on, give it a try!" (laughs) That's really interesting!
MetalKings.com: Another song is "Shake Down". Can you explain what it is about?
Claus: It was an incident in 1989 when we were recording "Point Blank" After some recording session Hans and me went to a bar, had a couple of drinks and drove our way home, to our apartment. And Hans was crossing a red light and a second later the cops were behind us. So they stopped us and made that shake down to Hans. They treated him like the biggest criminal they've ever caught, you know, drove us to the police station, shouting, "You stand back!" you know, having guns at us, and I was like, "This is really Hollywood, you know" And they were behaving like gods. So the police in the States gets so much power, it's like you stand in front of God. They can do everything they want with you and if you don't do what they want you to go to jail.
MetalKings.com: Recently you released a DVD called "29 Golden Bullets" just like your compilation album. Basically that DVD is the re-issue of your old "The Best" video (1993). So did you think about adding some home videos to it?
Claus: Sure we did. But it was a problem, the lack of money. So the record company said, "OK, you want to re-issue the video? We can make it as a DVD!" And it's a couple of thousand marks, we can live with it but that sum was not too much so it became more or less a re-issue of our old video.
MetalKings.com: But actually you added a video except from your live performance at Wacken Open Air in 1998. Why don't you play Wacken anymore?
Claus: They don't want us! We're asking every year 'cause the people liked us, because nobody expected that Bonfire could rock. So our gig was very refreshing for the people who just saw that speed and black metal stuff. But I don't know the problem why they don't want us. We're asking every year and they just refuse.
MetalKings.com: Well, it might be my personal opinion but during that black and speed metal gigs people were just standing or clapping a bit at Wacken but when Bonfire came they started moving, singing, clapping and got so excited...
Claus: That's true, we had the same impression. And fans write us, "Why don't you play Wacken anymore?" But they don't want us and we don't know why!
MetalKings.com: And why was the single "Because It's Christmas Time" released two times?
Claus: Simply because there's Christmas every year! (laughs) Why should we change the song?
MetalKings.com: What do you think is the magic of Bonfire?
Claus: I don't know, I don't think about it too much, I just try to do it. Because if you get lost in too much thinking you're losing something of the feeling. So we're just doing what we're doing so I guess that's the secret of Bonfire.
MetalKings.com: And who actually designed the Bonfire logo?
Claus: I guess some marketing man, obviously not the band.
MetalKings.com: OK, Claus, thank you very, very much for the interview! I'm really glad to finally meet you and find out so many interesting things about the band and yourself! Thank you!
Claus: You're welcome, Michael, any time! Thank you! Bye!
Questions asked by Dead Ripper - Special thanks to Willi Wrede from Point Of Music (band's management) and a nice bar in the city of Ingolstadt...
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