This is the band that started it all on the German metal scene. Many people still think Helloween was the main reason German heavy metal got noticed worldwide. Yes, with melodic power metal. But the first step in the heavy metal direction was made by Grave Digger, the band that took to heart the music of the British masters like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest and transformed it into the national movement. 20+ years later Grave Digger is still going strong! Unfortunately, Chris Boltendahl, the band's mastermind and neverending leader, is not a pro in English language so the interview was done by e-mail. Enjoy! Who, when and how started the band?

Chris Boltendahl: Me and guitarist Peter Masson in 1980. Why choosing the name Grave Digger?

Chris Boltendahl: Me and Peter found the name in a dictionary and we liked it a lot. It sounded so dark and mysterious. How did you get inspiration to write songs in early days?

Chris Boltendahl: Mostly from daily events and from our own fantasy. What happened to tracks from the first demo tape of 1982 "The Looser", "Agypten" and "Ride On"? Was "Ride On" on the demo tape the same track that appeared on "The Reaper" album?

Chris Boltendahl: Those demos never had a chance to get on the record. They were only demo songs. And yes, "Ride On" was more or less the same track but got changed a lot. Why the song "Violence" was released only on the "Rock From Hell" compilation and not on the debut album as well?

Chris Boltendahl: At the end of the day we were not so satisfied with the song to put it on the album. Who came up with the artwork idea for "Heavy Metal Breakdown"?

Chris Boltendahl: Willi Lackmann, our bass player. It was totally his idea. Grave Digger was probably the only German heavy metal band in the 1980s writing about love topics. What inspired you to write songs like "Love Is Breaking My Heart"? Were there any life experiences or fantasies?

Chris Boltendahl: I have a lot of women in my life and I made a lot of broken hearts and some women also broke my heart. Why the name was shortened to Digger in 1987?

Chris Boltendahl: Only because of commercial aspects!!! They wanted to sell more albums on the American market. Is it possible to get copyrights and re-release "Stronger Than Ever" on CD? Chris Boltendahl: I think no. What did you do between 1988 and 1991? Were there any bands or he totally abandoned the music scene?

Chris Boltendahl: I studied and made a diploma as social worker. Only some local amateur bands from time to time. Why Peter Brittersbach was featured only on the promotional EP and left the band soon after it was released?

Chris Boltendahl: We threw him out of the band because he did not fit in our style. I heard about some project called Return Of The Ripper in 1990. What was it about?

Chris Boltendahl: This was the promotional demo tape made for record companies after the reunion happened. What inspired you to write the sequel to "Legion Of The Lost"?

Chris Boltendahl: All the poor people who live in this world. Does the song "Wedding Day" have any real backgrounds or is it a fantasy?

Chris Boltendahl: It was reality!!! One more broken heart... The special Japanese CD edition of "Heavy Metal Breakdown" from 1994 featured all the rare tracks from the 1980s. Is it possible to release a similar album in Germany?

Chris Boltendahl: I think no because all the rights belong to "Sanctuary Records". What happened to Frank Ulrich after the release of "Heart Of Darkness"?

Chris Boltendahl: Same situation as with Peter Breitenbach - he did not fit in our style. Why the accompanying story in "Tunes Of War" was written only in German and not translated to English anywhere?

Chris Boltendahl: We did it as a tribute to our German fans. Were the following albums issued by G.U.N. records authorized by the band - "Tunes Of Wacken" and "Lost Tunes From The Vault"?

Chris Boltendahl: "Tunes Of Wacken" was produced and controlled by the band. The other album is not. Why the album of 2001 was titled simply "Grave Digger"?

Chris Boltendahl: We thought that was the atmosphere of this record was deep and rough to call it simply that way. Will the official biography of the band be translated into English?

Chris Boltendahl: Not yet, we are still looking for the publisher. Digipack editions of latest two albums have bonus tracks. Is it possible to find lyrics to those tracks anywhere?

Chris Boltendahl: I'm afraid not!!! What inspired you to write about the Rheingold story?

Chris Boltendahl: The music of Richard Wagner. Do you like any classical composers like Wagner, Bach, or someone else? Did they influence your music anyhow?

Chris Boltendahl: We are all big fans of classical music!!! What is that song "Hellas Hellas" about? Why it was performed during the "Tunes Of War" tour?

Chris Boltendahl: It was performed only in Green and it's the traditional Greek song. Is it possible to release the DVD covering the whole history of Grave Digger?

Chris Boltendahl: I will think about it!!! Was Led Zeppelin such a heavy influence on the band to play "No Quarter" on the tribute album?

Chris Boltendahl: We love Led Zeppelin, the band is the main influence on our music. Are there any unreleased tracks in vaults from the 1980s and 1990s?

Chris Boltendahl: No, not at all. Will the next album be history-based or not? Chris Boltendahl: I don't know. We are still in a thinking process. Why H.P. Katzenburg always performs with some mask on his face?

Chris Boltendahl: Because he's too ugly!!! (laughs) Thanx for the interview and your final words to our readers…

Chris Boltendahl: See ya all at the concert! We love our Russian fans a lot!!!

Dead Ripper
(June, 2004)

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