Saint or Sinner? Juergen Volk Speaks Out.
Well known for Juergen’s past with ‘Glenmore’ a band sadly missed in my opinion is his new masterpiece ‘Rawhead Rexx’, who recently this year released their debut album ‘self titled’ through AFM Records. Juergen Volk speak exclusively to Jason Brown to find out more about ‘Rawhead Rexx’ and his previous band ‘Glenmore’ (a band I would have liked to of interviewed).
With the success of the bands debut the band have just embarked on a European tour with old mates ‘Saxon’ on their tour. The interview start’s when I ask Juergen a few questions which are related to ‘Glenmore’, here is what he had to say. In the meantime check out the bands debut album, it’s raw and killer!!!
First of all I would like to say it is great to speak to you once again. My first question is related to ‘Glenmore’, as I first heard the band when I was visiting Nibb’s from ‘Saxon’ house and he played me some of your material, which was killer!! So my first question is, why did you decide to call your old band ‘Glenmore’?”
“Well that is going back some time now, this was about 15 yrs ago and when we first started out and there was a pub in our home town which had a whiskey mirror called ‘Glenmore’ which was a Scottish drink, and so we liked the name we ended up using it for the bands name. We know that it is named after a little lake in Scotland and my sister visited this lake and she said it was beautiful, we just liked the name so much that we wanted to have this name for our band. We had no other names for the band.”
Just how many demo tapes did ‘Glenmore’ record prior to the release of the bands debut album?
“We did a lot of demo tapes. I think we did about 10 demo tapes and from the start we were a school band and we tried to figure out some different styles which took a long time to release our first demo tape. It took the band about 8 yrs to do a good demo tape and to get our first record deal. Listening back to the first demo’s makes me laugh as my voice was terrible and the demos sounded like they were recorded in the toilet, and they still do (laughing).”
Did ‘Glenmore’ have the same line-up throughout the career until you broke up, beside the drummer leaving?
“Well we first started out as a 3 piece band, and this was back in 82 and in 1990 we got our first record deal and by that time we were a 5 piece band and besides the drummer leaving we stayed with 4 of us until we broke up.”
For what reason did the band break up for?
“Well as you know we had a big deal with ‘Polydor’ in Germany and at that time they had started a big Heavy Metal campaign, and they were pretty big with German Folk music and this was the first time they did Heavy Metal music, the only other band that they really had was ‘The Almighty’.
Anyway after we released 2 albums they things did not work out. We later on looked for another deal, but nobody seemed interested in signing us because it was the time when the Grunge thing became very popular and nobody seemed to want to listen to Heavy Metal music. We seemed to have lost all of our magic and inspiration to carry on!!”
It was a shame that no indie Metal labels showed any interest in the band, why was that?
“Well I think that a lot of the indie labels were scared to sign us when we were dropped by a major label, they thought that we would not sell and they did not want to take the risk. Also they said that we were pushed very hard with promotion for Polydor, that they thought that they could not push us as hard as Polydor had”.
Would it of bothered you if an indie label did not push you as hard as the major label if they wanted to sign the band?
“Well it was pretty strange to work with ‘Polydor’ and our first art work for the debut album cost about 16.000 DM’s, and when we made the debut ‘Rawhead Rexx’ album it cost the same to record and produce the whole art work. At that time we were very young and we were feeling like rock stars and the designer came to talk to us about the art work for the ‘Glenmore’ album and he told us the price. and the label said it was fine!!"
The only downfall was that they never put us on any festivals like ‘Wacken’ or ‘Bang Your Head’, and we would of liked to have played them back then, but it was not meant to be. hey had no contact’s to the promoters of these festivals.”
Didn’t the debut album feature our original drummer and then the 2nd album feature Jorg Michael (Stratovarius) as a session drummer? So what happened to your original drummer?
“Well our original drummer had some problems with his ears which effected his drumming and in the end he could not practice anymore on his drums because of his ear problem. We are still good friends but it was un-fair for him and the rest of the band, and so we used Jorg for the 2nd album as a session drummer. Jorg is one of the best drummers around, he’s great!! Jorg was in it for the money and when we wanted him to play some shows with the band it would cost us a lot of money.”
Out of the 2 albums that ‘Glenmore’ recorded, which is your favourite album?
“After all these years I think that the debut album is my favourite because it had better songs than the 2nd album. The songs on the debut were much heavier, but the overall production of the 2nd album was much better than the first.”
So which songs from the debut stood out for you?
“Oh my God!! it was such a long time since we recorded that album it is very difficult for me to say really. I liked the ballad ‘Miracle’, and the opening song.”
So did the band record any material after the releases of the 2 albums?
“Yes we did a few songs. We did 2 -3 demo tapes which I will copy the songs and send them to you OK Jase!!”
OK Juergen, thanx I’d love to hear them. OK now let’s talk about your new band, ‘Rawhead Rexx’, when did the band actually form?
“Well the band was formed back in 1999 and I loved all the members in my previous band and I tried to get new musicians for ‘Rawhead Rexx’ and it was very hard & difficult for me at the start. After ‘Glenmore’ broke up I started to wonder if I should start a new band or call it a day."
Have you only just started to play the guitar when ‘Rawhead Rexx’ was formed or did you play the guitar earlier in your career?
“Well I have been playing the guitar for many years now, even when I was in ‘Glenmore’. I use to play the guitar on my own but I could not play it live as it was too difficult at that time. When I formed my new band I just wanted to play rhythm guitar on stage because it is always boring when you are a singer and you have no instrument to play live when there is a guitar solo, you kind of feel stupid not knowing what to do. My guitar playing is getting better each day.”
So what bands were the members of ‘Rawhead Rexx’ in before band was formed?
“Well Danny the drummer was also in ‘Glenmore’ and after they broke up Danny came with me to form my new band. Rudy use to play with ‘Letter X’ (ED: Great Band!!) yes I agree with you Jase. Later on Rudy went to England (Liverpool) to the Paul MCartney school of music and Face went to the same music school and Danny in Switzerland and so they were friends. Danny recommended Face to me and the rest is history.”
So how many demo has ‘Rawhead Rexx’ recorded before the release of the debut album?
“We only recorded the one demo tape. The songs that were featured on this demo tape were called ‘The Scream’, which was featured on the ‘Rock Hard’ sampler and soon after that Andy from AFM Records phoned me and said he was interested in signing the band. We were also in contact with ‘Noise’ and ‘SPV’, but ‘AFM’ seemed the best. This demo was not sold to the public, but like I said AFM wanted us from the start.”
Horst, your manager must of helped out a lot as he was also your manager for ‘Glenmore’ as well right, and besides he is the editor for ‘Heavy Oder Was’, right?
“Yeah Horst has done a lot for the band. I have known him for many years now. He was the one who pushed me to carry on playing music, so thanks to Horst!!”
I just found out that the bands name came from a low budget horror film, am I right in saying this?
“Yes you are right Jase, it is a low budget film from Clive Baker from the 70’s and the monster kill’s everybody in a small village. I just liked the name and so I decided to use it. We had a couple of other stupid names but this suited the band the best.”
OK Juergen, so who are the bands influences?
“I would have to say that our influences are the roots of Metal music, such as ‘Judas Priest’, ‘Iron Maiden’, ‘Black Sabbath’, all the ‘N.W.O.B.H.M.’ bands and after ‘Glenmore’ we wanted to make music that was more melodic like ‘Queensryche’. I also think that now we are getting back to the roots because I do not feel that you have to jump on the bandwagon or to make difficult music that nobody can understand. To me it is very important that people can understand what you are playing without sounding like ‘Dream Theater’ or some bands like that.”
So why didn’t you want to work with labels like ‘Nuclear Blast’?
“I think that ‘Nuclear Blast’ are a good label, but we did not want to sound like ‘Hammerfall’ or a band like that and so that is why we signed to ‘AFM’ because not all of their bands like ‘Hammerfall’. I think that we sound more like a band from the USA than a band from Germany.”
As you know there are so many categories within the Metal scene, so were do you come into it all, what do you categorize yourselves as, Power, Speed Metal?
“To be honest, I do not like to be called one of these names, I would say that we are playing Heavy Metal music!!”
Your debut album was produced by Rudy, and yourself with the help of Charlie Beuerfeind mixing the album. So why did you decide to record the album by yourselves?”
“I think it was an easy thing to do for us because I have my own studio and Andy worked in Liverpool (UK) producing and when we recorded at his studio we had a lot of time because it did not cost any money for a producer. So we had more time to get things right without been under too much pressure. We worked really well together with both of our idea’s and after that we just called Charlie to mix the album for us as I have worked with him on the ‘Glenmore’ albums.”
Just how long did it take to record this album?
“It took about 2 months and we are happy with the way it turned out because it sounded hard and very raw and this is the way that we wanted it to turn out.”
So who writes the lyrics within the band?
“Well I wrote about 80% of the lyric’s for this album and for me it is very easy with all this horror theme and I think the music is suited to the music.”
How did the idea come about to put a computer game on the CD?
“Well it is a blood spilling game which is similar to that of ‘Ed Hunter’ by ‘Iron Maiden’ and I think there are 7 levels and there a plenty of ‘Rawhead Rexx’ monsters coming at you and you have to shoot them, it’s a fun game!!”
So why was this album self titled, didn’t you have any other names in mind?
“Well for me it was pretty hard for me to come up with a name for the album. This was a new beginning for me so I thought of just self titling it.”
So which of the songs from this album stand out for you and why?
“Well I like the songs ‘Sons Of Mayhem’, because it reminds me of the old ‘Black Sabbath’ song ‘Heaven & Hell’ because Dio is one of my biggest hero’s so I wrote this song for him. I also like ‘Opposing Force’ because it is a mid tempo track and I also like the song ‘Town Of Skulls’ because it is very fast and it also has plenty of melodic hooks. I also like ‘Blood On My Hands’, because it is a great ballad.”
Is this album selling well so far for the band?
“Yes it it selling really well!! Most of the press like it but there are some that do not like it, but that is their opinion. I think that the German press still remember me from my old days with ‘Glenmore’ and so they still mark my new band with ties to ‘Glenmore’.”
So who did the art work for the album?
“Well it was done by a friend of Danny’s who painted death in all different ways. So when we had the idea’s for the monster we told him what we wanted and he would go and paint them. He just painted them in oil paintings and I think it look great. His name is ‘Matze Frank’. A lot of the press thinks it is a shit album cover (Laughing).”
I have heard that your album cover has been banned in Germany, is this true?
“Yes we have had some trouble with the art work in some area’s in Germany. Some of the record stores say that they cannot sell it because little kids are coming into the store and they are getting scarred with the art work. I think it is stupid and I also think the children should not be looking at these covers. It is not our fault, it is up to the parents to watch their children (ED: I agree).”
It looks as if you have played with a number of bands and festivals, just who have you played with so far as ‘Rawhead Rexx’?
“Well we have done a tour with ‘Annihilator’ and ‘Nevermore’ as well as doing some of the biggest festivals. We are also about to go on tour with ‘Saxon’ this week, and we are looking forward to that very much. It is like a re-union for me, as ‘Glenmore’ toured with ‘Saxon’ many years ago.”
Well Juergen, I want to thank you for your time, it is great to speak to you again after we met at this years WOA, so do you have anything to say before we finish?
“Yes thank you Jason for the interview, it is great to speak to you again, I hope we meet next year at WOA or maybe another festival. To our fans, thanx for your support and I hope you like the album. We hope to play the UK one day!!”