Blood Upon The Fields... Chris Boltendahl Speak's Out
Germany Legendary metal band 'Grave Digger' return with their latest epic album 'Fields of Blood', another Scottish epic battlement album. A fine album indeed, a band that stop at nothing but to deliver quality old school metal. Having released 18 previous albums and 1 album under the name Digger, really does say a lot about a band that keeps on growing and getting stronger.
The band started out back in 1980 by front man Chris Boltendahl and 3 other members to create a new and fresh sound that would certainly last for many years to come. I spoke to Chris once again to talk about the new album and the future plans for the band with the difficult situation of Crono-19 which has it us all hard, especially the music industry.
Here is what Chris had to say to the following question, sit back crack open a beer or 2 and enjoy. In the meantime check out this great new album.
Hi Chris, good to speak to you, it's been a couple of years since the last interview which was for the 'Healed by Metal' album. So could you tell me how the lock down has effected you both mentally and psychically?
"Hi Jason, good to speak to you too, as for the lock down, well it's all a matter of time when concerts will start up again with the situation of the cronovirus. Everybody in the band are doing well, we're all OK both psychically and mentally."
I know there had been a couple of shows recently over there, 1 with Doro in Germany with the fans watching from their cars, would you considering doing that too?
(Laughing) "No definitely not. I do not want to play to cars, it has nothing to do with Heavy Metal it's were people sing together and I don't like streaming show because there are no fans there and there just sitting at home on their sofa drinking beer and watching the TV. Heavy Metal music is about interacting with the fans singing together and partying and if we can't do this then we don't want to play.
We have 1 show in Switzerland in 4 wks which is a festival which has not been cancelled so far. They have permission to let in 300 people minus the crew, so we will see if it happens, it's called 'The Manreap Open Air'. I think Switzerland has a second wave of the virus because the infection is spread there again so let's see how far they are from the lock down again."
Moving on, the last interview we did for was for the 'Healed by Metal' album, so I'll ask you some questions about that album 1st please. Just how successful was that album for the band?
"It was a successful album but not like the 'Return of the Reaper' album, we did do a lot of tours for that album and also for 'The Living Dead' album. The last album was a little contrivers with the press and the fans, I think the most important thing was that we took a lot of criticism for the song 'Zombie Dance' from the last album when we released a video on You Tube but I don't think a lot of people understood what we were trying to do. We are not fans of True Metal and from time to time we like to do crazy things. The last album 'The Living Dead' was one of the most successful tours we did.
The Healed by Metal' album did good but a lot of fans were expecting something like 'Return of the Reaper' album once again as it was something special because after the 'Clash of the Gods' album we said we are going back to our old roots and for 'The Healed by Metal' album we did something a long time ago which was writing all the songs together in one room and I think that is why a couple of songs have the live feel to them. Great typical Grave Digger songs."
Just Before we move on why did Stefan leave the band?
"Well it's like a marriage, it can happen 20 or 30 yrs or so. We went in our separate ways and different directions. So he thought that his place was so safe in the band that he forgot the respect for some people in the band and he was totally uncomfortable with 'The Living Dead' album and he didn't wan to play the drums as we liked to have it on this album. So in the end that album was a compromise between Stefan and the band and that is the reason why the songs were not as good as we wanted them to be.
When Axel and I wrote these songs he said 'I can't play it', so we had to let him go."
So why did you have Marcus play drums on the record?
"Well not only is he our keyboard player he is also a great drummer. He does play with other bands and we knew he would be perfect for the band, he had everything we wanted within the band so he tried out and it worked perfectly. He is a great drummer and very easy to work with."
OK Moving on what is your cult classic Grave Digger album from the 1st 3 albums?
"Well it has to be 'Heavy Metal Breakdown', because we were young, fresh of ideas and enthusiastic and ready for anything. We also had lots of beer which was fun' (Ed: For me it has to be 'War Games') Yeah 'War Games' is a great album we had to think a little bit more about that album with writing the songs. The album sounded a little bit more concrete and we were on our way to become professional musicians.
It had good songs like 'Keep on Rocking', 'Let your heads Roll', 'Fall out', 'Heaven can Wait', and the 2nd side of the album was a concept album because it was about Hiroshima and the atom bomb."
Would you consider doing either or both back to back live 'HM Breakdown' or 'War Games'?
"That's a good question, I think 'War Games' was a completely different album to 'HM Breakdown' and also 'Witch Hunter' is also different which I would compare it a little bit to 'The Living Dead album as we did more complex songs with progressive parts in the songs and we like to show people that we are musicians.
I think I would like to do 'HM Breakdown' and 'War Games' in one show, that would be great."
Moving on let's talk about the new album, did you write all the lyrics once again for the new album? Also did you have any other titles for the album?
"Yes I did all the lyrics once again and some people say that the lyrics are boring but they have been the same in the last 30+ years (laughing). (Ed: I have noticed that you are heavily into the Scottish culture). Yes they are, I watched a new movie recently called 'The Outlaw King' about Robert the Bruce, and 'Brave Heart' has nothing to do with Scottish history, even though it's an entertaining film and when they wrote the movie they made a lot of mistakes about Scottish heritage. I think Mel Gibson earned his Oscars by getting the feels from the movie to fight for freedom.
On the other hand 'The Outlaw King' on Netflix is about the real history about Robert the Bruce, it is a very dark film and is history based movie which is really great. We didn't have any other titles for the album it was the 1st name we had and we kept it."
OK moving on do you have any songs from the new album that you like and why?
"That is a difficult question to answer, they change from day to day and the album was completed at the end of February 2020 and I listen too it either 1 or 2 times a day and it changes from day to day. Right now I like 'All for the Kingdom' , 'Lions of the Sea', 'Freedom','The heart of Scotland', 'Thousand Tears' with Noora Louhimo from Battle Beast. The reason why I got in touch with Noora was an idea to do a sequel for the 'Queen of the Scots' so we thought about doing it from the beginning with a female singer. So we chose Alissa White-Gluz from Arch Enemy but she did not have the time to record the vocals. Then we remembered we did some festivals together with Battle Beast, so then we called Noora and asked if she would like to do the duet together and she said 'Yes', I think she made a really great job for the song."
How long did it take to record the new album? I know you said it was compelled by February 2020. Was it not recorded in a couple of studios? One been Axel's studio.
"I think we started to recording back in August 2019, it took a year and a half to create the album. Yes we did record in more than one studio, I did a lot of my vocals in my own studio here at home. We did in 3 studio in the end, and was produced by Axel and myself and a sound engineer."
Are you happy with the end results of the new album or so you think it could of sounded better? Also how do you see this album as a progression from the previous albums?
"I think this album is almost nearly perfect in the production and sound. I think the production is really good with the songs on the album. I am not sure if there is any progression, but sometimes we like to do something different and we are now thing about the next album and we have ideas already for that one. We really have to think about the next album even though we have time with the lock down, the only thing are have now is a cover idea for the next album which is in progress so far.
We already have the concept for the next album, so it is moving slowly."
Who did the artwork for the new album have you used him before? Who else has he worked with?
"This time around we used a Russian guy called 'Alex Tartsus' and I found him on Face book. I saw his artwork he had done and I thought this cover would fit really well for the new album so I contacted him and it took him 7 months to create the cover for us. He has worked with bands like Sinister, and all these Death Metal covers."
How many promotional videos have you recorded for the new album so far?
"We have already done 4 videos so far, they are 'Lions of the Sea', 'All for the Kingdom', 'Thousand Tears', 'Barbadian'. In April we booked a video shoot to make a promo video with 25 people only to realize that Cronovrius was coming so we had to cancel for the song 'Lions of the Sea'. We were gutted as we knew it would of been a great video to make in the original places."
Are you happy with our label Napalm Records?
"Yes we are so far, we are free from the deal now but we have time to re-sign with them there are different options so lets see where it will end?"
Have you ever thought of doing any projects?
"No I have nothing in the works at the moment, Grave Digger is my top priority."
So which songs from the new album will you be playing live after lock down? Also do you have any other shows planned for this year if you're allowed to play them?
"Well we will be playing 4 songs from the new album live, they will be 'All for the Kingdom', 'Lions of the Sea', 'Heart of Scotland', 'Barbarian'. Yes we do have some more shows planned if all goes well. We have 3 shows which are booked and we hope they do not get cancelled. We are on tour in February 2021 that are confirmed and all the festivals are re-scheduled for next summer, it will be a busy year for us."
Well Chris best of luck with the album sales, the shows and tours, be safe. Do you have anything to say before we finish the interview?
"Yes thank you our fans for their support through this difficult times ahead, we hope you like the new album and we hope to catch up with you all in the near future live. Thank you Jason, be safe my friend and to our fans as well."
Thank you Mr.T. for setting up the interview and thank you Chris . Be safe!!