back to list / overview - Related Interviews: 02/1996 - 05/1996 - 02/2000 - 02/2002 - 02/2005 - 04/2011
05/1989     Dane Kurth   Rolf Kasparek

How did you come to use the pirate theme?

I had the idea for the song "Under Jolly Roger" and then we thought about the clothes we'd wear on stage, the stage decoration and then came the idea of changing the LP cover a bit to make it suit and to play around with this idea. So we didn't actually sit down and say, "We're going to do it like this now". It just turned out that way. It suited the content of some of the songs so we did it like that.

Would you have liked to have been a pirate?

Ah, that's hard to say, you can't really imagine it these days, because it was a very brutal period of history. I don't know, maybe if the circumstances had been right I may have become one. I mean, the way things were then, people were really repressed - if you sneezed and didn't cross yourself three times, you were burned as a witch. I think I would have moved in those sorts of circles. The authorities were a lot more authoritarian than today and they didn't mess about - if you stole a few shillings, they just chopped your hand off.

Do you see yourself as being the captain or one of the crew - underdogs?

That's the funny thing - there weren't any underdogs in pirate circles because, in contrast to the situation in politics then, the captain didn't have much power, not at all. He was just the one who led them into battle, he was the leader when they boarded ships because he was the one responsible for manoeuvres and to keep a general eye on things. The person who had the most power was the pilot. And every pilot and every captain were voted to these positions by the crew, very democratically. And if the captain did something really stupid or very wrong, he had to pay for his mistakes and if he was really incapable he lost his job.

So he was made to walk the plank?

No, there was actually no such thing. That was something that was invented by filmmakers in Hollywood. There are a lot of things that have been made up since. Of course they had their punishments, like rape was the worst crime that any pirate could commit. Murder was in second place and the third worst crime was stealing from the booty before it had been shared out. So like putting something to one side, stealing from others. That was very severely punished. They were stranded on an island with a musket, some powder, a shovel and a pick and some food and water. That's what they did as a punishment.

And they'd have to give back what they'd stolen?

Yes of course, when they found out about it - they also took his entire share from him.

So all the treasure hidden on islands was just booty?

Yes, because they were always in fear of being caught so they used to hide some of their treasure for the future.

There still are islands where treasure like that is being found, or where people think that treasure is hidden?

Yes, I have a really old book "The Book Of Hidden Treasure". Some of the treasure is there today, but you just can't get to it. Yes there are people who sail from island to island and who hunt for treasure - especially because a lot of it was pure gold and the value today is x times the value it was then.

O.K. back to the music - on Gates To Purgatory and the Walpurgis Night maxi-single everything was a little in the direction of black and doom.

Yes, that was one reason we changed the type of lyrics because we were eternally put into the same box as VENOM and bands like that and we're nothing like them, neither the lyrics nor in any other way. We just used the devil as kind of a symbolic figure, an anti-figure, a rebel who asks, "Why should I, just because everyone else does?" Someone who just doesn't take things sitting down - actually like the figure he personifies in the bible. Because he is the doubter who asks the reason behind everything - even the reason behind god. So we used him only as a symbolic figure and a lot of people misunderstood us and thought we were devil worshippers. And that's just what we didn't want, we don't want to start up a second religion with all the same kind of dogma, but just reversed. So we changed the type of lyrics because we were being misunderstood. We kept Branded And Exiled fairly straight and then there were these pirate songs on Under Jolly Roger and so we packed everything around that, because we found that more interesting, even though there are also a lot of straight lyrics on it too. But even on Port Royal there were songs and lyrics which people totally misunderstood, like "Uaschitschun".

A couple of years ago, the band used to get really awful reviews, especially in the German metal press, really exaggerated, lousy and malicious reviews. Wasn't there a big temptation to allow yourself to be influenced by them?

Not on our part, because we knew that the reviews were unfounded. And we know today, from one of the journalists themselves, who I won't name, that it was all a way off trying to get back at our old management because he almost managed to bring RUNNING WILD to the verge of ruin. There was only one concert agency in Germany who was willing to book our tours, it was the way he treated people. I remember him demanding 200 DM for a photo pass for a RUNNING WILD show in 1986. You can't imagine that man, he was so arrogant, self centred and incapable. We were actually pretty stupid ourselves because we never actually stopped to look at what he was doing and how he was doing it. We thought, we make the music and he does the management and we know today that that was a mistake on our part. We took too little interest in that side of things and it all slipped out of our hands. So finally we fired him - we found some irregularities in the book-keeping too, and at the moment he is suing for lost earnings. So first we did the work ourselves and then we tried contacting all the people who'd written the bad reviews and tried to talk to them about it all. And everywhere we went they said that they thought their review was basically correct but that the reason they'd written them so maliciously was because they wanted to get back at our manager. He was very unpopular in the business, all the contacts he'd built up, he'd just ruined them all again.

So the whole time, when you brought out Under Jolly Roger you were looking forward to the review in Metal Hammer?

No, we knew before the magazines were published what they were going to write because we know people, say at Metal Hammer, who didn't actually do the reviews but who kept us informed. And we were sure in ourselves that we wouldn't let it get to us because we knew that we could rely on the fans. When an album is good, we were sure of it, then the fans will buy it. And that's what happened. We sold 35,000 copies of Branded And Exiled and then 50,000 copies of Under Jolly Roger despite the reviews.

How many copies of Port Royal to date?

Oh, I don't know. A lot more because we're selling very good in Sweden, actually in the whole of Scandinavia. I reckon about between 60,000-80,000. I can't tell you exactly. It's not on the American market, yet, and the first pressing there will be 25,000 - It'll be released there on May the 30th. They had to sort the cover out, that's why there's been this delay. It'll be released by CBS and from the next album we'll be released worldwide by EMI, and that's very positive for us of course, they have different marketing strategies, we'll be in every store and that's good for us.

Your voice has the same strength as Rob Halford and also the twin guitars, you and Majk are a bit like Glenn and KK. Was JUDAS PRIEST an idol of yours?

A lot of people have said that. Of course there are bands that you like to listen to and I'm sure that in the beginning, we tried to sound more like JUDAS PRIEST, when we were still amateurs. And we wore leather gear like they did, studs and I used to have handcuffs and stuff like that. It was in the direction of JUDAS PRIEST until we started to develop our own style. When you want to be a professional you can't just keep copying other bands. So we were influenced by JUDAS PRIEST, IRON MAIDEN and English Metal in general until we developed into what we are. And I've been playing with Majk a few years now and we play well together.

A former band member who shall remain nameless said that you were a little dictator as far as the music and the band goes. Is that what you are?

Let's put it like this, when someone gets fired, he never knows why, he really doesn't know because if he did know the reasons, he'd change things so that he wouldn't be fired! Anyway, when we made our first album, Preacher was with us and we used to write songs together. He left the band and then Majk came, he had to find his way around the songs and I wrote Branded And Exiled practically on my own because at the time, we didn't have a second guitarist because he'd been fired, or just left before the LP was recorded and Majk only joined us a week before. So it was up to me to write all the new material. And things got to the point that the only person who was doing and work for the band was me. Nobody gave a shit about the album. Nothing was happening, nobody had any ideas apart from myself. The only thing that the others contributed was criticism from Hasche and Stefan and that was that. And it wasn't even constructive criticism, but like, "That was shit, let's do it another way" and not "I've got an idea". So there wasn't a single constructive thought from those two and that's simply the facts. The only exception was the song "Evil Spirit" Stefan Boriss wrote. That was the only sign of life from those two. And it got worse and worse, they got lazier and lazier, didn't want to come to practice, the bass player was so bad that he could hardly play the bass on Under Jolly Roger. I played some of the bass on that. He got chance after chance and couldn't play because he hadn't practiced. He did fuck all for the band. He got his cheque every month and that was that. He thought. That was their way of thinking - they had time for everything else, but not for the band. They weren't interested at all. And so there comes a time when the person who's doing all the work in the band suddenly says, "Hang on there. If I'm the one who's doing all the work and making sure that the record is released on time, then I'm going to say what goes on in this band". And so if that's being dictoral, then I admit it - it was necessary - someone who doesn't give a shit for the album and who doesn't contribute can't suddenly come along and say, that he can do better than me. You have to learn how to write songs and arrange them just like you have to learn to play guitar.

You've produced Port Royal yourself?

Yes, we had a producer on Under Jolly Roger. That was the first time I worked with a producer and that was also the last time. I'll never do it again. That was the worst experience of my life and I'm not prepared to do that again. And after that I fired all the others - well, the manager fired them without my knowledge - but they thought it was me, so that's why all this dictator stuff started. But we don't have a problem with each other anymore. We still see each other but they still don't understand why they were fired. Maybe that's the key to the whole thing? / Copyright © 1996-2013 by Running Wild / Design:
Running Wild Forum
Buy official Running Wild merchandise at Ballroom Hamburg
Running Wild @ Facebook Official Twitter Official