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Axel Rudi Pell: "I can´t wait till Rock shows will be allowed again to go out and play Live! I´m missing that like a junkie his drugs!"

Interview with Axel Rudi Pell from Axel Rudi Pell
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 13 May 2020, 11:20 PM

In these weird times, being heavily active in order to remind everyone that you are still there, is key. However, in the case of Axel Rudi Pell, he has been everywhere, he never let's go, and his passion bursts even through the black and white of the printed word. Coming out with a tight as ever album, "Sign Of the Times", Rudi Pell isn't seeing a bright light, but rather strong echoes of darkness. Steinmetal talked with Mr. Rudi Pell about the new record, motivation, covid-19 and more…

Hello Axel, it is more than an honor to have you for this interview. I have been a follower of yours for many years and I am glad that I could have attention for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine. How have you been doing sir?

I´m fine, thank you.

The world is currently in one of its darkest hours, perhaps the gloomiest to date. How have you been holding up while this pandemic is over your head? What is your input on how Germany is holding its grounds to save as much more people from the effects of this virus?

Of course we all are living in difficult times, but the government in Germany did the right thing with the lockdown period. For me it´s fine to wear a mask outside, as long as it helps and it helps! Of course we´re all restricted and can´t do things, we normally do, but we have to keep the social distance, so that the virus can´t spread more. Of course I can´t wait, till this period will be over and everything will be back to normal… but I guess that unfortunately will take a few more months.

As figured, the whole music industry, as other industries, has been deeply affected by the Covid-19. Artists nowadays have to reinvent themselves in terms of promoting their music. Now, you have been around for decades, also entered into the digital age, yet this situation is different. How have you been promoting your music, especially now that it is not possible to perform live?

I did and I´m still doing a lot of telephone Interviews. Also I recorded a special Corona Song at my house, which I called “Quarantined 1”. I filmed it too and you can watch it on You Tube. I´m quite active on my social platforms to let the people know, what´s going on in the ARP camp. But to be honest: I can´t wait till Rock shows will be allowed again to go out and play Live! I´m missing that like a junkie his drugs!

 “Sign Of The Times”, your 18th record, is coming out, and it is quite a milestone, like clockwork, you release album after album, maintaining a kind of quality that many bands would die for. Now I know that you are modest, but I have to ask, what is your secret? Do you have the same passion as in the past, back in the days when you first started your solo or even farther back, in the Steeler days?

I still have the fire inside myself, to create new music! I really think that my passion for writing new songs is even higher than it was back in those Steeler days or at the beginning of my solo career. The magic in the air has to be right, of course… Lol… the fire inside myself is still there and you can hear and feel it, when you listen to the new songs!

Carving the chosen title of the album in stone was probably way before the pandemic, yet as if by magic, it fits like a velvet glove to the situation we have been enduring for the past several months. What is your input on that? What is “Sign Of The Times” for you? What is your fear of the future in relation to the album?

I chose the title “Sign Of The Times”, because we are living in a different time than it used to be a few years ago. The whole world has changed… there are a lot of religion wars, attacks, not to forget the climate change. When you look at the cover artwork, you see the skull watch and it´s 2 minutes after midnight. So it´s just a little too late for having our planet and all the crazy things back to normal. But who knows?

Without a doubt, the Axel Rudi Pell band has been keeping its composure and high quality material for many years. Furthermore, it appears also that the way that you write your songs, a so-called formula, is undying and time after time it might be pretty much the same, yet refreshing in its atmosphere. With that said, do you see any signs of going forward in the band’s music? Is there anything else to learn for a musician of your calibre?

From time to time I try to add something different to my music, like the Reggae part in the new song “Living in a Dream”. It makes it a bit fresher and we had much fun recording it. But I can´t do more experiments, because a lot of fans wouldn´t like it, I believe. I´m proud that I found the typical ARP style, which is true and loyal to me and the audience.

Perhaps one of the aspects of the album that I liked, which is purely nostalgic, is a pattern that tends to reach the roots of Heavy Metal, crossing the 70s like a flair, treading Deep Purple, Rainbow, Hendrix, Whitesnake. Though it has always been the basic of your music, “Sign Of The Times” sinks in deeper into the early form. I assume that it came natural, yet I guess that the touch of the old magic of Hard Rock and early Metal came all over your greatly this time?

Yes, exactly. I still listen to a lot of bands and artists you just mentioned. So the new songs are reflecting this in some points, as they have influenced me and my music in any way.

I don’t know if you have been listening to other bands coming out with records nowadays, but I will ask it anyway. It appears that there is a rather strong demand of music fans for additional technical abilities from the bands they admire, a lot of technical material. It seems that unlike in the past where the core of the song was supreme, today some of the songs released are a mere technical showcase. Do you think that the soul of the song nowadays is absent, even gone?

Yes, I agree… I don´t listen to those new bands. They all sound the same and some are playing way too technical. You can say much more with 3 notes, when they are played with feeling, instead of playing 1 million notes in 10 seconds… on the other hand, there are lots of new bands, who don´t play any guitar solos any more or only very short ones.. I don´t understand that too… Haha…

For the first time in years, you chose to work with a different producer, and hired the person that was in charge of your live albums. What was the nature of your decision as Mr. Bauerfeind has been doing you a fine service over the years? What is your appreciation of the sound and production of “Sign Of The Times”?

First I asked Charlie Bauerfeind again, if he would like to record and mix the new album too, but he said that he would love to do it, but couldn´t find the time, because he was busy with the band Helloween, recording their new album. So I asked Tommy Geiger, who mixed our last 2 Live records and it turned out to be very cool. Tommy is a great engineer too and I really LOVE the sound of the new album!

The song “Sign Of The Times” is certainly one of the deeper tunes I have heard from you in a while. It harbors a certain darkness, yet with what appeared to me as a glimmer of hope. What can you tell about this track’s creation? What is your appreciation of its essence?

I wrote the main riff of the track during a band afternoon soundcheck at one of our shows last year. I think the riff is really strong like the whole song. “Sign Of The Times” is about the weird situation we all are living in at the moment. As mentioned, there are too many strange things going on all over the world, like Religion Wars, Attacks, Shootings and the climate change of the planet. It´s 2 minutes after midnight, but maybe there´s a little hope that it will change for the better soon!

Even though you have always been striving for perfection, a hard task to reach and fulfill, listening to the entire record, were there any regrets, second thoughts of parts that could have been done better? Would you have chosen anything different for the record given the chance?

No, I don´t think so! I love the whole record as it is!

It was said that Johnny Gioeli and Bobby Rondinelli pushed themselves to the limit in order to make “Sign Of The Times”, I wonder, hasn’t it always been an expectation of yours for each of your musicians to be above 100% of his abilities when making a record?

Not only Johnny and Bobby are pushing themselves, we all do! I´m not only the songwriter and guitar player of this album… I´m also the producer, who is pushing every musician to their best! The best thing is, that I really don´t need to push hard, because every single musician in my band is giving more than his best for every song, it all happens very natural!

Soon you will be celebrating your 60th Birthday, Mazal Tov, best of health and good fortunes of course, any wishes and expectations for the next decade of Axel Rudi Pell as a person?

Thank you! I hope that my health will stay strong and that I will be able to rock the stages and can continue as a musician till I´m VERY old… Haha…

What can you tell about the band’s plans to promote the album, let’s say after the pandemic threat is lifted? I assume once again two leg tours over Europe? Perhaps even in the US?

As soon as everything will be back to normal we´ll go out and perform again! I think that we might be able to do a 3 leg tour and ROCK THE NATION longer than ever!

Axel, I wish to thank you so much for this interview. Once again you delivered another amazing album, never expected less to be honest. All the best and early Happy Birthday sir

Thank you so much, it was my pleasure!



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