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Chris Boltendahl (Grave Digger)

Interview with Chris Boltendahl from Grave Digger
by Caio Botrel at 26 July 2020, 9:32 AM

GRAVE DIGGER recently released their latest album, titled "Fields of Blood." Metal Temple writer Caio Botrel recently had the chance to catch up with vocalist Chris "Reaper" Boltendahl to with him about the new album, and some of oddities of the times in which we find ourselves.

Hi Chris, its an honor to have you here at Metal Temple online magazine. How are you doing lately, specially with this virus going on in the world?

Chris: All the best is doing great in the moment, nobody is ill and I’ve been doing a lot of interviews so far, been doing promotion. We’ve made an official statement today on our Facebook page regarding live show, album releases and you can check it out later, so yeah we are doing well.

Great! I just read the post on Facebook and what are your thoughts on that kind of gigs involving cars, three meters distance and are you guys going to do something like that?

Chris: We don’t like that, because you know… you saw Grave Digger and you see that we need the energy, we need the fans… we can’t do it with people only sitting in front of their computers or TV or anything, just us with nobody inside. It has nothing to do with Heavy Metal, you know. I want to see the exciting faces, I want to hear you scream and sing with us, that’s Heavy Metal and nothing else. Imagine that you are on the stage and playing in front of five hundred cars (laughs) that’s bullshit. We are waiting until the freedom is coming back for us to do our original live shows, until that we don’t want to play. We don’t want to do streaming show, nobody is paying for because we live from music also. On the other side we’ve decided that until we can play live shows, we are going to release a new record every year. We have time to write the songs, we have a lot of ideas and we also started our plans for the next one. I already talked to the cover guy about my idea and we are kind of more or less ready to start the next one – we have a couple of options.

Oh that’s great!

Chris: Yes, we will start writing the songs on June and I think that we can finish it until the end of the year with pre-production and everything. So the live shows will start again on the beginning of the next year, then we will do touring, touring, touring, recording all the stuff on the second half of the new year and then bring it out on 2022. But if we can’t play any live shows, we will record it at the studio on February and release it on summer time next year.

Your new album “Fields of Blood” is going to be release in a few weeks on 29 of may and I was really fortunate to listen to this album before the release. It is a classic Grave Digger album, it has your identity, but I think that it is a little bit different and modern as well. Was it intentional or just a natural process and what is the concept of it all?

Chris: As you know, it is always a natural process, you can’t plan something like that. What we wanted to do was an album more or less about Scottish history again, but on a different topic and we like to do some more bagpipes, some more drums on it.  It came out natural, I think that it is different than the Liberty or Death album completely and its more in the mood of the concepts CD’s that Grave Digger did in the 90’s such as Tunes of War, Excalibur or Knights of The Cross.

Great! You just said that you are talking to the guy that did the artwork for the new album, for the next one and I really enjoyed Field’s of Blood art. Can you share any thoughts on that?

Chris: Yes, as you know, we started with a cover artist from Hungary that did it for the last Sabbath album and he did all the covers until Liberty or Death. But for this album I thought that I needed something different, and this guy that did our new cover is Alex Tartsus and he lives in Siberia and until that time we only did crazy death metal covers, totally freaking. I liked the kind of his painting and then I contacted him and said “hey, you wanna do a Grave Digger album cover?” and he said: Oh yeah, that’s great! – and two hours later I had a draw on my computer and I liked It a lot, so yeah, he did it. So lets see who will be the next one again, will it be the guy from Russia or will it be the Hungary guy? I have the concept already in my head and I had to discuss with the artist.

Oh great man, it is a really good concept and I really enjoyed it. It was different from the previous albums, this is why I wanted to ask about. I can’t wait to buy a t-shirt with that print. Well, let’s go back in time and how did you get yourself into music and what influenced you back then and what influence you now?

Chris: Oh I was influenced by the typical 70’s bands like Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin these are all my favorite bands. I also listen to this kind of bands nowadays but in times of Spotify I have the possibility to listen to every band and not buying their records, which is shit for the artist, but as a fan I can listen to everything. But yes, from time to time I discover new bands and I like a band from Tunisia called Myrath. That’s a really cool band, they are mixing metal with some kind of arabian music, that sounds really good. But I also listen to another bands and when I listen really carefully I listen to my old favorite like Iron Maiden, Dio, Ozzy Osbourne which is something that I like a lot.

Well, that being said, what drives your most intense desire of making art? You are also a painter and a photographer as well, so what makes you do that?

Chris: Well, I’m a creative guy and from time to time I’m painting again or doing photographs, but I’m so deep in music in the moment that I can’t do other things. It is also the reason why we have more records, I’m with my head full of good ideas and I want to bring them to a CD, to show the people my creativity and as long people enjoy it, I will carry on.

Now let’s back to the Fields of Blood, how do you guys usually write the songs for the album? I also know that a part of it was recorded in the Scottish highlands. How the record happened specially during that time?

Chris: Well, that was hard to record something in Scotland, to find all the bagpipers there, because there are different rules to record the bagpipers there and we like to have it as original as we can. You can listen to them in the intro or The Heart of Scotland and we enjoyed it, because it is really authentic to work with Scottish musicians.

Yes, the bagpipes sounds amazing on the album, specially in the first song. It is such a great work, I just listened to the album 1 hour ago and I was like: it was so good and there is a song called “A Thousand Tears” that certainly make us travel to the Scottish highlands and it also feats Noora Louhimo from Battle Beast and it have a whole new dynamic on the album and also a great ambiance. How did you guys ended up choosing her and how the music video was made?

Chris: First we had somebody else in mind, which was Alissa from Arch Enemy but she couldn’t do it because she was with a lot of work, so we remember that we played together with this band Battle Beast for a couple of times and then we called Noora and it was totally uncomplicated, she said that she wanted to do it and then we told her the concept that she was the Queen Mary and I’m a warrior and she did a really great job I think.

Whats the concept of the video?

Chris: Well, it is song about Queen Mary, more or less it is a sequal to Queen of Scots, but I wanted to tell it to the people from another view. I’m a warrior and I saw that Queen Mary is in prison, so it was more from a emotional side. Noora did very well and I think that her voice fitted in well and it is a sequence to The Ballad of Mary.

There’s also a video for “Lions of the Sea” that was released a couple of days ago and I think that it is one of the most powerful song and it is definitely a new anthem. Why did you choose that song for a video and can we expect more videos for that album?

Chris: (laughs) I think also that “Lions of the Sea” is a really good anthem and that it carries the same way of “Rebellion”. We tried to do the video on the original place in Scotland, but we cannot do it because everything started in the middle of march and everything was that was organized so far was cancelled, so we couldn’t do it. But we did this video and we put some live scenes from Japan, some footage from the internet and we created some kind of special video for that. I don’t think that we are going to do a new video again, because of the money side you know. Maybe we do another lyric video months later after the release, but I don’t know so far.

Well, “Fields of Bloody” is a bloody epic song and it is one of my favorites from the new album and it have a lot of different dynamics and ambiance as well. Can you share any thoughts on the writing of the song and if we can hear it live since there’s 10 minutes length.

Chris: I don’t know if we will play it live, first we need to have the possibility to play live again and then we will see it. For this song we had in mind that we wanted give to people in one song an overview about the trilogy of Scotland and we knew that this song would be the last one that we would ever wrote about Scottish history, so we tried to do a monument of a song, you know. It is also one of my favorites, bagpipes, cool guitar riffs, sentimental parts at the end, big chorus… if someone wants to listen to a song about Scotland, we just say: okay, listen to Fields of Blood.

It is a song to end a chapter talking about the Scottish. Can’t we expect any more song about it anymore?

Chris: No. We told everything we had in our minds, the next one is a different concept again and I think the next one will also surprise the people a little bit more again, but it will not be about the Scottish history. We did a lot of stuff about them, we would like to do something different now.

Last but not least, I want to thank you so much for this interview it is a real dream come true. I couldn’t imagine that nine years later after you came to my city, I would be interviewing you. Would you like to say anything to your fans out there?

Chris: Yes, for sure! We wish everybody health and that everybody came good through this hard times, I hope that our new record can help  to make it a little bit more positive. Stay healthy, stay metal and we hope to see everybody healthy again.


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