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Interview - Chris Bolthendahl (Grave Digger)

Interview with Chris Bolthendahl from Grave Digger
by Danny Sanderson at 17 July 2014, 11:23 PM

Germany's GRAVE DIGGER are genuine Heavy Metal legends who have carved out their own niche in Germany's Metal scene, standing as one of the most loved and enduring acts from the country. Danny Sanderson speaks to the bands vocalist, Chris Bolthendahl, to talk about their new album "Return of the Reaper", The role of the The Reaper in the bands music, and how Metal has changed since the bands formation in the heyday of Heavy Metal, the 1980's. 

Hi, this is Danny from Metal Temple, and today I'm interviewing Chris Bolthendahl from Grave Digger; How are you doing?

I'm fine, I have a bit of a cold but I'm fine

So, you've got a new album out, called "Return of the Reaper". How was the writing and recording process?

Yeah, it was really fantastic, because we enjoy working with the concept and pushing our boundaries. We've been working a lot on the concept, and making sure that everything fits into that concept, and this time around it was really simple. That's the reason why we called the album "Return of the Reaper", because it means that we are able to bring all of the trademarks back into the music. The whole idea behind the record was just writing really cool Metal songs.

You've collaborated again with… I hope I'm pronouncing this right- Gyula Havancsak-

Yeah, he's a really cool guy, he's from Hungary.

Yeah, and you guys have been working with him since the release of "The Last Supper", which was about a decade ago.

Yeah, the first time he worked for us was in 2004, when he did the artwork for "The Last Supper" for us. Albums need good artwork these days.

Having said that, How important is artwork to the overall concept and image of the band?

Well, as I said, album artwork nowadays is very important. It often shows what kind of music you are going to hear on the CD, and when I was young, I bought a lot of LP's with really great artwork. So yeah, I think that's always been important to us.

Speaking of album art and the concepts behind it, you guys have always returned to the Reaper, almost like a mascot. So what part does the Reaper character play in the overall concept, lyrics and image of the band?

Yeah, the Reaper has been a trademark of ours since we came back in 1993, and he's been a really important trademark for the band. Nowadays, if people are looking around and see one of our albums with the Reaper on the cover, they'll immediately go "That has to be Grave Digger!" It's quite interesting really. That character is a historic part of the band.

You guys are obviously German, and you started out in the early 1980's, in the heyday of Heavy Metal. So how do you think that the genre has progressed in the years since your formation? Would you say that you are a fan of bands that are beginning to emerge now?

I was about 18 years old when I started Grave Digger, and it was in 1980, when Metal was more or less underground. Of course, there was a few big bands that were around, mostly bands that had made their name in the 70's, like Black Sabbath and Judas Priest, and it was a really small scene at this time and it was quite familial, with all of the small bands and the cool live shows. And nowadays, all these years later, there are so many big bands, and there are so many different genres within Metal. And I don't have an overview of the modern Metal scene as such; I know a few bands, but I don't keep up with it as much.

There has been a lot of change in the genre. In the early 80's you would have just had straight up Heavy Metal, but now it's kind of become various little subgenres, like Death Metal, Doom Metal and Power Metal.

Yeah, I'm a lucky guy, because I grew up in the 70's and 80's, when the whole Metal genre was just starting out. It's a lot different nowadays from what it was like when we were all younger, and I'm really happy that I got to live through all this stuff in the 80's, when it was much smaller and stuff.

A friend of mine is off to Waken Open Air, and he's asked about you're guest vocal appearance with Van Canto. What can he and everyone else there expect from that performance?

All the guys are Van Canto are good friends of ours, and they were our special guests when we recorded our live DVD \["The Clans are Still Marching"], when we played all of  "Tunes of War" live, so we've all had a really good relationship with them since that time. SO that was the reason why they asked me to join them onstage. I will be doing one of their songs, and I think an Iron Maiden cover together with them.

That sounds like it will be interesting.

Yeah, I will be singing a cover of "Fear of the Dark" with them.

I reckon that will be really awesome. They do a lot of Acapalla stuff on their records, so it will be interesting to see how that song translates, especially live.

Yeah, it's all done without guitars. Normally, I love guitars, but I think that it can be hard to get the right mood on a song without a guitar, but they do it very well.

In terms of promoting this new album, what touring plans and promotional stuff will you be doing for the record?

Yeah, of course. During this period now, through the summer time in Europe, we'll be playing a lot of festivals. This weekend we're playing a festival in Spain with a lot of bands, including Sodom, and then we're playing Bang Your Head as a sort of album release show, to give people a taste of the new album, and then we're heading to Moscow. Then we go back to Greece and Bulgaria in September, followed by the German leg of the tour. Then we have Metal Tech at the beginning of November. So yeah, we're quite busy.

Have you got any final message for your fans?

Yeah. I hope that everybody loves the new album. It's a true Metal masterpiece from German legends and enjoy it. And thank for you all your support over the years.

Thanks for your time!

Thank you!


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