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Wallop's Stefan Arnold: "I think Grave Digger's decision is a kind of a bad joke. To release one album each year is absolutely stupid and the quality will suffer"

Interview with Stefan Arnold from Wallop
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 07 June 2020, 10:33 PM

Simply out of nowhere, after three and half decades, a comeback is issued. People that haven't played with each other for years, return with might to reshape the past for a better future. Wallop may as well be a sort of a miss, something that the German Metal scene left off, and it is positive that not on purpose. Following the release of its comeback album, “Alps On Fire”, Steinmetal had a chat with the ex-Grave Digger drummer, Stefan Arnold, about the comeback, Grave Digger, new material and more…

Hello Stefan, it is an honor to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how have you been doing sir? I will be frank, I have been tracking your career for many years, ever since the Grinder days, through the incarnation of Capricorn and of course you becoming part of Grave Digger for over two decades. Quite track record I might add. Wallop has been a mystery to me, I will tell you that. It started fast and ended fast. Why did the band disband right after the debut album, which I read that was in the spotlight?

Hi Lior, first of all many thanks for your interview. Our problem was, that we were 1 or 2 years behind of the initial wave of German Heavy Metal bands in the early 80s. We had a deal, but our record company was focusing on their leading bands like Warlock or Steeler. It was hard for 18 /19 years old boys without support from the record company and a without a good management.

As for yourself, I came to notice your departing from Grave Digger only recently. After more than two decades you just decided that it was time to move on, simply as that? What really happened behind the curtain of the Grave Digger camp?

It was not my decision to leave the band at this point in time. I was fired in an extreme sneaky, cowardly way by a rat, who`s well known in music business for his disrespectful behaviour. Since Axel joined Grave Digger, this was no band anymore. Now, it`s just a two men project, boring, with no groove and power anymore. I wanted to leave Grave Digger after the 40 years' celebrations in a peaceful way, but the rat destroyed this plan. So, he better should not cross my way over the next years.

With Grave Digger scratched from the list, Wallop was resurrected. What was the trigger to get back together with your old friends in the band? What sparked the flame to reignite for another ride of free will, untamed, Heavy Metal?

The starting point was indeed when our singer Mikk heard that I have left Grave Digger.  There were some attempts in the past for at least a reunion show, but with all the touring I did, this was not possible. Mikk arranged a meeting and we all met at one place for the first time after 34 years, this was exciting and it was time for Wallop to rise from the dead.

Signed to Pure Steel Records, a natural decision, Wallop released its comeback album after three and a half decades, “Alps On Fire”. Let’s go backwards a little bit, how did you find the experience to once again write material with the ol’ group? Did it feel as if you were back in the 80s?

First of all, it’s really great, that we have the same line-up we did the album with in 1985. All bandmembers are experienced musicians, and when we did the first rehearsal it was really a little “back to the 80s”

From what I noticed, in terms of lyricism, “Alps On Fire” goes nearly everywhere on the map, everything that is mostly social, music driven or under the covers, so to speak. How do you find the themes, especially of the old songs, in terms of relevance? Can the new generation bound itself to these issues?

No concepts at all, just Metal to be honest. It’s pretty easy, as the first album title was “Metallic Alps” and people recognized Wallop together with the unusual term “Alps” – related to Heavy Metal. So to show the people that we are back, we decided to set the alps on fire again will be a good fit for the new album title. Don’t expect an album trilogy, psycho stuff or a session with a symphony orchestra. We are Wallop and we play true old school metal. Full stop.

I think the big question is why release “Alps On Fire”, which is mostly re-recorded versions of old songs, tracing back to the debut, rather than simply putting a new album? What was the vision behind this decision?

We decided to put all old songs on “Alps on fire”, as they were officially only 3000 copies sold from the old album and there are millions of Metalheads on this planet who don’t know these great, old school metal songs. It contains all songs from “Metallic Alps”, 3 unreleased songs plus the Raven cover. Most of the old songs were re-arranged, some parts of the lyrics were changed and all songs are tuned down compared to the previous album.

After making a simple comparison between the recordings of the present and past, what is your appreciation of the road made by the band members, with each becoming an experienced musician?

By chance we all improved over the last 3 ½ decades ;-) . Beside of the way better sound you have today, the new recorded songs and much, much tighter, more precise and even a little more aggressive.

“Fun For The Nun” is one of the songs that I couldn’t find in the old recordings of the band, yet it feels as if it was taken from that era. It has that Acceptish feel to it, amid tempo crusher. Which fun with which num was it? Is it a sort of a provocation against religion of sorts?

Of course … no just kidding, as there is no god beside of Lemmy anyway, right? “Fun for the nun”, what was inspired by the Mercyful Fate EP “Nuns Have No Fun”. The thinking of these days was “This could be the other way around”, so Wallop made the song “Fun for the Nun”.

Working with the one and only John Gallagher on the Raven cover of “Crash, Bang, Wallop” was probably quite an experience. This guy is totally funny. What can you tell of the experience? What was the plan behind the making of this cover?

Some years ago, I met John and Marc Gallagher on a Metal Cruise and told them, that I had a band, which name was inspired by their song “Crash, Bang, Wallop” and the brothers found this very funny. When they heard that Wallop is doing a new album and we intend to cover “Crash, Bang, Wallop”, they have offered their participation. I can tell you we were very proud and pleased. John is a very nice person and it was really fun to work with him. After some coordination, we sent him the basic pilot tracks, he added vocals and the well-known ranting wife. As Marc was not around for a while, John played the guitar solo as well. Later Mikk sung to his vocal lines and Andy added parts of the guitar solo. We like this song very much and John likes this version, too.

With “Alps On Fire” out for grabs, and can only be promoted via the label and band through the internet, have you thought of other ways to bring the album and band to the people?

By chance, Pure Steel Records has with “The Orchard” a great partner for the digital distribution, so we see the digital channel as a great chance in the current situation. Furthermore, we already released a home video of “Missing in Action” and currently we are producing 3 drum videos, we will release shortly.

The Covid-19 pandemic gave a chance for bands to sit down and write material without any pressure that may be caused from touring or even weekend touring. Is Wallop taking advantage of the situation and already on the course of a new album?

Clearly this is not ideal at all we have a lot of new merch in the cellar. There was a pre-release show planned for end of March, a first open air festival in Berlin in May and some other warm-up opportunities. Clearly the shows were cancelled, we have a lot of new merch in the cellar. We already started with the songwriting and in case we all not die by Corona, it’s our intention to release the next album 2022, of course you will hear some of the new songs live on stage before.

Recently, Grave Digger decided that the band won’t take the stage until it is actually safe to do so. Until then, they will be putting out a new album every year. What is your comment on that? Is it a bold decision? Do you think that it is a good thing or rather damage the quality of the material released?

I think Grave Digger's decision is a kind of a bad joke. To release one album each year is absolutely stupid and the quality will suffer.

Once this pandemic is over with, without a second wave to come all over our heads, where do you see Wallop going on the live scene? Will the band be taking it easy or go full on touring to make up for all the lost years?

It is our intention to play primarily on larger festivals, that’ why we pushed the record labels for an early release in 2020. To get bookings for such events, you need an album on the market, so we were shooting for 2021 anyway. Let’s hope it get’s better, soon.

Stefan, it was a pleasure to have you for this interview and I thank you for your time. I really like Wallop. Another band from your past that I also wish to see back in action in Grinder. I still hope. All the best sir.


 



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