The word came down from on high that I could interview my favorite vocalist Ralf Scheepers from PRIMAL FEAR. The only slot available however, was at 10 am mid-week. As soon as I got notification I went into my boss’s office and told him in no uncertain terms that I would need a half day off, and if he didn’t give it to me I would burn the warehouse to the ground then eat his face. He must have known just how serious I was because he said, “No problem” quick as you please. PRIMAL FEAR’S new album Rulebreaker was just about to release in the U.S., and Ralf was very excited to discuss it, as was I. So, without any further delay, here…we…GO:
Amps: You’ve got a great tour coming up with LUCA TURILLI’S RHAPSODY. How did that come about, and are you excited?
Ralf: I am absolutely excited! I got to know the guys because I was singing in choir for them. I was invited a year and a half ago to sing on an album. But the way this tour came about was our sound engineer also works with them, so we got in touch with those guys and it was a mad effort to put it all together. Those guys never toured North America, and now everybody is really looking forward to this collaboration. It’s gonna be a great package, starting April 26 and ending in June.
Amps: What is your vocal regimen? Any “do’s/don’ts”? Also, what’s your workout routine to stay in shape?
Ralf: Well, I don’t do any working out while on tour because I’m really focusing on the stage every night and having my energy there. I’m gonna be a fat dude because I ate a lot over the holidays! Usually it’s a big priority for me, though. I don’t wanna look like an old fart onstage. I AM an old fart but I don’t wanna look like one (laughs)! One of my vocal “don’ts” is smoking. I don’t like that at all. I also try to get as much sleep as possible. I have a humidifier on the road and I take some licorice root which is natural cortisone. Drinking a lot of water helps, too. Of course, people always fall ill on the road, and as soon as someone gets the bug it goes all around.
Amps: What are you benching these days?
Ralf: It’s 126 kilograms (278 pounds).
Amps: For me, like on the last record, the immediate standout was the epic. “We Walk Without Fear” is fantastic. Do you have any favorites on Rulebreaker?
Ralf: I’m with you on that. When you sit back and listen to that song it doesn’t get boring, from start to finish. It’s hard to pick favorites, though. Every song on the album is a little bit of your baby, and to pick your favorite baby is always hard. I like “In Metal We Trust” a lot. We have a lot of songs we’d love to play live, we’ve chosen five or six. We’ll try them out at our first show in Barcelona. You never know what’s going to work and what won’t, so you have to try them in the rehearsal room first. We’ll also be doing some older tracks.
Amps: Mini-Amps’ favorite is “The End Is Near”. I also love the vocal lines on the verses for “At War With the World”.
Ralf: That’s great, thank you very much. Tell him thank you as well.
Amps: What was it like going in with THREE guitarists to do a record this time around?
Ralf: It’s great. You can hear Tom’s (Naumann) back in the band. He’s a founding member and we got on so well last tour we just said, “Let’s put all old shit aside and stay together.” He had a lot of contributions to Rulebreaker. It’s just an amazing team and we have such a good time. Magnus (Karlsson) can’t do the live shows because he has three kids, so live we’re still a two-guitar band. We understand and respect that, I have a boy myself, like you. Having one more great composer on the record is wonderful, because now you have five guys writing.
Amps: While Magnus is home he’ll probably write, what, 50 killer albums? That guy never stops!
Ralf: (Laughs) that’s true! he has a really good routine for composing songs quickly and they’re of amazing quality.
Amps: What does your son think of PRIMAL FEAR? Is he a fan?
Ralf: He is very into music. He’s like me, he loves good melodies whether it’s metal or pop music. When I was recording songs here for the album I would come downstairs and he started singing the songs because he heard me screaming away. He got to know the tunes very early. He liked the album before I got to hear all the tracks, because he knew them so well! So do my neighbors. They’ll say, “Today you were screaming again, eh?” (Both of us laugh)
Amps: After so many years, do you still get all amped up before an album release or a tour?
Ralf: Absolutely. This will never change. When it does we’ll have to stop. There’s always been a certain amount of nerves about how people are gonna react to an album`and so forth. For us, it’s of major importance that WE like the music first. We won’t release`anything we are not into.
I think we have a good quality gauge that is also accepted by our fans, which is amazing. It’s a highlight because the album’s coming out in Europe first, and the five snippets we’ve released have been really well-liked so far.
Amps: What are you listening to at home or in the car?
Ralf: It’s not so easy anymore, because I’m doing so much I need to just relax my ears sometimes. I couldn’t even tell you my favorite albums from last year because I do so much on my own. If I’m not doing PRIMAL FEAR I’m doing side projects or singing on other band’s albums. I also have vocal students, so my whole day is full of music, which is good. But then you miss some brand new releases because you’re so busy.
Amps: How often are you teaching?
Ralf: Twice a week at the music school and then I have students privately on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I have some spots open, so if anyone’s interested in vocal lessons with Ralf Scheepers, just contact me at my website or on Facebook. It’s not so easy via Skype, but we make it work.
Amps: What do you do away from music?
Ralf: I’m hitting the gym whenever I have the time. I also do table soccer tournaments with my boy. Spending time with him is my top priority. He’s always winning!
Amps: What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
Ralf: I won’t tell you my secrets (laughs). Everything is pretty much out there via Wikipedia and my Facebook. I’m actually in a movie called Devil’s Five, directed by my friend Terry Wickham. It will be released by Manta Ray Pictures. I play a guy who’s saving the world, and that’s all I can say.
Amps: Is that something you’d like to do more of?
Ralf: I would love to. It was a great experience, but it’s also a lot of work. We didn’t sleep much and there was a lot of filming. Many times we almost slept at the set. The nice thing was I got good feedback from guys who have been doing this for years. They were very complimentary.
Amps: Say something to your fans out there.
Ralf: I’m always saying with conviction how much I love to meet the people after a show and have a beer with them. It makes no sense for me to just do my thing and disappear, I want to connect with them. It would just be great to meet you out there when we’re on our North American tour. Check our website for dates, it would be great to see you all.
Interviewing Ralf Scheepers was a dream come true. I may be 42, but I still fangirled all over the place. He had a lot of fun with that, and we definitely laughed a lot. One thing is certain, though. His passion for this machine that is PRIMAL FEAR and bringing metal to the masses is unwavering, and unrivaled. Pick up your copy of Rulebreaker ASAP, and be sure to catch them on this U.S. tour. If you’re at the Philly show, come say hi and we’ll have a beer!
LIVE PHOTOS: RONNIE JACKSON PHOTOGRAPHY