By Andrew Catania
The figures speak for themselves: more than 1.7 million albums sold worldwide, 2.6 million streams for the top 10 predecessor “Knights Call “(2018). Now AXEL RUDI PELL is about to release “Sign Of The Times, “his 18th (!) studio album in 31 years. But not quantity matters – it’s the quality that counts, stupid! His consistency enjoys more and more respect and appreciation within the hard & heavy community. Not every time, but with the increasing frequency, you hear the term ‘cult ‘when it comes to AXEL RUDI PELL. Being the man that he is, he cannot rely on that idea, but “if someone is that successful over such a long period, he might as well deserve it.”
I spoke with ARP last week about his new album.
Where did you draw inspiration for these songs?
ARP: Everything is always fresh. I don’t use ideas from another album, which are older, from say, two years ago. I am still writing stuff. But the magic has to be right in the air. I’m not sitting down and saying, Now I have to write a fast record, or I have to write it better. I am always writing in little bits and pieces, and in the end, I put everything together, and hopefully, it’s a cool song.
On this record, every song, like every record, is fantastic. (Laughing)
Do you write the music or the lyrics first?
ARP: The music. I always have a melody when I write the riffs. Or sometimes I only have the melodies and no guitars. When I put these things together, I am always humming the melody with vocalizing, not with recognizable words or language. Later on, I write the lyrics, because the lyrics have to be fit to the melody part. They’re the center of it, they have to be perfect, so I can’t write the lyrics first.
When was the last time you guys were out on the road?
ARP: The last show we played was last year in Russia in St. Petersburg
With everything going on, are you talking about doing anything for next year?
ARP: We have a tour coming up in October- November this year. Everybody knows that this might happen. I have got a feeling that it won’t happen at all because we got this shutdown and all, so I don’t know if it’s allowed or not. Even if it’s allowed to play venues in Germany or anywhere, we have a problem with America; they can’t cross the border. The central part of the tour will be rescheduled next year; I think April if I remember right.
Have you ever thought about doing any instructional guitar videos?
ARP: No. I’m too bad for that. (Laughing) I think I’m not a good teacher. Once my wife tried to play the guitar, and I said, okay, you have to do this, and first, you have to try to learn the chords, and that’s the main thing when you try to learn the guitar. And she said I played it exactly as you told me, but it sounds different. I said it because you are making mistakes and you have to do this…and I take the guitar and play it back to her. I show her elementary progress stuff and some notes, and she said let me try, and she was entirely out of the place I showed her. I take the guitar back, and I’m playing it again, and she just laughed.
Would you ever work with Jeff Scott Soto again?
ARP: I did. But I never look back into the past. JSS was a guest at the 25th-anniversary show in 2014. We did two songs with him, which was great. I like Jeff. He’s a terrific singer and an amiable and friendly guy. I loved working with him. But I would never go back.
Do you spend hours playing your guitar daily?
ARP: No. You know why? I would bore myself to death. It would be boring, and you would repeat yourself, and that’s not good. I sometimes would not play the guitar for two or three weeks. That was good. At the moment, I am just giving lots and lots of interviews, and I don’t have the time to play the guitar. And this is good. Because when I pick up the guitar again, let’s say in one week or so, I’m playing different things, because I can’t remember what I played last time, you know? (Chuckling) It’s very fresh then.
Any plans to make it to the states next year?
ARP: (Laughing) I knew the question was coming. Unfortunately, there’s no plan at all because we have to wait and see how the whole Corona thing is going in Europe first. And we have to get the tours here rescheduled, and hopefully, we will be available to play. The States, every time I’m asking my booking agent, I say what about a few shows in the States, and he says oh sure, but how to pay for it is the thing. Asking Johnny and Bobby, they repeat themselves; they say every year, there’s no market for it. You might get to sell 80 to 100 tickets a show. And that’s a problem. I mean the shows there are so huge….you know? Much much more significant than Germany, and how much should we play then? 120? Which would be great, you know, but the problem is the ticket sales, you know?
Line Up: Johnny Gioeli – Lead and Backing Vocals
Axel Rudi Pell – Lead, Rhythm and Acoustic Guitars
Ferdy Doernberg – Keyboards Volker Krawczak
Bass Bobby Rondinelli – Drums