The Rulebreaker: A conversation with Ralf Scheepers of Primal Fear
Interview by Kenneth Gallant
On Wednesday June 1, 2016 the mighty Primal Fear returned to the city of Toronto for another show stopping performance as part of their double headlining tour with Rhapsody. As luck would have it HMS was there, not only to cover the show, but to interview the bands' impressive front man Ralf Scheepers.
When we arrived at the venue for this colossal event, The Mod Club on College St. in the heart of Little Italy, Ralf was pumped and ready to get the interview rolling. Primal Fear's sound check was in 30 minutes, so we had little time to get our questions answered by this intimidating looking, yet charismatic and accommodating gentleman. Ralf lead us to the club's green room which was a small and dimly lit space. We wanted to video tape the interview for ease in transcribing it. But the lack of light (and not to mention the fact that the room was right beside the stage where Rhapsody were doing their sound check) made for a low quality and audibly challenged video recording of Mr. Scheepers.
Nevertheless, we wanted to give our readers a little bit more than just a written transcription of our conversation with Ralf. So we extracted some of the more audible portions of the recorded interview and edited them to the backdrop of Primal Fear's video for their hit single from Rulebreaker – 'The End Is Near'.
So without further ado please read, watch and listen to what the amazing Ralf Scheepers had to tell us about Primal Fear's experiences on the road, the love and respect they have for their fans, their lyrical inspirations and their future album plans!
HMS: We're here with Ralf Scheepers of Primal Fear. Ralf the tour is in full swing right now – how is it going so far?
Ralf Scheepers: Actually it's the last day of North American leg of the tour and it's really going well so far. We're really happy to be here again in Toronto again. This is our third time here, I think, and it's really been an amazing tour so far. Everyone's been really looking forward to rocking out tonight again.
HMS: You're touring with Rhapsody this time, what was the impetus to tour with them?
RS: They're absolutely great! We're a good team. We're doing a double-headlining thing in which we're changing the headlining position. We know them pretty well, and the fans like it so that's what we wanted to achieve.
HMS: Aside from debuting at #19 on the European charts, Rulebreaker is doing very well on their American chart ranking. How do you find the response has been overall to the new album?
RS: This is the evidence that people are still into metal, so obviously we're very happy about that – there are so many good things to say! We're very thankful and grateful to the fans that come out to the show and buy our stuff.
HMS: I really love the album title, "Rule Breaker" – it sounds so defiant. Was there a reason behind this particular title?
RS: We had different names as proposals, but in the end "Rule Breaker" was, for us, the strongest expression. You want to have a name, or a label, that really sticks and I think "Rule Breaker" is a strong metal album title.
Before that (the title) was "The End Is Near", but it was just a little too dangerous a statement, like (suggesting) the end of the band – which was not the case.
HMS: Of course that leads me to my next question, what inspired you to write the lyrics for that particular song from the album "The End Is Near"?
RS: Actually we're always collecting ideas from our daily lives. Sometimes you also collect stuff you get from the news – and then basically include ideas from science fiction. Sometimes you combine true stories and science fiction, stir it around a little bit and then hopefully you'll have a story behind it (laughs).
"We're very thankful and grateful to the fans..."
HMS: I always love the covers to your albums. Is there any reason why this album has the specific focus on Primal Fears' eagle image?
RS: Absolutely, the eagle is our mascot. If you don't see the name Primal Fear then you see the eagle and you know its Primal Fear. It's our trademark, our 'sticker' if you will.
HMS: From the start of the tour in Europe how far will this tour take you?
RS: After the European dates I took a little bit of a break to rest my voice before we started the North American leg. After this leg ends we're off to Japan three days later. From there we head to Australia and then we start the summer festivals so it's a really, really busy and tightly packed schedule.
HMS: If I could ask about your split with former drummer Randy Black. Was there a specific reason for his departure from Primal Fear?
RS: Well, you know, you have your ups and downs. Randy is a fantastic person – I can always say this. But we went our separate ways with respect and that's the most important thing.
HMS: And he's Canadian…
RS: And he's Canadian, yes, but that has nothing to do with it (smiles).
HMS: How does it feel to be back in Toronto?
RS: Ahhh I love it! I'd just love to have more time to go around. It's always the same – our schedule is so packed, you know? It's arriving, having some breakfast at 2pm (laughs), and then freshen up a little bit, do some interviews, do the sound check, do the meet and greet and then hop on stage… so there isn't much time left to see the city, which is a pity.
But sometimes we get a day off and we've been able to go around the city and take in a little sight seeing.
HMS: Lastly, I just wanted to know if you had any thoughts or ideas towards the next album?
RS: There's always a next thing we have in mind. And next year we're actually thinking about a live album, we're recording a lot this year on the tour. It's not quite really set or decided if we will release a live album yet, but we should have the next studio album in about two years or so.
HMS: Thanks so much Ralf, pleasure to speak with you.
RS: Likewise – enjoy the show!
EDITOR'S NOTE: You can also watch the video of this interview here.
Kenneth Gallant, HMS