already did lots of interviews I´m really
proud of. But this is something really
special because I already listened to
Running Wild when I started to listen to
heavy metal in the early 90´s. To do an
interview with Rolf Kasparek was awesome!
To do it by phone, even more! I went
through the whole history of the band with
him, including the two side projects he
had. Check it out!
Rolf! It´s an honour for me to phone with
you after 25 years of true Running Wild
worship! I want to ask you so much! How
much time do we have?
Oh, we will definitely have 30 minutes.
let´s try, haha! Please let´s start at
the very beginning, okay? When and how did
the birth of Running Wild happen? And have
you already played in other bands before?
the band was not founded under the name of
Running Wild, but the name was Granite
Heart first. We were school mates and
wanted to play music together. This must
have been around 1977. In 1978, we played
our first gig at school featuring 6 songs.
In 1979, we changed our name to Running
Wild then. After that, it really started.
In Hamburg, it was difficult to play
anywhere without an album in the back.
That´s why we didn´t tour so much in the
beginning. Many people think that we
played a lot of gigs, but it´s not true.
We had played 10 gigs maybe until we got
our record deal in 1984.
bands were your main influences? And have
those influences ever changed at all? I
mean, Running Wild always had their
certain style and are hardly comparable to
other bands in my opinion.
in the beginning there were bands like
KISS, AC/DC etc. Later also Judas Priest,
of course, who also gave the band´s name
around 1979/´80 when the NWOBHM started
to rise. After that bands like Saxon, Iron
Maiden and Def Leppard came up. There was
a lot of development in the metal scene.
early lyrics were pretty satanic. Was that
something you were really convinced of? Or
was it just a way of provocation?
we wanted to be different compared to all
other small bands at school that also
played rock and metal. We wanted to get
attention. We also had this idea with the
leather and spikes inspired by Judas
Priest and all the pyro technique. But we
didn´t take our lyrics too serious. That´s
why we changed that direction on our
second album. People just misunderstood
this. At first, it was helpful to get
attention because it was more extreme. We
had more leather and spikes than all the
others and spider webs, skulls and pyros
on stage etc, even in small youth clubs.
The visual aspect was also important for
us. In the past, this was really important
to get more attention than other bands.
the lyrics changed and dealt with piracy
and historical battles. Which authors,
movies or other aspects are your main
many different ones. Of course, I still
read a lot of books. Sometimes there are
also movies or other influences as well,
as you said: things happening in the
world, like e. g. “Warmongers” on the
new album. But there are no rules for
that. Many different things can have an
influence on me. There are lots of ways
how a song can be created.
were also featured on the “Death
Metal” sampler in 1984. Did you call
your music death metal back then? The name
for this genre was not given at that time.
Or was it just an idea of the label?
that was the label´s idea. We were also
featured on the “Rock From Hell”
sampler, and “Death Metal” was the
second one. At that time, we already had
our record deal for “Gates To
Purgatory”. We were asked to be featured
on it because they wanted to do something
with Helloween and Hellhammer and we would
fit onto it, so we agreed. The term
“Death Metal” was created by Tom G.
Warrior of Hellhammer. He also painted the
“Death Metal” logo for this
compilation. But we never saw ourselves as
death metal band at all. We always wanted
to be a heavy metal band until today.
was the guy on the front cover of “Gates
was our former pyro roadie, a good friend
called Django. He looked perfect for the
job. We told him to do it, and he agreed.
This cover artwork has its own story
anyway. We collected ideas for it. And
Hasche´s father had his own company.
There was a burglary when a safe was
cracked. And he said, ´Hey, you want to
have a cover and you play heavy metal.
Come to my company. I can give you a
welder. You can do what you want with it I
don´t care. It´s pure trash and you will
have fire´ etc. We thought that was a
fantastic idea, haha! I mean, we never
would have had the money for that! That
was a really expensive one! But we didn´t
want a band member for the pic because we
didn´t want to have focus on anyone. That
would have been stupid in our opinion. So
we chose Django to do this. Our guitar
roadie Boris also gave him leather and
spikes to look more evil. And so the cover
artwork was born.
once read that you were dissatisfied with
your second album “Branded And
Exiled”. Is that true? Why?
was clear that Preacher wouldn´t stay in
the band anymore after our “Gates To
Purgatory” tour. And it was also clear
that we would record a second album and I
would be responsible for the whole
songwriting alone. One the first album we
were two songwriters. Another problem was
that we were young and didn´t have enough
experience. On “Gates To Purgatory” it
worked, strangely enough because we had a
good sound engineer in the studio. But on
the second album he was always stoned.
That was a big problem for us because we
didn´t get the result that we expected.
So, in the end, I was a little unhappy
with it, and that caused my bad mood
concerning this album.
1987, you changed your image to the piracy
image which lasts until today. How did you
get this idea?
that happened accidently, more or less. I
sat at home in my living-room writing
songs for the third album. That was in
1986, and there was a trailer on TV
showing the movie “Pirates” starring
Roman Polanski and Walter Matthau. And I
just had this melody when I saw the scene
on TV when this pirate flag was raised and
there was this “Under Jolly Roger”
shouts. I thought it was great and told
the band about writing something totally
different, a pirate song. And they agreed.
Then we thought about the cover artwork
and some band member – it wasn´t me!
– suggested to wear those pirate clothes
as well. Then we chose those outfits and
the stage sets. That´s how it happened.
So we became the pirate band. But we didn´t
have a real master plan for that. It just
also did this at the same time. They also
started to wear those clothes and had a
song entitled “Tigers Of The Sea”. Did
you have contact to Stormwitch? Or did
that happen accidently as well?
not at all! It just happened. Also Zed
Yafo did this at the same time. I don´t
know why, haha! It wasn´t stolen or
inspired by both bands! I just had the
idea because of this movie. That´s all.
And after that, we continued with it and
it became our trademark.
to stay in chronological order, now
something completely different: In 1990,
you produced the album “Angel On The
Run” by the Czech heavy metal legend
Kreyson. I have both the Czech and the
English version of it and think it´s
great! How did you get in contact with
them? And did you still follow their
career later on? They even still exist
contact was made by Jan Nemec who worked
with us on our albums in the 90´s. He was
also with engineer on “Death Or
Glory”, “Blazon Stone” etc. And he
also was the producer of Kreyson. The
Kreyson vocalist did some background
vocals on “Death Or Glory” too. He
played some songs to me and asked if I
could help him with the production because
he wanted to have someone from the metal
scene who could give him some suggestions.
That´s how it happened. But the contact
broke up after that. I know that he also
did a solo album after that. But we also
stopped to work together with Jan Nemec as
well, so I wasn´t able to follow their
career later on unfortunately.
my favourite Running Wild era began with
masterpieces like “Death Or Glory”,
“Blazon Stone”, “Pile Of Skulls”,
“Black Hand Inn” and “Masquerade”
because I grew up with them. Do you also
think that this was the strongest Running
Wild era ever? Or is it just my point of
view because it was “my time”? J
I mean, music has always something to do
with emotions! It´s always the advantage
versus new songs. That´s normal. But for
me, it was a great time! Strangely, most
metal bands suffered from the grunge era
in the 90´s. But we didn´t! For us, it
was the most successful era! After that,
there were still great albums that the
fans liked, but for many bands it wasn´t
the same anymore. But every band on Earth
has its big era here and there. For us, it
was definitely the 90´s!
really have to tell you that “Black Hand
Inn” is my alltime favourite Running
Wild album! It´s one of the few albums
that have an approximate playing time of
more than an hour, but never gets boring!
That doesn´t happen very often anymore,
in my opinion. What do you feel especially
when it comes to “Black Hand Inn”?
me personally, it was a very important
album! We had a lot of work and stayed in
the studio for 5 months! It was the most
expensive Running Wild production to date,
but also our least sold album strangely,
haha! I can´t change that. I didn´t
understand it. But for me as an artist, it
was a very important album. It was not a
real concept album actually, but based on
a certain concept that went through the
know that you only had hired musicians
since 1993 although you seemed to be a
well-fitting band when I saw your gigs in
Dortmund in 1994 and 1996. Why did this
change happen with those hired musicians?
it was the idea of Thomas “Bodo”
Smuszinski, Running Wild bassist from 1992
to 2000. Since “Pile Of Skulls” he
only wanted to be paid for gigs and studio
work. And when drummer Jörg Michael and
guitarist Thilo Hermann joined the band,
they wanted to have the same deal. That
was the idea of the musicians. Of course,
we were still a real band and took
pictures together etc., but in fact they
were paid separately as hired musicians;
the same time, there was a band called
X-Wild featuring 3 ex-members of Running
Wild and an English guys called Frank
Knight on vocals. What do you think about
the band today? In the past, you had some
really bad words concerning this band. Don´t
you think it was kind of glorious that
they continued in the old Running Wild
style after they left?
actually I always said that it was
generally a good idea to continue as a
3-piece, but not as a cheap Running Wild
what do you think about young bands that
completely copy the style of Running Wild
instead, like e. g. Blazon Stone from
Sweden? Do you like that? Or do you think
know that this band exists, but
unfortunately, I never checked their
music. So I don´t really have an opinion
about that. I think it´s always hard if
you only copy one certain band because the
original already exists. That was already
a big problem in the 80´s when many bands
started to copy AC/DC. Of course,
everybody has his certain influences you
start with. But everyone should get rid of
that and try to find his own sound.
Otherwise it will be hard to survive in
the scene; at least as long as the
original band is still alive. Of course,
it´s easy to understand when you´re a
big fan! And I feel honoured when someone
tells me that there is a band copying
Running Wild 100 %! But I don´t think it´s
the right way. We are also heavily
influenced by Judas Priest, but never
tried to copy them. That didn´t make
sense to us.
“The Rivalry”, released in 1998, there
was the weakest era of Running Wild, in my
opinion. The songs on “Victory”
(2000), “The Brotherhood” (2002) and
“Rogues En Vogue” (2005) sounded
uninspired and tired to me, and I didn´t
like the fully digital, sterile and
lifeless productions. They sounded like
home demos, just being recorded to not
forget new ideas for songs. Am I right in
this case? What went wrong?
yes… What can I say about that? “The
Brotherhood” still sold quite well at
least… You know, for me, there were only
two ways to continue: I could build up my
own studio and to do those productions, or
wouldn´t do that. I chose for the first
one because it was also the last album for
that label. Of course, you always learn
something when you do things like this.
And when I look back, I would do it
different today for sure, of course! But
that was the way Running Wild chose. And
all those steps made me the person I am
today. If I had done it in a different
way, many things would have developed in
other ways. I don´t know if all decisions
were always right. Everyone makes
mistakes, but you have to learn from your
mistakes! Then it´s no problem, I think.
new version of “Prisoners Of Our Time”
on the compilation 2CD “20 Years In
History”, released in 2005, was very
that was the original version from the
“Gates To Purgatory” album! It was
that slow! Gerald (“Preacher”
Warnecke; guitarist from 1982 to 1985)
wrote that song. He was a big Black
Sabbath fan and liked that kind of slow
riffs. Maybe you think it´s too slow
because we always played it much faster on
our shows. The later version on “First
Years Of Piracy” was faster as well!
era was also called the “Angelo Sasso
era” by many fans. Many people say that
he was only a drum machine. But you always
said that he was a real person. You even
said in an interview that he died from a
heart attack in 2007. Did you only say
that to stop those stupid discussions
about him? Please finally tell us about
he was a real person who used the
pseudonym Angelo Sasso because he didn´t
want his real name to be offered on our
He died from a heart attack when he
was on holiday in Spain. It was really
hard for his family because his dog was
still in the holiday apartment and they
had to bring his car back to Germany. He
had checked himself by a doctor and
everything seemed to be okay, but then he
suddenly just fell down and died. It was
really hard for me because he was a true
friend of mine.
in 2009, you suddenly played your farewell
show at Wacken Open Air. But when you were
confirmed, the festival had already been
sold out for a long time. Why Wacken then
for all senses? It seemed like you were
lazy and just wanted to do this shows
because traveling from Hamburg was not far
for you. Wouldn´t it have been better to
play a big tour for all your true fans?
be honest, I already wanted to bury
Running Wild back in 2006. In 2005, we did
our last tour after the “Rogues En
Vogue” album because I wasn´t happy
with the band anymore. And then Holger and
the Wacken crew asked me to do this last
show. We discussed everything and agreed.
It was a spontaneous idea. We haven´t
planned that much because we haven´t
thought about a big farewell before.
people would have liked to see some of the
ex-members on that show again. Did you
never think about that?
because the past is the past and the
present is the present. I´m not a big fan
of that. There are certain reasons why
those guys were in the band, and there are
also reasons why they are not in the band
anymore today, haha! So it was clear to me
from the beginning that only those 4 guys
would share the stage with each other on
that show, you had a new project called
Toxic Taste, also with Peter Jordan who is
in Running Wild today. Toxic Taste were a
punk band, as far as I know. Have you ever
released anything with this band? And do
they still exist today?
it was only a side project. We released a
CD, but it didn´t sell that much. But it
was important for me to do that because I
learned a lot about myself as a musician,
producer and songwriter. And I finally had
fun writing songs again! In a short period
of time, I wrote tons of songs! I think
about 80 songs. Then we chose 15 songs for
the CD. I did this production with Peter
on guitar and Matthias Liebetruth on
drums. It was just for fun. We just did
what we wanted, without any boundaries. We
didn´t have any pressure by labels etc.
So we just did it.
why did the reunion of Running Wild happen
only 2 years after the official split up?
was because different labels asked us
about our old releases that were not
available anymore. I got the rights on the
albums and we were asked to do another
compilation double CD with lots of bonus
tracks. But we didn´t have any bonus
material because Running Wild were already
split up. I just tried to write bonus
tracks in the old style, and then I had so
many ideas that a new album was suddenly
finished. We got a record deal with SPV
and just waited how it would develop. We
had no pressure when we wrote the songs
for “Shadowmaker” and we didn´t have
any certain direction to follow. The
songwriting felt much easier than on the
previous Running Wild albums So it was a
good start for me to bring the band back
can you understand that many fans felt
ripped off by this after only 2 years?
Many fans showed their anger in different
internet forums as well…
“ripped off” seems to be the wring
word here although I understand what you
mean. But “Shadowmaker” definitely
featured some songs the fans wouldn´t
have expected that way; for sure! But I
don´t recognize things happening in the
internet because I don´t even have
internet at home, haha!
2 comeback albums “Shadowmaker” (2012)
and “Resilient” (2013) were quite good
albums again even if they were more hard
rock than heavy metal maybe. They remind
on another side project of yours: Giant-X
which released their only album “I” in
2013. It was also recorded with Peter
Jordan. So where exactly are the main
influences between the “new” Running
Wild and Giant-X then? I mean, the line-up
was the same and the music quite similar
was just a spontaneous idea. The idea was
based on a song called “Burning
Wheels” which didn´t make it onto the
album later though. I sang on it and we
spontaneously decided to record a complete
album. We knew what we wanted to do: We
wanted to write songs based on rock music
from the 70´s we grew up with. But we
didn´t want to play cover songs, but
write own songs in that style. So it
became a blues-/rock and roll album, more
or less, with influences we had as kids
when we started to learn playing guitar
and make music. It was just for fun.
where exactly are the differences between
Toxic Taste and Giant-X then? I think the
boundaries were not always clear during
the last few years…
Toxic Taste were more punk-/rock and roll
and Giant-X were more blues-/rock and roll
with classic influences of the 70´s.
Toxic Taste had more punk influences after
the year 2000 from bands like e. g.
Donots, Blink 182 and My Chemical Romance.
But you´re right: Sometimes there were
some parallels. But both projects were
meant just for fun, without any serious
there be more albums by both projects in
the future? Do you already know?
the moment, I don´t have the time for
that because we seriously started working
with Running Wild again. We just released
the new album “Rapid Foray”. Now we
start with all the promotion and think
about live events for 2017.
talk about the new album then! How much
time did it take to write and record all
time it took much time because I broke my
shoulder in 2014, so I wasn´t able to
work on songs for about one year. I wasn´t
even able to play guitar for more than 30
minutes without aching. Then when I
retired, we had plans to do another Wacken
show. I just recognized that I couldn´t
do both things at the same time. So we put
the album on ice and rehearsed for the
show first. After the show in Wacken in
2015, I was finally able to continue with
the songwriter again. I had like 35 ideas
for songs and had to give them structure.
In the end, we had eleven songs for the
will it sound different to the last two
albums which had some similarities with
Toxic Taste and Giant-X? Will it be more
Running Wild again? Can you tell us?
It will definitely sound different and
more back to the roots! I already
recognized that while I wrote the songs.
It just developed like that. There´s e.
g. a song entitled “Black Skies, Red
Flag” which has only one verse, then a
middle part where a lot of things happen,
and then the chorus follows much later. It
has a very untypical song structure for a
metal song. So I needed a little time to
check the details this time.
Running Wild a real band for you again or
just a project for in between? And will
you search for a real line-up to finally
play a big tour again? I know many people
you would make very happy with that!
I can tell you that we will never play
real tours again!
We will only play festivals and some
selected event shows. Time will tell. We
already have some offerings we have to
check. But there will be no real tour
were the reasons for all those countless
line-up changes in the past? Do you have a
certain vision how a band has to work? Now
while phoning with you, you seem to be a
nice and funny guy. So what went wrong all
but it was always the same from the
beginning. Even before we got our record
deal in 1984, there were 30 different
members in the band. And not all line-up
changes were my fault! In the 90´s,
sometimes I felt like a referee who had to
tear two members apart from each other! I
always stood in the middle and had to make
decisions, so that the band still
survived. It wasn´t always easy for me
either. I never talked about the reasons.
I would never do that because these were
conflicts within the band. So I was always
the treated guy by journalists in public.
But I didn´t care about that because I
knew all the truth about it anyway.
there a Running Wild album that you´re
really proud of or that you even don´t
like anymore today? And if so: Why?
really proud of the new album, but that´s
something every musician would say, I
guess. Otherwise we wouldn´t have done
it, haha! No, seriously: That´s always
hard to say. There are always things I
would have done different afterwards. That´s
for sure! But not concerning complete
albums, except for the production of
“Branded And Exiled” maybe, as I told
you before. I always looked left and right
al little bit, so that there were some
differences between all albums. But we
always had a certain style which was the
typical trademark of the band. And we
never betrayed our roots!
think Running Wild are the only German
traditional heavy metal band that never
recorded a ballad! Why not?
I wasn´t interested, haha!
about your future plans with Running Wild?
we have plans for live shows in 2017 and
2018. After that, I will slowly start to
write new songs for another album. I
already started to collect ideas and
recorded them, not to forget them.
Hopefully, we can release it in 2018, but
that depends on the live schedule. But I
haven´t seriously started yet. Between
“Shadowmaker” and “Resilient”
there was only one year! And if I hadn´t
broken my shoulder and we wouldn´t have
played the Wacken show, the new album
would already have been released last
year, I guess. Wait and see!
Rolf! We really were able to finish the
interview within 30 minutes! I´m really
you have any final words?
hope you will all like our new album and
come to one of our shows!