. . . . . . : : : :  Entrevistas/Interviews   : : : : . . . . . .
......::::RUNNING WILD (Germany)::::......
Realized at: 17th, April 2017

I 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!  


Hi 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?

Hi! Oh, we will definitely have 30 minutes. 

Okay, 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?

Well, 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.  

Which 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.

Well, 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. 

Your early lyrics were pretty satanic. Was that something you were really convinced of? Or was it just a way of provocation?

Yes, 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. 

Later the lyrics changed and dealt with piracy and historical battles. Which authors, movies or other aspects are your main influences?   

Oh, 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.  

You 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?

No, 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.  

Who was the guy on the front cover of “Gates To Purgatory”?   

That 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. 

I once read that you were dissatisfied with your second album “Branded And Exiled”. Is that true? Why?   

It 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.  

In 1987, you changed your image to the piracy image which lasts until today. How did you get this idea?

Oh, 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 happened.  

Stormwitch 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?

No, 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. 

Okay, 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 today!

The 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. 

Then 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

Absolutely! 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! 

I 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”?

For 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 whole album. 

I 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?

Actually 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; that´s true!  

At 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?

Well, actually I always said that it was generally a good idea to continue as a 3-piece, but not as a cheap Running Wild copy.  

And 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 it´s ridiculous?    

I 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.  

After “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?

Well, 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. 

The new version of “Prisoners Of Our Time” on the compilation 2CD “20 Years In History”, released in 2005, was very viscously. Why?      

Actually, 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!      

This 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 this mystery!

No, he was a real person who used the pseudonym Angelo Sasso because he didn´t want his real name to be offered on our releases. 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.  

Then, 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?  

To 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.  

Many people would have liked to see some of the ex-members on that show again. Did you never think about that?

No, 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.   

After 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?

No, 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.  

And why did the reunion of Running Wild happen only 2 years after the official split up?

That 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 to life.  

But 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…

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!  

The 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 as well…

Giant-X 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. 

And 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…

Well, 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 background.  

Will there be more albums by both projects in the future? Do you already know?

At 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.  

Let´s talk about the new album then! How much time did it take to write and record all the songs?

This 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 record then. 

And 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?

Yes! 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. 

Are 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!

No, 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 anymore!  

What 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 the time?

Yes, 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.  

Is there a Running Wild album that you´re really proud of or that you even don´t like anymore today? And if so: Why?

I´m 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! 

I think Running Wild are the only German traditional heavy metal band that never recorded a ballad! Why not?

Because I wasn´t interested, haha!  

What about your future plans with Running Wild?

First 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!  

Okay, Rolf! We really were able to finish the interview within 30 minutes! I´m really proud!

Wow, cool! Haha!   

Do you have any final words?

I hope you will all like our new album and come to one of our shows!  



Author: Daniel Müller

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