Axel Rudi Pell

April 3, 2001

Tell us a little about yourself.

Okay. No, not all. I'm a guitar player from Germany who has released 12 records so far. I used to be in a band called Steeler in the '80s, in the German version of Steeler and we released four albums. After the fourth album was released, I parted company with them and started my solo career.

Why do you believe in reincarnation?

Tough question. I feel I was a knight in medieval times here somewhere in Europe. I can feel it. I don't know why. I have it in my blood. Some of it I can remember.

I was looking at the cover of The Wizards Chosen Few. Was that the inspiration for your CD cover?

Yeah sure. It's always me on the cover.

Who are some of your influences?

Probably the main influence was Ritchie Blackmore and Michael Schenker too. A bit of Uli Jon Roth.

Did you take music lessons or were you self-taught?

I took music lessons for about nine months, but just starting to play the guitar. Learning the main chords and everything else, lead guitar, I'm self-taught.

Why did you decide to become a guitarist?

Because I wanted to get famous and rich. No. I think it was when I saw TV. I think it was during 1971-1972, around this era and I saw Ritchie Blackmore performing with Deep Purple on TV and I was so amazed about it. I said "yeah, that's something I want to do too". From that point on I wanted to be a guitar player and play onstage. Play live and make records.

Were you in other bands aside from Steeler?

Oh yeah but just only high school bands. Youth club bands.

Out of the albums you've put out, which stands out the most musically?

My favorite album of myself? Probably the new one, The Wizards Chosen Few because it's a best of. I think Masquerade Ball, the last studio one. Yeah.

Are there any guitars that you endorse?

Yeah, I've got quite a good deal with Fender. I don't get it for free but I don't have to pay much for them. That's okay.

Do you feel their guitars are of better quality?

yeah. I think Fender guitars have a very special tone you can't get with other guitars. For example, when I would play a Gibson or a Les Paul, I would play different. I can only play my music on this kind of guitar. I don't know why. It's strange.

In 1996 during the recording of Black Moon Pyramid, it's said that some supernatural occurrences took place at the studio. Can you elaborate on that?

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. It was really quite strange because it was when we did the intro for that album. It was called "The Return Of The Pharaoh". It was when we recorded the intro. It was meant to sound like some gravediggers. Open up a coffin, you know? The pharaoh came back. That's the main thing about the intro. What happened is, after we recorded the intro, we wanted to listen to it back the next day. We went into the studio and the tape was gone. We looked everywhere. There was no one else in the studio apart from the engineer and me and it was gone. I swear it was gone. So probably the pharaoh took it. I don't know. He came back for sure. It was after we had done it.

Damn that pharaoh. You've worked with vocalists such as Jeff Scott Soto and Johnny Gioeli. How did you hook up with them?

A good friend of mine is a Dutch guy. He's doing a magazine called "Reaction Magazine" which is very popular over here in Dutch and Netherlands. He has this big telephone book and when Rob Rock left the band I asked my friend "hey what do you think of Jeff Scott Soto? Do you have any contact number"? He said "oh yeah, I have him in my telephone book". Actually it was Jeff's mom's telephone number. I rang her and she said "okay I'll put you through to Jeff or I'll talk to Jeff". One or two days later he called me and said "what's up dude? How can I help you"? I said I need a singer for my band. I sent him some stuff and asked if he'd mind listening to it. The next day after he received the records, he said "okay I will do it". I said oh great. I figure it was nearly the same as Johnny Gioeli because it took me a long time to find out Johnny Gioeli's contact number in the States. Took me around six or seven months and I finally found it on the Internet. I got in touch with him, sent him an email, and he wrote very quickly and that was it.

He's been with you ever since?

Yes, right.

Have you recorded any albums in German?

In what? No I will not do it. German language is very hard to listen to. Hard words and I think I will not do it ever. No, no way. For my style of music, it's very hard to write in German words. It would sound a little rubbish I guess.

Can you tell us about the current lineup of your band?

Yeah, there's Johnny Gioeli on vocals, Mike Terrana on drums. He used to be in Yngwie Malsteem's band. He's now living in Europe, in Germany. Not far away from my hometown. Ferdy Doernberg is on the keyboards. He's also the keyboard player in his own band called Rough Silk. Volker Krawczak on bass. He used to be in Steeler too and myself on the guitar.

You have a couple of releases out now, Masquerade Ball and The Wizards Chosen Few. Can you tell us about them?

Yes. Great records! The Wizards Chosen Few is a best of compilation album. It has some extra tunes on it. It covers all my career from the first solo album in '89, Wild Obsession, to the last one, Masquerade Ball. I think probably the best songs ever written are on the album. Some extra tunes, live versions from our '98 tour, and two new ones. It's melodic, great music. Just great music.

Sounds good to me. You guys released "Still I'm Sad" on the Dio tribute album. How did you get involved with that project?

I got a call from the German record company who put it up. They knew that I'm a big Ritchie Blackmore/Rainbow/Ronnie James Dio fan. They called me up and said "hey we're doing this and that. What about you? Would you like to contribute a song"? I said "yeah, for sure". I picked it out myself, "Still I'm Sad", because this is one of my favorite songs from the Rainbow On Stage album. I said "okay we'll do it". I did it and that was great.

Are you currently touring and will you be touring the States in the future?

No we've just finished a European tour. It was a few weeks ago and we're doing two, I think, big festivals in Europe this year in the summer. There are no plans, unfortunately, to play the States yet. I think I have to sell more records over there. It would be a big financial risk to just come over and play some clubs. Probably I would lose some big bucks.

We'll have to tie you up and bring you over here I guess.

Yeah!

Is it really hard for European bands to get over here?

I think so. What I've heard is that my kind of music is not very popular at the moment in the States with no radio airplay, no TV airplay. It's very hard to just get over because I've always sold a few hundred or a few thousand copies. Your country is very, very big so I don't know who would pay for it.

Yeah we're in the shit music mode right now. I start getting albums from people overseas and I'm going "hey! There's still some people who love music"! I enjoyed the guitar duel between you and Helloween guitarist Roland Grapow on "Total Eclipse". How did that come about?

We're friends. We call each other every two or three months because he's living in another part of Germany right about 300 miles away or 400 miles away I think. He's a friend of mine that. I've known him a few years now. When we recorded his first solo album and I was on tour recording the Magic one, I think this track was a bonus track for the Magic Japanese version. Japanese edition of the album. We stayed in contact and one day we talked to each other and he said "would you like to continue contributing a solo to my records"? and I said "yeah sure. What about you"? He said "yeah okay". He came down with his guitar and with his tapes and recorded the stuff. We had fun in the studio.

Has your musical direction changed between the release of your first album and now?

I think so a bit. I think the first album was more influenced by typical new wave of British heavy metal style of Saxon and the newer ones are more influenced by...I think it's more melodic, it's more...a lot more stuff.

You've got two tracks on here called "Broken Dreams" and "Ghosthunter" which are studio tracks. Are those tracks that are going to appear on this album or on a future one?

These two tracks you've mentioned are only recorded for the best of compilation album for The Wizards Chosen Few. They will not appear on any album in the future.

Do you have any plans on working on a new studio album pretty soon?

What I'm doing at the moment is collecting ideas for the next studio album. Just only rough ideas you know. I have a small tape machine and when I'm washing the dishes, for example, and a melody comes to my mind, I push the button and record it on a little tape machine. I think I will really write the new stuff when the summer is over. I will start to write and I think we'll enter the studio probably at the end of the year and the next album will be out sometime, I don't know, March, April, or May of the next year.

Any other comments?

Ronnie James Dio is doing a new project. I forget the title. I will contribute one song to this compilation album. That's for sure. I've talked with his manager, Wendy Dio. With a bit of luck I will be playing on the record. In the '80s this song had about 18 or 20 guitar players and I think I will contribute the solo for that one too. I talked to Ronnie Dio last May when he was here in Europe doing his Magica tour. I don't know when this will happen, probably this year.

Axel Rudi Pell