Interview with Grave Diggers Axel Ritt

Posted on June 17, 2014


Hey everyone!
Because of my relation with Napalm Records I got to do a small interview with Grave Diggers lead guitarist Axel Ritt, and ask him a little about their upcoming album “Return Of The Reaper”

So, I hope you all enjoy :)

I also want to send out a big thank you to Axel Ritt and Claudia on Napalm Records!

LOGO GRAVE DIGGER 2014 Rough Metal alternate

1. Hello Axel, hope all is well?
Now, my first (actually second) question is about the title of your upcoming album “Return Of The Reaper”. How did this title come to your mind?
Is it maybe a hint to all the fans that still after 30 years of Grave Digger, the band is still going strong?

Axel Ritt:
Yes, it’s meant to be in this way. “The Reaper“ was the come back album of the band to the pure German heavy metal and this time we also went back the the pure sound of metal, which means less is more. Straight songs, played as heavy and perfect as can be to get the maximum punch.

3. Even though I´ve only (for now) heard small snippets from “Return Of The Reaper” it sounds very different from your last album “Clash Of The Gods”, but still containing that old Grave Digger spirit.
How can you describe Return Of The Reaper?
Will it be much or little different in style comparing to Clash Of The Gods?

Axel Ritt:
We kept our eyes a lot more on the guitars this time and put the keyboards to the second row. Most of our fans are very interested to the guitar work and the guitar sound, so we gave them what they were looking for.

4. Any particular song on the album you think stands out, or that you
are more proud of than the other?

Axel Ritt:
Well, all of the songs are every strong this time, but my favorite is „Tattooed Rider“, because of the strong spirit of the eighties.

5. When listening to the song “Hell Funeral” from the upcoming album, I really feel that this shit has to be heard live..
Is there any plans for a future live album or DVD?
I know there are songs from Return Of The Reaper and all the way back to the Ballads Of A Hangman album that I would love to hear live but never gotten the chance to ;)Reaper cover

Axel Ritt:
We always try to play a well done mixture of all albums of our career, but it’s always the same, somebody is always missing something :-) There will be 4 new songs of the new album on our upcoming world tour, but of course we have to play the old hits as well.

6. Back to Return Of The Reaper..
Your last album was kind of like a concept album about Greece mythology and such, would you consider Return Of The Reaper a concept album as well or just a “standard” album?

Axel Ritt:
We thought that the concept album area has come to an end and we wanted to turn back to the roots of GRAVE DIGGER, started with songs and sounds in the way how it all began. Of course the sound and the production is a way lot better now than in those days, but the structure of the new album is pure heavy metal like in the early days.

7. I know some fans still feels the need to complain about the departure of former guitarist Manni Schmidt, but seen as you have been the lead guitarist for at least 4 years now I think you have done a great job filling those shoes.
And since I´m a fan of you, I feel that I have to ask how you feel about the situation and your contributions to the band?
Do you feel that the band has changed in style since you joined or has it remained the same as before?

Axel Ritt:
Well, most of the fans told me that the band got a lot more energy in the songs and on stage since I joined the band. Also the chemistry within the band circle is a lot better than it was in the last years before Chris asked me if I can do some fire department, because my predecessor left the band while the tour was still going on.
As a studied musician, I’m the first guitar player in Grave Digger who can communicate with the keyboarder ;-), Stefan told that the band had never been that tight before, because of my experience as a producer and sound engineer I can mediate between the band and our producer Jörg Umbreit and as an owner of my own record company and music publishing, I’m a helping hand for Chris regarding the business side of our profession. Oh yes, I’m the IT officer in the band as well, so I do my best to help the band in any way to get the best out of everything. It works pretty well in all directions!GD PRESSE 1

8. This year of 2014 is the 30 anniversary since Grave Digger released its first album, which is pretty impressive so congrats to that!
And I can imagine what a ride it has been for all you guys..
So, what are your best/worst Grave Digger moments during all these years?

Axel Ritt:
I guess, the worst moment was the battle about the trademark GRAVE DIGGER when Chris and former band members went to a lawsuit who’ll be allowed to use the band name in the future. Chris can tell a lot more about the details. The best moment was the Wacken Open air headliner show in 2010, which has been caught on the DVD „The Clans Are Still Marching“. Everything went perfect in front of almost 200.000 hands, this is an event you will never forget.

9. So after 30 years you are releasing your seventeenth album Return Of The Reaper, what lies ahead in the future for Grave Digger?
Can we expect albums after albums or are you guys ever going to slow down hehe?

Axel Ritt:
Yes we´re going to retire and we’ll be some old lame farts in front of our TVs …. in about 30 years ;-)

10. When I listen to the old albums I really feel that this band still are true to its roots, how do you guys feel about that? How would you describe the development of the bands sound during all these years?

Axel Ritt:
It’s a honor indeed, especially because there are just a few German bands who left their footprints in the metal music scene. The main part is, you have to be different, you have to be unique. The most unique part of our style is Chris voice. 50% of all music listeners love his voice, 50% of all music listeners hate his voice, but 100% are talking about his voice! That’s the basic for been outstanding.

Thank you very much for taking your time for this interview!
Is there anything you would like to say to all the Grave Digger fans around the world?
Oh, and a happy 30 anniversary btw!

Axel Ritt:
Hope to see you at one of our upcoming shows!
Thanks, but it’s 34 anniversary ;-)

For the band maybe but 30 years since the FIRST album came out ;)


All photos (including Grave Digger logo) are used with permission from Napalm Records.