Upcoming Primal Fear’s shows in Russia is a good reason to refresh memory about the band’s extensive discography. We decided to start with the awesome release «Nuclear Fire» and asked ex-Primal Fear and curent Nitrogods guitarist Henny Wolter (he joined Primal Fear for the first time on this record) how was it to be involved in making of such a masterpiece.
What were your thoughts when Matt asked you to join Primal Fear? What was your opinion about their first two albums? Was it something you really wanted to play at that time? Is it true that the band tried out some other musicians?
I really did not know the band back then. But Klaus (Sperling) told me about them and he said it was great. I should join them if Matt asked me to. So I did. I don´t know if they tried any other guys. I did an audition and I got the job. Learning the songs I got familiar with their repertoire. German power metal with a heavy dose of Judas Priest. And they obviously knew how to play their stuff. I liked it.
What are your best memories about the songwriting process for the album «Nuclear Fire»? Is it true that you recorded almost 20 songs for this album and cut them to 12 later? By the way, what happened to those songs that you dropped? Did you use them later?
When I got into the process of recording most songs were already chosen and written. I think I wrote two selections. But I can´t remember having 20 songs to choose from. It must have been before I joined.
Your and Stefan’s guitar work on this album is simply incredible. I dare to say that it’s the best Primal Fear album in terms of lead guitars. Would you agree with me? And how was it to work with Stefan? Did you hit it off with him easily?
Thank you. I gave my best. And I sure liked working with Stefan. He could pull off some stuff I never could play. He´s very fast and he got the right hand for thrash and speed metal. I play more melodic and slow compared to him. I guess we made a great blend. Knowing it was good, but not aware it was going to be one of the best guitar duos in German metal back then.
What are your best memories about working in the studio? How much was it different to your previous studio experience with Thunderhead? Were there any parts or songs which you had to struggle with so to say?
It was less drugs. More focused. And it took some practice to get the parts right. I could not play the songs right now without some practice. It was not a struggle, but Stefan and me used to call it «sports guitar» jokingly. That kind of hits the spot.
How did you like touring in support of «Nuclear Fire» in general and the USA shows in particular? Can you share any memorable / funny stories from that tour?
It was great touring with “Nuclear Fire”. The album got a great response and I got to play in some countries I had never dreamed of. The atmosphere in the band was good and I think we all had a great time touring that album. Some fan stole my stage leather pants in Milano, Italy. I am grateful because they were disgusting after three months of playing.
By the time of «Nuclear Fire» Ralf Sheepers represented his new image — he completely cut his hair. Do you remember your feelings when you saw him bald for the first time?
I really did not care if he had little hair or if he was bold. It was his voice that kicked it off.
Would you agree that «Nuclear Fire» is one of the best albums in Primal Fear’s catalogue? Does it makes you proud when people call it as one of the best metal albums of 2000’s?
Yes. I guess so. If people think it is. It was always a miracle to me why some albums become «legendary» and others are average. In the process of recording and writing you don´t know. All you can do is give it your best. But we do that every time. Best you can have is a slight feeling it might turn out really well.
What are your best memories about Russian shows in 2008 and 2009?
I love playing in Russia. I was born in 1966. And during my youth it was an illusion for a western band only to travel there. So it still means a big deal to me to play for Russian audience. Besides all the impressive history and architecture I met some of the greatest people in Russia. Russians have a great loyalty and they stand for what they say. That has been the case back in the 90´s and now.
I know it’s not related to this album but why did you quit Primal Fear eventually in 2010? Was there any conflict between you and Mat as you also left his band Sinner? Do you see a chance to rejoin Primal Fear in the future?
I left because I was not happy with the way the band was run. It felt too much like a business company rather than a band of friends. Plus there were some personal and monetary issues which annoyed me in a big way. I doubt I want to be back with Primal Fear. It´s not the same band I joined back then and never will be.
Imagine you were asked by a label to put out a best of album and you have to pick out only 3 tracks from each album. What tracks would you choose from «Nuclear Fire» and why?
That would certainly be “Angel in Black”. One of my favorite Primal Fear’s riffs of all time.
I think that´s by far the best song on the album. After that I might choose “Nuclear Fire” and “Iron Fist in Velvet Glove”.
Thanks and sincerely, Henny Wolter
Thanks to Eugine Silin (Alive Concerts) for making this interview possible.