By Kelley Simms
There’s no mistaking that pirate metal was invented by RUNNING WILD (way before ALESTORM’s comedic slant on the genre). Beginning with its signature 1987 album, Under Jolly Roger, it ushered in a new sound on the metal landscape. It’s been almost 30 years since the release of Running Wild’s faux Satanic debut album, Gates To Purgatory, and with the exception of a brief hiatus from 2009 to 2011, the band, led by guitarist/vocalist Rolf “Rock ’N’ Rolf” Kasparek, is still sailing the high seas, so to speak. Faithful band mascot Adrian is also back, as he graces the CD cover, which is decorated in a classic ’80s airbrushed style.
Shadowmaker, the band’s 15th studio album, was released just a little over a year ago and is considered to be just an average comeback album. During the same time period, Rolf also contributed to the side project Giant X with fellow Running Wild guitarist Peter Jordan. With Running Wild’s 16th full-length release, Resilient (Steamhammer/SPV), it proves to be a fitting name that describes Rolf’s tenacity and the band’s perseverance perfectly. Resilient sounds like there was a concentrated effort by Rolf to resurrect that old-school Running Wild sound that Shadowmaker mostly lacked.
“The truth came about when I was writing for the songs,” Rolf said. “It just turned out that some of the songs had some of the old stuff. Not because I tried to write like that, just because it came out like that. The songs had the spirit of the old stuff. We weren’t trying to copy that sound because it wouldn’t make sense because we’re in 2013. So we tried to get the best sound out of the songs that we could. In this case, it’s typical Running Wild.”
Guitarist/engineer Peter Jordan’s involvement with Running Wild since its restart in 2011 has proven to be imperative in the rekindled enthusiasm for the band. “He’s been a part of the production team as a sound engineer and has recorded a lot of stuff for me. Sometimes we were working in three different studios at the same time. I was recording my vocals, he was recording his solos and planning the final mix. He’s part of the team. He’s played most of the guitar solos. Some of the songs I was just figuring them out on the guitar just to make the solo part, but there was no real idea there for the solo. So, I gave them to him to figure out because he’s a great guitarist. He got such a great production sound and he played his part in that.”
Rolf stated that if there was one song on Resilient that personifies everything that Running Wild stands for, it would have to be ‘Bloody Island.’
“When I was writing it, the ideas came very quickly and I put down all the pieces very quickly and forgot about it. When I came back to write on it I figured out that all these parts that I had recorded were the arrangement of the song. The song sort of wrote itself. I knew from the first part I was working on that it would be the definitive track. I can’t tell you why, but I got the same feeling back when I was writing ‘Under Jolly Roger’ and ‘Conquistadores.’ I can’t explain it. It’s just a very special feeling you have when you’re writing on a song.”
The basis of Resilient’s opening song, ‘Soldiers Of Fortune,’ combines the band’s past with a more modern sound, something they initially tried on Shadowmaker. But for the first time, Rolf worked with precise vocal lines during the demo recordings of Resilient and his vocal harmonies are more focused, which actually progressed naturally while in the studio.
“This time I really took the time to do a full demo with full vocals and harmony vocals,” Rolf concluded. “This was the first time I could really work on that. We played around with a lot of different harmony vocals and it was the first time I was involved with that. When I did Shadowmaker, there was also some things that we wanted to try and there was a special kind of vocal sound that I have, which is the basic sound on the album. PJ sang on one song, which is ‘Bloody Island,’ all the other songs had to be done by myself just to make sure it was Running Wild.”
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