Axel Rudi Pell - 03/11/2008

AXEL RUDI PELL is a German guitaist, specialised in melodic heavy metal. He started off with the band Steeler (1984-1988) which he left in order to start his solo career in 1989 with the eponymous band Axel Rudi Pell. During this time he has played with such drummers as Jörg Michael, Mike Terrana and singers such as Jeff Scott Soto and Rob Rock. He plays classic, traditional melodic heavy metal, predictably heavy but less flashy than Yngwie Malmsteen, with an emphasis on softer ballads, hence three separate ballad compilations over the years.


AXEL RUDI PELL recently released his eighteenth offering, ‘Tales Of The Crown’, in Europe via SPV Records. According to a press release, ‘Tales Of The Crown’ is a "haunting" studio album featuring ten brand-new compositions. "Our fans will get just the kind of songs they have come to know and expect from me and my band," says Pell, adding, "plus a few little innovations." Axel Rudi Pell is referring to the contemporary touch which some of his latest tracks feature, mainly in terms of rhythm. "But don't worry, these modern approaches are only gradual and don't affect the typical flair of my songs."


‘Tales Of The Crown’  was recorded at Gelsenkirchen's Redhouse Studios by the tried-and-tested lineup consisting of Axel Rudi Pell, American vocalist Johnny Gioeli, keyboardist Ferdy Doernberg, bassist Volker Krawczak and drummer Mike Terrana. The album was produced by Axel Rudi Pell and sound engineer Charlie Bauerfeind, who also mixed the CD. Like its highly successful predecessor, the new LP's cover artwork was created by Colombian artist Felipe Machado Franco.



With this new release out, we had a little chat with mainman AXEL RUDI PELL, here we go!


First of all, congratulations on your new album ‘Tales Of The Crown’. How did you launch into writing material for ‘Tales From The Crown’ and how much time did you spend on the songs?
Axel: I collected a lot of little song ideas over a period of several months, as far as I remember between 7-8 months and then I made the “real” songs out of them. This real songwriting process including everything from the riffs to the melody lines for the vocals and the lyrics, took me about 6 weeks time.


Did ideas come easily so that you just had to write them down or was it more of a careful composing thing?
Axel: Like I said, the collecting of the ideas is a natural progression… sometimes a melody comes to my mind and sometimes a riff does, which will immediately be recorded by me on a little tape machine. The real finishing of the tracks is done later.


What comes first, lyrics or melodies?
Axel: Of course the melodies! After the complete song is composed with all melody lines I’ll work on the lyrics which have to fit in perfectly… every syllable !


What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘Tales Of The Crown’, any elements you definitely wanted to have on the album?
Axel: No…we have our own style of playing and I never would change it so much that people wouldn´t understand our music anymore. Of course every now and then we add something new to the sound. On this new album we have some uncommon grooves, you can hear them on the track “Emotional Echoes” for example. But we’d never add anything that would be totally out of context.


Was it a conscious decision to do it this way?

Axel: Yes of course.


What is the utmost important ingredient for a song according to you

Axel: The most important ingredient for me is the melody of the whole song, especially the chorus. I would never record a song that is boring in some way or with a uncatchy chorus or anything. That woudn´t make sense for me at all. Somebody once said, that a song is a good song, when you can whistle the melody while showering and I absolutely agree with that.


Could you please describe the implications of the title ‘Tales Of The Crown’, what does it stand for and is there a special meaning behind it?

Axel: The new record is a continuation of the story of the 5 “Knights” travelling through mystic times. You know… those Knights travelled over the “Oceans of Time” to search for the lost crown of their kingdom to bring it back home. They were invited to a “Masquerade Ball” in a strange building in a strange world. Later they found out that there was no Masquerade Ball… it was just a trap of the evil and the Knights were cursed and turned to stone in the “Shadow Zone”. Fortunately they could release themselves, found the crown and were then on their way back home after leaving the building of the “Kings & Queens”. Unfortunately on their way home they were attacked by several dark forces, who tried to stop those Knights and the crown as they had to get through the “Mystica” Zone. Now they have arrived home and you can see the crown laying at the skull altar… while the Knights tell the people in the village the stories of their dangerous journey. Maybe this story will continue…  


Who was responsible for the lyrics on this album? Where do you get your inspiration from?

Axel: I have been writing all the lyrics by myself now for more than 10 years. I´m always getting my inspiration from great writers like Ronnie James Dio and any other guys who write about Phantasy and mystical stuff.


How did the recording process proceed this time, did you work differently than on previous albums? How much time did you spend in the studio?
Axel: We worked like we did before with the exception that Johnny did his vocals over in his own studio in Los Angeles. We communicated via Skype, we used webcams and headsets and it turned out really great! We could see each other on the monitor and the real good thing about it was that I could smoke a lot of cigarettes while he was singing…hahaha, if we would have been in the same room, that wouldn’t have been possible because he hates it when people smoke near him. All in all we spent about 6-7 weeks in the studio, with some breaks in between.   



The production was done by Axel and the well-known Charlie Bauerfeind, what made him the perfect man for Axel Rudi Pell?

Axel: Charlie is a very good engineer and a really nice guy. Working with him is so easy because he knows everything about getting the right sounds. He also rules the Pro Tool system perfectly. We are always having big laughs in the studio…


In which things/songs on the new album can one clearly hear his vision and ideas?

Axel: In none,  because Charlie is not responsible for that. He is a really great helping hand concerning everything but in the end I´m the guy who is saying “yes” or “no” to anything.

Do you have any favorites on the album?
Axel: They are changing every day…. Recently I would say “Ain´t Gonna Win”, “Crossfire” and the title track.


Have you received any feedback on the album yet?
Axel: Yes and it seems that 95 % of all the feedback I received is more than positive, so I´m quite happy about it !


Are third party opinions (press, fans, etc.) on your music important to you? Or are your music and band the only things that matter?
Axel: I read a lot of press and I´ve also talked to some fans, mostly after shows and I listening to everybody who has a different opinion. If the critics would change drastically to the worst, I would make up my mind and think about it, but as long as they are good, there is no reason for a change. You know I play music which comes from my heart and the fans know that, so I guess we´ll carry on in that way.


Overall, are you pleased with the outcome of the songs or would you have liked to have changed anything in retrospective?
Axel: No changes at all.


What element of the CD are you most proud of?
Axel: Well actually I think that this CD has the best sound of them all.


Which song is your favorite one to play live? Which song do you find is the most challenging one to play live?
Axel: This changes often so I actually can´t tell you anything about it I´m afraid…



Who are your greatest influences - both in terms of composition, as well as your guitar playing?
Axel: I grew up with ‘em  and still like players like Ritchie Blackmore or Michael Schenker. There are also  a lot of other players who I really like, like ex-Free guitarist Paul Kossoff (R.I.P.), Uli Jon Roth, Steve Lukather to name just a few. I also love nearly all of Ronnie James Dio´s work, he writes really good melodies and very cool lyrics. If I had to name 3 recods which influenced me the most I would pick Rainbow – Rising, Black Sabbath – Heaven and Hell and Deep Purple – Made In Japan.   


Tracking back a little, when you were just starting out with playing the guitar, you obviously put in quite a few hours honing your technique. What was your practice routine like, especially during that period compared to now?
Axel: In the beginning I often played the same melody lines and notes to make them work perfectly for me. Nowadays I´m not practicing or playing that much, because it gets too boring after a while, because you are always playing the same licks. Sometimes it is better to have a break away from playing guitar and after a few days or weeks, you play differently and suddenly you’ll get new and fresh ideas.


Can you tell us a little about yourself and the kinds of things that motivate you in your writing, your poetry, and your lyrics? What are you personally into?
Axel: It is still only my passion for music . The rest I described before.


With all the touring and over fifteen albums under your belt, how far has the band surpassed your original dreams?
Axel: In the beginning, when I started my solo career, I never expected it to be so huge and successful, so I´m still really impressed. 


What have been the highlights and low points throughout your career?
Axel: Highlight definitely was the presentation of a Platinun award I received from my record company SPV two and a half years ago for sales of more than 700.000 records. I´m really proud of it and I hope that it will soon rise to the 1.000.000 break … hahaha… I definitely have no low points.



How do you see the progress from the early days to your latest release?
Axel: Well actually I guess my songwriting has developed over the years and I´m thinking too that I´m a lot better guitarplayer now than I was back at the beginning…


Where do you see the band going within the next couple of years and where do you see the band’s musical direction going for the next album?
Axel: I guess we will deliver some more real cool records and there definitely will be no big change in the musical direction.


How would you describe your own music and what are your musical influences?

Axel: I would describe it as melodic Hardrock and the rest was answered before.


What is your opinion on the metal scene these days, what do you think about the overload of bands at the moment and is there anything missing in the scene?
Axel: I actually cannot say anything about it, because I don´t have the time to look much at other bands’ releases apart from my favorite bands. What I really like at the moment is SIXX:AM, the sideproject of Motley Crue Bassplayer Nikki Sixx, this record fuckin´rocks !


I have a couple of questions about you previous release ‘Diamonds Unlocked’:


What I like about that album is that some songs don’t mach exactly with the originals songs.  Was it a conscious decision to do it this way?
Axel: Of course… it was planned to be a cover record  in the typical Axel Rudi Pell style.


Could you please describe the implications the songs have, is there a special meaning behind the songs you’ve chosen?
Actually I liked all of the songs for different reasons over all the years.


What were the goals you had in mind when you started to record ‘Diamonds Unlocked’?
Axel: To make another good record in our typical style.


Did you work differently on this album than on the other albums, I suppose all the band members knew the original songs?
Axel: No differences at all. Some songs were new to some members too, but it worked out pretty well I guess.


Any last statement?
Axel: I hope that you like our new album too, see you on the road !

Thanks for your time!




Current members:

Axel Rudi Pell - Guitar

Johnny Gioeli - Vocals

Mike Terrana - Drums

Ferdy Doernberg - Keyboards

Volker Krawczak - Bass


Former members:



Charlie Huhn (1989)

Rob Rock (1991)

Jeff Scott Soto (1992-1997)



Jörg Deisinger (1989)

Thomas Smuszynski (1989)



Jörg Michael (1989-1998)



Georg Hahn (1989)

Rüdiger König (1989)

Kai Raglewski (1991-1992)

Julie Greaux (1993-1996)

Christian Wolff (1997)


Axel Rudi Pell albums :

Wild Obsession (1989)

Nasty Reputation (1991)

Eternal Prisoner (1992)

Between the Walls (1994)

Black Moon Pyramid (1996)

Magic (1997)

Oceans of Time (1998)

The Masquerade Ball (2000)

Shadow Zone (2002)

Kings and Queens (2004)

Mystica (2006)

Diamonds Unlocked (2007)

Tales Of The Crown (2008)