2020 – Interview with Michael Wolpers (English Version)

08 March 2020

Here we have MICHAEL WOLPERS, current RUNNING WILD drummer who I have had the privilege of being able to conduct this brief interview. This is what he told me…

0- First of all Michael, I want to thank you for your kindness and for spending your time to answer some questions. If you think, we start … are you ready for boarding?…

Always ready for boarding! It’s my pleasure and honor to give you this interview.

1- Let’s take a travel time to past … When did you first start listening Heavy Metal music and Running Wild?.

I always listened to all kind of music, not only to Heavy Metal. That being said, of course, at some point, Running Wild came into my life. Must have been around mid 80’s.

2- How did you decide to dedicate yourself to music and specifically to play drums? Were those beginnings complicated?.

I realised may be around 15 or 16, that music will always play a big role in my life. But at that time. I didn’t already made the decision that I will be a professional musician. I started with guitar lessons, but I realised really quick, that this wasn’t my instrument. A good friend of mine had a drumset, and he let me play on it a few times. That was like coming home. So it took off from there. Of course, there were a lot of hard times and struggle until I was able to do it on a professional basis. The beginnings were really tough and complicated. I’m coming from a really conservative family. So it took me a lot of energy and discussions to fight this through.

3- What music groups did you listen to in those years?

As I mentioned earlier, I was always listening to all kinds of music genres. But my favorite bands at that time were Rainbow and Rush.

4- How many bands have you been involved in since your beginnings as a musician?

Quite a lot. Besides playing live, I did, and I’m still doing, studio jobs for bands, artists and producers, so the number is quite hard to find out.

5- Currently you also play in the famous band VICTORY… How do you combine your time to be in two such important bands?, is it difficult to organize with such a busy schedule?.

It’s a challenge. In the moment, we are trying to work out the logistics and travel for the summer festivals. We will see, how this will work out. But to be clear, my top priority is Running Wild.

6- During the past year 2019 we have had excellent news from you as VICTORY announced a new tour to commemorate the albums «Culture Killed The Native» and «Temples Of Gold». It was great news, tell us about those concerts for 2020… will you do a World Tour?… it must be a privilege to be surrounded by great musicians.

There will be some festivals in the summer, and maybe a short tour around September. But nothing condirmed yet. It’s always a privilige to be sourrounded by great and fantatic musicians, which is absolutely true for both bands.

7- By the way… Peter Pichl was also with Running Wild in the «The Brotherhood» era. How’s Peter? Running fans remember a lot about their time in the group.

Peter is doing great. We’re having a good time together.

8- Michael, I get the feeling that in Germany there are more facilities for a Heavy Metal band. How is the musical situation in your country? Is it easy for bands to get ahead? Is there a positive future? Can you live on music in Germany?.

Unfortunately, it’s getting harder and harder for new bands to come up. Most of the clubs that were around when I was starting out, are closed now. So it’s hard to get any gigs. And with all that streaming, there are very limited opportunities to earn money. Most of the record companies are gone, too. So if you’re not lucky enought to play in a more or less already established band, it’s very hard to get ahead. It’s still possible, but hard.

9- What are your favorite bands and drummers? What music groups and styles do you currently listen to?.

Some of my all time favorites are Neil Peart (R.I.P.), Steve Smith, Vinnie Colaiuta, Thomas Lang, Chris Coleman, to name a few. But most of them are Drummer’s Drummer, so I listen to them for inspiration and motivation. In most musical surroundings, one is not expected to play some of their stuff. It’s more about the feeling and power you create, and what fits the song.

At the moment, I don’t have special groups I listen to. Just everything that gets my attention, from FFDP to Korn, Dream Theater, some old 80’s stuff, kind of jazzy things. It really depends on my mood.

10- Michael, let’s focus on RUNNING WILD: How did you meet Rolf Kasparek? How did you join the group?.

Peter Jordan made the contact. Peter and I go way back till the times we went to school. We played in «rival»-bands -))). Then we lost sight of each other for a lot of years. A few years ago, he was the producer for a few records I was booked as the drummer by an artist. So we met again. And in 2015 he called me and asked, if I could imagine to play a show with Running Wild at Wacken. (Of course, I could .-)))). And so I met Rolf at the audition. It seemed, he liked what I did, and here we are.

11- How do you feel as a musician when you are in a band of such important international prestige?

It’s an absolute privilge and honor. I count my blessings every morning. It’s something I dreamt of when I was starting out. Of course, you have to be on top of the game. If you play let’s say in Wacken in front of 75000 people, there is a kind of responsibility to be the best that you can. And it’s a lot of fun, too.

12- Is it easy to work with Rolf Kasparek?. I think Rolf is one of the best musicians out there, he has a musical vision with amazing quality. Does that help you improve as a drummer, too?

Rolf knows exactly what he wants and what he is doing. But he is also very generous to his musicians. He is always open to slight suggestions from me, as long as it fits the song and is respecting the once recorded version. He is never into «you have to do it the exact way it was done some 20 years ago». But of course, I have to be aware that I am part of a legacy, so to say. So I have to work hard and improve to live up to that.

13- How is the day-to-day life like in Running Wild?, Do you rehearse a lot? How do you organize? Do you see each other every week?

It depends on the work that has to be done. In preparation for the shows. we normally rehearse 4 to 6 weeks. In that time, we see each quite often. When Rolf is writing and producing a new record, we do see each other less regularly. But we are in constant contact via mail, telephone, etc

14- Peter Jordan and Ole Hempelmann are the other components of the band. Do you understand each other well? Are you friends or just co-workers?

We all get along very well. Occasionally, we are on each others birthdays, for example, or visit concerts together, have a nice cold one together in the summer, etc. So definately way more than just co-workers.

15- What are the most difficult songs for you to play in Running Wild? Have you encountered any major difficulties since you’ve been in the group?

For me, the greatest challenge is to keep physically fit to be able to play all the songs with the energy they require. And keep that til the end of the Show. The biggest «difficulty» I encountered, was, to break a toe three hours before the Show in Wacken 2018:-))). Besides that, everything is fine.

16- The years 2017 and 2018 have been very important to you, Running Wild played in Russia for example. Tell us about that experience and what it represents for a musician like you, I think you’re a great drummer who fit really well into the Running Wild sound. When I saw the concert on video, I realized you deserve to be in the group.

Thank you very much for your kind words. I really appreciate them. Russia was an awesome and interesting experience. I haven’t been there before.The fans were absolutely great, the welcome was very warm and overwhelming. We had a great time. And thanks to our incredible Roadcrew, the circumstances for us were very relaxed and the concerts went really well.

17- We have just finished 2019… Are you satisfied with the result of the «Crossing The Blades» EP? Personally, I think it’s an advance that promises great things going forward.

Thank you very much for your kind words. That’s exactly what we feel about it. We are working very hard that the new Album will even top that.

18- Can you give us any news of the new album of 2020? Any titles? How many songs will you have?… the followers we can’t wait to hear the new material… Give us even a small clue if you can…

All further information will be released by Rolf and the record company when the time has come. So stay tuned.

19- By the time of 2020, there are four confirmed Running Wild concerts. Will there be any more? Will the tracks from the new album be presented at these festivals? Are you already preparing or rehearsing the setlist?

Maybe, one or the other track from the new Album will make it to the setlist, who knows :-))). But I can’t give away any more at this moment. It should be a surprise for the fans. I personally will start to rehearse the songs next week. So when we get together for the Band Rehearsals, I know, what’s going on.

20- Apart from the confirmed dates with Running and Victory, what more projects do you have in mind for 2020?

There are already booked a few studio recordings for later this year, and I’m recording some music for an American singer/songwriter in the moment for a producer I often work for.

21. We’re going to finish Michael… are you keeping in touch with some musicians who’ve been part of Running Wild in the past?

Besides Peter Pichl, no.

22- From this website I want to thank you for your attention and for answering these questions. It’s been an honor for me to share with you these minutes. The last words are all yours, say what you want:

Thank you very much for having me. Was my honor and pleasure. Hope to see you soon on the road. Take care. Cheers!

Interview realized by Jesús Maestro Margarida.

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