2021 – Interview with Ole Hempelmann

Wednesday April 21, 2021

Today with all of you we have the current RUNNING WILD’s bass player, Ladies and Gentlemen … with you OLE HEMPELMANN who has been kind enough to grant me a few words about the past, present and future of his professional career.

0- Hi Ole, first of all welcome to my website dedicated to Running Wild. Let’s go have a nice glass of rum at the Black Hand Inn. Are you Ready For Boarding?.

1- Let’s take a little travel back in time to start. When did you start listening to Heavy Metal music and why did you decide to play bass guitar?.

Right, when it was «hip» 😉
Being a kid/ teenager in the early 80’s I had all the opportunity to be right at it.

2- In those years, what were your favorite bands and what musicians influenced you to start your professional career?.

I bought my first real record when I was around 11 (AC/DC – Let there be rock). The second one was Sex Pistols. Before that – having a 6 years older brother – I «had to» listen to Made in Japan/ Deep Purple, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, all the Prog-Rock and Hippy Stuff like Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Van der Graaf Generator… – So after all this and a lot of Punk I became a Gillan fan and really liked their cool Bass-Player – John McCoy.

A lot of the early – before playing bass myself – «influencing» came from the looks, wildness and coolness of those bands and musicians. My older brother played drums and one day I bought my first bass from one of his bands bass players.

A Ricky-Copy from Hoyer.

It kinda looked like this (from my old notes):

Some favorite Bands back then:

Black Sabbath, Ozzy Ozbourne, Thin Lizzy, Deep Purple, Gillan, Dio, Marillion, Rainbow, Saxon, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Accept, Trust, Motörhead, Metallica, …

So basically all the classic hard-rock bassists kinda influenced me.

Hardrocking favorites: Bob Daisley, Geezer Butler, Steve Harris, Phil Lynott, Jimmy Bain, Lemmy …

3- Correct me if I’m wrong Ole, I think one of your first bands you participated was TALON in the early eighties. Did you ever record an album with them?, tell us about your early years and your experiences with this band.

Yeah, I joined them AFTER they had released their three albums 😉
Still it was my first contact with the professional music business and I learned a lot. I took a couple of hitch hikes to South Germany, we played a single show and had a lot of fun together. Uwe Hoffmann is a great musician and a cool guy. Later he became «Schmuddel» and joined Headhunter.

4- For a musician like you who lived through the decade of the eighties, was it easy to stay in the world of music or only the great bands like Running Wild, Helloween or Scorpions had a bright future?.

Hard to say, as I was part of the professional world of music not before 1988 and the real Metal Hype was before that, respectively it was on the decline. So I had just started «my future» and we just tried hard to succeed.

5- Your important leap in the world of music occurs in the second half of the eighties when you are part of THUNDERHEAD, an important Heavy Metal band. I still remember when I heard the first album «Behind the Eight-Ball» in 1989, I loved it. What memories do you keep of those moments and of your time with Thunderhead?.

Too many to mention… 😉 a first highlight memory was definitely the Motörhead support tour in England (end of 1989) with two shows at the Hammersmith Odeon.
We started Thunderhead in 1988 and I actually became a professional rock bass player then. It lasted til 1996 with some ups and downs.

Ole Hempelmann (Thunderhead)

6- Your career with Thunderhead lasted until about 1995, what were the reasons for your departure from the band? Of all the albums you recorded with them, which one is your favorite?.

In 1996 the singer left for a project with some former Saxon musicians. The band kind of dissolved by itself. No one actually quit or left the band. Maybe we were all more or less disillusioned coz after our initial success we didnt really leave that level.
Hard to pick one favorite album, coz I like them all. Maybe «Behind the Eight Ball» and «Were you told the truth about hell» stick out for me a little more.

7- Do you think that in the aforementioned decade of the eighties there was greater musical honesty than in the present? Do you feel nostalgic for those fabulous years?.

In any case there was greater musical diversity. Even in the charts. If you want to call «doing your own thing» more honest, you maybe right.
Of course I feel nostalgic: I miss the big balls that I had when I was young! I mean the self-assurance that you have as a young guy: You dont know shit about the world, so you can think you re the greatest 😉

8- From here there is an important jump in time in which I do not know very well what happened to your musical career until 2001, what happened? Later you are part of Dreamtide and in 2005 Donnerkopf. Tell us about those two bands and your experience with them.

Musicalwise there didnt happen anything of greater importance, but I had my own punk band called Amoc, where I played guitar and sang. We even made an album.
Helge – of Dreamtide – is an old friend of mine who invited me to play some songs on two albums. Later we were about to rehearse for some upcoming shows, but those got canceled. So we didnt start rehearsing; Shame. I wasnt involved apart from that.
Donnerkopf were basically Thunderhead without Ted (our american singer). And we had german lyrics. Maybe altogether the music was a little rougher than Thunderhead. We made one album «Krachmaschine» and did some 20 gigs or so. Was great fun, but also not chartbreaking, if you know what I mean.


9- We are going to focus on Running Wild now if you think Ole. When did you first hear Running Wild and what is the first concert you saw of them?.

I had a mix-tape from a friend of mine which included RW’s Genghis Khan. Thats the first song I ever heard of RW! Later we (Thunderhead) met Rolf once on a promotional event. Unfortunately I never had the chance to visit a concert back in the day, so the first show I attended was Wacken 2015.

10- What do you think of such memorable albums as «Gates To Purgatory», «Under Jolly Roger» or «Death Or Glory»? Which album would you highlight from your entire musical career?.

I really love those albums, but they weren’t part of my musical career…

11- How and when did you meet Rolf Kasparek?.

I had a musical pause after my two kids were born (in 2007 and 2009)
In 2014 I met PJ – also an old friend of mine, same hometown – in a cafe and we chatted a while. I told him that I have regained some energy and sleepful nights coz my kids are bigger now – and that I want to pick up my Rock’n’Roll career again; if he knew someone who could use a bass player.
So he knew and spread the word, and I got a call in early 2015 whether I was interested to play in Wacken with Running Wild.
I received a tape with four songs: Under Jolly Roger, Bad to the Bone, Riding the Storm and Jenning’s Revenge. Practiced them and met Rolf and PJ for the first audition in their rehearsal studio. Michael Wolpers was auditioned at the same time. Thats how the last line-up got together.

12- I think that Rolf Kasparek is a musician with a surprising creative capacity and with a very personalized taste for music. Do you agree with me? What would you highlight about him as a musician, person and friend?, Is it easy to work with him?.

Yes, quite agree.
I dont have to explain to you that he s a great singer, guitarist and songwriter, so I would like to point out that I am fascinated by his unbelievable picking technique. When my picking hand is starting to bleed, he smiles and sings! haha.
He’ s simply a cool guy! And it’s easy to get along with him.

13- In 2015, the presentation with drummer Michael Wolpers that both of you are part of Running Wild is made official. What did you feel in those moments to be in a group of such important international prestige?.

You know in this profession, there are other moments or these moments are seen from a different angle. Or its more a period of time that lead to moments…
For instance when this line-up was publicly announced, it has been fact for me for a couple of months that I will play this show in Wacken.
Of course I have known RW’s international prestige for years, so I was quite excited when I got the phone call for the audition. In that moment I thought «That would be cool»
When I got the call after the audition from Rolf: «you got the job» I thought «thats cool»
When we started rehearsing I thought: «this is fun, too!»
When I entered the stage in Wacken: «Thats quite a few people…» 😉
Of course I thought also «Wow, I am almost 50 and I am now where I dreamt to be as a young bass player!»

14- Since 2015, together with Rolf, Peter Jordan and Michael Wolpers, a very stable line-up has been consolidated. I also think that you are all wonderful musicians and I have the feeling that the four of you understand each other very well playing live, am I right?.

Yip, no complaints.

15- Peter Jordan and Michael Wolpers are two great guys, tell us if you are great friends and if it is easy to work with them.

Agree. Yes and yes.

16- In 2016 the impressive album «Rapid Foray» was released, which had an important international success. Did you record some bass parts on that album or were you just a live musician back then?.

You know, Rolf has invited me to be part of the Running Wild Live-line-up. And that’s what I am.
But I sang some backing vocals on the album.

17- The production of «Rapid Foray» and it’s songs are fantastic, I also think that it is one of the best albums in the Running Wild’s history. Tell us about your opinion on that album and what your favorite songs are.

It’s a great album with a little more classic-RW spirit, dont you think?. (I totally agree with you 100%).
Rapid Foray, Black Bart, and Last of the Mohicans are my favorites

18- In 2017 the «Russian Foray Tour» was spectacular. Traveling to a country like Russia had to be a fascinating experience, tell us about that specific Tour. What memories do you keep from those concerts?.

Unfortunatly it was a kind of tight schedule, so we couldnt do too much sight-seeing. We saw some places in St. Petersburg, but in Moscow there was no time to check out the Red Square or so.
The audience was really running wilder 😉
It was a great time there, cant wait to go again. Thinking of it, I cant wait to play live again no matter where it is.

19- Ole, I think you are a very complete bass player with a very personal style when playing live. What songs from Running Wild do you like the most to perform or play live? Is there a song that you would like to play and you haven’t had the opportunity? Name one if you want.

As I mentioned earlier «Genghis Khan» is the first song I ever heard. So I was very happy that this song was part of the set in my first year in Running Wild (2015).
I especially like to perform Under Jolly Roger, Conquistadores, Bloody Island and Bad to the Bone. Raging Fire is another one.

20- Ole, what does it feel like when you get on stage and see thousands of people expecting the best of you as a musician?.

It’s like a pure adrenaline rush and time is passing by so fast, you cant believe afterwards that the show was longer than ten minutes, haha.
What I really like about these shows: it’s old-school live with no in ear bullshit; it’s fat side-fills and lots of wedges blaring on stage. And I have a bass «corner» bigger than the average stages I am used to play! Plus: I can play as loud as I want!

21- At the end of 2019 the EP «Crossing The Blades» goes on sale with four excellent songs, one of them a version of Kiss. Were you satisfied with the result obtained? I think it is an EP that maintains all the characteristics of Running Wild both past and present, do you agree with me?.

Yes, I quite agree!

22- In the year 2020 the Covid pandemic arrives and Festivals, Concerts, Events are canceled … How is this situation affecting music in Germany? How are musicians living in this pandemic in Germany? Future prospects?.

I think the situation for the music business is no different in most countries. The entire entertaining industry suffers badly.

23- The pandemic is causing delays in album releases, Rolf Kasparek is working very hard to finish the new album in this year 2021. Can you tell us something about the new album?.

No, I can’t.

24- Do you have any contact with ex-musicians who have been part of Running Wild in the past?.


25- How do you feel knowing that you are part of Running Wild, a band that is part of the legacy in the history of Heavy Metal. Is it the peak of your career as a musician?.

I am feeling good. 😉 And as a live-performer this is defo a peak!

26- We are going to finish this interview by thanking you for your time to answer these questions, for me it has been an honor to be able to speak with you. It is pending that we can drink a good beer or an excellent glass of rum when we meet. You know, the last words are all yours, say what you want.

Thanks for having me! Hope to meet you at a future concert. Stay wild!. (Of course Ole, we have to meet in a concert. Am I ordering a few beers now with the approval of Captain Rolf Kasparek? Hahaha).

Interview realized by Jesús Maestro Margarida

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