An Interview With Primal Fear's Mat Sinner
Band Photo: Primal Fear (?)
Ask any German who is the most successful metal act ever to come out of his country, and he’s sure to respond with Primal Fear. These guys have been a mainstay in the German metal scene for a generation, and their success in their home country is second to their chart positions throughout the United States and the rest of Europe. I recently spoke with Mat Sinner about their latest release, "16.6," which is an excellent classic metal mix, and their upcoming world tour.
Nichole Nash: "16.6" has only been out in the U.S. a couple weeks, and less than a month in Europe, but already response has been great. How does it feel knowing that this album is the highest ranking debut Primal Fear has had?
Mat Sinner: "Nuclear Fire" in 2001 had a little better position in the charts of Germany, but overall we have all eight albums in the charts of our home country, and "16.6" is the second highest position. In all other countries we had the highest charts rankings in our career. That’s great news and a lot of motivation for our forthcoming festival appearances and tours.
Nichole: You have a history of doing well on the music charts. How important is that to you as a band and personally?
Mat: It’s not that important for us as musicians, but the business side of our work is a little easier, and it shows that there are a lot of fans out there buying our new album. Even our new album, "16.6" has a kind of import album status in the US. We know about really getting sales this time, and on the other side, it could be a nice push for the band in the media, if we could enter the Billboard heatseeker for example. But we’re very happy about the feedback!
Nichole: This latest album is much closer in style to your older works. What made you decide to go back to a heavier sound?
Mat: Our guitar team could participate in the composing this time, and we have two excellent guitarists in the band. That’s why the guitars are a lot more prominent on the new album, and overall it’s how the band sounds naturally. This is Primal Fear and we’re really satisfied with the entire outcome of the new album!
Nichole: Henny Wolter also returned for "16.6." How did that come about, and how did his return impact the sound?
Mat: That’s not 100% right. Henny came back during the recordings for our 2007 album, "New Religion," but this time, and after another two years touring with the band, he was a very active part of the songwriting team. Henny fits perfectly to Primal Fear and it gives the other guys a lot of positive energy that he’s back.
Nichole: I really liked the fact that all the guys took a turn at lead vocals on "Hands Of Time." What made you decide to do this, and will we hear more of the other guys in future releases?
Mat: We wrote the song at Magnus studio in the south of Sweden, and Ralf wasn’t there. We fooled around with the vocals and made this demo track with three different vocalists. The result was really cool and everybody of our inside camp asked us about recording the song like this with Ralf having his spot on the chorus. That’s a great feature, if you have three cool singers in the band and one excellent one, and it’s interesting to hear for the fans and an additional element in the music of Primal Fear.
Nichole: A lot of the songs on "16.6" relate to the devil, hell, holy water, etc. Would you call this a concept album?
Mat: No, exactly three persons were responsible for the lyrics, and their style of writing and using the words are really different, to make this one a concept album. We’re neither heavily religious nor have anything to do with the evil Satan. (laughs)
Nichole: Primal Fear is one of the most successful German metal bands ever. Do you see that you’ve had any influence on the up and coming groups coming out of your country?
Mat: The guys have their very own style. Randy was born in Edmonton, Magnus is from Sweden – they don’t have any German influences. Ralf & Henny have both more English musical roots and mine are more American and Irish. The only musical German roots are our eighth mid-tempo groove. This is one of our trademarks, and was prominently practiced for ex Accept in the past.
Nichole: How would you describe the metal scene in Germany? Is there anything you’d like to change about it?
Mat: No, I take it and accept the German music scene as it is. I try to find my peace of mind and my own little world to be creative and write songs on a cool quality level. I’m working with a lot of artists, projects and producing bands. I’m really happy about my personal situation at the moment.
Nichole: What do you think is the biggest difference between the German metal scene or fans, and in the States?
Mat: Germany is much more serious and ever hunting for new trends that are selling. Our energy in making music is not only based to make money and getting rich in a short time. Metal is a passion and lifestyle - that’s why so many bands who started to be successful in the mid and late eighties are still existing and are successful over here.
Nichole: Your tour season starts in August and runs nearly non-stop through South America, the U.S., and Europe. How do you handle being on the road for such a long period of time and covering so much ground?
Mat: As I said before, it’s our lifestyle and we love this life. The current tour plan is still not finished and we have more plans for dates in Asia & Japan and if our dates in the US and Canada are going well, we will work on another tour early next year. It’s so great to go out with your guitar and listen to the introduction and start with "Under The Radar" – every night another challenge to give 100% for our loyal fans and convince even more metal fans that Primal Fear is playing some real authentic & handmade metal.
Nichole: You mentioned the tour of Japan and Asia. Any dates available yet for that?
Mat: First we want to finish booking our European tour, then we will schedule the next trip to the East.
Nichole: You’ll be touring with fellow German metallers Brainstorm. How did the decision to co-headline with them come about?
Mat: We had a tour already lined up in 2004, but we finally decided to go out with Iced Earth. I think this time, the time is right to realize this project. Both bands are coming from the same area in Germany and the music fits very well with each other.
Nichole: Any other bands in particular you’d like to tour with?
Mat: Sinner will be playing with Primal Fear on the Latin America tour, and we will have a third well known band on our European tour. This will be announced in about two weeks. We don’t have any information at the moment about the bands who are supporting us in the US. Of course Vandenplas will play with us in Atlanta, but maybe we can find out some more about the other cities.
Nichole: When you’re not busy playing, recording, or touring, what do you do for fun? Any favorite hobbies?
Mat: I like to watch a cool movie, some TV series, or a great soccer match. I’m jogging and playing tennis too, have a great do and a nice girlfriend.
Nichole: Anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Mat: Of course! It’s a pleasure and a huge challenge for Primal Fear to visit the States and Canada in August and September, and to all metal fans out there – check out "16.6" and join us for a night of metal on our forthcoming dates!
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