The veteran German power/speed metal band Primal Fear are back with Apocalypse, their twelfth full-length studio release. Bassist Mat Sinner gives us the scoop on the record, touring, his numerous other projects and more.
Chad Bowar: Was there anything unique about the songwriting process for Apocalypse compared to past Primal Fear albums?
Mat Sinner: Well, we sorted out a cool formula for us that works. I’m writing riffs, melodies and songs all the time together with Magnus. Ralf comes into the picture and adds his ideas, than Tom and Alex. We had around 25 cool ideas, reduced to 20, finally to 14 songs, worked on the details and a longer pre-production includimg most of the arrangements. Then we start to record the drums.
What led you to record with Jacob Hansen again on this one?
Jacob is a friend of the gang and if it comes to mix our album he is the right man and choice to add another X percent to our sound and concept.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
It was really cold in Denmark while we recorded the drums and the food was not that good. Second was the very peaceful and team orientated work on this album, no fight and bad blood, everybody was 100 percent focused. And last was when I heard Ralf’s first take of the lead vocals for “Supernova.” First, I wasn’t sure if this is the right direction, next I was really proud of his work!
Did having the same lineup as the previous album make for a smoother process?
Yes, we know each other better and because of the long touring we became a really good unit. We can discuss even difficult subjects very creatively and peacefully. That takes away a lot of the bad energy from the past and gives us the feeling of well working unity.
Is there a lyrical theme or thread?
We’re living in time with rough language and threads. It’s not the time to write 11 love songs. We’re talking about what bothers us, what we like, what we don’t like. Presidents, politicians, war, religion, terrorism, news etc. We’re living on such a beautiful planet, but a lot of things are going very wrong now.
How has the band’s sound evolved from Rulebreaker?
We’re more detailed on the arrangements and added different sounds to our overall sound. This needed a lot of time. Mostly the little things need longer as expected, but it was worth it. Overall if Primal Fear is on the artwork, the fans will get Primal Fear. We’re playing and composing the music we personally like – that’s the best job you can have. And if our fans like our new music we have created something cool. Everything else comes later.
What were some of the highlights of your summer tour/festival season?
So far Hellfest in France where we played the main stage together with Iron Maiden. Such an amount of people rocking with us was insane. Just a fantastic memory!
What other tour plans do you have coming up?
We will play some more summer shows, lined up some release parties in Germany. On Sept 28 we will kick off our European tour with 13 countries in 5 weeks, then Japan, Australia and back for shows to Germany. Next year we’re negotiating for a tour in the USA and Canada and South America.
You did a video for “The Ritual.” How important are videos these days?
We did three videos: for “Hounds Of Justice,” “King Of Madness” and “The Ritual.” If a band plays on a certain standard, you have to deliver visual content to your music. We like to do it, even for us the band is always priority, not actors. We can present our new music to our fans and they see the band in the current status. I think it’s cool for everybody.
As you look back on Primal Fear’s catalog, are there any albums you think were overlooked or underrated when they were released, but in retrospect have held up very well?
I will never regret any album because it reflects the situation we were living on a certain period. There were good and sad days, but Primal Fear is still there after 20 years rocking together with all three founding members. That’s a little subject that make us a little proud. My personal faves are still the debut album, Nuclear Fire, Seven Seals and Rulebreaker. Let’s see where Apocalypse will make it to the list, but I’m very sure.
Were you satisfied with the response to last year’s Sinner album Tequila Suicide?
Of course. It was our highest chart entry in Germany ever. I’m still very happy with the performance, recordings, production, sound and concept. Nice tour and still kicking ass. Good band, great vibe.
Will there be another Level 10 album?
At the moment, no, I don’t think so. I have a lot of different plans and still only 24 hours a day. Russel is a phenomenal singer. I would be very pleased to work with him on an album if the circumstances are cool and we can create something really great.
How did you come to join Jorn Lande’s band last year?
Jorn and the producer Alessandro wanted to create something special with the right people to record this album and songs. I’m a big fan of Jorn and his outstanding voice. I was very happy to be part of this fantastic album.
What other projects are you currently working on?
I’m working hard on the 10th anniversary tour of “Rock Meets Classic.” It’s a tour that takes place once every year in March with a huge symphonic orchestra and the Mat Sinner Band, plus original singers and classic rock icons. Next year we will have Ian Gillan of Deep Purple on the show plus Kevin Cronin of REO, Mike Reno of Loverboy, Thin Lizzy, The Sweet and more – it will be another blast.
Have you learned anything from producing other bands that you’ve been able to apply to Primal Fear or any of your other groups?
I learn from every production I’m involved in. There are always situations like never before, good and bad, but you always learn and I’m taking every challenge if I believe in the music.
How challenging is it balancing membership in numerous bands plus a personal life?
I’ve learned to save my energy, be there when I’m needed, if there is trouble I will find a way out. (laughs) That’s me and I appreciate that rock music and metal became my life and job.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
The last three new albums I’ve listened to was the solo album of Jonathan Davis, The Lazys and Ben Howard’s new album. But I listen to everything that touches me – can be jazz, funk, classic, folk or symphonic music, of course classic rock and metal.
(interview published August 10, 2018)