Interview with Axel “Ironfinger” Ritt (Guitars) (Grave Digger)

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Interviewed by Gerry Mullholland  (Musician/Contributor)




Being the sole original member of the band, what has been your inspiration for keeping the band going over the years?

Axel: Hi, this is Axel Ritt, guitarist of GRAVE DIGGER writing. I think, the pure love to heavy metal is the main reason for Chris to kept the train rolling. No matter what will come and go, when you’re addicted to this music, you can’t stop anymore.

Do you feel a kinship to fellow german metal journeyman UDO who has been doing it roughly the same time as you?

Axel: No, his voice is different, … just kidding 🙂 Udo does have the same experience indeed, so there are some similarities to our career. We met often while the festival season, the world is pretty small …

How do you think Grave Digger’s sound has progressed over the years? Are you happier with what is being produced now or do you like the earlier stuff just the same?

Axel: The actual line up is the best and strongest line up ever, so I’m pretty sure it will last for a very long time. So many things have changed. The commercial part of our profession went worse because the illegal downloads and Spotify for example, that’s right, but the rest went a lot better than in the early days.

What are the strongest influences of the band?

Axel: At the moment? Nothing! We formed our own style within the last decades, so it’s up to us to drive it to perfection. In the early days, of course the big names of the NWOBHM …

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How important is it for the band to stay true to heavy metal and not follow fads within rock music?

Axel: Very important. We are one of the blueprints for our kind of music, some call it true metal, some call it power metal, depends on the people. Why should we change a well running system?

Nowadays metal is full of sub genres that tour together. For example death metal bands tour together. How do you feel about this coming from a time when a metal band was a metal band full stop!?

Axel: Well, it makes sense, as long as it’s not too incestuous. I personally prefer a good mixture of everything, but the hard core fans often prefer only one style at an evening. Depends on your personal taste.

Do think the spirit and excitement of metal was more tangible in the 1980’s than it is now with the internet / downloads?

Axel: Absolutely, music was all and everything in these days, you didn’t have any competitors. Everybody played an instrument, in my classroom it was about 70% – 80% and everybody wanted to be a rockstar, performing on the biggest stages in the world. Today, the kids playing pc games or performing songs in their bedroom for youtube. The entertainment is gone and will never ever return, sad, but true …

In old interview fans have been asking about re-issues of your older material which is hard to get at a reasonably price especially ‘’Heavy Metal Breakdown’’, has there been any progress in this in the intervening years?

Axel: yes, you can listen to the complete back catalogue on Spotify and Deezer … funny, isn’t it after my answer to question number 3 🙂 That’s the good side of streaming portals, but the payment is ridiculous. For an average band member in an average band a song of yours has to played 75 times to earn 1 cent!!! That means 7500 times for one Euro! Any question?

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