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09/2009     Jens Pohl   Michael Hofmann     (German Version)

Hey Michael, you played the drums in Rolf’s first band. But let’s make this clear: GRANITE HEART was not called like that. Actually the the band’s name was GRANITE HEARTS, right? Do you still remember who came up with this name?

Well... It’s been a while since then, but I think Rolf came up with this idea. But I am very sure that the band’s name was GRANITE HEARTS.

The band was founded in 1976 during school-time and its members were Rolf Kasparek, Uwe Bendig, Jörg Schwarz and of course you. Except for Uwe Bendig and Rolf nobody else was involved in RUNNING WILD lateron. How did you guys meet and what kind of music did you play?

We attended the same school and Rolf and me, we were in a guitar course together. (laughs) I really don’t know what he was doing there! Anyway, we met almost every evening at Rolf’s house and listened to AC/DC and KISS, and then eventually decided to have a band on our own. I believe that almost every young person has made up something like that those times and if it was only on paper. But Rolf was different, almost fanatical. He wanted to be famous one day, but only by playing the music that he liked. I asked him if we want to play music that was popular at that time, Punk, but Rolf said that he doesn’t care about any commercial aspects: “I want to play the music that I like, and if others like it as well it’s even better.” Therefore we started to play Hard Rock, just like our idols. (thinks) I do not remember anymore who joined us next...but suddenly we were four.

Are there any recordings of that time or did you play just for fun and you never recorded a demo-tape or any other songs?

Unfortunately there are no recordings. At that time we played just for fun, and Rolf wanted to play his first gig as soon as possible. Ha Ha.

Unfortunately there is very little known about GRANITE HEARTS. How many songs did you have in petto and do you remember any of the song-titles?

I don’t remember exactly any more how many songs we had in petto, but there were not many. I guess around four or five songs. Unfortunately I remember only one title which was called "Little Boy". It was a song about the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

It’s possible that this song provided the basic idea for „War Child“, a song which Rolf recorded for a first demo-tape with RUNNING WILD! But let’s get back to GRANITE HEARTS. There is at least one documented live performance. I think it happened at Emilie-Wüstenfeld-School?. What memories do you have specifically from this performance?

The gig actually did happen at Veermoor School, and the prearrangements took extremely time-consuming, because Rold did not want to play just with one amplifier, but with many! Therefore we went to lend some suitable equipment. I don’t know exactly how many Marschall-amps we had in the end... But then we finally stood on stage – our first live performance! Rolf played himself into a complete frenzy and did not notice that Uwe’s guitar was totally out of tune. Yeah, he rocked the hall, and since that day I knew that Rolf was completely fallen to music. Apart from a small article in our regional newspaper in which they even used a wrong name, “Michael Hofmann Band”, that brought Rolf quite rightly into a rage, nobody ever heard anything from us again. After a certain time we met again, drank a bottle of Vodka and just made plans for the future. We also quit rehearsing. And I think the rehearsal room in a neighboring school was not longer available anymore either. Finally we met only very seldom and one day Rolf stood in front of me and said that GRANITE HEARTS is history. To be honest, I did not really care at that moment, because each of us began to go his own way.

Out of sight, out of mind?

Yes, that’s what happened, we simply lost sight of ourselves. When I met Rolf a little later again, he only told me that he had formed a new band, but that’s pretty much about it.

Anyway, how do you feel to be mentioned at least as a very small part of the prehistory of RUNNING WILD?

I remember one evening four or five years ago, when I had this idea to google for some old school friends, and when I finally entered the name “Rolf Kasparek” I was totally surprised: thousands of hits! “Wow! Rolf did it!” When I read further and informed myself and then found even my name to be mentioned in connection with the prehistory and GRANITE HEARTS, I was really happy and totally proud to be at least a small part on Rolf’s stairway to heaven.

RUNNING WILD became quite famous right after the release of their debut "Gates To Purgatory" in 1984. Did you ever believe in Rolf and that he could bet hat famous one day like he was and still is?

I never doubted Rolf. It was clear to me, that he would find his fulfillment only in music but that he would be so successful... No. I admire his unconditional will and his power to stay the course.

Do you regret that you were never a part of RUNNING WILD?

Of course. Looking back I would have been happy to share this extraordinary track record.

Did you follow Rolf’s career with RUNNING WILD or do you know any of the albums? If any, which album do you like the most and why?

Well, like I mentioned already, I did not know about Rolf’s success since a few years now, and to be honest, I am not listening to this kind of music since the split of GRANITE HEARTS. Heavy Metal was the music of my youth. I know just what is available on the Internet and what can be found on MySpace or YouTube.

Have you at least seen the farewell show at Wacken?

Unfortunately not even this... No. I would have liked to attend the festival and see the band, but at that time I was travelling abroad.

Do you still play in a band?

No, after the split-up of GRANITE HEARTS I joined a Top-Fourty-Band - I know, that’s something totally different – and a german-singing rock band for a very short time, and soon I started a family and ran simply out of time for playing music.

What are you listening to today?

I have no particular style of music that I prefer. Strangely music has become a very insignificant part of my life. Nevertheless I often think back to the old times as a musician.

The common thread that runs through Rolf’s life was and still is music. It’s kind of his personal freedom. Do you think that young people today have the chance to discover this kind of freedom as well by playing music?

Absolutely! You just have to grab your chance if you have the desire to discover and express your freedom with music. You have to stay the course like Rolf did and simply don’t give up. Music is probably the most beautiful way to live personal freedom.

Today there are so many bands out there and many trends. With this in mind, do you think that it’s possible for a german or an international act to achieve a cult status like RUNNING WILD did?

No. I assume this success will not be repeated. In my opinion RUNNING WILD were the Michael Jackson of German Heavy Metal. (laughs)

(laughs) OK, to come to an end, is there anything you’d like to wish Rolf?

Yes. I hope that Rolf continues to dedicate his life to music, because I believe that he can’t live without this drug. I take my hat off to his unconditional will to live his dreams and I really wish him all the best for his future projects!

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