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Guitarist Rolf Munkes of Empire, who have just released their new album 'Trading Souls'. A must for fans of the classic 70's/80's rock sound. The line-up on the album includes Neil Murray (ex- Whitesnake/Brian May), Deep Purple's Don Airey and ex-Black Sabbath vocalist Tony Martin.

1. What are you currently up to?

I'm in the studio as well as touring a little. I'm recording stuff for two new projetcs right now. One is my new Band "Majesty" which I joined a few months ago.

We are currently in the studio recording stuff for the third album which will be out at the end of this year. And also recording stuff with my old Bandmates from "Vanize" with a new singer from Sweden. We are looking for a label with that new material. Besides that I'm also doing some Festivals with "Majesty".

2. What has been the highlight(s) and lowpoints(s) of your career to date?

Highlight is without a doubt the Empire recordings so far with all those great musicians involved. It has been a real great thing to be able to work with these amazing guys.

Lowpoint is that I still have to give guitar lessons to earn my living.

3. Who have been your main influences on your career to date?

I grew up with Gary Moore, Deep Purple, Malmsteen, Rainbow, Kiss, ACDC,Thin Lizzy, Maiden etc.

On the guitar-side I'm totally influenced by Gary Moore, Allan Holdsworth and Malmsteen.(What a Trio?)

4. New album, 'Trading Souls', has just been released. What are your personal favourates on the album and why?

"Did You Ever Love Me" is my fav on the record. It means much to me as well as I love the whole tune. Another Fav is "Pay Back Time". I like the choir arrangement by Tony so much. It delivers a great atmosphere.

5. How did you manage to get such an all star line-up on the album? You've got three very well respected musicians in Tony Martin, Neil Murray & Don Airey.

I guess I had luck and asked the right people in the right moment.

6. Have Empire ever toured and do you plan any gigs with this line- up at all?

No we didn't play so far and I'm really working hard on changing that!!!

7. How do you view the current state of rock music? Do you see a bigger audience now for metal/hard rock than say five years ago?

Yes it's getting a bit better but still the trendy music scene is too big for me.

A smaller market would be enough for that kind of music. But unfortunately not the Best Quality sells the most. Some people say the melodicrock scene is getting bigger. I wish it'll be so!

8. How do you come-up with the lyrical ideas for the band?

Normally Gerald and me prepare basic parts of the lyrics and then I forward them to Tony. He adds then his stuff to it. And then we speak about it short before the recording session.

9. What do you do in your spare time outside of music?


10. Message to your fans...

Hope you'll love the album. And I'm looking forward to seeing you on Tour somewhere!!!!Thanks for the interview and stay Heavy.

Cheers Rolf

Interview © 2003 Jason Ritchie/
Format and edit: The Music Index.

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