An Interview with Guitarist Extraordinaire Heiko Radke-Sieb
Updated: Jul 29
Continuing with our series of interviews with past and present members of Kingdom Come, we sit down with Heiko Radke-Sieb, lead guitarist on the Kingdom Come album, Bad Image. This was an album with a predominantly German line-up, recorded in Hamburg. Heiko tells us about working with Lenny Wolf, the creative process of making the album, and reveals that Lenny played almost all the instruments on Bad Image. Heiko also explains the musical scene at the time the album was released and how grunge music and other musical styles overtook a more traditional 1980's rock sound, making it challenging to find an audience. Hieko explains his years of work in the music industry and his session recordings with performers such as Mark Wahlberg. Heiko discusses his work in theater production, including a particularly successful run of a musical about the legendary german performer, singer and songwriter, Falco. Join us as we delve deeper into the legendary rock band Kingdom Come. Click here to listen...
Bonus Q&A with Heiko:
Ed Lopez-Reyes: What genres of music do you feel influenced you most when you started playing at the age of 12, and what specific guitar players?
Heiko Radke-Sieb: It was basically blues, rock and hardrock - the first players I really liked were Rory Gallagher, Johnny Winter, David Gilmour, Jimmy Page, and Ritchie Blackmore - but also players of harder rock like Glenn Tipton and K.K. Downing of Judas Priest, Adrian Smith and Dave Murray of Iron Maiden... and Jake E. Lee of Ozzy Osbourne.
ELR: When you joined Kingdom Come in 1993, do you feel you would have liked going on tour with them and perhaps being part of a more cohesive version of Kingdom Come?
HRS: Yes, I'm sure that would have been a cool thing - things went differently though...
ELR: It seems the first line-up, on the first two albums, was cohesive - but after that, it was musicians largely orbiting around Lenny Wolf: do you feel Kingdom Come would have had more robust success if it had been a more cohesive and consistent group of musicians after 1993?
HRS: I'm not sure, because times were very difficult anyway (for this style of music) after 1991 (when grunge got incredibly popular). But one thing I'm sure of: if the original lineup would have stayed together, and without the sudden and massive change of the public's music taste (towards grunge), Kingdom Come would have had a very robust success worldwide for many years. Or, after the decline of grunge, would have experienced a strongly rising popularity.
ELR: "Bad Image" is an incredibly underrated album: where do you feel it fits in the overall Kingdom Come catalog? Is it more similar to the first two albums or was it really the beginning of a new sound that evolved through the albums that followed?
HRS: I have to admit I don't really know any of the music Kingdom Come made after 1993, so I can't say. But of course "Bad Image" is very different from the first two albums, as is "Hand of Time". I think after the original lineup's breakup Lenny enjoyed his freedom to write and record music exactly as he liked (with great results), and I think "Hands of Time" marked the beginning of a sound evolution, moving away from the very strong blues influence the original lineup had, towards a (at the time) more modern sound/style, including more keyboards.
ELR: What did you think of the Kingdom Come reunion with a new singer?
HRS: I haven't heard this lineup so far, but I think for any band it's hard to replace a great and charismatic lead singer, who's very popular with the band's fans. But still it's possible, look at Deep Purple with David Coverdale, for example.
ELR: Do you think it would be interesting if the current Kingdom Come lineup considered playing material from the band's latter albums even though they didn't play on them?
HRS: I think the expectations of their fans are an important factor for those considerations - so if the band plays in countries where certain (later) albums/songs are extremely popular, I think playing that material would be a good thing.
ELR: Do you hear from Lenny Wolf at all?
HRS: No, the last time I talked to him was in the summer 1995, after I had run into him at a beach bar in Hamburg. :-)
ELR: Can you tell us a bit about your experience working with Mark Wahlberg and do you feel he was familiar with your work with Kingdom Come and the band itself?
HRS: I think it would have been cool to meet him, but I didn't - his vocals where already done when I recorded the guitars (which was shortly before the final mixing).
ELR: You have worked on a musical about Falco - what do you feel Falco's legacy is like? Did his music have any influence on you growing up?
HRS: Not that much, but I always thought he was an outstanding artist, performer and personality. And his legacy is quite huge - especially in Austria: people love and admire him very much to this day. One funny story he told in an interview, two years prior to his death: he
once walked through his hometown Vienna, not wearing the very stylish clothes people knew him for, but a very casual outfit (something like T-shirt, jeans, and sneakers, etc.), and some guy across the street, obviously not recognizing him, shouted over to him "Ha ha, the poor man's Falco!" - probably never realizing he'd just seen the actual Falco.
ELR: Would you like to do some work in the United States given the breadth and ample resume you've built in Europe itself?
HRS: Basically yes, but yet it depends - actually I wouldn't want to be away too long from the region I currently live in (the German/Austrian Alps), as I enjoy being here so much. Before 2020 I was touring up to 18 months straight (playing eight shows each week), mainly with "Mamma Mia", and I don't know if I would like to leave home again for so long. On the other hand I've always liked the US and the Americans, so after all it really depends. :-)