Marcus Siepen of Blind Guardian
Interviewed by Waspman
I recently had a chance to sit down for a brief chat with Marcus Siepen just before
Blind Guardian slayed everything in sight at their tour stop in Toronto. As it turns out,
Blind Guardian are not simply content to put out killer albums and go out on successful
tours. Read on to hear about what theyve got planned for 2003, including a festival,
side projects, a DVD, and more.
Hi Marcus! Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. I know you guys are busy
getting ready for the show. Its pretty bad weather out there - Im glad you
guys made it!
Me too! The problem was, our driver got stuck in the snowstorm somewhere. The bus was
supposed to arrive yesterday at noon, and he arrived this morning at 9:30. (laughs)
(laughs) Its a long drive from Montreal to here.
So how has it been? This is your first tour of North America. Hows it been
going? How has the response been?
So far its been really impressive. We had 1,500 fans in Atlanta kicking ass, and
Montreal was one of the best shows on the tour, something between 1,800 and 2,000 fans,
and they were all totally crazy. You have a feeling like this in the shows that you only
usually get Brazil and Spain! It was crazy - they nearly crushed the venue! (laughs)
(laughs) Well, youve got about the same amount of people going crazy for you
guys here tonight, so it should be more of the same!
So far we are really impressed and now, of course, we think that it was a mistake not
to come before! (laughs) We waited too long!
The album A NIGHT AT THE OPERA did really well in Europe and Japan. How was the
response over here?
It did pretty good. I think weve already achieved a nice underground status, so
that helped us. Now we are released everywhere in the world. We have a very loyal fanbase
everywhere. It makes it easy to play everywhere, and thats all we want. In the
States we were released with NIGHTFALL the first time, so its only our second album
You mentioned that you just played Atlanta, which was the ProgPower festival. How
It was great! Somehow it felt like German overkill! (laughs) We knew all the bands
there. It was really nice to play with them there, and the audience was amazing.
So its safe to say that youd do it again?
Oh yeah! I mean, whenever we have a chance to come back to the States and Canada, we
will be there for sure.
You mentioned German overkill on the ProgPower show. Were there any North American
bands that you caught for the first time that you thought were impressive?
Um, no. I only saw Edguy. There were lots of things to do and interviews etc., so we
really didnt get a chance to see other bands.
I recently read an interview that Metal-Rules did with Tobias from Edguy and he
mentioned that the German metal scene was very closely-knit. Is that true from your
It is, but we are a little bit out of it. Maybe because we are not from those big towns
like Hamburg and Frankfurt.
Speaking of festivals, what can you tell me of the Blind Guardian festival planned
for next June?
The festivals main focus will be on the fans, and will really present something
special to them, which is not possible on a regular tour. We thought, because we have good
conversations with our fans over the Net, and they always ask us to play certain
songs, we are disappointed that we can never do it. So we said OK, maybe its a
good idea to play 2 days in a row, and present them 4 hours of different songs. That
was the main idea, and then we built this festival and we have friends in lots of bands
like Rage, and we asked them if they wanted to play. Basically, one thing led to another
and we put together the festival. Were trying to do something special around the
festival too, because we have the Wacken festival, as you know. Lots of fans complained
about things, like toilets and shitty food, so we thought we might be able to do something
more fan-oriented at which you have things like meetings and stuff. Were working on
this, and its going to be great.
Wow, that sounds like its going to be fantastic! I wish I could go to that,
but I think money might get in the way of traveling all the way over there. Anyway, who
can take the credit for coming up with this idea?
It was Hansis idea.
Cool. Speaking of live shows, everybody knows that you guys are good friends with
the Iced Earth guys. Is there any chance that youll tour with them again in the
future, maybe in the States?
Maybe one day. It depends on the time schedule of the bands, thats the biggest
problem. We were talking about touring the States together for a long time. Now, it was
best to go as is for both bands.
As for touring, we know that Hansi is working on the new Demons & Wizards with
Jon; do any of you guys have any side projects that you want to work on during that time?
Yeah. Im working on a side project, but its also with Hansi. Its more
of a musical, orchestral theme. Weve been working on it for years. (laughs) Im
hoping we come to a final production soon.
Did you say that its kind of like a musical?
Yeah, its kind of musical, and its not a heavy production. It is completely
That sounds like it will be cool. On this tour you have Oliver (bass) and Michael
(keyboards) as touring members. Is there any thoughts of them becoming full-time band
No. We have been in this lineup now for almost 17 years, and theres quite a
balance there. Thats the reason why we stay together. To bring somebody else into
the band could break the whole thing. They are fine in their positions, and they
dont complain about anything. They get the same things on tour that we do, so we
dont discriminate there. We are the main band, and the main decisions will only be
the four of us.
To switch gears for a minute, last night was your first show ever in Canada, but
have you ever had a chance to check out any Canadian bands over the years? Have there been
any that have impressed you?
Ive only had contact with some friends who play in underground bands. Ive
heard some things there but not too much.
I was going to ask if how you thought the Canadian metal scene compares to the
German scene, but I would guess that the German scene is stronger.
I cant say really. I dont think that the German scene is strong.
Yeah, I think that its pretty weak. The German scene sticks too much in the 80s.
I mean, in the 80s we had a real strong metal scene, there were lots of bands that had
something to say. In the last few years though, only one, two, maybe three highlights.
Besides Edguy who came up, most of the bands have been around for 20 years and most of
them still play the same music.
Back to Blind Guardian, theres been talk of a live album. Can you tell me
anything about that?
Yes, we have recorded about 30 shows so far from this tour, and well mix a double
live album in January or February. The release will be in April or May I think.
Awesome. Will it be one full show, or will you mix and match the songs?
Well take the best from each country, because weve recorded almost
everywhere weve played and weve got some really great takes already. Also,
because we change the setlist every night, youll find something from each album.
It must be somewhat difficult to change the setlist every night.
Well we rehearsed three hours of material and because we mainly play around 100
minutes, we can change.
So youve got that base of material that you can just swap it in whenever you
feel like it.
Yeah, exactly. Its easy to change things.
How about the talk of a DVD? Whats going on there?
Yeah, weve already filmed one show in Stuttgart. Well release a DVD next
year, but much later because the focus will be the Blind Guardian festival. We will film
both days with a good setup, lots of cameras. Will have lots of possibilities like going
in the risers which is not possible if you have lots of bands playing, because you
cant put all of the cables in. Now, its our festival and its easy to
shoot. Ive also collected home material on video camera since 1992, so theres
lots of scenes from backstage and studio. It will be a pretty interesting DVD I think,
with lots of bonus material. The plan is to release it in winter 2003.
That sounds awesome! Ill be looking forward to that. After you had a lot of
success with NIGHTFALL, have you ever considered going back to a full concept album, not
necessarily around Tolkien?
Yes. Thats always a choice. We didnt do it this time because we didnt
want to look like we were copying ourselves. We wanted to do something different. Sure, if
we find an interesting theme, well do it.
That leads into another question I had, which is aside from the obvious Tolkien
influenced songs, a lot of your lyrics are wide ranging in terms of topics, what kind of
things mainly influence the band, or Hansi when he writes lyrics?
It depends on the music, of course. The music is there first, and then Hansi thinks of
a theme that could fit to the feeling that the music has. What the influence is, I
cant say for Hansi, but I think that its pretty much the same as mine, which
is mostly out of daily life. How you fell, what your mood is, how youre influenced
by your surroundings and whats going on in the world. You take this feeling, and the
feeling of the music, and choose a topic. Then of course, the books that [Hansi]s
One more question about Tolkien. There was a rumor back before the Fellowship of the
Ring movie came out, that Blind Guardian was thinking of submitting some music for the
score, is there any truth to that?
Yes, we had in mind that we could offer this side project that were doing,
because its completely orchestral. The bad thing was that most people thought that
wed just offer regular metal songs that maybe wouldnt fit very well, besides a
ballad like A Past and Future Secret or something. This material is totally
different from Blind Guardian. Its got some very nice melodies like in our medieval
songs, and I think that it would have fit perfectly. In the end we didnt have time
to produce a nice demo. We had the content already, but that was when Hansi was having the
problems with his ear, so we didnt have a chance to get something put together in
time for the movie.
What did you think of the movie, by the way?
I liked it. I thought it was really good for what they were trying to do.
Is there anything else youd like to say to the readers, anything youd
like to let us know about?
Just to keep coming out to the shows, because were having a great time, and love
playing for everyone. Keep an eye out, because 2003 is going to be a busy Blind Guardian
Cool! Thanks, Marcus, for taking the time for this interview!
Band Website: www.blind-guardian.com