We are gonna publish this interview in the internet
magazine but do you basically surf a lot on the net looking for
some things and information written about you and Gamma Ray ?!
K : There is quite a lot of pages.. I am always checking them
out for example developments, news and the other stuff. There is a
connection to the Helloween pages too and the Blind Guardian pages
and they are all together in a way that's interesting.
How much does it bother you as almost every Gamma Ray
album can easily be found on the net in this mp3 files ?!?
K : Yeah everything is available, I don't like it of course. I
mean I don't like the piracy stuff. I think it is ok to make an
official release, but on the other hand it can be on sale as some
kind of promotion if people can actually listen to a song. The
downloading is another story cos what does bother really bother me
it's MP3 that hasn't got the quality offer of CDs, so if you wanna
have a real thing you still gotta get a CD I think. But in the old
days people did the tape trading it was the same thing.
NEW ALBUM AND RALPH'S DEPARTURE
I was under the impression that you were supposed to have
some kind of sabbath year taking the whole year off from
everything and by focusing on your family life as your second
child was born, but instead you have been more or less busy during
the whole year, right ?
K : Seems like yes… The double album actually took a lot of
time of time to produce and record and arrange everything and then
mixing and promotion now and some gigs now. So we are quite busy
but at the moment it is pretty easy, it's not like a real tour
when you are on the road all the time. We have this gig here today
and then fly home tomorrow and will be there for a week and then
the next weekend we have three days to spend in Hungary and
Czechia Republic and so it's easy now. It's not too stressful, but
still the time in-between of course is a lot organized and future
plans have to be made.
Speaking of this Blast From The Past anniversary album,
it is pretty interesting that you have re-done a bunch of tracks
especially the ones sung by Ralf Scheeper, but how come I mean it
might have a little bit easier to pick up the original versions
and then add some unreleased or rare Gamma Ray tracks to this
"Best of…" album ?
K : That's way everyone does. Well these best of..comp albums
are done by record labels of the remaining tracks. We wanted to
make a document of the last ten years of Gamma Ray which is
different from anything else. I mean it ain't a new idea to
re-record the stuff, we don't claim that, but that way this album
represents over the last 10 years with having the sound of the
90's and we present by a band as it is nowadays therefore it makes
sense. Of course it would have been easier, but we don't wanna
take it easy.
Weren't you basically pleased with the stuff in terms of
production etc of old tracks or Ralf's voice or did you wanna put
the updated touch to the older material ?
K : Ralf did a good job no doubt about that, but it is
different when I sing the stuff and it is more closer to what we
are nowadays and some of songs we had already played live with
this new current line-up and we know how it sounds and it sounds
different that we would say. It's much better if you wanna play
songs like "Last before the storm", "Changes"
it is much closer even for Daniel and Henjo to record them again,
because now these songs have become their own songs as well,
because they put their own kind of spirit into the songs as well
and they sound different and sound more like Gamma Ray nowadays
and it really made sense absolutely I think.
Is it true that Ralph Scheeper left because he found it
difficult to travel to Hamburg for rehearsals or what is actually
the main reason for his departure ?
K : It is a little different
D : His wife lives in Stuttgart which is about 700 kilometres
from Hamburg, but that wasn't the main reason, instead the main
reason for why we fire him is that we wanted to started to
rehearse for the recording of Land of the Free. We asked
him to come to the rehearsals which wasn't normally a problem for
Ralf, but he has a normal job and he said he can't do that and we
should have waited 2-3 months, but we didn't want to and he was
still one of the candidates for the vocalist job of Judas Priest
back then and he was still waiting for an answer from them and we
couldn't wait 2-3 months.
K : We wanted him to move to Hamburg and we had been talking
about that like even two years before that and he was like
"Yeah I would like to do that", but he wasn't able to
make his mind and finally we set for the Land of the Free album.
We wanted to do a real good album something that gives a real kick
to the band, therefore we needed to rehearse together because
normally was like that I was singing on the demotapes and in the
rehearsals, when Ralf wasn't there. It was more or less fairest to
sing whatever I had come up before and Ralf wasn't maybe that
spontaneous enough to go for quick changes in the production and I
wanted to sing that different so I was sticking to what I did
therefore it didn't really… I mean there was a problem, Ralf
sang great, but it didn't really come from the heart. If you
develop own stuff it comes from the heart and it is much more
natural, but to develop your own stuff you need to be with a band
and in rehearsals. He couldn't do that and wasn't really willing
to… So we said this isn't gonna work out if we do an album and
the Judas Priest would call and say "you are invented to be
our new singer" what will we do then ?! He couldn't say and
that's the point and we decided to have the split ways.
Is that a reason for why Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween)
teamed up with you by doing a track on the album?
K : No no, it was just a thing that came up. It was kind of
reunion thing between Michael and me personally cos we haven't
talked for some years when you were still in Helloween after got
out. His mind was maybe free to talk about the past and we came a
lot of conclusions that I had come before… We just got together
and talked about the stuff and so therefore it was…I don't know…
It just came up that we said we are doing a new album and got song
"Time to break Free"… Dirk didn't like my vocals…
How come Dirk?
D : I just didn't like it cos it sounded too much Kiske…(Laughter…)
K : Yeah he thought it sounded like Michael Kiske, so let him
sing. Of course it was a big confusion rumor that Kiske would join
Gamma Ray as a new singer and we tried to fight against that
rumor, cos it was just a rumor and there was nothing behind cos
Michael is pretty far away from what we are doing you know
metal-wise and besides he isn't into metal anymore.
Speaking of Noise….Well several bands for example
Voivod, Kreator and Celtic Frost used to have a lot of problems in
legal aspects with them in the past and left the whole label, but
what kind of relationship do you have with them anyway?
K : Well of course I think as a band you are always having
problems with your label. It's just a natural thing that
everything doesn't go that smoothly all the time. But in general I
am pretty happy with Noise. Of course we have to say we have
certain standards and special treatment, maybe better than other
bands have. Maybe some bands just overrate their own standard and
maybe they want some things from a label which a label is not
willing to pay for. Just because they think that a band doesn't
sell enough, then it is worth of it. But a band wants to have
this, so they want the big money and huge promotion. And Noise is
the label that they are not spending the money like this you know.
Get to fight for this it. If you can't do that I mean if you have
to work to achieve that standard. Well to say if you want this and
this and that and if you are worth of it , then you get it. But if
they think you are not they won't give it to you at all. So that
pissed a lot of bands off and there was something going for some
bands that was the worst which was really not sounding too fair I
think, you know contract wise or whatever.. Anyway if a band
hasn't been pleased with the expected success always, they blame
the label for that.. It's not their playing, not their songs, it's
the label and the promotion or whatever else. So therefore a lot
of bands left Noise and so far I didn't see any reason to go…
But I guess Noise does a good promotion especially in
central European countries like in your home country and invest a
lot of money on Gamma Ray I mean when Powerplant came out I was in
Germany there were huge posters in record stores and you could
listen to the album for free and things like that?
K : For the last album they did a real killer job… Actually
there is a new contract with Noise, cos the old one was running
What do you actually think bands usually end up on
Nuclear Blast for example Stratovarius went there?
K : Everybody goes to Nuclear Blast. They can offer big things,
big money, they have a big power and they are a big label… I
mean everybody is there that's really what I didn't like. I don't
like to be a number whatever under many, I rather want to be
number one on Noise. Well I don't like to howl the wolf…
By the way .. Michael Kiske was just signed by Noise and
he promised to get back to metal music….
K : I don't think so, I pretty much know so…
So there is no chance or any other way to see the
Helloween reunion with the classic line-up (apart from the
K : Yeah I don't think so
What about U.S or Canada as Gamma Ray haven't toured
there at all? Why is it so difficult for European Power metal
bands to tour in North America?! Is it just a lack of promotion,
bad record sales or what?
K : It's just money thing, there is a big underground scene…
We could go to the States to play for at least 3-500 people a
D : Everyone is "Yeah come to play here", but the
band, the crew, the bus.. They all cost… They say there that we
can, but…But after all they can't pay anything…
K : There are not promoters to those shows, because in The
States they have to pay to certain clubs in order to play, so you
can't be lucky. I mean we could consider ourself lucky to get
paid, let's say 1000 US dollars for a show, but that won't even
cover the flight cost, neither the crew nor the equipment shipping…
Otherwise it really does make sense to do a tour there, because
it's not like that we don't go to tours with big profits, but we
don't wanna spend all the money for the tour… So far it is not
really worth of it…
Well for example US band Danger Danger supported UFO on
their Euro tour, they said that we usually can't get to Europe
because of a lack of promotional issues and the stuff like that….
K : …And it didn't bring anything for…
Well maybe sold a few albums more, but that's all…
K : Yeah that's it, there isn't enough press coverage
When listening to power/heavy metal albums of nowadays
which are absolutely razor sharp and high skilled played and
produced in every inch, but instead the most interesting point is,
in my opinion, they are very progressive and symphonic including a
lot of classic music elements which Stratovarius, Rhapsody, Blind
Guardian and companies usually have on their albums, whereas I
find the Gamma Ray stuff has been focused more on the
straightforward heavy metal delivery, how do you share this
K : Everyone does what he likes and we have some symphony stuff
too, but I think… Well a song should be like that it can be
produced with two guitars and that's base of our song writing..
D : In the production maybe we say about some song that this
would need big orchestra arrangements and if fits so we do it, but
we don't use that kind of concept for every one after all.
METAL SCENE TODAY
Is there any kind of competition between European trad
metal bands at the moment, is the scene one big family and do you
think the traditional and let's say old school metal has made a
huge and massive comeback in your point of view like especially
here in Europe after several years of slump because of all these
grunge/alternative stuff used to rule in the beginning of the
K : I hope so…
D : No no whenever we meet them we punch them all like shit….
K : Yeah… Always..(Laughter)…. Seriously it has been very
friendly during the last years and yes it is like a big family and
union thing, because power metal wasn't that big that makes people
united and pull the same string… Now it is getting back you can
feel that, the competition between bands in certain standards is
rising and it is not that easy going friendly anymore, well I mean
it is still friendly, but something is cooking cos bands try to
sound better and look better and have more ambitious to get ahead
of other s because actually what happens that the fan base is
pretty much same for several bands, the same people go to concerts
and buy albums. So everyone is fighting to get them on their side
more than other bands…It's a feeling, I can feel that way I
think… And metal is definitely back and I mean it is still
ABOUT GAMMA RAY COVER ART
Why did you decide to hire Derek Riggs to design and draw
the cover art of Powerplant and Blast from the Past cos you used
to have a Finnish dude designing the cover art of Somewhere out in
K : In the end the cover he did for the "Valley of the
King" was really good and looked killer indeed. Then we had
him doing the album cover for "Somewhere out in Space"
it didn't look half as good as Valley. We decided we want someone
to rely on. I wanted to sell as much merchandise as Iron Maiden
(laughter…).. No I have always liked Derek Riggs and his works.
Since he is no longer working exclusively for Iron Maiden anymore.
If you look at his old drawings he did the stuff into the
direction before with pyramids and the stuff like that and it
fitted to us very well. So it was easy to ask him. He knew if he
does it and it will be good all the time. There won't be any fuck
ups and we have seen that so many times that an artist can do it,
but the result is not what you wanted and the time was running out
then you have to take it as it is. We don't like to do that
What is the purpose of the use of the Ying Yang symbol
almost on every front cover of the Gamma Ray albums ?!?
K : It came from the "Insanity and Genius" album and
it presents a side of insanity and genius which is like fire and
water where it is united two one whole around thing…That was it
we thought and decided to carry on that symbol with us. It is just
like a sign to make the whole thing that is in balance, there is
gotta be two sides and two units and that's from black to white.
And there's the whole colour thing in-between and that's same foe
The lyrical side is about a wide range of all kinds of
various topics, from the sci-fi stuff to the normal everyday
reality, but as for the sci-fi side, where do you usually get
ideas to write about sci-fi things, by watching sci-fi movies and
TV-series like X-files or by reading sci-fi books?
K : I think it is a lot of books and movies and maybe more like
philosophical thought and view to start from. If you look at life
as it is now. You always think what we come from which is the
basic question of mankind and the next one where we go and the
obvious answer is space for both the questions. There is a lot of
background issues I think like many speculations, several
researches have been done of that and there is an old Indian
culture which were sciences, maybe some people were here before,
not people, maybe aliens. If our technology development goes on
like that and our earth is becoming very limited in resources and
everything so we have to look for new space.
Of course the topics can be written kinda limited I think, but
in Metal there is a lot less scifi things than there is fantasies,
swords, dragons and all kinds of stuff like. So I think we are
doing pretty well with that and you know it is not like we have to
need to continue with the scifi stuff. I think there will be time
when everything is said. So far for the new album we have
something different on the mind which has however a little part
into… But it's the different concept anyway.
PART OF KAI HANSEN HISTORY
Let's take a rapid glance at your historical side in the
end .. I found some details about old bands before Helloween, so
have you any tapes/material left from "Gentry",
"Second hell" "Iron Fist" or "Powerfool"
K : I do …
You do… Well do you plans to release them some day?!?
K : No…Well.. Anyway yes, but I have already thought to put
them to a hard disk to another media because they are all on the
tapes and the time rots quality.. It is the sticking stuff cos I
wanna secure them and if I do that it might be a chance to cut the
best ones together and give away to a fan club for people who are
really interested in them.
Another interesting aspect was found of you that you used
to play the drums a kid.. Have you ever tried to play drums again?
K : I wanted to…I was like having a self built drum kit and I
was drumming around. That's way I wanted to have a drum kit but my
parents didn't buy me the one that's the point.. I did play
because we had a little drum kit from when I played together with
Piet (of Iron Savior) like in Second Hell, Piet and me were alike
playing the drums and then changed from it to the guitars in
rehearsals. I could do some stuff as we did some recordings and
the first recording where Piet and me played the drums…It wasn't
a real thing…(laughter…)
IRON SAVIOR etc.
Speaking of Piet and Iron Savior now how was that compo
was founded as a matter of fact, you are an old friend with Piet?
K : Yeah I mean it was just like that in the beginning, it
wasn't planned that I take a part I was only… Piet asked me,
when he did the first album, to produce the vocals and I did that
and in the production process I did some singing and little
influences on the song writing and watching that it starts get
together. It was coming down just fine and I was doing the tours
as well and I was a kinda member of Iron Savior. But it was always
like that I don't have that much time for that band, cos busy with
Gamma Ray and that's what I told Piet that Gamma Ray is priority
and if I don't time so I can't help. That's way we took it. It
kinda looks strange that I am a member, but I am never on the
tours. Even now he has started doing his new album and I will
maybe road for it for a month at least, maybe doing some
soloplaying, some singing. But of course the time is limited.
K : Gamma Ray is priority and the family of course, well the
first priority in a way, but that's enough. Whatever comes between
if I have a little time I spend it for those things.
And the final question is Well when will the next
Gamma Ray studio see the light of day?
K : Hopefully in the spring I hope so…