Place Vendome is a new project fronted by Michael Kiske. The project has recently released its debut album and I hooked up with Michael to interview him about this project and his career in general.
Interviewed by: Anders Sandvall
Thanks to Frontiers Records for the promo pictures of the band.
Thanks to Stefan at Atenzia records for the help with the interview
Hello Michael what’s up? Would you please like to tell the readers a bit about why you hooked up with Place Vendome and lend them your voice?
It was all an idea of Serafino, the owner of Frontiers Records. He suggested that project, and I agreed to it.
Do you have any special idols or role models that made you start to sing at the first place?
Yes: Elvis Presley, but also some of the Pop/Rock and Metal-Bands of the eighties.
Can you play any instruments too?
Of course! I always play most of the guitars on my records, and a little bit Piano too.
Which band was the first that you joined and how old were you then?
My first band was one of my own in school and I was 15 years old.
Where in the world do you live today? Do you still live in Germany?
In Hamburg Germany.
Where does the name Place Vendome come from and how did you end up in the project?
It’s a famous place in Paris as far as I know, also Serafino’s idea.
After your first solo album you said that you never ever were going to sing hardrock anymore! Why then are you singing in PV?
I said ”Metal” after my first one, and I said ”Hardrock” after SupaRed, because it’s not my language anymore as a songwriter. My own music won’t be Hardrock anymore, but singing something hardrock-ish can still be fun.
If I got it right it’s Dennis Ward that’s written all the music and lyrics, have you got any part in the material writing?
Nope, all him and friends.
When was the album recorded and how long did it take to record?
About three month maybe. I did the vocals in my own little studio and Dennis produced the rest in his.
Did you know Dennis and the rest of the guys from Pink Cream 69 and Gunther from Vandenplas before you joined PV?
Still haven’t met them, just email and telephone.
How was it to work which such skilled musicians?
You mean as the loser I am? (just kidding!) It was great! Dennis has good ideas.
Dennis has produced the album. How was it to be produced by him and what’s the difference between being produced by a hired producer and a band member?
It a lot less work, because when you produce an album yourself it’s all on your shoulder. When someone else does it, it’s on his.
Place Vendome is a project? Is that true?
Are there any plans to keep releasing more albums under the name Place Vendome?
Serafino wants to start a new one after my next solo record.
You are listed in the bio as a melodic hardrock act, do you agree with that or how do you want to describe what kind of music you play?
It was supposed to be AOR Journey/Foreigner like. But some of the songs are produced a little harder now, so that makes them pretty Hardrock-ish. I think it’s a Rock-record with a bit too loud guitars.
Why did you sign on with Frontiers Records? What is so special with that label?
It was the only offer I had. I wasn’t searching much for a deal, but the bigger labels are mainly just into casting boy/girl crap. And they don’t sign artists over 30 which don’t dance …, you know.
Are you satisfied with the work the label has done regarding promoting the album etc?
As far as I can tell, yes. But I think ‘I Will Be Waiting’ is a good single also for Radio. But they don’t seem to care about singles.
Have you read any reviews of the album yet? What does the media have to say about it?
All I heard was positive, but I don’t care about critics anyway. I don’t make records for critics. I make them for myself and for people who expect me to do so.
Are there any plans on going out on tour with PV?
Are you happy with the album or do you feel you should have done anything different now that you look back on it?
It would have made the guitars not so loud on some of the mixes, but that’s always a matter of taste.
Do you have a favorite song on the album? If so which one?
‘I Will Be Waiting’ and ‘Place Vendome’.
Do you think it’s weird to work with Pick Cream 69 members when their old singer Andi Deris was the one that replaced you in Helloween?
Who has done the cover artwork and what do you think of it?
I love it! It was an Italian guy I think. I hope he will do my artwork too.
What do you think of this statement “Michael, whose voice is still nowadays regarded as one of the most fascinating of the whole scene in rock”? Do you feel comfortable with that statement?
Sure! Why should I complain about it? As a singer you want to affect people. And if I still do that, it’s great.
You have always had an amazing voice with an incredible broad vocal range, how have you managed to keep the voice intact through all these years because you still sound amazing today?
No alcohol, no cigarettes and no touring for about 13 years I guess. I really don’t know. I don’t do much to keep in shape.
What do you think of your effort in Helloween if you look back on it today? Is there any special memory that comes to mind?
It was great fun in the beginning and it became a nightmare in the end. But I learned much from that period.
Why did you leave Helloween and what have you been up to since then?
Weiky tricked me out, but I also wanted to leave, because we didn’t understand each other anymore. It really was a problem on the human side. And I was dealing with totally other things after that, like philosophy etc.
Have you listened to anything they have done after you left them? What do you think of their newer albums?
Not really, I only heard one song from the Master Of The Rings CD that I saw a video on TV.
Have you listened to their new album KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS – THE LEGACY? If so what do you think of it?
I haven’t heard it, but they should maybe stop living in the past. The past is over, and it’s also not the same band anymore, so it’s OK if they sound different today. I must say that I don’t really care about that much.
You have also sung on Tobias Sammet’s metal opera Avantasia, how was that and how come you’re featured on that opera?
He asked me if I wanted to it in those days, and I did it. It was more because Tobias came across very nice. I also liked the new song I did for him. It spoke out what I always talk about too concerning the music-critic-popes.
Do you get a lot of e-mails from the fans? What’s the most common question you get from fans?
Depends on the fans, the more open ones just ask for new releases and ideologies, the more Metal-Fans always want me to fake Keeper-Records or rejoin Helloween, which is nonsense.
What’s the next album you’re going to be on?
My new Kiske-Solo Record. Very acoustic, very friendly music!
2005 is soon coming to an end so what are the plans for Mr. Kiske during 2006?
I hope to be able to keep on making records, because people only burn and download music now, and that makes production more and more impossible. The newer generations don’t support musicians anymore. So it gets difficult to pay the bills.
Finally I have to thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and is there anything you would like to say to the fans and readers?
Free and honest music is the ONLY law for any healthy and growing music-culture. All other laws beside that are art-enemy and false. Freedom of musical speech; that’s what I am about these days!
Read the CD review of the new Place Vandome album here
More info about the band/project