INTERVIEW AND LIVE PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ
Helloween is a German power metal band founded in 1984 in Hamburg by Kai Hansen on vocals and guitar, Michael Weikath on guitar, Markus Grosskopf on bass and Ingo Schwichtenberg on drums. Helloween were one of the pioneering and also most important bands of the 80’s European heavy/speed/power metal scene. Their early albums HELLOWEEN and WALLS OF JERICHO fared comfortably but it wasn’t before band hired a new vocalist, the 18 year old Michael Kiske, and released albums KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS pt.I and KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS pt.II before the band hit the big time and found their worldwide success. Hansen left in 1988 and he was soon replaced by Roland Grapow. The following album PINK BUBBLES GO APE was somewhat disappointing both sales and musical wise and next they tried to break some new grounds with 1993’s CHAMELEON. Instead of taking a heavier approach, the band ventured into completely new territory. They were eschewing its signature double-guitar harmonies for synthesizers, horns, acoustic guitars, country music, grunge and everything in between. Some changes were needed and so Michael Kiske and then seriously troubled drummer Schwichtenberg were let go. In the late 1993 Helloween found itself from a very difficult situation. There was no singer, no drummer, and no record contract (EMI released the band from its agreement because of the disappointing sales numbers of PINK BUBBLES GO APE and CHAMELEON).
Helloween returned in 1994 with a renewed line up which included vocalist Andi Deris (Pink Cream 69) and drummer Uli Kusch. They also had a new record deal with Castle Communications and as a result MASTER OF THE RINGS was released later on that year. The new incarnation of the band proved to be very successful and the following albums TIME OF THE OATH, BETTER THAN RAW and THE DARK RIDE did all great both commercially and critically. But still, more changes followed when Grapow and Kusch were released from their duties in 2002. New guitarist Sascha Gerstner stepped and made his first Helloween album appearance on RABBIT DON’T COME EASY in 2003. After having several drummer candidates in the early 2000’s, it was Motörhead’s Mikkey Dee who played on the RABBIT album, the band finally found a permanent player when former Rawhead Rexx drummer Dani Loble joined in 2005. The current lineup has so far released three studio albums: KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS pt.III – THE LEGACY, GAMBLING WITH THE DEVIL, their latest opus SEVEN SINNERS, one live album KEEPER OF THE LEVEN KEYS – THE LEGACY WORLD TOUR 2005-2006 and the Anniversary album UNARMED – THE BEST OF 25’TH ANNIVERSARY. It seems that the band, despite all those changes and troubles in the past, is now enjoying this time of their lives and there’s no end in sight. Helloween started their latest world tour to support SEVEN SINNERS and in November and in the middle December 2010 they came to Finland to play two sold out shows. In Helsinki we had chance to sit down with Mr. Grosskopf and discuss the new tour, past changes, and various other topics… Read more!!