One of the greatest voices in metal, Michael Kiske, is finally back in business. Best known as a former Helloween singer from the band’s golden era, the KEEPER OF THE KEYS, is now returning with his brand new band UNISONIC. Although it’s been seventeen years since Michael last performed onstage his name is still well known in today’s metal/rock world. Even though he has not performed Kiske has kept himself busy over the last 17 years. He has released four solo albums and been involved with several different projects including: Tobias Sammat’s Avantasia –albums, Revolution Reneissance with Timo Tolkki, Supared and recently he’s been working with the Place Vendome –project which in a way was in a key role for Michael’s decision to return. The Place Vendome line up also include current Unisonic members: bassist Dennis Ward (Pink Cream 69) and drummer Kosta Zafiriou (Pink Cream 69). The Unisonic line-up is completed with former Krokus and Asia guitarist Mandy Mayer. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Michael at the Swedenrock festival and here is what Michael had to say about his current activities, solo career, Helloween days, Iron Maiden and various other topics…. ENJOY !!
ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS AND PICTURES BY PATRICK CLEMENT
After 17 years, former HELLOWEEN singer Michael Kiske has returned to the stage with UNISONIC – the band also featuring Dennis Ward (bass) and Kosta Zafiriou (drums) of Germany’s PINK CREAM 69 and Swiss guitarist Mandy Meyer (ASIA, GOTTHARD, KROKUS) – performing select dates throughout Europe and Russia.
Kiske checks in from the road:
“Having done my first live shows after almost 17 years I’d like to say that I was really thrilled about still having many friends out there after such a long time. Some people even came from Russia just for our freaking warm up shows, another guy came from Turkey! That’s unbelievable. I am deeply honoured and moved by this and don’t take any of it for granted. My voice was not half way where I want it to be in terms of condition for live situations, this always needs some time, especially after so many years, but on most songs I did well and the audience was great. It was very important for me to do this and to have new face to face contact with you people again after isolating myself for a long time. In Sweden it was extremely cool to see how welcome Unisonic was and how many autographs we had to give afterwards. And it was not only Keeper or Place Vendome CDs I had to sign; every second CD seemed to be one of my solo CDs. I didn’t expect that.
I have been quite harsh on the metal-scene over some time and was pretty pissed about it, because I can’t deal with certain things in it, and that might have made me be a bit unfair occasionally, but that wasn’t for very long. And meeting many of you fans now again has helped me to adjust even more now. I don’t hate all metal, I just hate morally wrong ideologies which are circulating within the metal-scene and I don’t accept any sort of art-slavery. But I still like rock music, yes, even some of my favourite metal-records of my youth, because most of them are simply great rock records. In many ways the music wasn’t really the problem. My problem was, is and will always be the satanic sickness that is so common in the scene. I have NO understanding for inhumanity and heartlessness glorifying people and fascistic mentalities. I believe in good-hearted humans, love and understanding, and that free and honest music is the only law for a healthy and true music-culture. What I have criticized about the metal-scene was and is very just, but to each its own of course. I will always speak my mind. My spiritual, moral and artistic convictions haven’t changed a bit, but I am a lot more relaxed now and if I went too far sometimes in the past, I am sorry, I don’t want to be unfair at all. Not all metal fans are ignorant or Satanists, I never really thought that anyway. I have actually met only cool, good-hearted and intelligent metal and rock-fans on this very short ‘tour’. Some even seem to understand my way of thinking, when we talked. They were much more open minded and friendly than I thought, and if that would be representative for the majority, I’d be very happy. I wanted to get these words out to you guys while all is still fresh.”
For an introduction to what Bloodstock Open Air is all about, check out my preview of it here. Suffice it to say that BOA is the only proper UK outdoor metal festival that is devoted to true metal of all genres. This would be the first time I was making the trip up to the Midlands to cover this amazing festival.
Reaching there late Thursday night, we set up camp and went off to explore. BOA has one of the most random things I’d expect at a metal festival: a shisha tent! Armed with a 1.5 litre bottle of JD and two bongs of shisha, we spent the night there meeting weird and crazy people (Frida from Sweden, if you’re reading this, get in touch!). After a disgusting fry-up at the All-Day Breakfast bar, I went off to bed to catch some shut-eye before Friday’s bands. Good start to BOA!
Transcription by Alxs / Live Pics By Arto Lehtinen & Hanntu
Kai Hansen is easily one of the best frontmen in heavy metal today. I recently caught up with my idol (ha) to talk about the band’s latest masterpiece LAND OF THE FTEE II and other things going on in the land of Gamma Ray. Since our conversation it was announced that Gamma Ray and Helloween would be making a stop at this year’s ProgPower USA festival. Plans for this to be more than a one city stop haven’t been announced yet but even when I spoke to him he said they were working on it…so lets hope it works out! Anyway, enough from me, onto the interview…… Prepare for glory!
The history of German speed/power metal force Helloween dates back to the late 70´s when Helloween was formed by guitarist Kai Hansen, guitarist/vocalist Piet Sielck, Ingo Schwichtenberg on drums and Marcus Grosskopf on bass. The band was still called Second Hell in 1981 – and then even later the name was changed to Iron Fist (in 1982) before the band took their current Helloween name in 1983 as the name of their band.
The band´s second guitarist Michael Weikath came to Helloween from a band called POwerfool, replacing Piet Sielck (who actually ever wasn´t quite in Helloween) – and also bringing over such known Helloween anthems as "Cry for Freedom" and "Starlight" that both appeared on the band´s self-titled 5-song EP in 1985.
That, as a brief introduction to Michael´s history as a part of this magnificent German metal band.
Ever since Helloween have released 13 studio albums (off which KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS – PT. 1 & 2 have undoubtedly become instant classics in Helloweeen´s own reportoire), done many successful world tours by covering nearly every single corner on this planet – and simply played their way out straight through the hearts of many new´n´old Helloween fans more than over 3 decades already.
The band´s current tour together with Gamma Ray and Axxis, going under "Hellish Rock Tour 2007-2008", reached Helsinki on December 11th, 2007, and always so curious Metal-Rules.com was there of course to find out how´s the tour been going for them thus far – amongst other things naturally as well. Mikhael Weikath stepped in as a volunteer to talk about the tour, etc., so let´s hand over a microphone to him up next…
The 10th of December 2007 Tullikamari, Tampere The 11th of December 2007 The Cable Factory, Helsinki FINLAND
Review and pictures by Arto Lehtinen and Marko SyrjÃ¤lÃ¤
Both Helloween and Gamma Ray are without any doubts the leading names of the Power Metal genre in Europe and even worldwide. Helloween can be easily labelled as forefathers of modern melodic power metal as it has evolved within three decades. The bandâ€™s classic opuses KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS Pt I and Pt II have left immortal marks on the history of Heavy Metal, having influenced several musicians to create melodic powerful hymns of their own. Kai Hansen was one of the originators in Helloween and behind the creation process of these two albums. But Hansenâ€™s own band, Gamma Ray, has as well conquered the heavy metal universe on their own mission. Thousands of metal fans arrived at the Cable Factory and Tullikamari shows in order to witness a special gig by these German metal veterans. Even though the event was historical in many ways, neither of the shows were completely sold out and that was little surprising.
Helloween started their KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS ? THE LEGACY World tour in Zlin, Czech Republic. As always, the band?s tour is extensive, covering many countries in Europe, both South and North America and Japan. After many months of writing songs, recording and promoting the album the Pumpkin team felt a strong need to hit the road again. Maybe that was one of those tiny reasons why Finland was blessed by as many as 3 dates on this particular Helloween tour that the Finnish Helloween fans found a very pleasing surprise for them.
When Helloween arrived in Helsinki on the 26th of November 2005, we caught up with the band?s nearly 2-meter high bassist Markus Grosskopf for an interview. It was just 1 hour before one of the night?s two warm-up bands entered onstage to make the crowd ready for the band a majority of them had obviously come to see, the one and only Helloween.
We found our way to the Helloween?s backstage, and it was almost immediately sensed from the overall atmosphere that both the crew and the band were in as high spirits as we were. We were quite surprisingly, greeted by a few free, ice-cold beers by the band members. Now that was a good sign to assume Markus might have been willing enough to push through this last interview of today, so we all sat down confortably, and the recorder started rolling…
Michael Weikath, as most of you know, is one of Helloween’s lead guitarists. I talked at length to Michael about Helloween, pumpkins, their music, tours, fans, the internet, legs, and the upcoming Helloween covers CD.
Kai Hansen Interview Interviewed May 19, 1999 by EvilG
Let me tell ya it’s not everyday that I get to chat with someone who I’m such a fan of. This interview was rescheduled about two or three times but thanks to Steve (Noise) it finally happened on May 19th, 1999.
For those unfortunate beings who have no clue as to who Kai Hansen is, well hang your head in shame. I won’t bother giving you a history lesson here. If you’re interested, there are a number of places on the web where you can read about Kai’s history with Helloween, Gamma Ray and Iron Savior.