KAI HANSEN, earMUSIC, and WACKEN Foundation are happy to announce the release of XXX, the first “solo project” album by Kai Hansen, one of the most influential guitarists and singers to emerge from Germany during the first part of the ’80s. First with ground-breaking band HELLOWEEN (of which Hansen is one of the founding members) and later with GAMMA RAY, one of the bands that contributed to defining the genre power metal, bringing it to a generation of devoted fans worldwide since its first album.
XXX is, in pure Hansen tongue-in-cheek style, a reference to over 30 years of involvement in the world of heavy rock, as explained with the album’s sub-title: Three Decades In Metal.
The album will be released in August 2016 on earMUSIC with further news to be shared soon.
XXX is a magical journey. It is the story of how powerful dreams can be.
Dreams and passions big enough to bring a teenager from Hamburg who is in love with rock music, glam rock and the first heavy metal sounds from the practicing space in his bedroom and rehearsal rooms to the biggest stages in the world practicing, and ending up influencing and sharing the stage with the very same bands he admired in the first place.
Not strictly autobiographical, XXX is without doubt the story of Kai Hansen but it could very well represent the story of anybody who is not afraid to believe in dreams, with passion and dedication. It is the story of the ups and downs that everybody faces at some point during the journey of life: the lost and found-again friends, the glory, the tragedies and the joys.
After the achievements enjoyed by Hansen lately with Unisonic and especially Gamma Ray’s recent work Empire of the Undead, Kai Hansen has started working on the album with no precise commercial masterplan — just playing music with the same spirit as in the very beginning.
This certainly was the reason for Hansen to communicate to his label the intention of donating the first advance payment he will receive for XXX —which in the meantime was shaping into a proper album— to the Wacken Foundation.
The Foundation helps and supports young hard rock and heavy metal bands for over seven years now: Musicians full of hopes and dreams, exactly as Hansen had in the beginning of the 30 years story told on this album… in the hope that one day, somebody could tell another 30 years long magic story, also thanks to this album.
Together with Hansen, a stellar band of musicians gravitating around the Chameleon Studio in Hamburg has formed spontaneously.
There’s Alex Dietz (guitar player of Heaven Shall Burn) on bass, Eike Freese (who already worked as engineer and co-producer with Hansen on the last Gamma Ray album) on guitar, and phenomenal drummer Daniel Wilding (Carcass). The four will be joined by various guests, ranging from friends to followers to heroes — some having played a significant part in Kai’s career, some who have expressed the wish to join the project with the same spirit that is leading Kai, Alex, Eike, and Daniel to create loud music with joy, freedom and determination.
Kai and friends will do an exclusive one-time performance at this year’s Wacken Open Air Festival, introducing the songs from the album to the audience for the first and only time.
Watch the video of Kai Hansen and Eike Freese discussing XXX below:
Talking about XXX (while in the studio, recording guitars), Hansen has declared, “30 years in metal, that’s a damn long time. Over the course of all these years, I never recorded a solo album. It is quite nice and a hell lot of fun to create something without any boundaries and to get a fresh view on music. I am celebrating 30 years of being able to do what I like best…
“On XXX, I am reflecting on my roots, where I come from, how it all started for me. I believe you need a certain drive, passion and of course a bit of luck and coincidence to make it in the music world – and of course some financial support. This is where the Wacken Foundation came to my mind. They are helping people, musicians just like me, who want to make it. And I remember having had help myself, from my family, the families from the other band members – and by doing a paper round. So hopefully, with my donation, young musicians are given the same chance that I was given a long time ago, too. And who knows, maybe we all will be playing together at Wacken in 20 years…”
Wacken Foundation’s Thomas Jensen adds, “This is really generous donation to the Wacken Foundation. Heavy metal is a way of life – and with this this amazing gesture Kai showed what it stands for: selflessness, thoughtfulness and most of all the passion and love for music. The goal of the foundation is to keep this kind of spirit going. With Kai is doing we are one step closer to this goal.”
ABOUT WACKEN FOUNDATION:
The Wacken Foundation was founded in 2009 and is a non-profit foundation which dedicates itself to the support of hard rock and heavy metal music. Basically every artist and every band from the heavy metal scene can be supported by the Wacken Foundation. More information about which requirements have to be fulfilled can be found here. If the name Wacken Foundation is a bit misleading, the promoters of the Wacken Open Air do not receive a single cent of the donations. The entire assets of the foundation are solely used to support artists from the metal scene.
HELLOWEEN – Guitarist Sascha Gerstner
INTERVIEW AND PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJALA
Helloween is a German metal band founded in 1984 in Hamburg. The band is one of the pioneers of power metal and their albums KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS I & II and THE TIME OF THE OATH are considered masterpieces of the genre. Throughout the years, the band has gone through numerous changes, but the current line-up of vocalist Andi Deris, guitarists Michael Weikath and Sascha Gerstner, bassist Markus Grosskopf and drummer Daniel Löble has been stable since 2005. The band started their ongoing MY GOD-GIVEN RIGHT world tour in June 2015, and now the circus mad a stop in Finland in February.
During the years I’ve interviewed almost all current and former members of Helloween but for one reason or another I’ve always missed Sascha Gerstner. Fortunately, things now changed as I finally met with a good-humored Sascha at the hotel prior the show. Among many topics, we discussed about his long career with Helloween and…. many other things in general. Sascha turned out to be really genial and humorous person. I’m sure that some metal fans will find it surprising when they read about his musical influences and how his relationship was with Helloween and with the whole metal genre before joining the band. Read on!
Helloween is a German band founded in 1984 in Hamburg. The band is one of the pioneers of the power metal genre and their albums KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS I & II, MASTER OF THE RINGS and THE TIME OF THE OATH are considered masterpieces of the genre. The band has gone through numerous changes, but the current line-up, singer Andi Deris, guitarists Michael Weikath and Sascha Gerstner, bass guitarist Markus Grosskopf, and drummer Daniel Löble has been stable since 2005. Helloween releases its 15th studio album titled MY GOD GIVEN RIGHT on 25th of May. Andi Deris visited Helsinki in April to promote the forthcoming album, and here’s what the man had to say about the album, its creation process, the future/past, and about life in general. Read on!
REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MARKO SYRJALA AND ARTO LEHTINEN
The Gamma Ray / Rhapsody of Fire package tour was certainly one of the most anticipated power metal gigs in the spring in Finland. Gamma Ray just released their album EMPIRE OF THE UNDEAD which is their strongest album in ages and Rhapsody of Fire now finally played in Helsinki for the first time since 2001, so it wasn’t surprising that the show in club Tavastia sold out a long time ago. It left in the air the question of whether the bands should have played more than one gig in Finland this time.
German band Helloween is one of the pioneering forces and most successful bands in the power metal world and its related subgenres. The band was originally formed in 1984 by Michael Weikath, bassist Markus Grosskopf, vocalist/guitarist Kai Hansen and drummer Ingo Schwichtenberg. Their early albums KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS I and KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS II, which featured vocalist Michael Kiske, are considered masterpieces of the genre. The band went through a large number of changes during the late 80’s / early 90’s. Hansen left in 1988, formed his own band Gamma Ray and was then replaced by Roland Grapow. Kiske and Schwichtenberg were out of picture in 1993 and they were then replaced by drummer Uli Kusch and current vocalist Andi Deris (ex-Pink Cream 69). The renewed lineup re-established the bands popularity and the album THE TIME OF OATH (1996) still remains as their best-selling album to date. Despite the continuous success, the band went through another set of changes starting in 2001. Today the band consists of Deris, Weikath, Grosskopf, guitarist Sascha Gerstner and drummer Dani Loble. This line-up has released altogether 4 studio albums and it seems that Helloween is now even more popular than the so-called “heydays” in the mid 80’s. Three sold out shows speaks for itself when the band arrived to Finland in late March as a part of massive “Hellish Rock II” tour which also featured Gamma Ray. In Helsinki we were fortunate to sit down with the bands guitarist/founding member Michael Weikath and discuss about various topics including the current tour, the latest opus STRAIGHT OUT OF HELL, Helloween’s 30’TH Anniversary and re-union rumors… Read on!
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!!
INTERVIEW with interview with Daniel Zimmerman and Dirk Schlächter
Interview by MARKO SYRJALA & ARTO LEHTINEN
Technical support by Robert and Sandra
The German power metal squad Gamma Ray made their debut gig in 2000 at the Tuska festival. Since then the German power metal tornado has been a regular visitor up in Finland. The band has gained the solid fanbase resulting gigs have been quite packed and even sold out. The latest album titled TO THE METAL presents the true Gamma Ray power metal from the beginning to the end. It aint wonder why the editor-in-chief worships. However before Gamma Ray got on the stage at Nosturi, we had an opportunity of chatting both Dirk Schlächter and Dan Zimmerman .
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!
Ralf Scheepers is known for his fantastic voice and its marvelous capacity and above all being the charismatic frontman of Primal Fear. Even though Ralf has gained a lot of attention and respect via Primal Fear, the man has a legacy from the heyday of the 80’s metal. As widely known Scheepers became well known as the frontman for Gamma Ray in the early 90’s. Before teaming up with Kai Hansen to pursue Gamma Ray, Scheepers used to front an obscure trad metal outfit called Tyran’ Pace and released three albums between 1984 and 1986. After quitting the band, he started collaborating more and more with Kai Hansen and working on his new band project after Hansen’s successful Helloween era. The beginning wasn’t that easy for a new band. Through those rough years of Heavy and trad metal, Gamma Ray with Ralf struggled and released three albums having turned out milestones of the whole of of power metal. However INSANITY AND GENIUS was the last album featuring Ralf Scheepers on the mic. New challenges were waiting as Judas Priest showed their interest toward Scheepers. Ralf had sung in a Priest cover band for years. Even though Tim “Ripper” Owens was chosen for the job with Judas Priest, Scheepers teamed up with Matt Sinner to pursue their common interest in Primal Fear. After ten years and seven albums, Primal Fear entered Helsinki as a co-headliner with U.D.O and Ralf sat down with us to talk about several issues. Above all Primal Fear’s new album and new record label were the priority issues of the interview. Of course it was obvious to take a glance at Ralf’s past and ask Randy Black a few questions about Annihilator. Enjoy… Metal Is Forever !!!!!
INTERVIEW AND PICTURES BY MARKO SYRJÄLÄ AND ARTO LEHTINEN
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.
(Thanks to Lana Morganella for helping with the transcription)
Gamma Ray has become one of the leading names in the flourishing power metal genre. When it is widely known that most of Gamma Ray’s albums are well written and catchy power metal. Kai Hansen’s Gamma Ray visited Helsinki early this year by playing a one-off gig in Tavastia Club. Unfortunately the whole interview schedule went totally upside down due to Henjo’s accident on the ferry the night before. Therefore our private interview session became a normal general press event where several people asked all kinds of things.
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…
Piet Sielck of Iron Savior Interviewed by EvilG in Feb. 2001
I was very excited to be given the opportunity to interview the true brain behind Germany’s sci-fi power metallers, IRON SAVIOR – Piet Sielck. Piet became a known name in the metal arena as a producer and engineer, working with bands like Blind Guardian, Gamma Ray, Saxon and Grave Digger. After a few years in this role the desire grew to form a band of his own…and thus began the saga of the Iron Savior. Since their first self titled release in 1997 the band have recorded three CD Singles / EP’s and two other full-length albums. Their most recent, and arguably their strongest work to date is the magnificent album DARK ASSAULT. Released in Jan 2001, this CD continues the tale of the Iron Savior and has proven to me that this band is no mere side project but an entity that stands on it’s own as one of the finest true metal bands on the scene today.
Interviewers: Arto Lehtinen and Marko Syrjala
Place: Tuska Metal Festival Helsinki Finland
Kai Hansen already gained the reputation in the Helloween rank in the 80’s and until he went on by carrying his metal mission with Gamma Ray. Here is the extensive dinner conversation with Kai Hansen and Dirk Schlachter.