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!
When two German power metal legends join forces to tour, it is always a positive thing, at least for the fans. Helloween is one of the most popular bands in their genre, and the band released its 16’th studio album MY GOD GIVEN RIGHT in May of 2015. The band is a familiar visitor to Finland, and they have played here almost every year for the past 10 years. Rage, in turn, has undergone major changes in recent times. The band’s previous visit to Finland was in 2006, ten years ago, so this was set to be an interesting event for fans of both bands.
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!
HELLOWEEN are one of the most influential and internationally successful acts of the global metal scene. With the release of their 15thstudio album My God-Given Right,due on May 29th (EU), June 1st (UK) and June 2nd (US), the pumpkin heads are set to further cement their title as the founding fathers of German melodic speed metal. The band’s first self-titled EP was released in 1985, making their new album My God-Given Right the celebratory marker for their impressive 30 year career.
Today, HELLOWEEN releases a new album trailer, in which they talk about the background of the record, as well as give insight into their album listening party on the island of Tenerife.
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!
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.
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.