INTERVIEW BY MARKO SYRJALA
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 have been stable since 2005. Helloween releases its 15th studio album titled MY GOD GIVEN RIGHT on the 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 life in general.
Andi, what is your God-given right?
That’s pretty much the beginning of making music in my case when for example, I had to join the Army, the German army, and joined the German army. I said I don’t see myself now after making my school exam and go to work as everybody did. Like a good German, follow the leader, follow the rules and do what your parents tell you. It’s always been like that, so you have to follow that path and blah, blah. On those days, I thought; but it is my right to do what I want because it’s my feelings, it’s my life, and I knew many people who actually followed the rules and were so unhappy with life, and we had like these days. Sure, I’m born in ’64, which is probably the biggest birth rate all over Germany. So they were certainly because of that, many more people committed suicide in ’64, ’65 born. But I didn’t. I didn’t want to see myself getting that depressive that I would think about committing suicide or something like that. Obviously, the people were never allowed to do what they wished. Everybody has dreams. We all do. Everybody has to kind of suppress the dreams. Sooner or later, each of us has suppressed a dream or more dreams.
But I did not want to see myself suppressing the dream of making music because I thought now or never. If you try it now, maybe you have a slight chance to succeed. If you push it back to five, maybe in 10 years, then you end up where everybody ends up. It will never happen. I don’t want to sit there at the age of 70 or 75 as an old grandfather and to ask myself, could my life have been better if I would have followed my own dream. Imagine you follow other’s dreams, and at the end of the day, you’ll see yourself unhappy with your life because you followed others but not your own heart. How stupid is that? That’s the first time I had this, and my God has given right thought. Why I am on earth for whatever purpose, maybe it’s only because I have to see or make myself happy. Maybe that’s the only reason why I am here, why we are here. So actually find our own way to make our life as happy as it can be, so that’s all God-given right. That’s what I thought, or at least now putting that sentence into that phrase. It makes so much sense. It’s nothing deep about it. It’s just about ourselves, and we are here for whatever reason. So we should actually take this God-given right and make our own life and not listen to others.
That sounds such a familiar story…
Everybody has this. That’s what I’m always saying. It doesn’t matter where you are in the world. We all do have the same dreams.
The press release says that this album is kind of a ‘back to roots’ album. What do you mean by that?
It’s very often like I would say half of the album is building bridges to the ’80s, to the ’90s like the MASTER OF THE RINGS bridges. As you know, we always have that, not a problem, but the task. We still have a challenge; we kind of combine nearly three generations now. Like the old folks like ourselves, like between 40 and 60, we grew up the band to say. We always try to bring the youth back, which is impossible as you may imagine. Once I told the guy, if you had your first kiss or if you had your first fuck listening to “A Tale That Wasn’t Right.” I can never bring you back that feeling, even by writing for “Forever & One,” which the next generation was having their first kiss and their first fuck. So that’s why “Forever & One” became even more successful than “A Tale That Wasn’t Right.” But 10 years later. So the old people, the old fans like my generation fans they actually think, yeah it’s a great song, speaking of “Forever & One” which as on THE TIME OF THE OATH, 1996. This feeling that you combine, that you connect by listening to a specific song from your youth. This is impossible, and no band can bring you back that, even your idols, your own idols. Speaking about myself, I’m the biggest Kiss fan still. But for me, there will never be a Kiss album as good as DESTROYER of the LOVE GUN album. That was my youth, that was my first Kiss, it was my first fuck. So that’s quite normal, and I’m still listening to a new album from Kiss and enjoying them, but I’ll never enjoy them as much as I did back in the day.
That was one diplomatic answer. “Laughs”
Diplomacy and half German and… “Laughs”
GOD-GIVEN RIGHT is a surprising Helloween album because this time, there are many elements from the ’80s, but also the ’70s like the Hammond. I would say that this is your most versatile album to date.
That comes from the building bridges, I guess. From the writing side, definitely not. But as you mentioned, there are arrangements connected to the ’80s, sometimes even the Hammond to the ’70s. But that shows that you actually can write your songs to what you always do. You just arrange it a little bit differently, and the producer turns some knobs here and there, direction ’80s, like a bit more… Not more aggressive guitars, but the frequency is more hurting, like a bit more unnerving to the ear, like the ’80s, and suddenly you have this bridge. Nowadays, everything is more or less, if you talk about guitars, even in metal. Guitars are sometimes very kind to the ear. I don’t know? That’s not metal; a bit more brutality to the ear is not bad, I think. Sometimes, maybe this reminds me, and some songs are typically arranged like in the ’80s, and half of the album, I would say we try to arrange a bit more 2015. For example, we have the song “The Swing of a Fallen World,” you could make a song out of it like ’70’s Black Sabbath meets 2015 in sound technique. But then you would have to extend it to like at least seven-eight minutes, make it like a journey. You could have done that with that song, easily. You could have done it, but then we decided to actually cut a long story short and give it a more 2015 arrangement.
When I listened to the album for the first time, HEAVY METAL JUKEBOX came to my mind. “Laughs”
It’s not THAT much. “Laughs” It’s just pulling the strings of actually satisfying three generations and trying to make bridges to that, and I think that works fine.
MORE ALBUM DETAILS
One thing that is always present – Helloween has a sense of humor, and this album is no exception. Let’s start with the album cover. Where did you get the idea for that picture?
It was like a Martin Hausler’s taking deep. I told everybody my meaning of my God-given right shouldn’t be taken too seriously. As I told you, it is like superstitious, and it’s my own shitty God-given right to do what I want to do with my life. That’s it, that’s the message. We all know that probably we have been in that situation after school, and that’s actually it. Martin took it much deeper to do it like rebellion, revolution, and a Pumpkin Army fighting for their rights. I said, do whatever you want as long as the picture is cool. If the photo looks good, we go for it if the cover looks good. And when everybody saw that the day after tomorrow vibe and this Pumpkin army fighting for their rights, standing even on the Statue of liberty. I said, yeah, the Americans will love it. So let’s do it.
I’m sure that some people will think that this is kind of a “cold war theme” when you have an album cover like this and they you have song titles like “Russian Roulé” and “Lost in America” and then you have a frozen Statue of Liberty there… or is all that just coincidental? “Laughs”
That’s coincidental. You could interpret it into that, yeah. But if you run through the lyrics from “Lost in America,” for example, you realize it’s not the USA. It’s the South American continent, actually. So yeah, that’s a coincidence. No further thought, yeah. “Laughs”
One thing that draws attention is the titles of the songs. This time, those are directly from the ’80s.
Was it something which you drew attention to on purpose?
No. But at the end of the day, we had like 33, 34 songs on ideas on the table, and actually, Charly is the one together with management to pick out their jewels and their favorites and leave us alone. Because we told them not to give us a choice, because when you write a song, it is your baby, you love it to death. If somebody in the band comes and tells you I don’t like it, you have a problem inside the band, and nobody is that cool. It hurts. So these decisions should actually be made by other people, they like what we do. So let them pick out their favorites, and it will be fine for the rest of the world, I think. It’s much better than having t bands killing themselves as we did in the earlier days. So it’s much better that way.
How about the songwriting, was everybody involved in the process this time?
As always, everybody writes, and others pick up the best ones.
How many songs did you have written for the album?
Six plus bonus.
Some fans have been a bit worried about Weikath’s writing impact on the past few albums, and some people think that he’s not been writing any really great songs since the ’90s. What do you think about that?
On this album, he shows the opposite. He’s written for my taste two great songs and one okay song. But his songs like “Battle’s Won,” for example, or “Creatures of Heaven,” are for me absolutely great. When you listen to the songs you have to be fair, everybody who understands a little bit of music when you listen to these songs you realize it’s not as easy done for example “The Swing of a Fallen World” very easy. As I said, it’s much more, that more primitive, composed to the sound Black Sabbath-like, guitar-like super primitive. It’s not easy to find an idea that is primitive and sounds great. That’s the other side of the coin. But if you have found it, it’s so much easier to arrange and to record than a masterpiece like, for example, “Battle’s Won.” “Creatures of Heaven” has so many things going on, second voices, third voices, under voices, so on. When you listen to the drums, you go like, what the fuck? Poor drummer. That’s a whole different story, so I personally kind of write five “Swing of a Fallen World’s.” But I will need, all the time, I would have needed for these five songs if I would like to write a song like “Battle’s Won” or “Creatures of Heaven.” For example, “Napanthea” on the last album written by myself, and I have needed five times more. Five times longer than for track like, for example, “Swing of a Fallen World.” I want to express that he needs at least five times more, more than five times more time to come up with a song like that. So two or three Weiki tunes in that style, yes, so much more work than six or seven songs of myself.
Markus has written some really good songs to the previous albums. How about this time?
This time he had some nice songs, but no song was mind-blowing for our ears. So maybe another band would have taken this or that idea and would have made the hit of a century, I don’t know. But as I told you, others pick the songs, and we all had the feeling at the end of the day that it’s a good decision to take in more of Sascha’s and my own songs.
TRACK BY TRACK
Let’s next to go through all the songs briefly. Like said, I have heard the album a few times, and I have written down a brief comment of each song, so I’ll tell you what I think and let you comment then, ok?
The album starts with “Heroes,” which has a typical metal big chorus Helloween song and possibly a single, right?
It was definitely a sing-along riff run, and I could definitely hear the audience singing like that. It’s Sascha’s song, and actually, the idea was already written for the last album. But we never had a chance to find a verse, and honestly, I had no time these days because I had to rearrange and finish the other ideas, which has been too much work to bring in another song and even another song and another song. At the end of the day, you have to concentrate on 13, 14 songs of the album. But the idea was always great, and finally, he did it for this album, and I like the lyrics. It is every day’s hero; actually, it could be named as well. After all, it’s like describing like even people on the street begging for a penny here and a mother of three kids, who still have three jobs because somehow she has to bring food on the table. That’s actually going about that, so I like the whole idea.
We already talked about “Battle’s Won” I have written down that it has a strong ’80s vibe, and there’s some old school “Keeper” spirit on that song.
Definitely, and it’s a typical Weiki. But as we already discussed, songs like these need so much time, and it eats so much time, it’s unbelievable. Because when you really listen to them… you know… let your second voice, your third voice and then the fifth voice, even up there and then you get more.
“My God-Given Right” sounds like early ’90s Helloween, and it could have been included on MASTER OF THE RINGS. And I’m saying that in a positive way. “Laughs”
Absolutely, yeah. That was the intention, and I had to build the bridges. That’s what I did with “My God-Given Right” and “Lost in America,” but “Lost in America” even to build a little better bridge to the typical ’80s pop-metal stuff they did on the KEEPER OF THE SEVEN KEYS, like “Future World,” “I Want Out.” Which has so much love, and the point is that when I joined Helloween, everybody thought, there is that glam rock guy who is joining a metal band now. But honestly, I never saw Helloween as a metal band only, because there were these great tunes like “Dr. Stein” and “Future World” and “I Want Out.” For me, it was pop-metal, and I knew exactly I could write pop-metal because that’s what I come from. Being a Kiss fan, I’m automatically a pop-metal guy. It feels very natural to write these Pink Cream – Helloween metal thing and some anthem songs like how I started on the MASTER OF THE RINGS.
“My God-Given Right” is definitely one of those great pop metal tracks.
Then we have the “Stay Crazy,” which is probably the most pop-Helloween song you’ve ever done?
Yeah, that should have been on the early Pink Cream 69 album. But I like the positive vibe, and it has that happy, happy Helloween thing. It’s still there. Even though it probably more a Pink Cream song, one of the harder Pink Cream songs would have been YES! But it’s still got this vibe from the MASTER OF THE RINGS again.
We already talked about “Lost in America,” which is another strongly ’80s vibe song. And it’s another pop-metal song but with some heavier twist?
It’s about pop melodies, and it’s actually a little bit of “I Want Out,” a little bit of “Future World.” It gives you that vibe, but probably a more brutal riffing. That’s a fifth, five, four, and six, four rhythms. The rhythm is definitely not commercial at all, but you don’t realize it. You just bang your head, and you don’t realize it as time changes and whatever.
“Russian Roulé” is a heavy but groovy rocker. A good song with more serious lyrics. What does the title “Russian Roulé” actually mean?
Yeah, the funny thing was that we loved the story. Actually, it’s not Russian roulette; it’s “Russian Roulé.” It’s a game of words. It is roulette like the typical French Roulette and Roulé Rock N Roll. Because it’s actually a lyrical again about my life, and that was a decision when I even came up with the idea. Okay, it’s my fucking God-given right to do what I want to do with my life. So I went out and played, “Come out and play Russian Roulé.” For me, it was roulette to do Rock N Roll. So either it works or not, when you go out. I’m quite aware that, for example, for me, it would have been a dream to start in Scandinavia because over here, there is so much done for music. When you told in Germany, when you told the people or your parents or the authority you actually want to make your money, you live with music. They looked at you like; are you crazy? Maybe we should call the guys with the white jackets. For me, it felt like doing something like roulette, “Russian Roulé,” to do Rock N Roll. Then I saw this roulé, and I said it’s coming from roulette and roulé, like R-O-U-L-E-R, Rock N Roll. I thought that’s a nice word. To twist the words.
When I first saw the title, I thought it was a misspelling “Laughs.”
No, no. It’s a mixture, half French.
The next track is the heaviest track on the album, “The Swing of a Fallen World.” You mentioned it’s “the Black Sabbath song” of Helloween, and I totally agree with that.
Yeah, you should look at it like that because it’s so primitive, and just actually, I’m giving you the kick with the sound—that metal swing. I really loved it when I recorded it, and I honestly did not know in the beginning what I wanted to do with that, but it sounded so brutal. Even on the demo, it was like pumping, yeah then automatically, there come in some ideas, and you record some vocals. At the end of the day, I thought… “The Swing of a Fallen World.” In itself, why not? Live it. It doesn’t need any other riff reign or bigger pop.
“Like Everybody Else” is the first ballad you’ve released for a while. It’s probably one of Sascha’s songs?
Yeah, that’s Sascha. Like with “Heroes,” we already recorded its drums and bass for the last album. But on the last album, it would not have fit at all. That song would not have fit on the STRAIGHT OUT OF HELL album. Though it’s a good song, I like it. If you need ballads, we know that sometimes we have female people in the audience, and we didn’t have a ballad since four albums. So it was time to put something on the album, and that sounds like a ballad.
“Creatures of Heaven,” like we have discussed, almost everything is there. Great riffs, harmonies, and even the Hammonds. And like you said, it’s Weiki at his best.
We don’t have to say more about it. Then we have “If God Loves Rock N Roll,” which is… for some reason, it reminds me about Kiss. Am I totally lost here? “Laughs.”
Yeah, I’m a Kiss fan. “Laughs.” I always try to actually bring a song that reminds me of Kiss and creates a bridge to Helloween, and I think that works fine here.
“Living on the Edge” gives me a strong 80’s vibe, and there’s definitely some Judas Priest in there…
A little bit Judas, a little bit of all the influences Markus grew up with. It’s a typical Markus tune. It’s easy-going, some typical Helloween trademarks, showing where it comes from. Maybe not his best song, but for my taste, it’s got a little magic.
It’s a good fit on the album, yeah. Then we have the third Weiki song, “Claws.”
That’s Weiki going weird, that’s Weiki going really weird. But when you go through the lyrics and listen to the song, it makes much more sense.
That song could have been on any of the last four or five albums?
Yes. It’s a good filler. No, it’s not a bad song. But it’s definitely a filler.
The last song, it’s just majestic. “You, Still of War.” It’s definitely one of the strongest songs on the album.
“You, Still of War,” yeah. It’s Helloween going serious. That’s a very serious song. Bombs speaking to the last survivor of mankind, so it’s a very brutal theme, actually. This could automatically happen if we step time back where we came from. Because we all grew up during the ’80s, and the new generation doesn’t even know about all those things, about a feeling that we had with all Russian and American nuclear shit going on. Actually, sometimes we in Germany thought that, okay, if something happens, we are wiped off from the map anyway because when a war takes place, it would be somewhere in mid-Europe, and mid-Europe is Germany. Hence, we all grew up with the knowledge that tomorrow could be the last. But yeah, again, it’s Helloween going serious.
You have been working with Charlie Bauerfeind since 2000, and he seems to be your trusted man. Sometimes, bands say that a long-time producer becomes like a band member. Is that the case with Charlie?
When it comes to production, definitely, yeah, he’s definitely together with the people in the management. They are the people we more or less trust for the given reason that we try to avoid killing ourselves because of that baby that every musician has in his heart. As I said, each song you write as a musician is a baby, and you love it to death. So I would not like to be the one inside the band to tell my fellow band member that my song is better than his, which sounds stupid. You shouldn’t do that, but then, on the other hand, we all know that we are forced to do that if there are no trusted people around us. So you have to do that battle. You have to fight that battle inside the band, which is never good.
When I first heard the album, I was positively surprised about the sound, because to be honest, the last four or five albums sounded a bit generic. But this is different. Was it something that you wanted to do?
We try to avoid that nice to-be-nice to-the-ear effect of the nowadays digital shit. The digital world’s problem is that everything is sounding very harsh, so you normally don’t have a chance to smoothen it up with saturations or something like that. That we normally used to do in the analog world or automatically happens when you record it on tape. Nowadays, with digital technology, the problem is that a guitar sometimes sounds so nasty, but not in a positive way, nasty, but really ugly and bad in specific frequencies. The digital domain does not saturate it. That’s not saturation. Yeah, plugins and some shit like that, but they only simulate. At the end of the day, they do not do the job right, so what we tended to do with last year is smooth that frequency-wise in the digital recording. So cut it, high cut it, for example. But these are actually very important frequencies in Rock N Roll music, but now with the digital domain, sometimes it sounds so bad that you just have to cut it.
In many cases, the producer uses too much “stuff,” and music doesn’t breathe anymore.
It doesn’t breathe at all; it’s gone. So Charlie now has brand new gear, which did the job. So it is half analog recorded, and actually, you capture everything, which is normally not good in the digital. We capture it before digitizing, and this is like compressor stuff from API. If you are interested in technique, then he has this lovely new analog-to-digital converter. It’s a fortune, that’s the shit. It’s just two channels for a Mercedes, but it does the job. You’ll listen to it, and you’ll go like, okay. All these ugly frequencies, which normally sound not so good, suddenly sound great again. Like this aggression one, and suddenly you have the possibility to give it a more twist and turn as we did in the ’80s to these upper frequencies, which are nasty but pleasant to the ear for a metalhead and hated by non-metal heads. That’s technique stuff that I think will become better in the following years, and I’m glad to say that. They did a lot for us, metalheads. So far, the digital domain was actually for every music, but the metal was always… a compromise.
Before Charlie, you worked for a long time with Tommy Hansen, a producer of the classic era, the KEEPER albums, and stuff, and he also produced your first Helloween album, MASTER OF THE RINGS. If you compare those two guys, what is the most significant difference between working with them?
The most significant difference these days, and the decision to actually change, was the digital shit because suddenly you had to go digital because you couldn’t or did not want to come up with a budget for an analog studio anymore. Record companies didn’t pay you that much money anymore, so you had to calculate. When you sit down and calculate, the decision is always made for a digital studio at the end of the day. Because at the end of the day, it’s one-third of the price of an analog studio, talking about way back in time ’94, ’96. We started actually in ’98 to think digital, ’98 when the turn came to digital. Tommy was never that much into digital, so suddenly, you see yourself not having the budget anymore. On the other hand, you have a producer who wants to have analog recording and decide. Do you want to afford an analog recording? Though worldwide records sales of every style and genre of music go down to hell, you have to compensate, and that’s what we did these days. We decided on Charlie, who was completely in the digital domain and honestly much cheaper.
The press release says that this Helloween’s 30th Anniversary year, although this is actually the 31st year if we are strict… “Laughs.”
If you are strict, that’s the 31st year for “the boys,” and it is the 20th year for me, 21st now. I’m running in the 21st now.
And it’s also the 10th year for the current line-up?
10th for this lineup.
So there’s plenty of stuff to celebrate if wanted. Do you have any plans to do something special because of all these numbers?
Yeah! We will kick out the drummer and… “Laughs” Actually, we don’t like that much celebration stuff. It sounds like a sellout always. Because too many people, or bands, are to celebrate the new best-of album and the new celebration album forward, actually you are just set to come up with a new compilation and ask for more money from your fans. I hate that shit.
And you just had your 25th Anniversary…
We had to do that when we were with Sony; for example, we had this UNARMED album. I thought it was such a bad idea from the record company to do something like that, and actually, they raped us to do it. It wasn’t a secret. I told the press from the beginning that I don’t like this album at all. You know, if I would like to have an acoustic album, I would have bought an acoustic guitar in the first place. What did I buy? An electric guitar. So what is this for me? Rape. I didn’t like it at all. It was nice to sing this shit and actually show myself that I’m capable of doing that, not hiding behind the metal music but being the main instrument with the voice and front of everybody else. But that’s it, that’s it. I don’t like the idea of being a metal band and then put out acoustic versions of your music. I would have done that in the first place if that would have been my intention of the music my heart beats for, but it’s not. So why should I do it and I’m never going to do it again. I think it’s a big celebration that we have a great lineup, and we are here. Each record in the last 10-year scale gave us a step more. That’s for us the biggest celebration, still being there on the way up. So this really unbelievable, if you think about the style of music, we’re doing. This is just such a small genre. I never thought it possible, actually.
SETLIST, TOUR TALK, AND “THE HELLOWEEN FAMILY TOUR”?
Because this is a kind of back to the roots album, does it mean that there will be some obscure additions on the setlist?
Yes, I guess so. At least we want to try. We have even from the WALLS OF JERICHO. We have some songs on hold. But I would not tell you now. We will definitely play this or that song because first we have to listen to it, and we want to go and try, check it out. One week rehearsal then recording it, listen to it and very often you go like; cool, let’s do it. Or it sounds like shit, don’t do it. So that has to be heard first.
I think that the old songs must be chosen really carefully. Because when you sing the old songs, some fans will say that it doesn’t sound like it was originally.
I’m not concerned too much about that, because it’s quite natural. I have to sing for three singers, including myself. Indeed, you can’t be everyone’s darling, and this problem always goes on. One of very mighty, great singers of the world like Sammy Hagar, and they give him shit for singing David Lee Roth songs, not the way David Lee Roth sang the songs. What the fuck are you talking about? This is Sammy Hagar, so he interprets music in his style, voice, and way and how his heart beats for. So you can’t be everyone’s darling. I always try to do my best and please myself because I think it’s much more important than you. During the show, see in the audience that this block out there has fun. I think that’s much more important if it’s the same way Michael or Kai did it these days. No, certainly not. But yeah, in every respect, I have to give you right. That’s what I said. That’s why we’re listening to it. Is the music cool enough, is the singer fitting to it that you say; okay, it still sounds good. Very often, you have to say no, it doesn’t. I can sing it exactly in an even more professional way, but it’s not Rock N Roll there. There are some from WALLS OF JERICHO, and mainly when Kai sings them, he sings so sloppy and sometimes bad. I can’t copy that, but on the other hand, if you sing it well, there is no magic anymore. So you have to sing it the sloppy Rock N Roll way, that’s got the magic touch, and sometimes I’m not capable of reproducing that magic touch Rock N Roll sloppy bad singing. Which is the music doesn’t sound as bad at all, it sounds great. The combination, that’s Rock N Roll. Sometimes you make noise, and the noise sounds great, you don’t know why it’s, and sometimes you can reproduce it because you are having another noise, another form of chaos. Which also sounds good, or sometimes it just doesn’t work at all.
What kind of actual tour plans do you have already> I know you are coming to Finland in June, but how about the rest?
The tour itself now starts on the 3rd of June, and we are going through, I think, 20 something festivals, and I think the last festival will have a beginning in the middle of November in Indonesia, then we call it a day. There are some festivals, each festival eating four or five days just to get there and play and come back, like, for example, Indonesia loses at least four days just for one festival. Then I just hope that we next year start with South America, will be the one solution and not to go to Europe in January to see whether they’re waiting through the snow again. No, please not. “Laughs”
Have you still been thinking about doing a package tour which would include all living Helloween members and their bands and do something together as well?
It’s been on the table actually since KEEPER 3 THE LEGACY (2005). When we played in Japan, I was asked if I would think about getting all the members back on stage, and I said it would be fine for me. Because I see the big picture like the fans, they would probably enjoy the shit out of it. Imagine two singers would mean at least two and a half, three-hour show. Going through all the decades could be something. I would never say no to it, but let’s see how Michael Kiske… In case he ever thinks about singing metal again, officially. But yeah, never say never. I think it would be great.
But he’s making metal music now with Unisonic and Avantasia?
Yeah, officially not. It’s always a funny story. But we are all getting older, and we are all getting cooler. So why not? I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t do that in the future. It would be nice to do it soon, as long as we are still up and running and healthy and everybody is capable of having fun without any torture and that shit. Maybe in 10 or 15 years, you are standing up there at the age of Ronnie James Dio, and I’m not quite sure if I would be capable of doing a great job in 15 years. Now, I still can, and I know Michael still can, so it would be time to do it in the next few… In the next few years, it should happen, if it happens. But if you ask me, I’m absolutely open to that. It would be the time of my life because imagine you could sing a song, and then you go up off stage to have a smoke and…
And see your own band playing. “Laughs”
See your own band, and then go on stage again. That’s another experience, which probably would be great.
That sounds like a surrealistic thing to do. “Laughs”
No, yes, and no. I always dreamt about singing in a band with two singers, remember I’m a Kiss fan. “Laughs,” But for me, it’s always been a dream to actually sing a song than listen to the bass players sing the song, then I sing again. Then we sing a song together as Kiss does, this was always my dream. Ending up in the band, I was starting with a band like Pink Cream 69 and ended up in a band like Helloween, where you are always the lead singer and not even allowed to touch a guitar. This has not been in my head, actually. It’s not been in my mind that way. But today, I’m still happy. It’s okay.
Last year you turned 50 years old. How does it feel?
I thought when I become 50; the roof falls on my head, or some big bird shits on my head, or whatever. But nothing happened. Nothing happened at all. I have friends of mine who went and fell into depression and whatever and still are having depression. But I think that life makes you old, if you lead a life that makes you old, that’s probably your own problem then. We are in a fortunate situation that we have a profession that keeps you young or at least younger. So speaking from my friends of the older days. They sometimes don’t have a chance to lead a young life because if you have to go to a 9:00 to 5:00 job every day, there is no chance to stay young in mind. Actually, you don’t even have the possibility to do it; even if you would like to do it, you have no connection. Being in a Rock N Roll business, you always have a connection to the younger people. Suddenly, you see 15, 16, 17 years old people in your audience and your fans. Indeed, you speak with them, and you get this connection, you get certainly the knowledge, and you get an idea of their way of thinking, which keeps you going. Then I have a son who is only 23 now, which is because we started young. This gives me a lot of young blood too and not stop thinking and not stop to try to understand what they are about, and sometimes you realize when you really sit down and talk an hour or so. You realize actually it’s the same shit that we had. It’s more or less the same shit. To be open and remember that we have been the same gives you a dare out that push to be exactly like that. Because you dare to have the same dreams though you are not 20 anymore. But why should I stop dreaming the way 20 years old does?
I thank God that we were born into a time of peace. We had the chance to actually look forward to our lives without being worried that the next war is starting or whatever. Educationally we’ve been kind of raised much, much easier. Nobody gave us handcuffs like they did, like born in the ’30s or something like that. You have been in the establishment, and then you had to follow. If you were a German, you probably had to go military career, no other way. There was no possibility. If you didn’t do it, you were the asshole of the nation, and everybody kicked your ass. It was actually great when we were living in, where we were born, so we should be very thankful for that.
You have been living in Tenerife for over 18 years. What kind of life do you have there compared to Germany?
It’s very peaceful and easy to the point that your life is still there. You still have to go through the daily troubles wherever you live, so then it’s a European law, unfortunately. When we first came there, like some 18 years ago, there were so many things not regulated. Much more freedom and now with Brussels doing stupid laws in every corner of our lives, I feel for me; personally, it’s going too far, and probably they are bored there. Otherwise, I can’t explain all these stupid laws they are committing and what they are actually doing. Life is still great in Tenerife, but not as great as it used to be some 18 years ago. So if it goes on like that in the next 10 years with regulations and even more Europeanizing the shit out of it, then I’m off to Seychelles.
But living in Tenerife is currently still more comfortable than in Germany?
Yes, it’s definitely much easier than in Germany. Absolutely right, but 18 years later, we are back in Tenerife where we used to be in Germany some 18 years ago. And this is not perfect, actually. As I told you, if it goes on like that, my next goal is already set, off to the other Islands, and definitely, it will be Seychelles. I love Seychelles, and it’s got democracy. They are actually having more or less the same education that we have. It is not that I am too much into religious shit, but it gives security to the people there. Have the same education that we do, and there is like 96% Catholic education. So at least you don’t do any harm, or you don’t speak any bad, or it’s without even realizing that you do. For example, when I go to Japan, I love Japanese. But in there, you always have to keep your mouth shut because you really don’t know if you kick somebody’s ass and not even knowing it. You are sometimes harming by saying something, and you don’t even realize that you did say something bad. Because between us Europeans, nobody gives a shit about it, you make your jokes, and everybody laughs because we have the same common education, more or less. There, sometimes you have some very questioning looks like; what the fuck are you talking about? So I would always try to look for a country where there is more or less similar education, and yeah, religion-wise the same, same as what we went through. This is strange, but it’s definitely there.
When you did the latest solo album MILLION DOLLAR HAIRCUTS ON TEN CENT HEADS (2013), you used local musicians. How is metal doing in Tenerife?
There is a little metal scene, but it’s not like in mainland Europe that you only have a metal band. They have to fight actually to play. They found out if they played in the metal band and played in the blues band and played in a funk rock band. They have more chance to actually have a gig here and there because it’s Islands. So it’s very limited. So playing in more bands gives you a chance to actually stand on stage sometimes and maybe even make some money, but that’s nearly impossible. The only people making money are top 40 or dedicated bands, as a friend of mine. They started like four months ago with the Queen Band, a cover band. It works fine because there are many English blokes there in the south, and they love to listen to Queen Music. They do a rather good job, so they are booked. If you want to make money, you will probably not make it with your own music. As I said, you have a metal band. That’s what your heart beats for. But on the other hand, you have a band probably doing top 40 or whatever, just to stand on stage and make some money and other funk rock band and whatever it is you try to do. I know in Germany, for example, my fellow musician friends and me, we are all concentrated on our band, nothing else. That’s not possible there.
I understand. But hey, now our time is up. Thanks once again, Andi!
No problem. See you on tour!