Interview For Daniela's Attic Site
I went to Gothenburg with my good friend and photographer Beatrice, to meet Roland Grapow and Markus Grosskopf of Helloween. It took a little while to find the hotel they were staying at, 'cause as it turned out, it was actually a boat out in an industrial area, sort of...
When we arrived, there were barely any people there, except for the receptionist and the cleaning lady who was vacuuming the diner room. Just as we were about to ask the girl in the reception where we could find the gentlemen we were looking for, I saw a person with a large amount of hair in the restaurant. Next to him was a young lady with piercings and red colored hair, which led me to believe that we had found our "victims".
Right there, in the noise of a vacuum-cleaner were Markus and the lady from the press agency. My first thought was how on earth I could conduct an interview in all that noise, but the receptionist told the cleaning lady to take a break. I guess she was pretty happy with the solution too!
Just as I was about to begin, another very sleepy rocker appeared and joined us. Well, good morning Roland! It's only noon, but I hope you slept well! Haha! What I had in front of me now was two hungover rockers who were still sleepy and kind of wished they were anywhere except where they were. And boy were they in for a surprise!
They expected the usual "producer and tell me about the album" questions only where they could just hit "auto reply" and not have to think so much. So, what I had in front of me when I asked those "unusual" questions were two sleepy, hungover, panicking rockers who looked like "Nobody told us we had to think too! Help!".
When the question about changing history came, they kind of looked at each other as if to get help from the colleague. I felt a little sorry for the guys, I was the first journalist they had to deal with that morning. And I can only imagine what it must have felt like! But hey, the interview went well, so far so good! I hope you enjoy it, and if you stick around for a few more days, we'll give you the pix too. Now, read on!
Daniela: So, can you tell me what you've been up to the past few months?
Markus Grosskopf: Oh, it's just been recording, recording, recording... Doing some interviews, you know, keep on feeding the "machinery" and getting prepared for the tour.
Daniela: When is the tour?
Markus Grosskopf: January, maybe. And possibly some shows in December, around Christmas, doing some shows, but it's not a final decision yet. We're going to tour across Europe, Asia, South America, maybe America... We'll start in mid-January, I think.
Daniela: What can you tell me about the album, how does it sound?
Markus Grosskopf: You haven't heard it yet?
Daniela: No. I haven't had time, unfortunately.
Roland Grapow: It sounds... incredible. No, honestly, it's like, uh, a new band. Like Helloween but much more tight sounding, very good sound on the drums. We wanted to have a more modern sound for Helloween, and I think that the producer team did a great job. And of course the band as well..!
Daniela: So you're happy with it?
Roland Grapow: Oh yeah, definitely, yeah. The first time that I'm happy with the sound of the band.
Daniela: If you compare it to some of your old albums, like "Keeper Of The Seven Keys"...
Roland Grapow: Well, the style of Helloween is still there.
Markus Grosskopf: You will still feel the pumpkin in there. There are some things that are different, but we like to do things different sometimes. We wanted to do this differently altogether this time, including a new producer, or in this case, a producer team. Some guys who'd give us some ideas, some fresh ideas.
Daniela: Where do you yourselves get inspiration for your songs? Is it from other bands or from totally different things that don't really have anything to do with music? Like, things in the "real world"...
Roland Grapow: I'd say that sometimes I'm inspired by other bands, of course, but I like to listen to different music, not the same Helloween sounding bands. I never listen to that. That is too boring for me. I mean, for me it's nonsense to listen to bands who are copying Helloween. I'm not going to mention any names. I mean, of course I check them out, but I want to listen to bands that I can learn something new from. But listening to bands that sound like us is like taking a step back, you know. We want to take a step forward.
Daniela: There are bands that are trying to copy your style, what exactly do you think about that?
Markus Grosskopf: I think it's good, they're doing a good job, I mean we couldn't do it any better! That's why we decided to do things different this time. Being the same like before, but on another level. Sounding different but still with the Helloween style.
Daniela: If you could pick three songs each from this album that you like the most...
Markus Grosskopf: Well, that would be not fair to all the other songs. They're all still fresh in your mind. The other songs would cry, they're very sensitive. Well, "Mr. Torture"...
Roland Grapow: Yeah, "Mr. Torture" for me because it's representing the typical Helloween style on one song, perfectly. If you should pick one song of the album to get an idea of what we sound like now, then you should check out "Mr. Torture".
Daniela: According to a fan who heard the album, the song "Mirror, Mirror..." sounds heavier than the other songs. How come?
Markus Grosskopf: Well, this is also a production thing, 'cause we kept the sound very "dry". Not overloaded with many reverbs, echo here and echo there... So, yeah, it's giving something else to the Helloween sound.
Daniela: Have you heard about the Napster case?
Markus Grosskopf: Yeah, everybody heard about it!
Daniela: What's your opinion about this whole business with MP3, the trading of music on the Internet and stuff?
Roland Grapow: I hate it. Not as much as Metallica, that I would have the wish to sue somebody, but it's not good for any band. And it's good when Metallica is doing something for all these other bands. They don't need to do it for themselves, 'cause they're selling millions of records anyway. But it's good for all the other bands, the smaller bands, that they're sueing, because maybe it's fun for the fans to have a record downloaded months or weeks before it's released you know, but it's not good for the band because we need the money to be able to do a good production, you know? I mean, Helloween is a well known band, but nobody realizes that we have trouble going out on the road. Everybody says "Oh, come to Sweden!" but we don't have the money because people are downloading from the internet!
Markus Grosskopf: I think it doesn't affect a big band like Metallica, or Guns N' Roses, big bands like that, but it will affect a band like Helloween or Stratovarius. And newer bands who just released a record who maybe won't even have the chance to make it, 'cause they're not selling enough records because of the trading of MP3 over the internet.
Daniela: But some people say that it's the other way around, people hear music that they wouldn't have heard otherwise, and then buy it. You don't think it could be like that?
Markus Grosskopf: Andi had a good idea to this subject. He said it would be fair if, I mean, I don't know 'cause I'm not much on the net, but he said you should get the chance to pay something for what you're downloading, and then if you really like it, pay at least a little bit for it, you know. Just give the bands some attention and a chance to grow.
Daniela: So, basically, you think that bands are losing on this, with Napster and MP3?
Roland Grapow: Yeah, I think so. I saw on the homepage that almost everybody already had the record, 'cause they downloaded it. I mean, it's good, I guess, but not for us [Laughs]!
Daniela: If you hadn't formed Helloween, what other band would you have liked to have been in?
Markus Grosskopf: Thin Lizzy.
Roland Grapow: I don't know... I think Journey or Foreigner. When I grew up I would have said Grand Funk Railroad.
Markus Grosskopf: Wishbone Ash, I like them a lot. But they don't exist anymore, do they [Laughs]?
Daniela: If you had a time machine, where would you go?
Markus Grosskopf: Back to Hamburg [Laughs]! It would be nice to hang out with Genghis Khan just for a day, just for the Halloween [Laughs].
Roland Grapow: I like the seventies. Not because everything was better or anything, but that was the time when you really learned and were inspired by music. Everything around you kinda... found you. You were more open-minded back then when you were younger. I was 17, 18 and it was cool, much more fun!
Markus Grosskopf: There are many things you could do. It would be cool to just go back and say hello to Jesus. Or hang out with Phil Lynott a bit...
Daniela: What historical event would you have liked to change?
Roland Grapow: The World War II... Germany should have won the war! No! Don't write that! I'm just kidding! You hear, I was just joking [Laughs]!
Daniela: How do you think things would have looked like today if you had been able to change World War II for instance? What would have been different today?
Markus Grosskopf: Well, I would have seen my grandpa for instance... Of course it would be different.
Daniela: If your house caught fire, what three things would you save first?
Roland Grapow: My cat, my dog and my wife!
Markus Grosskopf: You mean, your first cat, your second cat and then "Uh... the dog or my wife?" [Laughs]. My wife, my Macintosh and a bass guitar.
Daniela: So what can your fans expect to see when you hit the road early next year?
Markus Grosskopf: This time they can expect a two hour show, 'cause this time we're going to headline.
Daniela: Are you going to concentrate on the new material or on the older stuff?
Markus Grosskopf: We're going to play maybe 3 or 4 songs from the new album, and loads of stuff from the other albums. It's not always easy to decide what you're gonna do, you know, but...
Roland Grapow: It's not easy to make a good running order. I've always been against playing too many songs from the new album. We have so many great songs from the past, so why play 8 songs from a new album that people maybe don't know yet? If you have 14 songs to play, I think most of them should be stuff that people recognize.
Markus Grosskopf: We try to pick something from each record.
Daniela: Halloween is coming up soon. Are you celebrating it in any special way?
Markus Grosskopf: Yeah, this year we're celebrating it with a release party in Hamburg, a great party. You know, we're inviting record company people and journalists and stuff...
Daniela: Are you going to be dressed up?
Roland Grapow: Uh, no...
Markus Grosskopf: We'll do it naked. We're having this swinger club atmosphere, you know [Laughs].
Roland Grapow: I'll be wearing my rockstar outfit.
Daniela: Do you usually celebrate Halloween in any particular way?
Markus Grosskopf: I went to a club in Hamburg last year, where people go dressed up. It was quite fun.
Daniela: So you're not really into the "dress up" thing?
Roland Grapow: Nah, not really...
Markus Grosskopf: Do you like to get dressed up at Halloween?
Daniela: Yeah! Well, that's the whole point, isn't it [Laughs]?
Roland Grapow: I think it depends a little where you're from. We're from Hamburg, and people there like to party, but there are certain parts of Germany where they like to dress up crazy, like in Cologne or "Octoberfest" in Munich, but...
Daniela: People in Hamburg don't get dressed up?
Markus Grosskopf: Oh yeah, last year we had vampires running around all over the place with artificial blood and all. But we don't do that.