Interview For Paranoia Metal Show Site (05/08/99)
Helloween, besides keeping alive the flame of their own legend, has members very able to take high standing parallel projects, as Mr. Roland Grapow, who has recently edited his second album "Kaleidoscope". In this interview, he says clearly that he won't sell his soul do the devil (if he haven't did it yet).
How springed up this super band you've formed to record "Kaleidoscope", with people from bands like Grave Digger, Yngwie Malmsteen, Axel Rudi Pell...?
Axel Rudi Pell? Ah, Ferdy! Well, after my first album I was thinking about how to do things in the future, because in the first album there were two musicians from Helloween, Ferdy, and I sang myself. But after thinking of it twice, that of singing, I realized that although I'm not a bad singer, it'd be better to let this work to any other person. The main idea was to create a band in which everything sound really well. After seeing Mike Terrana with Yngwie Malmsteen in Hamburg, 1994, I thought "Whoa, this guy is really good!", and that's why I chose him. But in any case to copy Yngwie Malmsteen.
How would you define this new album "Kaleidoscope" comparing it to the previous work "The Four Seasons Of Life"?
Well I think it's an album... I don't know if you know "The Four Seasons Of Life"... So, "The Four..." was an album very influenced by classical music. In the beginning, "Kaleidoscope" wasn't such an ambicious project, I wrote all the songs thinking about a real band as I do in Helloween, I didn't want to stay just as the guitar player in front of a band, but something more composed by little contributions of each member of that band.
Recently you're composing less songs for Helloween and more for yourself. What does that mean, are you getting bored with Helloween or what?
Bored, no, this is not the right word. I wrote for Helloween songs that are included on "Kaleidoscope" because Helloween didn’t want them. But after seeing the result they've said "Please, write songs for Helloween!", and I will.
After working for so long during Helloween's tours, how do you prefer to work even more with this project than to stay at home having a rest?
I was working so hard during the last January, February and March with Helloween recording in my studio, that this tour, besides sleeping in the bus or whatever you want, is being like a holiday for me.
What season of his life is living Roland Grapow nowadays, musically?
Good question. Maybe already in Autumn. I’m fucking old. Or maybe late Summer.
We use to ask the bands we interview about which one is their favourite beer, so which is yours and is it the same that your cats Oskar and Felix drink?
The cats? No, I don't think so. I don't think the cats in Germany drink beer. But my dog do it. The one I prefer is "Brünnerburgah", made near Hamburg. The spanish beer is good, although I don't know it very well, I only know that its name is "cerveza".
You've played in front of many different crowds, so which ones do you prefer?
The mediterranean audience and the south american are quite better than the german and the japanese ones. They like very much the music and they buy the albums, but they're excessively quiet, every time you finish a song they applause, but that's all.
Why do you have began the tour here, considering that the album was not released yet? Don't you feel in disadvantage with the other bands that are playing tonight?
Well, the Gamma Ray guys demanded us if we wanted to go on the european tour with them, and I said ok, that I'll love it, but the album wasn't on the stores yet. It was supposed to see the reaction of the crowd with the new songs and the new band, because all is new in the band. Until now we've played in Netherland and the result has been very good.
Why don’t you sing in this new album?
Because everybody told me I sing like shit.
What's heavy metal for you: a feeling and art or a business?
For me, heavy metal is what bands like Helloween, Stratovarius, Gamma Ray and Blind Guardian do, making great guitar solos and these things. I still don't like the extreme part of metal. Business? Do you know what means business to me? I'm here and I pay with my own money all the tour, because the album is not on sale yet and the label doesn't support the band until the album is released. And I do it all to play, because I love to play. I'm losing my money here.
You've said before that this is the third gig on this tour. How it will continue, will you participate in any festivals?
We'll play tomorrow in Bergara, then in Nüremberg. After that we'll have a rest for two weeks and then we have a festival in Paris. Next to that we go to South America and Japan maybe, and then we'll play in the Wacken Open Air festival.
How grew up Roland Grapow as a guitar player?
First of all, I was influenced by Mark Farmer, guitar player and singer. Because of that I began to play guitar. I was also very influenced by Michael Schenker. Later, I formed a band and the other guitar player, who was better than myself, taught me lots of things. I also went to guitar classes for three months, but the teacher told my father to put me out of there because I hadn't any musical talent. I had to learn german folkloric songs and I hated it. I don't know anything about music reading, I don't need it.
Do you play any Helloween song in the concerts?
Well, I want to concentrate the setlist on our latest album. We don't play any songs of my first album because we had a different line up. And we play "The Chance" from Helloween.
How do you do to mix up speed metal and classical stuff, and make the result still being metal sounding?
I think metal is not so far from classical music. I simply take the classical melodies and play them with the electric guitar, and that's all. I think it's quite easy and they suit perfectly.