Interview For Rag Doll's Metal Industry Site (05/25/01)
This was a truly remarkable event. Not only because we saw the musicians, asked them questions, took pictures and got our CDs autographed, but also because the news conference, that took place at the Rok-Vegas bar the day before the show, featured the first ever meeting of all Metal Kings staffers living in Moscow. A day to remember, isn't it? Lynx, Dead Ripper and yours truly arrived at the site ten minutes before the scheduled time. Right at the entrance to the bar we were met by Troll, who informed us that the band had just got in. We quickly followed and at once saw the five Helloween members drinking beer and chatting friendly with each other and people in the bar. Everybody in the band turned to be very nice and friendly people, but at first we didn't know it and got a bit lost, not knowing whether to approach Andi or Weiki at once or wait until the end of the news conference. Before we came up with anything, the event started. At least 40 reporters gathered in the bar, and we only got 30 minutes
to ask questions. The situation was worsened by the interpreter, if that girl can be called so. Not only she was totally unaware of the band's career, she tried to interpret huge pieces of spoken information without making any notes, which is grossly unprofessional, as any qualified interpreter would say. As a result, countless mistakes were made and lots of facts were simply distorted. What's worse, those mistakes and distortions got into the press, so the best thing we can do is to let you read the transcript of the news conference in its entirety. Here is what was really said on that day.
Interviewer: Are you going to play old songs at your concert tomorrow?
Andi Deris: You mean all the songs from all the albums? Then we should start now and be ready Saturday. In fact, we're gonna play some songs from all albums, except two of them. We start with "Walls Of Jericho" and go up through "The Dark Ride".
Interviewer: And what are those two albums?
Andi Deris: It's "Chameleon" and "Pink Bubbles Go Ape".
Interviewer: A question to Michael Weikath. Are you still planning to release a solo album?
Michael Weikath: Well, I'm planning but I don't know when. I want it to be a good one so it's gonna take some time. And I don't know when. And it's "waikat", not "weikat".
Interviewer: Will there be any difference between your setlist in Europe and the setlist of your tomorrow's show in Moscow?
Michael Weikath: Actually, it's always so hard to describe, I mean, when I went offstage yesterday, and the others as well, I thought that's really weird, 'cause these questions come up like "What is your favorite place to play?" and when I went off stage yesterday I thought that this is one of our favourite places to play, but we would like to play everywhere, 'cause everybody's different, because here we have the impact that is much more appreciated after the 15 years that we haven't been here, just like you go there as if you've always been.
Andi Deris: Concerning the setlist, it's more or less the one that we play on the world tour. We did not exactly change something for Russia, and we will not definitely change anything for South America, it's just the setlist that we run through, we started with in Japan, Korea and Taiwan, and the whole Europe and now in Russia, because we're lazy.
Interviewer: A question to Markus Grosskopf. I know that you play in a blues band just for fun. Haven't you been invited to play on a record of some famous blues man?
Markus Grosskopf: Concerning the blues I just do it sometimes, my favourite blues musician was Walter Trout, but anyway this band is not existing anymore, I got another project. Always when I'm at home and I got nothing to do I get some friends together to play in little bars and clubs.
Interviewer: Who is the true author of the name Helloween?
Andi Deris: It was our former drummer Ingo. Have you seen the movie "Halloween"? He got the name from it.
Interviewer: I've seen a lot of reports on your gigs from the current tour on the Internet and they all say that you don't play the song "If I Could Fly" during the shows. Why is that and will you play it tomorrow?
Andi Deris: If we don't play it tomorrow it's simply because we did not rehearse it that much. We didn't expect that it would be successfully going on all over the place, it was meant for Germany mainly, and suddenly everywhere it's in big demand. But this wasn't before January, before we rehearsed, and then we went on tour, and it's like Helloween here, Helloween there and there wasn't much time to do a good job on "If I Could Fly".
Interviewer: A question to Andi Deris and Markus Grosskopf. Have you compared your emotions from participation in Avantasia and Ayreon?
Markus Grosskopf: Yes, so what was the question about it? No, I think they shouldn't be compared, as Avantasia is just a really classical kind of heavy metal, you know, and Ayreon is more progressive, there is a lot more Hammond, more old-fashioned type, 70's influence. Two different things, you can't compare it actually.
Andi Deris: Well, am I supposed to say something? Well the Ayreon thing was that Arjen himself asked Bruce Dickinson and me if we would like to sing on it. That was about it. I got to know him in the studio of his former guitarist with Vengeance, Oscar, because Arjen comes from Vengeance. We just went to Oscar's studio in Holland and recorded two tracks for "Metal Jukebox" and suddenly Arjen said "hello" and if would I like to sing on his record. I said "yes" because I liked the first thing he did. I love this experimental stuff he does, and nobody else does it so far, so I think he is really the one on the whole world market who's trying to build up this atmosphere thing, and he doesn't give a shit if it's 10 or 15 [minutes] long, he just goes from the mood and from the heart, and that's just what we all like about it.
Interviewer: A lot of people see parallels between your latest record "The Dark Ride" and the latest Alice Cooper CD called "Brutal Planet". This concerns both the lyrics and the general atmosphere. Do you think such comparisons are justified?
Markus Grosskopf: I haven't heard that Cooper record. I think you can draw the comparison but I can't explain why. He didn't do it because we did, and we didn't do it because he did. Maybe it's the managements who have similar ideas.
Interviewer: "The Dark Ride" record contains many riffs that are not typical for power metal...
Andi Deris: It's just more or less a swimming-free process, I would say. If you were allowed to do this, and you were allowed to do "Better Than Raw" than for the next record you could easily do a classical typical Helloween album, but still come up with one or two songs that go into "The Dark Ride" or whatever direction, nobody would go that "Ah!". Because sometimes it's very hard not to be narrowed into a certain kind of music, I mean sure we are a speed metal band, this is a true rock / metal band, but still you should have the freedom, at least for one or two songs, to try this or try that, and don't close your eyes off what is coming, new things and stuff like that. If we really love new things, than I think that everybody would like to have these things next to the classical Helloween. If we don't like it we just don't do it.
Interviewer: What do you think about the future of power metal?
Andi Deris: Personally, I think that if classical bands go like this for 10 or 15 years or even longer and don't close their eyes and their ears, and try to combine what is good at the nowadays scene, things will come better. Then I think it will all have a good chance. Otherwise if you just go there and do the same shit that you have ever done like 20 years ago, everybody will say "Ok, it's the same boring shit, I have ten albums of the same music.", that can't be the right way.
Interviewer: Many listeners, especially here in Russia, have noticed slavic influences in your music. Do you listen to anything that is coming from this country?
Michael Weikath: Well, I think, yes, because Kai Hansen, he used to listen to a lot of composers from maybe the east out of his mother's collection, and Roland is a very eastern guy, 'cause his name, Grapow, already indicates he's slavic. I could have been born in east Russia, so I've always had that hint of going east other than anywhere else, so I mean, you gotta count with that. I don't know why one shouldn't do this because it's a pretty close kind of music.
Interviewer: A question to Roland. How did you meet Axel Rudi Pell and what can you say about your participation in the recording of his record "Magic"?
Roland Grapow: How? "Hello! Nice to meet you! What a nice sound! Hmm!". Axel Rudi Pell, I met him about 1996 for the first time. I'd just known him from magazines, of course, and then I'd read in an interview that he likes... In a response to the question "What guitarists do you like from Germany?", he just mentioned my name, so I was really proud of it, and then I just called him, I'd asked for his telephone number. And he played on my first solo record, I played on his. And since then we're friends and all, little friends.
Interviewer: This one goes to Andi as the author of the song "Anything My Mama Don't Like". What does your mother really think about your music?
Andi Deris: My mother doesn't like... anything that I am!
Interviewer: Have you heard the recent "Keepers Of Jericho" tribute record? What do you think of it? Did you like any versions from it?
Uli Kusch: I've heard of it but I couldn't name anything.
Roland Grapow: Ah...
Interviewer: Then have you heard any versions of your songs played by other bands?
Roland Grapow: I didn't understand this question... Can I answer? Well, Metalium, I remember this band because their singer Henne is a friend of ours, he's from Hamburg, and he did a good job. And I didn't like so much... The idea of this [tribute], its concept, because it got involved with the former Helloween manager, kind of manager. So he made a lot of money out of it, and I didn't like the idea because it's a tribute to just the first part of Helloween, only the, you know, "Mark II", the first three or four records. I didn't like it because Helloween is still alive and they should pay a tribute to all the records we did. But maybe they can't because we're too good [Laughs].
Interviewer: The paintings of Frederik Maulert were a Helloween trademark. Why did you stop cooperating with him?
Michael Weikath: That's an easy thing to say. He wanted to continue, but he was on vacation very often. Suddenly he wanted to discover the world a lot more, so he was going on vacations very often. So what happened a few times was that we wanted him to do some projects, but he didn't have the time or we couldn't reach him. Sometimes we really needed this artwork, and he said, "Well, let someone else do it if he doesn't copy my style.". So Rainer Laws is doing it now, he doesn't copy his style, but he's doing his own projects.