Interview For Rock Online Site (June 2001)
Translated By Marcelo Hashimoto
This is the third time Helloween comes to Brazil, but it's their first time as headliners. With more than 15 albums released, Helloween are a german band that has fans all over the planet.
In this exclusive interview by Rock Online, guitarists Michael Weikath and Roland Grapow talk about the new album, the tour, MP3, new metal and a lot more. Check it out!
Rock Online: "The Dark Ride" album has been very well received by the reviewers and the audience. What are the differences between this album and the previous one ["Better Than Raw"]?
Roland Grapow: Well, just to start, we changed producers, now we have Roy Z. And we also changed the sound engineer. This makes a great difference in how the album sounds when it's done.
Rock Online: Who chose the album's name ["The Dark Ride"] and why? Does it refer to a new stage that the band is in?
Roland Grapow: I wrote the song "The Dark Ride" inspired by mankind's current situation. I picked this name for the song and it ended up being the album's name too. It's a heavier, darker and more obscure album.
Rock Online: Which were the band's influences for this album?
Roland Grapow: I can't say exactly, there are a lot of bands nowadays using this kind of inspiration, this theme, specially in America [USA]... But my inspiration always came from other bands, the great bands that I won't mention because there are a lot of them.
Rock Online: What are the lyrics about and who wrote them?
Roland Grapow: We all wrote the song lyrics, they're all like a story. Each one brings a story. It's different from what we did before, because the lyrics were more fantasy-oriented before, these ones are more direct. That was one influence of Roy.
Rock Online: Seems like he changed a lot of things about the band...
Roland Grapow: It was very different making this album, thinking of how the previous ones were made. Roy really influenced us a lot, brought new ideas, thought about lots of details and the whole band worked on this album.
Rock Online: What do you guys think about the Napster deal? Do you support or are against making songs available for free download?
Michael Weikath: Napster is a complicated thing, hard to control and now they did some sort of deal with the big record companies. I thik it's correct paying for downloads officially, but obviously there will be always a way to download it for free, which is very dangerous. It's good for someone who is in... Hmm... Africa, and can't buy our albums, but wants to know what our music sounds like, so he can download one song. This is very good. But we know that's not how it works, the Internet is a very fast thing, people download entire albums, and some of them even sell bootlegs with the songs they got through Internet. I think that's kinda bad, especially for the new bands, who haven't had a chance to hit the charts because they don't sell enough. They need that to grow, to get money support and keep going. On the other hand, it's a good kick in the big record companies' ass, because they earn a lot of money using their bands... I personally think that an album should cost one or two
dollars, so everyone could buy a lot of CD's. People wouldn't even have to download the songs...
Rock Online: Do you have any idea of how many Helloween songs are on Napster, or available for free on the Internet?
Michael Weikath: Everything is on the Internet, on Napster... Everything we have ever done... We don't think this is good...
Rock Online: This is one thing that the [male] fans are very curious about: does the girl on the cover of "Pink Bubbles Go Ape" really exist? Who is she?
Michael Weikath: She was the niece of Storm Ferguson, the guy who did the cover [Note: he worked on several covers for Led Zepellin and Paul McCartney]. We had about three professional models to do that cover, they were already tired and we decided not to take pictures of them, but that girl... She had one kind of a shy look, like an angel.
Rock Online: What do you think about new metal?
Michael Weikath: These are bands who are very sucessful nowadays... Even Sepultura and Pantera has some of those elements. Sepultura's last album is very good. When I heard it, I didn't realize it was Sepultura... It changed, has some new elements.
Roland Grapow: Limp Bizkit is an example of the musical mixture of the last few years. Bring some rap with it, people like it... I like it, I think it's interesting. It's not my favorite style, but I like it.
Rock Online: The current sucessful power metal bands are directly influenced by Helloween. How does that feel in your position?
Michael Weikath: As a member of the band, I think that's interesting and I hope that we keep influencing new bands. I was inspired when I was young, I was inspired by many guitarists...
Rock Online: For example...
Michael Weikath: Michael Schenker and many others... But, back to your question, I think it's important for the bands to keep their own identity. It's good to have influences, but it's good to create your own style.
Roland Grapow: It's dangerous to copy styles that already exist, this happens a lot. Many bands copyed our style, on the Michael Kiske era... If many bands play a similar style, the fans may end up getting tired of it.
Rock Online: Many hard rock and heavy metal bands of the 80's are coming back, doing reunion tours, what do you think about this?
Michael Weikath: If it's a reunion with good results, a good album, a good tour, I think it's great. But when bands return and do a mediocre album...
Roland Grapow: Or a copy of what they did 20 years ago...
Michael Weikath: Then it makes no sense... It's not good at all.
Roland Grapow: There are good bands that sometimes can't make as good albums as they did in the past. Like Journey, Kansas...
Rock Online: What do you think about Brazil? The country and the fans?
Roland Grapow: I really like here... I've already been in São Paulo before and I liked it. Copacabana, in Rio, is also very nice, but I don't know that many places, I need to go to other cities... People here are open-minded, it seems like they really have fun, like they enjoy their lives. I think that I would live here too if I could...
Michael Weikath: I've only come here a few times, but I really liked Rio, it brings me inspiration, the air is good, not just because of the beach, but the place inspires me. I'm a fan of Burt Bacharach and he used to go a lot to Rio to get inspired and to create his melodies, I think I do some of that too...
Rock Online: What do you expect from the gigs here in Brazil?
Roland Grapow: We expect to see a wild crowd screaming, euphoric... Like we're not used to see anywhere else, even in Europe, anywhere.
Michael Weikath: Leave everything in place, in order, please [Laughs]... But you can go wild.
Roland Grapow: Yeah, don't destroy anything... I hope you can enjoy the concert, we want to do our best.
Rock Online: A message to the fans...
Michael Weikath: I hope you can watch a great concert, that you can enjoy it. I hope you like our songs, our albums, and we really wish great success for Brazil when it comes to business and economical problems... People deserve it, they work a lot and don't have everything they deserve.
Roland Grapow: As musicians, we can influence people, give them ideas. Not too much, but we can, so I would like to give a good message to people, for them to organize and help themselves, help whoever needs it. I think Brazil really needs this kind of thoughts...