Interview For Cursed With Oblivion Site (08/09/02)
After the departure of guitarist Roland Grapow and drummer Uli Kusch from Helloween, they decided to surrect a new band, called Masterplan. Roland Grapow, one of Germany's most respected guitar players in metal, answered the following questions to give an update on his new band.
Hello Roland, how are you?
I'm really fine, everything looks good for our new band.
All going well with Masterplan?
Yeah, the album is mixed and really good. We are really proud of it, I think it'll be a strong release.
Any news about a record deal?
Yes, worldwide we got a deal with AFM Records. In Japan and Southeast Asia we have Marquee Avalon. The single release is in November (except for Asia) and the album is coming worldwide in January 2003.
The music of Masterplan is described as heavy, epic, bombastic and progressive metal. That's quite a lot! How would you compare the music with the work you have done, like on the last Helloween record "The Dark Ride"?
I wouldn't compare it too much with "The Dark Ride", we have many Helloween elements in Masterplan, and it's very melodic too. Not too progressive, just a little on some songs. We have a more positive feeling compared to "The Dark Ride" album. And an incredible singer! And better songs [Laughs].
Would you introduce the band's line-up to us? How did you get in touch with these musicians?
I just tried to get the best musicians to win, for our taste, for Masterplan. I know we did the right choice to create a new powerful band. I knew Jan-S. the bassplayer for ten years already. Janne and Jorn, I just called. Easy. Jorn Lande (vocals), Janne Wirman (keyboards), Jan-S. Eckert (bass), Roland Grapow (guitars), Uli Kusch (drums).
You have been working quite long with Uli now. When you two were out of Helloween, how logical was it for you guys that you would stay together and form a new band?
It was totally natural for us, he is the best drummer and songwriter I know. Why should I even try, not to work with him [Laughs]. Would be stupid. We are a dream team at the moment. We never had that situation before in Helloween. You will hear the result.
Would you tell a bit about the songwriting process for the new album?
Oh, we started last year spring to create some great stuff already, but after the Helloween split we changed our songwriting focus a little bit to get also a lot of Helloween elements in our music. In October we finished writing and arranged our songs for another six weeks. We did a nice job, I guess. We caught some great moments, I believe. When Jorn joined the band in January, he arranged also a big part of the vocal melodies. He is incredible, the best guy we could choose. After his vocals, everything sounded even better.
I am also curious how Uli writes his songs. Does he start with a drum rhythm or a guitar riff? How does he work?
The same like me, I guess, always with guitars and keys. Maybe some drum patterns are inspiring him as well.
Roy Z had a positive influence on you on "The Dark Ride". Did he help with the arrangements? Or more likely with the guitar sound and the recording process?
He did everything, arranging the songs and lyrics and creating the guitar sound as well. He had tons of ideas.
Did he also help a bit with the new Masterplan material?
He just helped me with some arrangements last year in August. I went for a week to Los Angeles to visit him, directly after the split with Helloween... He wasn't involved at the recording process. Our Masterplan producer was Andy Sneap, he is great as well. But not so involved in the arrangements of the songs. We are great friends, and I learned so much from both of them.
Lately you have been doing quite some guest appearances on other artists' albums and you also did some live performances, like the Helloween tribute concert in São Paulo. How was this?
Really nice, I love to work with younger musicians and to do special events. Also to play solos on different artists' albums, most of them are friends of mine. I stayed a whole week in Brasil to meet also my friends and to do some interviews and promotion there.
Do you know around what time the first performance of Masterplan will take place?
I guess January or February 2003, doing a support tour and a little headlining later and all the festivals next year! I hope so!
Is there a chance that you will play some Helloween songs with Masterplan?
Of course, only Uli and mine written songs, but we will play some!
What are your feelings about the "Treasure Chest" compilation?
Money making shit of the Sanctuary label, some songs shouldn't be on that album anyway, they are not good enough for a "Best of". Why is "The Time Of The Oath" not remixed and so forth. Do it right or leave it.
I thought it lacked many good Grapow songs. Only "Mr. Ego (Take Me Down)", "The Chance" and "The Time Of The Oath" are there, apart from the third bonus disc. For the last song you even didn't get the credits for the music. It says: "'The Time Of The Oath', music and lyrics by M. Weikath and A. Deris".
That is the management Sanctuary, they did the same mistake before with that song. They don't really care. They don't know anything about the band. Treating you like business partners and making mistakes like that. What is the problem to have checked the booklet layout by a bandmember? Or maybe by a fan, they know more about the band than Sanctuary. It takes just an e-mail or a fax.
You would like to work as a producer for younger bands. Where did this passion come from?
From the last two productions I liked, Masterplan by Andy Sneap and "The Dark Ride" with Roy Z. I learned so much from them, I'm producing my first band already in my Crazy Cat Studio. They're called "Arctic Fields" and we are really happy so far with the result. I mean, everything I learn, I could use also for Masterplan. It helps us as well. It's fun to work for other people and get the best out of them.
On your website we can read that Kai Hansen might work with you in the future. Sounds very interesting! Is there any more news about it?
Not really, I just read it somewhere, and we talked about it some years ago, but no plans so far. But at the moment we are just busy with Masterplan. In the future I'm still interested to work with Uli, Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske. Would be interesting. But right now it's not even good to think about it: first is Masterplan!
Thanks a lot for this interview! Good luck with the band!
Thanks also, we hope to see you next year on tour!