Interview For Guitar Heroes.Com Site (01/10/2003)
Hi, Roland, you have two minutes to introduce yourself.
I'm Roland Grapow from Masterplan. I have been a guitar player for a long time... Nearly thirteen years for Helloween, and for whatever reason, we have a new band now, and a lot of people like it so far.
You've been doing music for so many years now. Looking back to all these years, what comes to your mind?
It's really more enjoyable when you get older... I don't want to be the old wise guy but, when Helloween was over, I had so many doubts, and now I'm 100% behind the music I want to do.
Let's talk about Masterplan, can you describe the concept of the album?
The concept was to make an incredible good album, and we tried to not get anything on the album that would not be good enough. It was the first time we did that for an album. Of course, you're always a fan of your own songs, but we really tried to connect all our ideas, and come back on it later on our computers, and get rid of anything which was not good. So it was always getting better and better, in the early days, I never did this.
How do you keep your music fresh?
I'm always open-minded to listen to really good music. What I like to listen to has nothing to do with heavy metal, which may surprise people sometimes. For example, I like Limp Bizkit because of the guitar sound. I like Creed, it's good music, why should I say I don't like it? What's the difference between pop and metal, the drum sound? Put a double bass on a pop song and listen to it... Or even classical music. It's totally related to heavy metal. The only thing I don't like too much are folk songs, or country, or german shcl****.
German shcl****. You don't know german shcl****. It's like easy listening music for girls.
Speaking of style, how would you define the style of Masterplan?
That's definitely colorful, it's very... I wouldn't say influenced, but we have our roots. The main roots would be Rainbow, or "Kashmir"'s Led Zeppelin. It was not our goal in the beginning you know, I'm not only influenced by melody but also by rythms. Like in Black Sabbath, all those low heavy songs. Also, it has to be everything but obvious. So keep it fresh and be inspired.
How do you work on your instrument?
Work? I do not work so much anymore, because of time. Years ago, I was watching all these guitar videos, and playing on albums of Yngwie, sometimes of Brian May. I was also playing vinyl records and putting it on different speed, slower... And it was really helpful, I was learning those melodies from Michael Schenker in slow motion, and it really gives a relax feeling to the melody... To the vibrato. What was the question again?
How do you practice your instrument?
Oh, yeah. In fact, I just like to play, put whatever record and play.
In terms of guitar players, what are your main influences?
I would say Michael Schenker, Uli Roth, John Sykes, Ritchie Blackmore, and that is for the "old school". Also, Yngwie for a long time, but not so much anymore. Then, Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan.
Do you know any french guitar player?
Cyril Achard [Laughs]. He was in my studio, working with Mike Terrana on this Taboo Voodoo thing.
What do you think of french audience?
Yesterday was really nice, it seems like people really enjoyed, even if they don't know our songs so much, because the album was released one day before. People had respect for us, it's not crazy like in Spain or South America, but it was good.
What's your best remembrance as a musician?
It was when I was called to join Helloween. It was my dream coming true. I was a car mechanic, I was already thirty-nine, so I thought I was already too old for this. But the other guitar player was not sure to leave the band, so I was on hold for four months, I think. And then... It was a nice experience in the beginning. Even if I was a little boy, I was not aware. Now, I enjoy more because I know that every step I do has a consequence. Every word I say to you, people will read it and have a reaction. I enjoy every talk with business people.
And what's your worst?
Well, I lost a lot of friends... In Helloween, and a long time ago in my first band Rampage.
Ok, something different. What do you think of the music business in general?
It's similar to economy, only the best will survive... If a product is good, people will like it. You have to choose the right label to sell it, and sometimes you have to trust these people, and to choose a smaller label if you have to. Our label totally believes in what we do. They have a down to earth approach.
Ok, time for playing a little game. I will give a list of guitar players, and you tell me in one word what comes to your mind.
Steve Vai: What should I say? Great! He's a genius.
Ritchie Blackmore: Master.
Yngwie Malmsteen: [Laughs] Hmm... My friend! [Laughs].
Jason Becker: I don't know him so well. He is sick, no?
Ron Thal: I don't know.
Roland Grapow: [Silence] Nice guy...
Would you like to do some music for a movie?
I would like to do some heavy riffs stuff... The kind of stuff you have in action movies with fast driving cars, fights... A good quality movie.
Let's now speculate on two situations, and tell me what you would do. You have to go for a long trip and you can just take one CD, which one would you take?
Little green men have just arrived on Earth. Do you think they would buy the Masterplan album?
No... I would give them one for free.
Tell us which, in your opinion, are the three best guitar songs ever written.
Main cliché is "Smoke On The Water". I also like "Kashmir" a lot and something from Eddie Van Halen... [Singing].
"Ain't Talking About Love".