Interview For Aforja Site (03/26/03)
By Maria Aline Gonçalves
Translated By Marcelo Hashimoto
When Roland Grapow and Uli Kusch left Helloween in October 2001, they already had plans to make Masterplan a great band, something confirmed by their first album, self-titled. Released in January this year, "Masterplan" brought new elements to power metal, marked by the mixture of several influences and rhythms. When listening to this album, there's no doubt that behind this masterpiece are experienced musicians. Roland Grapow and Uli Kusch's careers are already known through Helloween, Jan-S. Eckert plays bass on Iron Savior, keyboardist Axel Mackenrott played with several cover bands and on Punch TV, and Jorn Lande became famous as the singer from Ark. At
the end of the day, what it seemed to be the end of it all became the beggining of a great work. Roland Grapow told us about the "Masterplan" album and the changes and plans for the new band.
Which are your main musical influences, and what do you listen at home?
I listen to everything that's new on the market, from pop to metal and new metal. I'm very interested in the production of sounds and so on. It's very important to be informed about the market! I also like some old material a lot, such as my guitar heroes, like Ritchie Blackmore, Michael Schenker, John Sykes, Uli Roth and others.
How was breaking up with Helloween? Do you still have some contact with Weikath, Andi or Markus?
It was very hard for me in the beggining, but now I feel totally happy in having my own band, success and freedom! I don't have contact with them anymore. Sometimes I see Markus, he's still cool.
And how's your relationship with the old mates Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske?
Very good and respectful, I like both as musicians and friends, I wish Ingo was still here!
When you left Helloween, did you imagine that Masterplan would become your main band?
Sure, Masterplan was mine and Uli's. It's our child and we wish to see it growing, day after day.
How did you find the other Masterplan members (Axel Mackenrott, Jorn Lande, Jan-S. Eckert)?
I just invited them, but before we had to search in the origins to find them, like recording labels. It was not easy to reach Jorn, but in the end we found him!
How was the songwriting process and who's the main songwriter in the "Masterplan" album?
It was a long process, we started one year before, we hadn't even left Helloween and we really dedicated our time in doing something good. We knew that it could be our future. The arrangements for the songs took a lot of time, Uli and I wrote all and the songs, we are a good team. Jorn wrote more than half of the melodies and lyrics, and I took care of the rest. So, we are a team of three main songwriters.
Producer Roy Z had a positive influence over "The Dark Ride" in Helloween. Did he also helped with the new material from Masterplan?
He inspired me with a lot of ideas, mostly arrangements, he also helped me to write two songs but we didn't use them in the first album.
You worked with Tommy Hansen, Roy Z and now with Andy Sneap. Which are the main differences?
The greatest difference is that Roy takes care of all the concept, how are the production and songwriting going, simply everything. Tommy Hansen and Andy Sneap are more like producer engineers, not changing the song structures too much. With Andy, it was a perfect ocasion, because we had already arranged the songs and we have experience now, he was more like the creator of the sound.
Some tracks like "Spirit Never Die", "Kind Hearted Light", "Crystal Night" and "When Love Comes Close" have a classical, traditional style combined with modern elements, heavy guitars and melodic vocals. How do you describe Masterplan's sound?
I think this is what I like more, the fusion of different influences. On Masterplan, Jorn's voice tells us our limits, but people won't lose interest on the band, because Masterplan can still be powerful, show feeling and good melodies.
"Masterplan" features Michael Kiske's voice in the track "Heroes", how did that appearance happen?
It's interesting, we still love his voice and thank God he agreed on singing on our album! It was fun, more specifically he sings the chorus, "Masterplan is rising...". Haha.
In the beggining of this year you played with Hammerfall, how the tour went?
It was great, one of the best tours we ever did (Uli and I). We saw a lot of new fans and happy faces!
Masterplan's been playing Helloween songs. Which were the chosen ones?
We played a jam of "Departed", "The Chance" and also "Sunset Station" from Jorn. But on the next album we won't do that anymore because we'll have enough material for a concert.
How was your appearance on the Helloween tribute concert in São Paulo last year?
It was great, the public must have enjoyed it, I'll never do something like that again! I only did it for the brazilian fans.
Does Masterplan have plans of playing in South America this year?
We have a lot of plans, but they're still plans and hopes, it depends on how much we'll sell in Brazil. I hope I can return soon. We'll be playing in nine european festivals.
Thanks for the interview, I wish you and Masterplan success!
Thank you! I hope I see you all soon in Brazil.