Exclusive Interview (05/17/03)
By Marcelo Hashimoto
This interview was made just with questions from the fans, and took a lot of time to be finished. Several months were needed to collect, select and sort all questions this site's received, and Roland worked a lot to choose the best ones and write answers complete as possible. Since those are different questions from different people, they are very independent one from another and they cover a large variety of subjects. I really hope anyone who reads this will find the result of all those efforts worthy. Enjoy!
Some people who have listened to Masterplan felt some too modern new metal influences and are afraid that the band is trying to do an americanized commercial sound. What's your opinion about this?
I never heard about that before, we only got positive reactions so far. People who doesn't like our sound won't like us anyway. We have so much success right now, for example, we went 42 in the german popularity charts, entered the swedish ones very high as well and we were number one in Japan. We had "Album Of The Month" reviews, number one status on and readers' polls... We never had that before in our career. I guess we did something right here. Have a look on our homepage, you'll find more about that. http://www.master-plan.net/ press reviews!
Some reviewers classified Masterplan as power metal, some as progressive, and some just as "modern metal". How would you define your current style?
I see it as a mixture of all... For me it is the right ballance of interesting and melodic metal without any limits. 'Cause we have a wide range of taste and style, our fans love it that way. I guess that is our secret, everyone says we are sounding so fresh and new, but we just combined our roots experience and taste in one thing called Masterplan.
Masterplan had great success opening for Hammerfall and is already confirmed for nine european festivals. Is there a plan for a headlining worldwide tour still this year?
Yes, we just did an update on our homepage. We will do the festivals this Summer and in August we're gonna do three headlining shows in Japan! Still planning to headline Europe with some shows in Autumn! I hope South America is comming soon as well! I heard our album is not released yet in Brazil, which I think is strange, I will find out soon why!
Still about touring... Why did you choose "The Chance", "The Departed (Sun Is Going Down)" and "Sunset Station" to play live? Is there any plans to keep playing Helloween songs live, or maybe some Jorn Lande songs?
No, we just did it as a little medley for a statement about where we came from. The Helloween songs are too different, we won't play them in the future anymore, just this year. After the second album we'll leave it to Helloween to play the songs if they want. We want to leave our past behind. I'm proud of what I have done with Helloween and I'm pretty sure Uli is as well, but how poor is that, to play the old songs and not caring about the future. We have much more potencial with Jorn and the new band. People will enjoy our new material! Many new fans know us only from Masterplan, without knowing Helloween, they ask me what kind of songs we played in that medley! You see, that is weird and good at the same time!
How did Rainer Laws end up writing the lyrics for "Into The Light"?
He did it already at "The Dark Ride" album for Uli! Uli and Rainer are good friends and Roy Z loved that song so much, including the lyrics, but its recording wasn't finished, Andi Deris never sang on that song! So we used that song for Masterplan. It's the only leftover song from that time!
Do you have a personal favorite song in the Masterplan album?
No, it is the first album, on which I have five or six songs as my favourites, depending in what kind of mood I am. When I want to settle down after a long day, I love "When Love Comes Close". When I want to get excited, I love our faster songs a lot. But anyway, I love all of them.
Masterplan's debut has not only several different musical styles, fast songs, ballads, heavy downtuned songs, but also different styles of lyrics. About the holocaust, about your career, about love... Do you intend to keep this variety in the next albums?
I guess so, in general we want to give positive messages, like we did also in the past, mostly, haha. But yeah, why not. Like, "Spirit Never Die" or "Enlighten Me" are perfect messages! Music should be colorful, why should we write eleven times the same song on the album?
How did you came up with the whole concept for the first album? The four elements and natural disasters...
We wanted to have something interesting and maybe a little mystical artwork and concept. I hate these metal cliché kind of stuff, with dragons and knights and so on... I love mystical or funny stories! The natural disaster is just the modern way of showing the four elements, nothing else!
What do you think about the choice of Sascha Gertsner and Stefan Schwarzmann as yours and Uli's replacements?
I wish them good luck and hope they will have a good time! Maybe we will have a beer sometimes together.
Did you consider yourself too limited to a specific style while writing songs for Helloween?
Yes, but now we have all the freedom to do what we want. We control the music, artwork, concept and just everything. No management, producer or something else will destroy our path!
What's your current equipment?
Hmm, a lot. I use mainly Gibson Les Paul customs and my Flying V's from the 70's. Sometimes for solos, I also use Fender Stratocaster guitars, Mesa rectifiers and Marshall amps. Also, Mesa cabinets.
How do you feel about your neo-classical period nowadays? Do you intend to do something in this direction again in the future?
I still love classical music, but next time I'll do something with accoustic, or maybe something totally different. I don't like that shredding kind of playing anymore. I love Uli Roth, Blackmore and Michael Schenker. Melody rules, it doesn't need to be fast all the time! I play more melodic on a Gibson now, this is where I came from, back to the roots! I played Gibson when I was fourteen 'till I joined Helloween with twenty-nine. Then I played Bc-Rich and Esp and Strat for ten years. On "The Dark Ride" I went back to the Les Paul and Flying V again!
Do you regret something in your whole career, involving Rampage, Helloween, Masterplan or your solo albums? How do you picture yourself and your career in ten years?
I like to see myself as like everything was a big learning phase or process for me. All the bands I've played in, like Virus, Prisma, Trojan, Crystal Sin, Line Four, Rampage, Helloween, even my solo albums, were very important to find my own way... I found it now: Masterplan is what I love and enjoy. As a guitarplayer, songwriter, co-producer and just as a bandmember. We have many great albums to do... In ten years we will be maybe still around, but who knows. I mean, I'm still learning to prove that I've learned! Two brilliant albums are better than ten boring ones! Let's hope we are still around with Masterplan in ten years, with great albums!
Are there any current plans for your solo career? Another album involving the same line-up?
Like I've said, maybe something with accoustic or a blues rock album. Neo-classical, I don't think so. In the moment, I'm too busy with Masterplan and I have all the freedom to do what I want there! I'm still in friendship with Mike Vescera and Barry Sparks. Mike Terrana and Ferdy Doernberg are friends of mine anyway!
There were several rumours recently about an upcoming project involving you, Kai Hansen, Michael Kiske and Uli Kusch. How much of it is true?
Just an idea of mine. I love the idea, but there is no real plan behind it! Maybe, maybe not. Leave it like that!
List some concerts you didn't see but would like to see if you could travel back in time.
Maybe something from The Beatles or Jimi Hendrix in Hamburg, they played there in the 60's, or Deep Purple in 71 with the "Machine Head" album! Also, Steve Ray Vaughan live, I've never seen him playing live. More, Grand Funk Railroad shows in the early 70's, I saw them in 75.
Name some itens, food or beverage, that you always have in your refrigerator.
Water, cheese, milk for my müsli, yogurt, chocolate, salad, vegetables and fruits. I don't like meat so much anymore, just a little! I never drink beer at home anymore. I drink on tour so much, haha.
Are there any famous persons, dead or alive, that you would like to meet, or wish you could've met?
I'd like to meet many old friends and family members again, but we will see them again anyway, sooner or later. In my mind they are still here. Famous persons I'd like to have met... No, not really... Maybe interesting people like Einstein or Edison... Or maybe too many... Yeah, great idea! I'd like to meet Sting and Eddie Van Halen or Steve Lukather, maybe Blackmore and Michael Schenker in a good moment would be nice. I already met many great people, believe me!
Which are your favorite hobbies nowadays?
My studio, guitars, music and producing, my dogs and a little sports. Also, my own rock club in Hamburg, which I own with Olli Otto, called Headbanger's Ballroom!
If you're going to a desert island with just a CD player, which albums would you bring along?
Masterplan and german folk music like Rammstein, Heino and The Scorpions... I don't know, there is no reason to go there, haha.
You produced your solo albums and helped on the production of Masterplan, but on those albums you were part of the band. Now, with Arctic Fields, how do you feel being just the producer for the first time?
Producing is very interesting, but I just wanted to get used to the stuff which I learned from Roy Z and Andy Sneap! I did it with the band Arctic Fields from Hamburg! I don't want to be a producer right now! But it is important for Masterplan that I know all the secrets and experience, so we can try out ideas and so forth in my own studio, Crazy Cat!
How would you compare Andy Sneap and Roy Z as producers?
They are different. Andy Sneap is more like the engineer producer, with a great guitar and drum sound and nice Pro-Tools work. Roy is more like the creative guy who helps a lot with the song structure and the lyrics. Both are great, I love the work of Andy and Roy. They are also really cool guys! We are pretty good friends, if I pay them in time, haha.
Which were your impressions on this first tour, about the band's performance and the reaction from the audience?
Great, we had so much fun and really enjoyed to get excited with the audience. I think people saw that we had so much fun. It is nice to see that the reaction from the audience live is the same one from our album reviews! We are still doing a lot of shows, hope to see you there.