Interview For Valhalla Magazine (June 2003)
By Erick Gimenes
Translated By Marcelo Hashimoto
Roland Grapow tells all details about Masterplan's debut and releases the hounds with a scary version of his departure from Helloween and states: "There will never be a reunion with the Helloween members, not even for a lot of money".
When you and Uli formed Masterplan, the idea was to just release an album and then move on solo careers, or the was the intention to make a real band, with full-time members?
Before we knew how things would happen, the plans were to make of Masterplan just a project from me and Uli. The idea was to also invite Russell Allen (Symphony X) and Janne Wirman (Children Of Bodom) to complete the band, but that never happened. I never wanted to make from Masterplan another Helloween, it would be just an another band with guys who are used to playing metal.
Masterplan is a new name on the scene, despite being formed by well-known personalities in metal. Did you have to face certain difficulties and expectations like most of the new bands on the beggining of the career, or was Masterplan already born as a big band?
We are very well-known on the metal scene and a lot of people say that we formed a strategical line-up. I think this combination makes Masterplan exciting. It's a band that creates normal compositions and songs and we got the experience from our other bands. We don't really plan to follow this musical direction and I think the combination of Jorn and, specially, Uli and I, makes Masterplan a good band and it's a new sound that surprised us all.
When we were listening to the album, we found a great variation of styles, mixing hard rock with melodic heavy metal, prog metal and something from the 70's. So, was it from the combination of the styles and freedom of speech that the band's musical basis was formed?
I never wanted to write songs all on a same direction and I can say the same about Uli, because we wrote and composed a lot of things together. I listen to stuff from 70's, 80's, 90's and even some more modern stuff. I looked forward to combine everything on a new musical direction. But we are not extreme, because we keep our style of playing, even if we do a blues song. Usually people like it, because they know that I play guitar and Uli plays drums, that is, they know that we still have on the album four or five fast songs, like in the past.
There are rumors that some of the songs that are on this album were written for Helloween but were never used. Is that true?
There is only one song that should be Helloween's, it's "Into The Light", which would be included on "The Dark Ride". It was even recorded by the band, except for Andi's vocals, who never tried to sing it. We saved the song and we used it now on Masterplan, since it was written by Uli. Some little parts of "Sail On" would be also used in Helloween, but that's all.
What are the lyrics about? I noticed that you always talk about the music itself, on certain parts speaking about the melodies. What's the objective?
We talk about our different points of view about life and some experiences we had. We like to use the word "music" meaning "harmony". We didn't want to send negative or sad messages, with the exception of "Crystal Night" [About the horrors of World War II] and "Into The Light" [About two people who know each other through the Internet and meet to commit suicide]. Other than those, "Kind Hearted Light" is about the band moments I had in Helloween. But it's not a direct story about what happened, its contents are more light and adapted. Besides, it's a positive song.
Jorn Lande's vocal has a more hard rock approach, did his entry bring any changes on the band's musical direction?
When we invited him, everything was already written for Russell's voice. We also invited Michael Kiske in September 2001, when 80% of the material was done. Jorn joined the band in November, he listened to everything that was recorded and changed a great deal of the melodies. He has a great inspiration for writing lyrics, and Uli and I took care of the instrumental. Nowadays, Jorn is part of the team and is an important person for Masterplan to work properly. He's not like other singers who I worked with in the past, who just listened and sang the melodies presented to them. Jorn cares about making arrangements to fit the song well with his vocals. After some problems with Tore Ostby in Ark, which forced his departure, Masterplan became his priority.
Michael Kiske sings on some parts of the song "Heroes", but the idea was to have him as Masterplan's vocalist, however, he didn't accepted it. What was the true intention behind the invitation? Would that be like a marketing trick, since there would be three former Helloween members on the same band?
My wish was to really have him as a full-time member. For a moment he seemed interested, but not anymore afterwards, then he still said that he wanted to join the band just for the money. I said it was okay, but Michael refused to do concerts with us, saying that he would be on the band just for the business, and not for the music itself. It wouldn't work that way because we needed a singer who could conquer the world, and could be at our side to play live.
On a recent interview with Weikath and Deris, they both blamed you and Uli for the heavy mood that involved the band and the consequent negativism of "The Dark Ride" album. They said you weren't interested in Helloween anymore and wanted to add new elements to the music of the group. Now, they never get tired of saying how much they are "Happy Happy Helloween" again and they're back being a band with good vibrations. What's your opinion about it?
Let me explain the situation. They had no reasons to fire us, except for problems that we didn't even discuss anymore. But of course they had to say something about the split and they blamed us for the negativism on "The Dark Ride", and that we wanted another sound for the band. However, it was Andi Deris himself who wrote most of the songs in the record, it was him who brought most of the dark elements, all the ballads and songs on the "Mirror, Mirror..." style. Listen to "The Dark Ride" song, typical Helloween sound, with several traditional elements, slow parts, heavy parts, solos... Everything that made the band's style what it is. But they blame us for the whole album, because they had to say something stupid, and are being ridiculous when they try to defend themselves pretending to be the good guys. If you think we are negative people, listen to Masterplan, it's a very positive record! Of course we put some more modern elements, but that's natural, because I like to evolve and people like that kind
of change. Therefore, let's leave it for the fans to decide what's good and what's not.
Michael Kiske also said to us, during an interview about Supared, that after Kai Hansen left the band, Helloween suffered from an abcense of friendship, specially from a person: Michael Weikath. Acorddingh to Kiske's words, Weikath adopted a self-destructive posture and that avoided the band and its members as individuals to grow. Do you agree with Kiske?
A lot of people hate me when I say something negative about Mr. Weikath or Andi Deris, but they don't know the story behind everything that happened with Helloween. Kiske is not in the band since 1993, but he's absolutely right. When I joined the band, there was no friendship anymore, there was a lot of fights and big discussions, and for me those guys destroyed Helloween. And one thing is for sure: There will never be a reunion with the Helloween members, not even for a lot of money.
And what's your opinion about Helloween's new album, "Rabbit Don't Come Easy"?
Generally speaking, I can say it's a careful album. A lot of people loved it, but I didn't feel a lot of potential on the final production. I'm not talking about the music itself, but about its arrangements, that on the majority sound too happy and too nice, they're not very interesting. I also haven't heard a cool solo on this album.