Pensive Rockers
by Nick Fowler
Metal Maniacs

We recently has the rare oppurtunity to interview the Hamburg, Germany-bred Helloween at the new, plush and sprawling Manhattan record label headquarters, Catelrock Productions. After ordering in lunch with friendly-yet-somewhat-jaged guitarist and bandfounder Michael Weikath, (thse German alds are, however world-weary, still smitten with with the simple, delicious decadence of the American cheeseburger, fries, and milkshake), we waited while singer Andi Deris, perhaps too politely and lethargically, attempted to wrap up his overtime phone interview. After finally coaxing the overzealous rock journalist/Helloween fan off the other end of the line while simling apologetically, the good-guy vocalist joined us for an intimate chat about Helloween's music and its relation to the troubled Zeitgeist of our planet. It was immediately apparent that the thoughtful, single-minded virtuoso guitarist and the slightly more happy-go-lucky crooner were not pleased with the latter. Their latest CD, Time Of The Oath, was inspired by the prophecies of Nostradamus, who predicted the tremendous self-inflicted cosmic upheavals the earth is now suffering from.

Somewhat of a phenomenom on the global metal scene, Helloween first united eleven years ago when Weikath joined band co-originators Kai Hanson on drums and vocalist Michael Kiske, ultimately recording their highly acclaimed 1985 album Walls of Jericho. {Apparently Nick Fowler needs to read up a bit more when doing band history and spelling members names... - Chris} They helped pilot the errupting metal scene of the mid-eighties and were responsible in defining an era that is now generally ridiculed stateside. Perhaps because of the pressure of this success and its eventual wandering, the band endured internal disagreements and insuing lineup changes that culminated in the replacement and eventual suicide of Kai Hanson. {Again, Fowler is an idiot.} Helloween continued, however, to be vastly popular overseas and with a loyal core fanbase here in America.

Unwilling to cater to current trends, Helloween is still writing, recording and playing some of the most heartfelt, raw, melody-rich and aggressive, if not tremendously groundbreaking, hard rock today. Through all their hardships they've maintained their band as well as a sense of self-irony. While taking their work and the sad state of globe seriously, they don't take themselves tremendously so. These days, things are looking juse jake for Helloween with a new album under their belts and an impending world tour in their sights. So here's how our interview pregressed on an unseasonably balmy New York City afternoon.

MM: Where did you get the battle sounds at the beginning of "Before The War?"

Michael Weikath: We just went to Yugoslavia and we recorded it live and we were very happy to get out of there alive, ha, ha, ha.

Andy {Fowler fouls it up again} Deris: The scream is an actual chicken, ha, ha.

MM: I like "Anyhting My Mama don't like" because it's a sort of self-deprecating, pop metal song. You guys don't take yourselves seriously, and that's rare in this genre. Do a lot of people say this to you?

AD: Yeah, overall we don't take each other very seriously. I don't know if the band takes itself very seriously, or if the people take us seriously, or if we take the people seriously, ha, ha.

MM: When did you (Michael) found the band?

MW: 1889, ha, ha. No, it wasn't only me. There were three other guys and the bassist Marcus {Fowler again...} Grosskopf was also a founding member. Of the four founders, one is dead, one is gone, and the others are here.

MM: Why did Hanson {oops...} kill himself?

MW:He had been on cocaine, hash and alcohol a bit, and then during his treatment and therapy they found out that he had been suffering from schizophrenia ever since birth, and so you can call that a very unlucky cycle that you can't get out of. So then he jumped in front of a subway.

MM: Do you not want to talk about this?

MK: {I don't think Kiske was there, so Fowler is a dolt.} It depends. I mean, what do you want to know?

MM: Did he talk about how unhappy he was when he was in the band?

MK: {IDIOT!} Never, in fact, he couldn't hold the drumsticks anymore. I mean, him and me, we were not the best of pals anyway. But then it was always a different thing. I had to tell him that he was not to play in the band anymore. He was given a break for the therapies and all that, and then he wanted to come back. We were sitting there with the rest of the band and they wouldn't say much, and I was merely telling him for about six hoursthat he was not going to get back in the band again if I could somehow avoid it. And so that's what it was. About two months later he would jump. But from his girlfriend we know that it was not exactly because he was angry at us. He was merely angry at himself. And he was a bit crazy, you have to understand. Like, every simple thing must have been quite complicated for him and so therefore life was no longer fun for him, I would guess. Whatever he might have felt like, you can't exactly know from the outside. Just from the problems I had with hashing away and some DDTs I had some nine years ago, I can quite imagine how he must have felt.

MM: Was he on medication for the schizophrenia?

MW: Yeah, but he didn't take it very often because he was not exactly accepting his fate in a way. He was saying, "Ah, it's all crap what they tell me. Why should I take medication? I have to get healed myself somehow."

MM: What would you attribute your longevity to?

MW: I have a one track mind, ha, ha. I mean something completely different from what you expect, ha, ha, although I said that on purpose. We are all very much into our jobs. We've just lost too much before we actually had a record contract. When I was 15, I was already saying that I was going to have a record contract and play in one of the most famous German bands. And everybody went, "Okay, this guy must be crazy." And so therefore you don't get to the women you like and you will just lose a lot because people just don't take you as a human being anymore, just from knowing what you want to do. I mean, why should I ever stop after coming this far, you know?

MM: Who writes most of the lyrics?

AD: On this record...myself, ha, ha, ha...

MW: That's crap, it's him and me basically.

MM: Who had been reading about Nostradamus, both of you?

AD: I somehow became a big fan because I read about the Time Of The Oath, which he mentioned to be 1995 to the year 2000, which actually is now. So when I came up in the rehearsal room with the idea, everyone was like (Andi apes a dumb-guy voice), "Um, yeah, um, interesting, go for it." Ha, ha, ha. That's how it happened. And Michael had read a different book, I think. I read three different interpreters, and they all had this one thing in common where they said there was something big to happen in those years between 1995 and the year 2000, which Nostradamus called the Time Of The Oath. He saw something where fire sparks and the snow in the sky is whiter than white.

MM: Like an Armageddon thing?

MW: Not exactly Armageddon because he says that life will go on anyway.

AD: No, not the end of the world because the predictions of Nostradamus go to the year 4000. He writes something like, if mankind sticks together this could all be avoided and we could go on with our civilizationwith freedom and peace. But if we somehow don't get the point and don't stick together in this certain moment when all of this actually could happen, then it looks like all of our current civilization will be destroyed and we would have to start it all over again.

MW: Kind of like a big riddle to solve in a way.

AD: He said that on the 20th of August, 1998, probably there will be something like the third world war or a nuclear power plant exploding in a catas---um---

MW: "Catastrophe." (Michael corrects Andi's pronunciation of the word.) He's not wide awake.

AD: No, I'm somewhere else. Um, a natural catastrophe.

MM: Apostrophe.

AD: Catastrophe, catastrophe, catastrophe. (Andi tries to drill the correct word in his head.) Seriously, mankind has to wake up and realize what it has done to itself before it's too late. (Andy {Fowler again...} reaches a bit skittishly for one of Michael's fries.)

MW: Look at him. He always does this.

This is the article word for word. Nick Fowler made all the mistakes. Kai is a alive and well. He never played drums, and Michi didn't sing on Walls of Jericho. Andy is spelled Andi, Marcus is spelled Markus, and Hanson is spelled Hansen. I guess that what you get when a dumb American does an interview...
By the way, the guy who says this isn't me, Hilda, he's the one who took and typed the article.