Michael Weikath

This is the interview with Weikath I did right after I interviewed Andi. Michael Weikath was a very talkative guy and did not mind answering some of the harder questions I asked. He was very good about answering contraversial stuff as well and gave great details on everything. He really was a very nice guy with a lot to give and I enjoyed talking to him as I did Andi. This interview was done on 7/21/98. Check it out below (I'm Tony Webster BTW).

Tony Webster: I had already talked to Andi about this when I interviewd him right before you, and he said it was your idea so can you give me some background on LAUDATE DOMINUM?

Michael Weikath: Yeah well its very simple and its because we have so many latin fans Italy, and Spain and Portugal, and Brazil and Argentina....thats at least the countries we've covered. There's more people in the Honduras, and Peru and Chile obviously, but we haven't visited these countries yet, and since the reception has been extraordinary from these countries I decided to do a sort of thank you track to these people. There has already been so many songs written for the Japanese fans of this sort for example the Scorpions have done it and Accept have done tracks in Japanese for Japanese fans and we didn't want to repeat that and that doesn't mean that the japanese fans are any less special, I just wanted to create something strange and in a different language and I thought latin would be more suitable. I mean at first I wanted to do something in Latin but I just didn't know what. So I went over my mom's during christmas and she played me two Laudate Dominum tracks off of Schubert and of Mozart and so I thought "Yeah thats it!". After that I sat there with my old Latin teacher and we just concieved the lyrics. Apart from that I tried to bring some Hayden quality because im quite a Hayden fan which is to say I didn't rip off any structures of any music he has done but I tried to create the feel that it could have been done by him so it could give you a hint about what Hayden sounds like or whatever because I dont rip off stuff and whenever I do something I try to be as creative as I can and do it my own way other than just taking a structure thats already there. So I put in a lot of the things I thought would be Hayden and the same thing went for Falling Higher and the other stuff you know... I intend to do so in the future because you can take some sort of measure you know to be original because people are being influenced by Bach or whatever and Hayden is a completely different direction. I like that very much personially and I try to put something of that quality in my future songs.

TW: How is the tour with Iron Maiden going?

MW: It was good and its being continued in the middle of September on a second leg of Europe as for South America we have to wait and see as I think someone gave me confirmation of some gigs down there, but its been a reporter and he says he knows a promoter that has set up gigs for us down there. I have no confirmation on that though.

TW: I already posted the ones for Europe on my page.

MW: Really? Great! We also have done some shows with Black Sabbath and they were really good, in fact they were DAMN good! They played large stadiums and we were on the bill as well and it was just very good very good outsome, and in Poland and we even played before them and it was just marvelous.

TW: What do you think of Maiden and their new sound...do you like it? What's your opinion.

MW: Lets not say "sound" because I could never understand what they did on the recent records and I think I would never understand and if someone did tell me I would understand but nobody tells me and uhm well apart from that Maiden is still a very good live band but they cut and hit on the point and theres nothing you can say against them except sometimes there is a little insecurity of their new singer. Even though theres been days that i can count that I think he delivered quite a good performance, but hes obviously insecure about what hes doing. Apart from that they bring the stuff across. When you stand there and watch it day by day theres not a lot for you to complain about actually. You sense that there is something just not quite right there when watching them though.....

TW: I was wondering what has happened to Roland and why he hasn't written anything lately?

MW: It was because he had just finished his solo record by that time and he was kind of confused by that stuff very much. Entering the studio for Better Than Raw in studio rehearsals he has been helpful in guitar parts I couldn't do and we were actually sitting there with 25 tracks and we did a quick look through of what we were going to put on the record and we had the record finished basicially....all the tracks were there.. Roland didn't see why he should put out anything extra since everythying was already there, and he wouldn't have known where to add or change anything in the album concept we already had. So there was really no necessity for him to do something....he offered one track and that was a midtempo track but we couldn't use it for the album so we just left it the way it was.

TW: Where did you guys get the idea for the album cover?

MW: Well its the smurf story I told you about. See Andi and myself hang out at a small little pub thats called "The Backstage" thats a rock cafe type of thing thats very private and very small and we hang out there for coffee and mineral water and its where we try to get rid of our usual thoughts so then you drink coffee, mineral water and the occasional martini, and you just think and talk a load of crap there. We know the shop owner and we know the bar ladies and its a very private place for us, and thats where we usually develop our stupid cover ideas. We had the idea about the smurfs and gargamel and the characters were replaced by the sexy witch and the pumpkins.

TW: Yeah.....Andi said he wanted an ugly witch and you wanted a sexy one.

MW: *laughs* I wanted a sexy one because it would have been too obvious with an old ugly witch *laugh* and it would have been like uhhhh Angel Witch or whatever like damn like cliche and nothing new. So like I try and create a new riff I created a new witch because its more obvious its a witch then the idea was to take a sexy one so it looks more modern and I like it a bit more.

TW: Yeah so do I

MW: Yeah....its just to optimize the impact, thats what I'm always after.

TW: You guys had the Pumpkin Box come out in Japan and are you guys going to come out with a second one from the Andi Deris era?

MW: Yes....there will be a second part of it, but I dont know what tracks will be on it but this will be chosen by the Japanese and they will come up with the tracklist. They will give it to us and we will decide if these are the tracks that we want there and if there are any other tracks that we think should be on there. It was done the same way with the current Pumpkin Box out now so that will be the part two then. Yeah there will be something in the future then. Im eager to see what its going to look like. You gotta understand that in Japan there were people that grew up and they were not so concerned about Helloween and JVC had tried to get these people to make em aware that Helloween is around and what its all about, and for them its great to have a best of Helloween record set or so to say that the way they did the Pumpkin Box may be the best way to do a "best Of" of "Greatest Hits" of something. So a lot of younger people got aware of what we are and who we are and they have to connect us to the ongoing career. Since they now have the Pumpkin Box they now know where to continue on with the actual records we are doing now. It may not be worthwile for everyone else in the world who alrteady have all of the Helloween records out there, but it was good for these people.

TW: You know....I like the Pumpkin Box....I imported it, and I really liked the way it was set up.

MW: Thats good.....its just that the booklet falls apart too easily...

TW: You know metal in the USA obviously isn't as big as it is over in Japan and Germany or anything like that, and thats due largely due to MTV saying that "Metal Sucks", "Metal Is Dead", Blah blah blah blah. They told a lot of bands that, like Dave Mustaine for example and told him that "Metal is dead, we wont play metal videos anymore.

MW: I haven't heard about it but I just saw a quote on paper, and thats because one of the reviews for Better Than Raw includes that quote and so I was suprised. Anyways we dont need MTV for this and I think its good that Headbanger's Ball went off the air because its so opinionized and it was going the wrong direction. Theres lots of people here in America that want to listen to proper hard rock and they are very aware of what they want. They just arent being directed the way they used to be so right now they will have to find a different channel to communicate with each other to create a forum again and to have a scene again. Im pretty confident and very positive that it will happen very soon.....its just like everybody's quite mixed up right now nobody knows whats going on. This is quite understandable since a lot of bands that you would expect to come out with good records didn't come out with one. That doesn't help the situation either......anyways I think there will be stuff and it will go on and it will end up starting a renaissance of the whole thing and thats the way I look upon the whole thing, because everything goes in circles. If people were pissed off with what was going down so they want to have another one and there will be one I'm pretty sure.

TW: I wanted to ask you a questrion about one of your B-sides.....One of the Chameleon singles..."Step Out Of Hell". What was the whole idea behind the tracks "Intruduction" and "Get Me Out Of Here"?

MW: Well with the Introduction I actually wanted to create some kind of Spianl Tappish impact like a German rock star who has lost track of reality and also I wanted to take some shit out on some people i knew. Which is more or less a private way to take it out on them, so it was basicially fun. During that time I was so unhappy with many things and I was not behind the whole Helloween thing because I thought we were going in the wrong direction, and well being in that situation I just wanted to have some fun. There's some bootleg videos you can watch from shows in Japan where I behave very odd, and still I played my stuff but it was quite obvious that I wasn't with the thing or with the game and this was merely aggression in between Michael Kiske and me with fronts being built up inside the band with different camps that made the whole time very hard for everyone. Especially for me in particular and Michael Kiske as well. Then I tended to do a lot of stupid stuff to irritate him or anyone else. and thats how the "Introduction" came about and the whole song [Get Me Out Of Here]. Funny thing is that Michael Kiske liked "Get Me Out Of Here" so much that he said I should always write stuff like it.....even for albums. And I said "Yeah well thats taking it a little bit to far maybe" and he said "Why?" , and I said " Cuz we simply cant do it...so lets close the subject please". I mean he may have had a point but on the other hand I'm quite happy that its on the b-side. I also took a lot of shit because of the song "Heavy Metal Hamsters" which was intended on being a b-side for the Pink Bubbles album and instead it ended up being an album track. About Step Out of Hell.....it was one of the older tracks Roland had done with his old band Rampage. Which was released originially as a track called "Victims Of Rock". So he changed the lyrics and he remade it as a song with Helloween. The lyrics obviously dealt with Ingo.....

TW: So thats what it was about?

MW: Partwise.....I mean in general views and general thinking......but focused on Ingo maybe...

TW: Speaking of Ingo......what disease did he have?

MW: He was Schizophrenic...ever since his birth. They found out during the drug treatment he had to undergo and so it was like hes had some cocaine, and some dope....and some alcohol and that had a final effect on his brain so to speak. That doesn;t go well with while you;re being Schizophrenic. The thing is with alcohol you can postpone the main effects of being Schzophrenic for quite some time but it will always show up again around your 30s, so you need treatment and proper treatment because its a very serious illness......very complicated and heavy one and hard to cure if at all.....some people say its not curable. Thats actually what happened to him so life must have become such burden to him so I told him that the situation was he wasn't going to play with the band anymore if I couldnt make the choice and the others merely sat there and thought the same stuff. I merely had to sit it out with him for about 5 or 6 hours. I kept saying no and he wanted to get back in and I still had to say no because it would have killed him anyways. He wasn;t as sane as he wanted to make us think and because he didnt realize his own serious situation. he didnt take his medication either which he should've. Then one day he jumped in front of s subway train....

TW: Thats a sad story.....

MW: Yeah....

TW: Do you guys have any friendly relations with Michael Kiske?

MW: Not yet.....although Roland saw him in a music store awhile back and they talked for about a half an hour. Other than that we have had really no contact with him since he left.

TW: You know there's been a lot of stuff going around....a lot of bullshit people have been saying about you....

MW: You know its like outside people.....they always have to say quite a bit...well they should have been in the band at that time...otherwise they should just shut the fuck up.

TW: I remember there was a guy on the your turn board accusing you of stuff....remember him?

MW: Yeah....I do.....that guy was a fucking idiot.

TW: You know....I get a lot of people asking me shit about it and I'm always like look..."You werent there Weikath and Kiske couldnt work together so just leave it at that you know what I'm saying?"

MW: Yes....I actually remember your comments on that on the board if i'm not mistaken......

TW: So you;re coming out of the Chameleon era....how good of an addition was Andi to the band. How crucial was his role in the band at first?

MW: Oh well he kind of put the whole thing back in order as well because he was the sole one we wanted in the band. We certainly werent going out to place adds that Helloween was looking for a new singer cuz we wouldnt trust anyone. The thing that happend in the misunderstanding that went down with Michael Kiske, me and the rest of the band was so heavy that we really didnt feel like inviting someone we dont know into the band to sing. We thought we wouldve laid us another koo koo's act if you know that term.....and so if not for Andi joining Helloween we would have dissolved the band probably. We wouldve done something else....and we would have waited the whole thing out, but anyways we would have dissolved the whole thing if he hadnt have come in. Anyways it was plain clear to everyone in the band we didnt want to go off with Michael Kiske for the next record. The main issue......thoughts were going quite far you know?

TW: How did you get Andi into the band....I mean where did you find him at?

MW: Well I called him up....but ive already known him for 7 years. I already had permission to approach him during the Pink Bubbles Go Ape era and I already called him by that time. because the situation in the band had become so unbearable. Ingo was the one who actually wanted to stay with Michael Kiske and Andi for himself actually wanted to stay with "Pink Cream 69" because he saud there was no reason why I should leave the guys because they are behaving well, they are nice guys and we have a nice band here. Andi is a very social guy....we all knew at the time he was the perfect choice for Helloween. He also said there was no way out because of the situation in his band was going similar...so we had a paralell thing going. Helloween was going down and Pink Cream was as well. I think I placed the call at just the perfect point in time, but still I thought I sounded pretty stupid because I was like "If you're not going to sing for us we're going to end the whole Helloween thing....so think about it. However if we go out there with you as our singer we can go out there and put this stuff into people;'s faces and just kill. You know?? Think of it? So we had 2 or 3 more meeting to convince him or convince him further and he just didnt want to say anything that particular year because it was a shitty year and he wants to make his decision next year, and that was like new years eve. So 3 minutes after 12 new years eve the next year he calls up and says "Alright....I'm in". So and thats when we gave Michael Kiske a call and said we wanted a meeting and he said "A meeting again? What for?!" and I said well its "Something important" and he said "We have so many meetings we dont need that, just do your meeting and tell me what its about". Our personal manager said "Well its about you Michael" and so that meeting didnt even take place because then it was plain clear.

TW: Can you tell me the whole situation with Noise Records? About breaking the contract and everything?

MW: Well that was a complete mess up but this didnt inflict the trouble onto the band it was just like the different characters we have and they wouldnt fit. Well the other thing with Noise records came to me as a natural thing because my parents were always at court ever since I could think. So some people in the band were afraid because they didnt like the thought of being in court with anyone and for me it was natural and I just wanted to get out of the contract you know.....

TW: Do you think that after the whole situation aftter not being able to release anything for 2 years kind of hurt your fanbase in the USA?

MW: Well I dont know and I dont wanna think like that.....If it did Im not aware of it. It was more or less Kai Hansen and me....we reached double as much people cuz theres a polarity between him and me because hes a differrent guy and I'm a different. So when you put the Gamma Ray fans and the Helloween fans together you have the contigency of what Helloween used to be. I think "Somewhere Out In Space" is a very good record

TW: I do too.

MW: It has a really good groove and the feel is just right and I think Daniel is responsible for that partly and Henjo as well and so Kai Hansen came to think of something else because the setup in Gamma Ray before wasnt that healthy really with the old bass player and the drummer....they werent exactly convinced of the whole project they were just merely playing there. They were taking the money and doing their jobs but they werent really convinced of Gamma Ray and so Daniel hes just a very heartfelt guy and hes very behind the whole thing because he has a heart, and hes like a Gamma Ray fan. The other ones werent believe it or not....and then there were like situations in dealing with Kai Hansen and with the way he is there are always reasons that they dont get along with each other too well its not to say that its Hansen's fault...its like different types of people just not getting along....you know? It wasnt the most lucky lineup they had before with "Insanity & Genius" and all of that. They are great records but the setup in the band wasn't perfect, it wasn;t natural and it wasnt exactly well....it didnt fit....the characters in the band didnt match perfectly.

TW: Ok....Im sure you have heard of this.....there was an article in terrorizer which has you guys being badmouthed about Max Cavalera....

MW: Oh yah....thats right....what's the ground for what he says you know? I don't understand what he says....I mean there was two different camps in metal and hard rock ever since it was born its like the good and the evil or the black and the white and so Sepultura and he have a total different understanding of it. It reminds me of some trouble I had with some guys from Kreator some 10 years ago and I dont get it. I mean what we are doing is what we and this band as heavy metal have created....and if Cavalera thinks different he stands for a diffreent field right? I mean I wouldnt go and say Sepultura are worsening the metal situation because they are not melodic or because they are so antisocial or something or because they are so aggressive....who am I to say that? I try to find something positive about Sepultura and Soulfly and all of this and whi am I to judge what they do? I think Cavalera should be quite happy because you know he has done some good work and has had a lot of success. I mean...I dont understand his reaction. He must be very fixed on certain things and hes not exactly cool with it.....I dont know what hes all about.....I have no idea....

TW: A friend of mine has interviewed a few German bands and they basicially say its "Ignorant".

MW: Well I think its very narrowminded, and I think its like maybe he didnt earn as much as he was suppossed to....I dont know because I know what he means. Metal has always been commercial and theres nothing with writing nice melodies....then he should slack UFO, Rainbow or Judas Priest and everyone.....maybe he wants to do that...I dont know.

TW: Speaking of Priest......what do you think of the new singer?

MW: Well I dont know.....I mean I dont like the record, but then I heard the concerts went down pretty well and that Ripper owens is just like the perfect replacement for Rob Halford and I dont know because I havent witnessed a show yet. I didnt feel like that because on that particular evening when they were in Hamburg because I had a chance to be out with a girl I like so Id rather do that. Ive been told later on that Ripper sang perfectly. What I have to criticize is on the record he doesnt use any vibrato or anything and this is just like clinical that comes across, and he sounds just like any other American shouter and he sang for whoever so what he actually lacks on the record is profile personality because he doesnt sound like anyone special......so actually I havent witnessed any shows and if I see a show and like it then I will withdraw from anything I've said.....but up to this point I can say that I dont like the record.

TW: One of your B-Sides.....the song Rain.....who originially did that song?

MW: Oh! That was done by Status Quo! They had an album called "Blue For You"...I think it was 1975 and 1976 and it was quite a hit in Germany and Japan because Status Quo was the band by that time and AC/DC hadnt gotten big yet and so to say they were the big rockin blues band at that time so to speak. Like Metallica....like everyone who would play guitar then would start playing Status Quo riffs and we just wanted to play that and everybody thought it was going to be fun. You know you cant copy Status Quo.....it doesnt sound the least like status quo it sounds like some White Lion version so we used the same amps and the same guitars and we rehearsed the whole shit and still it didnt sound like Status Quo and usually we succeed in doing something that say "Cold Sweat" for example....I really liked that and Electric Eye went damn well but Rain doesnt sound like Status Quo I dont think still.

TW: I wanted to ask....the instrumental "Magnetic Fields" what band did that?

MW: Thats a French synthesizer guy named Jean MichelJarre who did that one....

TW: Do you get along with all the other German bands?

MW: Oh yeah we're happy enough now that there is no more envy towards us that was around about 10 years before. See theres no reason to talk bad about anyone because right now nobody feels like the other is stealing anyone else's ground which is good.. and if that happens then obviously we sort it out.

TW: I have a few emails from people in Portugal asking if you guys will come back since you were hit by something a person in the crowd threw at you.

MW: Sure...I mean we played there before and nobody had thrown anything at me before and so this time someone threw something at me. I mean maybe this person thought I was acting too lazy or arrogant or whatever....at least he didnt like me or thought I caused Ingo's death...I dont know what the person thought....anyways he didnt like the way I was. For the money you spend to get into concerts....you come to see us the way we are so Im not going to bow to people like that....Im just the way I am and these people are getting the possibility to witness it by paying the money for it. Im not going to change my behavior in anyway because thats what he wanted...you know?

TW: A lot of people emailed me asking why you guys dont do more older stuff and that they wanted to hear Andi's renditions of them.

MW: Yeah.....thats true but wed end up playing for like 3 hours and everything left aside from what we're doing right now at the concert is a nice setup of tracks....if we do older stuff...someone would complain about something else. The problem here is that if we play older songs the only guy who gets the money for it is Kai...and we dont want to support that guy anymore because hes already earned enough money from us. Roland is not the least affiliated with that stuff because he hasnt been around. When I say "I want to play "Starlight", "Murderer". Roland would go like "Oh god I have to play all of this" and I cant blame him because you would inflict stress on himself. It would give Roland a hard time.....not Andi a hard time....he can sing old tracks but then Roland would be faced to some heavy guitarwork and for what?

TW: Why did Kai leave the band?

MW: Well there were several reasons....I think he felt he had no ground left in Helloween that Kiske and myself had different opinions and that was stressful to Kai. He also said that all the promo stuff we had to do really pissed him off because he would like to have a less stressful go at things in general. You can follow that in the Gamma Ray history....you know they dont tour that much and do a huge amount of promotion because thats exactly his aim....he doesnt want to do as much as he had to with Helloween he also had some trouble with all the band....because he mentioned that topic right when we did Walls Of Jericho and he said "You know....cant we just tour a little less" and was told by management "Why dont you just go play for another band!" He took the burden for it...but in time he said well....We had so many different opinions going on I was actually quite happy when he left even though you know we said we may as well become friends even though we're not in a band together anymore, but then its always a heavy thing and he has his point of view and he has to follow his career and I have to follow mine. When we sat together at one UFO concert and I can tell you that were some real big question marks on a lot of faces of the fans and it was like to them "Wow, whats going on here?". Its just normal and you just talk to each other....

TW: Have you yourself ever thought of making a solo album?

MW: Well Ive already gotten the money to do a solo record so I have to do a solo record.

TW: One last thing...are you guys going to record or make a documentary type video with videos from the band and a history etc....

MW: We did something sort of like that its called the pumpkin video...

TW: Yeah...I have it.

MW: Good....because its a good collection of videos being done up to the point of time when it was released. I think it ends with "Where The Rain Grows" or something....

TW: Yeah it does.

MW: Well if thats in the making in the future it would have to be a major thing. I mean we dont have as many videos as we did then and the Pumpkin Video already covers most of the videos...so well have to wait a little more. Im not too keen on covering the old lineup...we're actually living now and we have something to create for us...and Uli and Roland and for Helloween the way we are right now. If a video of us and a documentary is going to be done then id rather put it into two parts to be fair....fair to the old Helloween and fair to the new Helloween you know?

TW: Well thanks for calling, I appreciate it! Hope to see you in the states sometime!

MW: Where are you again?

TW: Cleveland.

MW: Oh yah....I remember it....I knew a few people there way back. It was great talking to you....hope you have a nice day. By the way.....tell all the fans that even though I do not answer all my email.....I still read them.

This interview done by Officer Metal aka Tony Webster DO NOT USE WITHOUT PERMISSION (C)1998 M.A.P.A.R.