05 Jan 2016

Helloween Featured

It’s been a quite hectic year for Helloween. They have completed thirty years of absolutely active presence in music, have had a new album released, followed by a European tour, and we also have the first book that has come out about the band. I feel like I am between two music ‘beasts’, each of whom is far taller than me, trying to get as much information as possible of this account. Michael Weikath and Sascha Gerstner, guitar players for Helloween, seem to be enjoying the fruits of a thirty-year worth of work. Interview: Dimitris Kazantzis


Rockpages.gr: I come from Greece and I can assure you that you are within the fifteen favorite Germans in my country…Helloween103

Michael Weikath: Wow!

Rockpages.gr: Your Greek audience can’t wait to see you live once again, but I don’t seem to spot Greece in the tour dates that have already been announced. Is there any chance of any last minute surprises?

Michael Weikath: We were supposed to play in the summer with Judas Priest in the summer festival but for some reason we couldn't play...I don't know what really happened. There were different promoters involved and the whole thing didn't happen. I am sorry about that but we couldn't play for our Greek fans.

Rockpages.gr: Among the live performances you have given in my country, which one has been memorable for you as the best?

Michael Weikath: Our best show was probably the one where we played in this industrial area in Athens. Of course there were other shows which were funny, heartfelt and intense but there were not as big as that one...the show was big and I really enjoyed it. Most of the times we are playing in clubs and the sound is not that clear so that show in that industrial place stands out for me although I don't remember what it was called...it was packed with thousands of fans and I really loved that. If I am not mistaken we played “A Tale That Wasn't Right” that night and everything was great. It was fun!

Rockpages.gr: After Europe, in the beginning of the New Year, you continue your tour in the USA. How are things for Helloween over there? You also have the Monsters of Rock Cruise cooking…..

Sascha Gerstner: We have scheduled some shows in big cities and we are also playing in Canada. The Monsters of Rock Cruise gives us the opportunity to arrange some more shows in USA around that date.

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Rockpages.gr: 2015 looks like a very significant year for Helloween. Helloween have successfully completed 30 years of music career, have released a new album, have scheduled a tour and also have had the release of the first book about the band. Shall we start with the feedback that “My God Given Right” has had so far?

Sascha Gerstner: The feedback has been really good so far...we can't ask everyone but...Helloween104

Michael Weikath: So far only one person has said that it wasn't a good album. All the other reviews has been positive and raving. Personally, I believe it has a certain magic that needs to be recaptured in the future by the fans. In ten or so years, people will know what I mean. When the first reviews came in, I was kinda curious because as an artist who creates music I have no clear picture how the album is. I believe that it is one of our strongest albums along with the “Keeper...” albums which I always admire. “My God-Given Right” has this magic and this perfect songwriting and as I said it's a very powerful record.

Rockpages.gr:  That’s a special title….whose inspiration was it and how did Pumpkin Head end up on ice?

Michael Weikath: It's like a Pumpkin Robot. That's what we needed this time...I don't know what it's gonna be next time though...I have no idea. I think that the whole artwork was really strong...

Sascha Gerstner: Yeah, with the Statue of Liberty and the Pumpkin Robots. We thought it looked good. I really like that artwork.

Rockpages.gr: What’s the craziest location you have imagined Pumpkin Head at?

Michael Weikath: I really don't know...I could come up with some places right now but I am not sure!

Rockpages.gr: Tell me about “Hellbook”. It’s the very first book about Helloween. What’s so special about it and what would make people buy it?

Sascha Gerstner: The special thing about it is that it was created by fans...there are two guys in Spain who came up with the idea but the initial draft was something like Spanish-English...but they had collected so many items, so much stuff from the past and so our management tried to sort some things out so as to make it more professional and we put on a lot of effort to make a special limited edition of 777 copies! There are a lot of stories and pictures in there that most of our fans don't know and I am sure they are gonna love it. You will see Michael as a young guitar player, you will see me as a young guitar player...basically all these photos from the past which are really good. You will see sketches from the early 80s where Michael was making the first attempts of creating the Helloween logo. We have heard many rumors about Helloween all these years and this book is really the Helloween book of truth...that's what I think. The limited edition is hand signed by all of us but also by Kai Hansen and Michael Kiske. And then we have the regular edition which is not as impressive but it has the core of information in there...all in all, it's a really good book.

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Rockpages.gr: Is there a plan for a live album? We are counting ten years since the “Legacy World Tour” which brought the live album in 2007...

Michael Weikath: No, there are no plans for a live album. But on the other hand, our management is collecting bits and pieces from various shows that we are doing throughout the world so I suspect that maybe they will use them at a certain point.

Rockpages.gr: Has there been a moment in these thirty years when you thought to yourselves…”there is something wrong here…..we’ve got to do something!”

Michael Weikath: Of course there were lots of such moments...sometimes you don't know how you got yourself into that situation. Luckily, I am pretty confident with the line-up that we have right now and thing run smoothly from the time Sascha joined the band. He is a person who is not only a great guitarist but a great person, too. As you know we had many problems in the past with various members...and I don't wanna go into details...but yeah, Sascha suggests stuff regarding the career of Helloween. It's not only myself and Marcus who decide things. Sascha also shares his opinion and he is really interested in all of our decisions. I am having the time of my life right now with Helloween because in the past there was always trouble, trouble and more trouble!

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Rockpages.gr: Helloween seem to be the only serious representatives of power metal nowadays. There has been a fray to this kind of music for some years now….do you believe it is something temporal and it will soon straighten out or not?

Michael Weikath: I believe that there will always be new bands with a goal that they will try to be as big as Helloween. For example, there is this Italian band Trick or Treat which is really impressive. Luca Turilli with Rhapsody was also really good. I think that he was really unique especially with all these classical arrangements... it's power metal with symphonic elements...I really like his music.

Sascha Gerstner: The thing is that Helloween is a very influential band and it's very common for us to have young bands coming to us and say how our music changed their lives and influenced their style.

Michael Weikath: If you want to play power metal, you have to take it to the limit...you have to play really good and see things from a different angle compared to the approach of... let's say, hair metal or rock and roll bands. You have to take a different approach and the most important thing is to create your own identity. It's quite a challenge for young power metal bands to come up with something really impressive in the future. There are lots of bands that try to copy the Helloween style or be the next Dream Theater and not be as creative and unique. That's not the right approach. Don't forget that Helloween are influenced by many different bands, like for example The Beatles or Deep Purple and we still have our own sound. Young bands should not copy their favorite groups...they have to...they have to cook their own soup!

Rockpages.gr: ...and the big question is… Does God love rock ‘n’ roll?

Michael Weikath:  Yeah....we could have been more rock and roll but Kai Hansen in the beginning was not such a big fan of straight ahead rock and roll. On the other hand, we did pretty good without those elements so I can't really complain...but of course we do have rock and roll elements in our sound. When I did “Nothing To Say”, I used many rock and roll elements in there...it's a question of how original it is and how suitable it is for our kind of music...the Helloween style of music.

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