Hello Michael, how are you?
I'm doing alright, thanks. I've been doing interviews all day. Which is cool, because I haven't done such a thing in a lot of years. It's funny, because people still haven't forgotten about Helloween. I've talked to people, especially in Southern Europe and South-America, who treaded me like some kind of god. That was really funny, that they still love me for a band that I was in ages ago.
I can imagine why. After all, the Keeper-records are classics, that still influence thousands of people. Now that you have an album out with Supared, does it get compared a lot to Helloween? And how many times have other people asked you this question?
The last couple of days a lot of people have asked me the Helloween-question. But still, not as much as I expected. I thought that every interview I would do for this album would in no time end up in a conversation about Helloween. But most of the talk has been about the music of Supared. That's something that surprised me, in a positive way.
As for your question. Yes, people have the tendency of looking back instead of forward, because they've painted an image of an artist in their minds, and expect that artist to stick to that image. That's understandable; that's what people are like. Especially because this album has my vocals in common with Helloween. But personally I think it's a little bit unfair. Even when I was in Helloween, I never wrote those typical Helloween-songs. Those songs were done by Kai and Weiki. I always wrote the songs that were a little bit different, a little bit weird compared to the rest. If you look at the music I wrote with Helloween and compare it to Supared or my solo-albums, then you can see a red line through it.
Does it bother you if people compare Supared to Helloween?
It doesn't bother me; although I think it's fairly pointless. You can't really compare the music, because it's an entirely different band. But it doesn't piss me off. I have no problems with the past. I have never said that I hated metal or that I hated the people. What I did say was that there were certain people with certain attitudes and ideas. Things that I think are stupid, destructive even. But the music of Helloween still means a lot to me. I loved it at the time and I still do. It's just not what I would want to do nowadays. So as for your question: I think it's unfair to compare Supared to Helloween, I know that people will compare it no matter what I think of it. It goes with the territory.
But still, from your solo-albums people should've gotten the impression that you weren't keen on doing a metal-album again. How do you look back on those two solo-albums, by the way?
Funny you should ask it. I listened to my last solo-album Readiness To Sacrifice some time ago. Now I never listen to my own music, as I don't find it interesting at all; it's much more interesting to try to reinvent the music by playing live. But I was listening to it, and at some points I said to myself 'what was I thinking?'. Some parts are so out of line that I was wondering why I wrote it in the first place. I would never do such a thing again now, although it was very important to me back then.
Strange, I more or less expected you to have such a view on Helloween, not on your solo-albums. Does that mean that I've got a wrong image of you?
That depends. What kind of image do you have of me?
Of someone who made metal when it still was fresh, but who got older and grew out of metal.
Well, that's partly true of course. But I try to judge things in their own time. When I joined Helloween I was still a teenager. When we did the Keepers I was about 18, perhaps 19 years old. The music reflected my musical taste back then. And I still stand behind everything we did, and I still love the music. It's just that I got older, and grew as a musician.
Was that the reason why you did the solo-albums?
Partly. I had to have a certain readiness. After I left Helloween I was insecure about myself. The situation with Helloween created such an inner conflict inside me, that I needed those albums to rediscover myself. I was disappointed in everything and everyone. I was angry at some people, but most of all of the metal-industry. The ironic thing about this industry is that it kills the music. Once something is successful it becomes placed in a cage. In that case the band is expected by the industry -and by some fans- to reproduce the same thing a thousand times. That's deadly, because it kills the art.
Was that also the reason you left Helloween?
That was part of the reason. The other part of it was that Helloween wasn't a real band anymore. It hadn't been a real band for a couple of years. After Kai left, Helloween started going downhill. And it wasn't even –as many people thought- because Kai was such an important songwriter. Of course he was important, but Weiki was just as important. But when Kai left the band it changed the atmosphere, and the chemistry we had in the beginning disappeared completely. We became each others adversaries instead of friends. At a certain point I was treated as an alien by some people in the band; everything I said or this was taken bad by the rest, even if I meant it in the interest of the band. In the end Helloween wasn't a real band anymore, it just became a rare collection of exactly the wrong people working together.
So when you look back to Helloween you have both positive and negative feelings?
Yes. I do think that it is sad how it ended, because in the beginning it was really good. With Helloween we had three great years, and four really band ones. I tried for a long time to keep the band together. I didn't realize this at the time, but now that I can look back to it objectively, I know that I was subconsciously trying to save the band by not turning my back on Helloween. You've got to realize that Helloween was my baby, and at the same time it was also what made me who I was. Helloween gave me the opportunity to leave my parent's house, to do my own things and to make my dreams come true. I didn't want it to end, and looking back I realize that I stayed with the band for so long because I didn't want that dream to end.
You appeared as a guest on a couple of metal albums, despite your lack of interest for the genre. Why?
Well, with Masterplan and Gamma Ray it was a family-thing. I hope that I haven't given anyone any wrong impressions with those appearances, because I'm not anxious to make that music again. I don't want to give people the wrong impressions, those guest appearances were just a fun thing to do, nothing more.
You appear as a guest on the Masterplan-album. The original plan was to have you as a full-time singer, right?
Almost right. The day after Roland Grapow was kicked out of Helloween he called me up, asking if I wanted to sing in his band. At first he asked me carefully through his producer, then he asked me on the phone. But I refused the offer. I know that I've made the right choice, because I can't front a band that I don't stand fully behind. If I wanted to make heavy metal I could've joined Gamma Ray ages ago; Kai asked me to join Gamma Ray in '93 when I left Helloween. Kai and I were talking, and he said something like: 'if I'd ask you to join Gamma Ray, it would be of no use because you'd deny, right?'. I answered 'yes', he laughed, and so he didn't ask me. That's old Kai Hansen alright! As for Masterplan. I have no problem with appearing on his album as a guest, because Roland is a very old friend of mine. But I wouldn't want to be a permanent singer. Roland recently asked me again to join the band even though they have Jorn Lande right now, but I'm sticking to my decision. I really believe that it's better like this.
You also appeared on the two Avantasia-albums, much to the delight of a lot of your old fans.
Yeah, but I didn't mean to. Tobi talked me into it.
He's a huge Helloween-fan.
Yeah, he is. One day he called me about this project that he was working on and wanted to know if I wanted to contribute anything. I denied, and explained him that I'm not into that kind of thing anymore. But he kept calling me, asking me if I had changed my mind. After a while I gave in and listened to the music because he was talking so excited and passionate about it. I told him that it wasn't my kind of music anymore, but that it was at least very honest. And I really liked the kid, so I agreed to do him a favor by doing some vocals. I don't regret doing it, because you can hear that he's really serious about it, and because it reminds me of what I was doing myself when I was still in Helloween. " alt="band image" class="cover" />" alt="band image" class="cover" />