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The Unity

Met het debuut van The Unity (review elders in deze editie) zal een kleine schokgolf door de power metal wereld gaan. Twee leden van deze band kennen we immers van power metal pioniers Gamma Ray. Deze heren in een nieuwe band? Het valt opvallend samen met de hernieuwde liefde tussen Kai Hansen en Michael Kiske en de aankondiging van de Helloween reünietour. Heeft een en ander met elkaar te maken? Dat, en meer over The Unity, waren gespreksonderwerpen van het onderhoud wat ik had met The Unity drummer en dus ook Gamma Ray drummer Michael Ehré. Leest U verder!

Door: Jori | Archiveer onder heavy / power metal

Hello guys, and congratulations on your new band and the upcoming release of your excellent debut album. How is life?
Thanks a lot! Everything´s going pretty well so far! We´re close to the release of our debut album and we´re really excited and can´t wait to be honest.

So how did the idea of this new group come together? Does it have something to do with you having some time off now because of Kai Hansen being occupied with the Helloween “Pumpkins United” thing at the moment?
No, actually not. When I joined Gamma Ray in 2012, Henjo and me discovered that we both have the same musical roots. So, from time to time we talked about recording some stuff that is in the tradition of our musical heroes, like for example Rainbow, Whitesnake, Black Sabbath, Priest or DIO. We started to work on the album two years ago, which was long before we knew about the Helloween-Reunion, so our new band The Unity has nothing to do with that, we would have started that anyway.

The entire band is German except for Italian singer Gianba Manenti, but listening to his excellent voice, I can totally understand this choice. How did you recruit this man for The Unity?
You have to know that Gianba and me had a band before called Love.Might.Kill we released two albums in 2011 and 2012. When Henjo and me formed our new band we needed the missing musicians and we immediately decided to recruit the guys from Love.Might.Kill as one of our guitar players left the behind and we didn´t do that much since the release of our second album. This was an obvious choice and quick decision as we all know each other for a long time, we knew that the chemistry is right.

Next to the obvious Gamma Ray hints in the sound, the keyboard lines bear a strong Mob Rules resemblance, obviously through having Sascha Onnen in the fold. This made me think that the songwriting process really was a team effort on the album, am I right in this? And Gianba, did he write his own lyrics?
We wrote and produced the album as a team. Everybody was welcome to contribute his ideas and visions to the band. Everyone in the band is a creative person and everyone has his ideas. What we did was to collect all our ideas and pick the best to make them better, hahaha. And I´m not only talking about the music, I´m talking about the lyrics, too, which means that not only Gianba wrote the lyrics. You see: The Unity is not only a name, it´s our philosophy!

Why the song ‘Rise And Fall’ for the lyric video?
We chose ‘Rise And Fall’ because we thought this track has everything that stands for what we are: melody, power and energy and strong guitar-riffs. Melody is very, very important for us. If you can play a song which is a Power-Metal-track in the original only with acoustic guitars and vocals than you have a real good song, because the main features are the melody and the chords. In the end it doesn´t matter if you play them with full power as a full band or only as an acoustic version: a good song will be a good song.

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Arriving at ‘Redeemer’, I thought for a moment that I heard the second coming of Rainbow. What is the story behind this one? Did you just sat down like ”okay, let’s compose a song like Rainbow”, or did the song take shape and sound like it did during the songwriting process?
No, we never sit down and compose a song after a plan. It has to flow naturally otherwise it wouldn´t sound natural. Maybe you will have noticed that we don´t have any ballads on our album. It´s not that we don´t like ballads but we haven´t had the right ideas to write a proper ballad for the record, so we decided not to have one on the album. It would have been easy for us to write a ballad that would have been okay, but the band isn´t working that way. In my opinion the fans recognize immediately if the music comes from the heart or if it was written like in a factory.

Are there any songs on the album that contain music or ideas that were originally meant for Gamma Ray or Mob Rules songs, or is everything freshly written with the ‘The Unity’ album in mind?
We all had ideas that we were presenting each other. Some of them were older, some of them not. I remember that I showed the main riff from ‘Rise And Fall’ to my bandmates from Gamma Ray back in 2013 when we were working on our ‘Empire Of The Undead’ album. The guys liked it but unfortunately our studio burned down and we had to concentrate on material that we were already working on, so we skipped this riff. That was sad on the one hand but good on the other because we used this riff for The Unity and it became ‘Rise And Fall’.

In a few weeks you will be hitting the road with Sinner, but that tour does hardly cross the German borders. Gamma Ray always had a solid fanbase in the Netherlands and Belgium. When do you think you can play for them?
We hope as soon as possible! At the moment we´re working hard on getting as much live shows as possible. We´re really thankful for the opportunity to join Sinner on their tour in May, especially because we´re a kind of a newcomer band and no one knew what to expect from us. But we know that we have to play more shows in Europe this year... let´s see what happens!

How large is the chance we will see The Unity as opening act to the Helloween “Pumpkins United” shows?
As far as I know the chance is close to zero. I can´t tell any details because it´s Helloween’s turn to provide the fans with information concerning their tour.

So what are the plans on the longer term? Is The Unity here to stay?
Absolutely! We worked for more than two years on our debut album to make the best album possible. In no way this was meant to be a side-project of two Gamma Ray guys or whatever...We have a plan and we already discussed the plan for our second album though our first is not out yet, hahaha.

Okay, I think that was all I had for you. The famous closing remarks are on you, anything you would like to get out there?
I really like to say thank you all for the nice and warm welcome we received with The Unity! We really hope that you like our music and come to our shows!!! THANK YOU!!!

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