Blackdiamond recently caught up with the original guitarist Michael Weikath from German power metallers HELLOWEEN, during a short break from the Hellish Rock Tour Part II with GAMMA RAY. Michael was very relaxed and drinking coffee in his home on the Canary Islands during the humorous chat.
We discussed everything from what’s happening with the band to MAC computers and U2. You can read some excerpts below and listen to the full interview on the audio player:
On the current album “Straight Out Of Hell,” Michael said: “The album has been fun with positive reviews. This is one of those things you always dream and hope would come along and we’re very proud of it. We hope we can repeat it a few times.”
About the next HELLOWEEN album, Michael expressed: “There’s general ideas hanging in mid air as usual, but there’s not the slightest idea of what it could be about. But we assume it’s going to be another record in the line of the last three or four, because that seems kind of a good approach. It can be expected in early 2015 – we want to do it properly and not rush things.”
We also talked about the music Michael enjoys listening to and he had plenty to say about a couple of bands:
“I’m kind of suffering a little bit from the last Muse album! I’m such a big Muse fan until the last record. It’s kind of sad to see how they copy Queen and U2, which nobody needs. I would prefer to hear original material. it’s great if it sells, but please, I need more interesting Muse records in the future!
U2 right now are the biggest band in the world, sadly. I don’t mean disrespect to the persons involved, it’s just that kind of music is not so great that it should be number one. They are selling a lot more than AC/DC. I don’t want to piss people off by what I say, that’s just what I think.”
According to Blabbermouth.net, David E. Gehlke of DeadRhetoric.com recently conducted an interview with guitarist Michael Weikath of German power metallers HELLOWEEN. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
DeadRhetoric.com: The thing a lot of people would like to see is a reunion with Michael [Kiske] and Kai [Hansen]. Is that a possibility?
Weikath: We will do that too. We’ve given thought to that and we’ve heard his [Kiske's] words that he doesn’t like when people dream about those things in public in interviews. I’ve only merely been answering the questions of those wondering about [it], so I haven’t been dreaming. I don’t need that reunion as much as he wants it, or doesn’t want it. If he ever gives in to any of that, then you can swear we’d probably try something like that. Maybe make some good money and have some fun on occasions where people are enjoying what we’re doing then, as that particular strange outfit for the actual existing HELLOWEEN, with a few ex-members intertwined and you wouldn’t know.
DeadRhetoric.com: It would probably be something where you just do shows, but not a new album.
Weikath: I don’t know…you never know. I heard someone say something like this, but I don’t know where I heard it. It’s clearly not a suggestion from the inside of the band or management, but I’ve heard people say that.
DeadRhetoric.com: Your first time in North America. When was it?
DeadRhetoric.com: Was that with GRIM REAPER and ARMORED SAINT, right? What do you remember?
DeadRhetoric.com: Was that your first full-blown tour with Kiske?
Weikath: That was it. We started with OVERKILL and did the European tour, like London, Hammersmith, the U.K. tour, then the American leg of it.
DeadRhetoric.com: Was Karl [Walterbach, ex-Noise Records head] with you on this tour?
Weikath: I’m not sure which occasions he was there. He might have been in L.A. or Japan. He didn’t have anything to do with the general touring or whatever. He was basically sitting at home collecting money, and when there was something interesting, he would show up.
DeadRhetoric.com: I talked to him a few weeks ago.
Weikath: Oh yeah? I loved how he always said “I’m the HELLOWEEN manager.” [laughs]
DeadRhetoric.com: He seems to be in a good spot right now, probably better than when you guys were working together. We talked about the whole Sanctuary debacle, which I’m sure you’d like to forget. [HELLOWEEN were sidelined for nearly two years in the early '90s due to a legal battle with Noise Records over Sanctuary Management doing a direct deal with Germany EMI, which was ruled as breach of their contract with Noise — Ed.]
Weikath: If he would have been any cool, he would have said, “Okay, we’ll do contract renegotiations.” No freakin’ problem, just act cool, Karl. I actually expected that out of him, but somehow he disappointed me for being so freakin’ uncool. He got all the trouble he went through with the lawyers; he’s got a pacemaker and stuff, I don’t. He still, I think, manages to drive women who are actually interested in him away. Whatever, you just have to consider these things and see how happy is somebody.
DeadRhetoric.com: You made it through that rough period, though, after “Pink Bubbles” and “Chameleon”.
Weikath: I would have liked 36 million marks, too.
DeadRhetoric.com: Was that the settlement?
Weikath: No, it wasn’t the settlement — it’s what he made on the band HELLOWEEN — he made 45 million marks. That’s what our ideas and musical concepts were good for at that time.
DeadRhetoric.com: He said one thing to me that stuck out: That you, Michael, and Kai each approached him about doing your own solo albums. Is that true?
Weikath: There was simply no way to do that, because he wasn’t interested in that. That could have prevented stuff, like for instance the “Chameleon” record. If everyone would have been able to try like a solo record, we wouldn’t have needed to do something like the “Chameleon” album.
Metal-Rules.com’s Marko Syrjala has posted a new interview conducted with HELLOWEEN guitarist Michael Weikath. The following is an excerpt from the interview:
Q: In your opinion, what is the classic lineup of HELLOWEEN?
A: “The classic lineup—that’s the one with Michael Kiske and Ingo (Schwichtenberg, drums) and (Kai) Hansen. That’s a time… that’s something that time passed by. Now we’re in the present and that’s what we do to make a good living and whatever. You know, the new lineup has its advantages and the old classic one had its disadvantages. Actually, it wasn’t an easy life. I mean, you hear the complaints about me and what kind of asshole and dictator I was or whatever… and the people who say that, they know themselves that it’s not true if they really reflect. They know what was going on back then and it’s actually just easy to put the blame just on me.”
Q: Yeah, but everybody has their own side of the story.
A: “It could have all been so cool if not for the fucking bikers around and it could have been so cool if I wouldn’t have been around because then I wouldn’t have had to have that entire struggle that was going on. For me what counts is that you have a great act that works and functions and is looked upon by the people as something important or great or something and that is indispensable. Because you can do so many bands which are not really necessary. Then you can go and say hmm or whatever.”
Q: Would I dare to ask that how is your relationship with Roland Grapow on these days?
HELLOWEEN recently announced a 10-date North American tour this fall. Tickets are on sale now at this location.
Confirmed dates include:
24 – New York, NY – Stage 48
25 – Montreal, QC – Club Soda
26 – Quebec City, QC – Theater Imperial
28 – Toronto, ON – The Opera House
29 – Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall
30 – Joliet, IL – Mojoes
2 – Engelwood, CO – Gothic Theater
3 – Salt Lake City, UT – In the Venue
5 – Seattle, WA – El Corazon
7 – Anaheim, CA – The Grove
Remaining Hellish Rock Part II dates include:
9 – Saarbrücken, Germany – Garage
10 – Langen, Germany – Neue Stadthalle
12 – Kaufbeuren, Germany – Allgäu Event Center
13 – Bochum, Germany – Ruhrcongress
14 – Mons, Belgium – PPM-Fest
16 – London, UK – HMV Forum
18 – Hamburg, Germany – Docks
19 – Geiselwind, Germany – Music Hall
20 – Balingen, Germany – Volksbankmesse
21 – Schwandorf, Germany – Oberpfalzhalle
The Hellish Rock Part II tour hit the Fuzz Club in Athens, Greece on March 9th with GAMMA RAY in tow. Check out video footage of both bands jamming the HELLOWEEN classic ‘I Want Out’ below:
He was born in Hamburg, Germany on 7 August 1962. He and his band created a new revolution in Heavy Metal music in the 1980′s. Michael Ingo Joachim Weikath (AKA Michael Weikath and Weiki) is one of HELLOWEEN’s founding members and along with Markus Grosskopf he is the only other original member still active in the band. He is a musician and songwriter who plays guitars and keyboards, he also sang backing vocals in some of HELLOWEEN’s songs.
I was lucky to have a chat with Michael a few days ago and place my Burning Crown on his head. I found him a very nice person who doesn’t fear to speak from his heart. But unfortunately we had some problems with the line at first, but as you will hear it improved later. I’ve split this interview in to 3 parts to make it easier for you to listen.
* Please note as some parts of this interview are broken up, if you had open heart surgery, or blood pressure issues or you are under 18 years old, you can still listen to this interview. But if you are one of those angry people who always disagree and you are not a fan of HELLOWEEN, you’d just better leave it and find someone else to blame!
In the first part, I asked Weiki about the team who produced HELLOWEEN‘s newest album “Straight Out of Hell” and why they changed the record company. He told me it’s still Sony and a cycle of people working well together…. We also started a conversation about why they chose to be on positive side, when many other bands are writing their music with dark themes. Weiki stated that he doesn’t know anything about the dark side and it’s not healthy to write about those kind of themes for him. Listen to part one to find out more below:
I believe HELLOWEEN‘s logo is great so I asked Michael about it, as it seems they use different pumpkins for each album. Michael stated the following when I asked him whether the idea for this was the designers or the bands:
“It’s a mix of both. Sometimes you can say this pumpkin is boring, or cos we have a different subject, or just for fun, or there is something particular going on in the artwork. You can always do something for the pumpkin itself, or you can make the last logo or a classic logo. It’s just a matter of playing around with ideas and having some fun with it. Be creative.”
He also continued when I asked him who designed this new logo, with the following:
“Yes I designed that logo in the beginning, and that stupid pumpkin in the middle, to the left in the logo, that’s the way I wanted to have it, because I simply didn’t care. I thought “why the middle only?” And you go “give it a gas mask” or it has a straw head, or whatever, you can play with it.“
I had an interview with guitarist Roland Grapow (MASTERPLAN, Ex-HELLOWEEN) a few months ago, and asked him what was the reason of his firing from the band, he said: ” I felt very secure in Helloween. In the middle of the tour I said something to Michael and Markus and I said my opinion about something. I wanted to make something the best for the band and I think they misunderstood me, like I wanted to be leader. I was telling the truth and that’s how I am… It was a great time in Helloween …” So I found it a good moment to ask the same question from Michael to hear the reason from HELLOWEEN‘s side, Weiki said:
“Well actually we said those things in the past. It’s basically because there was interest in a different kind of music to be made with Helloween, and then some side projects that he was doing. They seemed to consume a lot of time and the process and whatever. We on the other side we were not quite happy with the output that we were actually given by for instance Roland, and you know there’s some kind of misconception when you hear those things. We wrote him an email, Markus and me, about why we did that and I can still remember the first few interviews they did after that, saying they don’t understand why. It was in the email why, you know that’s not public, so if they still have it, maybe they can publish it and everybody can read it. It was really quite clear why. We also had some little discussion with Uli, because he was kinda disappointed, I actually had him on the phone and we had a short talk about it and the reasons that we said in the interviews basically. So it’s strange that this is always being brought to attention. There were lots of misunderstandings at the time, and that’s why, I don’t like misunderstandings.
They were also saying lots of things about Masterplan and the first record. They said so many things in interviews about the situation, like “the pressure has all gone.”Months ago he told Uli he felt really comfortable in Helloween, so it’s contradictory. I don’t know what to think, he must know what he wants to tell people, I have given up trying to understand what was going on there, and that’s another reason.
You know, it was actually really easy. It was Kai Hansen ok, he wrote some songs, I wrote some songs. Then we did records, and we wanted to records as good as possible. I told Roland before he came into the band “we want to change the music a little bit, we want to be more diverse and have more variated music.”I really don’t know, what’s difficult being in a band, Helloween, making great records, everybody writes some great songs. I don’t know where the problem is with that. Things are running good now and not problematic, no misunderstandings and stuff. It’s been about 10 years now, which I actually enjoy a lot, because there are no misunderstandings and this and that, and no contradictions, you know?“
Listen to the second part of this interview to hear Michael answering about HELLOWEEN‘s logo, Roland Grapow, the earlier days of the band and also why they chose the Helloween name.
In the final part of this pretty long conversation, we had a serious and interesting chat. I asked his opinion about the differences between old songs and modern songs and Michael agreed with me that old songs are more like pure art. But when I asked him about the roles of the singers in HELLOWEEN‘s styles and how much it affected the style of the band’s music. He started talking about his problems with the band’s ex-member, Michael Kiske, and also why he thinks Andi Deris is better. Check out the following:
“Well, for me as a songwriter it was kinda getting difficult with the voice of Michael Kiske, which is perfect, really good, really elaborate and whatever, but always kinda the same. If you wanted to make a rock and roll or rock song, or something heavy, that requires shouting or grumbling or growling, he really wasn’t good for that. If you wanna have something like “Nothing To Say” or something else, it would be like Elvis on steroids or something. He could do that, because if you listen to his recent recordings, he managed to do that. He can now growl or sing a little bit more distorted or whatever, he can. He just didn’t want, cos he was afraid of harming his vocal chords or whatever, then actually he can do those things. Deris is a shouter, he has variety and stuff and has several techniques he can maintain or create. To me, that was very impressive and also very powerful, for a certain approach of songwriting that you want to do. You can’t do a “Hair Of The Dog” by Nazareth with Michael Kiske, that would sound strange.
And you know, I always like shouters and singers. The best guy probably, there is, is Bruce Dickinson or Ian Gillan. They can sing, they can shout. I would have appreciated that. Instead of that we had lots of discussions and lots of changing of attitude. Michael was like a normal guy, then soon he turned to be vegetarian and he had religious ideas. And he was sharing that stuff so much that sometimes you really got enough of that, you didn’t want to share that so much. Thinking about those things, he also wanted to do tracks and music and hits, and Helloween tracks, and you know, to be successful or whatever. Because we don’t want to play in clubs for 50 people only, it’s not the idea behind the whole thing, and there you go, those are the differences. It comes to a point where it’s boiling and you want to have decisions.”
I really couldn’t leave this interview without asking Michael‘s opinion about the legendary singer, Ronnie James Dio who is a father to me. Check out the following which are Michael‘s opinions about Ronnie:
“Well, he’s the one. He’s always been very magical, ever since he did recordings. It was noted by lots of people, his voice and the way of singing. It seemed so magical, it touched your soul and your heart. At that time, it was the best voice for rock or metal and when people get to hear him first, it was like “ooh what a voice, who is he?” That’s absolutely clear. Even Freddie Mercury can shout and that is one word for Dio, it’s a synonym, right? That’s the stuff I always liked.“
We almost lost the time during our pure METAL conversation but it finished when Michael found out that he had an appointment for dinner in a Persian restaurant which surprised me, as I am a Persian metalhead. Also my special thanks to Blackdiamond, Caitlin and Leslie who helped me to sort this interview. As my final word, I hope you found this interview interesting and I apologise the sound was not clear in places. Hopefully next time we will have a better line. Till then I leave you in peace and METAL.