Jimmy Kay and Alan Dixon from Canada’s The Metal Voice recently spoke to HELLOWEEN singer Michael Kiske. During the chat Kiske spoke about the Helloween Pumpkins United reunion and the making of the new self titled album. He also told The Metal Voice about his upcoming acoustic solo album.
Tell us what was the defining moment that made you say yes to reuniting with Helloween
“There wasn’t one moment with everything but there was one moment that changed my mind, in general. In the 90’s I would have rejected anything. It didn’t matter how much money you offered me I would not want to do it. I was disappointed about the band, I was disappointed about the scene and pretty much on a crusade to be honest with you. And it was good for me, it was a good time, it was important, it shaped my personality and I didn’t want to miss it. “
“My kind of opening up to this type of music started with Avantasia I think at the end of the 90’s. He (Tobias Sammet) really talked me into it, I didn’t want to do it at first but I liked him right away and he convinced me to do it and I enjoyed it. Then later on Serafino (label Owner) showed up and offered me a deal for my solo stuff and then came Place Vendome which was great and I really enjoyed it and it was getting me into that direction a lot. Then though that ( Place Vendome) I got in touch with Denis Ward and Kosta Zafiriou a few years later and was offered the idea of making a real band (Unisonic) cause they were both getting nowhere with Pink Cream 69. Then on the first tour I did with Avantasia, Kai Hansen was part of it, so I was on stage with Kai again and there was this old familiar way, this chemistry going on and we started talking we should do something together but I didn’t want to join Gamma Ray it’s not my cup of tea, so he joined Unisonic. So that was another step. Around the same time I got pissed about a quote Andi Deris (Helloween singer) said in an interview saying he is sure that in 2000 something that I would be part of the team again (Helloween) and we were going to make a big tour. I was like what is he talking about? But it shows you how long they (Helloween) planned that. Andi and Kai Hansen were like the driving force behind it. In 2013 I was on a tour with Avantasia in Europe and I ran into Michael Weikath (Helloween guitarist) backstage and he stood in front of me and said ‘what have I done that you can’t forgive me for? You can’t be more straightforward. I was holding my breath and I noticed there was no anger anymore. In my soul something had changed probably by getting older. That was the game changer when it comes to realizing that something had changed. Then like a year later we played three shows in Spain with Unisoic, great shows, the band was getting in shape and after one of those shows Kai Hansen looked at me and said, you know what Michael we just got to do something with Helloween once more before it;s too late. And that is when I said, you know what I’m open.”
When asked about working with Andi Deris today
“We got along perfectly, it was almost like I knew him which is the most beautiful part of it because every time I saw his face in the past it was not connected with a good feeling, that’s the dude that got my job. The other way around in the early years when he joined the band he got a lot of fire from the fans that did not agree with that so when he saw my face in the past it was probably not connected with the best feelings. (laughs). We were nervous, there was an element of insecurity but it was quickly gone. It was so interesting how good we got along, he is like an old mate or someone I knew in a previous life. That is when we started to go into brainstorming sessions and planning all of this. ”
What was the key to reuniting that you can share for other bands
“The basis has to be on a human level, it has to be because you want to make peace. If you are just in there for an ego reason, it’s not going to work, it doesn’t have any strength, it doesn’t have any legs. “
Tell us how the band started falling apart because of money back in the 80’s
“Not so much the band, it was more the people around the band trying to get the biggest piece of the cake. The band was massively sucked into a legal situation, you shouldn’t have to think about things like that. We were like so screwed you couldn’t imagine we sold millions of records, we were selling out venues and we were in debt. Typical musicians are usually naive and they should be, music needs a free mind and business is kind of trapping your mind. If you don’t free yourself from these traps and become a business man instead of a musician you are done. It is always that fight of not letting the business side destroy the artist that’s why you need managers, you need to have someone who takes care of that. We do have that now. In the 80’s we were surrounded by sharks. This time around the management is on our side, part of the team now.”
When asked why he didn’t contribute songwriting wise to the new Helloween album
“I didn’t want to, I’m making a solo album right now, an acoustic album that is my creative part and role. When it comes to the songs of Helloween I have written a few songs that were successful. I know to me the rest of the band are the main songwriters that define the main sound of the band. And since we have 6 songwriters I thought it was enough. Maybe I will do something for another record. I think it has something to do with the label boss from Nuclear Blast. He is really after my solo record. He is a big fan which is always great. I told him that I am doing something like that and he is like I want to have it. “
When asked if his solo album is completed
“I have all the material, it’s going to be 50-50 a few of my own songs all just acoustic but I will also record my favorite songs (covers), non metal tunes, it’s stuff from various bands that I do my own take on. Some from the 70’s, songs that I love and I can sing them in an interesting way. It’s going to be very simple acoustic everything recorded here in my place. I want to take the time but they want to release it when we start the tour (Helloween) next year which is planned March, April, May 2022. It’s going to be released next year for sure.”
Helloween released its new album on June 18 via Nuclear Blast Records
The “Pumpkins United” lineup features returning singer Kiske and guitarist/vocalist Kai Hansen alongside frontman Deris, guitarists Weikath and Sascha Gerstner, bassist Markus Grosskopf and drummer Daniel Löble.
Produced by Charlie Bauerfeind and Dennis Ward, the new Helloween Album was recorded in part at the H.O.M.E. Studios in Hamburg.
The “Pumpkins United” tour marked the first time Kiske had played live with HELLOWEEN since 1993. Hansen, who departed HELLOWEEN in 1988, had been joining the band onstage on various tours and festival appearances throughout the years.