MAGNUM OPUM ROCKESTRA (under conductor Marcel Heijnen), a 32-piece orchestra accompanied by the METALFORCE 1 rock band and led by vocalists which decisively influenced the metal scene in recent years and decades, kicked off the Christmas Metal Symphony European Tour on December 13th in Trollhättan, Sweden.
Fan-filmed video of vocalist Michael Kiske (UNISONIC, ex-HELLOWEEN) performing the Helloween classics ‘March Of Time’ and ‘I Want Out’ has been posted online:
Other vocalists on the bill include Joey Belladonna (ANTHRAX), Chuck Billy (TESTAMENT), Udo Dirkschneider (UDO, ex-ACCEPT) and Floor Jansen (NIGHTWISH) Musical director of the production is Joost van den Broek (ex-AFTER FOREVER).
Tour dates include:
17 – Würselen, Germany – Royal Event Center
18 – Bochum, Germany – Ruhrkongress
19 – Prague, Czech Republic – Mala Sportovni Hala
20 – Oberstraubing, Germany – Airport – Great Hall
21 – Balingen, Germany – Volksbank Fair
22 – Milan, Italy – Live Club
Rich Davenport‘s Rock Show this week features exclusive interviews with legendary former UFO bassist Pete Way, Unisonic / Place Vendome vocalist Michael Kiske (ex-Helloween), Donal Gallagher, brother of the late guitar hero Rory Gallagher, Colin Hay (ex-Men At Work), and is available now for streaming at this link.
In the first hour of the show, Pete Way discusses his new role as an ambassador for the charity Prostate Cancer UK, which specialises in raising awareness of the illness, funding research into it, and supporting those diagnosed with it (as Pete recently was). Pete also talks about the recent UFO live album “Hot N Live – The Chrysalis Anthology 1974-1983”, and chooses tracks from the release.
Also in the first hour, former Helloween vocalist Michael Kiske talks about the new album from his Place Vendome project, “Thunder In The Distance”, with two tracks from the record. Michael also talks about Unisonic’s current plans for a new album and live dates in 2014.
In part 2 Donal Gallagher, brother and manager of the late guitar legend Rory Gallagher, discusses the new crime-noir themed box set “Kickback City”, which features a crime-themed compilation of Rory’s music, along with “The Lie Factory”, a new novella by author Ian Rankin, illustrated by graphic novel artist Timothy Truman, both of whom are long-time fans of Rory.
And finally, former Men At Work frontman Colin Hay talks about his current solo acoustic tour of the UK.
Former HELLOWEEN frontman Michael Kiske recently spoke with my Global Mind about his forthcoming albums with UNISONIC, PLACE VENDOME and KISKE / SOMERVILLE , and his career with Helloween. An excerpt is available below:
Q: Are you satisfied how everything turned out in your career, or are there some things you are still regret?
Michael: “I must say that even the negative things have turned out good in the end. I learned a lot by it and I’ve grown as a person. There is just one thing I find very sad and that is I think that the Helloween of the Keeper-years with Kai Hansen, Ingo … you know, the Helloween of the Keeper-time was very short lived. I think we just started and then it was over. I think we should have done at least two more records. That’s the thing I find really sad. Bands like IRON MAIDEN, they’ve gone full circle, you know. The have had their peak and they made their best records, they have told the story. They have said everything that they can say musically in my opinion. Helloween of the Keeper-time – because today’s Helloween is a different band – I think the Helloween of that era we never really said everything we had to say artistically and that’s very sad.”
Video footage of EDGUY mainman Tobias Sammet talking about working with former HELLOWEEN frontman Michael Kiske and MAGNUM singer Bob Catley on the new AVANTASIA album, “The Mystery Of Time”, can be seen below.
“The Mystery Of Time” will be released on March 30. The effort will be made available as a regular CD, limited-edition vinyl and limited-edition hardcover book with a 28-page booklet containing ten regular songs and two bonus tracks (“The Cross And You”, “Death Is Just A Feeling”). The cover artwork was hand-painted by world acclaimed British fantasy artist Rodney Matthews. Among Rodney‘s most famous artworks are not only album covers for rock legends such as MAGNUM, THIN LIZZY, ASIA and NAZARETH, he has also designed the characters for the TV series “Lavender Castle” and created the covers for novels by British fantasy author Michael Moorcock and many more.
“The Mystery Of Time” will feature additional guest appearances by Michael Kiske (UNISONIC, HELLOWEEN), former KISS guitarist Bruce Kulick, drummer Russell Gilbrook of URIAH HEEP, AYREON mastermind Arjen Lucassen (also ex-BODINE, VENGEANCE), Ronnie Atkins of Danish hard rock veterans PRETTY MAIDS and MR. BIG frontman Eric Martin.
The new AVANTASIA CD was recorded in part at VOX Klangstudio in Bendestorf, Germany with producer Sascha Paeth (KAMELOT, EDGUY, EPICA, RHAPSODY).
“The Mystery Of Time” track listing:
02. The Watchmakers’ Dream
03. Black Orchid
04. Where Clock Hands Freeze
06. Savior In The Clockwork
07. Invoke The Machine
08. What’s Left Of Me
09. Dweller In A Dream
10. The Great Mystery
“Sleepwalking”, the new video from AVANTASIA, can be seen below. The clip was filmed in a magical forest in Germany on a snowy winter’s night and it features a duet between Tobias and female vocalist Cloudy Yang..
Comments Tobias: “It was far below freezing. And there we were, standing in the snow storm for hours, walking through a haunted forest. It felt a bit like ‘Sleepy Hollow’ meets ‘Brothers Grimm’, but the pictures that came out were really great and compensated for the torture.”
About the song itself, Tobias says: “‘Sleepwalking’ is the most enchanting pop song I’ve ever written. Yes, it’s a pop song, and I am the first to admit it. I love stuff like A-HA, CUTTING CREW, ENYA and SARAH BRIGHTMAN.
“You know, the whole album is a journey.
“Someone said that ‘The Mystery Of Time’ is the most adventurous AVANTASIA album to date. What makes AVANTASIA what it is is its diversity. We have five double-bass songs, two big epics, a beautiful flamboyantly orchestrated ballad, and monumental mid-tempo groovy stuff with big choirs.
“AVANTASIA has always been defined by its diversity and mingling of styles. It is an epic metal record and there are so many different things to be discovered, you have to give the album at least ten listens to discover half of what’s going on.
“‘Sleepwalking’ are four wonderful minutes out of 60 minutes, but there is not one song on the album that can represent AVANTASIA on its own, it’s the full 60 minutes you have to pay attention to, to grasp the magic of this piece!”
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.
Source: Bravewords.com GAMMA RAY frontman / UNISONIC guitarist Kai Hansen is featured in the January issue of Spain’s La Heavy Magazine discussing UNISONIC. Following is an excerpt translated by the official UNISONIC fan page, Souls Alive.
On the live show:
Hansen: “…I think we have improved a lot as a band, we have a better coordination between us and we find ourselves on the stage. Which is very different from creating an album. It was funny to be really so close also live.””
On UNISONIC being secondary to GAMMA RAY:
Hansen: “Of course it is something different. Yes, it is a band, two guitarists, a bassist a drummer but it is a different thing. Not only the different musicians, also the different way to make the songs and the style is very different from GAMMA RAY, there is something that makes me crazy and it is really different to me, and I only play the guitar and I have a great vocalist with me, Michael Kiske. I’m grateful that people like Kosta (Zafirious/drums) take care of that stuff like managament, organization. In UNISONIC I can focus on being just a musician… of course I always contribute when there are arguments to decide or to improve the band, the responsability is shared between everybody. In GAMMA RAY there is of course democracy, but I still have my position as the founder which makes me more responsible about everything that happens in the band.”
On the UNISONIC debut:
Hansen: “There are songs I really like in the album but I prefer more to play them live. For example: ‘No One Ever Sees Me’ is a track I was not really into, it was a good song but something was missing for me and I had doubts we should play it live, I was not sure if it would work well. Michael was convinced it will be great live and he was right. When we started playing it live I felt the magic of this song. There are other tracks which work better live because we give it more energy and even more passion.”
On vocalist Michael Kiske‘s live performances:
Hansen: “Yes, its much more spontaneous live. Recording a CD is always difficult because you want to do it perfectly, too controlled. The best thing comes live. Michael will get the live experience of this last tour to use it in the studio. The next album he will do a performance more closer how he is doin’ it live and he will not care very much about technical issues. He sings fantastic on the album but I prefer how he sings live.”
UNISONIC recently issued the following update:
“Hello out there, we wish you all a healthy and happy year 2013!!!
2012 was an event- and successful year for UNISONIC: We released our debut CD and did the first tour, leading us to many countries in Latin America, Asia and Europe. The feedback on the CD and the live shows was phenomenal and we want to thank you all from the deepest of our hearts for your support!
2013 will be a more silent year for UNISONIC. Besides working with our other bands and projects, be sure that we will use the time to write and record a new UNISONIC album! Touring together for the first time and your overwhelming reactions glued us together as a band, and we can´t wait to canalize all these impressions into a powerful and melodic metal album to be released in early 2014!”
Michael Kiske (vocals – ex-HELLOWEEN) Mandy Meyer (guitars – ex-GOTTHARD, ex-KROKUS) Kai Hansen (guitars – GAMMA RAY, ex Helloween) Dennis Ward (bass – PINK CREAM 69) Kosta Zafiriou (drums – Pink Cream 69)
UNISONIC performed at the Hellfest in Clisson, France on June 15th. Quality fan-filmed video from the show is available below: